The Brigade of the Doomed, Part 3

THE BRIGADE OF THE DOOMED
PART III

CHAPTER ONE

Captain’s log, stardate 44333.3. The Enterprise has been
fully repaired at Starbase 121, and we now have replacement crew
members for those who were killed battling the Garthusians or the
Galactic Empire. Also, Ensign Wesley Crusher is back in full
health and is resuming his duties at the conn.
Meanwhile, since the Battle of Feronium, there has been no
Garthusian activity within Federation space. Attempts at
communication with Vraris have failed. The Romulan Star Empire
has also been quiet since Feronium.
There is a mystery about the Romulans… why did they betray
us at the Battle of Feronium? As of yet, we have no solid
answers. It has been suggested that the Romulans and the
Garthusians are allies, but that is difficult to prove. The
Klingons are subscribing to this theory, believing that the
“dishonorable cowards” decided to join the stronger side than risk
a fight to the death. Anyway, communication attempts with Romulus
have also met with failure.
The Enterprise has been given the task of determing the
relationship between the Garthusians and the Romulans. It will
not be easy. Right now, the Enterprise is on a course for the
Romulan Neutral Zone so we can begin our investigation. Starfleet
is also strengthening defences along the Federation-Garthusian
border.

Lieutenant Commander Data raised an eyebrow, emulating
surprise. “A distress call?”
“Yes, sir,” Woorf said. “From within the Romulan Neutral
Zone.”
“Put the vessel on the communications system, Lieutenant,”
Data ordered.
The speakers crackled to life. “This is Captain John
Hommand of the freighter-” Static sounded loudly, then silence.
“Can you determine the status of the distressed?” asked
Data.
“Affirmative, sir.” Worf scanned his tactical console.
“The freighter is the Kobayashi Maru, Gabriel-class. It’s shields
are down, it’s warp core is threatening to breach, their life-
support is down, and they have five hull breaches.”
“Estimated survival time, Mr. Worf?”
“Twelve minutes, Captain.”
“Distance?”
“Ten million kilometers.”
Data considered the situation. The Kobayashi Maru was
severely crippled, and was within the Romulan Neutral Zone. It
was out of transporter range, so the Enterprise would have to go
into the Neutral Zone to beam out the survivors. However,
entering the Neutral Zone would be a gross violation of the Treaty
of Algernon. It could lead to war with the Romulan Empire. It
would take only a minute at most to evacuate the freighter,
though.
“What are your orders, sir?” Commander Riker, who was
sitting on Data’s right, asked.
Data came up with a course of action. “Operations,” he
said, “launch a probe. See if we can get a visual on the
Kobayashi Maru.”
“Aye, sir,” Ensign Viers said. She touched a few buttons.
“Probe launched. It will take it two minutes to get within visual
range.”
“Acknowledged, Ensign.” Data turned to Riker, who had a
questioning look on his face. “We must verify what our sensor
readings have told us. I suspect that it may be a ruse by the
Romulans, in order to draw us into the Neutral Zone. That will
give them an excuse to take the Enterprise.”
Riker nodded an turned away from Data.
“Captain,” Viers said, “I have a visual.”
“On screen,” Data said.
The freighter Kobayashi Maru did in fact appear on the main
viewer at the front of the bridge. It was a real ship; it wasn’t
a fake. Debris floated around the Kobayashi Maru, and five hull
breaches could be seen.
“Life-signs?” Data asked.
“Fourteen,” Viers replied. “Most of them are faint.”
It could still be a deception, Data thought. “Species?”
“Five humans, four Vulcans, two Andorians, and three
Bajorans.”
No Romulans, Data thought, getting out of the command chair.
He approached the fore section of the bridge. The distress call
did appear to be genuine. “We must enter the Neutral Zone and
rescue the survivors of the accident.”
“Captain-” Riker said.
“I am aware of the implications, Mr. Riker,” Data said,
facing him. “I also have no intention of provoking the Romulans.
We will initiate a touch-and-go transport.”
“Touch-and-go, sir?” Viers asked.
“We will approach the freighter at a warp velocity, drop out
of warp for the duration of the transporting process, then warp
back into Federation space.”
“What we did at Gravesworld,” Riker said. “It’s risky.”
The mention of Gravesworld sparked memories in Data’s mind.
Doctor Ira Graves, before his body died, had transfered his
consciousness into Data. Graves briefly controlled Data, and
caused much confusion among the Enterprise crew. They eventually
figured out what Graves had done, and after Graves had hurt
several people “accidently” with his android body, he decided to
surrender control, and transfered his knowledge into the computer.
This is no time for reminitions, Data told himself. He
turned to the main viewer, and set about the task at hand.
“Ensign Crusher,” Data said, “lay in a course for a position
twenty thousand kilometers away from the Kobayashi Maru at maximum
warp. After the transports are complete, you will take us back
into the Federation at the same velocity.”
“Aye, sir,” Crusher said, entering the command into the
conn.
Data sat in the command chair and activated the intercom.
“Bridge to Transporter Room Three.”
“Chief O’Brien here, sir.”
“After we have reached the beam-out coordinates, transport
the Kobayashi Maru survivors onto the Enterprise. Speed would be
advisable.”
“Ready, sir. Transporter Room Two will help with the
process so we can get them all in the same six seconds.”
“Make use of whatever resources you need, Mr. O’Brien,” Data
said.
“Aye, sir.”
“Data out.” He turned to Ensign Crusher. “Is the
Enterprise ready?”
“It’s ready, Captain,” Crusher said.
“Make it so.”
The Enterprise sped into warp briefly, then ten seconds
later, slowed to impulse. Seven seconds passed.
“O’Brien to bridge,” the intercom said, “the survivors are
aboard.”
“Excellent,” Data said. “Mr. Crusher, engage.”
“Yes, Captain,” Crusher said.
Just as Crusher was about to key in the commands, the deck
lurched brutally. The lighting dimmed to emergency lighting only.
The sirens of red alert howled. The conn exploded in an
impressive array of yellow sparks, throwing Crusher from his seat.
He landed seven feet away from Data.
Wesley Crusher’s face was burned beyond recognition. His
uniform was covered with dark black scorch marks. His hands were
severely burned as well. Needless to say, he was dead.
Data did not have emotions, so he did not experience sorrow
over Crusher’s death. However, he had become “used” to the boy in
a sense, and would “miss” Crusher.
Data examined the conn. It would require extensive repairs.
“Ensign Viers, transfer navigational control to your console.”
“Yes, sir,” Viers said, sadness in her voice.
Data turned to Worf. “Mr. Worf, what happened?”
Worf looked even more angry than usual. “Six Romulan
Warbirds decloaked around us.” He growled. “The flagship is
hailing us. They wish to discuss the terms of our surrender!”
“On screen, Mr. Worf,” Data said, getting out of the command
chair.
“But sir-” Worf began.
“On screen, Lieutenant,” Data said forcefully.
Worf scowled even more deeply. “Yes, sir.”
Data turned to the main viewer. A familiar image appeared
there.
“Why, if it isn’t the Enterprise,” Tomulak said. “What a
pleasant surprise.”
“Commander-” Data began.
“You haven’t heard?” Tomulak said, sounding hurt. “It’s
‘Admiral Tomulak’ now. I was promoted three months ago.”
“My apologies. Admiral, I will not surrender the
Enterprise.”
Tomulak frowned. “You are grossly outmatched. You cannot
win. Surrender is your only alternative.”
“I am afraid not,” Data said. “We have a corbomite device.”
Tomulak burst out laughing. “A corbomite device!?” he said
skeptically. He continued laughing. “I know that trick,
Enterprise. Captain Kirk came up with that years ago. I think
you’d call it a century.”
“This is no ploy,” Data replied. “We have a device which
can allow us to establish different polarities of warp field at
each warp nacelle. If we engage the warp drive while such a
device is in operation, everything within one hundred million
kilometers of us will be completely destroyed.”
The humor left Tomulak’s face. He scowled. “You will be
destroyed as well.”
“That will be the case. However, so will your fleet of six
warbirds. Consider the dishonor your family will have if one
Galaxy-class starship destroys six D’Deridex-class Romulan
Warbirds under your command.”
Tomulak let out a deep breath. “You won’t do it.”
“I am an android, sir. I do not lie.”
Tomulak leaned forward, and forcefully said, “I will take my
chances. Prepare to die.” The channel was closed, and six
warbirds appeared on the main viewer.
The scenario is lost, Data thought. No matter what he tried
from now, the Enterprise would be destroyed.
“We should go out in honor!” Worf said. “Let’s try the
corbomite device! Take the enemy with us!”
“I agree,” Riker said. “If we’re going to go down, they
might as well come along.”
“Such an act may start a war with the Romulans,” Data
reminded Riker. The Enterprise started shaking from continuous
disruptor blasts from the warbirds.
“Letting us be picked off may start one as well,” Worf
protested. “If those warbirds destroy us easily, they will think
of the Federation as weak. However, if we manage to destroy those
P’Taks attacking us, then they might think twice!”
“That is consistant with the Romulan way of thinking,”
Counselor Deanna Troi said.
Data considered the comments of the bridge crew. They were
right. “We will proceed,” he announced. He activated the
intercom. “Bridge to Engineering.”
“Barclay here, sir!” came the reply. Lieutenant Commander
Geordi La Forge must have been dead or injured.
“Give the warp nacelles separate polarities,” Data said,
calm as ever. “When that is done, engage the warp drive.”
A loud explosion was heard over the intercom, then Barclay’s
voice. “Are you cra-”
“Make it so,” Data said.
Quite nervously, Barclay replied, “Y-y-yes, s-sir. Barclay
out.”
Data waited patiently as Barclay made the modifications.
The Romulans continued firing their disruptors at the Enterprise.
Each hit shook the ship terribly. By the time Barclay announced
that he was done, every member of the bridge crew was dead except
for Data and Riker.
“Well,” Riker said with sorrow, “I guess this is it.”
“Good-bye, Commander Riker,” Data said. “You have been a
good friend.” He stood up and looked around the bridge. “Mr.
Barclay, engage the warp drive.”
“Aye, Captain,” Barclay said over the intercom.
Then, a bright white light consumed Data’s vision…

…And then he was looking at black walls with bright orange
grids. The cubical room he was in was the holodeck. He heard the
holodeck doors open behind him. Data whirled around, and saw
Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Commander William T. Riker.
“Was my performance satisfactory?” Data asked innocently.
Picard got an amused expression on his face. “Well,
Commander… You did manage to rescue the Kobayashi Maru crew,
which is farther than a lot of people get. You managed to scare
the willies out of Admiral Tomulak. Your thinking was right on.
By taking those six Romulan Warbirds with you, you did manage to
prevent a Federation-Romulan war.” Picard walked up to Data and
shook his hand. “Congratulations. You might not have won, but
you didn’t lose, either.”
“Thank you, sir,” Data said. “That means much to me.”
Commander Riker walked up to Picard and Data. “You did
better than I did, Data. I never got close to the freighter, and
once, I accidently destroyed the thing.”
“Sir, right now, I have more command experience than you did
as a cadet. It would not be fair to say that I did better than
you, because a lieutenant commander would naturally have more
experience at command than a cadet. Likewise, right now, you have
more command experience than I do.”
“Not necessarily,” Picard said. “Remember James T. Kirk?”
Data stood there, processing the information. “Ah, yes,
sir. Kirk commanded the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and the USS
Enterprise NCC-1701-A. He also briefly held the rank of admiral
between 2270 and 2285. He was killed on the maiden voyage of the
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B-”
Picard raised his right hand. “Yes, we know, Data. He’s
the most famous captain in Starfleet history. What I mean is, he
often made better command decisions than people with much more
command experience.”
“I see, sir,” Data said. His head twitched for a moment.
“Captain, I do believe that Lieutenant Worf has schdeuled a
session in Holodeck Two for this time.”
At that moment, Worf appeared at the entrance to the
holodeck. “Are you finished?” he asked, annoyed.
“We were just leaving,” Picard said. He, Riker, and Data
exited the holodeck, and Worf entered it. The doors closed behind
him.

Lieutenant Worf strode through the corridors of the military
complex, semi-automatic pistil at the ready. A pool of water was
directly ahead of him. A large window was the the right of the
water. Two barrels of toxic waste were located nearby the water.
He would have to be cautious.
Worf could smell the monsters that were in the complex with
him. He could also smell the stench of the dead bodies that were
in the room with him. The monsters had killed large numbers of
people in various military complexes. Some of the monsters were
walking undead, and some were straight from Hell itself. It was
Worf’s job to avenge the death of his comrades, and to rid the
complexes of the Hellish menace.
Worf was now standing right by the pool of water. He
paused, listening for monsters. He heard several. Loud roars
erupted from the room to Worf’s left. Worf turned in that
direction, and saw several Undead Seargents. They were at the top
of a staircase in the adjacent room, and they had shotguns aimed
at Worf. They began firing.
Worf tried to dodge the blasts, and fired his own weapon at
the Seargents. He shot each Seargent four times, and they fell to
the floor, dead. Worf had taken two hits, but they weren’t
direct, so his health was at eighty percent.
Worf thought this game, Doom, was fun. It very much
surprised Worf that this game was made by humans. Of course, Worf
thought, Doom is based on a human computer game from the twentieth
century… Still and all, one did not normally associate humans
with games such as these.
Worf still heard monsters breathing in the adjacent room.
He strode in there, ready for battle.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard looked over the reports. The
Romulans were still being quiet, and they weren’t talking. It was
almost as if they had gone into another isolationist stage.
Picard wondered why they were doing that.
One of the many questions we must answer, Picard thought.
He put away the reports and went onto the bridge. Commander Riker
departed the command chair, allowing Picard to sit there.
“No unusual activity among the Romulans or Garthusians,
sir,” Riker reported.
Picard nodded. “I still don’t get it…”
“Sir,” Ensign Crusher at the conn said, “this lack of
activity could be defined as ‘unusual’.”
“That it could,” Picard acknowledged.
A loud beeping sounded from the tactical console. Everyone
looked to tactical as Lieutenant Norman reported, “We are
receiving a distress call.”
Picard frowned. “Pipe it in.”
The speakers crackled. “Captain… Freemont… Endeavor…
attacked…” Then nothing.
“The Romulans!” Riker said.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions, Number One,” Picard said.
Seceretly, he shared his first officer’s sentiments. “Where is
the Endeavor?”
Norman checked the tactical console. “Coordinates ten mark
twenty-three, bearing one zero one mark two.”
All eyes were on Picard. Picard turned to Crusher. “Lay in
a course for those coordinates, Ensign.”
“Aye, sir.” Crusher turned his attention to the conn.
Picard returned his attention to tactical. “Can you tell me
who’s attacking them?”
“No, sir.”
Picard faced the main viewer. “Red alert, battlestations.”
He pointed forward. “Maximum warp, engage!”
The red alert sirens sounded as the crew rushed to their
battlestations. Ensign Crusher pressed the engage button, and the
Enterprise went into subspace.

Lieutenant Worf emptied the ammunition from his chain gun
into the Cyberdemon. The Cyberdemon continued advancing on Worf,
firing its rockets. Worf’s health was at twenty-nine percent. If
he got hit by one more rocket, his character would die, and he
would have to start the level over with a pistil with fifty
bullets in it, and a fist. Not very appealing weapons.
After Worf emptied his chain gun, he had no ammunition left.
He would have to get up close to the Cyberdemon and use his chain
saw. That would mean certain death for the space marine he
played. He had only been killed once before, and did not wish to
repeat the experience.
Worf dodged a rocket, and saw an alternative to sawing the
Cyberdemon. The Cyberdemon was close to a group of barrels that
stood between it and Worf. If Worf sawed open one of the barrels,
it would explode, and set off a chain reaction which would make
all of the barrels explode. Worf would have to get so close it
would mean certain death, but he would be killed anyway. There
were ten barrels total; more than enough to take care of the
Cyberdemon.
Worf readied his chain saw, and moved towards the barrels.
He dropped to the ground, narrowly missing another rocket. The
Cyberdemon aimed its weapon at Worf, while he was on the ground,
and fired. The rocket left the launcher, and sailed towards Worf.
My character will die after all, Worf thought. He couldn’t
possibly get up and get out of the way before the rocket hit him.
He’d have to start the level again.
Just as Worf was thinking that, the rocket hit the barrel
nearest Worf. The barrel exploded, causing the other barrels to
explode. Worf was sufficiently far away that he wasn’t killed,
but the Cyberdemon wasn’t so lucky. It imploded with a roar,
leaving only hooves behind.
Worf gave a howl of victory. He stood up, and checked his
health meter; it said two percent. He would have to find a health
power-up soon.
A loud roar sounded from a distant hallway. Down the
corridor, an Undead Human teleported in. The thing shot Worf,
killing his character.
Worf gave a loud roar of anger. He had killed a Cyberdemon,
only to be picked off by the weakest of adversaries! While
everything around him paused, the computer said, calmly as ever,
“Do you wish to restart this level?”
“Yes!” Worf shouted. “I will make that monster pay!”
“Restart-” the computer began, then stopped. It continued
with, “Red alert has been called. Do you wish to continue Doom?”
“No,” Worf replied. “Computer, end program.”
The enviroment surrounding Worf vanished, to be replaced by
the familiar orange-on-black grid. The chain saw and space marine
uniform vanished, and the holodeck doors slid open. Worf exited
the holodeck, and rushed to the bridge.

Captain’s log, supplemental. We have received a distress
call from the USS Endeavor. They have been attacked, but as of
yet, we have been unable to determine the identity of the culprits
as of yet, however, we do have our suspicions that the Romulans
are responsible.

Captain Picard faced the main viewer, and said, “On screen.”
The image of the remains of the Endeavor appeared. Numerous
debris floated around.
“The debris field is consistant with an Ambassador-class
starship,” Data reported.
“Those P’Taks,” Worf muttered under his breath.
“Who did this?” Riker asked.
Data’s hands danced across the Ops console. “There are
heavy concetrations of positrons, sir. This would suggest
Garthusian weaponry.”
Picard leapt out of the command chair. “Are there any
trails?”
“Yes, sir. Gravitational eddy currents on a course of nine
five two mark three, bearing one hundred twenty-three mark seven.”

“Mr. Crusher, lay in an intercept course,” Picard ordered.
“Mr. Worf, inform Starfleet Command.”
“Yes, sir,” Crusher and Worf said in unison.
Data turned around to face Picard. “Captain, that course
takes us directly into the Neutral Zone.”
“I don’t think we have to worry much about the treaty at
this point,” Riker stated.
“Quite right, Number One,” Picard said. “However, we will
need some legitimate excuse for entering the Neutral Zone. As I
understand it, scientific research is allowed?”
“It is doubtful that will work,” Worf replied. “Only if the
fight goes badly for any Romulan commander we come across.”
“Still, we must follow the enemy vessel.” Picard stood up.
“It is now apparent that the Garthusians are in this area of
space. It is also likely that they are either allies with the
Romulans, or are moving to attack them. Mr. Data?”
“Their course would take them into Romulan space,” Data
reported. “I cannot estimate their speed, though. If it is
indeed a Garthusian sphereship we are chasing, it may very well be
there already.”
“One starship cannot defeat a Garthusian sphereship,” Worf
said. “We should bring along additional ships. It is not
honorable to charge foolishly into battle.”
“The nearest starship is a day away,” Picard answered. “We
must go now.” He walked up to the fore section of the bridge.
“Ensign, engage!”

Subcommander Tae’lok glimpsed at his board as a loud beeping
emitted from it. A Federation starship had entered the Neutral
Zone, and was on a pursuit course. He reported his findings to
Commander Greair.
Greair snorted. “We’re cloaked. They can’t see us.”
“Nonetheless, we are being followed.”
Greair frowned. “Take us to battle alert. Lay in an
intercept course for the starship, maximum warp.”
The crew rushed to comply with the commander’s orders. The
sirens of battle alert howled throughout the ship.
“Astrogation ready, Commander,” Lieutenant Jucluaw
announced.
“Execute,” Greair ordered.

Fifteen minutes later, Captain Picard was drumming his
fingers on the armrests of the command chair. It seemed like the
Enterprise was traveling at light speed, instead of many times so.
“Captain,” Worf said, alarmed, “a Romulan D’Deridex-class
Warbird has decloaked along our course, and is on an intercept
course.”
“Red alert, all hands to battlestations,” Picard commanded.
“Slow to impulse.”
The red alert Klaxons sounded as the crew rushed to carry
out their orders.
“The warbird is slowing to impulse,” Worf reported.
“Raising shields, arming weapons systems.” He paused. “We are
being hailed.”
“On screen,” Picard said, getting out of the command chair
and walking in between the conn and Ops consoles.
A young, smiling Romulan appeared on the main viewer. “I am
Commander Greair of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Kaelax.
Federation vessel, you are in violation of the Treaty of
Algernon.”
“This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship
Enterprise. We are following the course of a vessel that attacked
and destroyed the Federation Starship Endeavor inside Federation
space. We wish to bring whoever is responsible to justice.”
“I see. Can you tell me who you are looking for, Picard?
Perhaps we can help.”
“Garthusian weapons destroyed the Endeavor,” Picard said.
“However, our sensor scans of the area pick up no Garthusian
vessels, and we don’t know the Garthusians to have cloaking
technology.”
Greair laughed. “How do you know they don’t have cloaking
technology? They might not have used it against Starfleet, but
now they’re going against the Romulan Star Empire!”
Picard scowled. “Make all the jokes you want, Commander,
but the Romulans have a serious situation on their hands. Even
one Garthusian sphere could be devastating.”
“We are very much aware of that, Picard,” Greair said, humor
still in his voice. “The Imperial Fleet is ready for whatever
enemies it may come across.” He paused for a minute, then
continued. “Captain, I’d suggest that you retreat into Federation
territory. We wouldn’t want a war between our two peoples, would
we?” The Kaelax cut the channel.
“The Kaelax has cloaked, sir,” Worf said with a hint of
anger.
Commander Riker immediately said, “We can’t let them face
the Garthusians by themselves.”
“They were perfectly content to leave us alone during the
Borg invasion and the Garthusian one,” Picard said bitterly. “We
can do the same for them.” He sat back down in the command chair.
“Meanwhile, we can’t linger in the Neutral Zone. Mr. Crusher,
take us back into Federation space at maximum warp.”
“Aye, sir,” Crusher said, and began working the conn. Soon
after, the Enterprise blazed into warp.
Picard turned to Troi. “Counselor, what did you sense from
the Romulan commander?”
“He was hiding something,” Troi said. “He was also bending
the truth a little.”
Worf growled as Picard nodded. “I got that impression as
well.” He stood up. “Number One, you have the bridge.” He
walked into his ready room.

CHAPTER TWO

Admiral Skrell was reading the reports on the Romulan
situation. He had a particular interest in the Romulans; he was
concerned about what went on with his cousins. So far, it was not
yet clear whether the Romulan Star Empire was allied with the
Garthusians or not. As he was thinking about that, one particular
report caught his eye.

From: United Space Ship Enterprise NCC-1701-D

Starship Commander: Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Report: This is Captain Picard. The USS Endeavor has been
attacked and destroyed; traces of Garthusian weapons were found in
the area. A trail of gravitational eddies was also found in the
area. It led into the Romulan Neutral Zone and on to Romulan
space. We followed the trail, and was intercepted by the Imperial
Warbird Kaelax inside the Neutral Zone. Its commander, Greair,
told us to withdraw into Federation territory or face war. I told
him about the possible Garthusian threat, but he seemed
unconcerned. It is still unclear as to whether the Romulans and
the Garthusians are allies or not. My recommendation is that we
go on a fleet wide Alert Status Four. Also, we need to get
Starfleet Intelligence to work right away. It is imperative to
the security of the United Federation of Planets that we find out
exactly what is going on.

Signed,
Jean-Luc Picard
Jean-Luc Picard

Priority One access only!

Skrell read the report impassively, as was typical among
Vulcans. He considered the situation and Picard’s
recommendations. What Picard was requesting was rational enough.
Skrell decided to follow Picard’s recommendation that Starfleet go
to Alert Status Four, and he decided to figure out why
Intelligence didn’t seem to be doing its job.

Captain Picard faced the main viewer. “On screen, Mr.
Worf.”
The stern features of Admiral Skrell appeared. He had
piercing black eyes, short black hair, and fairly wrinkle-free
skin. Picard estimated that the Vulcan was about one hundred
twenty years old. There was a certain grimness about Skrell that
Picard found alarming; normally, you couldn’t tell that sort of
thing with Vulcans.
“Captain Picard,” Skrell said, “I am taking your suggestion
and I am putting Starfleet on Alert Status Four.”
Picard nodded. “Thank you, Admiral.”
Quickly changing the subject, Skrell said, “Starfleet
Intelligence seems to be having trouble getting information from
its operatives within the Romulan Empire. It appears that none of
them have reported in since stardate 44123.7.”
“Alarming news,” Picard replied. “The Romulans must have
caught them all.”
“That was my theory. Picard, there is no way that the
Romulans could have caught all of our nine hundred operatives in
the three years that most have been there. Therefore, I am
assigning the Enterprise and the Lexington to find out what has
been transpiring.”
“A daunting task,” Picard commented.
“You are famous for completing daunting tasks with the most
satisfactory result. You will meet the Lexington at Starbase 58.
I understand your two ships have worked together before.”
“That is correct,” Picard said with a touch of ruefulness.
“Most satisfactory. Skrell out.” The main viewer’s image
returned to normal space.
“What are your orders, Captain?” Riker asked.
“Mr. Worf, take us to Alert Status Four. Mr. Crusher, lay
in a course for Starbase 58, warp seven… Make it so.”

Captain Diana Grayson of the Starship Lexington strode onto
the bridge of the starbase. She had been practicing her
Klingonese when Commander Amundson had called her up to the
bridge, and she wasn’t happy. Grayson found Amundson near the
security station, conversing with Lieutenant Walters, the chief of
security on Starbase 58.
“Ah, Captain,” Amundson said cheerily, waving her over. “I
hope I didn’t bother you.”
Grayson walked over to the security station. “Get it over
with,” Grayson said angrily.
Amundson frowned. “Well… We’ve received a communique
from Admiral Skrell. It appears that the Enterprise and the
Lexington will be working together to help solve the Romulan
mystery.”
Grayson cursed under her breath. “Damn. Where are we
supposed to rendevous?”
“The Enterprise is coming here at warp seven. They’ll be
here in a day and a half. Once that’s done, you and Captain
Picard will receive additional orders.”
“Great. Keep me posted.” Grayson exited the bridge
swiftly. Her thoughts and emotions were in a hurricane. She
didn’t want to have to serve with Commander Riker again, but it
seemed that Starfleet was yet again forcing them too. The trip
into the Seraris Regions had been enough. Now this?

Commander William T. Riker stared at his drink woefully. He
seemed to be in deep thought. Guinan decided to see what was
wrong. She walked up to his table and sat down. “What’s on your
mind?”
Riker took a sip of his drink. “Nothing.”
“Riker, I know you better than that. I’ve heard that you
have some history with the captain of the Lexington.”
Riker sighed. “All right. I do.”
“Care to tell me what she did to you that was so terrible?”
“Guinan-”
“This isn’t going to go away, Commander,” Guinan said
forcefully. “Now, spill it.”
Riker sighed again. “If you say so.” He began his story.

THE USS HOOD

Lieutenant Commander William T. Riker of the Starship Hood
took the command chair. Captain De Soto was gone at a Starfleet
conference, and Riker had been given command. This wasn’t the
first time Riker had been given command for an extended period of
time, but this time, it seemed different. He couldn’t quite put
his finger on it.
Lieutenant Diana Grayson at the conn flashed him a smile.
“You like it when the captain’s gone, don’t you?”
Riker gave a little grin of his own. “Well, I do like
command.”
Grayson chuckled. “You’ll have your own command someday.
It’s going to be a ship like the Excelsior or Enterprise.”
Riker smiled. “I’m glad you have so much faith in me.”
“I’m glad that you’re glad. First, though, you have to get
rid of that baby face! Grow a beard!”
“I’ll consider that, Lieutenant.” Riker got out of the
command chair and walked up to the conn. He leaned over and
whispered into her ear, “Dinner at eighteen hundred?”
Grayson smiled even more broadly. “Sounds great,” she
whispered back.
Riker walked back to the command chair, pleased with
himself. The science officer, Lieutenant Commander Skralle,
raised an eyebrow.
“What’s on your mind, Commander?” Riker asked the Vulcan.
“Nothing of consequence, sir,” Skralle said, and returned
his attention to the science station.
Riker turned his attention to the main viewer. The Hood was
traveling at impulse speed, right next to the Paulson Nebula.
While the captain was away, the science department had requested
that the ship go to the Paulson Nebula, which was nearby, and run
detailed sensor scans. Riker had agreed, and now here they were.
The Hood had been at the nebula for a day now, and planned to stay
for an additional two days.
All that changed when the tactical officer, Lieutenant Greg
Pierce, announced, “Commander, we’re receiving a distress call.”
Riker bit his lip. He wondered what could be going on by
the Paulson Nebula. It wasn’t located near any hostile empires,
and the region was sparsely populated. “Elaborate, Lieutenant.”
“Imperium is requesting that the nearest Federation starship
render aid at once. They say the stability of the government is
at stake, and that there would be no hope without help.”
“Can you raise them?”
Pierce punched his tactical console, and shook his head.
“No response. Also, the distress call has stopped transmitting.”
Riker considered the situation. It appeared that Imperium’s
government had been overthrown, or was about to be. It would be
the Hood’s responsibility to check it out, since Imperium was a
Federation world.
“Orders, sir?” Grayson asked.
“Lieutenant Grayson, lay in a course for Imperium, maximum
warp. Lieutenant Pierce, let Starfleet Command know what has
happened.”
“Aye, sir,” Grayson and Pierce said in unison, and set about
their tasks.

One hour later, Lieutenant Commander Riker was reading up on
Imperium. Imperium had joined the Federation in 2356, and had
enjoyed rapid improvement in way of life and living conditions
since then. Imperium was dilithium-rich, and the world prospered
by selling it to private merchants. Starfleet was also allowed to
obtain dilithium from Imperium, at a discount.
Imperium had an average geography, similar to that of Earth.
The atmosphere was composed mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen,
and oxygen; however, unlike Earth, Imperium’s atmosphere had
oxygen being the dominant gas instead of nitrogen. Carbon dioxide
was still the least common of the three, however.
“We have arrived in the Imperium system,” Grayson reported.
“Slow to impulse,” Riker said, setting the PADD aside.
“Take us to Imperium.”
Five minutes later, the Hood slipped into Imperium’s orbit.
“Report, Mr. Frorkson.”
The Operations officer, Ensign Frorkson, who was a Klamite,
said, “The geography and average atmosphere composition is no
different. However, over the cities, there are high
concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. I
am detecting an average of ten thousand people within each city.
There are a total of one million people on the planet. In some
zones, I am detecting high amounts of nuclear radiation.
Electromagnetic radiation is present in a few other zones.”
“It’s a war zone down there,” Grayson muttered.
“I agree,” Riker said. “Mr. Pierce, still no contact with
the planet?”
Pierce shook his head. “Afraid not, sir.”
Riker stared at the main viewer. From orbit, the green
planet didn’t look like any problems were going on. “I will lead
an away team to the capital city. Mr. Frorkson, will we need
enviromental suits?”
Frorkson looked at the Ops console. “I’d advise it, sir.”
“Okay.” Riker got out of the command chair. “Pierce,
Skralle, Frorkson, you’re with me.” He slapped his commbadge.
“Riker to Doctor Punaski, meet the away team in Transporter Room
One. Be prepared to treat wounded.”
“Aye, sir. Punaski out.”
“Mr. Pierce, have a security detail meet us down there.
Lieuetenant Grayson, you have the bridge.”

Riker, Skralle, Pierce, Frorkson, and a security detail
composed of Ensigns Lynch, Johnson, and McCall materialized on the
surface of Imperium. Riker surveyed his surroundings. The sky
was an unhealthy dark yellow, and the buildings all around the
beam-down point were all severely damaged. The only building that
still looked habitable was one kilometer away. It was twenty
storeys tall, and was colored a dark black. It had something on
top which had been blown apart. Riker couldn’t tell what it used
to be.
Frorkson had his tricorder out and began scanning. “The
twenty storey building one point one five kilometers away is the
capital building, Commander. I suggest we go there.”
“Good idea.” Riker took the lead. “Follow me.”
The team began heading for the building. As they were
walking, Frorkson walked up to Riker.
“Yes, Ensign?” Riker asked.
“The capital building isn’t supposed to be black,” Frorkson
said, looking at his tricorder. “I’ve seen picutres of it. It’s
normally green. Also, the sky is normally green.”
“Must’ve been some fight,” Riker said. “What was that
structure on top of the capital building?”
Frorkson gazed at the wreckage on top of the tall skyscraper
for a moment. “That was a place of worship. Every night after
their duties had been performed, politicians would go up and spend
hours in prayer to their gods, which they call the Shanate.”
“You seem to be quite versed on Imperium, Ensign.”
“It’s somewhat of a hobby of mine, sir. When I was a boy,
the Impol ambassador to Klamitia took a special interest in me.
He taught me everything about Impol society.”
“I take it the people of Imperium call themselves the
‘Impol’?”
“The plural form is Impols. The singular form is Impol.
For example, ‘The group of Impols showered their fellow Impol with
praise’.”
“I see,” Riker said. The team was at the capital building
now. He said, “Computer, activate comm system.”
“Working,” the computer of Riker’s EVA suit said. “Comm
system active.”
Riker cleared his throat, and said loudly, “This is
Lieutenant Commander William T. Riker of the Federation Starship
Hood to anyone inside the capital building. Please respond.”
Riker waited for a response. He got one. A squad of ten
Impols came out of the capital building aiming phaser rifles at
the Starfleet officers. They weren’t wearing EVA suits.
“I am the new leader of Imperium,” the oldest man said. He
motioned towards the ground. “Give us your weapons.”
Riker sighed. “All right.” He threw his phaser to the
ground, next to the leader. The rest of the team followed his
example.
“Very good.” The leader motioned towards the entrance of
the capital building. “This way.”
The Starfleet away team followed the Impols into the
building. The room they entered wasn’t much better than the
outside. Scorch marks covered the walls, sculptures and furniture
were smashed, and there were numerous holes and cracks in the
ceiling and floor. They were the only people in the room.
“The new government of this world is the Imperium Shanate.
In any further dealings, the Federation will talk to us.”
“Why did you overthrow the legitimate government?” Riker
asked.
The leader snorted. “Legitimate? That government was no
more legitimate than a Klingon Starfleet officer. It is absurd to
even suggest such a thing. We are the true government of
Imperium. We were chosen by the Shanate themselves.”
Frorkson snorted.
“You may be skeptical at first,” the leader said. “I know
how most Federation types are, especially humans. You think that
religion is all smoke and mirrors. You’re wrong. The Shanate do
exist. They rule this world through us.” He paused. “The
Imperium Shanate would like to continue our relationship with the
Federation.”
“Not a chance,” Riker said. “You’re not an elected
government-”
Just then, a phaser blast hit one of the other Impols in the
back. The Impol fell to the floor, stunned.
Riker registered shock at who had fired the phaser.
Lieutenant Grayson and five security officers were standing in the
back of the room with phaser rifles pointed at the group of
Impols.
“Protect the king! Protect the king!” all of the Impols
besides the leader shouted. They formed a defensive circle around
the leader of the Imperium Shanate, and began firing their phaser
rifles.
Lieutenant Commander Skralle and Ensign Frorkson were killed
by the phaser blasts. The blasts hit their oxygen tanks, and the
tanks exploded, blowing the unfortunate victims in half. Both
halves of their bodies caught fire and fell to the stone floor.
Damn! Riker thought. At least they had died quickly. Riker
took cover behind a large piece of stone furniture. The rest of
Riker’s team took cover too.
Riker heard the phasers blasting away. Cries of agony
filled the room. Riker knew that Grayson and her team would be
using stun setting, so the suffering people must have been members
of Grayson’s team.
The piece of furniture Riker was behind exploded. Stones
fell all over Riker, and the force of the impacts knocked him
unconscious.

Riker awoke later in sickbay. His EVA suit was off, which
was a relief. Grayson was bent over him, looking into his face.
“How’re you feeling?” she asked, concerned.
“Better,” Riker said, sitting up. He felt a sharp pain in
his back, and laid back down. “Lieutenant Grayson, how many
casualties were there?”
Grayson stood there, thinking. “Skralle and Frorkson…
Ministara… Jackson… Deeds… Five Starfleet fatalities,
sir.”
Riker frowned. It was bad enough to lose an officer you
barely knew, but Frorkson had been his best friend… They had
met while on shore leave at New Berlin, and had been friends ever
since. He was also more than an acquaintance with Skralle.
“Grayson… you didn’t have to do that.”
“Do what, sir?”
“Don’t play the fool with me. You beamed down there and
risked the lives of both of our teams, and may have ruined
whatever future relations the Federation may have had with the
Imperium Shanate. I didn’t think that they would kill us, but
because of your interference, five fine officers are dead. Five,
Lieutenant.”
Grayson just stood there, unable to speak.
“As of now, our date is called off,” Riker said angrily.
“I’ll have a formal reprimand put on your record, and I’ll try to
have you court martialed. Dismissed!”
Grayson’s eyes teared up quickly. She began to cry, and ran
out of sickbay.
“Nice going, genius,” Doctor Punaski said. The man had a
grim expression on his face.
“Be quiet, Doctor!”
Punaski turned away and busied himself with a computer
console.

THE USS ENTERPRISE NCC-1701-D

Commander Riker of the Enterprise downed the last remnants
of his drink, and set the glass down on the table. “There you
have it, Guinan.”
Guinan had sat there the whole time, listening intently.
“Don’t you think you were a little harsh on her, Riker?”
“I don’t. She deserved it. Five people who shouldn’t have
died on that mission met their doom because of Grayson. Starfleet
should have found her guilty.”
“Commander, she was concerned.” She paused. “You weren’t
the only one traumatized by this incident, you know. The Grayson
you described was quite friendly. Now, from what I’ve been able
to peice together, she has a lot of negative emotions and tries to
relieve the stress by lashing out at other people.”
“In other words, she’s a snob.” Riker grunted. “Because of
that, nobody likes her. Well, that’s what she deserves. She
caused the deaths of five officers, and she needs to pay for it.”
“Riker… Give her a second chance. She must have learned
since then, because she has been made the captain of a
Revolutionary-class starship.”
Riker scowled. “I’ll think about it.” With that, he stood
up and left Ten-Forward.

Worf carefully aimed his rocket launcher. He only had five
rockets left, and he had to make each of them count. His targets
were three Death Knights up ahead in the long, dark corridor.
They were standing still, with their backs turned to him. As soon
as he fired the first rocket, though, they’d turn around and start
running towards him, firing laser bolts. When they got up close,
they’d start slashing at him with their swords. Worf’s health was
at fifty percent, so he couldn’t allow that.
Just as Worf was about to fire, an Ogre came into the hall,
in front of the Death Knights. It noticed Worf, and let out a
loud roar. The Death Knights turned around to see what the Ogre
had noticed. They saw Worf, and began firing laser bolts.
Worf cursed and kneeled. The laser bolts sailed over his
head. The Death Knights began advancing towards Worf, while the
Ogre stayed put and launched grenades at Worf with its grenade
launcher.
Worf was too far away for the grenades to hit him, but most
of the grenades hit the Death Knights. They turned around to face
the Ogre, and charged, laser bolts flying.
The Ogre turned its full attention to the oncoming Death
Knights. It began aiming its grenades at them. The Ogre managed
to blow up one Death Knight before the other two closed in. The
remaining Death Knights began to slice up the Ogre with their
swords. The Ogre fired some more grenades, and blew up one more
Death Knight. However, before it could fire at the other one, the
Ogre fell to the floor, dead from the wounds the Death Knights had
inflicted on it.
Yes! Worf thought. Most of the monsters had been
eliminated, and the remaining Death Kniight was severely weakened,
all without him firing a shot. Worf decided not to waste a
rocket, and got out his double-barreled shotgun. He aimed it at
the Death Knight, and fired. The Death Knight slumped onto the
floor.
Worf took out the rocket launcher again, and crept slowly
towards the remains of the monsters. He bent over and took the
grenades out of the Ogre’s backpack, and loaded them into his
rocket launcher (both the grenade launcher and the rocket launcher
used the same ammunition.) Worf now had seven rockets. He stood
back up, and walked towards the hall’s exit. Quake appeared to be
somewhat easier than Doom was…

The next day, the Enterprise sped towards Starbase 58 at
full impulse.
“ETA is one minute, Captain,” Data reported.
“Hail Commander Amundson, Mr. Worf,” Picard ordered,
standing up and walking to the spot in between the Ops console and
conn.
The cheery face of Commander Amundson appeared on the main
viewer. Her red hair shined exquisitely. Her bright brown eyes
looked as happy as her face.
“I assume that the Lexington is ready to go, Commander?”
Picard asked, getting to the point.
“Captain Grayson made a point of making sure it was, sir,”
Amundson said. “She wants to get the mission over with as soon as
possible.”
“Then you may send the Lexington out into space, Commander.”
“Aye, sir.” Amundson’s image winked off the main viewer, to
be replaced by the starbase. The bay doors were already opening.
“The process will take thirty-two seconds, sir,” Data
stated.
“Very well.” Picard remained where he was standing. He
watched the Revolutionary-class USS Lexington NCC-3432 fly out of
Starbase 58. He waited for the bay doors to close before taking
action.
“The Lexington is hailing us,” Worf said.
“She doesn’t waste any time, does she?” Riker commented.
“Quiet, Number One.” Picard cleared his throat, and waited
for a minute. Finally, he said, “On screen, Lieutenant.”
Captain Diana Grayson appeared on the main viewer. She had
a very angry expression on her face. “Picard! What the hell do
you think-”
“Language,” Picard said. “Has your mother ever washed your
mouth out with soap and water?”
Grayson fumed. “Unlike you, Frenchie, I don’t live in the
past-”
“Prejudice is unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. That is
the first time another officer has called me a ‘Frenchie.’ I
suppose you feel honored.”
“Get to the business, Captain Jean-Luc Picard!”
“Boy, is she mad,” Riker muttered to himself.
“I heard that, Riker! Fu-”
“Enough!” Picard shouted. “Commander Riker, report to my
ready room!”
Riker stood up and did what he was told, grumbling to
himself.
Picard took a deep breath, then continued. “Captain
Grayson, I assume you have read the situation reports.”
“I am not untrained, Picard!”
“Therefore, I will contact Admiral Skrell to receive our
orders. Do not use such a tone with me again, and don’t smart
off! Picard out!” The main viewer switched its view to the
Lexington as Picard took several deep breaths. “Mr. Worf,” he
said, more calmly, “hail Admiral Skrell.”
“Yes, sir,” Worf said. He touched several locations on the
tactical console, then looked at the captain. “Admiral Skrell
requests that you communicate to him from your ready room.”
“Okay, Mr. Worf. Make it so.” Picard slapped his
commbadge. “Picard to Riker.”
“Riker here, sir.”
“You may come come out of the ready room, and take the
bridge. Picard out.”
When Riker strode out of the ready room, Picard strode in.

When Picard sat down at his desk, Skrell was already visible
on the desktop monitor. He looked as emotionless as any Vulcan
should.
“Captain Picard,” Skrell said, “what is your opinion of
Captain Grayson?”
Picard sighed. “She is a competent officer, although she is
not easy to get along with.”
“You approve of her being on this mission?”
Picard sat there, thinking for a moment. “I suppose so.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Did you not assign the starships who would
be on the mission?”
“No, I didn’t. Admiral Nechayev overruled me. I protested
her decision, but she was adamant on giving Captain Grayson and
you your assignments.”
Picard frowned. “Grayson would be fine on this type of
mission.”
“I do not think so. Five years ago, aboard the USS Hood,
the then Lieutenant Grayson commited an irresponsible act which
killed my son and four other Starfleet officers. Her act also
injured yet more officers, including your William Riker. Riker
and I attempted to have her court martialed, but she was
exonerated, receiving only a reprimand.” Skrell paused. “Captain
Picard, speaking of reprimands, I understand you’ve received one
recently.”
“Indeed. Admiral Jordan issued me one for violating her
orders and defending the Pineiro System from the Garthusians.”
“That’s right. I have spoken to Jordan, and we both agree
that the reprimand shall be removed from your record. It will be
mentioned that you violated orders, but no reprimand will be
present.”
Picard was stunned. He wondered what had caused that, and
voiced his questions.
“I did not believe that the reprimand had been deserved. A
seasoned and disciplined officer such as you would not violate
orders unless absolutely necessary. I convinced Admiral Jordan of
my reasoning, and she decided to remove the reprimand.”
Picard was still shocked. “Thank you, Admiral,” he rasped.
“Your appreciation is noted. Now, on to your orders.”
Skrell paused. “You are to go to Khitomer, in the Klingon Empire.
Once there, you will rendevous with the Klingon Attack Cruiser
Par’Mach. You will receive further instructions there. Skrell
out.” The symbol of the United Federation of Planets replaced
Skrell’s image, then that too winked out, leaving an empty, black
monitor.
Picard slapped his commbadge. “Picard to bridge. Number
One, lay in a course for Khitomer at maximum warp.”
“Aye, captain,” Riker’s voice replied. “Is there anything
else, sir?”
“Yes. Send Mr. Worf into the ready room. Picard out.”
Picard stood up, and gazed out the starport. The ship was at
warp.
A loud chime filled the ready room.
“Come,” Picard said, sitting back down. Lieutenant Worf
strode into the ready room, and the doors slid shut behind him.
“Yes, Captain?” Worf asked.
Picard was about to ask Worf to sit down, but then he knew
the Klingon would prefer to stand. Picard looked Worf over for a
moment, then spoke. “Worf, your parents were killed by the
Romulans over on Khitomer. Right now, we are on route to
Khitomer.”
“I am aware of that, sir.”
“Do you want to talk about it, Lieutenant?” Picard stood
up, and walked over by Worf’s side. “I imagine it must be
difficult for you.”
“I will do my duty to the best of my ability, sir.”
Picard nodded. “Good. Right now, we need you more than
ever.” He paused, thinking. “If the situation permits it, would
you like to beam down to Khitomer?”
Worf’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “Why, Captain?”
“I don’t know. Look over a few things, maybe. It’s up to
you.”
“I will think about it, sir. Is that all?”
Picard stood there for a moment. “Yes, Lieutenant. Return
to your duties.”
Lieutenant Worf turned his back to the captain, and exited
the room.
Picard gazed out the starport for a moment, then he too
stepped onto the bridge.
“Our ETA is two days at present speed, sir,” Data reported.
“The Lexington is in close pursuit.”
“Very well,” Picard said. He looked at Riker, who was
standing between the Ops console and the conn. “Number One, I
understand your attitude towards Captain Grayson. However, please
refrain from talking while we’re in communication with her if
possible.” He paused. “Or she might get into another hissy fit.”
Riker smiled. “Aye, sir.”
Picard sat down in the command chair. He activated the log
recorder.

Captain’s log, stardate 44336.5. The Enterprise has
rendevoused with the Lexington at Starbase 58. Our mission will
be to determine why all of our Starfleet Intelligence operatives
on Romulus have failed to report in since stardate 44123.7. As
per Admiral Skrell’s orders, we are now on a course for Khitomer,
which is a Klingon world near the Romulan border. Once there, we
will meet with the Klingon Attack Cruiser Par’Mach. As of yet, we
do not know why we are doing so.

Picard finished recording his log.

CHAPTER THREE

Captain Diana Grayson stepped onto the bridge and took the
command chair. “How long until Khitomer?”
Lieutenant Commander Hermson, a Klamite, reported, “One day,
madam.”
“Thank you, Mr. Frorkson.”
Hermason got a puzzled expression on his face. “Captain? I
am Lieutenant Commander Hermson-”
Grayson frowned. That was the tenth time she had made that
mistake. It was beginning to worry her. “Ah… yes, I know,
Commander. Carry on.”
Hermson returned his attention to Ops, muttering to himself.
The sounds of several electrical discharges sounded
throughout the bridge. Grayson gave a long sigh. “I wonder what
It Itsum is angry at now.”
The turbolift doors at the front right of the bridge opened
up. Itsum stormed out. Blue electricity crackled all over its
command uniform. Its black eyeballs were glowing bright yellow.
Itsum walked over to Grayson.
“Yes?” Grayson asked innocently.
Itsum opened its mouth to speak. Electricity ran along its
teeth. “Ensign Goldman interrupted my Egyptology session!”
“I thought it was Lieutenant Goldman…”
“Not anymore, it isn’t!”
Grayson sighed for the second time in five minutes. “What
did Goldman interrupt you for?”
“A minor report that Ensign Melindan was failing in his
duties in some warp thing-or-another. I didn’t pay too much
attention.”
At that second, the Lexington lurched. Grayson managed to
stay in the command chair, and everyone else managed to stay at
their stations; except Itsum, that is. Itsum fell to the deck.
An electricity bolt discharged from its eyeballs. It climbed into
the first officers seat, to Grayson’s left.
“What the hell was that!?” Grayson shouted. She looked at
the main viewer at the front of the bridge. The Lexington was in
normal space. “What the hell is going on!?”
“It’s the port warp nacelle, madam!” Hermson called. “The
phase electromagnetic stimulators are off-line! Their sudden
failure forced us to go out of warp!”
“Damn!” Grayson cursed. “Who’s responsible for the phase
electromagnetic stimulators on the port warp nacelle!?”
Hermson checked his console. “Ensign Melindan and Chief
Klincaid.”
“Melindan!?” Grayson cried. She turned to Itsum. “You’re
getting a reprimand, Commander! Next time something like this
happens, you’re getting a demotion! Is that understood!?”
Electricity crackled all over Itsum’s black skin and
Starfleet uniform. “I understand, Captain.”
Grayson turned away from her accursed first officer and
punched on the intercom. “Grayson to Lieutenant Commander La
Salle!”
“La Salle here, Captain.”
“Get Melindan out of the port warp nacelle. In fact, get
him out of the Engineering Section, period. Send him up to the
bridge. After that, do what you need to do to get us up and
running again.”
“Understood.”
“Grayson out!” She leaped out of the command chair and
strode to Ops. “Status of the Enterprise?”
“The Enterprise has dropped out of warp. It has stopped
alongside us. Captain Picard is hailing you.”
“Put him on screen,” Grayson said, straightening up. Picard
appeared on the main viewer. “Captain…”
“What happened on the Lexington?” Picard asked. “We’ve
picked up a malfunction-”
“The phase electromagnetic stimulators in our port warp
nacelle are off-line, the fault of some incompetent engineering
ensign.” The turbolift doors at the aft right section of the
bridge opened up. Ensign Melindan strode out. “Ah, there he is
now, Captain. If you will excuse me. Grayson out.” She turned
to face Melindan. “Ensign, come join me.”
Melindan nervously crept towards Grayson. When he finally
reached her, he said, “Yes, sir?”
Grayson flinched. She scowled at the young man. “First of
all, never, ever, call me ‘sir.’ Second, due to your
incompetence, you will be stripped of your Starfleet commission.
You are no longer even an ensign. You’re now a noncom. You will
take multiple and extensive engineering courses at Starfleet
Academy until they’re convinced that you’re back up to speed.
Understood, Ensign?”
Tears were flowing down Melindan’s face. “Yes, Captain,” he
said, voice cracking.
Grayson nodded. “Dismissed!”
Melindan quickly turned around, and ran off the bridge into
the aft turbolift.
“I think I handled that well,” Grayson said, and returned to
the command chair. “Mr. Hermson, hail the Enterprise.”
Captain Picard reappeared on the main viewer. “I trust you
have resolved the situation with the young ensign?”
“Oh yes indeed, Picard. We expect to be underway in…
Commander, when will we be underway?”
“Fifteen minutes,” Hermson said.
“Good. Fifteen minutes, Picard. Let the Love know we’ll be
a little late.”
Picard frowned. “Pardon?”
“I’ve been taking Klingon courses lately,” Grayson said
proudly. “‘Par’Mach’ is Klingonese for ‘love.'” She paused.
“Somehow, I never expected the Klingons to name a ship Par’Mach.
I wonder if the ship is any good…”
“We shall see,” Picard said, sounding unconcerned. “Oh, by
the way, I know Klingonese too. I don’t need lessons, Captain
Grayson. Once you get warp engines back on-line, give us a brief
message telling us so. Enterprise out.” Picard winked off the
viewer, replaced by the Galaxy-class Enterprise.
Hermson faced the captain. “Madam, Engineering reports
seven more minutes until we can engage warp speed.”
“Lovely,” Grayson muttered.
Next to her, Itsum crackled with electricity. The first
officer’s chair caught on fire. Itsum leapt out of the chair,
crackling more than ever before. It stood looking at the chair
uncertainly, unsure of what to do.
Hermson appeared almost immediately at the command section
of the bridge with a fire extinguisher. He sprayed the first
officer’s chair, which was now a blazing hot inferno, with
neolorine gas. The fire dissipated instantly, leaving the chair
charred black. The Klamite then went back to the Ops station, and
set down the extinguisher next to his seat.
Grayson looked at Hermson quizzically.
“You never know when you might need it,” Hermson said,
looking at the disgruntled first officer.
Grayson flashed a brief smile at her Chief Operations
Officer. “Good thinking.” She turned her attention to her fuming
first officer, and gave it an angry glare. “Commander, you are
being temporarily relieved of duty, until we can figure out what
to do about your problem. Is that understood?”
Itsum snorted. “Yes, Captain.”
“Dismissed.”

On board the Enterprise, Commander Riker looked at Captain
Picard. “I knew she was incompetent, sir.”
“It was not her fault, Commander,” Picard said. “She
mentioned an engineering ensign who was not carrying out his
duties.”
“Again, her fault. She should see to those things-”
“That’s the responsibility of the first officer, not the
captain, and you know that,” Picard snapped.
“She picked a bad first officer. What’s its name?
‘Itiminus?'”
“It Itsum, Number One.”
“Ah, yes. The Frokorzolo-whatchamawhat. Known for their
temper. When they get mad, they conduct a lot of electicity, and
aren’t known for their self-control. Grayson’s choice reflects
badly-”
“The choice wasn’t hers, Will. Starfleet forced him on
her.”
“Whatever. Still-”
“You’re just trying to find excuses, Will,” Counselor Troi
told Riker. “Let it go.”
“Let it go? We have an unqualified-”
“Captain,” Worf broke in, louder than usual, “the Lexington
has singnaled that their warp drive is back in operation.”
“Thank you, Mr. Worf,” Picard said thankfully. “Mr.
Crusher, lay in a course for Camp Khitomer, maximum warp.”
“Aye, sir.” Crusher touched the engage button on the conn.
Evidently he’d already had the coordinated layed in. The
Enterprise blazed into warp.
“The Lexington is right behind us, sir,” Worf reported.
“I’m surprised,” Riker said.
Picard scowled at his first officer. “Mr. Riker, I am
relieving you of duty. Your orders are to immediately have a
counseling session with the counselor. Dismissed.”
Riker opened his mouth to argue, but then thought better of
it. “All right, sir.” Riker and Troi exited the bridge via the
left turbolift.
Picard let out a deep breath. “I hope those two get this
problem straightened out.”
Data faced Picard. “Commander Riker was best friends with
someone who died because of Captain Grayson’s carelessness. I do
not think that he will give up his… grudge… easily, sir.”
“Your opinion is noted, Mr. Data,” Picard said. “What’s our
ETA?”
Data checked the Ops console. “Twelve hours, sir.”
Picard checked the chronometer on the right armrest of the
command chair. It was thirteen hundred hours. By the time the
Enterprise reached Khitomer, it would be after twenty-three
hundred hours. The alpha shift would have to be on duty then. He
activated the intercom. “Picard to all personnel. I am calling
off the alpha shift early. Take the time to rest. Alpha shift
will return to duty at twenty-two hundred. Picard out.” He got
out of the command chair as the crew members began rushing around.
The beta shift crew relieved the alpha shift crew. Lieutenant
Worf stood at the center of the bridge.
“You too, Lieutenant,” Picard said.
“Sir, it is my watch.”
Picard scanned the bridge, looking for command-capable
officers. He found one at Ops. “Lieutenant Dunnes, you have the
bridge.”
“Yes, Captain,” Dunnes said, bemused. He left Ops and
walked up to the command chair. “Any special orders, sir?”
“No, Lieutenant,” Picard said. He led Worf to the aft
turbolift. “Ten-Forward,” he told the computer.
“Holodeck Two,” Worf ordered.

Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge bolted from his bed.
The nightmare he’d just experienced has scared him terribly. He’d
been dreaming about Garthusians ever since the Enterprise got back
from the Star Wars universe. Neither he nor Counselor Troi could
explain it.
Geordi laid back down on his bed. He tried to remember the
exact details of his dream.

Geordi looked up at the saucer-shaped vessel. Its
appearance had surprised him. There weren’t supposed to be life-
forms on this planet, and now flying craft were here! Something
was very wrong.
Then, suddenly, a large beam emitted from the bottom of the
vessel and locked onto the away team. Geordi felt all of his
senses and bodily functions pause, then slipped into
unconciousness…

…And awoke in… blackness. No, not blackness. Geordi
felt his VISOR on his face, but it must’ve been suffering a
malfunction.
Geordi tried to sit up, but couldn’t. There were
restraining belts on his arms and torso that inhibited movement.
[The human is awake,] a deep voice inside his mind said…
Wait, it wasn’t his mind speaking, but someone was putting
messages into his mind.
“Who are you!?” Geordi demanded. “Release me!”
[No. We need you.] A pause. [The device on your head
enables you to see in many spectrums. Without this device, you
would not be able to see at all.]
“So what!?”
[Interesting.]
“All you have to say is ‘interesting?’ Why do you need me,
anyway?”
[You will find out soon enough.]
Geordi slipped back into unconsciousness again…

…And he was on the bridge of the Enterprise.
“The Garthusians have severely damaged the engineering
section!” Worf cried, with a hint of fear.
On the main viewer, ten Garthusian spheres were firing
punishing shots at the Enterprise and a fleet of Federation and
Klingon ships that Geordi couldn’t immediately identify.
The engineering station behind Geordi gave an urgent
wailing. He turned to face it. Power throughout the ship was
fluctuation dangerously, in the few sections that still had power.
“Sir, power fluctuations are getting worse!”
Commander Riker acknowledged with a terse, “Do what you can,
Geordi.”
“Yes, Commander,” Geordi said. He looked at the badly
charred bodies of Captain Picard and Ensign Crusher next to him.
The two had been standing next to Geordi, discussing the damage
situation, when two enviromental stations exploded. Besides
Picard and Crusher, three other science ensigns has been killed as
well.
It’s just the start of a long and terrible war, Geordi
thought bitterly. He returned his attention to the engineering
station.
As the terrible barrage continued, Worf reported, “The last
Cardassian vessels have been decimated.”
Riker slammed the armrests of the command chair. “Mr. La
Forge, how’re the weapons?”
“Gone, sir! There’s nothing I can do!”
“Damn the Garthusians!” Riker exclaimed. He watched the
main viewer intently. The other Federation and Klingon starships
were going fast. The Ariel collided against one Garthusian
sphere, its navigational guidance systems down; the sphereship
continued on, unaffected. Riker regretted that numerous crews in
this battle would die in vain.
“All shields are down!” Geordi called as the rocking got
even worse.
“The lower section of the saucer has numerous hull
breaches,” Data reported. “That section is also almost totally
consumed by fire. There are no life-signs; the death toll for the
Enterprise so far is five hundred ninety-seven.”
The bridge was hit by a Garthusian disruptor blast. The
entire top of the bridge was completely sheared off. The whole
bridge crew floated off into space.

Geordi awoke from his second nightmare with a start. That
never happened! Geordi thought. He reached for his VISOR on the
nearby cabinet, put it on, and got out of bed. He put his uniform
on.
Almost the instant he had his uniform on, his commbadge
beeped. He tapped it. “La Forge here.”
“Geordi, are you all right?” Counselor Troi asked urgently.
“I sensed great fear and pain…”
“I had a nightmare, that’s all.”
“A nightmare is nothing to shrug off. It can mean any
number of things. I’ll come to your quarters right now.”
“Really, Counselor, that’s not necessary…”
“Yes, it is. Troi out.”

Commander Riker went over what the counselor had told him
while he was striding through the corridors of the Enterprise.
“People make mistakes,” she had said to him. “She could have done
something worse.” Riker wanted to believe his Imzadi… but
Grayson killed his best friend, dammit! Skralle hadn’t deserved
to die, but now he was gone, due to Diana Grayson’s
irresponsibility!
No, Riker decided, she couldn’t have done much worse except
kill the man on purpose.
The doors to Ten-Forward slid open before him. He stormed
in, and looked around. He spotted Captain Picard at an empty
table, and went to take a seat.
“Did your session with the counselor go well, Number One?”
Picard asked, sipping his hot Earl Grey Tea.
“Just fine,” Riker answered, in a tone that indicated the
opposite.
Picard frowned. He set his cup down on the table.
“Commander, Grayson’s acts were irresposible, I know that. People
make mistakes, though, and they learn from them. Give Captain
Grayson a chance.”
Riker looked Picard in the eyes. “Captain, Skralle was my
best friend. He died needlessly because of Grayson. She doesn’t
deserve my forgiveness.”
“Commander… Will… I know that your loss must have been
difficult for you. I can sympathize; Jack Crusher was my best
friend, and I lost him. He died because I sent him an an away
mission. I felt guilty at first; it could’ve been me instead of
him leading the team. I felt irresponsible, but then I realized
that I did what I felt was necessary.”
“And you think that Grayson felt beaming down with a
security party was neccessary?”
Picard sat there for a moment, but only for a moment. “Yes,
I do, Will Riker.”
Riker turned that inside out in his mind. What the captain
was saying did make sense.
“Talk to her, Number One.”
Riker looked at Picard, disturbed. “What?”
“Talk to Captain Grayson,” Picard said. “Now. That’s an
order.”
Riker swallowed. What Picard was suggesting was crazy, but
he had to carry out his orders. “Yes, Captain.” Riker stood up
to leave, and left Ten-Forward. He headed for his quarters.

Captain Diana Grayson looked at the desk monitor wearily.
It was late. “KwaPlaw,” she mumbled.
“No, you P’Tak!” the Klingon on her screen said. “You must
learn proper Klingonese! Qapla’!”
“Qapla’,” Grayson said. She shut off the monitor before the
Klingon language program could say a word. Still in uniform, she
walked to her bed and laid down on top of it. “Computer, turn the
lights off.”
The computer has just done what it was told when Grayson’s
commbadge beeped.
“Ah, hell,” Grayson muttered. She slapped her commbadge.
“Grayson here. What do you want?”
“This is Lieutenant Commander Hermson, madame. We are
receiving a hail from the Enterprise. Commander Riker wishes to
speak with you.”
“Tell him to leave me alone. I’m tired.”
A short pause ensued, then, “He is under the direct orders
of Captain Picard.”
Grayson sighed. Damn Picard’s fleet captain rating. “Put
him through on my monitor, Commander.”
“Yes, madame,” Hermson replied. “Bridge out.”
Grayson stumbled over to her desk, sat down, and looked
scornfully at the monitor. “What do you want, Riker? I want to
go to sleep.”
“Sleep can wait,” Riker said. “I know why you led the
security team to Imperium.”
“You do?” That perked Grayson’s interest.
“You felt that it was necessary,” Riker continued. “It was
still an irresposible decision; however, I realize that you’ve
probably learned from your mistakes. You are the captain of a
Revolutionary-class starship, after all.”
“Not a high enough captain,” Grayson replied. “I can’t
believe I lost the Odyssey to Keoghe…”
“Don’t push your luck, Grayson,” Riker said irritably.
“Now, do we have a working truce?”
“I’ll think about it,” Grayson said. “Can you go away
please?”
“Yes. Riker out.”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard glanced around his bridge. His
bridge crew was looking awake and alert. He assumed that they
were all well-rested.
“We are entering the Khitomer system, Captain,” Data
reported.
“Slow to impulse,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir,” Crusher said.
The streaking stars disappeared off the Enterprise’s main
viewer, to be replaced by normal space. A Klingon Attack Cruiser
was approaching.
“The Par’Mach is hailing us, sir,” Worf said.
“On screen,” Picard said, standing up.
A young Klingon materialized on the main viewer. “Picard, I
am Captain Ku’Large of the Par’Mach. We have instructions to
equip your vessel and the Lexington with cloaking devices.”
Picard raised an eyebrow. “What for?”
“We do not yet know. Once the devices are installed, you
are to contact Admiral Skrell.”
Picard nodded. “Very well. I’ll inform the Lexington and
my engineering department.”
“I trust that you will, Captain,” Ku’Large said. His image
was replaced by the attack cruiser.
“Interesting man,” Riker commented.
“Indeed.” Picard sat back down in the command chair, and
contacted Engineering.
“La Forge here, Captain.”
“The commander of the Par’Mach has just notified us that
they will give us a cloaking device to be installed on the
Enterprise.”
“Understood.”
“Picard out.” He looked up at Worf. “Hail the Lexington.”
Grayson appeared on the main viewer. “What is it?”
Picard faced Grayson. “The Par’Mach is going to supply us
with cloaking devices to be installed on our ships.”
Grayson frowned. “What for?”
“I don’t know. I will contact Admiral Skrell as soon as the
cloaks are installed. Enterprise out.”
As soon as the channel ws cut, Worf said, “Ku’Large says
that he is ready to beam the cloaking device aboard our vessel.”
“Make it so.”

Geordi La Forge tapped the console angrily. The cloaking
device still wasn’t integrating properly with the Enterprise’s
systems.
“Maybe it’s the plasma flow regulators,” Lieutenant Reginald
Barclay suggested over the comm channel.
“No, those are fine.” Geordi ran a systems check on the
cloaking device. “It’s not the cloaking device itself.”
Barclay came down from the upper level of Main Engineering
and strode into Geordi’s office. The secondary enviromental
displays now displayed information on the cloak.
“I just don’t get it,” Geordi said. “It’s not dronium
particles, because the ship’s sensors are now programmed to alert
us at the first sign of detection.” He looked over the warp core
status display. Something caught his attention. “Ah ha!” he
said. “The plasma coils are not set up to the gamma frequency
that the cloaking device requires.”
“It will take one hour to change frequencies, Commander,”
Barclay said.
Geordi’s expression suddenly turned sour. “Then we’d better
get started, haven’t we, Lieutenant?”
Barclay swallowed. “Y-y-yes s-s-sir,” he replied nervously.
He wondered what he did wrong. His superior seemed to be on edge
a lot lately. He decided not to voice his thoughts, though.
Barclay helped Geordi begin to change the frequency of the plasma
coils.

One hour and ten minutes later, the intercom beeped.
“Picard here.”
“The cloaking device is on-line, Captain,” Geordi said.
“You may use it at your discretion.”
“Excellent, Commander. Picard out.” He paused. “Has the
Lexington installed her cloaking device yet?”
“Affirmative, sir,” Worf said.
“Then, by all means, hail Admiral Skrell.”
Worf touched the appropriate buttons on his tactical
console, then said, “Admiral Skrell requests that you take it in
the ready room, sir.”
“Very well.” Picard walked into the ready room, and sat
down at his desk. The admiral was already on the desktop monitor.
“Admiral, the cloaking devices have been installed.”
“Most satsifactory, Captain Picard,” Skrell said. “Your
orders are to proceed to Kumilak.”
“Kumilak?” Picard frowned. “Sir, Kumilak is deep within
Romulan territory.”
“Precisely. That is why the cloaking devices were
required.”
“May I ask why were are going to Kumilak?”
“No, you may not. Skrell out.”
Picard sighed. He wondered why they were being ordered to
go so deep inside Romulan space. Still, he knew that the Vulcan
admiral would have a very good reason. Picard strode onto the
bridge and took the command chair.
“What are our orders, Captain?” Riker asked.
Picard let out a deep breath. “Ensign Crusher,” he said
slowly, “lay in a course for Kumilak.”
There was a collective gasp around the bridge. Even Data
raised an eyebrow. Only Worf seemed pleased by the idea.
“Sir, even with the cloaking device, the farther we go into
Romulan space, the more the odds will increase that we will be
detected,” Data said.
“We need to determine that nature of the relationship
between the Garthusians and the Romulans,” Worf said. “If we need
to go into deep Romulan territory to do that, then we must.”
“I agree,” Picard said. The rest of the bridge crew
accepted this, and nodded their understanding. “Good. Mr. Worf,
tell Captain Grayson what our orders are.”
“Aye, sir.” A slight pause. “Message acknowledged.”
“Very well. Ensign, engage!”

CHAPTER FOUR

Captain’s log, stardate 44360.1. The Enterprise and the
Lexington are under cloak to Kumilak, a Romulan base deep within
Romulan territory, as per the orders of Admiral Skrell. I have no
explanation for why we are proceeding to Kumilak, but considering
that our mission is to see whether or not the Romulans and the
Garthusians are allies, I presume that Starfleet has reason to
believe that a vital clue might be located at the Romulan base.
Our estimated time of arrival is three days.

Lieutenant Commander Frank La Salle looked at his opponent
with disdain. The man was one hundred points behind him, and the
game was nearly over.
“Question: who was the man who said, ‘Give me liberty, or
give me death!’ You have ten seconds,” the moderator, Lieutenant
Commander Hermson, said.
“Uh… Uh…” Lieutenant Drake, the Lexington’s conn
officer, stuttered. “Dick Van Dike?”
“Wrong. Mr. La Salle?”
“Easy,” Frank said smugly. “Patrick Henry.”
“Correct. Final question: when did the first Romulan War
end?”
“1972!” Drake guessed.
“Incorrect.”
“This game is way too easy,” Frank bragged. “The year was
2160.”
“Right. Commander La Salle has won the game. Final score:
La Salle, one thousand points. Drake, seven hundred forty-seven
points.”
The crew members who had assembled around the game area
cheered, then one by one, they left. Lieutenant Drake’s face was
beet red.
“Ah, don’t worry about it, Lieutenant,” Frank said, walking
up to him. “You could’ve done worse.”
“Not much worse,” Drake said. He stood up. “Have a good
night, Commander.” He exited Eight-Forward.
Hermson patted Frank on the back. “Not bad. I couldn’t
have done much better myself.”
Frank smiled. “You’re right. I would’ve whooped your
butt.”
Hermson sighed. “Your arrogance from our days aboard the
Cairo still reigns strong within you, I see.”
“No, it doesn’t,” Frank said slyly. “It’s a lot worse.”
With that, he left the room.
Ah, to finally be away from Captain Jellico, he thought on
his way to his quarters. Captain Jellico was, in Frank’s opinion,
a fascist dictator. Aboard the Cairo, such a game that was just
held would never have taken place. Jellico stifled the enjoyment
and recreation of his crew. He insisted that such things were
unnecessary and destructive.
God knows how many times I requested a transfer. Frank
entered his quarters, and went to bed, with his uniform still on;
it was an old habit from his days serving under Jellico. After
three years, he finally got sick and tired of Jellico. For a
year, he had requested transfer to another starship. Jellico had
refused his requests. After that, Frank went over Jellico’s head
and requested a transfer from Admiral Jordan. That was how he
came to be chief engineer of the Lexington.
Frank hoped that the new captain would be better than
Jellico. So far, Grayson appeared to be a brunette hot-head. At
least she wasn’t a dictator, though. She just had a very short
temper.
Frank’s commbadge beeped. “Itsum to Commander La Salle.”
Now what? He slapped his commbadge. “La Salle here, sir.”
“Who have you gotten to replace Ensign Melindan?”
“Chief Hamilton, sir.”
“Hamilton? Couldn’t you have gotten an officer?”
“The chief was the one most qualified for the job out of the
available personnel. I don’t go by ranks; I go by who’s best for
the job.”
“He’ll be fine for now. However, at the earliest
opportunity, find a qualified officer for the job. Is that
understood?”
“Understood and denied.”
“Are you violating a direct order, Lieutenant Commander?”
“If I have to, yes. I refuse to replace Hamilton. He’s got
twenty years of experience behind him.”
There was a long pause on the other end. Then, “The captain
will hear of this. Commander It Itsum out.”
Frank smiled. That jerk is going to get fried.

Captain Grayson stared at her first officer coldly. “Do you
have a problem with noncoms, Commander?”
“Starfleet regulations specifically state that an officer
must man that position-”
“Forget the regulations. Nobody pays attention to that
regulation anymore, anyway.” Grayson sat down at her ready room
desk. “Commander, as of now, I am demoting you to lieutenant
commander.”
Electricty crackled all along Itsum’s body and uniform.
Huge yellow bolts came out of his eyes and nose. “You can’t do
this to me, Captain!”
“It’s my duty, Lieutenant Commander,” Grayson said. She
activated the desktop monitor, and made the appropriate changes in
Itsum’s Starfleet file. “It’s done.”
Itsum roared. It lunged for the captain.
Grayson unholstered her phaser, set it to heavy stun, and
fired. Itsum fell to the floor, then instantly got back up. It
continued its attack.
Grayson set her phaser to setting five, and fired. No
effect. She backed up to the far wall, and slapped her commbadge.
“Grayson to Transporter Room One, beam Itsum to the brig!”
“I can’t get a lock, Captain!” Chief Delaney said. “Too
much electrical interference! I can’t beam either of you out!”
Itsum was only a few feet from the captain now. Grayson saw
no choice but to kill it. She set her phaser to sixteen, and
fired. Her former first officer instantly vaporized. The whole
ordeal took place in less than half a minute.
The Lexington’s chief of security, Lieutenant Jake Blorman,
and two security officers bolted into the ready room, phasers
drawn.
“It’s all right,” Grayson said, setting her phaser back to
setting one and holstering it. “Itsum has been vaporized.”
The security officers holstered their phasers as well. Jake
dismissed the other security officers, and approached the captain.
“Captain, did he harm you in any way?”
“No, Lieutenant,” Grayson said. “Oh, I almost forgot.
Grayson out.” She walked onto the bridge, with Jake following her
and taking tactical. Grayson walked up to the Ops station. “Mr.
Hermson, I hereby promote you to the rank of commander. You have
all of the responsibilities and privileges commanders have.
You’re also my new first officer.”
“Aye, Captain,” Commander Hermson replied. “Thank you.”
“You deserve it,” Grayson said. She took the command chair.
“Commander, get Lieutenant Dallas up to the bridge.”
Hermson touched several buttons on the Ops console. “She’s
on her way.”
A minute later, Lieutenant Patricia Dallas entered the
bridge from the fore turbolift. She walked right up to the
command chair. “Is there anything I can do for you, Captain?”
“Yes. You may assume your new position as Operations
Manager, and accept a promotion to lieutenant commander.”
Dallas’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Thank you,
Captain!” She walked up to the Ops console. Hermson got up and
sat in the first officer’s chair, while Dallas began her new
duties.
“I must report that we have just entered Romulan space,”
Hermson said.
“Acknowledged.” Grayson got out of the command chair, and
assumed a position at the center of the bridge. “Since we are in
hostile territory, I must order all outgoing subspace
communications cut.”
“Yes, Captain,” Dallas said. Her fingers danced across Ops.
“I have disabled outgoing subspace traffic.”
“Good, Commander,” Grayson said. She smiled. “You know, I
think I’ve become better socially lately…”
“I concur,” Hermson said. “Ever since this mission began,
you have been displaying improvement.”
Grayson was still smiling. It was amazing to her. She
hadn’t smiled for this long of a time since before the incident on
Imperium. She wondered why her mood was uplifted.
“It might have something to do with the fact that someone is
trusting you again, and that you have a working truce with
Commander Riker.”
Grayson looked at her first officer sharply, her smile gone.
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Around the Time of Ability, Klamites around my age begin to
exhibit telepathic abilities,” Hermson stated matter-of-factly.
“Frorkson never mentioned that to me.”
“There was no need for him to.”
Grayson decided that Hermson had a point, and turned her
attention away from him.

***

Captain’s log, stardate 44336.5. The Enterprise and the
Lexington are nearing the Romulan base Kumilak. My feelings of
apprehensiveness have been steadily increasing. Due to the fact
that we are uninvited guests in Romulan space, the Enterprise and
the Lexington have maintained communications silence for the past
two days.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard paced the center of the bridge. He
wasn’t this nervous since Feronium.
“We are entering the Kumilak System,” Ensign Wesley Crusher
reported, every bit as nervous as Picard was.
“Slow us to impulse,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir.”
“Lay in a course for Kumilak itself.”
“Course laid in.”
“Engage.” Picard sat down in the command chair. “Misters
Worf and Data, report.”
“This is a standard solar system, sir,” Data said. He
paused for a long time, and his fingers frantically went across
his board. “Captain, the sixth planet, Kimulak, is an artificial
construct.”
“There is one Romulan Warbird, the Kaelax, in orbit of the
structure,” Worf said. His brow furrowed considerably, and he
looked as angry as Picard had ever seen a Klingon look. “Sir, a
Garthusian sphere is also in orbit. They are in communication
with the Kaelax.”
“Let’s hear them!” Picard barked.
Two figured filled the Enterprise main viewer. The one of
the right was Commander Greair, smiling broadly, and the other was
a Garthusian. Picard couldn’t intepret the Garthusian’s
expression.
“They’ll never know what hit them,” Greair said proudly.
“Yes, they will know,” the Garthusian said slowly.
“However, by the time they do know, it will be too late.”
Greair chuckled. “Sounds good to me. Oh, by the way, you
know the weapons and armor you gave us? They worked perfectly
against the Federation’s Endeavor.”
Picard slammed the armrests and leapt out of the command
chair. “DAMN!”
Worf let out a loud roar. “DEATH TO THE ROMULANS!”
Picard stood there for a few moments, breathing deeply,
trying to calm himself down. He sat back down in his command
chair. “Mr. Worf, not yet,” he said, self-control restored. “We
have to see what happens next.” Picard returned his attention to
the main viewer, and what was being said by the aliens.
“We will carry out our part of the alliance,” the Garthusian
said. “Out.”
“Put the Garthusians on screen!” Picard shouted.
The Garthusian sphere appeared on the main viewer. A
bluish-silver wormhole was behind the huge vessel. The
Garthusians were beginning to enter it.
“How do we collapse the tryolic wormhole!?” Picard asked.
“We cannot,” Data reported calmly.
The bridge crew watched helplessly as the sphereship sailed
into the tryolic wormhole. The wormhole collapsed soon
afterwards.
“We have to find some way of warning the people in the Star
Wars universe!” Riker demanded.
“We have no means of doing so,” Data told Riker.
“But we have to do something!”
Picard considered all alternatives. They now knew that the
Garthusians were allies with the Romulans. With the Garthusians’
help, the Romulans probably purged all Starfleet Intelligence
operatives from the Romulan Empire, and Romulan technology must
have been given serious upgrades. Starfleet Command had to be
notified immediately. However, if the Enterprise transmitted a
subspace message while cloaked, the Romulan Warbird would detect
them and destroy them before they could have a chance to decloak.
Picard made his decision.
“Prepare to engage the enemy,” Picard said.

CHAPTER FIVE

Captain Williams aboard the Starship Ariel looked up in
alarm. Nothing unusual had happened while they were stationed at
Feronium, until now. “Repeat that, Commander Black.”
“I am detecting a dronium particle buildup,” Lieutenant
Commander Black said, “all along the outer edge of the solar
system.”
“Red alert,” Williams said. “Notify Starfleet Command.”
“Communications are being blocked.” She cried out in alarm.
“Ten Garthusian sphereships are decloaking!”
“CRAP!” the first officer, Commander McGrady, said.
“Crap is right, Commander,” Williams said. “What are the
ten other Federation starships doing?”
“The George Washington, Ticonderoga, and Concord have
already been destroyed,” Black said. “The Balistic, Kennedy,
Lincoln, and Tomed are out of commision. The Mississippi and the
Illinois are opening fire and going into evasive maneuvers.”
“Let’s do the same! Narosie, evasive manuevers! Black,
fire all weapons! And get those Garthusian slime devils on the
screen!”
The Garthusian spheres materialized on the main viewer.
They were all firing at the Mississippi. Within a minute, the
Mississippi was dead in space. The continued phaser and photon
torpedo fire appeared to have no effect on the sphereships.
“They have erected hull-tight ‘super-shields’ around their
ships,” Black said. “They have a Romulan signature.”
Williams cursed under his breath. The Romulans were allies
with the Garthusians after all!
The ship began to shake hard. The conn exploded, tossing a
terribly burned Narosie out of her seat and on to the deck.
“Lieutenant Viers, take over helm control!” Williams cried.
“Already done!” Viers shouted. “It’ll do little good,
though! Propulsion systems are off-line!”
There was a huge explosion in the aft section of the bridge.
Williams turned around to look. The whole back section was
consumed with flames. Most certainly all personnel in that
section were dead. “Commander McGrady, take over tactical.”
“Aye, sir,” McGrady replied nervously. He began punching
furiously at his console. “No good, sir. Weapons are off-line.”
“The comm system just went down!” Viers shouted. She gazed
in alarm at her console. “Captain, there is a warp core breach in
progress!”
“Eject the core!” Williams yelled.
Just that second, Ops exploded. Viers wasn’t thrown from
her chair, but she was toast.
“I can’t eject the core,” McGrady said, his voice hollow.
Then, his console went black.
“It’s been nice serving with you, Jeff,” Williams told
McGrady.
“The feelings are mutual, sir.”
The Ariel blew up.

***

Captain Picard went through the plan in his head. The
Enterprise would decloak and fire all weapons at the front section
of the Kaelax. It was then assumed that the Lexington would pick
up the hint, decloak, and finish the job; then, both ships could
eliminate the back section of the warbird. To prevent the warbird
from sending out a distress signal, subspace would be flooded with
anti-lepton interference. The plan was reasonably sound.
“I still don’t like it, sir,” Riker said.
“You’re too biased, Number One,” Picard said. He waited a
few moments. “All right… make it so.”
“Decloaking the Enterprise,” Data said. “Initiating anti-
lepton interference.”
“Firing all weapons,” Worf reported.
On the main viewer, red phaser beams and photon torpedoes
assaulted the Kaelax. The Lexington was nowhere to be found.
“Where in the hell are they?” Riker said.
“I don’t know,” Picard said. “Mr. Worf-”
Then, the Lexington decloaked. She destroyed the front
section of the warbird, then fired on the aft section. The Kaelax
was too disabled to return fire, it seemed.
The Enterprise fired several photon torpedoes at the
warbird. It began imploding. Worf fired three phaser blasts for
good measure. Moments after, the warbird was nothing more than
floating debris.
“Sensors are reading traces of carbon neutronium in the
debris,” Data said. “It is of the same type used on the hulls of
Garthusian sphereships.”
“Why weren’t they hard to destroy?” Riker asked.
“My hypothesis is that it was more of a lining than anything
else,” Data replied. “If the carbon neutronium had the density
typical of sphereships, the Romulan Warbird would be unable to
manuever.”
“Captain, we are being hailed by the Lexington,” Worf said.
“On screen,” Picard responded.
Captain Grayson appeared on the main viewer. “Picard, what
are we going to do now?”
“We are going to send an away team to Kumilak composed of
both Enterprise and Lexington crew members.”
“Sounds good to me. I’ll set up the away team for the
Lexington.”
“I’ll do the same here. Picard out.” He turned to Riker.
“Number One.”
Riker stood up. “Data and Worf, you’re with me.” He
slapped his commbadge. “Riker to La Forge.”
“La Forge here, go ahead.”
“Geordi, meet me in Transporter Room Three in five minutes.”
“Right. La Forge out.”
Riker headed for the turbolift, followed by Data and Worf.
The turbolift doors slid open and slid shut for them.
“Engage the cloaking device, Miss Viers,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir,” Lieutenant Viers replied.
Picard turned back to the officer manning tactical. “Mr.
MacDonald, report.”
“There are no indications that we were noticed by Romulans
outside this system,” MacDonald reported. Then, he raised his
eyebrows. “Sir, we are intercepting a Romulan message.”
“Pipe it through,” Picard said.
“It is in a text format only…” MacDonald said. He looked
at Captain Picard in horror. “Sir, the Garthusians are invading
the Federation again. Ten Garthusian sphereships have destroyed
the Federation patrols along the Federation-Garthusian border.”
“Oh, my God…” Viers murmered. “My sister was assigned to
the Ariel.”
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant,” Picard consoled grimly. “Mr.
MacDonald, keep on the look-out for any more Romulan messages.”

Riker, Data, Geordi, Worf, and Ensign Merrek from the
Enterprise beamed down; Captain Grayson, Commander Hermson,
Lieutenant Commander La Salle, and Commander Kunak beamed down
from the Lexington. They materialized inside a small storage bay
inside Kumilak; the bay was ten feet long, ten feet wide, and
seven feet high. For the moment, it was barren. The walls were
painted a drab gray, and a single green door was on the right-hand
side of the room.
“All right, Riker, what are we going to do?” Grayson asked.
“We’re going to try to figure out what the Romulans’ plans
are,” Riker answered. “Then, we’re going to try to recreate
another tryolic wormhole and follow that Garthusian sphere once we
return to our ships.”
“Where do we start?” La Salle asked.
“I recommend we exit this chamber first,” Data said. “After
that, we will have to find a Romulan and have Commander Kunak
attempt a mind-meld to find out the Romulans’ plans.”
“I concur,” the Lexington’s chief science officer, Kunak,
replied. “However, we will have to be cautious. We do not prefer
to trigger Kumilak’s security systems.”
“Agreed,” Riker said. “Data, please locate a Romulan for
us.”
Data unholstered and flipped open his tricorder. “I can
only scan a one hundred meter radius, sir. Otherwise, I could
risk setting off the security systems.”
“Proceed, Mr. Data,” Grayson said.
Riker gave Grayson an angry look. “I’m in charge of this
mission, Grayson. Captain Picard specifically said so.”
Grayson sighed. “Well, we can’t go against a fleet
captain’s orders, can we?”
“That’s right.” Riker looked at Data expectantly.
“I cannot locate any Romulans within the scan radius,” Data
said.
“Let’s get going,” Riker said. “The shorter we’re here, the
better.” Riker exited the room, along with the other Starfleet
personnel.
The corridor they entered was as barren as the storage bay.
The walls were painted a dark green, and light sources on the
ceiling cast off a dim yellow glow. Small consoles with Romulan
text could be found in the center of the walls, spaced every few
feet. Grayson raised her right hand to type in commands.
“That would not be wise, Captain,” Kunak said. “Any
unauthorized usages of the computer could potentially alert the
Romulans.”
“We don’t need to take unnecessary risks,” Riker said.
“Captain Grayson, don’t touch the consoles.”
Grayson scowled, but did as she was advised.
“Still detecting no signs of Romulans,” Data said.
“What you get for beaming into a remote section of the
outpost,” La Salle muttered.
“We must keep moving,” Riker said. “Follow me.”

***

Captain John Rustinridge eyed the oncoming Garthusian menace
on the main viewer. The ten Garthusian spheres had so far
defeated every fleet to engage them.
“The Garthusians have entered weapons range,” the tactical
officer, Lieutenant Steven Fry, said.
“The Gingrich, Baracuda, Smythe, Shiloh, and Kor’Lul are
engaging the enemy,” the first officer, Commander David Winthrop,
reported.
Rustinridge bit his lip as he watched the battle on the main
viewer. The Garthusians effortlessly took out their attackers in
the matter of two minutes.
“The rest of the fleet is awaiting orders, Captain,”
Winthrop said.
Rustinridge went through a possible battle strategy in his
head. “Have the Farand, Mar’Cha, Congo, and Crichton assume
position alpha-zeta. Have the Borlis, Eagleton, Berlin, and the
Vor’Cha take up position beta-delta.”
“Relaying the orders now, sir,” Winthrop replied. “What
will the Klamitia do, sir?”
“Ensign Delaney, take us to position alpha,” Rustinridge
ordered. “Mr. Fry, fire all weapons!”
Rustinridge’s ship, the Klamitia, stormed boldly into
battle, weapons blasting. The other ships gave Klamitia as much
support as they could.
“The Klingon vessels have been destroyed,” Winthrop said.
“The alpha-zeta fleet has sustained heavy damage.”
“Status of the Garthusians!” Rustinridge called out.
“Unaffected,” the Ops officer, Lieutenant Commander Bunter,
said.
Rustinridge cursed. He watched the conflict on the main
viewer. The rest of the fleet was being obliterated left and
right. The Klamitia was shaking all around him. He knew that the
fleet wouldn’t last long. “Are the Garthusians blocking
communications?”
“Yes, sir,” Winthrop said. “I can’t contact anyone outside
this system.”
Rustinridge raised a hand to cover his face after an EPS
conduit ruptured in the ceiling above, throwing sparks onto the
command area of the bridge. “Damage report!”
“Shields are at thirty percent and collapsing rapidly!”
Bunter said. “Major damage to all decks! Our propulsion systems
are gone!” Before he could finish his report, Ops exploded. The
charred body of Bunter was thrown out of his chair and onto the
deck in front of the command section.
“Shields have collapsed, Captain,” Winthrop said.
The ship lurched. Everyone was thrown to the deck as
consoles and power conduits exploded.
Rustinridge struggled to his feet as all power to the bridge
went out, even the artificial gravity. He began floating as he
examined his bridge. It was obvious that he was the only
survivor.
“Bloody hell,” Rustinridge said. He maneuvered his way into
the command chair; he wasn’t going to die floating around. “Come
on, take me out, Garthusians! Show me what you’ve got!”
Rustinridge got his wish. Within seconds, the Klamitia was
no more.

***

Captain Grayson followed closely behind Commander Riker,
cursing Captain Picard in her mind. She was a captain; she should
be leading this mission, not a commander. Still, Picard used his
fleet captain rating to his advantage, and she had to follow
orders. She didn’t like it one bit.
The corridor they were walking through was the same as the
other corridors of this dull place. Dimly lit, with walls painted
a drab green, Kumilak must not have been a plum assignment.
Grayson wondered what the purpose of Kumilak was.
Rught now, the away team was heading towards a small
laboratory which, according to Data, had ten Romulan life-signs.
The Starfleet personnel were nine people strong; with Data and
Worf on their side, they should have a decisive advantage.
“How much farther?” Worf asked with impatience.
“Twenty meters,” Data replied.
“Don’t worry, Worf,” Riker said. “I’m sure by the time all
of this is over, you’ll have had more than enough battle to quench
your thirst.”
“That is appealing,” Worf agreed. “However, what I hate
most right now is the waiting.”
“I admit, that gets on my nerves too,” La Salle said.
Soon, they reached the door to the lab. It was as drab as
everything else; just a normal, black-colored sliding door. There
wasn’t even a keypad you had to touch to get in.
“Let’s be careful,” Riker said. “Everyone, have your
phasers set to stun. We don’t want to take any chances and alert
the security system.” He looked back to the team. “Ready?”
Everyone nodded silently.
“All right.” Riker looked over the phaser in his hand, made
sure everyone else did the same thing, and charged into the
laboratory, the away team behind him.
They found ten Romulan troops with disruptor rifles pointed
at them. The Starfleet officers ducked for cover as the Romulans
fired, but Merrek was shot in the chest, and she slowly and
painfully vaporized.
Worf let out a roar of fury, set his phaser to wide beam,
and fired from behind the duridium chair he was hiding behind.
Half of the Romulan contingent was knocked unconscious.
One of the Romulans took out a small PADD. He punched
several buttons on it, and then returned it to its holster on his
belt. Then, he resumed firing.
“What the hell?” Riker muttered. “What’s he doing? Data?”
“I am uncertain,” Data said, checking his tricorder while
the others kept the Romulans from advancing. He shook his head.
“I cannot find out what he did.” Tricorder still in his hand, he
stunned the standing Romulans with a quick wide beam phaser burst
from the weapon in his other hand.
Everyone except for Data and Kunak breathed a sigh of
relief. The stood up, and strode over to the fallen Romulans.
“Commander Kunak, can you meld with an unconscious person?”
Grayson wanted to know.
“It is hardly ever done, because normally Vulcans don’t like
to invade another individual’s privacy. However, the present
situation requires it.” He holstered his phaser and knelt down
beside one of the Romulans. He put his fingers on each of the
Romulan’s katra points. “My mind to your mind… Your mind to my
mind… Our minds are merged… We are one…”
Grayson paced the laboratory while she waited for Kunak to
get done with the mind meld. The laboratory was about twenty foot
wide by fifteen feet long. The walls were consumed by computer
consoles filled with Romulan script. At various places in the
room, there were tables that had vials of liquid colored
everything from white to black. She ran a tricorder scan on all
of the liquid vials; the vials seemed to be filled with types of
blood, nutrient supplements, neural function blockers, standard
medicines, and water filled with disease organisms, some known,
some not. Grayson wondered just what the hell the Romulans were
doing here. “Commander Hermson, come over here and take a look at
these tricorder readings.”
Hermson complied and fetched the tricorder from his
captain’s hand. He speedily looked over the readouts.
“Interesting.”
“What is all of this stuff for?” Grayson asked.
“Some of it is obviously for genetic engineering purposes,”
Hermson said, giving the tricorder back to Grayson. “The other
liquids I’m not so sure of. My main suspicion is that some of
these liquids are being used in biological weapons.”
Everyone else except Kumilak looked towards Grayson and
Hermson with interest.
“Are you saying that the Romulans are developing biological
weapons here?” Worf asked, the disapproval evident in his voice.
“That appears to be the case,” Hermson said, with the
tiniest hint of concern.
Kunak stood back up. “Sirs, I know what is going on. The
Garthusians are launching a major invasion of the Federation,
while a plot to end all life on Earth is currently being carried
out by a Garthusian/Romulan base, the location of which this
Romulan did not know. I do know, however, that we must go through
the tryolic wormhole to find the base.”
“How are they going to try to end all life on Earth?” Riker
asked.
“The Romulans have engineered a biological weapon that would
poison every form of life on Earth, while Romulans and Garthusians
would be impervious to the poisons.”
“That way, they could occupy Earth immediately afterwards,”
Data said.
“Commander Kunak, where was the biological weapon
engineered?” Grayson asked.
“Here,” the Vulcan said matter-of-factly.
“That would support our hypothesis,” Hermson said. “Some of
the vials of liquid contain agents that could be used in
biological weapons. However, we also found substances that could
have applications in genetic engineering. Can you enlighten us,
Kunak?”
“I do not know of any such information,” Kunak said. “This
Romulan was completely unaware of it.”
“Well, now that we know what the Romulans want to do, we
must get back to our ships,” Riker said, “and go through that
tryolic wormhole.” He slapped his commbadge. “Riker to
Enterprise.”

On the Starship Enterprise, Picard answered Riker’s hail.
“Picard here.”
“Captain, we know what the Romulans and the Garthusians are
doing. Beam us up.”
“All right,” Picard said glumly. “Picard to Transporter
Room Three, beam the away team up when the cloaking device is
disengaged.”
“Aye, sir,” Chief O’Brien said over the intercom.
“Mr. MacDonald, when the away team is aboard, engage the
cloak immediately.”
“Understood.”
Picard stood up, and straightened out his uniform. “Make it
so.”
“Cloaking device off,” MacDonald said.
“Energizing,” O’Brien reported. “Transport successful.”
“Cloaking device online.”
“Good work, gentlemen,” Picard said. “Away team, report to
the bridge immediately. Picard out.”
Picard fidgeted for several moments while he waited.
Finally, Riker, Data, Worf, Geordi, Grayson, Hermson, La Salle and
Kunak entered the bridge from the aft turbolift. The Enterprise
crew took their positions.
“Captain,” Riker said urgently, facing Picard, “the Romulans
are developing biological weapons here. They have a base on the
other side of that tryolic wormhole where they will launch a plan
to use those weapons to annhiliate every Earth life-form.”
Grayson nodded, and added, “We must hurry. Also, the
Garthusians have begun an invasion of the Federation.”
“We are aware of the invasion,” Picard said grimly. “We
have intercepted several Romulan subspace communications giving
battle reports. The Garthusians are going through our defenses
and patrols as if they weren’t even there.” Picard faced Data.
“Commander, can we recreate the tryolic wormhole?”
“I believe so, sir,” Data said. “There are enough residual
tryolic waves.”
“Then, Mr. Worf, decloak, fire the required phaser burst,
then signal the Lexington to follow us into the wormhole.”
“Doing so now, sir,” Worf acknowledged. “Disengaging
cloaking device… Firing phasers…”
Picard faced the main viewer. The buish-silver wormhole
opened almost immediately after the phaser burst.
“The Lexington has been notified,” Worf said. Almost as an
afterthought, the Revolutionary-class Lexington shimmered into
existence right next to the mouth of the wormhole. “They are
ready to enter.”
“Then let’s not hold them up,” Picard barked. “Ensign
Crusher, engage!”

CHAPTER SIX

Admiral Jordan was sitting in the command chair of the
Ambassador-class Starship Normandy, addressing the fleet of thirty
Federation starships and nineteen Klingon cruisers. “If we cannot
stop the Garthusians here, they will remain virtually unchallenged
until they reach the heart of the Federation. The Third and
Fourth Fleets will be all that stand in their way. We must repel
or destroy the Garthusians here at New Britain.” Jordan paused to
let her words sink in. “I know we can do it. We have defeated
greater threats before; we don’t need the Enterprise to make the
Garthusians fall back. Admiral Jordan out.”
“All ships report that they are ready to engage the enemy,”
the ship’s commander, Captain George Melhelm, reported.
“Very good,” Jordan said. “Tell them that they may engage
at will at the first sign of the Garthusians.”
Melhelm inputed the intructions into his console. “Message
acknowledged.”
Jordan smiled, and looked at Melhelm. “Don’t worry,
Captain. You’ll get your ship back in one piece.”
Melhelm nodded slowly. “I hope so.”
I hope so too, Jordan thought. Despite her big words, she
wasn’t all that convinced that the hastily assembled fleet would
be able to beat the ten Garthusian sphereships. Her superior
officers had warned her about such an attitude, but she couldn’t
help it. The Federation and the Klingons barely defeated the
Garthusians at Feronium, and had suffered heavy losses. Since
then, the Garthusians had won at every encounter. It was like the
Borg invasion all over again, only this time, the Federation was
losing more ships and more personnel.
“Ten Garthusian spheres decloaking at the outer edge of the
system,” the tactical officer, Lieutenant Commander Moore, said.
“The fleet is engaging.”
“Take us to the site of battle at warp three,” Jordan said.
“Tactical, I want a full sensor analysis.”
As the conn officer complied Moore said, “I am unable to get
accurate reading due to the numerous weapons in use at the moment.
However, I am able to see that the spheres have super-charged
Romulan shields.”
“The Romulans and the Garthusians are allies,” Jordan
realized. She looked at the main viewer to see that they were at
the battle site. “Conn, evasive maneuvers. Tactical, fire at
will.”
As the two officers carried out their orders, Jordan
examined the battle on the main viewer. The Garthusian spheres
were destroying or crippling their numerous attackers quickly.
When the Normandy began firing, the fleet was already considerably
weakened, and just one minute had passed.
The Operations officer reported, “Only ten Federation
starships remain, the Klingons have two ships.”
The deck quaked hard and every bridge crew member fell to
the flooring. Several stations exploded, throwing their
unfortunate occupants to the deck; Winhelm, the conn officer, and
the officers all along the aft wall of stations perished. Jordan
herself had two broken arms. Using her legs, she maneuvered
herself back into the command chair. “Damage report.”
“Shields are gone,” Ops officer said. “We have lost all
propulsion, and our weapons are useless.”
“They were useless when they were fully operational,” Jordan
muttered.
“Captain!” Moore said in dismay. “Twenty spheres are
approaching the system!”
“Just fine and dandy,” Jordan grumbled.

***

Lieutenant Commander Data reported on where the wormhole had
taken the Enterprise and the Lexington. “Captain, we appear to be
in Sector Zero Zero One. I cannot report precisely, but we appear
to be in a point in time sixty-five million years in the past.”
“Around the time the dinosaurs went extinct,” Riker
commented.
“We must have succeeded,” Kunak said.
Everyone faced the Lexington’s science officer with
questioning looks.
“The Federation is still in existence. Obviously, that
means that we were successful. If had failed, the Federation
would hace ceased to exist before we went into the wormhole, and
naturally, we wouldn’t have been there to go through the wormhole
in the first place.”
“You do have a point,” Data said. “However, the emissions
from the tryolic wormhole could have blocked the changes, allowing
us to continue to exist while the Federation did not.”
“Whatever the case may be, we must succeed this time,”
Picard said. “Mr. Data, can you determine the location of the
base?”
Data manipulated the Ops console, then turned back to the
captain. “There appears to be a high amount of activity around
Mars and Venus. There is no activity around Earth.”
Picard considered the situation. “Captain Grayson, your
crew will beam to the Lexington and investigate Venus. The
Enterprise will check out Mars. While doing this, we will travel
under cloak. We will not decloak unless we absolutely must.”
“Understood,” Grayson said. She and her crew piled into a
turbolift and left.
“Captain,” Riker said, “you’re taking a great chance,
letting her go out by herself. If Kunak’s hypothesis is correct,
she may be the reason we fail on this mission.”
“I don’t have any other choice,” Picard said. “Also, not
letting her go may be the reason this mission fails, if Kunak’s
hypothesis is correct. We can’t second-guess ourselves.”
“The Lexington is under cloak and away,” Worf said.
“Then engage our cloaking device,” Picard said, “and, Mr.
Crusher, lay in a course for Mars at full impulse.”

Captain Diana Grayson tapped her fingers impatiently against
the armrests of the command chair while she waited for the
Lexington to get to Venus. She wanted to get this mission over
with as soon as possible.
“Venus is in visual range, Captain,” Lieutenant Commander
Dallas said. “Our ETA is five minutes.”
“Put Venus on screen, Commander,” Grayson ordered.
A blue-green planet materialized on the main viewer. Lush,
green continents could be seen through white cloud cover.
Obviously, something was very wrong. “Commander, this is Venus?”
“Yes, Captain,” Dallas said. “At least, this planet is
where Venus should be. It’s the second planet from the sun.”
“Scientists have been assuming for hundreds of years that
Venus used to be a M-class planet,” Hermson commented. “We may be
witnessing Venus before the greenhouse effect took over.”
Grayson nodded in understanding, and turned her attention
back to the main viewer. Three Garthusian spheres were in orbit
of Venus, with dozens of smaller saucers and pyramids flying
around them and erupting from the planet’s atmosphere. Two
D’Deridex-class Romulan Warbirds shared orbit with the numerous
Garthusian vessels.
“My God…” Jake Blorman gasped.
“Take us to red alert,” Grayson said. “Dallas, I want you
to give me the most complete report you can.”
The red alert sirens wailed and condition lights flashed red
as Dallas scanned Venus and the surrounding ships. Finally, she
made her report. “Every square milimeter of the main continent is
an urban area. I am detecting numerous industrial and residential
zones. Quantum radiation almost consumes the whole biosphere.
The weather is fairly mild, with no storm systems existing or
forming.”
“Is there anything on the rest of the continents?” Hermson
asked.
“I am detecting some fairly small structures, along with
numerous unidentified life-forms.” Dallas frowned. “The life-
signs have some similarity to Garthusian life-signs.”
“That could be what the genetic engineering was for,”
Hermson said. “They could be engineering some sort of special
troops on Venus.”
“We have to stop it!” Grayson proclaimed. “Commander
Dallas, how can we use that quantum radiation to our advantage?”
Dallas’s fingers danced across the Ops board. “Well… I
have located their largest power plant. We have to destroy that,
which will start a chain reaction through the charged particles
that compose the quantum radiation. This reaction will super-heat
the atmosphere. Everything on the surface will be fried. Also,
the air pressure will increase exponentially, and a runaway
greenhouse effect will occur. Without complex terraforming, Venus
will never be habitable again.”
“Until the humans come along and do your complex
terraforming,” Grayson said. Then, a look of realization came to
her face. “This could mean that we caused Venus to become
inhospitable for all those years!”
“A predestination paradox,” Hermson stated. “This could
mean that we were meant to travel to the past.”
“And that the Garthusians were meant to start their invasion
and everything!” Grayson leaped out of the command chair. “This
means more than ever that we should succeed on this mission.
Lieutenant Commander Dallas, how do you suppose that we could
eliminate the power planet you were talking about?”
“We can’t do it from up here,” Dallas said. “The only we
could get rid of that thing is to do it from the inside.” Dallas
looked at the captain, crestfallen. “We will have to beam a team
down to Venus, Captain. That team will have to destroy the power
plant from the inside. From what my console says, the power plant
will implode immediately after the team succeeds in its mission.
We won’t have enough time to get them out.”
The truth of Dallas’s statement hit everyone on the bridge.
Grayson, with a hint of tears in her eyes, announced, “I will lead
the mission.”
Gasps and murmers filled the bridge. Commander Hermson
immediately stood up and walked right up to the captain.
“You will have to command the ship,” Grayson said. “You
cannot come along.”
“I cannot allow you to lead this mission, Captain,” Hermson
said evenly. “You are the most fit to command this vessel. I
must command the away team.”
Grayson stared at Hermson, and for the first time that she
could remember in a long time, she felt touched. “I… commend
you for your offer. However, my mind is made up.” Grayson
managed a smile. “I’m sure you will make a fine captain.” She
stood in the center of the bridge. “This is a volunteer mission.
If you go, you will never come back. I will put a note in the
ship’s log that all the volunteers should have a Medal of Honor
put on your records.”
For a few tense moments, the bridge crew considered their
decisions. They all wanted to please the captain, yet most of
them had loved ones at home that they wanted to return to. Dallas
looked back at Captain Grayson and said, “I’m sorry, Captain.”
Grayson’s face didn’t betray her thoughts or emotions, but
she was privately disappointed in the Operations officer. Out
loud, she said, “That’s all right, Commander.”
Just after Grayson finished her sentence, Blorman said,
“I’ll go. I have nothing to lose.” He went by the captain’s
side.
Grayson gave Blorman a silent nod of approval, and said,
“Anyone else? The two of us can’t do this alone.”
Hermson stared into Grayson’s eyes. “Captain, I urge you to
reconsider.”
“My mind is made up, Commander,” Grayson said, and smiled at
Hermson warmly. “Commander, my mind is made up. As Commander
Riker could tell you, once my mind is made up about something, I
won’t back down.”
Hermson nodded. “Very well, Captain. I will try to find a
way to eliminate the power plant and ensure that the team makes it
back alive, though.”
“You need to concentrate on making sure that we don’t draw
the Garthusians’ attention until it’s too late.” Grayson headed
for the turbolift. “Lieutenant Blorman, you’re with me. We’re
going to go down to the science and engineering departments to see
if we can get any volunteers down there.”

The Enterprise approached Mars. On the main viewer, Mars
was a buzz of activity. Garthusian spheres, saucers, and pyramids
orbited around an Earth-like planet. Several Romulan Warbirds
were present as well.
“I am reading ten spheres, twenty saucers, and forty-seven
pyramids,” Data reported. “There are fifteen Romulan Warbirds in
orbit as well. As for Mars, sensors indicate that it has class-M
conditions. There is one large supercontinent, approximately nine
hundred thousand nine hundred ninety-nine square kilometers in
size. The rest of Mars is covered by an ocean similar to the ones
detected on Vraris.”
“What about the inhabitants, Data?” Riker asked. “Are there
any inhabitants?”
“Affirmative, sir. I am detecting large settlements on the
supercontinent, with large amounts of space seperating them. I am
also detecting several smaller settlements. In the rural areas, I
am detecting a large variety of unknown life-forms.” Data turned
to Captain Picard. “Captain, these life-forms do bear a slight
resemblance to Garthusian life-readings.”
“That must have been what the Romulans and their Garthusian
allies were genetically engineering,” Worf said. “A new breed of
Garthusians, whose purpose is to become troops.”
“I concur with Worf’s analysis,” Data said.
“We have to find some way to stop the production of the
troops,” Riker commented, “or find a weakness that we can
exploit.”
“How about it, Data?” Captain Picard asked.
Data’s head twitched ever so slightly for a few moments. “I
do not believe that we can feasibly neutralize each and every
single troop. It is my opinion that we must find a critical
weakness that we can utilize.”
“We must beam down to Mars to find out such information,”
Worf said. “Such analyses cannot be conducted from orbit.”
“We have to find a way to decloak without the Garthusians
detecting us,” Picard said. “Any suggestions?”
“I have no suggestions at this present time,” Data answered.
Everyone on the bridge sat, or stood, at their stations,
thinking of a possible solution. Ensign Wesley Crusher came up
with one. He whirled around in his chair to face Picard. “Sir,
we may not have to avoid their sensors.”
Data looked in Wesley’s direction. “Please elaborate,
Ensign.”
The young man swallowed nervously, then continued. “The
whole transportation process should take at most six seconds. The
Garthusians wouldn’t be able to respond fast enough to take
action.”
“We can’t know that, Ensign,” Riker said. “We don’t know
enough about Garthusian technology or the Garthusians themselves
to make that sort of assumption.”
“I agree,” Picard said. “For all we know, the Garthusians
can have a system set up that would destroy any decloaking vessel
that doesn’t transmit the proper authorization codes.”
Wesley sat there for a moment, taking that in. Then he
returned his attention to the conn.
“I agree with Wesley,” Worf stated.
Picard and Riker looked at Worf in surprise.
“How else will we beam an away team down?” Worf asked.
Picard and Riker looked at each other with acceptance on
their faces.
“He does have a point, sir,” Riker said.
“Agreed, Number One,” Picard said. “Number One, form an
away team.”
“Aye, sir.” Riker stood up. “Data, Worf, you’re with me.”
He slapped his commbadge. “Geordi, Doctor, meet me in Transporter
Room Three now. Riker out.” He looked at Captain Picard.
“Make it so, Commander,” Picard said.
Riker, Data, and Worf nodded, and exited the bridge via the
aft turbolift.
“Mr. MacDonald,” Picard called to Worf’s deputy chief of
security, “only leave the cloaking device off-line during the
transport process.”
“Understood, sir,” MacDonald said. “Chief O’Brien says that
he’s ready to energize now, sir.”
“Decloak and energize,” Picard ordered.
The air was filled with tension during the critical three
seconds of transport. Picard kept his gaze on the main viewer.
During the process, one Garthusian sphere moved towards the
Enterprise’s position. When the process was over and the
Enterprise was under cloak, the sphere still kept coming.
“Damn,” Picard cursed. “Ensign Crusher, put us on a random
course of evasive maneuvers. See if the sphere follows us.”
“Aye, Captain.”
Picard watched the main viewer intently. The Garthusian
sphere was not in pursuit.
“A Romulan Warbird has decloaked behind us,” MacDonald said.
“The Garthusians were probably going to meet that.”
Picard breathed a sigh of relief. “Ensign Crusher, assume a
geosynchronous orbit over the beam-in point.”

On the surface of Mars, Riker, Data, Beverly, Geordi, and
Worf materialized. Riker instantly withdrew his phaser and
scanned the surrounding area with his eyes.
They were standing in an open field with healthy-looking
green grass. There were no trees at all. On the distant horizon,
he could see a small, undefined structure. It looked just like a
prairie on Earth.
“I am detecting a number of the engineered life-forms,” Data
reported, tricorder in hand. “Ten are within tricorder range;
they are a kilometer away from here and approaching fast.”
“I see them!” Geordi exclaimed.
“Where?” Worf asked. He was slowly spinning around and was
visibly squinting, but he had no success.
“I don’t see them either,” Riker said.
“I’m not getting them on the normal visual spectrum,” Geordi
said. He waved towards the right. “They’re coming from that way.
I’m seeing them on the infrared wavelength.”
“They are half a kilometer away and closing,” Data
announced.
Riker whistled in disbelief. “In only one minute? They
sure are fast.”
Geordi aimed his phaser at the oncoming life-forms.
“Permission to shoot them down?”
“Go ahead, Geordi,” Riker permitted.
Geordi nodded, and fiddled with the controls on the phaser a
little bit. Finding the settings to his satisfaction, Geordi
fired. He sighed. “I have this phaser set on setting eight, wide
beam. They’re still coming.”
“They are here,” Data said.
Suddenly, ten monsters phased into existence. They stood
ten feet tall, had four legs and four arms, large insect-like
heads with fang-filled jaws, and had gray armor covering their
entire body. All of their limbs had frightening blades at the
ends. The things stood there for a moment, looking over the
Starfleet away team.
“Set your phasers to maximum!” Riker yelled.
Everyone hurriedly carried out Riker’s orders. They kept
their phasers trained on the beasts, just in case the creatures
might prove friendly and killing them wouldn’t be advisable.
[A Starfleet team,] the members of the away team heard in
their minds.
[Yes,] another voice answered. [According to the Grand
Garthusians, every member of their kind must be eliminated. The
Lower Romulans say that any Klingon encountered must be delivered
to them.]
[We shall proceed,] the first voice said. [Jujulamalok!}
The monstrous troops began their attack. Two troops
attacked each away team member.
Commander Riker fired his phaser at his attackers almost the
second they started charging. The two of them spun around for a
few seconds, but kept on coming.
“What the hell are these things!?” Geordi cried. He began
running away.
“I do not believe that will be successful,” Data said. He
fired at his attackers with a continuous wide beam. They were
standing in one spot, twitching and twirling.
“Let’s do it!” Riker called. He ducked under his attackers’
swipes, and fired his phaser, keeping his thumb firmly planted on
the trigger. His assailants were put into the same state as
Data’s.
Geordi and Beverly did the same thing. Only Worf didn’t
follow suit. He was twisting and twirling on the ground, trying
to avoid the attacks of the monsters, firing brief phaser blasts
every few seconds. Only when he was almost beheaded did he follow
everyone else’s example. He struggled back to his feet.
“Now that we have them neutralized, for the moment,” Riker
said, “Data, you scan these things for any weaknesses.”
“I will endeavor to do so.” He set his tricorder to
continually scan the creatures. “I cannot find any inherent
weakness.” He waited for a few minutes, then continued his
report. “I believe that we must kill one and perform an autopsy
on it before we can find a weakness.”
“Nice suggestion, Data,” Beverly said. “We are barely
keeping these things at bay with phaser beams set to sixteen. Let
me just get my surgical tools real quick and penetrate their armor
with my handy dandy little surgical laser.”
“I did not intend to get a sarcastic response,” Data said.
“Such a reaction from you is not common, Doctor.”
“Yeah, well, what’s happening right now isn’t common!”
“You showed much more discipline and professionalism during
the Borg invasion.”
“Stop it, both of you,” Riker ordered. “This is no time for
petty bickering.”
[It’s just like the Grand Garthusians said,] one of the
aliens commented. [Other inferior species do tend to lose
cohesion quickly.]
Worf growled out a Klingon curse. “At least we have the
courage and determination to face the enemy ourselves! The
Garthusians must engineer soldiers to fight us! They are without
honor!”
[A Garthusian could kill you in a nanosecond,] the alien
replied tersely. [Their mental powers are strong. In a field of
battle such as this one, filth like you wouldn’t stand a chance.]
“Tell me more about their mental powers,” Riker demanded.
[They are capable to telepathy, as are we. However, unlike
us, they possess the power to halt an inferior’s body functions
with a thought. If they wanted to, they can put things such as
you to a slow and horrible death.]
“Then why don’t they use their mental powers in space
combat!?” Worf barked.
[It is the price they pay for having superior vessels. The
tryolic power core interrupts all telepathy and telekinesis.]
Data looked at Commander Riker. “We have five minutes
before the power cells on our phasers are drained.”
Riker nodded. “Any suggestions on how we kill those things
before our phaser energy runs out?”
“I have no hypothesis to offer,” Data replied.
“Geordi?”
Geordi shook his head. “My brain’s turned to clay.”
Riker let out a snort and slapped his commbadge. “Riker to
Enterprise. Beam us up now.”

Captain Picard looked at MacDonald earnestly. “Report.”
“The away team has been beamed aboard,” MacDonald said.
“However, we’ve attracted the attention of the Garthusians. It
took a little longer to transport, due to interference generated
by the engineered life-forms. That was enough time for them to
pick us up on their sensors.”
“Get us out of orbit, Ensign Crusher,” Picard ordered. He
walked to the center of the bridge from the aft section. “Red
alert.”
The alert sirens started howling as Riker, Data, and Worf
entered the bridge and took their stations.
“Number One, report,” Picard said.
“Those life-forms are sure meant to be troops,” Riker
reported. “They are unphased by single setting sixteen phaser
blasts; you have to use a continuous beam to immobilize them, and
they have seemingly unwavering loyalty to the Garthusians.” He
paused. “Their only weakness seems to be that they give up too
much information.”
“Explain,” Picard said, sitting in the command chair. He
gave his first officer and expectant look.
“Well, they called the Romulans ‘lower’, for starters. They
indicated that the tryolic power core interferes with the
Garthusians’ mental powers.”
“Elaborate.”
“One of their pets said that the Garthusians have mental
powers. They have telepathy, and are capable to injuring or even
killing a person with a single thought. The thing also hinted
that the Garthusians are capable of telekinesis.”
Picard turned those things over in his mind. It seemed more
and more like the Garthusians were going to win, no matter how
hard the Federation fought. One wondered how they lost their
extensive empire in the first place. He could wait to find those
answers later, though. He turned to Data. “Can we construct a
telepathic blocker that’s not as harmful to us as a tryolic device
would be?”
Data thought for a moment. “Of course, sir. However, in a
field of battle, such a device would have to be very large or
attached to each Federation troop. It would not be feasible,
sir.”
“I don’t think we have to worry about that,” Riker said.
“At least, not yet. We need to worry about those engineered life-
forms. That’s what the Garthusians seem intent on using.”
“I agree, Commander,” Picard said. He thought over what he
was about to do next. He had to find out whether any of the new
troops had reached the twenty-fourth century yet. He turned to
face Riker again. “Number One, assemble another away team. You
will go down to the largest settlement we can find. Your mission
will be to find out whether the life-forms are still here or if
any have been sent to our time.”
“Aye, sir,” Riker said.
Picard looked at the main viewer. The activity around Mars
seemed to have died down a bit, but he wanted to make sure. “Mr.
Data, will we be able to beam an away team down, or have they
erected any shields that would prevent transport?”
Data scanned the planet. “No shields that I can detect,
Captain. I am detecting active weapons systems on all of the
vessels and the planet, but no shields have been raised. My
hypothesis is that shields would halt the saucers and pyramids
from leaving and entering Mars’s atmosphere.”
Picard nodded. “Ensign, put us back in Mars’s orbit. Data,
find a suitable spot to beam down. Commander, form an away team.”

***

Captain Grayson, Lieutenant Commander La Salle, Lieutenant
Commander Kunak, and Lieutenant Blorman materialized in the
Venutian city. Commander Hermson had surmised that the
Garthusians would not be able to react in the three seconds
required for transport, and he had been correct. Now, they were
down on Venus, disguised to look like Romulans. Captain Grayson
figured that if they looked like Starfleet officers, they’d be
dead in a second. As a result, the Lexington’s chief medical
officer had the away team members surgically altered, and now here
they were.
Grayson examined her surroundings. Just like at Kumilak, it
was deemed best to transport into an unpopulated segment of the
building. It would take them longer to destroy the power plant,
true, but it would lessen their chances of being caught.
This storage bay looked just like the one at Kumilak.
Grayson figured that both the Romulans and the Garthusians had a
bad taste in architecture; storage rooms on Federation starships
weren’t as bad as this. Dismissing the matter, Grayson turned to
the chief engineer. “How long can we stay in here with all of
these tryolic waves?”
Frank La Salle stared at his tricorder readings for a
second, then looked at his captain. “This mission can last for a
day, and then we keel over.”
Grayson nodded. “All right. Now, a quick review of the
plan. Once we reach the main power core assembly, it will require
all of our phasers set on sixteen to destroy the critical element,
which will cause the whole net to feed back on itself. This will
occur instataneously; it will kill us all.” She looked at the
exit door. “Commander La Salle, have you located the power core
assembly?”
“Yeah, it was easy to find,” Frank said. He let the captain
have a look at his tricorder readings. “One weakness of these
tryolic power cores is that they light up sensor displays like a
Christmas tree.”
“Thank you, Commander,” Grayson said. “The power core is a
kilometer away, which is not that far to walk, but it is far
enough to get caught. Don’t do anything conspicuous.” She looked
at Kunak. “Do you have anything to add?”
“No, Captain,” Kunak stated.
“Let’s go then,” Grayson announced. She walked up to the
door, and it slid open automatically. The Starfleet officers
exited the storage bay, and walked out into a corridor exactly the
same as the ones on Kumilak.
“Well, one thing you have to say about the Romulans,”
Blorman said, “is that they couldn’t care less about their troops’
aesthetics.”
“May I remind you, Lieutenant, that the aesthetics of
different species can vary greatly,” Kunak reminded Blorman.
“How true,” Grayson agreed. “Let’s please halt this kind of
discussion. We’re supposed to be Romulans, remember?”
“Aye, Captain,” Blorman replied.
Not acknowledging her security chief, Grayson headed for the
right, with her team in pursuit. I’ll show that arrogant smart
alec Riker, she thought. He thought that I was no good filth,
unworthy of being in Starfleet, much less being a captain of a
starship. When I’m dead, he’ll realize that he’s wrong.
Determined that she was right, she marched forward.

Lieutenant Michael Blorman followed his commanding officer,
keeping his hand on his phaser just in case. He had grown up
Setlik Three, and had been just a boy when the Cardassians
attacked. Fortunately, the crew of the Rutledge rescued him;
unfortunately, his entire family had been killed. It was a
terrible tragedy that had eaten at him ever since. He had joined
Starfleet to make sure that no one ever committed such an evil
ever to anyone ever again. So far, he wasn’t doing a very good
job.
In 2360, the young Michael Blorman entered Starfleet Acdemy,
and four years later, he graduated tenth in his class. He had
served on the Independence and the Union (which had both been
destroyed at Wolf 359 by the Borg), and was recently promoted to
full lieutenant and made chief of security aboard the Lexington.
Almost immediately after that, the Garthusian crisis started. He
had just gotten back from Wolf 359, and now this was going on, and
he was most certainly going to die. Still, he was going to die in
the service of the Federation, and that thought didn’t make it
seem so bad.
A loud, monstrous voice sounded in the corridor the team was
currently transversing. “SUBCOMMANDER JAEL’TEK, YOU ARE ORDERED
TO REPORT TO GENETICS BAY TWENTY.”
“The wonderful voice of a Garthusian,” Frank La Salle
muttered.
Grayson halted the team to stop. “I hear people talking
ahead,” she whispered.
Three Romulans came walking from around the bend in the
corridor. The oldest looking one flashed a smile at Grayson.
“Why don’t you and your friends join us, my fair lady?”
“I think you’ve had too much ale,” Grayson shot back.
The two other younger Romulans started howling with
laughter. The older one silenced them with a stern glare, and
turned back to Grayson. “You’re lucky you’re a commander.”
“Is that a threat?” Grayson asked menacingly. She
unholstered her phaser, which was modeled to look like a Romulan
disruptor, at the old Romulan. “I have a special way of dealing
with threats.” She paused. “You know, even when on the stun
setting, these disruptors can have a lethal effect on drunks…”
“I am Subcommander Maelak, and I am part of the advanced
forces. I hadn’t heard such a thing.”
“Well,” Grayson said, smiling, “I’m part of the technical
branch of the military, and I hear things that you other fools
don’t.” She aimed the phaser at her antagonist. “You have until
I count to ten to step away from me.” She set her phaser to wide
beam. “That applies to you other two. Leave me.”
The three Romulans scowled, but they repented. The older
one gave one final glare at Grayson. “I will report this to Base
Command.” He hurried up to his comrades.
Grayson let out a sigh of relief, and put away her phaser.
“That was close.” She began to walk forward again, and the team
followed her.
Frank took out his tricorder and flipped it open. “We’re
half a kilometer till the power core, Captain.” He holstered the
tricorder.
“Assuming we keep up this rate of speed,” Kunak said, “we
should reach our goal in five minutes.”
“Acknowledged,” Grayson said, somewhat heavily.
This is it, Blorman thought. In five minutes, it’s all
over.
The Starfleet team marched forward steadily. All of them,
except for Kunak, had nervous and somewhat regretful expressions
on their faces, but they knew what they had to do. If their dying
would save the Federation, then so be it.
Suddenly, several alarms sounded, and the booming voice of a
Garthusian said, “INTRUDER ALERT. I REPEAT, INTRUDER ALERT.”
“How can they know we’re here!?” La Salle cried in panic.
“Keep your voice down!” Grayson shouted. She lowered her
tone. “Maybe it’s not us.” She paused. “All of you, have your
phasers drawn. We want to look like we’re on the lookout for
intruders.”
All of them quickly drew their phasers, and kept on striding
for their destination. Along the way, they enountered several
worried Romulans, who hurried past the away team without a second
glance. After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the
power control center.
“This is bad,” Blorman said.

The control center was crawling with Romulans and
Garthusians alike. The tryolic power core was a large dark gray
cylindrical structure standing from floor to ceiling in the very
center of the huge chamber. The critical element common to all
tryolic power cores was a narrow blue band in the center of the
power core’s hull. Surrounding the core were large consoles
manned by Garthusian engineers. Both Romulans and Garthusians
occupied stations along the walls.
A young Romulan female who was standing besides the entrance
looked at Blorman curiously. “What’s bad?” she asked.
“Oh… Uh…” Blorman was struggling for words. He looked
straight into the woman’s eyes, and seemed hypnotized. “Uh…”
“What he means to say,” Grayson said, annoyed, “is that the
fact that intruders managed to infilitrate the base is bad.”
“I see.” The woman smiled. “Commander, don’t take the
man’s reaction personally; I get that all the time.” Her
expression turned serious. “I had the same reaction as you. This
base was supposed to be inpenetrable… the Garthusians promised
that no one would be able to infiltrate it.”
Grayson saw a great opportunity to help the Federation’s
chances. She scoffed at what the Romulan just said. “I always
thought that the Garthusians would be trouble.” She sighed. “I
bet that they’re working for the Federation, trying to conquer
us.”
The woman looked like she was scared at the thought.
“But…”
“What proof do I have?” She began to lie through her teeth.
“The Tal Shiar managed to find out that the Federation Starship
Endeavor wasn’t really destroyed.”
“It wasn’t?”
“No,” Grayson replied, shaking her head. “No, it wasn’t.
The Federation made a deal with the Garthusians, as did the
Klingons. They’ve been lying about the Garthusian invasions into
their space. It was all a plot to conquer our empire.”
The woman stood there, speechless.
“One of the steps to stopping what the Garthusians are
doing,” Kunak said in all honesty, “is to destroy this base by
destroying the critical element of the power core.”
“You lie!” the Romulan shouted, aiming her disruptor at
them.
“I assure you,” Grayson said urgently, “that we are not
lying. If we are to stop the Garthusians, we must start here.”
The Romulan considered Grayson’s sayings. Finally, she
aimed her disruptor at the critical element of the tryolic power
core. “All right, I’ll do it. Only to save the empire, though.”
“Only to save the empire,” Grayson echoed back. “Ready…
Aim…”
The Starfleeters set their phasers to maximum setting, and
aimed them at the critical element.
Okay, here goes, Grayson thought. Riker will be set
straight. She took a deep breath. “Fire,” she said quietly.
Their weapons fired, and the high-powered energy beams
struck the power core. Confused Romulans and Garthusians looked
at the saboteurs quickly.
“Get them!” one the Romulans shouted.
But it was too late. The critical element blew up,
resulting in the immediate destruction of the power core, which
resulted in the immediate destruction of the Venusian base.

On board the bridge of the Lexington, Commander Hermson
stared at the main viewer. The serene Earth-like planet on the
main viewer was being burnt up quickly. Lots of Garthusian
vessels trying to escape Venus’s atmosphere were tossed around
until the air pressure squeezed them apart. The ships in orbit of
the planet sat still, helpless to save their base.
“They did it, sir,” Dallas said solemnly.
“Keep an eye on those ships,” Hermson ordered. “Mr. Drake,
take us to Mars. We’re all done here.”
“Aye, sir,” Dallas and Drake muttered.
Hermson rose from the command chair. “After this mission is
over, a memorial service will be held.” He walked over to the
operations station. “Commander Dallas, when we arrive at Mars,
call me to the bridge. You are in command in my absence. I will
be in the ready room.”

Commander Hermson laid the piece of wood on the table. He
embedded a dull lorkfa deep into the wood, and lit the wood on
fire with a standard igniter. He watched the inferno burn the
wood for what seemed hours, until the wood was dark black, and all
that remained of the fire was hot smoke coming from the wood.
The door chime rang, and Hermson quickly reclaimed his
lorkfa and put it back in its holster on his belt. Klamites
generally didn’t like to have other people see them mourn. “Come
in.”
Lieutenant Commander Dallas strode into the ready room.
“Sorry to disturb you, sir, but we are in orbit of Mars.”
“If you didn’t wish to disturb me,” Hermson said, sitting
down, “why didn’t you inform me via commbadge?”
“Well…” Dallas said. “All right, I want to talk.”
“What about?”
“My decision regarding the Venus mission…”
Hermson looked at Dallas. “You’re feeling guilty.”
“Ye… yes, sir. Maybe I could’ve did something…”
“You couldn’t have saved their lives down there any more
than up here,” Hermson said crisply. “I need you to stay focused
on the task at hand.”
“I know,” Dallas said, nodding. “Although… I’m afraid of
losing-”
“The respect of the crew,” Hermson finished. “Commander, I
must admit, you’re not too high on my list right now. I’m not
sure I can, or will, do anything to help you.”
Dallas looked like she was about to cry. “Sir… I have a
son on Earth… He has molotis…”
Hermson nodded. “He’s currently living with his aunt and
uncle.”
“That’s right,” Dallas said, flustered. “I don’t want to
get killed and make him lose the only parent he has left…”
“Starfleet is not the ideal enviroment for that goal.”
“I know. But my son practically forced me to stay in
Starfleet when he contracted molotis and went to live on Earth…”
“I see.” Hermson stood up and walked right up to Dallas.
“I can understand your wish to comply with your son’s wishes, but
if you explain to him that you’d much rather stay with him than
stay in Starfleet, I am certain that he will understand.”
“After this Garthusian crisis is over, I’ll do just that…”
Hermson nodded. “Is there anything more, Commander?”
Dallas shook her head. “No, sir.” She exited the ready
room. Hermson followed shortly thereafter.

“Captain,” Lieutenant Naro said, “the catastrophe on Venus
is continuing, but it is beginning to die down.”
Picard scowled. He hoped that the Lexington was all right.
“What could have caused such an effect? An asteroid impact?”
“That could have caused it if it happened sir, but it didn’t
happen. The sensors registered a big burst of tryolic energy, and
then kablam!”
Picard nodded. “Keep me posted.”
“Sir,” MacDonald said, “the vessels that were in the
vicinity of Venus are heading in this direction. They should be
here in thirty-five minutes.”
“That sure doesn’t help matters,” Picard grumbled. At least
the base on Venus had been destroyed; he was willing to bet that
the Lexington had something to do with it. That raised his
approval rating of Grayson a few notches. There was still the
Mars base to consider, though. “Any contact with the away team?”
“Negative, Captain,” Naro said. “They did materialize at
their coordinates, though, which is somewhat of a relief.”
“We need all the relief that we can get,” Picard declared.
“Mea-”
“Captain!” MacDonald exclaimed. “I am getting a
communication from the Lexington! It is in orbit of Mars!”
“What!?” Picard shouted. “While we’re under cloak? Perhaps
I should have listened to Commander Riker…”
“Commander Hermson reports that they have successfully
destroyed the Venus base,” MacDonald reported. His voice took on
a solemn tone. “He also adds that Captain Grayson died in the
line of duty.”
Picard slowly nodded his acknowledgement. “All right.
Close the channel.”
“Channel closed.”

Riker, Data, Geordi, Worf, and Chief Luckstrum made their
way through the streets of the settlement. They had been
disguised to look like Romulans, and so far the disguise was
working. The Romulan troops on the streets nodded at them as they
passed.
“Us all being commanders does have its perks,” Luckstrum
said as they walked.
“I do not see what is so pleasing,” Worf said in disgust.
“Being here makes me feel like filth.”
“Oh, it’s not so bad, Lieutenant,” Riker said. “You could
be on the Tribble Homeworld.”
Worf looked like he would throw up, but he just said, “No
thank you, Commander.”
Riker smiled, but didn’t reply. He pointed towards a large
building that was close-by. “I think we should go in there.”
The team strode through the entrance and into the building.
Dozens of Romulans crowded the huge lobby that they entered. A
large stone carving of a Romulan figure holding the symbol of the
Federation in one hand, and the Klingon symbol in the other stood
in the center of the lobby. The floor was made of large gray
stone tiles, as were the walls and ceiling. Way on the other side
of the lobby was yet another huge room that Romulans were crowding
into, with a sign that had Romulan text on it at the top of the
entrance.
“The sign says, ‘We will conquer the Federation’,” Data said
calmly.
“This is as good a place as any to find out what they’re up
to,” Geordi said.
“Agreed,” Riker said. “Let’s follow.”
Ten minutes later, they were in their seats inside the large
auditorium. In the very front of the room, standing behind
podiums on top of a large platfrom, stood a Garthusian and an old
Romulan.
“This should be good,” Luckstrum commented.
The Romulan began to speak. “I am Admiral Iluek, and I
welcome you all to this momentous occasion! The defeat of our
most hated enemies, the Federation and the Klingons, is nearly at
hand!”
Loud cheers erupted from the audience.
“I AM JOKORK MIZALANONO, AND I AM PROUD TO HAVE HELPED THE
ROMULANS IN THIS ACHIEVEMENT,” the Garthusian said. “SOON, WE
SHALL SEND FORTH OUR LEGIONS INTO THE HEART OF THE FEDERATION, AND
CONQUER THEM ONCE AND FOR ALL.”
“When we occupy Earth shortly,” Iluek said, “the Federation
would be able to provide no resistance in our time. The weak
worlds of Vulcan and Andor will fall quickly, then the whole
Federation will follow!”
“AS WILL THE KLINGON EMPIRE, THEN THE CARDASSIAN EMPIRE, AND
ANY EMPIRE THAT RESISTS US!”
Cheers erupted again.
“With the help of the Garthusians, I am sure that you are
well aware, we have genetically engineered a special breed of army
that will put even the Borg to shame! As the Borg say,
‘Resistance is futile’! No one will be able to resist us!”
“WHEN WE SEND THE ARMY BACK INTO OUR TIME TOMORROW, VICTORY
WILL SOON BE OURS!”
Loud cheering, even more massive than before, sounded from
the audience. Over the noise, Riker managed to say to his team
mates, “Now we know that we still have a chance!”
“I recommend we make a hasty departure!” Data said.
“Commander La Forge is doing something rather rash!”
Riker looked at Data quizzically, then found out what the
android was talking about. Geordi La Forge was running up to the
speakers, yelling, “MURDERERS! MUTILATORS! YOU DESERVE TO DIE!!”
He had his phaser aimed at his intended victims.
Riker slapped his commbadge immediately. “Riker to
Enterprise! Get us out of here right away!”

Picard hurried down to Transporter Room Three. He came in
just in time to see the away team materialize on the transporter
platform. Geordi ran off the platform, screaming, “MURDERER!”
“Commander, calm down!” Picard ordered. He restrained
Geordi with his hands.
“He almost got killed,” Riker said. “I saw more than a few
Romulans taking aim at him.”
“What happened?” Picard asked, still restraining Geordi.
“He raced towards the commanders of the base, screaming
insults, with phaser drawn. We got out in the nick of time.”
Picard stared at the chief engineer. “Commander, compose
yourself.”
Slowly, but surely, Geordi relaxed. He stopped trying to
run and breathed several deep breaths, but didn’t say anything.
“What is going on?” Picard asked.
“The Garthusians… They’ll kill you, they’ll kill everyone
on board the ship, they’ll destroy the Enterprise…”
Picard frowned, and looked at Data. “Take him to Counselor
Troi’s office, if you’d please…”
“Certainly, sir,” Data said. He walked up to Geordi, and
put his hand on his friend’s back. “Geordi…”
“All right,” Geordi said, resigned. He and Data walked out
of the transporter room.

On their way to the bridge, Riker was giving Picard his
report.
“They haven’t sent their pets yet,” Riker said. “That still
gives us a chance.”
“Indeed,” Picard said. They entered a turbolift. “Bridge,”
Picard ordered, sending the turbolift on its way. He turned to
Riker. “Commander, we need to talk.”
Riker frowned. “About what, sir?”
“Captain Grayson,” Picard answered heavily. “She’s dead.”
Riker soaked that information in. “How, sir?”
“In the line of duty. Herself, the science officer, the
chief engineer, and the securit chief beamed down to destroy the
Venus base. They destroyed the tryolic power core, and because of
all of the quantum radiation in Venus’s atmosphere, a chain
reaction was started, which resulted in the destruction of
everything on the planet.” Picard grinded his teeth. “We just
received the report from the acting captain of the Lexington,
Commander Hermson.”
Riker raised an eyebrow. “Whatever happened to It Itsum?”
“You know, I was wondering that myself,” Picard said as the
turbolift came to a stop. The doors slid open, and the two
officers took their positions.
“They have gone to full alert,” Data reported from the Ops
station. “Their shields have been raised, and they are currently
conducting full sensor sweeps.”
“Maintain communications silence with the Lexington,” Picard
said. “We don’t need the Garthusians detecting us now.” Picard
rubbed his chin. “Are there any ideas on how we can destroy this
base?”
“I have no idea on how we can do that when they have those
shields up,” Wesley Crusher said.
Riker scowled. “Mr. Data, can you substitute for the Boy
Wonder?”
“I am afraid that I cannot substitute for the ‘Boy Wonder’,
Commander,” Data replied.
Riker looked at the captain. “To use an old Earth term,
this sucks, sir.”
“An accurate, if interesting, way to put it, Number One.”

Geordi La Forge sat on the couch in Deanna Troi’s office,
concentrating on his thoughts and feelings. He had the vision in
his mind… the Enterprise was being rapidly destroyed by the
Garthusan spheres. Picard and Wesley were dead, and the situation
was deperate.
“These nightmares started after you were abducted on Vraris
by the Garthusians?” Troi asked.
“That’s right,” Geordi said. “They’ve had me on edge for
weeks now…”
“Barclay and some other engineers told me about that.” The
counselor paused. “Geordi, all I can recommend is taking some
mycortrazine every time before you go to sleep. I’ve been
counseling you on this for a while now, and we’re not making any
progress. At least the mycortrazine will stop the dreaming.”
Geordi nodded. “Yeah, Captain Picard did indicate that the
mycortrazine stuff was useful when he was recovering from the
Borg. I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.”
“Okay, Geordi. I’m not going to let you go on duty for two
days, though. I want to see how you do.”
Geordi gave her a resigned nod. “Whatever you say,
Counselor.” He stood up. “Am I dismissed?”
“Yes.”
“Good.” Geordi hurried out of the counselor’s office.

CHAPTER SEVEN

In the twenty-fourth century, Admiral Williams watched the
twenty spheres enter the New Britain system.
“Their weapon and shield systems are operational,” Moore
said.
It’s all over, Jordan thought. The Federation is history…
“The ten original spheres are engaging the new spheres!”
Moore said in shock.
“What!?” Jordan shouted, staring the the main viewer. It
was true. The spheres were firing at each other.
“Sensors detect large amounts of dronium particle
emissions!” Ops officer said. “They are concentrated among the
Garthusian vessels.”
“Well, let’s not give those particles time to get to us,”
Jordan said. “Ops, you take control of conn systems and get us to
the interior of the system!”
“Aye, sir! Laying in a course for the colony of New Britain
at warp three… engaging course!”
Moments later, the Federation-Klingon fleet was in orbit of
New Britain.
“Open a channel to all ships,” Jordan ordered.
“Channel established,” Moore said.
Jordan cleared her throat. “This is Admiral Jordan of the
Normandy. I want all speculations as to what we just witnessed.”
“It is a ploy,” Captain K’Lar of the Klingon Attack Cruiser
Pok’Ma proclaimed.
“We can’t know that,” Commander Farrell of the Federation
ship Berman replied. “We have to take what we’ve got. Admiral, I
recommend that we try to get those twenty Garthusian spheres on
our side.”
Jordan thought it over as the other starship commanders
argued over the comm channel. Ultimately, she said, “I agree with
Commander Farrell. This might be our only chance to defeat the
Garthusians. I will hail them. Normany out.” She rose and stood
in the center of the bridge, making sure she didn’t move her
broken arms. “Mr. Moore, hail one of those twenty spheres.”
A blue version of a Garthusian materialized on the main
viewer. It’s black eyes focused on Admiral Jordan. “Federation
starship, I am Jokork Mizalyoyesyes of the repressed race of the
Garthusian Empire. We had been in rebellion for centuries, and
now that the Grays have been kept busy by the Federation and its
allies, we’ve finally been able to achieve major victories. I
will tell you the specifics at a later time. I just wished to
inform you that we are your allies. Mizalyoyesyes out.” The
Garthusian’s face was replaced by stars.
“The ‘Blues’ appear to be winning the battle, Admiral,”
Moore said. “Only five of the original spheres remain.”
“Keep an eye on them,” Jordan said. “I want to know exactly
what happens when it happens.”

Mizalyoyesyes stood in the center of the command section of
his flagship, the Jukuloid. He watched the viewscreen as his
battlefleet pummeled the dictator Grays. His rebels had taken
over most of the outer regions of the Garthusian Empire, placing a
democratic government in charge. All that remained was to
eliminate Vraris and take over the whole empire, and change the
name to Garthusian Republic.
“The Starfleet and Klingon ships are staying in orbit around
New Britain,” the sensor master, Grarangno, reported. “Only two
of the enemy remain.”
The executive officer, Jumfula, added, “We have seventeen
vessels left.”
“Weapons master,” Mizalyoyesyes said, “eliminate those two
ships as fast as you can.”
“Their hull is already buckling,” the weapons master,
Frolojok, said.
“Good.” Mizalyoyesyes returned his attention to the
viewscreen. One of the Gray spheres imploded, sending shock waves
in the direction of the remaining enemy. The last enemy sphere
was destroyed by several disruptor blasts from the Jukuloid.
“Well done,” Mizalyoyesyes congratulated. “Communications
master, get me the Normandy.”
The form of Admiral Jordan appeared on the screen. “Jokork,
would you mind explaining the situation further?”
Rude, but that is to be expected. Out loud, Mizalyoyesyes
said, “Of course, Admiral. Six thousand years ago, the Garthusian
Empire was the most powerful empire in the whole galaxy. All
outside forces, even the Borg, feared our might. For centuries,
our people had enjoyed democracy… and, even the counquered
peoples had say in the government on their own planet. However,
there was one empire that did not fear our empire: the Fury
Empire. The Garthusian and Fury Empires fought a five hundred
year war, and the Furies eventually prevailed. They ruled their
empire with an iron fist, and the Garthusians were no exception.
We worked for them as slaved… until the Unclean came.”
Jordan looked like she was lost in thought. She looked at
the Jokork with realization. “Oh, yes, I am quite a student of
history. Captain James T. Kirk encountered the Furies a century
ago. He said that the Furies were forced out by a force known as
the ‘Unclean’… and he said that the Furies believed that we were
the Unclean.”
“No, you were not the Unclean. The Unclean were much more
fierce… however, their appearances and names are lost to
history. Anyway, the Unclean forced the Furies into the Delta
Quadrant, and moved onto the Garthusians. We managed to nearly
annhiliate them, and we forced their retreat to parts unknown.
Unfortunately, during the struggle, the Grays came to power.
After we beat the Unclean, the Grays became egotistical dictators.
They turned all except them into second-class citizens. It’s been
that way ever since.”
“You said something about the Grays coming into power.
What’s that about? Were you Blues repressing them?”
“Not at all. The Grays are simply ‘Blues’, as you like to
call us, that changed their genetic make-up all those years ago so
that they could be different from us.” Mizalyoyesyes paused, then
resumed speaking. “The Grays took advantage of the chaos that was
caused by the Furies and the Unclean so they could take over the
empire. They promised they could get rid of the Unclean, and they
did just that, so the people trusted them. It didn’t take us
‘Blues’ long to realize that the Grays were simply overzealous
dictators, but by then, it was too late. The Grays had taken firm
control, and they didn’t give it up. Some us formed a rebellion
that has existed for over four thousand years, and we are only now
beginning to gain victory.”
Jordan shook her head up and down. “I see. Is there any
way we can help you to reestablish a democratic form of government
in the Garthusian Empire?”
Mizalyoyesyes considered it. “I don’t imagine that you
could have much of an impact unless you committed a very large
fleet…”
“I’ll see what I can do. Jordan out.”

Jordan faced Moore. “Tactical, get me the Commander-in-
Chief on the ready room monitor.”
“Aye, Captain.” Moore tapped a button. “The Chief is
awaiting you.”
Jordan nodded and went into the ready room. She sat at the
desk and faced the desktop monitor. “Sir, I have very important
news.”
Fleet Admiral Takei Sulu faced Jordan sternly. “Admiral
Jordan, what is it? The Garthusians have better not have broken
through our defenses…”
Jordan shook her head. “No, sir. It seems that there is a
large rebel movement within the Garthusian Empire, and that they
are gaining ground quickly. To win, they need our help. We will
need to commit a large number of ships, though…”
Sulu’s forehead creased. “How many ships are we talking
about, Admiral?”
“Bigger than anything ever at Wolf 359… Feronium… The
largest fleet we’ve ever assembled… I’d have to say well over a
thousand ships…”
Sulu looked like he’d have a heart attack. “A thousand
ships?” he gasped. “Admiral, not to be blunt, but we simply don’t
have a thousand ships… Not with the Cardassians and the
Borg…”
“That’s where other Federation members and the Klingons come
in. Get the Vulcans, the Andorians, anyone you possibly can in
there, fighting with us… I’m sure the Klingons would send
ships…”
Sulu sighed. “I’ll have to talk to the Federation Council
about this. I can’t promise anything. Sulu out.” His image
winked off the viewer, to be replaced by the Federation seal.
Jordan walked onto the bridge. “Mr. Moore, inform the Blues
that I’ve talked to Starfleet, and they might be able to get the
assistance I offered.”
“Will do, Admiral.”
“Good.” Jordan walked towards the aft turbolift. “Moore,
you have the bridge. I’m going to sickbay to get my arms fixed.”

Commander Kaloar of the Romulan outpost Kumilak looked over
the shoulder of Subcommander Tarail. “The Garthusians didn’t say
anything about sending more ships, did they?”
Tarail shook his head. “No, Commander.”
Kalaor paced the command center of Kumilak. He wondered
what the Garthusians were up to. “Are they responding to our
hails?”
“No.” Tarail looked back ay Kaloar. “They tricked us!”
“Calm down. It could be innocent.” Truthfully, Kaloar was
having doubts about the Garthusians himself, but he wouldn’t say
that out loud just yet. “They could have a perfectly legitimate
reason for this.”
“I hope you’re right.” Tarail turned to his console just as
a loud beeping eminated from it. He touched the console in
several places. “Sir, the lead vessel is hailing us, audio only.”
“About time. On speakers.”
The speakers crackled for a moment. “COMMANDER KALOAR, I
SPEAK FOR THE REPRESSED MASSES OF THE GARTHUSIAN EMPIRE. I AM
ASKING YOU TO JOIN US IN OUR STRUGGLE TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY TO OUR
HOME.”
Kaloar grunted. “The Garthusians told us about you. You’re
the dishonorable rebels. We will take care of you in short
order.” He whispered to Tarail, “Arm the weapons array.”
Tarail nodded, and did what he was told.
“ROMULAN COMMANDER, I GIVE YOU ONE LAST CHANCE. YOU CANNOT
RESIST US.”
Kaloar scoffed. “Please. We can take on five spheres if
necessary. What makes you think one would do the job?”
“BECAUSE WE ARE MANY.”
“They have cut communications, Commander,” Tarail said. He
looked at his commander dubiously. “Commander, they are making an
idle boast. There is only one Garthusian sphere in the range of
our Garthusian-improved scanners.”
Kaloar thought that over. The Garthusian commander had said
“because we are many”… who could the many be?
Tarail looked at his console with surprise. “Sir, I am
detecting a rapid rise in tryolic particles at coordinates nine
mark nine, bearing one hundred mark twenty!”
“A tryolic wormhole,” Kaloar muttered. “We must not let any
more rebel spheres into this section of space. Can we stop the
buildup and collapse the wormhole?”
“Too late! They’re already pouring out!”
“On screen!” Kaloar shouted. He faced the main viewer. The
silverish-blue wormhole was regurgitating more ships than he could
count. They all surrounded Kumilak, weapons charging and shields
activating.
“They have fifty spheres, sir,” Tarail said in fear. “They
have locked all weapons onto us. They will destroy us in one
blast!”
“Get a message off to the Romulan Empire!” Kaloar shouted.
“Warn them of the rebel threat!”
“They are flooding all subspace channels with anti-lepton
interference!”
Suddenly, all fifty sphereships fired all of their weapons
at Kumilak. Disruptors and torpedoes collided against all parts
of the hull of the outpost almost simultaneously. Gases and
energy leapt out of the numerous hull breaches, illuminating the
surrounding space in an impressive array of colors. Moments
later, after continuous pounding from the Blues’ weapons, Kumilak
exploded. Asteroid-sized debris flew from the explosion, as did
numerous smaller pieces of debris and some body parts that had
been spared from vaporization.
After the successful destruction of Kumilak, the Garthusian
spheres began to advance deeper into Romulan territory…

Mizalyoyesyes paced the observation lounge, giving Admiral
Jordan some surprisingly good battle reports.
“The Romulan operation is going quite well,” the rebel
leader said. “Kumilak was destroyed by our forces almost
immediately, even though it was constructed by the Grays.” He
paused and looked at Jordan. “The Romulans have managed to
scrounge up some meager resistance, but they were so surprised.
They had most of their forces inside Federation space waiting to
strike. So far, we have control over fifteen Romulan systems.”
“This is indeed pleasing news,” Jordan said. “However, do
you know anything about the Enterprise and the Lexington?”
“Yes, we do.” The Jokork called up some information on a
PADD he was holding, and handed it to Jordan. “We intercepted a
transmission saying that the Tryolic Wormhole Cee-Gomba-Kloker was
opened several hours ago, but no ships were scheduled to go
through, so the Grays and their Romulan allies began an
investigation.”
“According to this,” Jordan stated, “Tryolic Wormhole Cee-
Gomba-Kloker is near where Kumilak used to be.”
“Right next to it, actually. Considering that the
Enterprise and the Lexington were assigned to go to Kumilak, the
odds are more than likely that they traveled through that
wormhole.” Mizalyoyesyes took the PADD back from Jordan. “I’ve
managed to get intelligence that two very important Garthusian-
Romulan bases lie on the other side. I don’t know what they’re
for, but I do know that they are a critical part of the enemy’s
invasion plans. I’m going to lead a force of spheres into the
wormhole, and try to destroy those bases. Also, I’ll try to make
contact with your starships, if they have managed to survive.”
“All right.” Jordan got up from her seat. “Good luck,
Jokork Mizalyoyesyes.”
“Jujulamalok, Admiral,” Mizalyoyesyes replied. He began to
leave the observation lounge.
“Oh, wait,” Jordan said, suddenly remembering. “While your
in the sectors along the Romulan Neutral Zone, you’ll be
communicating with Admiral Skrell.”
“Acknowledged.”

***

Captain Picard looked at his senior officers gathered around
the observation lounge table. “We have to destroy the base on
Mars.”
“We can’t do that until we get the shield down,” Lieutenant
Jack Alaimo, Geordi’s fill-in, said.
“The only way to attempt to lower the shield would be to
decloak and try something, but if we decloak for more than a few
seconds, it will mean certain death,” Data added.
“That is unacceptable!” Worf bellowed. “We must destroy the
base!”
“I agree with you, but how?” Alaimo replied. “Do we decloak
and wait to be shot down in ten seconds? We’ll sure do a lot of
good dead.”
“We don’t need petty arguing, we need answers,” Picard broke
in. “Commander Riker, what sort of reaction from the Romulans
will we get if we told them that the Garthusians referred to them
as ‘lower’?”
“I don’t think they’d believe us,” Riker answered. “If we
could somehow prove it…”
The intercom blooped. “MacDonald to observation lounge.”
“Picard here,” the captain said wearily. “What’s going on?”
“Sensors have detected that the tryolic wormhole that we
came here through is opening up. A lot of Garthusian spheres are
coming out of that wormhole, sir.”
“Red alert!” Picard called. “All senior officers, report to
the bridge!”
Moments later, the senior officers were at their stations.
Alaimo manned the bridge engineering console.
“I am detecting forty-seven sphereships, Captain,” Data
said.
“They are sending out a general broadcast, sir,” Worf
reported.
“Put it through,” Picard barked.
A blue Garthusian appeared on the main viewer. “I am Jokork
Mizalyoyesyes of the new Garthusian Republic. I am ordering the
Grays and Romulans on Mars to surrender immediately or face
certain death.”
Jokork Mizalonono suddenly materialized on the right side of
the viewer, with Mizalyoyesyes on the left. “I have looked
forward to putting an end to your pathetic movement for a long
time, Mizalyoyesyes. For all of my five hundred years, I’ve
wanted to eliminate the rebellion. Now, I’ll get the chance.”
Mizalonono cut the channel. Seconds later, so did Mizalyoyesyes.
“All of the Garthusian spheres are moving to engage the
newcomers,” Worf reported. “The Romulans are staying behind.”
Picard rubbed his chin, analyzing the recent turn of events.
This was totally unexpected. With the help of the Garthusian
rebels, the Federation might actually have a chance of winning the
war. Picard looked at Ensign Crusher. “Ensign, put us on an
erratic and unpredictable course.”
The teenager looked surprised, but nonetheless did what he
was told.
“Mr. Worf, contact the Lexington. Tell them to go on an
unpredictable course, and that I’d like to speak with the acting
captain.”
Worf touched several locations on the tactical console.
“Commander Hermson acknowledging, Captain.”
The Klamite winked into existence on the main viewer. “This
is most unexpected.”
“I agree, Commander,” Picard said, standing up and
approaching the main viewer. “We may have a new ally.” He looked
at Data. “Battle report.”
“I am detecting four of the Garthusian spheres, Captain, and
forty-five of the rebels.”
Worf growled. “The Romulans are deploying in a standard
search pattern, sir. They seem to be following us.”
“They can’t get a lock unless they can accurately predict
our course, Lieutenant,” Hermson reminded the Klingon.
Riker punched some buttons on his own console. He looked up
to the captain urgently. “The Romulan Warbirds are forming a net
around us, sir, and more are decloaking! We’re going to have to
go to warp if we hope to be able to escape the net…”
“Too late, Commander,” Data said. “Twenty Romulan Warbirds
now surround us, and the gaps in the net are too small for the
Enterprise to pass through.”
“They were prepared for something just like this,” Alaimo
muttered.
“They are locking weapons on us, Captain!” Worf said.
“I will sever the transmission,” Hermson said. His image
disappeared, to be replaced by several warbirds.
“Wesley, move our position,” Picard said. “Enough so that
the Romulan weapons won’t hit us.”
“We don’t have enough room, sir.”
Sweat ran down the back of Picard’s neck. Even if the
Enterprise decloaked, she wouldn’t have a chance against twenty
Romulan Warbirds. Still, the ship would have even less of a
chance while cloaked. “Lieutenant Worf, disengage-”
“The Lexington has decloaked outside of the net and is
firing at the warbirds, Captain!” Worf yelled.
“On screen!”
The Revolutionary-class Lexington was performing a dizzying
array of evasive maneuvers, firing its phasers and photon
torpedoes at the Romulans. The net of warbirds was broken as they
focused on their attacker.
“What the hell is he doing!?” Riker said.
“Saving us, Commander!” Picard shouted. “Worf, disengage
the cloaking device, raise shields, and fire at will!”
“Gladly, sir!”
The Enterprise decloaked and unleashed a blaze of fury as
the Romulans began to conentrate on the Lexington. Two Romulan
Warbirds that had been weakened by the Lexington blew up under the
Enterprise’s barrage.
“Ensign Crusher, evasive maneuvers!” Picard said.
The Enterprise weaved through the flotilla of warbirds. The
ship shook fiercely under enemy fire, but several warbirds were
destroyed by the highly maneuverable Federation starships.
“Our shields are down to seventy-three percent!” Alaimo
reported.
“Status of the enemy fleet?” Picard asked.
“Five Romulan Warbirds destroyed, Captain,” Data replied.
“The warbirds are beginning to break formations and initiate
evasive maneuvers.”
“Engage the cloaking device,” Picard ordered as the
Enterprise rocked under some warbirds’ disruptors.
“Cloaking device engaged, sir,” Worf announced.
Riker let out a deep breath. “Phew!”
“I agree wholeheartedly, Number One,” Picard said. “What
are the Romulans doing now?”
“Since the Lexington cloaked just as we did, they are going
to fight the Garthusian rebels, who have destroyed all the spheres
of the enemy Garthusians,” Data answered. “Garthusian saucers and
pyramids are in the vicinity of us now. They are scanning for ion
trails.”
“Let’s not give them any. Ensign, all stop.”
“All stop confirmed, sir.”
Picard walked up to the main viewer. “Put the battle on
screen.”
The Garthusian spheres and Romulan Warbirds appeared on the
main viewer. The warbirds were twisting and twirling among the
spheres, disruptors blasting, but it was no use. The Garthusians
picked the Romulans off effortlessly, sometimes allowing warbirds
to collide with them. Within five minutes, the Romulan fleet was
decimated.
“My God…” Riker gasped.
“The Garthusian saucers and pyramids are turning to engage
the rebels,” Worf said.
“They must be desperate,” Picard replied with some
satisfaction. He watched the saucers and pyramids get annhiliated
by the spheres. “Over in our time, the Garthusian Empire must be
gone, with a Garthusian Republic taking its place.”
“Captain, the Enterprise and the Lexington are being
requested by Jokork Mizalyoyesyes over a general hail,” Worf
reported.
“Answer it,” Picard said.
Commander Hermson and Jokork Mizalyoyesyes winked into
existence on the main viewer.
“This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise. How are
things going in the twenty-fourth century?”
“Extremely well, Captain,” Mizalyoyesyes proclaimed
neutrally. “The Grays are being pushed back on almost all fronts.
Within a short while, they will be pushed to Vraris, where we, the
Federation and the Klingons will make the final squeeze.”
“Quite pleasing news, Mr. Jokork,” Commander Hermson said.
“Agreed,” Picard said with a slight grin on his face.
“However, we must first destroy the Mars base.”
“I know, Captain Picard. Within short order, my sphere will
launch a dehabitation torpedo into Mars’s atmosphere, which will
eliminate all life on Mars and make it uninhabitable for seventy-
two million years.”
“What will become of the equipment on Mars?” Hermson asked.
“The rapid effects of the atmospheric shifts should take
care of it, and the high air pressure and the high rise in heat
caused by the nitronic gases should effectively squeeze and melt
the materials.”
“Make it so,” Picard told Mizalyoyesyes. “The sooner this
war is ended, the better.”
“I must concur, Captain.” Mizalyoyesyes’s image was taken
away, and Hermson dominated the main viewer.
“I suggest that we maintain an open comm link, but keep our
viewscreens focused on the events on the exterior of our two
ships,” Hermson recommended.
“Agreed. Lieutenant Worf, do it.”
Hermson’s image disappeared, to be replaced by the M-class
Mars. Picard took a good look at it. It was so much like the
terraformed Mars that Picard was used to. He wished that they
could somehow take out the Romulan base without destroying the
beauty of Mars as it was now. Still, if it meant saving the
Federation, that beauty would have to be destroyed alongside the
base.
“Jokork Mizalyoyesyes reports that he is ready to launch the
torpedo,” Worf said with a hint of glee.
He’s a Klingon, Picard thought when he experienced repugnant
feelings towards Worf for wanting to destroy such a pretty planet.
Picard stared at Mars for a while, then said, “Tell him that he
may do so.”
Suddenly, a blue streak entered Mars’s atmosphere. It all
happened so fast that Picard couldn’t believe it. Red gases
started to consume the view of the blue oceans and lush green
landmasses. He could barely make out dust and debris being tossed
about by the huge wind that was picking up. Multiple explosions
lit up all of the continents. Within mere minutes, the once
healthy planet was replaced by a dull red planet that would
inspire so much myth and misconception on Earth, and would
eventually lead to increased interest in space exploration when
the ruins of the Romulan base were discovered underground,
confirming the belief that aliens did exist. The actions of the
Garthusians, Romulans, Enterprise, Lexington, and the rebels would
both help save and found the United Federation of Planets. It was
quite staggering to contemplate.
“We did it!” Alaimo exclaimed. “We saved the Federation!”
“Yes, we did,” Picard agreed, “along with the help of the
Garthusian rebels.”
“Either way, it is quite an achievement,” Commander Hermson
said over the intercom.
“It’s not over yet. Mr. Worf, hail Jokork Mizalyoyesyes.”
The blue Garthusian appeared on the main viewer. “Captain
Picard, we are to return to your twenty-fourth century in order to
commence the assault on Vraris.”
“I quite agree with you,” Picard said. “Ensign Crusher, lay
in a course for the wormhole, best speed.”

***

Admiral Skrell looked over the battle reports closely. The
war with the Garthusians was going remarkably well with the
assistance of the Garthusian rebels, in sharp contrasts with the
heavy losses during the early phase of the war.

From: United Space Ship Kashiko NCC-5132

Starship Commander: Captain Marglese Stone

Report: The engagement with the Garthusians at the Velusion system
was a stunning victory. With the help of six rebel spheres, our
fleet of nine Federation starships and seven Klingon cruisers
eliminated the Garthusian outpost that had been speedily
constructed by the enemy, in the precise spot where Starbase 123
was destroyed by the first Garthusian fleet. Thankfully, this
outpost was experiencing technical difficulties, just like
Starbase 123 used to, so we quickly and efficiently eliminated it.
Casualties were light: two Federation starships, one Klingon
cruiser, and zero rebel spheres. Total troops lost: two thousand.
This might seem staggeringly large, but with our losses at the
hands of the Borg and the Garthusians lately, this is small.

Signed,
Marglese Stone
Marglese Stone

Priority One access only!

Most of the other battle reports were similar. The
Garthusian rebels had been literally a Godsend. Although he did
not consider himself a religious man by any means, Skrell still
was surprised at how things had turned in the favor of the
Federation. Even the Vulcan Skrell was beginning to reconsider
his attitude towards religion and deities. Only a deity could
have turned the tide of the war so much.
The door chime chirped. Skrell looked up from the numerous
PADDs on his desk and looked outside the doors. He saw his
adjuctant, Lieutenant Commander Narciccus Caesar. Caesar was from
the Earth-like world thats evolution was exactly like Earth’s,
except the Roman Empire never fell. “You may enter,” Skrell
called.
The doors slid open and Caser opened, and slid shut. Caesar
handed Skrell a PADD. “The Enterprise and the Lexington have
returned from the other side of the Kumilak wormhole, sir,” he
said. “They are en route to this starbase.”
“Quite satisfactory,” Skrell said, taking the PADD and
adding it to the growing mound of PADDs on his desk. “Is that
all?”
Caesar shook his head. “No, sir.” He leaned close to
Skrell. “I would like to command a ship when the fleet attacks
Vraris.”
Skrell considered it. “You have served admirably as my
adjuctant for four years. You have proven that your command
skills are satisfactory.” Skrell paused. “Yes, you may command
the Excelsior-class starship Backgammon. You will also receive a
field promotion to full commander.”
Caesar smiled. “Thank you, sir! I will report to the
Backgammon right away!” He began walking for the doors.
“Not just yet,” Skrell said. “You must restrain your
enthusiasm, Commander. You fill finish out today’s shift as my
adjuctant. Tomorrow, you will assume command of the Backgammon.”
Caeser nodded. “Yes, sir.”

***

On the Federation Starship Lexington, Commander Hermson
looked away from the starports, and addressed the crew assembled
in Eight-Forward. Tears were on all of their faces. The deaths
of Captain Diana Grayson, Lieutenant Commander Kunak, Lieutenant
Commander Frank La Salle, and Lieutenant Michael Blorman had
affected them all. Hostess Lydia Parker walked up to Hermson.
“Commander,” she whispered, “the lounge is starting to get a
little full.”
“Admit as many as you can, and put this on speakers and
visual,” Hermson told Parker just as lowly.
Parker nodded, and made her way back to the bar. She did
several things at the bar, none of which Hermson could see
clearly, and then went back to the main entrance and allowed more
crew members to enter.
Hermson decided it was time he started his speech. “I am
Commander Hermson, as I’m sure most of you know. I have only
served under the captain for a few weeks, as have most of us, yet
we were already developing a strong friendship. I will miss her
greatly.” Hermson paused. “I also had the honor of serving with
Lieutenant Commander Frank La Salle aboard the Cairo. He was a
good officer, and died for what he believed in. He couldn’t have
chosen a better way to die, if there truly is a ‘good’ way. As
for Mr. Kunak and Mr. Blorman… I did not know them that well.
However, in the brief time that I have interacted with each of
them, they seemed professional and devoted to their duty to
Starfleet and the Federation. All of them died with honor and
dignity.”
As Hermson reached the end of his speech, the assembled crew
erupted into applause. Hermson said, “Thank you,” and walked into
the crowd. Lydia Parker assumed Hermson’s position at the front
of the room.
“The food and drinks will be served from seventeen hundred
till twenty hundred. Enjoy the rare Vulcan, Andorian, Ferengi,
and Earth delicacies that are real, not replicated. They were
prepared by some of the best chefs on Vulcan, Andor, Ferenginar,
and Earth, and I can personally vouch for their quality, so enjoy
them as much as possible!” Parker walked back to the bar, and
started putting out the drinks. Other waiters began putting the
food on some empty tables.
Hermson approached the bar. “May I speak to you, Hostess?”
“Sure.” She looked at Hermson expectently, and added almost
as an afterthought, “Call me Lydia.”
“Lydia,” Hermson began, “where did you acquire all of those
foodstuffs?”
“I’m good.” Parker put some more drinks on the bar. “I
know a lot of people, and I can be very persuasive. I got all of
this for practically nothing… except for the Vulcan foods, of
course.”
“I was under the impression that a Vulcan would demand no
fee.”
“Where have you been!?” Parker cried. She finished putting
the drinks on the bar. “Vulcans are almost as bad as Ferengi!”
“Is that so?” Hermson asked dubiously.
“You bet it is!” Parker came to the other side of the bar
and sat down. “With that stoic Vulcan resolve, they won’t bend,
budge, break… It’s almost impossible to get any sort of
discounts! All I have to do is flirt with humans, Andorians, or
Ferengi, and I’ll get a discount… that’s not so with Vulcans.”
“I’d suppose not,” Hermson said, sitting next to the
hostess.
“Grab yourself a drink, Commander.” Parker followed her own
advice. She obtained a long, oval glass filled with a dark purple
liquid. “This is Cardassian kanar.”
“We are currently at war with the Cardassians!” Hermson
responded, alarmed.
“Not much longer with that fancy negotiating that Captain
Jellico fellow is doing,” Parker said, downing the entire glass
with one gulp. “Anyway, it might cost more during wartime, but it
is good!”
Hermson grabbed a glass of kanar. “I will judge for
myself.” He took a sip of it, and spit it back in the glass.
“It’s vile!” He set the glass of kanar of the bar.
“I knew you’d like it,” Parker said. She picked up another
glass, which was filled with a green liquid this time. “This is
Bajoran tagoslauce. Not as good as some kanar, but still
tasteful.” She took a sip, and smiled. “This is the only one in
my stock.” She handed the glass to Hermson. “You try it.”
Hermson put the glass down on the bar quickly, right next to
the kanar. “Considering my experience with kanar, I think I’ll
pass.”
“Oh, but you really must try it!” Parker thrust the glass
of tagoslauce near Hermson’s face. “Come on, it won’t bite…”
“That’s not what I’m afraid of.” Hermson stood up.
“Hostess Parker, I have duties I must attend to.”
“Liar. Your shift doesn’t begin until tomorrow.” Parker
smiled wickedly. “Which will give us plenty of time to go to…
spend some quality time with each other.”
“I do not believe that Klamites and humans would be
compatible!” Hermson said hurriedly, and left Eight-Foward without
another word.
“If Klingons are compatible with me, so are Klamites…”
Parker muttered angrily.

The next morning, Commander Hermson entered the bridge and
sat in the command chair, ready to begin his shift. Lieutenant
Commander Dallas immediately cast a sly grin in the Klamite’s
direction.
“Do you have a problem, Commander?” Hermson asked.
Dallas laughed. “It’s all over the ship…”
“What is?”
Drake snickered. “The hostess told everyone in Eight-
Forward last night…” He smiled. “She got drunk on some
Cardassian stuff… I don’t know what it’s called…”
“Kanar,” Hermson put in.
“Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, she got on top of the bar, and
proclaimed that she will gladly take command of your ship, so to
speak.”
Hermson growled. He would have to talk to Lydia Parker.
“She was drunk, Ensign, as you said. She had no control over her
actions…”
“If you say so, Commander,” Dallas said, stifling her
laughter.
“I think she’s on to him…” Drake speculated.
I’m going to have to get another assignment… Hermson
thought unhappily.

Aboard the Enterprise, Lieutenant Commander Data went
through the events of the past few weeks in his mind. The
Garthusians had made extensive modifications to his behavior
programming, and he still did not know why. Whatever the
Garthusians did, it was eliminated when he was shut down by the
explosion of his Operations console at the Battle of Feronium. He
assumed her would never know why the Garthusians did what they
did.
He walked into Main Engineering, and almost bumped into
Lieutenant Reginald Barclay.
“Oh oh oh… I’m s-s-s-so sor-sorry, s-s-s-sir,” Barclay
said nervously. “So sorry…”
“No apology is necessary, Lieutenant,” Data said. “Where is
Lieutenant Alaimo?”
“He’s in the chief engineer’s office,” Barclay answered.
“Wh-what’s going on?”
“Nothing of interest,” Data said. “Lieutenant, attend to
your duties.”
“Aye-aye, sir.” Barclay quickly scurried away.
Data walked into the chief engineer’s office. Lieutenant
Alaimo was poised over the matter-antimatter reactor display
console, squinting at what it said. “Lieutenant Alaimo, a word
please.”
The engineer was startled and jumped up, but momentarily
regained composure. He turned to face Data. “What may I do for
you, Commander?”
“Captain Picard told me to check up on you.” Data walked up
to Alaimo. “You recently transferred here from the Ticonderoga?”
“That’s right,” Alaimo said bitterly. “According to the
reports, that ship was lost early on. It was a fine ship.”
“Revolutionary-class starships are quite admirably designed.
I had the distinction of serving on the Revolutionary itself when
it was first commissioned. I had the rank of lieutenant, junior
grade, and I was a minor engineering officer.”
“Yeah, so was I, before I was promoted and sent here.”
Alaimo fidgeted. “Commander, may I return to work? The warp core
needs some minor adjustments.”
“Of course, Lieutenant.” Data left the chief engineer’s
office, and headed for the nearest turbolift. When he entered the
turbolift, he said, “Deck two.” The doors slid shut, and the
turbolift was sent on its way.

Geordi La Forge was distracted from the story he was reading
by the door chime. “Come in!” he called, annoyed.
The doors slid open, and Data walked into Geordi’s quarters.
The door slid shut behind him. Data noticed the PADD in Geordi’s
hands. “I hope I am not disturbing you.”
“Oh, no Data,” Geordi said hurriedly. “I’m just reading
something by someone named Jason Vines…”
“Jason Vines,” Data said, head twitching. “Human twenty-
first century author and NASA commander.”
Geordi nodded. “Yes, that’s him. I’m reading something
called The Alien Pandemonium.”
“One of his early novels.”
“Hmm-hmmm.” Geordi set the PADD down, and laid back on his
couch. “What’s on your mind, Data?”
“Your mental health,” Data responded. “I was wondering how
you were doing.”
“With those drugs, it’s going just fine.” Geordi patted the
spot next to him on the couch. “Have a seat.”
Data sat down next to Geordi. “I am puzzled as to why the
other members of the Vraris away team did not experience any side
effects.”
“Maybe it’s our uniqueness,” Geordi offered. “You’re an
android, and I have a VISOR. The Garthusians could have singled
us out, because the others are a dime a dozen, but people like us
are rare…”
Data processed that information. “I have another
hypothesis. The Garthusians could be using us, or have tried to
use us, as tools.”
“Tools for what?”
“The destruction of the Federation. The Garthusians may
have wanted to ‘control’ us in some fashion. Perhaps, had the
Garthusian programming not been eliminated because of that
explosion, I would have been used to sabotage the Enterprise.”
“A likely theory,” Geordi accepted. “The emotions and
contractions were just a side effect.”
“Exactly.” Data paused. “I think someone has already tried
to trigger that programming.”
Geordi stared at Data worriedly. “What? When?”
“On Kumilak. One of the Romulans tried to access my
positronic net using a PADD.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I just figured it out. The transmission was masked from my
awareness, until now. I suppose it was not meant to be blocked
from my memory for this amount of time.”
Geordi thought over that idea. No technology in the
Federation could do something like that to Data. The Romulans
must’ve gotten such technology from the Garthusians. “I guess
you’re right, Data. There’s no telling what those Garthusians
have up their sleeve.”
“Our knowledge of the Garthusians is still fairly
rudimentary,” Data concured. “Hopefully, the Garthusian rebels
will be able to teach us all we need to know.”
Geordi shook his head. “I still don’t trust them. It could
be another Garthusian trick. The whole thing could be a ploy to
get a significant number of our forces inside their space and
eradicate them, leaving the whole Federation and Klingon Empire
vulnerable to attack.”
“You have a valid point,” Data conceded. “However, they are
our only chance to win the war.”
“I know that’s true.” Geordi sighed. “How far away are we
from Starbase 68?”
“One hour.”

Captain’s log, stardate 44352.9. The Enterprise and the
Lexington are nearing Starbase 68 to meet with Admiral Skrell.
Soon, the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Garthusian
rebels will launch a final assault against Vraris, the Garthusian
homewold. If all goes well, Vraris will be destroyed. I have to
admit, I am feeling apprehension about this alliance with the
Garthusian rebels. Knowing the Garthusians, this is just yet
another trap. This is our only chance for survival, though, and
we have to take what we can get.

Captain Picard looked up at the main viewer as Admiral
Skrell appeared.
“Well done, Captain,” Skrell said. “You have saved the
Federation yet again.”
“Thank you, Admiral,” Picard replied. “Do we have a battle
strategy for the Vraris operation yet?”
“Jokork Mizalyoyesyes and my team of admirals have begun to
develop one. The strategy would be greatly enhanced if you joined
the team.”
“I would be honored, Admiral.”
“Most satisfactory, because you are becoming my new
adjuctant. Prepare to dock.” Skrell’s image winked out, to be
replaced by the mushroom-style Starbase 68.
“You heard him, Ensign,” Picard said. He watched the bay
doors of the starbase begin to open. “Take us in.”

Picard, Riker, and Data strode through the corridors of
Starbase 68, heading for the main conference room on the command
level.
“I heard that Skrell can be pretty demanding of his
adjuctants,” Riker said as the walked.
“So have I,” Picard said. “I just hope I don’t get a desk
job.”
The three of them made it to the lounge doors. They slid
open, and the team walked in, and the doors slid shut. Four
admirals, including Skrell and Jordan, and one blue Garthusian sat
around a long conference table. There were three empty seats.
Picard, Riker, and Data took those.
“You already have had the pleasure of meeting the Jokork and
Skrell,” Jordan said to Picard. “The other two admirals are
T’Lara and Nechayev.”
“Your reputation precedes you, Captain Picard,” T’Lara said.
“Your accomplishments are worthy of great respect.”
“Thank you,” Picard said.
“Let’s get on with it,” Nechayev said grumpily.
Jordan grinned. “Don’t mind her, Captain. She’s the
admiral in charge of most of the Cardassian border. She’s bound
to be a bit grumpy.”
“Introduce your officers,” Skrell said tonelessly.
Picard nodded. “On my right is my first officer, Commander
William T. Riker.”
Riker nodded and smiled. “Hello.”
“And on my left is my second officer and Operations Manager,
Lieutenant Commander Data.”
“Greetings,” Data said.
“Let’s proceed,” Skrell said. “Starfleet Command has
authorized the use of over a thousand starships for this
operation. That will make this go a lot quicker.”
“The plan is,” Jordan continued, “for the Federation and
Klingon fleets to use Tryolic Wormhole Deta-Keuler-Bans-Noner in
proceeding to Vraris. The two fleets will attack the Garthusian
vessels stationed as Vraris.”
“The Garthusians will think that this is a desperate last
effort,” T’Lara went on. “They will proceed to engage our fleets.
Precisely two minutes after, the Garthusian rebels will withdraw
their forces from the Romulan Empire and attack Vraris while the
enemy fleet is occupied.”
“A brilliant plan,” Picard commented. He looked at
Mizalyoyesyes. “Jokork, how can we be sure that you won’t attack
the Federation while it is vulnerable?”
Jordan flashed a look of bloody murder at Picard. “Captain,
you will stop at once!”
If Mizalyoyesyes was angered by Picard’s question, neither
his face nor voice betrayed it. “It is all right, Admiral.” He
turned to Picard. “I assure you, Captain, that I am sincere. I
swear it upon the Grogonarginox itself.”
“What is a Grogori-whatever?” Nechayev asked skeptically.
“The Grogonarginox is the Garthusian culture’s most sacred
artifact. It was the ship that guarded the Julimas Territories,
in your Delta Quadrant, from enemy incursions. The Grogonarginox
defeated every Borg invasion force to invade Garthusian space.”
Picard winced at the mention of the Borg. Even after all of
these weeks, the Borg were still difficult to think about.
“The Garthusian Empire extended all the way to the Delta
Quadrant?” Skrell questioned.
“Not the whole length,” Mizalyoyesyes said. “The Alpha
Quadrant and the Delta Quadrant were connected by one super-
charged tryolic wormhole that took a decade to construct.”
“What happened to the Delta Quadrant section of the empire?”
Data inquired.
“We were forced to call in every citizen from the Delta
Quadrant to serve as reinforcements when during the Fury war. The
Furies got light of this wormhole, and managed to destroy it.”
Nechayev raised her eyebrows. “Just how do you destroy a
tryolic wormhole, Jokork? The only way I know of is to let it
degrade over time.”
“They sent a warship into the wormhole when our forces were
diverted by another battle,” Mizalyoyesyes explained. “When it
was inside, the ship self-destructed. The resulting implosion
sent cataclysmic energy waves through the wormhole, which
disrupted the tryolic wavelength patterns. The wormhole collapsed
in five minutes.”
“Forgive my skepticism, Jokork,” T’Lara said, “but if there
were no forces present at the time, how did the Garthusians
determine what strategy the Furies used, and how did they record
how long it took for the wormhole to collapse?”
“A small sentry probe monitored the event. The Furies did
not think it posed any significant threat, so they ignored it.”
Picard slowly nodded. “I must praise you on a fine record
keeping system, Jokork. It is hard to be so precise about events
that happened six thousand years ago.”
“Garthusians pride themselves on their record keeping
skills,” Mizalyoyesyes said coldly. “Now, onto the battle
strategy please?”
“That is satisfactory,” Skrell said. “Is there anything
anyone would like to add to the strategy?”
Picard sighed. “Admiral, there should be something in place
just in case the Jokork here is lying.”
Nechayev nodded in agreement. “What if they decide to
attack? Then what do we do?”
“This is our only chance to win the war!” Jordan said. “We
will be destroyed either way if the Blues are lying!”
“Picard’s concerns are not without merit,” T’Lara stated
emotionlessly. “I have gone over the logs of the Normandy.
Jokork Mizalyoyesyes did indicate that they could destroy Vraris
with or without our help.”
Jordan let out a deep breath of exasperation. “So, again,
we die either way! Isn’t it worth the risk?”
One loud grating scraping sound emanated from Mizalyoyesyes.
“This is becoming tiresome. Admiral Jordan is right. You have
nothing to lose.”
Riker looked at Captain Picard. “I’m forced to agree, sir.”
Picard sat in his chair, grating his teeth, thinking it
over. He had to admit, the Federation had nothing to lose. He
let out a long sigh. “Let’s do it.”
“Very well,” Skrell said. “The Federation and Klingon
fleets will rendevous at the Nutrob system, and then enter the
tryolic wormhole.”
“Once my forces in Romulan space are informed that the
Federation and the Klingons have engaged the Grays, they will to
enter tryolic wormholes and go to Vraris,” Mizalyoyesyes said.
“I’ll be ready in case the Cardies try anything,” Nechayev
said unenthusiastically.
“Acknowledged,” Skrell said. “Is there anything else?”
“One thing, sir,” Picard said. “Who will command the
Federation fleet?”
“You will,” Skrell said. “You will command both the
Federation and Klingon fleets from the Enterprise.”
“Thank you, Admiral. Another question, though: why did you
make me your adjuctant?”
“That was the only way you’d be able to command the mission,
and you know more about fighting the Garthusians that anyone else
in Starfleet. You are the most logical choice.” Skrell stood up.
“Is there any other business?” Everyone was silent. “Dismissed.”

Counselor Deanna Troi strode through Starbase 68’s Promenade
along with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Starbase 68 was paradise
compared to Starbase 123. There were numerous all-style
restaurants and shops, with customers of a variety of races…
including humans. This Promenade was bustling with activity,
unlike Starbase 123.
“Have you tried the Klingon restaurant?” Beverly asked Troi.

Troi shook her head. “Do I want to?”
Beverly laughed. “Not for the food, no. But the restaurant
is owned by this really old Klingon named T’Rokor. History is his
hobby… and he sure is old enough for it. He told me he actually
met Captain James Kirk once.”
“Really? What did T’Rokor say about Kirk?”
Beverly smiled. “He said that Kirk was an overbearing
fascist dictator.” She paused. “In other words, a Klingon at
heart.”
“I wouldn’t mention that to Worf,” Troi said with a grin.
“By the way, where are we going?”
“There’s this one really neat museum I wanted to show you.
It’s all about-”
“Picard to Enterprise crew,” their commbadged loudly
interrupted. “Report to the Enterprise. The operation will soon
commence. Picard out.”
All around them, Starfleet officers were rapidly changing
directions. They were all heading for the airlocks. Most of the
ships docked at Starbase 68 would take part in the Vraris attack.
“I don’t like this,” Troi said, looking at the officers
cramming the airlock corridors.
“Neither do I,” Beverly said. She slapped her commbadge.
“Crusher to Transporter Room Three.”
“O’Brien here. Want me to rescue you from the long lines,
Doctor?” he asked with humor.
“Would you please,” Crusher said smiling. “Might as well
beam the counselor aboard too, while you’re at it.”
“Aye, Doctor. Energizing.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

Captain’s log, stardate 44356.2. The Federation and Klingon
fleets are ready to begin the attack on the Garthusian homeworld.
Eighty-two Federation vessels will be from the region of Starbase
68. Starships from all over the Federation will participate in
the attack; this will leave the Federation quite vulnerable.
Let’s hope the Cardassians, or anyone else, don’t take advantage
of this opportunity.

Captain Picard sat in the command chair, trying to clear his
mind. He needed to stay focused. However, it wasn’t easy. Even
the Vulcans on board seemed to be ever so slightly on edge. The
only one who wasn’t affected was Data.
“We should arrive at Nutrob in four days, sir,” Data
reported.
“Lovely,” Picard muttered. “How long until the entire fleet
is assembled at Nutrob?”
“One week and two days.” Data seemed to pick up on Picard’s
displeasure. “Captain, Federation space is quite vast.”
“I know that, Data.” Picard sighed. “That really doesn’t
help matters.”
Data raised an eyebrow. “Sir, it does help matters. It
makes it harder for invading forces to conquer the Federation.”
“Well, that’s good, at least,” Riker said, looking at the
captain.
“Indeed it is, Number One,” Picard agreed. He looked up at
Worf. “Lieutenant, I want you to drill your security forces
around the clock. Also, arrange for surprise drills twice a day.
We need to be ready for the attack.”
“We will be, Captain,” Worf replied. He inputed some
intructions into the tactical console. “I have programmed several
drilling times into the computer.”
“Good, Mr. Worf,” Picard said.

Admiral Nechayev looked at the starbase the starship was
approaching glumly. It was time to fight more Cardassians. She
didn’t look forward to it at all.
“Admiral,” Captain Johnson said from the aft section of the
bridge, “Starbase 268 reports that a huge Cardassian fleet will be
here in half an hour.”
“Oh joy,” Nechayev muttered. She lumbered out of the
command chair of the Syracuse and walked into the aft section.
She looked at Captain Johnson. “How many ships?”
“Two hundred, Admiral,” Johnson said. “The Cardassians are
saying that they have a benign cause…”
Nechayev snorted. “Not likely. Put the sector on red
alert, and be prepared for Cardassian attack.”
Johnson grunted, but inputed the instructions into the
tactical console anyway. The alams started howling, and the
bridge was bathed in a red glow. “We’re at red alert sir, and
we’re prepared for a Cardassian attack, for all the good it’ll do
us.”
“I know what you mean,” Nechayev said, sitting back down in
the command chair. “Most of the ships are dedicated to the Vraris
operation, and the Cardassians just have to strike now. Damn them
anyway.” She turned back to Johnson. “Just how many starships
are in this sector?”
“Twelve, Admiral,” Johnson said with disgust. “They’re all
either Oberth-class or Miranda-class.”
“Against two hundred Cardassian warships,” Nechayev
finished. “That’s just grand.”
The Operations officer, Lieutenant Passyer, looked back at
Nechayev. “Admiral, we’re ready to dock.”
“Don’t dock,” Nechayev said. She stood up. “I’ll just beam
over to the starbase, and the Syracuse can stay outside in case it
has to fight.”
“Understood,” Johnson said. She strode from the tactical
station and sat in the command chair. “If only we weren’t so
understaffed…”
“Well, I can’t lend you any people,” Nechayev said. “My
starbase is almost bare-bones too.” She slapped her commbadge.
“Nechayev to Starbase 268. Beam me directly to the command
center.”

Nechayev materialized in the command center, and immediately
barked out orders. “Hail the lead Cardassian ship.”
The starbase’s communications chief, Lieutenant Harold,
said, “The Cardassian commander is being put on screen.”
A smug Cardassian face appeared on the large main viewer.
He smiled. “Admiral Nechayev, how very nice to speak with you.”
“Cut the crap,” Nechayev snapped. “Why is a large
Cardassian fleet of warships heading into Federation space?”
“We merely want to help you-”
“Bull.”
The Cardassian frowned. “Admiral, I am being sincere.” He
paused. “I haven’t even introduced myself. I am Gul Dukat.”
Nechayev snorted. “Gul Dukat? Finding torturing innocent
Bajorans a little boring, are we?”
Dukat grated his teeth. “I enforce policy, not make it.
Much like your Federation President does.”
“Why is the Cardassian Central Command taking its grand
Enforcer-of-Policy away from Bajor?”
“Do you want our assistance in destroying Vraris or not?”
Nechayev fumed. “How did you find out about that!?”
“Come now, Admiral. The Obsidian Order might be abrasive
and unpleasant, but it does do its job admirably.” Dukat leaned
forward. “I need your answer, Admiral.”
Nechayev considered her response. “I’ll have to think about
it.”
Dukat nodded. “Very well. Take this into account in your
deliberations as well: if you do not accept my generous offer, the
Cardassian Central Command has ordered me to launch a full-scale
assault on your sector. It will be annexed by the Cardassian
Union, and all Starfleet officers will be executed.” Dukat
sighed. “I really don’t want to do that, but I have no choice if
you refuse.”
Nechayev scowled. “I’m sure,” she said sarcastically. She
thought about her next words. She really didn’t have any choice
in the matter. “I will let you assist us.”
Dukat smiled. “Excellent. My fleet will be arriving
shortly.”
“Don’t bother,” Nechayev grumbled. “Just go to the Nutrob
system as soon as possible.”
Dukat turned away for a moment, then looked back.
“Understood. Dukat out.” His image winked off, replaced by
normal space.
“Damn the Cardassians and their arrogance,” Nechayev
muttered.

***

Captain’s log, stardate 44361.5. The Federation and Klingon
fleets have assembed in the Nutrob system to commence the Vraris
operation. The only thing holding us back is waiting for the
Cardassian fleet under Gul Dukat to arrive. I am even more
suspicious of the Cardassians than I am of the Garthusian rebels.
The Cardassians have a long history of half-truths and lies.
However, the Cardassians have threatened a full-scale assault on
the Federation if we do not let them help, and Starfleet is not
ready to repel another invasion, so we are forced to grant their
wishes.

Commander Riker angrily tapped his fingers against the
armrests of his chair. “The Cardassians had better hurry up…”
“Get the Cardassians again, Mr. Worf,” Picard ordered.
“What is their ETA?”
“Their ETA is five minutes,” Worf growled out. “I still say
that we leave without them…”
“Then what?” Troi, who had decided to be on the bridge,
replied. “The Cardassians will attack without opposition…”
“We cannot keep on letting our foes command our actions!
They will become convinced that the Federation is weak!”
Riker looked at Data. “How many starships has the
Federation lost this year, to the Borg, Garthusians, and other
causes?”
Data tapped the query into the Ops console. “Nine-hundred
forty-seven.”
“There are at least a thousand starships in the Federation
right now,” Worf argued.
“And hardly any of them are capable of mounting a serious
defense,” Riker finished. “The bulk of the Federation is fleet is
here.”
“The Cardassian fleet has arrived,” Data announced.
Worf said fiercely, “Gul Dukat is hailing us.”
“On screen,” Picard said, standing up and walking up to the
main viewer.
Gul Dukat smiled at Captain Picard. “How very nice to meet
you, Captain.”
“Cut to the chase,” Picard replied. “Is your fleet ready?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Good. Picard out.” He sat back down in the command chair.
“Mr. Worf, open the wormhole.”
Worf fired a phaser burst, and the wormhole opened. The
anomoly cast a flickering bluish-silver light on the surrounding
space.
“Signal all ships to head in.”
The massive fleet stormed into the wormhole, dozens of ships
at a time.

***

On Romulus, Commander Sela rushed into the contol room and
stared at the main monitor. It was currently showing a tactical
layout of the Romulan system, with five sphereships heading for
Romulan itself. One hundred D’Deridex-class Romulan Warbirds
surrounded the planets of Romulus and Remus, ready to defend
against the Garthusian invaders.
“We don’t have a chance,” Subcommander N’Vek said, walking
up to her.
“Don’t say that,” Sela snapped. “I could have you
executed.”
N’Vek nodded. “Understood, Commander.” He went back to his
console, which was among many in the huge chamber. “The Senate
has informed us that Romulus and Remus must survive.”
“I intend for the whole empire to survive.” She stared at
the system monitor. The Garthusians were almost in range of
Romulus. “Tell the warbirds to engage the enemy.”
“Wait,” N’Vek said, holding up his hand. “The Garthusians
are hailing us.”
“Ignore them.”
N’Vek raised an eyebrow. “The Praetor says he will devour
you if you don’t answer.”
Sela cursed. “Fine. Put the Garthusian commander on
screen.”
A blue Garthusian replaced the tactical view on the monitor.
“I am offering you terms for surrender.”
“We will never surrender!” Sela shouted.
“You will hear our terms,” the Garthusian continued.
“First, all of your forces outside of your territory must return.
Second, your alliance with the Grays must be terminated
immediately.”
“The Grays will annhiliate us.”
“The Grays are no longer a concern. Soon, their base of
power will be destroyed, and they will be irrelevant. Now, on
with the terms. The Treaty of Algernon must be renewed.”
Sela was silent.
“Any violation of these guidelines, and the Garthusian
Republic will take over the Romulan Empire. You have one hour to
reply.”
Sela seethed. “I don’t need an hour! We won’t surrender!”
“Actually, you will. I have just received a message from
your Senate. With a majority vote, they have surrendered.”
Sela slammed her fist against the nearest console. “How
could they!?”
N’Vek looked at Sela in alarm. “Commander, the Senate has
informed me that you will be demoted to security head. Until a
new person is found to fill your position, I will take your
place.”
Sela sighed heavily. “Damn!”

***

The fleet of starships poured out of the tryolic wormhole,
to find three thousand Garthusian spheres in the Vraris system.
They were caught by surprise.
“Let’s take this surprise to our advantage,” Picard said.
“Cruiser wings, go after the upward flank. Attack wings, get the
Garthusians at the downward flank. Frigate wings and Galaxy
wings, choose targets at will.”
“Attack commencing,” Riker acknowledged.
On the main viewer, there was a huge frenzy of activity.
The Federation, Cardassian, and Klingon ships scored numerous hits
against the many Garthusians, but they had little effect. The
spheres began picking off their attackers one by one. The
numerous energy beams and torpedoes made it hard to distinguish
between the different ships.
“The fleet is suffering heavy casulaties,” Riker reported.
“Sir, the Garthusians have launched saucers and pyramids!”
Worf proclaimed.
“Signal the Fighter wings to come into the fray, Number
One,” Picard said. “Have them engage the enemy fighters.”
“Fighters underway,” Riker replied.
Picard watched the destruction on the viewscreen. The
Garthusians were easily winning the battle. “Mr. Crusher, lay in
a complex evasive maneuver course. Mr. Worf, prepare to fire all
weapons.”
“Aye, sir,” both of them replied.
Picard watched the main viewer some more. He saw that the
friendly ships were drawing the enemy ships away from Vraris.
Now, if only the Garthusian rebels would arrive.
The Enterprise quaked severely. Everyone fell out of their
seats, or fell down from where they were standing. Every console
along the back wall exploded, depositing badly charred bodies all
over the bridge. The main lighting was off-line, so the
emeregency lighting kicked in. Slowly, the remaining crew retook
their stations.
“Ten Garthusian spheres attacked us at one time!” Worf
shouted. “Our shields are down!”
“We’re all suffering heavy casualties, sir,” Riker stated
grimly. “The rebels should be here by now.”
“They have one minute six seconds left,” Data reminded him.
“It’s only been less than a minute…” Riker muttered. “My
God…”
Suddenly, the computer started howling, “Intruder alert in
Main Engineering…”

Geordi and Alaimo kept the genetically engineered creature
at bay while the other engineering personnel escaped.
“I thought these things never got to the twenty-fourth
century…” Alaimo said.
“I thought the same thing,” Geordi responded.
[We were secretly shipped,] the creature said. [Our masters
did not want the Lower Romulans to find out.]
“Makes sense,” Geordi said.
That was when the creature dissolved in the standard
transporter effect of Federation transporters.

“It is working,” Chief O’Brien reported over the comm. “The
transporters are beaming in the life-forms and terminating their
patterns immediately.”
“Good job, Mr. O’Brien,” Picard congratulated warmly.
“Picard to Engineering.”
“La Forge here. Captain, what did you do?”
“We killed it with the transporter,” Picard answered. “Now,
I need you to focus on repairing those shields while the
transporters deal with the intruders.”
“Aye, Captain. Engineering out.”
Riker looked at the captain. “Sir, the Backgammon,
Par’Mach, and Cairo are currently protecting us while we restore
shields.”
“Then let’s hurry.”

Commander Caesar on the Backgammon eyed the Enterprise with
intensity. He wished the ship would finish up with shield
repairs.
“One thousand friendly ships left,” the chief tactical
officer, Lieutenant Porter, declared.
“Hurry up rebels…” Caesar muttered.
“Commander!” the chief of operations, Lieutenant Commander
Frankson, shouted, “the Garthusians are locking weapons on us!”
“They’re firing!” Porter yelled.
The Backgammon suffered under the enemy barrage. The
stations all around the bridge exploded. The glow of emergency
lighting bathed the bridge. Caesar and the first officer,
Lieutenant Commander Smithing, were the only ones still alive on
the bridge.
“The Enterprise isn’t going to be too well protected,”
Smithing said needlessly.

“Captain, the Par’Mach and Backgammon have taken heavy
damage,” Riker said. “One more shot and they’re gone.”
“Status of the shields,” Picard barked.
“Commander La Forge is working as fast as he can to restore
them, sir,” Data answered.
The Par’Mach exploded on the main viewer, sending debris
everywhere. The Enterprise shuddered under the shock wave and
debris impacts.
“Hull breach on deck nine,” Data stated. “Force fields are
holding, and damage control teams have been deployed.”
Worf raised an eyebrow. “Sir, a Garthusian torpedo is
heading for the Backgammon.”
“Beam the Backgammon survivors aboard,” Picard ordered.
“Transport underway,” Data acknowledged. “The ten survivors
have been beamed to sickbay.”
“Good.” Picard watched the Backgammon explode under the
torpedo’s impact helplessly as he checked the timer on the command
chair’s right armrest. It indicated that the Garthusian rebels
had five seconds to go. He hoped they’d arrive on time.
The Enterprise shook under a Garthusian disruptor blast.
“Transporters have been knocked off-line,” Data reported.
“They are beaming more life-forms onto the Enterprise.”
Picard gritted his teeth. “Mr. Worf, let’s hope your
security drills did some good.”
“I can guarantee it,” Worf said proudly.
“Sir, the shields have been partially restored,” Data said.
“Also, multiple tryolic wormholes are forming around Vraris.”
“On screen!” Picard shouted excitedly.
The tryolic wormholes and Vraris appeared on the main
viewer. The wormholes completely formed, and dozens of spheres
began to pour into orbit.
“The rebels have launched dozens of enviroment destroyers,”
Worf said. “So far, they are colliding harmlessly against
Vraris’s shields.”
The spheres began pounding the shields with disruptor beams
and torpedoes. Now, thousands of rebel spheres were surrounding
Vraris. All of them were firing their weapons.
“The enemy is going to Vraris to try to stop the rebels,
sir,” Riker said. “They are abandoning their fight with the
Federation, Cardassian, and Klingon fleets.”
Picard nodded and stood up. He approached the front of the
bridge. “Report.”
Data tapped several buttons on his console. “Captain, two
hundred sixty-four Federation starships remain. One hundred
Klingon vessels have survived intact, and there are eighty-nine
Cardassian warships left.”
“My God…” Wesley said.
“A good and sad day,” Picard commented. He turned to Worf.
“What about the intruders?”
“Most have been destroyed using photon grenades,” Worf
replied. “However, security around Engineering was decimated
before the security officers could use their phasers to contain
the menace.”
“Then arm yourself with some grenades and get down there,”
Picard ordered.
“Aye, Captain.” He quickly entered the aft turbolift. A
security ensign took his spot at tactical.
Picard turned back to Data. “Report on the Vraris battle.”
“Vraris’s shields are beginning to fail. One enviroment
destroyer has gotten through and has destroyed one-quarter on the
planet’s ecosystem. The rebels are annihilating the Grays
efficiently.”
“Captain, Gul Dukat would like to speak with you,” Riker
said with contempt.
“Put him on,” Picard said with annoyance, facing the main
viewer.
Dukat looked equally annoyed. “Captain Picard, our forces
have suffered heavily.”
“As have everybody’s,” Picard said matter-of-factly.
“What’s your point?”
“My point is, this is the first time that Cardassians and
the Federation have fought and died side-by-side. With the peace
talks going on, I think the war may soon be over.” Dukat sighed.
“I’m going to miss reading those military reports.”
“You always have Bajor to keep you busy,” Picard said
scornfully.
Dukat looked away from his viewer for a moment, then turned
back. “Excuse me, but I have received a transmission from Terok
Nor. It seems that the Bajorans are causing some mischief. I
must leave immediately.”
“Don’t let your warp drive burn your behind on the way out,”
Picard muttered as Dukat was replaced by Vraris and the ships
surrounding it. It looked like Armageddon itself. Disruptor
streams and ships were everywhere. Weapons were pounding the
planet more fiercely than anything Picard had seen before in his
life.

Jokork Mizalyoyesyes struggled to keep standing as the Grays
relentlessly pounded his sphere. The Threat forces knew which
sphere was the flagship, and they were targeting it. Almost all
of the crew was dead, and most of the systems were inoperative.
“Vraris ecosystem demolished,” the computer said in a
monotone. The computer had taken over the functions of the fallen
crew. “Vraris shields down.”
Mizalyoyesyes hesitated before he gave his next order. It
was difficult to make the decision to destroy Vraris in the first
place. It was the most sacred thing in the Garthusian Empire, and
to even talk of harming it was normally a capital offense.
However, in this case, it was necessary. Without Vraris, the
Grays would never be able to regain power. “Computer… signal
all ships for destroy planet operation.”
“Operation initiated.”
The rebel spheres slowly stopped their assault on Vraris.
They began to heat up their warp drives. The Grays went on
ramming courses, but it was too late. The rebel ships went to
warp, and nano-seconds later rammed into Vraris.

“What the hell!?” Picard exclaimed. On the main viewer, the
rebels had just rammed Vraris. Now, the planet was completely
destroyed, and a shock wave was rapidly approaching. The
Garthusians, all Garthusians, in the system were gone, victims of
the powerful energies released by the planet’s destruction.
“There is a level twenty shock wave approaching,” Data said
calmly. “We must withdraw at maximum warp.” Data checked his
console. “We have four minutes until the shock wave approaches
the fleet.”
“Most of the ships don’t have warp capability,” Riker told
the captain. “Including us.”
“Then get us into the wormhole!” Picard shouted. “And give
me an update on the intruder situation!”

Lieutenant Worf and five other security officers stormed
into Main Engineering, armed to the teeth with photon grenades and
phaser rifles. Using the techniques he had learned from Doom and
Quake, Worf had managed to kill every other intruder on the ship,
except for those in Main Engineering.
The deck was littered with bodies, body parts, and blood.
Blood was dried onto the walls in many places as well. All of the
consoles were shattered beyond recognition.
“I am picking up three humans,” Ensign Olestrea announced,
tricorder in hand. “La Forge, Alaimo, and Barclay are in the
Jeffries tube entrance, sir. They are behind a force field
sucking the juice out of the fusion reactors.” She cursed. “Four
life-forms are trying to get through the force field!”
“We will kill them,” Worf stated. He headed for the
Jeffries tube entrance door. “I will neutralize them with my
phaser rifle,” he said. “I will then move a safe distance away,
and you will throw the grenades.”
“Yes, sir,” the officers said. They each took a grenade
from their belts and deactivated their safeties. “Ready, sir.”
Worf nodded. He readied his phaser rifle, and tapped the
button to open the door. The doors slid open, and Worf
immediately held his finger to the trigger. The setting sixteen
phaser beam struck the creatures and they immediately stood in one
spot, shuddering with the intense pain of the phaser beam. Worf
walked to the other side of the room, careful to keep his beam on
target. The security officers armed their grenades and threw them
at the creatures, then hid behind the master status display table.
Moments later, the grenades hit their targets and exploded, taking
the life-forms with them. Even more body parts and blood were
added to the deck and walls.
Worf stopped firing and slung the phaser rifle’s strap on
his shoulder. Then he approached the Jerries tube access. He saw
Geordi, Alaimo, and Barclay sitting beside the ladder. Barclay
was crying, and the other two were trying to comfort him.
Geordi looked up at Worf. “Man, are we glad you got here!”
He stood up and walked up to the entrance, then pressed some
buttons to deactivate the force field. “In fifteen minutes that
field would have short-circuited…”
Alaimo pulled Barclay to his feet. “Yeah, but if only
Barclay would stop crying!”
Barclay was already beginning to clear up, but he whimpered
at Alaimo’s remark. “That was not funny!”
Geordi looked at Barclay with sympathy. “Come on. I’ll
take you to Counselor Troi.” He took Barclay’s arm, and led him
into the nearest turbolift.
“What was he crying about?” Olestrea asked in disbelief.
Alaimo grunted. “He thought that those things were going to
kill us.”
“They might have,” Worf replied. He slapped his commbadge.
“Worf to Captain Picard.”
“Picard here. Report, Lieutenant.”
“The engineered life-forms have been purged from the ship,”
Worf responded. “They no longer pose a threat.”
“Good work, Mr. Worf. Report to the bridge at once.”
“Aye, sir.”

Captain’s log, stardate 44363.3. The Garthusian Empire has
been defeated, and the former rebels are in control now. They
have renamed their space “The Garthusian Republic.” The Republic
has expressed their sincere gratitude to the Federation, Klingons,
and Cardassians for helping them restore democracy to their
people. The newly elected leader of the Republic, Jokork
Carlerayes, has made a rather unusual request.

Commander Hermson strode into Picard’s ready room. “What is
it, Captain?”
Picard handed Hermson the PADD he was holding. “I have
received orders from Admiral Skrell. You are being promoted to
captain, and are officially in command of the Lexington.” He
handed Hermson the full pip he was holding in his other hand.
“Congratulations.”
Hermson slowly put the full pip on, resulting in four full
pips on his collar. “Do I have any orders?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.” Picard stood up. “The
Garthusian Republic has requested that a Federation starship,
along with Klingon, Cardassian, and Romulan ambassadors, be
allowed to explore their space. They recognize that we thirt for
knowledge, and they intend to help quench that thirst.” He
smiled. “For a little while, at least.”
Hermson nodded. “Understood. I also have some requests I’d
like to make.”
“Go ahead.”
“I need a new chief engineer, chief science officer, chief
of security, and a new chief of operations.”
“I can personally recommend some.” Picard frowned. “What
happened to your operations officer? I thought she was still
alive.”
“She has resigned her commission.”
Picard nodded. “I see.” He walked up to Hermson. “For the
position of chief engineer, I recommend Lieutenant Alaimo in my
engineering department.”
“The job is his if he wants it. I hear he’s quite
competent.”
“He is. Oh, and for first officer, Admiral Skrell has a
recommendation.”
Hermson paused. “Who would that be?”
“Commander Caesar, his former adjuctant.”
“I will be willing to give him a try. Is that all?”
“Yes. You will receive formal orders tomorrow. Dismissed.”
Hermson strode out of the ready room.
Picard slapped his commbadge. “Picard to Alaimo.”
“Alaimo here, Captain.”
“Would you mind being chief engineer aboard the Lexington?”
“Not at all!” Alaimo said excitedly. “When do I leave?”
“Right now.”
“Thanks! Alaimo out!”
Picard grinned, and entered the bridge. He took the command
chair.
“Mr. Alaimo has beamed aboard the Lexington,” Data reported.
“Very well,” Picard said. He turned back to Geordi, who was
at the bridge engineering console. “How’s my ship?”
“Good as new, Captain,” Geordi said happily.
“Good.” Picard faced the main viewer at the very front of
the bridge. “Ensign Crusher, you may lay in any course you like.”
Wesley smiled. “Course laid in.”
Picard pointed forward. “Engage at warp six!”
The Enterprise blazed into warp.

THE END

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Star Trek: The Next Generation is a copyright of Paramount
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The Brigade of the Doomed is copyright Jason Eric Vines.
No profit was made from this story.

1997

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