Star Trek Oblivion: Dark Hand of the Federation, Part II: The Fall of the Romulan Empire

 

II

The Romulan Empire sat in crisis. The murderer Shinzon had seized power and began his reign of terror. Upon his Shinzon’s death battles raged all over the Empire between supporters of the Senate, supporters of Shinzon, and those who sought power for themselves.

Near the Romulan boarders enemies gathered like carrion, waiting for the chance to pick the carcass. From the fires that burned throughout the Empire one name rose from the ashes only to bring fire anew…

Tomalak

 

 

 

 

 

The Fall of the Romulan Empire

Ernest Maestas

https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1590279180

The Heart of Romulus

12

Many light-years from Romulus lay a desert. It is not the metaphoric desert of the great void in which the barren emptiness of the space between claims lives and sanity; no this is truly a desert, and its name

is Vulcan. Vulcan is the land of fire and sun. It is the land of pain and suffering soaked in the soil. It is the land of discovered sanity born from the madness of violence. It is also the heart of Romulus.

As a species the Romulans are in pain. Their existence has been marred by the absence of family and friends that would have been; from the severed relationships of those who loved each other no matter how violent their lives may have been. Inside the very DNA of the Romulans is a broken heart that stretches out its hand to the stars and begs to be reunited with its other half.

 

For thousands of years the Vulcans raged across their home world. Although very steady and rational in the present, the Vulcans bled their fellow citizens until the ground ran black-green with rivers of blood from the blade of battle.

Great warlords and kings rose and fell under the might of the sword and the power of the mind. At the height of Vulcan power a great battle took place in Vulcan’s largest desert. While it is unknown exactly how many Vulcans died during the melee, legend states that one hundred million left their blood on the soil. It took a thousand years for the stains to fade, but will take an eternity for the Vulcans to forget the unrestrained rage that took so many.

Regardless of how many actually died, the Vulcans were changed forever. It was The Great Moral that was learned that day; for all the bloodshed and suffering, no one returned from the battle…not even the warlords. They had fought to the last man. Despite the destruction of cities, the torture and murder of millions, they had fought until none existed.

It did not matter who was right anymore as all that was left was destruction and misery. In the void of those calling for battle, there was only blood.

In one unimportant town a father heard the news. His son was dead. He picked up his sword against the pleadings of his wife and remaining children and went to claim the kind of vengeance only a father can seek.

He traveled.

Unable to sleep and barely able to eat due to his hatred and anger, the father walked…and came to the First Enlightenment: a child.

The child was dirty and hungry. At the sight of an adult, any adult, the child cried and ran to him. If he had not known better he would have sworn that he was the father of this child by the way he was received. He sat with the child and fed him. Together he walked with the child until he recognized his house…they went inside.

On the floor was the mother. She was dead. Next to her were two more children; a male and a female not more than five years old. They were lying with their hands crossed on their chest. They appeared to be restful and calm. The only indicator of their true state was the blacked flesh and foul smell of death rot.

Upon further investigation the traveling Vulcan determined that the mother killed herself and her two children out of misery for the loss of her husband. A simple note on the floor next to her decomposing body exposed a simple message:

Ruman,

Your father will be home soon. Drink your juice so we can pretend to be asleep and surprise him when he gets home.

Mother

     The true motivation for this note was a scroll from the local magistrate in the mother’s chambers indicating that her husband had been killed in the battle. The boy was asked why he didn’t drink his juice; he said he didn’t want to. He was asked why he didn’t stay at home in his bed; he said that his mother was sleeping.

The traveling Vulcan went to the neighbor’s house, but no one was home. In fact the entire village seemed deserted. Further inspection of the village turned up others, but they were in a state of mourning. Children were starving or dead. Others were in a daze of pain and sadness.

Understanding their pain because of his own, he understood that violence and war destroys families. But there was something more; the mother had felt such misery that she poisoned two of her remaining children and herself. Her emotion was of such magnitude that she allowed herself to die without being sure that all her children were dead. She had left one to die a slow, horrible death.

 

Traveling farther the Father came to the Second Enlightenment: a great city. But where temples, markets, and centers of thought and government should be only rubble remained. The city was completely destroyed. The numerous and vibrant population that had been here was gone. The Father’s anger ebbed noticeably. He had loved this city. He had visited here as a boy with his father and mother. The wonders of the city always fascinated him and he had told himself that he would one day live here.

But that dream was gone now; like the many dreams he had for his own son. The Father thought: war and unrestrained violence destroy dreams and hopes. But reviewing further he came to realize that it was war stemming from intense anger and jealousy that destroyed hopes and dreams along with the entire city.

 

Leaving the city the Father pondered as he walked. Was it reasonable for a mother to kill her children? Did she not believe that she could continue living without her husband? Was it reasonable to destroy an entire city that held no military value?

He was forming something in his mind that he couldn’t quite explain. It was a feeling…an understanding. He needed to go further to complete his thoughts. Continuing his trek, he came to the battlefield and the Third Enlightenment: his son’s body. He was overcome with grief. He no longer wished to live.

The Father walked to the edge of the battlefield and climbed the cliff wall from where he intended to throw himself to his death.

He stood at the edge…

He spread his arms…

He closed his eyes…

Tears ran down his face as he whispered his son’s name…and then he saw the face of the fatherless hungry child in his mind.

The image of his own children starving and parentless…his wife on the floor with rotting flesh, her arms crossed on her chest pushed into his thoughts.

He opened his eyes…

His arms returned to his side…

He stepped back from the ledge…

And understood…

Thus came The Great Understanding: intense emotions of any kind are destructive. This great epiphany needed greater consideration. The Father left the battlefield and went deep into the desert for forty days with only water and the rugged life to support him. There in the desert he found a mesa that overlooked a large valley. It was here that he camped and pondered the cause and effect of emotion.

 

On the tenth day he felt a severe hunger, but his Great Understanding was not complete. He was losing consciousness from hunger and fatigue. With all his strength he pushed his conscience deep into himself where a great battle was beginning. On one side was his emotions; wild, unfocused, and unpredictable. On the other side he sat with his legs crossed, in a state of meditation. His emotions took three forms: a woman, a hunter, and a warrior.

The woman appeared as a seductress. Many across the galaxy have come to know the majestic beauty of Vulcan females; but in the early days of Vulcan society Vulcan females were treacherous. She offered the great pleasure of sex…he felt his blood burning.

He looked deeper in himself. The raw desire for sexual pleasure had ruined families, led to violence motivated by jealousy, and caused havoc in the lives of those who recklessly seek its treasures. The Father realized that sexual urges must be controlled or rejected. In time the Vulcans would learn that the suppression of sexual urges could only be held for seven years before the body’s natural functions took control. They would also learn that ignoring or resisting this seven-year calling would be fatal.

There was also the question of love: should it be tempered? Surely, the purity of love was worth holding on to. But as he contemplated emotions he realized that one cannot have one emotion without the others. All must be tempered.

The female stood over him totally nude. With a calm gesture he put up his hand and said; “I deny you.” The female opened her mouth as if to scream and vanished.

The second challenge came from the hunter. His great hunger was nearly maddening. The hunter offered him the flesh of a dead animal. It was a bird called a Crall; a delicacy of the Vulcans and by far his favorite dish. But lying lifeless in the hands of the hunter, the Crall seemed to the Vulcan to be pitiful. What gave him the right to feast on the flesh of another creature when they (the Vulcans) have the capability to grow their food from the ground?

The Vulcan looked at the hunter and the dead prey, which undoubtedly had its own desire to live. At that moment the Vulcan decided to never eat, or harm, another animal unless absolutely necessary; for every creature large and small has the right to exist.

The Vulcan put up his hand and stated: “I will no longer eat flesh for it is a poison to my soul.” The hunter lowered his head and vanished…

The final challenge came from the warrior. The warrior called the Vulcan to battle; directed him to seek vengeance for the death of his son. The rage and pain began to rise within him. The Vulcan Fury, an awesome spectacle, boiled his blood. As he prepared to meet the warrior in battle, an image of his son lying butchered on the battlefield ran through his mind. Hadn’t his son gone to war to avenge others, to avenge a cause? Yes, he had; and now those who received his fury were dead…and so was he.

While the idea of war for war’s sake was foolish, so was the idea that a person should allow others to perpetrate violence against them or others. The Vulcan determined that violence was appropriate once all other avenues of approach are exhausted. War is an endeavor that is destructive and wasteful to all; therefore it is logical to attempt to resolve conflicts before they erupt into hostilities.

The warrior charged the Vulcan who sat steadfast. The warrior stopped short and ordered the Vulcan to pick up his sword to answer to call of battle. The Vulcan replied: “I will no longer engage in wild, unrestrained violence for it is death and chaos to all.” The warrior dropped his sword and vanished…

 

Logic. The idea of logic was developing. He understood that some very simple principles guided his thought, although he could not give them full expression. He woke from his altered state to find that the sun was rising. He did not know how long he had been there but his hair had grown a little and he needed to bathe. When he tried to stand he noticed his body was considerably weaker than it had been.

After obtaining some bread, fruits, and vegetables he sat and ate. This time he was at a temple of the ancestors, which sat in the center of a destroyed city. What would the ancestors say if they could speak? He went deep into the temple and bathed in the great pool. After his bath he toured the temple, which now stood vacant. Along the sandy brown walls were faces of Vulcans past. Some were holy men, some were warriors, and yet others were leaders in Vulcan society. He could not help but notice that the great thinkers and philosophers of Vulcan were given comparatively little honor.

At the very center of the temple was the most sacred of the Vulcan sole: the Chamber of Shadows where the Vulcans kept the vrekatras[1]. Vrekatras are the living urn of the Vulcan soul. Through the urns the Vulcans talk to the great minds of the past and pass on the knowledge of their race. While most knowledge is shared, some knowledge is kept as quiet as a shadow…

Inside the chamber the Vulcan slept. He had spent the entire day in a state of meditation contemplating the nature of the katras inside their casings. After a long debate with himself, he mind-melded with each urn.

Speaking to the dead was daunting. He did not understand what they were trying to say. Unlike the living that communicates with memories to share the past, images of the present to signify desire, or words to have a private conversation, the dead are beyond the concepts of those of flesh and blood. They speak the language of eternity and the Vulcan did not understand.

After his melds he was exhausted. It was almost as if his life force was drained from his body. During the night he dreamed of a surge of souls rising over the desert like the tide of a great sand storm. They were chanting but he could not understand what they were saying.

The next day he melded with the urns again. After the melds he felt weak; not from fatigue but as if he was ill. He drank water but did not eat. He slept for fifteens hours. When he woke, he did not remember his dreams.

He melded yet again on the third day, desperate to understand what the dead were trying to tell him. After the last urn he collapsed into a fit of convulsions and then stopped breathing.

 

In the land of the dead the Vulcan traveled. It was a world of fog and mystery. Things were there, but weren’t. People were themselves but were different. He did not understand. The mist cleared to a great road in the desert. He walked for what seemed like an eternity, but he did not get tired. He walked through heat and sun but he did not feel thirst. He past vegetation and great herds of animals, but he did not feel hunger.

While walking he gained the sudden, uncontrollable urge to turn and look for a great mountain. Through the volcanic fires of Vulcan he traveled. The fire did not burn him. He walked across the lava flow; he did not sink. The smoke cleared to the image of a mountain, majestic and powerful. At the base of the mountain were steps. As he walked towards them a figure stood in front of him.

“I wish to pass,” stated the Vulcan.

The figure was at first a man and then transformed into a great serpent, wild and angry, which shed his skin. After the molting process was complete the serpent was calm and focused. Only when focused did he have a voice.

“You are not ready,” declared the serpent.

“I do not understand,” pleaded the Vulcan.

“Then climb,” directed the serpent. The serpent was gone.

The Vulcan climbed the steps. He looked up, trying to determine the stair’s end. They extended into forever.

He climbed.

For what seemed like yet another eternity the Vulcan climbed the steps. Finally he found a place where he could sit and contemplate. He closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them he saw another Vulcan sitting across from him.

“Do not speak, for you are here to listen,” demanded the visitor who continued:

 

“A Vulcan man had a hard life. Nothing came easy to him, and over the years he became angry. His anger destroyed everything of value that came to him. It took many years but finally the Vulcan became tired of the companion that he had kept for so long.

 

“One night the Vulcan meditated so he could visit Anger. He was going to tell him that he was no longer welcome as his companion.

 

“He greeted Anger and over a great fire the two sat and talked. The Vulcan told Anger that he was no longer welcome. He had to leave, that his presence was destructive and tiresome.

 

“The Vulcan declared at the top of his voice: ‘You must go!’  And Anger, who had remained silent and patient during the conversation replied: ‘Then release me.’”

 

With the end of the parable the visitor was gone and the serpent returned. Without saying a word the serpent looked at the Vulcan and began moving farther up the stairs. The Vulcan followed. After a short time he came to another spot to rest.

He sat down and closed his eyes. When he opened them a beautiful and majestic woman stood before him. In an instant his blood burned. His body radiated with great pain. Stronger than the pain was the urge to feel the body of this female. Although married, he did not remember his wife. All his focus was on the urge to feel the flesh of the woman.

She knelt before him and extended her hand to him, palm facing forward. Her fingers were bent in a way he had never seen. She spoke: “Pon Far.”

He did not understand.

“The burning of the blood. You must have me. Pon Far.”

“Yes…”

“You and your male progeny will feel it every seven years. It will call. If you do not answer, you will die.”

She pulled the Vulcan’s hand to hers and bent his fingers in same fashion of her own. She then stroked his hand with her fingers from the front of his hand to its back. Instantly his blood cooled. The female then laid him down and caressed his body with hers. When they had expended their passion they slept.

The Vulcan awoke without his female companion. In her place was the serpent. The serpent again traveled up the stairs beckoning him to follow. Up the stairs they went until they came to another resting point. The Vulcan sat down and closed his eyes. When they opened an old Vulcan male was sitting across from him.

The old Vulcan taught his younger counterpart the ancient art of meditation. For many days they traveled deep into their minds. At the end of the training the Vulcan was able to hold off Pon Far for a short time, slow his heart beat, defend against telepathic assaults, and probe the minds of enemies. The Vulcan knew it was time to move on when the serpent returned. With a glance the serpent called the Vulcan to the stairs.

The serpent was moving too fast for the Vulcan to keep up. The stairs suddenly became thick with smoke from the volcanic fire below. When the smoke cleared the Vulcan had reached the top. He was standing on the peak of the great mountain and across a large gulf of fire and smoke he could see another great mountain. The ground began to shake with horrifying force. Slowly the mountains began to pull apart from each other until the second mountain was no more.

The force of the quake threw the Vulcan to the ground. When he stood up he was no longer on the top of the mountain; he was standing inside a temple looking down at his body.

The serpent spoke from behind him:

“Climb the steps.”

“What steps?”

“Climb the steps of Mt. Selea.”

“Mt. Selea has no steps.”

“Build them. Build the temple, Surak.”

“My name is Kiil’an,” said the Vulcan

“No more. You are Surak of Vulcan. Save us. Build the temple.”

The serpent went to the Vulcan’s body and breathed into his mouth. The Vulcan’s body breathed in life with great pain; and when it did Surak felt the pain of his body while standing in the land of the dead. It was the only time he felt his body when crossed over. Surak collapsed beside his own body until he could no longer see. He was dying all over again. His last memories of the land of the dead were of the serpent calling his new name and telling him to build the temple.

Surak awoke. He was in the temple with the vrekatras. His hair was long and he was hungry. Surak went to the inner sanctuary and bathed. When he was done bathing he found some grains and made bread. Next he went into the garden and found some roots to boil. The meal was calming and peaceful to his body. At the conclusion of his meal he meditated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Coming of Surak and the Great Rift

 

13

Surak had returned home to an exasperated wife. When he walked through the door she believed she was staring at a ghost. After a brief debate she was finally convinced that he was alive, but he was still not

himself. Surak told her of his experiences and his newfound identity. His wife did not understand but her love for him was so great that she followed his path. In time she would come to see his wisdom.

 

It did not take long for Surak’s philosophy to spread. To his enemies it was as a great plague. No matter how Surak tried to convince those who stood against him that he was not their enemy, they resisted. The idea that emotions should be restrained or suppressed was beyond comprehension.

It wasn’t long before Surak’s enemies began to move against him. The idea of peace was impractical to the Warlords and Mindlords, who viewed war as a pleasurable passing of time. In their minds peace could only be achieved through war; and the idea of losing to an enemy was distasteful enough, but peace through the controlled and emotionless Surak was viewed as an abomination.

It wasn’t world peace that Surak wanted, and it definitely wasn’t about a power base for himself. It was about the transformation of the Vulcan spirit. Surak believed that if he was successful the Vulcans could rule themselves through a cooperative effort, and not require an iron hand to rule them; and it was this belief that scared the ruling class more than any foe, or any weapon.

The warlords that had fought each other over the years called truce in face of their new enemy. The irony was that their adversary did not present weapons of war when facing them, nor did he call for a revolution, or even a displacement of the current status quo. Rather, through his gift of wisdom and logic the Vulcan population was deciding to give up the current system on their own. Surak gave the populous self-empowerment, the most deadly of all “weapons” to an establishment, and the bane of all unjust leaders.

Forces gathered across the land to counter the threat. However as warlords assembled their troops, they could not help but notice that their numbers had dwindled. Many would no longer pick up a sword and fight. When asked why, they stated there was simply no logic continuing with the conflict.

The warlords could not…would not… allow the populous to turn on the system. It was imperfect, but it was the established order. Rather than try to fight an idea through discussion, something the warlords were not good at, they decided the best way to deal with the problem was to kill Surak and eradicate all those his idea touched; a considerable task since schools of logic were opening daily.

The main reason for the rapid dissemination of Surak’s ideas was that Surak was spreading his message through a mind-meld. In just a few seconds he could pass all his knowledge to those who wanted it. They in turn could do the same. As a result, Surak’s philosophy was spreading literally like a disease.

Although he didn’t want it, Surak’s wife insisted he keep an inner circle of loyal followers both for protection and council. And, although Surak was very wise, he learned to appreciate the wisdom of his wife, who also believed that a council would help him during the wars she knew would come as a result of his ideals.

Surak had a council of twelve. Included in his circle was a Vulcan by the name of S’task.[2] S’task was a Vulcan of wealth and power who gave up his status to sit in the company of Surak. It wasn’t long before S’task became Surak’s most dedicated follower, and closest friend.

The warlords marched on cities both large and small. Using their own mind powers, the warlords probed the minds of the citizens and killed all who possessed the knowledge of Surak.

Several weeks from the first incident the size of Surak’s following had doubled. Warlords began fusing their armies due to the loss of soldiers. Despite threats of execution soldiers were leaving the service of the warlords in large numbers. Logically, the soldiers knew that the armies couldn’t get even a third of them if they dispersed.

The warlords upped the stakes. Surak was in hiding and his movement didn’t show any signs of slowing down. To bring Surak out of hiding the warlords began to execute all citizens in a city if he found even one follower. The effect was devastating to the public, but brought the desired affect…Surak came out into the open.

It was too late to destroy Surak’s ideals; too many citizens had turned. Further, killing Surak with his troops or in a battle would only make him a martyr. The warlords had decided that the only way to defeat Surak was to defeat him mind to mind. If they succeeded they would show that Surak was weak and seriously diminish the allure of his philosophy among the people.

The problem for the warlords was that they could not assess Surak’s strength. No one had seen or heard of Surak’s telepathic ability so determining how to fight him was near impossible. Unfortunately for the youngest warlord, who was also the weakest, the council of warlords decided to send him in first. Their argument was that he was the least powerful and if Surak can beat him they could take the threat more seriously. In reality the chosen was a guinea pig, a test to see how strong Surak really was. The other warlords did not care if he lived or died.

In a great desert the warlord waited. Through squinted eyes the warlord attempted to see through the sand storm. Overhead, the yellow-orange sun was only a shadow as the wind blew. Through the storm something moved. The warlord could see something that appeared to be an unusual concentration of sand; then sand in front of a shadow…then a figure blocked by sand…then the coherent figure of a man in white garments. Because of the sand he could not make out his face, but the warlord knew it was Surak.

Finally the man was close enough to see completely. Surak’s features were handsome and pure. The warlord, who had been nervous to this point, felt a surge of confidence at the appearance of Surak. His confidence was misplaced.

 

“So, you’re the great Surak. Ha!” The warlord laughed mockingly. “You look like a child!”

Surak said nothing.

The warlord used his great mind powers to cause some nearby rocks to burst into flames.

Surak did nothing.

The warlord displayed great rage and emotional upheaval.

Surak felt nothing.

 

Then the attack came. The warlord rushed Surak and slapped his hand on Surak’s face. The mind meld began. An image of fire and ruin, death and misery were pushed into Surak’s mind. The warlord was going to use the very tool that Surak used to spread his ideas as the weapon to kill him; it seemed fitting.

All was going well. The warlord felt himself going deeper into Surak’s mind. He was just beginning to think that Surak was weak when he felt a change. The chaos he had planted was gone. Inside Surak’s mind the warlord looked behind him where he had planted so much horror, only to find that where there had been fire, water now existed. Where there had been ruin was creation. Where he had planted death, life grew; and where there had been misery, peace had prevailed. The warlord was trapped, he was surrounded by Surak’s power, and he could not release the mind meld that he had created. A voice…

“Why are you angry?”

“You threaten us!” shouted the warlord.

“With what?”

The warlord could not answer.

“You are thirsty, drink.” The water appeared crystal clear. It emanated a fresh feeling in the form of a light mist.

The warlord turned away but was thirsty.

“You are hungry, eat.” The fruits on the trees looked ripe and fulfilling…he was hungry.

The warlord closed his eyes but his mouth watered.

“Your anger has weighed heavily on you. You are tired…rest.”

The green grass and cool, gentle breeze calmed him. This place was enchanting…what is this place? The warlord sat on the ground…it soothed him. Fruit fell to his feet. While pondering and relaxing on the grass he bit into the fruit. Its flavor and life pulsed through his body. He drank water, and purified his soul.

The warlord rose to his feet: “I am no longer angry. I understand.”

Surak released the mind meld. The warlord, while no longer the enemy of Surak, had to deal with the other warlords. Surely, they would kill him. Surak told the warlord to travel far to the north. There he would find some allies and they would keep him safe.

“What will I do now?” he asked Surak.

“Live long, and prosper…”

***

     After the first warlord failed to return, a re-evaluation of the situation was occurring at the stronghold of Zakal[3], the strongest and wisest of the warlords. Maybe wise wasn’t the best word…more correctly, Zakal was shrewd. It was decided that each one would have to face Surak. He didn’t kill the first, so it was safe to assume that he would not kill the rest.

The last three warlords prepared themselves to confront Surak in hopes that one would defeat him. The second warlord was a master of illusion and he would use his trickery to kill Surak.

Near the Sea of Fire the warlord waited. The jagged rocks of the cliff side where the combatants were to meet was made even more menacing by the river of magma giving the “sea” its namesake. The fires from the lava stole the stars from the night sky, and the smoke rising from the liquid fire causes the eyes to betray themselves.

The warlord was admiring the panoramic when he heard a voice behind him:

“Live long and prosper…” it was Surak

The warlord spun around. He was seriously startled, first because Surak was behind him, and second, and more seriously, he was unable to detect the intruder.

“I’m surprised you came.” The warlord was trying to mask his fears.

Surak responded stoically: “Why would I not?” The lack of emotion on Surak’s face, given the warlord’s own fear, was disconcerting despite Surak’s young features.

“Prepare to die.”

“Since the intention behind your invitation was to kill me I find your statement illogical.”

“What?!” The warlord was perplexed.

“Do you not use reason in your life?”

“Reason will not save you now.”

Surak considered his opponent. “We shall see.”

At that moment the warlord stretched his arms into the air and began to sway. Surak closed his eyes.

The warlord chanted and Surak caught fire. With his eyes closed Surak could not feel heat; therefore he knew the fire did not exist. The warlord chanted for several more seconds before realizing that Surak was not responding. He was strong.

Next the warlord appeared as Surak’s mother. However Surak’s mother passed long ago; therefore Surak concluded that the image before him was not his mother.

The warlord was concerned now, for men he believed greater than Surak broke under lesser conditions. He screamed at the top of his lungs and before Surak appeared the Dragon of the Sea of Fire; a mythical creature that was constructed from the molten rock.

Its piercing yellow eyes fixed on Surak, however when it swung its claw it passed right through him and then disappeared. When the image faded from Surak’s sight, all that was left in his view was the warlord lying on the ground too tired to fight.

“How is this possible?” yelled the warlord.

“Logic.”

“No one defies my illusions!”

Surak smiled gently. “That’s the point. They’re illusions. Nothing unreal exists.” The warlord stood up. Eying Surak carefully he left the cliff side, defeated and angry.

“Live long, and prosper…”

 

***

     Zakal was worried. It was clear that Surak was very powerful indeed. No one ever stood up to the master of illusions. Even Zakal found the images terrifying. There was only one solution…

“You can’t be serious…” stated the illusionist.

“It’s the only way…” stated Zakal.

“No one has done it in thousands of years. And even then they were the most powerful mindlords of all.” Stated the third warlord.

“Enough talk. If we don’t try this Surak will surely win. Do you want that?”

The warlords looked at each other, clearly they did not.  But calling the Vulcan Fury would take time and may be just as effective in ridding Surak of his enemies as Surak himself. Then again, it might actually work. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that made them dangerous, unpredictable, and in possession of the initiative.

Reluctantly they agreed. In two months they would meet Surak, and hopefully many of his followers on the field of battle where they would summon the Vulcan Fury and annihilate them.

The warlords and their priests traveled to the Cave of Shadows, where the secret was kept. It wasn’t so much a secret as it was power considered to great for all. Zakal however felt he had no choice. He could die trying to learn this secret but Surak’s movement was growing by the day.

A short distance away several of Surak’s followers were monitoring the situation. No one believed that someone would be stupid enough to do what Zakal is attempting, but logic demands prudence; and if there was even a chance that Zakal would do it then the cave had to be watched. Once again, logic had proven its worth.

***

     Upon learning of the new threat, Surak dismissed his counsel for the evening and walked in his garden. His new home was a vast improvement from his first, with lush green gardens and fountains. But he longed for the days when he wasn’t Surak but Kiil’an; a husband, father, and architect rather than the bringer of a new dawn on Vulcan. He wanted a simple life. He was not going to get it.

The inner chamber where he met with his counsel was nothing more than a cave connected to series of tunnels lit only with torches. It was warm and quiet. The soft sand that made up the ground spoke only whispers, even when large groups moved through the tunnels. In the center of the cave was a brown wood table of remarkable, yet Spartan, craftsmanship. Around it were thirteen chairs. Surak’s wife would provide food and drink.

“If he succeeds we will be destroyed,” S’task was understandably concerned.

“Yes, but only if we accept destruction as inevitable.” As always, Surak was calm and focused with logic as his ally.

“You believe it is not?” asked Jinn, the youngest and most eager of the twelve.

“I believe that if we say we are defeated, and do nothing, then we will be defeated. I believe that if we find a defense for this probable attack that this conflict will be over, and then we can finally have…peace.” Surak’s calm demeanor betrayed the weight of the situation. If they lost this “war” then Vulcan will have to wait thousands of years for the next enlightened soul to guide its people towards a more prosperous and peaceful life.

The other ten followers of Surak’s inner circle were, by this time, well trained in the discipline of logic. Had it not been for the obvious signs of life in their flesh, one might have taken their stoic expressions for that of a corpse. But S’task and Jinn were different. While they adamantly supported Surak, because of the future he represented, they could not quite wrap their minds around the idea that logic was superior to emotion.

The current situation was the prime example. The Vulcan Fury was, as far as anyone new, the greatest power ever created; a power that could only be summoned through the power of deep emotion…rage. If that was true, a defense based on a counter emotion should be the answer, not logic.

After discussing his concerns with Jinn, S’task sat with Surak and discussed the issue. They debated long and intensely. S’task was passionate and meaningful in his arguments, but alas, he was not logical. Surak stated his disappointment in S’task and chastised him for failing to maintain his sense of logic. It was here, on this day, that the great rift between the two friends would evolve into the Great Rift between the Vulcan people. Eventually the rift would become so pronounced that the Vulcans in S’task’s camp would leave the planet and found the Romulan Empire.

S’task could no longer stay with Surak. With a heavy heart, S’task parted with his friend. He would go find his own way, with his own people…He decided that emotion was important, and so was war if it was necessary.

It wasn’t that Surak didn’t believe in violence…rather, violence was often unnecessary in the face of other options. Surak had other options

 

***

 

On the field-of-battle stood three warlords. The ground was a large flat plain surrounded by mountains. From the center where they stood they watched as thirteen Vulcan males approached in a single line, walking side-by-side, in white robes. They were still at a distance. The heat rising from the ground distorted the images of what were undoubtedly Surak and his following. Perfect, thought Zakal, I can eliminate the entire group

Their hands were held in front of them, fingers touching, in the form of prayer…but they were not praying. Surak and his group and adapted the posture as sign of calm, rational thought, and logic. The warlords did not have such a posture. Finally Surak and his followers were close enough to begin to make out the details of the warlords.

Zakal watched as Surak closed in for the final battle between their forces. Surak’s flowing white robes in the gentle, yet uncomfortably warm breeze made him appear majestic. Surak was younger than he imagined…with almost a childlike innocence and purity that made him laugh.

“This is the mighty Surak?” Zakal was addressing the other warlords.

“Live long and prosper…” called Surak.

“So, you have come to meet you fate.” Zakal was a Vulcan of elder years, 150 by human standards, with broad shoulders and grey hair. His armor was the traditional Vulcan: deep green with gold trim in lavish design. His right eye bore a scar that extended from his mid-forehead straight down to an inch below his eye. The discoloration of his pupil indicated that the wound penetrated the surface of the eye itself. His demeanor was cynical and cruel.

“Fate is a strange thing, Zakal…it does not reveal itself until a time of its own choosing.” As always, Surak was logical and emotionless.

“You must die, Surak.”

“No one has to die today.”

“You challenge my power.”

“You have no power except your own choices.”

“Prepare yourself, Surak.”

This statement was illogical. He would not have come had he not been prepared. Surak considered explaining this to him, but it was of no use. It was illogical to waste efforts on those you know will be unable or unwilling to accept your message.

 

The other two warlords mind-melded with Zakal. Zakal raised his arms to mind level, palms facing up. He began to mumble, the two warlords began to sweat. From a mumble Zakal’s voice got louder until his words became discernable.

“Like the fires from the beginning of time, our heart burns. Feel my blood burning, feel my anger. I call on you to release…take my enemies and consume them. Set the flame…burn.”

Surak had also begun his ritual. The twelve followers of Surak’s inner circle had formed a diamond with Surak in the center. Each had melded with another, and eventually crossed over their mind melds until all were connected with Surak.

“My thoughts to your thoughts. We are one. Discipline is the mark, logic is the key. Shield from madness, shield from flame…you are logical, nothing unreal exists.”

Zakal’s voice was now at a roar. He was yelling his chant. The two warlords melded with him were convulsing as they could not release the mind-meld, and Zakal was draining their life force. The Vulcan Fury would be called through their sacrifice…the anger of their souls for being murdered would call the Vulcan Fury and set itself upon all in its wake.

S’task was in route to the battlefield. Ahead of him several thousand of his followers had just arrived to witness the events unfolding in the desert. It was the intention of S’task to kill the warlords. Even if he didn’t survive, he had brought enough men to ensure that the warlords didn’t either, and a new dawn will rise on Vulcan.

The ground began to shake. Surak and his followers did not run. As Zakal’s efforts became more powerful, the two warlords attached to Zakal began to fade. Simultaneously they stopped breathing. Their eyes sunk into their skulls, and their skin rotted on their bones even as they stood. The power went critical and with a burst of flame, the two bodies of the warlords melted. Zakal’s eyes rolled into his head and he screamed at the top of his lungs in pain and power. A fantastic blue light extended from Zakal into the heavens and began pulsing outwards.

In the minds of Surak and his followers a hypnotic voice began to call to them…you are on fire…it said. It tried to plant images of death, fire, and destruction. Tortured children, genocide, and rotting corpses were some of the horrifying images pushing its way into their minds.

On the far side of the battlefield a pulse of blue energy approached S’Task’s followers. In the blue energy were souls screaming and clawing. They were the souls of those murdered by the warlords that had been called from the dead. Their rage at having their lives unjustly taken became a living vengeance. The wave passed over them, and the entire group began to scream. Some began to melt, others tore at their eyes and ripped at their flesh, while others burst into flames.

Surak and his followers struggled intensely against the attack. They were holding. In their collective efforts they found strength. They provided a counter voice to the voice of madness. It was a voice of logic and control. It was a voice of reason and calm, and they were defeating the Vulcan Fury.

A few more seconds and it was over, and just in time. One of Surak’s followers collapsed. His ears bled as did his eyes…he was dead. The effort to repel the attack was so taxing on him that he died. Surak, touched his head gently and instructed his adjutants to see to his funeral and tend to his family.

Surak stood up searching for Zakal. In the distance he could see a man running wildly, as if injured. Zakal was hurt. As he ran he hunched at his mid-section. He felt pain all over. His hands were burnt to a crisp and he could barely see. A heavy taste of blood permeated his mouth…internal bleeding…I must find shelter.

Zakal would eventually use a cave as his final shelter before being cornered by Surak’s followers. He was never the same after calling the Vulcan Fury; his health on the verge of collapse. Upon his apprehension, he was given the choice between death, and placing his soul in a vekatra; he chose the vekatra[4].

 

S’task was deeply moved by what he saw on the battlefield. Surak had been right. His own lack of faith bothered him, but he still could not fathom a life without passion. He needed his emotions, and he believed that Vulcan needed these emotions as well. But the Vulcan people did not agree. The logic of Surak swept the planet with a new vigor following the defeat of the warlords. S’task and his followers could not stay on Vulcan any longer. It was time to leave.

With a heavy heart S’task and 350,000 of his followers built start ships and sought a new home in the vast promise of space. Several hundred years later, the Vulcans would find their way to a suitable planetary system and found the Romulan Star Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds

 

14

“We are almost at the coordinates, sir.”

Admiral Griss was concerned. He had just departed from Cardassian space and had agreed to meet some fellow admirals to discuss the

situation with Shinzon and his fleet. Intelligence operatives reported that Shinzon had a large following of Romulan troops, which included at least half the fleet and the Reman military conglomerate; a considerable element in total.

It occurred to Admiral Griss that Shinzon’s supporters might not be so numerous if it wasn’t for the situation on Cardassia. An unpopular war with disastrous consequences would shake any government, however add to defeat the victory of the Federation, exclusion from the most powerful alliance in the Quadrant, and the incorporation of an entire empire into the hands of your most feared enemy and a revolution will not be far behind.

The irony is that the citizens of Romulus do not fear a Federation invasion, although they do fear that a war could erupt; a war, that rumor has it, they cannot win. No, the real fear of the Romulan citizen, indeed the Romulan Empire, is that they will become obsolete. With the Federation moving forward at such a fast pace, and pulling the Klingon Empire with it, the Romulans were beginning to feel that they were no longer important to the development of the Alpha Quadrant.

It was that fear which led to the disaster on Cardassia. Despite well-executed campaigns, carefully laid strategy, sound spirit, and a righteous cause, the Romulans could not defeat the Cardassian dissidents. The end result was a pull out; a disgrace that Admiral Griss believed led directly to the current situation. The military was panicking and Shinzon gave hope; any kind of hope. Rather than take the long difficult road, which would have ran though a serious peace treaty with the Federation, the high command chose the short, easy road.

Helsman: We have arrived at the designated coordinates.

Griss: Decloak.

As ordered the helmsman decloaked the Warbird Honnor and awaited his compatriots. No more than two minutes after his arrival 40 Warbirds and 26 smaller vessels decloaked. This was going to be a short discussion.

Helsman: We are being hailed, sir.

Griss: On screen.

Replacing the wall in front of him was the image of a familiar face.

Griss: Admiral Falen. It is agreeable to see you again, circumstances notwithstanding.

Admiral Falen: Admiral Griss, you are a fool to travel alone. Surrender your vessel.

Griss: Under whose authority and for what cause?

Admiral Griss was stern but he had a real fear that he was not going to be able to talk his way out of this one.

Admiral Falen: For aiding the enemies of Romulus on Cardassia Prime; by order of the new Praetor, Shinzon.

Admiral Falen had never really liked Griss. Griss had always spoken of extending a hand of friendship to the Federation and Klingons; after all with their combined power they could all rule the entire Quadrant. Falen however viewed the idea to be a betrayal of the might and power of the Romulan Empire, which he believed could conquer the Federation and Klingon empires and rule over all single-handedly.

Griss: From what I’m hearing the new Praetor assassinated the Senate, including the legitimate Praetor.

Admiral Falen smiled and the screen went blank. Griss turned to his communications officer and nodded. With that a signal was sent and 63 Warbirds decloaked. Admiral Griss was ready…

 

***

Griss: Where are they? Admiral Griss called to his sub-commander.

Sub-commander: They have moved to the rear of the enemy formation.

The ship rocked from weapons fire.

Admiral Griss: Have Warbird element 776 swing to the outside right flank. Then tell reserve Warbirds 445, 446, 447, and 448 with flanking craft prepare to engage at grid 34457-mark-4.

Sub-commander: Sir, enemy fleet is moving to outflank!

Admiral Griss: What is the status of the lines behind the primary enemy attack element at the targeted grid?

Sub-commander: There are no lines behind the four Warbirds and two cruisers, sir.

Admiral Griss: They took the bait! Tell the Warbirds on the right flank to hold and allow the enemy vessels to take the flank. Order the reserve element to move forward and take the grid!

As the enemy out-flanked Griss’ fleet they had weakened an area within their defenses. The Warbirds charged into the enemy lines and broke through as the enemy was absent rear-supporting vessels at that location. Griss’ ships proceeded though to the rear, allowing for several groups of ships to cut the enemy formation in half. One half was contained while the other was actively engaged. Once the first half was destroyed the second was targeted. Admiral Falen signaled his surrender.

There were six Warbirds left. All would have to be taken or scuttled and the crews would have to be executed. He simply could not trust these soldiers to conform to his standards especially considering that Shinzon was now in power. Now that the battle was over, he and his men would have to go into hiding.

Admiral Falen was taken prisoner and tortured for codes, frequencies, strengths, informants, locations, strategies, plans, and capabilities. Every field officer was also tortured to match information. Once all available data was collected and verified, the crews were stuffed into three Warbirds and destroyed. Admiral Griss kept the other three to help replace the twelve he lost. Not bad considering he was out numbered.

The question being debated between his senior staff was now concerning what action to take. All wanted Shinzon dead.

Romulan Commander 1: Does the Federation know who Shinzon really is?

Admiral Griss: They do not, and we better hope they don’t find out.

Romulan Commander 2: We have a good relationship with the Alliance command on Cardassia why don’t we go back and request asylum?

Admiral Griss: That’s the plan.

Romulan Commander 3: Do you think Lord Groth will understand?

This question changed the entire mood of the conversation. All had been worried enough about being chased by their own fleet, which was formidable, but when Lord Groth was mentioned the room filled with near panic.

Romulan Commander 4: We had better come clean now, make some allies, or run the risk of the Federation finding out and leaving us with nowhere to run.

Admiral Griss considered his staff. All seemed to agree with this last sentiment. Go to the Alliance now, tell them everything, ask for asylum, or take an extreme risk and wind up dead.

Romulans are unusual among the powerful species in the Quadrant. They are the only ones who view surviving as the braver path over death. So, now that they are hunted, the challenge is to live to fight again. Any fool can die.

Admiral Griss: Rather than approach Lord Groth I will meet with General Stevenson. He’s Senior Adjutant to Lord Groth, second in command of the Alliance, and far more understanding than his superior. Remember, we are not just trying to survive, but save the Empire. Infuriating Lord Groth is not the way to accomplish either of those goals.

 

The conversation between General Stevenson and Admiral Griss went well. He had gathered a force of 457 Warbirds that desired to leave Romulan space for fear of the government, for one reason or another. Admiral Griss had sent word that he and his force were returning to Cardassia for asylum. General Stevenson was all too happy.

Lord Groth however, was always apprehensive when it came to the Romulans. After all, they had tried for years to send the Klingon and Federation empires into a war with each other. He had received word regarding Admiral Griss’ return and had a fleet of 600 ships deployed to the star system, just in case…

 

***

     It took nearly another year and a half for the civil war to erupt. By that time the Cardassian Empire was formally a part of the Federation and Shinzon was dead; his episode with the Federation well documented. Other events included the unknown creation of a Breen base in the Ivor System; within striking distance of Deep Space 4 and 5, and Romulan territory; and the rising hostilities between the Ferengi Alliance and the Federation.

The Romulans and the Remans had broken off all communications with each other and fortifications had been built on both planets to counter any invasion. Mighty fleets stood eye to eye waiting for the spark…What happened to the friendly alliance between the two species? First, the alliance was never friendly. Second, the Remans knew it was only a matter of time before the Romulans attempted to drive them back to the hell they had been sentenced so many years ago.

An unspoken cold war had erupted between the Federation and the mess across the Neutral Zone. It was only a matter of time, and with just the right spark, the situation would explode…

 

Section 31 had a can of gasoline and a match…

 

Both sides (Remans and Romulans) were equally suspicious of one another. Their fears would preclude any accidental discharge or sabotage, allowing these fears to give birth to war. The war would follow its natural course and involve the Federation Alliance, the Breen, the Romulan factions, and possibly the Ferengi.

To get the party started one Elim Garak, now full-fledged Federation citizen and full inductee of Section 31 stood inside a remote compound on the Mountains of the Night-Hunting Bird[5]. Specifically, Garak stood in front of a button. It read “fire.” In a single motion, like a child touching something he wasn’t supposed to, Garak calmly pressed the button. Unlike the child wondering “what will this do?” Garak knew exactly what the button did…it launched an energy pulse to the now Capital of the Reman Command, Mine number 3486. Garak only wondered if the button would start a war…

On Remus the Command Center had been abandoned in full expectation of this attack, as it was the first time in two thousand years that the planet’s orbits were that close. It would be another two thousand years before they would be again, so the attack would be now or never. While the weapons can reach Remus any time of the year, for the next two weeks they would have the potential of being far more accurate.

The surface of Remus is inhospitable with searing temperatures on one side and freezing temperatures on the other. The Command Center was on the twilight, the meridian between day and night[6]. The sky became a little brighter, and then in a tremendous explosion, the Command Center exploded causing a chain reaction a third of the way down the 1000 foot structure. Casualties: none. It was time to return fire…Twelve launching stations from the Reman surface released their fury. In his command center former Commander Suran, now Admiral Suran, was standing at this view screen. The dreaded terror had begun.

Centurion: Admiral, the Remans have begun an attack on our world!

The lowly centurion wasn’t thinking clearly. What did he expect? A weapon had fired from the surface and struck Remus. Did he really think that the Remans would just sit and sulk?

Suran considered explaining this to the young man but figured it was pointless. Suran’s adjutant, Commander Kora had a question:

Commander Kora: Sir, shouldn’t we wait to find out what happened?

Suran: Does it really matter? This was coming and we all knew it. Better to get it over with.

Despite his matter-of-fact tone he was clearly sad. The weapons would reach Romulus and devastate their targets. The Romulan capital city of Romii would be destroyed…The Remans had captured a Breen Special Weapons Vessel that launched the “Tears of the Sun,” and copied the technology. The first weapon struck Romii and obliterated it with the same horrifying results as Lakarian City on Cardassia. Seven other cities and four military districts were struck as well.

The Romulans then fired more Mega Pulse Weapons, developed for a Borg invasion, twenty in total, and destroyed twenty Mine Shafts on Remus. Each mine shaft stood 1500 feet, with about 250 sticking out of the ground. Each structure was a marvel of technology. Many Remans lived in those structures…

Suran: Inform the fleet to attack the Reman fleet and destroy those launchers.

Commander Kora: Sir! The fleets are already engaging each other…

Suran: Wha…

Centurion: Sir! The pulse weapons are being fired at will!”

The centurion was exasperated at what was occurring; but so was Suran. This war had just taken on a life of its own. The fleets are engaging each other with malice, and the weapons now being used for the first truly interplanetary war were being fired by persons who hated each other to a degree that insured complete mutual destruction. Suran suddenly wanted this war over. He suddenly wished he could go back in time and heal the pain of the Remans…just by keeping his word. Ironic, he thought, such a small task…so hard to do.

Cities and bases and governmental centers were being completely destroyed, as were the energy production facilities of the Empire on Remus. Suran pulled himself from his stupor with a determination to stop the mass destruction on both sides.

Suran: Kora, get me the fleet…

 

***

     From orbit the Romulan fleet could see huge clouds of fire reaching into the upper atmosphere on Romulus. Each ball of fire represented a place that was sacred to someone…the surface of Remus looked no better. Gigantic chemical fires and destroyed infrastructure were the main features of this once vibrant mining community.

Suran contacted a trusted friend and the 2nd Imperial Fleet Commander, Tavok.

Suran: We have to stop the Remans from firing those weapons.

“We are going to locate them after we break through, but the Remans are proving a more difficult fight than we anticipated.” Talok’s ship was rocking from weapons fire.

“We have the coordinates. Push through to the following locations; then fixate your sensors to the following frequencies.” Suran was able to give his men the band at which the Reman super-weapons were communicating. He also had the location of a few. Suran was no longer concerned about defeating the Remans, rather his mind drifted to the Federation. Where we they? Why were they not at Romulus in force to stop the destruction?

At this point Suran had come to realize that by the time the Federation arrived at Romulus, there wouldn’t be much to save. He silently reviewed his decisions to this point…he hadn’t known that the Remans had possessed these weapons; his only concern was securing power for the military so they could attack the Alliance. The Alliance…the Federation wouldn’t have fought alone…

What was he thinking? This was madness.

Centurion: Sir, the fleet’s broken through…they’ve destroyed seven weapon systems.

Suran: (quiet but irritated) Have you gotten through to the ground commanders at our Planetary Disruptor stations?

Centurion: Yes, sir.

Suran: THEN TELL THEM TO STOP FIRING THOSE FUCKING WEAPONS. NOW!!!!”

Centurion: But, sir…

Suran turned to the communications officer with a look on his face that was clear: obey my order or I will execute your ass right here, right fucking now. Suran contacted that Remans…he offered a truce. Over the communications systems was an overlap of yelling; commanders were threatening to disobey Suran’s orders…His long time friend, the commander of the fleet around Remus, failed to acknowledge signal. Suran was desperate…where is the Federation, my God, where is the Federation…He stood over his command table, displaying a computer generated image of the battlespace. His staff stood around the table as well; all were still. They waited on Suran to give orders but all he had to offer was silence…

 

At a remote location deep inside Federation space Section 31 was discussing its future operations. On the table was the current crisis, Romulus. If this situation had erupted ten years ago, there would be no problem. The Federation and Klingons could invade and be done with it. Of course ten years ago there wasn’t a Dominion to contend with. Ten years ago the Breen hadn’t bombed Earth and Species 8472 didn’t exist. At that time the greatest threat was the Borg…as if that weren’t enough.

Cain: We cannot simply invade, that could cause all friendly factions to reconsider their positions and possibly turn on us. Then we would be forced to destroy the entire Romulan Fleet.” General Cain was leading the discussion.

Commander: Who’s our key asset?

Cain: Admiral Griss.

Lieutenant: Does he know it yet?

Cain: Do they ever?

General Cain got a few laughs with this last comment, but he was serious. Admiral Griss wouldn’t know he was helping along the objectives of Section 31. It was important that those involved in what the Federation was going to be attempting over the next ten years didn’t have a clue as to what was really occurring, and who was behind it.

Rear Admiral John Hanson: And Lord Groth?

This question asked by Rear Admiral John Hanson settled the room down. Lord Groth had that effect.

Cain: Lord Groth will always be informed of our operations; it’s part of our agreement with the Klingons.

General Cain had to expose his organization to the Klingon’s intelligence service mInDu’ vaD ghop vo’ veS (eyes for the hand of war), Section 31’s Klingon equivalent, to gain their cooperation for the future. Concessions were made and agreements reached, resulting in Lord Groth overseeing all aspects of the alliance’s war efforts; in exchange the Federation will gain something very important in return. What this means is that Lord Groth is aware of Section 31, and ultimately has final say in what they do. The Klingons were extremely impressed that the humans possessed such an organization.

Section 31 was still formulating their plan but they all agreed that the Romulan question had to be answered and fast. This latest disruption again proved that the Alpha Quadrant was highly unstable at its core. The continued occurrence of unpredictable and highly volatile political changes within the major provincial powers has only insured the persistent fragmented nature of the regional governments. If they were to continue to successfully defend against large hostile powers like the Borg and the Dominion, they were going to have to work together; they only way for that to happen is for all unfriendly factions in the governments of the Alpha Quadrant to be removed…

 

During the Dominion War the Romulans were having far more difficulties than the Alliance knew. A great many of the Romulan commanders felt that they should be fighting for the Dominion against the Federation as it was the Federation that had contained them, and kept them contained. Despite their fearless demeanor in the face of Star Fleet Captains, the Romulan Empire was truly afraid of the Federation’s power. If they had not been, they would have attacked long ago.

It would only be a matter of time, many said, before the humans win the war anyway. The Romulan High Command didn’t believe for a second that the Federation would lose, it was simply not in the Federation’s possible futures. So many times have the Romulan intelligence services attempted to break the Federation. While there were some successes, the Federation was generally impervious to penetration and overthrow.

Romulan Fleet Intelligence believed that the Federation was feigning weakness to bring the Dominion forces deeper into their territory and then surprise them. According to intelligence estimates, the Federation had three times the ships currently engaged in the conflict. The only reason not to put those ships forward would be a major deception.

The Romulans never got to find out how right they were as with the murder of the most senior senator in the Romulan Senate, the Romulan High Command decided that sitting out was no longer an option.

So why side with the Federation? The Romulans had been conducting a study of the Federation’s fleet size and strength for the last twenty years. By taking advantage of their cloaking technology they constructed several small ships that were sent on deep penetration missions to watch the Federation ship yards and count numbers.

What they found was staggering. The Federation had thousands of ships, only one-third of which were officially fielded and posted. At first the High Command thought it was a ruse until a cruiser on a routine Federation penetration mission ran into a Federation fleet that wasn’t supposed to exist. 1200 vessels were at a location 4 light years from the Neutral Zone when all known vessels were accounted for.

The Romulans believed an attack was eminent and placed their entire fleet at the border. When nothing happened they decided to pull everyone back before the Federation noticed and the situation escalated. It was at this moment that the Romulans decided to avoid war with the Federation where possible.

So when they had an excuse to enter the Dominion War they did so on the side of the Federation. Their hope was that their estimates were correct and that when the Federation Alliance won, they wouldn’t get invaded.

But many were willing to take the chance against the Federation. The Romulans truly believed the estimates, which were accurate, and felt that their estimates pointed to the Federation’s intent to eventually take the Quadrant. Key Romulans wanted the Federation neutralized; and siding with the Dominion seemed to be the only chance they would ever get.

Obviously, history shows that the Romulans sided with the Federation. It is unclear if they believe that the Cardassians assassinated their Senator, or if they believed the Federation had done it. Either way, they had decided that a pro-Federation policy was in the greater interest of Romulus rather than siding with the Dominion as even if the Dominion was victorious, the Romulans would be facing an aggressive species and a powerful organization with no allies; and that was a situation that the Romulans were going to avoid.

Across the Neutral Zone sat a semi-quantified yet unqualified power that they did not understand. The Federation always speaks of peace and prosperity, yet builds the most powerful ships in the Quadrant. The Warbirds were built in response to the Galaxy Class starships, but were still lesser vessels. Now the Federation has fielded the Sovereign Class, the Galaxy Bs, Defiant Bs and EWs, Nebula Bs, Intrepid Bs, and a new vessel class called Titan that has yet to be measured by Romulan intelligence organizations. The future was troubling indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destiny…

15

In a cave she sat in mediation. She could feel the cool sand beneath her naked body. Despite the temperature of the sand and the cool air wrapping itself around her skin, she was sweating. In labored breathes her chest heaved…her

hands pulling at her flesh as she moved them up her thighs to her abdomen. As she threw her head back in ecstasy she shot awake…

Corah: Did you have the vision again?

Sa’vaahn: It’s not a vision. I can feel him…

Corah: What did you see?

Sa’vaahn: I…we…he was inside me…all over me. Through me…I could feel him in my head- I could feel him in my body and on my lips…his breath on my neck…

Corah: What broke your concentration?

Sa’vaahn: Surak…S’task…they weren’t lovers.

Corah: Mind your training Sa’vaahn. These men are long gone. Worrying about such things is illogical.

Sa’vaahn: I wasn’t trained in logic. You and the others deliberately kept me from my right…and now I can’t discipline my mind!

Corah: You can’t reach him with the usual Vulcan mind. You must be as we were, as they are, savage and passionate. It is he who will carry the burden of logic.

Sa’vaahn: Why me????

Corah: You are the carrier of S’task’s katra. You must be as he was…and through the bond of the past- we make anew.

Sa’vaahn stood up so Corah, her chamber maid, could wrap her in her gown. Sa’vaahn would spend the rest of the evening in rigorous exercise and contemplation. After her bath she would sleep deep to rest well. Tomorrow she would try again.

 

***

 

Light years away a Romulan male shot up from his bed. This was the third night in a row he had the dream…but it didn’t feel like a dream. He could still feel her body pressed against his…he could smell her flesh and taste her sweat on his lips. But it couldn’t have been real. He had never met her- though he believed the day was fast approaching when he would. The constant dreams had left him aching with sexual phantoms pains all day…it was like a ghost, and it tormented him.

The Romulan sat on his bed looking at his feet while trying to catch his breath. A familiar figure stood in the doorway…

Tovaal: She disconnected again…

Kal: Do you know why?

Tovaal: (shaking his head) We are so connected…intense…then the connection breaks like she’s no longer with me but I can still see her. Then she rapidly pulls away from me and I wake up. I don’t understand it.

Kal: It will pass. Get dressed- someone is here to see you.

Tovaal: Me? Who?

Kal: A Cardassian- Garak…or something. He has come on behalf of those we called…

Tovaal stood up and clothed himself. He didn’t care about the visitor, or the mission…there was just the female. He could still feel her. She had to be real…he just knew it.

Garak: How can we be of assistance?

Tovaal: You were supposed to be here days ago.

Garak: Yes…my apologies. I was needed elsewhere. But I assure you my task is done and you have my undivided attention.

Tovaal: We found her.

Garak: Who?

Kal: The one…the one who will change everything.

Garak: Really? And where can I find her?

Tovaal: Vulcan…

***

 

 

The Dark Ones

16

In a dark hole deep in the caverns of Remus sat a group of miserable creatures, bereft of anything humane after years of enslavement, discrimination, and severe mistreatment. They were stripped of their

pride and their self-empowerment; left to an existence of servitude to a cold and uncaring Romulan master. But no more; the boy genius, also known as the Great Abomination to the Romulans, had broken their chains and moved the Remans into the upper-world. They would now take their rightful place in the Empire. They would take it…even if it came at the cost of every drop of blood from every Romulan citizen in the Empire.

Every species has a story, and the story of the Remuns, also called the Dark Ones, has been passed from generation to generation…

 

The Tale of the Children of the Dark…

In the beginning there was darkness…

We were born to the darkness. We are born of the darkness.

Then came the wretched light…

We did not know what it was, and we ran.

But no matter where we fled, the wretched light found us.

It burned our skin…

It burned our eyes…

We tore at our flesh…

We tore at our soul…

We cursed the light and cried for it to pass away from our sight.

We cried until one day we found a cave…

And it ran deep.

In the deep we found our beloved darkness…

And we swam in it…

All was peaceful.

Then came the soulless ones.

They were eaters of fire, born of the light, born to the light.

We did not understand their foul noisy tongue…for it hurt our ears.

Their sound disturbed the songs of the caves…

We tried to talk to them, but they could not hear us.

They attacked us with noise,

They attacked us with fire,

They attacked us with wretched light…

And we cried for it to stop.

They took us from our beloved caves on the planet of life,

And took us to the new caves of woe and pain.

In chains they put us…

With sharp things they made us dig, for they wanted the secrets of the dirt.

They made us build sticks for fire,

Fire that they would throw at others.

In time, we learned how to make their tongue noises.

It hurt our ears.

We began to understand their noises…

And then we knew the wretched children of light.

They hurt others, and they hated us…

We promised to do good,

But only for so long…

One day we will rise to the upper world and stand against the light,

And its children…

Then all will be dark and peaceful again…

     This story is viewed as odd for a group of beings that have earned quite the reputation in recent years. But this story comes from a day when they did not wish to fight. They were weak and timid, not because they are weak and timid, rather because they were content to sit in the darkness and sing to each other from the recesses of their minds. The Remans are a naturally reclusive species that want nothing more than peace and quiet.

Over the centuries they had held themselves down to a greater extent than actually being held down by the Romulans. A group of people, after years of abuse, begins to believe some of the things that their captors say to them; that they’re not smart enough, not strong enough, that they’re undeserving of the light, and that they were born in the darkness…

But the Remans had grown angry…bitter and hard. They began to revel in their ancestral ties to the darkness and began to stand face to face with their Romulan masters of the lash. Then came the gift…a child…not Reman, not Romulan. A human. He was hated to such a degree that the Romulans would forget that the Remans were present when they would see the child. The cruelty of the Romulans was more than the Remans could stand…they took him in and made him one of their own.

Years later, the great miracle happened. The Romulans had come to them with an overture of friendship. Come fight for us against the great threat of the Dominion and we will cast the past aside; you will rise from the mines of Remus and take your rightful place in the Empire. The Remans were delighted to discover that the Romulans were keeping their promises. They came to the mines and took young and healthy souls and put them on their own ships and gave them command of their own fleets. They didn’t understand that they were not being given power, but their own space because the Romulans wouldn’t have them serve on their vessels.

The Remans were anxious to prove themselves and they fought hard against the Dominion troops, much harder than the Romulans. But something was happening to the Remans, they were becoming fearless…and strong. By this time Shinzon had gained command of a vessel and began to win victory after victory. He was then raised to the level of Fleet Commander (a special rank equal to captain, with the special charge of running a task force) for the Remans and was directed to the Breen border where some of the most ferocious battles took place. The sole purpose of having the Remans go to such a location was to draw attention from the other battles that were taking place, and keeping the Dominion Axis powers from consolidating.

By the end of the war the Remans had figured out that the Romulans were sending the Remans on suicide missions and had absolutely no intentions of granting them equal status in Romulan society. So, they got word back to the mines on Remus, and had the workers transfer dilithium, weapons, and supplies to secret locations. The next step was to have ships built…which led to the masterpiece…the Reman Warbird.

Several key members of the Romulan High Command had gotten wind of the activities on Remus; and after some discussion, decided that working closer with the Remans to make a power play on the Romulan government might make better sense if the Romulans would have to contend with a much bigger and stronger Federation after the war. Honest discussions were held with Shinzon, who was promised an opportunity to set things right. This time, however, the Remans would not be used by others for purposes not their own. This time the Remans would ensure that they had the power to take what was not given to them…

The Remans set their scientists to developing a weapon that would give the Romulan fleet a moment of pause before they decided to attack their forces. After much intelligence gathering the Remans developed a Theta Radiation Generator. From this point the Remans were able to build the Scimitar and set it upon their enemies.

At the conclusion of the war the Remans were sent back to the mines on their home world. The Romulan Senate promised to put the Remans at the top of the agenda, but they had no intention of keeping their promise. No matter, the Remans already knew that.

Shinzon and the Remans needed more time to prepare their plans. They also needed an opportunity that wouldn’t cause a war between the Romulans and the Remans. That opportunity came with a very unpopular war on Cardassia with Cardassian dissidents that cost many lives and sucked up valuable resources. Over time, the fleet naturally separated itself with those supporting a continued military alliance with the Federation and the Klingons, and those who wanted to attack the Federation Alliance now while they still had a fleet that could possibly defeat it. In very short time the Federation would have a fleet impossible to overcome, it was now or never.

Shinzon brought his fleet to Romulus. It wasn’t a hasty decision. He had waited with his fleet in the shadows preparing for the day of blood. It began with the diversion and deliberate decrease in dilithium to the Romulan government. This coupled with a costly war with the Dominion, trying to keep up with the Federation, and increased energy needs of the military on Cardassia taxed the government to the point of fracture. In the energy shortages the minute fray of the carefully woven society began. Slowly, as the war claimed young lives without clear victory, the fray became a disintegration of the confidence in the new and young government. The military splintered, citizens were openly defiant, and key public figures were openly critical. The Battle of Cafka was the final straw…with 2.5 million troops on Cardassia without expected victory and the cost of many lives led to half of the military refusing direction from the Praetor. Shortly thereafter, Shinzon’s fleet arrived at Romulus to make their claims of freedom and equality in person.

When the Praetor refused, Shinzon, with the help of Romulan collaborators, assassinated the Romulan Senate along with the Praetor. Shinzon then claimed the high seat for himself with the backing of his Romulan co-conspirators. In the seconds after Shinzon solidified his position, he set his sight on Picard and his beloved Federation. It was Shinzon’s hatred of the Federation that drew support from the Romulan flanks.

At the conclusion of the Dominion War several high ranking Romulan commanders, diplomats, and one Senator decided that the Federation needed to be at the very least contained. But if she could be destroyed, that would be best.

 

The incident between Picard and Shinzon is well known. Shinzon lured Picard to Romulus, took him hostage for a complete blood transfusion to reverse the effects of his temporal DNA, and then tried to destroy the Enterprise when that plan failed. Shinzon’s full intent was to kill every living thing on the planet Earth. Had he succeeded, Earth would have been a dead planet with no hope of reviving the lineage of its indigenous species. Shinzon failed at the cost of him and his crew, and many crew members on the Enterprise including the irreplaceable Commander Data.

Unknown to many, on that day the Romulan fleet in the Unroth System crossed the Neutral Zone in anticipation of the death of Picard. Admiral Halon was in the Neutral Zone between Unroth and Star Base 23 when he got the word from Commander Suran: pull back…Shinzon failed and the Federation has been placed on alert.

Admiral Halon was trying to figure out if he should continue with his planned objective anyway or return to the Unroth system when he got another call from Suran: we need help…two small fleets of Warbirds under the command of commanders Lon and Felg attacked a Shinzon-friendly outpost in the Devoras System. The two fleets numbered more than 400 and were in striking distance of Halon’s fleet.

Halon would never know how close he came to utter destruction by retreating to the Devoras System…or how angry Lord Groth was at the idea of Halon’s fleet remaining in existence.

Suran then decided to wait to attack the many scattered opposition forces. He needed them to solidify their positions and get comfortable. Then he would attack in force. Suran also had other priorities; he still had 2.5 million troops that needed to be removed from Cardassia. There was also the very popular Admiral Griss that needed to be dealt with. Many felt that Griss would take the high seat of Praetor when he returned from Cardassia, but it was Tomalak who eventually relieved Suran of Command of the Romulan Empire. He would not take the title of Praetor and would not allow anyone else to have the title either. Instead, he remained Admiral of the Imperial  Fleet, and Suran was named his Adjutant of Adminstrative affairs; which meant that Suran would in fact be running the Empire’s day-to-day affairs…with direction from Tomalak of course.

 

***

     Tomalak needed intelligence on the Federation’s position and how close it was to attacking the Romulans after Shinzon’s little tirade. In the months that had gone by since Shinzon died, the Romulans had pulled off of Cardassia completely, exited the Alliance, and had essentially created an Empire without a leader. Tomalak was in charge per se, but Suran and a small council shared the power and help carry out important tasks. The citizens and many of the soldiers inside the Romulan Empire went about their daily lives without guidance. Essentially, the Empire was running on auto pilot…there was no one flying.

Now was a time to play quiet and wait for matters to settle. Admiral Griss had run back to Cardassia. Tomalak’s first and only attempt and getting some of his supporters to kill the only Federation-friendly Romulan capable of taking over the Empire failed. But not only did Griss leave; he took the most powerful, effective, and combat ready fleet in the Empire…and they would be back.

Tomalak’s government, such as it was, extended its hand out to the Federation in a hand of semi-friendliness to cool down the hot tempers at Star Fleet Headquarters. Apparently, some were calling for a declaration of war and invasion due to the Shinzon incident. Tomalak knew that a war-ready Federation would be almost impossible to beat, so he needed to lull them into a false sense of security and launch a sneak attack.

The Federation sent Captain Riker to negotiate with the Romulan envoys from Romulus. The only problem was that the Romulans sent military attachés rather than ambassadors to the conference on Nelvana in the Neutral Zone. The result was tense discussions, including one regarding a Federation pullout of Cardassia, which led nowhere. At the very least, Riker could tell his superiors that they were not on the verge of war…Section 31 remained skeptical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Admiral Named Tomalak

17

In a dark corner of space an aging man sat in the darkness. Out of the window from his quarters he could see a faint star that was the Romulan sun. It saddened him, for he truly loved the Empire. But that was gone now. All that

remained were fragments of the once vast and proud power of the Romulan Centurion. It was almost literally yesterday when the utterance of the word “Romulan” made many tremble, and gave the Federation pause.

     The Federation. What kind of fool was Shinzon? There seemed to be no limit to the heresies he would commit against the Romulan way of life. The Federation is truly a powerhouse. They proved that repeatedly throughout the years, and especially during the Dominion War, in which they (the Alliance) should have lost. Then there was the breaking of treaties and agreements with the Alliance. Shinzon made the Romulans liars…not that they tell the truth, but there are rules to lying. A Romulan lie is ALWAYS done in good taste and with finesse; never like a common thug or thief.

The Romulans weren’t common; at least in the view of one Commander Tomalak…now Admiral Tomalak. He, like many others, was promoted during the Dominion War. During a battle near Theta Indi, Commander Tomalak took control of the fleet he was serving after his superior’s vessel was destroyed and turned the tide in a battle that should have been lost. He was given the fleet, such as it was, and never lost an engagement after that.

During the war with the Dominion the Romulans suffered many lost field commanders. Tomalak however never even came close to being killed. His tenure was one of the most successful of any Romulan commander during the Dominion War. In fact, the only Romulan commander more successful than Tomalak was Shinzon, and now Shinzon’s dead; and soon Tomalak will follow.

How did it come to this? Tomalak’s thoughts were the manifestation of a mind standing on the edge of the abyss. The end was coming. Shinzon’s reckless abandon put the empire on a course that will eventually bring the Federation to their space, and it won’t be pretty. The Federation had grown up after two battles with the Borg and through the Dominion War. The great dragon across the neutral zone has finally wakened from its long, quiet slumber and it will devour all in its path.

At this moment there was a war going on. The Remans had finally launched the attack he always knew would come. Romulus was being destroyed…and his second in Command called to the Federation to intervene…so it begins…

But Tomalak knew that the Federation would not destroy the Romulans, that wasn’t their goal. They will defeat all those who oppose them, and then build a new empire that can survive and adapt to the new reality; the reality where the Federation is father and high master of the Alpha Quadrant.

This new reality wasn’t for all, only those capable of living in such an environment…only the young. The youth on Romulus did not fear the Federation. In fact, most didn’t understand why their government was so averse to peace and cooperation with the humans. Tomalak used to find this idea offensive and the ideas of the young horrifying; but now it made complete sense. The universe was going to place the Federation in a position of favor and responsibility. It was their time.

In this brave new world, Tomalak, his men, and those like him will not have a place. It was in this final understanding that Tomalak decided his course of action: attack Admiral Griss, Commander Denatra, and the Federation and die for honor; die for who he is and what is to come.

***

 

Inside Cardassian space a Federation Excelsior C class starship was on patrol. Down in the cargo bays the Federation Marines were having a party. They had just been relieved of duty on Cardassia and were in line for some real “R & R” (rest and relaxation). The First Federation Marine Expeditionary Force had seen more action than any other Federation ground unit. RECON teams were in Cafka and Yammik during the Romulan occupation, they had security teams engaging the Resistance all over the planet, and elements of the Expeditionary Force had fought on the Plains and the Flats.

After the USS Mt. Selea was done with its patrols along the Cardassian/Breen border it would rendezvous with the USS Stargazer for relief. Until that time the Captain was going to see to it that the Marines had as much down time as possible. It wasn’t just about their hard work or being grateful for their dedication to duty; it was about the Expeditionary Force’s highest and youngest death rate in the Federation war machine. They had sustained a 52% casualty rate between the Dominion War and the Cardassian peace. The average age of a killed Marine was 19.

 

In Cargo Bay 12 the Federation Marines laughed and drank over the music of a Klingon band that had an affinity for old Earth “rock” music. They were playing the best of a band known as “Metallica.” It seems that this era of music never left the Marines, just as music from “The Doors” never left the Army. The Captain of the Mt. Selea, though appreciating tradition, didn’t understand the mentality of ground soldiers and commanders. They were a gruff and edgy bunch. However when you needed your rear-end pulled from a fix, they would always come through; even at the cost of their own lives.

 

Five thousand meters off their port astern a cloaked vessel stalked its prey. With the current turmoil inside Romulan space the Federation would never suspect a Romulan Warbird of destroying one of their ships so close to the Breen border. As the Romulans got closer a sub-commander addressed the Commander of the Night Shade.

Sub-Commander: Sir, I don’t think this is a good idea.

Commander: And why is that, Sub-commander?

Sub-Commander: The Federation could easily invade our space and overcome our forces…not to mention a sure response from the Klingons. It would be devastating for the Empire. Not to mention the fact that Commander Suran has called for Federation assistance with the current…

Commander: -You overestimate the Federation and underestimate the power of the Romulan Star Empire! (Calming down) Sub-commander, don’t worry yourself. We are cloaked and will destroy this vessel before it can report. Being so close to the Breen boarder they will assume it was them.

Sub-Commander: Why are we not attacking the Remans? Should we not be helping Suran with that task???

Commander: Sub-commander, if I didn’t know any better I’d say you didn’t agree with our mission. Am I correct?

Sub-Commander: You are correct, sir, but I will obey. However it does not change that fact that I believe that we are committing a very serious error.

Commander: So noted. You can expect to explain your feelings to Tomalak when we return. Perhaps you will see the error in your perceptions by the time we arrive on Romulus.

Sub-Commander: Yes, sir.

The Commander turned to his weapons officer.

Commander: Destroy them.

Weapons Officer: Yes, sir.

 

The Romulan vessel was within 2500 meters of the Mt. Selea when she started to decloak. The Romulan commander didn’t know that Federation ships had made some modifications to their defensive systems; most notably a program that automatically raised shields when any decloaking vessel was detected.

The Romulans were able to get a shot off before the Mt. Selea could fully raise her shields striking Cargo Bay 12 and taking the lives of 1343 Marines. A second and third program on the Mt. Selea was activated at that moment; automatic weapons fire and the automatic release of the emergency buoy indicating last position and all sensor data of the situation including an image of the attacking vessel.

Five torpedoes struck the Night Shade before she could fully raise her shields destroying her starboard warp nacelle. The Romulan commander was getting a sense of what his subordinate had tried to tell him. The Federation is no joke: and if you’re going to pick a fight with them you had better be ready. But it was too late for that. The element of surprise was gone and now the Federation would know exactly who had attacked their ship. His shields had buckled on the starboard side so he had to swing the Night Shade to its port side and return fire. While the Mt. Selea got in a very good shot, the Night Shade was too much ship for the Excelsior class vessel. Four disruptor arrays and three torpedo bays released their power. The Mt. Selea lost her starboard warp nacelle and took serious damage to the saucer section and chassis. Returning fire after turning her forward sections toward the Night Shade, the weapons struck the forward disruptor array, destroying it. A second burst of fire from the Mt. Selea and the second warp nacelle was damaged on the Night Shade.

The Night Shade released everything she had and blasted two thirds of the saucer section off the Mt. Selea, including the bridge. All that was left was to finish the job. However before they fired two Klingon heavy destroyers decloaked and vaporized the Night Shade before the Romulan commander could say “oh shit.” Lord Groth had a suspicion that this region of space was treacherous so he secretly ordered an undetermined number of Klingon vessels to patrol the Breen border while cloaked.

His second motivation was concerning the Romulans. It is a widely known fact that Klingons don’t trust Romulans. And too that end Lord Groth kept vessels cloaked to watch the Romulans for this very sort of treachery.

The Klingon vessels transferred the crew to their ships and towed the Mt. Selea to Cardassia to have it repaired…

 

On the other side of the Neutral Zone another aging man sat in his Ready Room. He didn’t like ceremonies. In particular, he didn’t like ceremonies in which he was the center of attention. He remembered a conversation he had with one James T. Kirk. Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them do anything that will take you off that bridge, cause while you’re there you make a difference[7].

Captain Jean Luc Picard looked into the mirror and saw the grey looking back at him.

“I got part of it right, Captain.” Captain Picard had grown comfortable speaking his thoughts aloud. After today I will no longer be Captain, but I will retain my ship.

Lord Groth and General Stevens felt that the Allied fleets needed more brass in the field rather than behind a desk. With the current state of affairs Lord Groth wanted field commanders immediately available to gather forces for combat operations. Just then a lieutenant walked into his room.

“Captain, priority message from Star Fleet Command.”

“Patch it through.”

On the screen was Admiral Neilson.

“Captain, I’m sorry to inform you that the ceremony will have to wait. There are some issues that need tending to and it can’t wait.”

“Is everything all right?”

“I’m sorry Captain but I cannot speak on an open channel. You are hereby promoted to Admiral effective immediately. I’m sending an envoy to speak with you. More information to follow. Congratulations Admiral- Neilson out.” Picard was almost relieved, but the tone of his superior was cause for concern, especially given the state of things at the moment.

 

***

 

General Cain and Lord Groth sat and talked. General Cain’s office was a blaring contrast to the chambers of a Klingon leader. In a turn of irony, the Council Chambers of a Klingon at the level of Groth are warm and comfortable. By comparison, the office of General Cain was Spartan and cold. His silver metallic desk and plain silver chair were the highlights of his workspace. The walls of this square room were dark grey and the marble floors were black. The room was large. In the center was a round, smooth black metallic conference table that seated twelve. From the ceiling over the conference table thin cables drooped down to a few feet from the table’s surface and housed a black metallic cone with a light in it. The numerous cable-lights formed a circle over the table. The room was absent windows.

The topic of discussion was the future of the Alpha Quadrant. General Cain had been in conference with the Federation President who expressed reservations at what was planned. More seriously, he was having trouble selling this policy to the Federation Council, who was satisfied with taking the Cardassian Empire, but felt that to take more, much less than Section 31 planned, would be too aggressive.

But this wasn’t a time for weakness. The Federation had suffered far too many close calls. How much longer would luck hold? At some point the Federation and would have to take responsibility for itself and take charge of its own destiny. VGER, the alien probe looking for the whales, the Dominion, the Breen, Species 8472, the many hostile powers in the Delta Quadrant, and let’s not forget the Borg; all have posed mortal danger to Earth and the Federation. So far a few lucky twists and turns have brought victory. But each victory has been at great cost and has always put the Federation on the defensive. Any general will tell you that at some point you have to go on the offensive and destroy your enemies before they get lucky…

That line of thought brought the Federation victory on Cardassia. It was going to bring them victory inside the Romulan Empire, and God willing, it will give the Federation dominion over the Alpha Quadrant.

There was much to discuss…Admiral Griss had brought a fleet to Federation space, the Romulans were in a state of civil war, Admiral Tomalak was preparing for an assault on the pro-Federation forces on Romulus, the Breen are preparing an invasion, and Tomalak’s forces attacked and nearly destroyed the USS Mt. Selea.

“What is the Federation Council’s position on the Breen?” Lord Groth, as always, got right to business.

“They want to appease…” It seems that the Federation Council still wants to believe that the universe is generally peaceful. Never mind that Federation history is replete with examples of war after war, invasion after invasion…

“Why are they still alive?” Lord Groth was of the opinion that the Federation Council should be bled quietly of its liberal contingent…he was right.

“The President wants to try to convince the Council members before we get involved.”

“The longer we talk, the more obvious it will be when they start disappearing…” It was clear that Lord Groth was not going to back away from this issue; then again, he is a Klingon.

General Cain went on to explain that assassination would only be necessary for one of the six key dissenters. Two were old enough to begin Health Modification Operations (HMOs), two were corrupt, and one was having an affair. The last Councilwoman was young, idealistic, and principled. She was also very liberal. Unfortunate, at any other time in the Federation’s history she would have been perfect as a representative of the public. But her desire to focus on xeno-education, increased trade, and diplomatic exchanges rather than war was simply unrealistic. You can’t trade with Species 8472, who don’t practice economics of any kind, and the Borg’s idea of xeno-education is to learn through assimilation.

Many will ask, in the years to come, why the Federation became the aggressor it did. Others will ask how. The answer to the first question has already been addressed: the Federation has been attacked repeatedly and has taken some serious losses. If they are not careful, they will lose. As to how: the Federation had to fuse itself with the Klingons, and then set to ridding itself of liberalism. Once the main targets were eliminated, the rest would fall in line.

Six overt assassinations, while desirable, would spark too many questions and could very well lead to a revolt of some kind. But a single assassination with others just fading away will leave quiet questions and a residue of fear.

 

“What do we do about Tomalak?” General Cain was taking the unusual role of subordinate.

“We will give him something more important to do. An envoy of our choosing will meet with Picard and tell him and his fleet to pick-up a Vulcan female and escort her to the Vendor system where a Romulan male will be waiting.”

Lord Groth continued:

“The Vulcan female and the Romulan male are carrying the Katras of Surak and S’task; the two friends who split the Vulcans into two worlds. Through a mind meld, the Katras of Surak and S’task will re-establish the bond between the Romulan and Vulcan peoples; which can be spread by mind-meld. Through the physical union, the two will create the first child of the re-unified race. If we succeed, the Romulans will be ours to the last person.”

“Who else knows?”

“No one yet. But we will see to it that Tomalak knows.”

Cain considered his superior and wished to know why he would inform Tomalak; then it hit him…

“Picard…” Cain blurted out.

“Yes- he’s been using every resource at his disposal to learn about us and our plans. Clearly, he’s not like us. He must be dealt with.” Lord Groth had tremendous respect for Picard; as did everyone who either knew him or was familiar with his work. But Picard was not going to sit back and watch as the Federation took over the quadrant…he was going to be a problem. A man of his stature can’t be allowed to express himself; he must be silenced before he speaks.

“And the Breen?” Cain was taking notes…

“The Breen will invade. We’ll let this occur as it will give us cause to declare war on them for violation of the Cardassian Cease Fire Accords.”

Cain shook his head. “The Council will never declare war with the current swing to ‘peace politics.’”

“They must be dealt with. We have to break the Breen or the Dominion will have a foot-hold in the quadrant again.”

“We’re working a solution. We’ve isolated the core of the anti-war movement and are planning to break it. Once they are removed the rest should crumble.”

Lord Groth’s eyes were hard. “And if they don’t?”

“It will happen, my Lord. One way or another.”

Friends by Blood

 

18

Across the Romulan boarder sat a rather large fleet of cloaked vessels in the Gamma Hydra System. This fleet has but one purpose: destroy the Romulan Empire. The Breen had been waiting for another chance to attack

the Alliance, and now they had their chance. And while the Romulans were no longer a part of the Alliance, the Breen and the Dominion knew that they would fight alongside of the Klingons and Federation in the next war, and felt it was better to act now and destroy the remnants of the Romulan fleet, making it useless to the Alliance.

The Breen intelligence profile of the Federation suggested that the Federation would not invade the Breen Confederacy for interfering in the Romulan civil war. Historically, the Federation shied away from such conflicts, letting the powers that be determine the fate of the parties involved. Further, the Breen believed that the Federation would want the Romulans to fall; it would solidify their power in the region.

And now that the Romulans were no longer a part of the Alliance, it was no longer required to give them protection from invaders. Once the Federation threatened intervention if the Breen didn’t withdraw, they would leave Romulan territory to appease the Alliance. Of course by that time the Romulans would be in ruins, leaving a gaping hole in the power of the Alliance…

 

Commander Suran was being taken to a remote location. His headquarters was destroyed, his command had disintegrated, and his world was on fire. Billions of Romulans were dead- and he was about to completely eradicate the Remans…there was no choice. He sat hunched over with his head in his hands…he couldn’t believed this was happening.

“Sir?” The helmsman was alarmed…Damn, now what????

The helmsman turned around with a look of pure dread on his face. “The Breen have just invaded from the Gamma Hydra system. All of our posts have collapsed. Commander Denatra is putting together a fleet to engage but…”

(Quietly) “But what helmsman?”….Suran stared out the window into space but he was looking at nothing.

“She is severely outnumbered…we don’t how many ships the Breen is bringing to bear.”

“Any word on where the Federation is? Are they coming?” Suran had no hope left in his voice…

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Who are we? Where do we go from here….?” Suran was talking to himself in almost a whisper. The helmsman didn’t answer- he just turned around and continued to guide the shuttle to its destination.

 

Two major events occurred that would ultimately save the Romulans from utter destruction. First, the Federation had been monitoring the situation and sent in Admiral Griss and his fleet to settle matters on Romulus. Second, the Breen invaded the Romulan Empire, such as it was.

The Breen invasion gave the Federation impetus to send forces into Romulan space and provided Section 31 Carte Blanche to conduct operations. This move by the Federation was not without consequence as a Romulan force led by Admiral Halon, loyal to Tomalak, intercepted a task force led by Lord Groth. Not a wise move…

Admiral Halon brought his forces to Gamma Crateris to confront the Federation Alliance fleet that was somewhat smaller than his own. He was sure that Lord Groth would fight anyway but he believed that he could at least prevent this particular fleet from driving further into Romulan space. His confidence was misplaced.

 

At the Romulan Border near the Gamma Hydra system, the Romulans were falling back. The Breen attack had been sudden and aggressive…and Section 31 had forgotten to mention the reports of the Breen build up prior to the invasion …oops.

Commander Denatra had fused her forces with those of several other fleets. After a short argument about who would run the new group, it was decided that Denatra would be in command. The decision was based less on her top-notch tactical skill, her political connections, or her years of experience as a field commander, rather the deciding factor was that her fleet was the most sizable of the group…and the deadliest. Better to not make her mad…

Despite their skill and desire, the Breen had caught the Romulans flat-footed. Their inability to organize their fleets in a timely fashion was aggravated by the size of the Breen fleet which out-gunned them 4 to 1. It wasn’t going to be just a matter of organization; it was going to be a matter of getting help before they were annihilated. Denatra needed ships and fast; her fleet was dwindling by the second.

The Breen attacked the Romulans at Rho Tucanae, Gacrux, Delta Hydri, and Talvath. Romulans were falling back at every front except Talvath where a large fleet led by Tomalak sat waiting to attack the Federation. The Breen never had a chance; Tomalak pasted them from one side of the system to the other leaving no one alive.

Denatra fell back to Belak. She had divided her forces and sent a contingent to Haakona. Dentra had hoped that the force at Haakona could delay the Breen until Admiral Halon could re-enforce the sector with his fleet. Admiral Halon had not yet informed Denatra of his plan to attack Groth at Gamma Crateris, light years away.

When Denatra found out she contacted Halon and, after a brief explosion of disbelief, pleaded with him to reconsider. But something was different about Halon. He was obsessed with the idea of attacking the Federation. He didn’t care about the futility of such a move, nor did he care about the doom that the Breen represented. Halon’s only concern was the Federation, whom he believed to be the “most dangerous and vile entity in the universe.” Halon had accepted his impending death as inevitable, and chose to spend his last days as he wished.

Dentra was in despair. If the Breen took Haakona, which was now apparent, they had a clear shot to Beta Pictoris at the Federation border; effectively cutting the Empire in half or double-back and take Romulus. She could not hold her system either and re-enforcements from Romulus were improbable as Griss was fighting against Suran’s forces and the Remans.

At Haakona 250 ships awaited the arrival of over a thousand Breen vessels. The Romulan commander, Tar, sat in his chair awaiting the inevitable.

“On screen.”

The communications officer complied and the internal wall was replaced with an image of space. This view, normally unremarkable, was filled with the likenesses of 1057 Breen attack vessels. It was hopeless.

 

Admiral Griss was having his own problems as Suran’s forces, no longer obeying Suran’s orders, were refusing to surrender. It was a slow and difficult fight. And even though he was winning, it would be costly. So far Griss was taking Romulus one ship at a time.

Simultaneously, he was engaging the Remans. The Remans however seemed to have lost their will to fight. Maybe they would have fought harder had Griss not been attacking their enemy. It wasn’t long before Griss was able to exact a cease-fire with the Remans. One would have expected the agreement to be difficult however Griss made it real easy: stop fighting and they can have Remus. Exact terms would be spelled out later.

Denatra was calling for assistance. The Breen would be on her in half a day, maybe more if she’s lucky. But it wouldn’t matter as she couldn’t hold the Breen anyway. Griss wanted to get to her but he couldn’t leave Romulus; he needed more time. To acquire this time Griss ordered Denatra to fall back to Menkent, the last major star system before Romulus.

Wait there he told her, and help would come. If it didn’t then it wouldn’t matter anyway.

 

***

 

The Breen were pushing another fleet from Delta Hydra to Gamma Mensae. Their plan was to then swing their forces toward Romulus and take Achenar, then Algorab, effectively cutting-off the forces at Haakona from re-enforcements or retreat. The Breen didn’t want to go in the other direction for fear of running into Tomalak.

Denatra looked at her star map and soaked in the strategic lay of the land…the Breen were being very methodical; very patient considering that Romulus was ready to fall. Even with the nearly 900 vessels at Romulus, the momentum of the Breen almost ensured the complete crippling of the Romulan fleet for years to come.

She ordered all ships to Menkent rather than have these smaller fleets surrounded, isolated, and destroyed one at a time. This would give her slightly more than 500 ships to the full strength of the Breen attack force of nearly 2200 ships. The Breen were two light years away, consolidating their forces before the final assault on her fleet when the helmsman called out to her in an excited voice.

Helmsman: Commander! It’s Captain Riker calling!

Denatra: Put him through!

Riker: Commander- I thought you could use some help.

Denatra: Please tell me that you didn’t come alone.

Riker: I didn’t come alone…

A task force of more than 600 Klingon and 600 Federation ships decloaked.

Riker: (Smiling) Allow me to introduce you to Task Force Spear. Request permission to join your fleet…Commander.

Denatra: Granted…

Deantra and Riker held a meeting aboard the Titan to discuss a strategy. Although Riker had brought a sizeable force with him, they were still outnumbered by the approaching Breen by almost 500 vessels. Any strategy would have to play on the weaknesses on the Breen.

Riker: What classes of vessels are they using?

Riker was no longer his jovial self but now took on the serious role of a fleet commander.

Denatra: As far as we can tell they are using the same class of ships they used in the Dominion war; stronger than a cruiser but less powerful than the “battleship” types of Warbird and Galaxy class vessels of the allies.

Riker: How have they organized their fleet?

Denatra: That’s the strange thing…we cannot ascertain a fleet structure as they are using the same class of ship throughout their entire fleet.

This gave Riker an idea. The Breen clearly miscalculated the situation and fully expected their numbers to carry the day and may not be aware that the Federation is moving against them. Riker decided to recloak his vessels and draw the Breen into the system and then decloak as the Breen attacked. This should have some interesting effects…

The Breen entered the system in force and in no discernable formation. They were moving as if to envelop the Romulans while a large group of ships hit the Romulan lines head on. The Breen were moving to secure both flanks when, at the last possible second, the Federation and Klingon fleets decloaked. Confused, the Breen stopped their advance on one side but kept moving on the other side. The center slowed.

Riker had placed all the heaviest vessels on one side of the formation and all the light vessels on the other side. It just so happened that the advancing flank of the Breen ran into all the heavy elements of the alliance. The Galaxy Bs, Nebula Bs, Sovereign, Intrepid, Vor’cha, and Negh’Var class vessels pounded the Breen who were scrambling to form lines to meet the new threat. On the other side, a whole host of smaller ships including Gavort, Defiant, Aikira, Steam Runner, Bird of Prey, and other classes of vessels charged with blinding speed at the Breen lines with the same effect.

At this point the Breen were pushed back with the exception of those vessels in the center that had attacked the Romulan lines. With this part of the Breen fleet exposed on both flanks, the Allies executed a pincer maneuver and crushed the Breen center. The Allied right flank that housed the heavy Federation and Klingon vessels swung around and charged into the center of the Breen lines, which were still very loose. The Romulans circled behind these ships and hit the Breen left flank. The Allied left flank (the Breen right flank) was still in a tough fight with the smaller alliance vessels but were beginning to stiffen their resistance.

Seeing the difficulties of his left flank, Riker pulled elements from the center and drove them into the Breen lines on this side. The center was still pushing through to the rear and once they reached it, split in two and hit the Breen from the rear on both ends of the lines. From this point the battle was short work. No prisoners were taken and no Breen ships were salvaged. The battle was hard fought, and bitter to the end.

***

     Griss was ordering his ships to find Tavok’s vessel and destroy it. It was unusual to have so much killing among Romulans but Griss knew this war had to end, and Tavok was refusing to submit to Griss. Tavok’s fleet had lost interest in killing their own and either warped away from the battle, surrendered, or defected. Tavok was caught shortly after he broke away from what was left of his fleet and attempted to get to Federation space to ask for amnesty. While Griss was all for peace and was a friend to the Federation, he could not allow Tavok to live. He and three warbirds hunted Tavok down; and in the Neutral Zone, in the presence of a Federation vessel, attacked Tavok and blew his ship into dust…

When he returned, Griss and his top commanders went to the surface and established their headquarters in the City of Kav’on. From this location he sent a sub-space message throughout the remnants of the Empire. Griss declared himself the acting Praetor of the Empire until a more suitable one can be chosen by the people of Romulus. Further, he ordered all forces to report to his command under the threat of death. Submit to his authority, or be considered a traitor and be hunted by the entire Alliance. To this point, Griss declared the Empire permanent members of the Alliance and further stated this friendship would never again be broken.

***

     Tomalak was sitting across from a man in chains. Those who knew him would not recognize him as the proud Admiral Eric Pressman of Star Fleet. Tomalak had been trying to find out what the Federation had planned for Romulus. And while he didn’t believe he would be victorious over the re-established Romulan-Federation-Klingon Alliance, he could make their journey as bloody and horrifying as possible.

Admiral Pressman had been released from prison once the Dominion War began and restarted his work on the phased cloaking system. Pressman was successful and a small fleet owned by Section 31 was equipped with the phased cloak; 100 ships in all. Once the war was over, Star Fleet Intelligence released him from duty back in disgrace…or at least that was the cover story. Pressman was in fact released from service through a less-than-honorable discharge, but that was only so Section 31 could acquire him and his services at his same rank.

Pressman’s latest assignment was a dangerous one; he would have to be captured as a member of the Maquis and delivered to the Romulans. The Maquis were still in existence; smuggling various illegal goods, services,and information. Pressman and his group of fellow “Maquis’” established a reputation as the keepers of all intelligence regarding the underground reunification movements on Romulus and Vulcan. Star Fleet Intelligence “hired” Pressman to get very highly classified data and transport it back to Earth regarding an upcoming meeting between the two underground movements. He would have where the meeting would take place and the key to their success.

Pressman was captured as he crossed the Neutral Zone near Rator by a Warbird and transported to Khazar just across the Neutral Zone from Star Base 173. Pressman was severely interrogated. After three hours of torture Pressman gave Tomalak exactly what he wanted…exactly what Section 31 wanted him to have. Pressman was kept alive for further interrogation as the Romulans guessed they would have questions as they moved against the Federation and Pressman wasn’t going to volunteer anything without being “asked.” Section 31 hoped the Romulans would keep him alive and prepared to extract their man.

***

 

Picard sat at the rendezvous point waiting for something. He wasn’t sure for what exactly but he was ordered to Star Base 23 where he would be contacted. No further information was provided. Picard was a little more than troubled since he brought a force 700 Alliance vessels…as ordered. With all the events inside the Empire Jean Luc believed that his task would indeed be unpleasant. At this moment:

Helmsman: Sir, we are receiving a hail from a cloaked vessel on a secure channel. They have sent a digital code for your authentication.

Picard: Authenticate…

Helmsman: Authenticated. Star Fleet code series 7- Star Fleet Intelligence.

Picard: Acknowledge signal.

Helmsman: They are requesting to beam over a party of six.

Picard: Granted. Have a security team meet me in transporter room 12. Evacuate that section of the ship and seal it with force fields. Yellow alert!

Helmsman: Aye, Sir.

Picard and several security personnel awaited the arrival of these mysterious “guests.” An arrangement made through Star Fleet Intelligence at the highest levels and outside of Admiral Picard’s consent…The transporter hummed in the usual, familiar way and the vacant space was replaced by six persons. Five Vulcans and…

Garak: Admiral Picard! What a honor this is…please allow me to introduce you to-

Female Vulcan: Sa’vaahn. Greetings, Admiral.

Picard stood in stunned silence. She was beautiful by any standard. Her hair was long and brown and her body was unbelievable. Jean-Luc very quickly regained composure but was still taken aback. She was dressed very alluringly and was very seductive in her demeanor; very unusual for a Vulcan.

Garak: Lovely, isn’t she?

Picard: What is this??? What’s this about???

Garak: Do we have a place to sit and chat a bit?

Picard: Wait…

Garak: I assure you, Admiral- everything will be explained.

Picard was seething beneath his cool exterior. The last time Star Fleet Intelligence pulled a clandestine stunt he nearly got his ship sealed in an asteroid; his First Officer broke about 50 interstellar laws; not to mention having to arrest an Admiral. Then there was Garak…

Picard: Mr. Garak, I am very concerned with this situation. First, I don’t like secrets. Second, this “Vulcan” strikes me as a Romulan. And third…there’s you…

Garak: Me???

Picard: Mr. Garak, you and your reputation precede you…I know you very well.

Garak: Ah- I see. I assure you Admiral; I have earned my keep in the Federation and have demonstrated my loyalty in ways you can’t possibly imagine.

Picard: What I can’t imagine is that the Federation would ever find use and value in person who lacks even the most basic ethical standards!

Garak: And yet here I am…on behalf of Star Fleet Intelligence…you do still answer to Star Fleet, yes?

Picard: Let’s have it Mr. Garak…

Garak: Sa’vaahn is going to end this war…forever.

Picard: What??? How?

Garak: Not only is she going to end the war, she’s going to transform the Romulan people into something very different…something very familiar. Something the Federation can live with and control.

Picard sat stunned in his chair. He turned away from the long conference table and looked out into space…700 ships looked back at him. He turned back and faced Garak, who continued…

Garak: For millennia both sides have waited, Admiral. Romulan and Vulcan for the right moment…and that moment has arrived.

Picard: Reunification?

Garak: Precisely!

Picard: (shaking his head) Mr. Garak, this has already been tried. The underground movements are wrought with treachery and full of dreamers. They have neither the might nor the will to start his kind of operation. This would inevitably cause conflict…I thought you said she would bring peace?

Garak: You are right Admiral- this has been tried. But it will not fail…not this time.

Picard: What makes you so certain?

Garak: She is carrying S’task’s Katra…

Picard: What???

Garak: And a Romulan is carrying Surak’s…they are to be reunited…the Katras that is.

Picard: How?

Garak: Ah my dear Admiral…now we come to your assignment. You are to escort Sa’vaahn to Devoras where she will meet her Romulan companion and through a mind meld and physical union they will reunite the species for all time.

Picard: And how will this new found “reunion” spread throughout the Empire, hmmm? How will this magical event stabilize a situation that is claiming literally thousands of lives every day?

Garak: It won’t be instantaneous to be sure, but it will spread, Admiral…through mind melds. Anyone having contact with someone who has received the mind meld will themselves be able to transfer the ideology and good will through a mind meld.

Picard: (almost whispering in realization) Ah yes…and like a disease it will spread throughout the Empire replacing the old with the new…

Garak: Exactly…

Picard: Why does she need such a large escort?

Garak: Tomalak and his fleet. He has announced his intent to stop this process…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day of the Rope

19

 

 

Federation Council member Katherine Bernard sat at home. She felt good. Today she stood up in front of the Federation Military Conglomerate and told them they were war-hungry pessimists, who wanted to bomb rather than talk.

The great threat of the Dominion was over; a threat that could have been avoided in the first place had the Federation sought prior approval before treading into someone else’s backyard.

Many were disgusted with her tirades. But some were not. Bernard actually started to gather a following. However those who followed her did not necessarily believe what she was saying; rather some were involved in petty political revenge while others were trying to maneuver for power. But most were afraid that war would come again. They foolishly believed that if they somehow denied the existence of violence it would simply just ignore them and find someone else who wanted to play.

Her next task was to pose the first direct challenge to the draft. This would be her first real test. She expected to lose, however at their core the Federation citizens didn’t want to answer to a draft, or even think about war. It was her belief that if she cried loud enough that the citizens would do the rest.

 

Section 31 agreed, and there was only one solution.

 

As Bernard sat in her quarters planning her next move, a small, unobtrusive man walked into the building and made his way down to the basement. The basement area was still arranged in the traditional fashion: a heater/cooling system (modern of course) and several storage areas and a laundry room (again, modern). The stairs leading down to the basement entered a hallway upon reaching the bottom level. The hallway was winding and dark. The floor was painted in a flaky, smooth, puke green. Seems bad taste endures well into the 24th Century.

Passing the laundry room, the storage areas, and the “furnace,” the hallway stopped at the office of the building maintenance man. This particular gentleman, like the many before him, was a simple-Simon. He retired from the education profession some years ago, and has enjoyed the quiet retirement of a maintenance man. He lives in the building where he works, and is only required to work when something is malfunctioning. The great thing about modern technology is that it takes care of itself; the maintenance man only need to make sure it’s running properly.

On this day the old retiree was reviewing some files to be sure his records were accurate. While has was looking down he suddenly got the feeling he was no longer alone. With his back to the door he picked his head up and began to turn around when a projectile, launched from an old style firearm with a silencer, bore a hole in his head.

His lifeless body slumped over his desk. The small unobtrusive man entered the office and closed the door. On the far left wall was the fusion box. Small explosives were placed, just large enough to knock out the power in….2.3 minutes. That would give him just enough time to get to the 9th floor before the power goes out.

 

Bernard was in the middle of a great speech, one that would set the wheels in motion. As she was reviewing it, the power suddenly went out. Wow…that was strange. The Power doesn’t normally go out these days. The last time the power went out…we were under attack! She ran to the window only to see the typical serine landscape. There was also something else…everybody else has power. She was perplexed, but relieved; another bombing would have proved her wrong and destroyed her plans.

She sat back down on her couch, content to enjoy the silence and just think…

 

There was a knock at the door.

     She sat up startled as she wasn’t expecting company. Must be building maintenance coming to fix the problem. She walked to the door…and opened it. Bernard was surprised to see a small man of unremarkable looks standing at her front door.

“May I help you?”

“Katherine Bernard?”

“Yes?”

The event was in slow motion. The face of the small man changed from calm, pleasant, and inquisitive to horrifyingly angry as he rushed the door and forced it open, knocking her to the floor. He closed the door behind him and pulled out an old projectile-style weapon with an unusually long barrel and aimed it at her. She sat back on the ground staring in silence as the weapon rose slowly from her chest to her head.

She closed her eyes in anticipation. The small man gently squeezed the trigger and blew Bernard’s cranial contents all over her living room floor.

 

***

 

There was no attempt to clean up the scene or hide the body. Whoever committed this act wanted everyone to know it was an assassination, plain and simple. As one could imagine, the scene was chaotic. Star Fleet Security and the San Francisco Constabulary Division were everywhere. Crime scene analysts reviewed the scene in the basement and Bernard’s quarters. The perpetrator left a clear trail of events in the building, but left no trace as to where he came from, or where he went.

The rest of the Federation Council had its own issues to consider, for everyone knew what this female stood for and what she was planning. Many in the Federation were not looking forward to her crusade. However, true to the nature of politicians; they were cowardly and timid in the face of controversy. Rather than make a stand, they were going to see which way the public swayed and then chime in.

A small group of Councilmen and women gathered in the quarters of Councilman Pin Graan of Rigel. Councilman Graan was among the more liberal council members. He was terrified of the idea of another war, and he believed that if the Federation continued with its build-up, it would entice another regional power to challenge them. He was partially correct.

From the window on the lunar’s surface, Graan and his five visitors could see the majestic view of planet Earth. The six had agreed to meet to discuss the recent events. The assassination of Councilwoman Bernard was a pointed message from the Federation military infrastructure: do not interfere.

Graan began the conversation:

“Thank you for coming. I’m sure we all know why we are here today. The murder of Katherine Bernard is a serious blow to the counter-war movement and is a direct threat to the rest of us. If we do not take steps to address this issue we could very well find ourselves in the same situation as Katherine. Thoughts?”

Councilwoman Roberta Gould of Earth answered first:

“Councilman Graan. First, let me thank you on behalf of all of us for daring to hold this meeting. Your bravery will speak in the years to come. The assassination of our friend…my friend…is an attack on the very ideas of the Federation and the reason we supposedly have gotten into wars in the first place. This single act of unbelievable hostility has shown that our wars were the lies that we suspected, as we have gained nothing.”

Gould was one of the most radical among the anti-war types. She was the typical contradiction: speaking of trust when she displayed none, complaining of the lies of the military and then lying to prove her point, and let’s not forget her continued hostility towards authority and order even as she speaks against the hostility of Star Fleet. Many would ask why she wasn’t killed as well; it would have ended a lot of headaches.

Councilwoman Guundra Vanx of Andora spoke next:

“While I don’t share Gould’s disdain for Star Fleet, I must express my sincere concern. I do not believe that Star Fleet is behind this act. It seems to me that forces outside of the mainstream are setting their own plan in motion; a plan that we apparently threaten to disrupt. Given our desire to disarm, it is safe to assume that their plan is war. My fear now is that if we continue this crusade, our entire movement will be destroyed. It is already happening. Of the many that supported us, only six are here. What will tomorrow bring?”

Councilwoman Selara Venti of Vulcan spoke her turn:

“It is logical to assume that whoever committed this act will not stop with Katherine, although I do not believe that another assassination will take place. It is more likely that quiet pressure will be exerted to silence those who can be silenced by other means; leaving us too frail to be effective. We, the strong core, are no longer a problem if our allies do not give their support.”

It was a point that was well taken. Of all scenarios to play out, this was the one that they feared the most for the simple reason that their own “army” would chose not to fight, casting aside all questions of conspiracy. It was also the most likely course of events.

 

It wasn’t long before their fears became realized as two of their most ardent supporters retired. A third abstained from further voting, claiming that the issue had become “marginalized.” The Councilman in question further maintained that the issue was fragmenting the Federation Council during a delicate time.

The anti-war Councilpersons countered by agreeing that this time in Federation history was delicate. And what was at stake wasn’t unity, but freedom. One by one the support left the anti-war movement until just two outside the six were left. They maintained their positions until they both fell ill due to age related complications. The six remained suspicious but could prove nothing.

 

In his office the current Federation President, Benharu Chokma of Bajor, the first Bajoran to sit in the Office of the Federation President, reviewed the intelligence reports on the Cardassian Theater, the inevitable collapse of the Romulans, the Breen attack on the Romulans, Ferengi fleet build up, Tholian activity, Dominion rebuilding estimates, and reports of Borg probes. How is the Federation going to get through all of this…how am I going to get through all of this?! The Bajoran had no idea that the Federation faced so many risks on a daily basis. And now, the icing on the cake was an apparent assassination of the staunchest opponent of the Federation build-up.

Sitting across from him was a young man that had gone through face re-modification to alter his appearance. Of course, the President didn’t know that. All he knew was that he was getting his first contact with the enigmatic Section 31, whom he hadn’t believed existed. So now Section 31 was instructing him, the President, on proper etiquette when referring to Section 31 and what he could and could not know about the organization.

What troubled the President so much was Section 31’s vast power, to which no oversight existed. He was further troubled by the agency’s success in keeping their existence a secret for nearly 250 years. Then there was the fact that a non-Federation citizen, Lord Groth, had ultimate control of the Section. But the real concern was Section 31’s absence of disinclination when it came to the use of violence. He never would have believed that the Federation would ever possess such an organization. The bottom line was the Section 31 was the most dangerous intelligence organization he ever encountered. Even the Romulan and Cardassian intelligence agencies paled in comparison, and he didn’t like it.

“What gives you the right to act with such latitude?” The President, as a Bajoran, had a high sense of virtue and righteousness that was going to get him in trouble.

“The Charter of the Federation. You are the only public citizen in the entire Federation that can see the suppressed sections of it. May I suggest Chapter 27, Section 31?” The man with no name was polite but menacing. No matter how he tried to play nice his demeanor couldn’t have been more pleasant than a python.

After a review of the suggested material, the President stood at the window of his office and stared at the peaceful scenery of Paris. It did not calm him.

“This is madness. Why would the Federation even think to build such an organization?”

“Do you really think that freedom doesn’t have a price? Who do you think keeps the borders quiet when you sleep? Or keeps the monsters on the country side from entering your bedroom at night? The bliss you and the citizens of the Federation enjoy is protected by a cruel sword that is draped in blood. The founders of our government knew that the peaceful face of freedom must have a mouthful of vicious teeth.” The young man from Section 31 spoke from his heart. These ideals where at the core of his being and if the organization was full of men like him then it is no wonder that they are successful…and deadly.

“What now?” The President was trying to absorb all of this.

“You will continue to support the draft and the build-up. Our clandestine ship building operations must continue to be authorized. And finally, when the time is right, you must push for action against the Breen.”

The conversation ended with the President acknowledging these directions, although clearly uncomfortable. The young man left the President’s office and returned under the rock from which he came.

***

 

Tomalak was back in his room…back in the darkness. The darkness was greatest in his mind. He couldn’t believe what Pressman had disclosed to him…the Federation had found the only way to reunify the Romulan and Vulcan peoples without a major setback and without major resistance. In operational terms, it was fool proof.

Of course Tomalak was no fool; and the only way to stop the plan was to…well, stop the plan. This meant war. Of course it wasn’t true war. He had only his fleet and he was sure Romulan remnants would fight against him. So, in essence, he was fighting everyone. He almost laughed at loud to himself but he thought the only ones who would help him are the Breen or the Dominion, and they too want the Empire destroyed. How ironic…

He didn’t need to brief his staff; they would listen to his orders. He mustered his fleet at Chaltok and paid little mind to the sizable Alliance fleet Gathering near Star Base 173. They were only responding to his activity. Tomalak was really interested in the Fleet at Star Base 23…that was where Picard was and where he would find the Vulcan female. All he had to do was kill one of the pair and the whole operation would crumble. Griss would be on his way but Picard was closer…and aside from the distance, Tomalak knew his life was coming to an end and he could not think a better way to end it than in a desperate battle against a man like Picard. It is the only way to die…

***

     On Romulus Griss, Denatra, and Riker were having the same discussion as all other major players at the moment. “Reunification”…that was today’s magic word and at the conclusion if his rendering if the tale, Dentara stood up from the table and went to the window.

Denatra: So we are to become Vulcans?

Griss: I’m not sure what we are to become…we are Romulans.

Denatra: And look at our world…

Riker: Who you are as Romulans will never leave you. Your memory won’t be erased- sounds like you’ll have more of a…universal perspective?

Denatra: (tears flowing) I don’t know what that means.

Griss: I don’t either. Commander, what we’ve done so far hasn’t worked. You said it yourself…look at our world. We are devastated, the Remans are all but dead, and our empire is in shambles…all because we couldn’t work with the other powers in the quadrant.

Denatra nodded and with that Griss assigned her to maintain command of the Empire until he returned. Riker would stay and help; as for himself, he was taking his fleet and linking with Picard at Devoras to complete the reunification process. Before he left he received a report…Tomalak was enroute to intercept. He wouldn’t get there before he engaged Picard but he hoped the battle would last long enough so the Vulcan female could survive to complete her task. His last act before moving out with his fleet was to send a message to Picard. It read…

 

Tomalak moving to intercept your fleet. Make preparations.

 

Picard put down the report carrying Griss’ message. He got up from behind his desk picking up a data pad and looked out into space. It never ceased to amaze him…the stars looked amazing moving by him as he traveled through space. This is my heaven…Picard had looked into the depths of space many times, but he couldn’t help but sense it was coming to an end. With this last thought Picard snapped out of his trance and began entering into the data pad his last will and testament.

 

 

 

 

 

Unstoppable Force

 

20

Picard began the short trek from Star Base 23 to Devoras. While it was a short trip to Picard it was taking forever. Picard knew when he arrived he would face his long-time foe, Admiral Tomalak. Picard sat in his

command chair  reflecting on his relationship with Tomalak and realized that this event was always in the making. He and Tomalak were set to collide the moment they met. Picard was deep in thought when his Helmsman announced:

Helmsman: Sir, Tomalak’s fleet has just entered our sensor range. He is waiting for us at Devoras.

Picard: So it seems…

 

Admiral Picard sat across from his executive officer, a Klingon, and discussed the current state of things. Most notably, he did not like the way the Federation was developing. He had heard whispers during the Dominion War about ghost fleets and cloaking Federation ships, biological warfare, and assassination squads, but he always took them as disinformation generated to keep the Dominion off balance. That is, until he heard definitively that the Founders were stricken with a disease in which the cure could be found only within the Federation.

The rumors have grown stronger with the action on Cardassia and now the Romulan Empire. It seems that the Federation has a much darker side than he is comfortable with. And now he just received word that there will be a vote to declare war on the Breen. An act that has little significance since it has already been decided. The fleets are already geared up for battle as is the economy for ship building. The Klingons are following suit.

The Klingon, Commander Vad, said little to Picard. The aging Klingon had been put to pasture by his superiors and figured his career over before offered the “X-O” position on the USS Enterprise.

Picard: Your thoughts Commander?

Vad: With respect, sir. I don’t believe that these changes are necessarily bad for either empire. The general state of the Alpha Quadrant ensures that we will continue to be attacked by outside powers.

Picard: Ah, yes. But I would like to believe that the better part of the Alpha Quadrant lies in her ability to exist with those, at times, contentious differences that are cast aside when we truly need each other. I believe that the better part of the Federation, indeed the Klingon Empire, lies in the necessity to learn and grow from others, rather than forcing them to conform.

Vad: You are every bit the man I have heard about: old and wise. Admiral, you are a contradiction that the universe abhors: a diplomat with a sword; a peacemaker with a capacity to defeat an enemy like no other. I was once like you…but our days are coming to an end, sir. We are the last in an age of empires.

Maybe it was this mission. It didn’t feel right. Something was off. No matter what he did he couldn’t help but feeling that nothing would be the same once it was over…it was and end of sorts.

Picard had chosen Vad over many other candidates who were young, capable, and motivated. However, since the departure of Captain Riker, Picard had missed the wisdom that Riker had developed over the years. He had gone through four executive officers before finding Vad. He wasn’t disappointed.

Vad was modest as far as Klingons go. Both empires had benefitted from a much larger pool of officers since the Dominion War which witnessed the fusion of the Klingon military and Star Fleet, not to mention the incorporation of the Cardassian Empire. Picard had looked at hundreds of files and, very much as he did with Riker’s, was just about to cast Vad’s aside when something caught his eye. Vad had been a typical Klingon in his youth: war hungry and blood thirsty. However, as years went on, Vad had become less and less willing to attack his adversary without first trying to determine what the point of contention was.

Vad had been the commander of the Fire Born, a Klingon light-cruiser, before the Dominion War. Several Dominion ships transgressed into Klingon space and Vad, along with two other ships, were dispatched to tend to the matter straight away. Vad ordered his ships to halt rather than attack and managed to send the Dominion vessels out of Klingon space without firing a shot. Vad’s feeling was that the incident was a ploy to draw the Klingons into an attack, giving the Cardassian-Dominion Axis cause to invade the Klingon Empire. Being that the Klingons and the Federation had not yet solidified war plans, Vad felt that giving the Dominion reason to invade was not an option, and therefore a non-violent solution was necessary. For this action Galron relieved him of command- Picard knew in an instant that this was the First Officer he had been looking for.

***

 

     Lord Groth was listening to his subordinate commanders have it out. He waited at Beta Pictoris for re-enforcements from Star Base 12 before he headed for Psi Velorum to face Halon. Over a secure subspace channel Lord Groth, General Stevens, Admiral Groon of Andora, and General Marty “Mad Dog” Mendoza of the Federation Marines debated the impending battle. The issue of contention was how to proceed with Halon. Stevens wanted to try to contain the force, whereby forcing a surrender. Stevens felt that a full assault would be too costly for the Romulans who have lost too many forces already.

Mendoza wanted blood. The forces that killed his marines on the Mt Selea belonged to Halon and he wanted to avenge those deaths.

Mendoza: (Puerto Rican accent) Those were my Marines, sir. Those muther-fuc mus pay.

Stevens: Sir, we can’t let a personal vendetta rule our operations here. Clearly I understand how he feels but there are larger concerns.

Mendoza: (Pointing at the screen with a cigar in hand) Those muther-fuc snuck up and killed my marines while they rested. I want their ass, Sir.

Lord Groth was a Klingon. From his perspective General Mendoza was perfectly in his rights to lead the assault. He also understood that recent Federation history showed that their Marines are lousy at taking prisoners when they’re pissed- perfect for this assignment. Groth gave Mendoza permission to the dissatisfaction of Stevens.

Stevens however didn’t know about the future wars to be fought very soon. Groth needed a statement to be made and a blood bath led by the Federation would make a very clear point. Besides, he knew Stevens was right, and once Halon was killed he would pull Mendoza back and let Stevens finish the job.

Mendoza was gathering his attack arm. He ordered all regional attack craft to rendezvous on his signal which was a song from Earth’s twentieth century:

 

Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise
Playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Kickin’ your can all over the place
Singin’

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

Buddy you’re a young man hard man
Shouting in the street gonna take on the world some day
You got blood on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Wavin’ your banner all over the place

We will we will rock you
Sing it
We will we will rock you

Buddy you’re an old man poor man
Pleadin’ with your eyes gonna make
You some peace some day
You got mud on your face
Big disgrace
Somebody betta put you back into your place

We will we will rock you
Sing it
We will we will rock you
Everybody
We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you
Alright

 

Mendoza’s command vessel was the Nebula Class USS Panzer. The star system was very busy with ships gathering in formation, commanders attending briefings, and supply shipments of weapons and troops. Stevens looked on the scene with frustration. The ships departed from Psi Velorum, General Mendoza’s attack element leading the way. They headed for Gamma Crateris to face Halon.

 

Halon’s intelligence officer was briefing him on the Alliance fleet en route to his location.

“How many ships?”

“Estimates indicate about 770, sir.”

“To our 993?”

“It seems that way, sir.” Now this was odd. It very rare for an enemy to attack when outnumbered, then again, this was Lord Groth.

“Which units will hit us first?”

“All information suggests the Second Federation Marine Interstellar Task Force.”

“Ah, General Mendoza’s unit…a very purposeful man no doubt. What do we know about him?” The intelligence officer couldn’t tell if Halon was interested or concerned.

“General Mendoza was born 52 Earth-years ago on the North American island of Puerto Rico on Earth. He attended the Academy at 21 rather than 18 after many failed attempts to gain entry. The major stumbling block entering the Academy was a lack of sponsorship from a person of authority such as a public official, school administrator, or the like. Mendoza graduated 122nd in a class of 312. His posts include the Federation Embassies on Kronos, Romulus, Nimbus III, and Bajor. He has served on seven starships: the USS Intrepid, USS Crazy Horse, USS Renegade, USS Blackhawk, USS Regan, USS Hornet, and the USS Iwo Jima. Mendoza has seen combat during the war with Cardassia, the Dominion War, and has commanded stealth missions all over the Alpha Quadrant and into the Gamma Quadrant.

“General Mendoza’s Officer Evaluation Reports were generally unremarkable, but free of controversy. His subordinates find him to be tough and regulation oriented, however they like serving under him. Mendoza, although never having been denied promotion, was never the first choice. However all superiors felt he was one of the best they ever commanded.

“General Mendoza’s training includes: all-weather survival, xeno-environment survival, urban warfare, sniper, subversive warfare, Battle Staff, and Advanced Command Warfare.

“General Mendoza requested…demanded this assignment because one of your Warbirds killed over 1300 of his marines on the USS Mt. Selea.”

“So…sub-commander, what you’re telling me…that will be all.”

He was in trouble. This man he was soon to be facing was tough as nails. He was refused entry into the Academy but kept on until he got his desired outcome…so he’s tenacious. He didn’t stand out and was not noted as remarkable yet was promoted to General over 99% of the other officers he served with. He did so without political connections or existing within the aristocracy…so he used to fighting for what he deserves.

Mendoza’s men like him and would choose to stay under his command despite the fact that there are easier assignments…so his forces have high morale.

Mendoza has effective training and combat expertise and experience…great. To top it all off this man was willing to face a force superior in number just for a chance to kill the person responsible for killing his men. So he was principled…

 

Halon sat in the silence of his office. He got up and went to his book case where he pulled a bottle of Romulan Ale and sat down to enjoy what he was sure to be the last glass of his life.

 

***

 

Helmsman: We are being hailed, Sir.

Picard: On screen.

Tomalak: Picard I must speak with you at once.

Picard: You must first-

Tomalak: In person, Picard. I’ll beam over immediately.

Picard: (confused) Alright…

Picard met Tomalak, who came alone, in transporter room 6. Picard had just left the bridge where his bridge crew was staring at nearly 1500 Romulan vessels ready for war. The Federation had amassed about 700 vessels behind the Enterprise, poised to strike. On his way to meet Tomalak Garak walked with Picard and reminded him of his mission and suggested deception on the part of Tomalak. Picard curtly reminded Garak that he is well aware of the Romulan’s bad behavior and that he has plenty of experience as a starship commander to deal with such issues. For the second time in recent days he awaited a mysterious visit that made him uneasy.

Tomalak: Greetings, Picard.

In his hands he held a bottle of Romulan Ale and a copy of an ancient text- never before seen by outsiders.

Picard: Tomalak, I don’t-

Tomalak: I must speak with you alone Picard…please. Can I get a brief tour before we speak?

Picard and Tomalak went to his Ready room after a brief walk about the ship. Tomalak truly seemed to be enjoying himself. Picard couldn’t help but hope the ships outside were here to surrender to the Alliance but common sense told him better.

Tomalak: This is a beautiful ship, Admiral- oh and of course, congratulations on your promotion, circumstances not withstanding or course.

Picard: Indeed. Tomalak, why are you here?

Tomalak: You wish me to leave so soon?

Picard: Of course not. But on my view screen there are 1500 warships staring at my fleet and I suspect they are not here for a friendly chat…

Tomalak: Touché, Admiral. Can we just sit and talk? Not as two commanders but as two men- just for a little while?

Picard: Yes…

Tomalak: (staring out in space) I was so young. I joined the fleet as a cook. Did you know that?

Picard: I did not.

Tomalak: It’s true. I can cook the best sea vea’aches you will ever eat. I learned how to cook from my father. He wasn’t a soldier, no. He was a fisherman. As a boy I used to sit on the beach with glowing white sands…at night the moons would glow almost purple and the stars would reveal themselves in an endless display. I was full of wonder. I knew that no matter what I had to do, I would get to space. I was on a mission aboard a freighter when we were attacked by Orion Pirates. The Captain was killed and the First Officer was missing. No one knew what to do. I organized an armed resistance on the ship and with inferior numbers, turned the tide on the Orions. They beamed off the ship and were getting ready to destroy us. We happen to have a cargo of explosives in the main cargo bay- which is what they were after- and that gave me an idea. I was appointed by the crew to run the bridge as if I was Captain. I ordered the cargo bay over pressurized and when we turned the ship into position I ordered the bay opened. The cargo shot out and hit the Orion ships, exploding and destroying them. I was made a Lieutenant when we found the XO and when he took the place of the Captain, I was named acting XO. And the rest is history. What about you?

Picard: I always wanted to be in Star Fleet- just like you I looked at the Stars with a yearning. I went straight to the Academy and entered service as an officer. I’m sure you know the rest…

The two gentlemen spent a great deal of time talking as friends until the entire bottle of Romulan Ale was consumed. But it was nearly time and both men knew it…

Tomalak: You know Picard- they aren’t going to let you live.

Picard: Who?

Tomalak: Section 31…

Picard: They’re mythical…

Tomalak: I used to think so. But I hear about them all over the quadrant…you don’t really believe they’re mythical- do you?

Picard: No…

Tomalak: These are troubling times, Picard. We are both old and antiquated…have reached the limits of our usefulness. The universe favors the Federation but not you. As for me…this will be the last command, the last battle for Admiral Viktor Tomalak. I will be forgotten- lost in the excitement of the new world.

Picard: No, Tomalak. No…we all have value- your people need you; now more than ever. The Federation may be in turbulent times but it will find its way through this confusion…

Tomalak: No, Picard. Your words…are they for me, or you? I have enjoyed our visit, I wish it could have been the norm but- we were two men in a place in history. Farewell my friend…

With that Tomalak was gone. Picard stayed in the Ready Room for a bit longer and considered his guest. Tomalak was determined to die and came for a visit from the only man in the universe he would want to kill him.

Picard: All hands- battle stations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immovable Object

21

 

Halon’s fleet formed a line and watched as a Federation fleet approached. It was smaller than his fleet; however the Federation was not to be discounted. Their ships were fast and powerful.

As they closed on his position Halon sent a communication to Mendoza. It was his hope to see his enemy face-to-face before battle; it was tradition. Normally, humans were all too happy to talk to their opponents. This time however, the human Mendoza gave a very different answer:

 

Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail
Once you provoke her, rattling of her tail
Never begins it, never, but once engaged…
Never surrenders, showing the fangs of rage
Dont tread on me
So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is to prepare for war
So be it
Settle the score
Touch me again for the words that youll hear evermore…
Dont tread on me
Love it or live it, she with the deadly bite
Quick is the blue tongue, forked as lighting strike
Shining with brightness, always on surveillance
The eyes, they never close, emblem of vigilance
Dont tread on me
So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is to prepare for war
So be it
Settle the score
Touch me again for the words that you’ll hear evermore…
Dont tread on me
So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is to prepare for war
Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail
Once you provoke her, rattling on her tail
So be it
Threaten no more
To secure peace is to prepare for war
So be it
Settle the score
Touch me again for the words that youll hear evermore…
Dont tread on me

 

“What is it?” Admiral Halon was confused.

“It’s a song of unknown origin, Sir.”

Admiral Halon figured that the song had significance to Mendoza. Once the lyrics were provided in transcript for him to read the significance became clear: Mendoza wasn’t here to talk, accept surrender, or to lose. This was personal.

“Very well.”

“Sir?” Halon had apparently confused his bridge crew by responding to the lyrics. Halon did not respond to his crew.

Mendoza’s component was 157 vessels, mostly Nebula, Nova, and Defiant class ships. His arm was well ahead of the rest of the fleet and would be in firing distance in thirty seconds.

Mendoza’s battle group suddenly turned and poised to strike between Halon’s right-flank and center, where a soft spot existed.

“Oder Reserve Element 17 to re-enforce those ships!” Halon was trying to keep his lines cohesive but he had over-looked this area in his lines and now he weakened the rear component just right of center.

As soon as the ships pulled out of formation to re-enforce the area that Mendoza was attacking, the rest of the Alliance fleet executed a brilliant maneuver and warped from their position, five-minutes from firing range, to positions directly above, below, and in front of Halon’s center.

Mendoza was able to push into Halon’s lines with relative ease until Reserve Element 17 counter attacked. The resistance against Mendoza was significant at this point however it completely buckled when Groth and his group pinched and severed the front-center; effectively tearing a chunk out of Halon’s lines.

Mendoza was given relief when Defiant Wings 5-7 and 2-6 turned into the rear of Reserve Element 17 who was pushing forward rather than maintaining defense-line formation integrity. Reserve Element 17 was caught in a pincer maneuver and shredded. Mendoza continued his push to the rear of the enemy lines. Once he reached the rear of the formation he turned suddenly toward the center where he would find Halon.

***

Helmsman: Here they come!

Tomalak’s fleet charged at the Federation lines. In an unusual turn of events, the Federation was on the defensive and was trying to hold against a fleet that was twice their size and led by a highly effective commander. Picard however didn’t plan to keep his lines stagnant like he would in traditional battles.

The goal was to 1) protect the Vulcan female at all costs and 2) get her to the surface so she could at least complete the mind meld. To this end Picard’s fleet began to rotate units and swirled around the center creating a moving barrier as the formation moved towards Devoras where it would eventually expand its perimeter to envelop the entire planet once they defeated Tomalak.

It was going to be a hard fight as the Romulans were giving the Federation a pounding. Their numbers allowed for Romulans to double, and in some cases, triple-up on the Federation ships. To counter the Federation was using fighter tactics by using “wing men” to allow the targeting of the warbirds. It was Picard’s goal to knock out all the warbirds first, then turn on the smaller class vessels as they would be far less effective without any supporting heavy elements.

Picard was unable to get to Devoras. While he was close, his fleet was successfully cut off and didn’t have the strength to go on the offensive until the number of warbirds was greatly decreased. Tomalak had realized what Picard was doing and moved his warbirds behind smaller class vessels. Picard then shifted tactics and began to smash the front line of these smaller ships, looking to even the numbers. Tomalak again switched up his tactics and orders his fleet to divide itself into multiple wedges of multiple vessel classes with tight formations in each wedge but a fair distance between each wedge to allow for covering fire and maneuverability. Picard was unable to counter this approach and had to pull back from Devoras.

Picard was considering leaving the system when Griss arrived with his fleet and Picard and Griss went on the offensive from two directions and drove Tomalak to the far side of Devoras. Once there was a window to beam to the surface, Picard and about 3000 Federation troops landed at the ruins of Jubar and moved to link up with Griss and his troops.

***

     Saa’vahn sat in her quarters meditating- trying to remain confident that her task would at last be completed. Four priests were with her at all times, continuously mind melding with her to be sure she is ready to release the katra. The katras carried by her and the Romulan Tovaal, while belonging to Surak and S’task, would become something different. It was the intention of the Vulcan mystics to create a fused soul and have it occupy a new born child; a child created by Tovaal and Saa’vahn. This was her time- she was fertile and at the peak in her ovulation cycle. The operation to fuse the two carriers could not have come at a better time…

Tovaal was not a Vulcan. He did not meditate and he did not have a mechanism to calm himself. With every rock of the ship from weapons fire, he tried to remain positive- but to be honest he wasn’t sure if the battle outside or his great task in front of him was the source of his anxiety. He and the Vulcan female were promised to each other from birth…in a way. By carrying the katra he could never marry and never copulate unless the One was found. So it has been with each “pair” of carriers since the Great Rift but this will be the first time such a pair will actually complete the mating ritual. She will be his wife…and he her husband…what did she look like? Would she be of the usual cold stock produced by Vulcan? Would she be able to live with the passion of a Romulan? The ship rocked again but this time he didn’t notice…there was only the dream and the longing for her, present in his mind.

***

 

Mendoza found Halon’s ship. Without thinking, without hailing, and without remorse he took charge of the tactical station and personally fired on Halon’s Warbird. It fired aft torpedos which struck the saucer section, but Mendoza had a plan. He used all his weapons to systematically destroy each disruptor port and torpedo launcher until Halon’s ship was defenseless…

Halon sat in his command chair looking at Mendoza’s vessel on his view screen. The battle had been hard fought but as he suspected, Mendoza was cunning, with dogged determination. The helmsman called out a torpedo launch and Halon watched as one torpedo split into three, which then split into nine…

Mendoza sat back in his chair with a sigh of relief as he watched the hull of Halon’s ship burned…with a single order a phaser burst hit the ship and blasted it into a thousand pieces. Groth had been monitoring the events between Halon and Mendoza; and upon Halon’s death, he ordered Mendoza to fall into position behind Stevens’ battle group. Mendoza quietly acknowledged signal and was content to obey his order.

***

     Picard couldn’t help but take a moment to admire the ancient structures at Jubar. This planet, while now inside the Romulan Empire, is part of a vastly older civilization that has long since vanished. The mysterious inscriptions and images from a species from long ago are at the center of Picard’s reasons for going to space. And yet here he is…with a phaser in his hands about to dance on the grave of this holy place through the cry of battle. A great sadness befell him and for the first time in his career, he truly questioned who he was and doubted his path.

They walked for hours. Picard looked into the night sky, the two sides had entered low orbit in preparation for the up-coming battle to both support their side and disrupt enemy vessels from doing the same. The sky lit up with bright flashes of phaser fire and torpedos as the ships engaged each other.

Griss called over the joint-channel advising Picard to hold his position on the other side of the hill, just beyond their final destination- the ruins of Kall. Just as Picard and Griss had done, Tomalak had personally taken charge of his forces and committed himself to see his task done. To this end he engaged Griss first. In the darkness, Tomalak’s troops rushed Griss’ perimeter and blended with the allied troops. The result was complete carnage. Both sides were killing their own comrades as often as they were killing their enemy. Neither side could establish any control of the situation which was, of course, what Tomalak had in mind when he attacked. The result would be as situation too dangerous for the Federation to cross.

Picard hadn’t known what Tomalak had in store for him but he knew it would be unpleasant so he had put two task forces on stand-by. The first was the 147th Federation Airborne Battalion and the second was the 5th Spetsnaz. Picard called to Galaxy Wing 9-1 to deploy the 147th and in short time the Federation troops already on the ground began cheering at the site of the golden streaks moving across the sky.

Five kilometers to the southeast a shadowy group of allied troops were preparing to attack. They received Picard’s orders- take the island and prepare for their arrival. Neutralize any and all threats by any means necessary.

Spetsnaz Commander: All right gentlemen, take your pills!

The group of twelve strapped themselves in large white capsules called “pills” and on command hit the rockets. The Federation troops watched as contrails moved between the incoming airborne units like fingers meshing together…it was a perfect dance. At the apex of their trajectory, the pills burst open and sent twelve troops free-falling directly over their target from the outer atmosphere. Unlike the airborne units these men fall feet-first. Just before they hit the ground they spread their arms revealing web-like material under their arms that slows them to a tolerable speed in which they can hit the ground, roll, and get up firing.

The Spetsnaz team began their search-and-destroy mission killing Romulans, quietly at first, but then with brute force once the Romulans realized what was happening. After a 30 minute firefight Picard was notified: the island was secure, reinforcements were arriving, and they awaited his arrival.

By this time the Federation Airborne Heavy-Mechanized Infantry were on the ground pounding the shit out of any Romulan crossing their path. Griss sent out a message on all channels- get out of their way. Thus, anyone standing in front of a Federation soldier was bound to be shot. The result was the entire mess of Romulans, good and bad, getting pushed back.

Picard thought it unusual to hear a Vulcan female scream, and he had to keep reminding himself that she was not logical. Somewhere in this mess was her mate- Picard hoped that Griss could get him there safe…the future depended on it.

Griss finally got a break when Tomalak told his forces to retreat to the edge of shore that kept the bridge to the island. He didn’t really understand but he had to get the Tovaal to the island so the process could occur…and then it hit him. The island was one place rumored to hold the grave of S’task. Could it be?

Picard got his forces to the shore first and the two sides resumed battle. Griss’ troops joined and again the scene devolved into chaos. Picard’s troops created a gap for him to travel and grabbing the hand of Sa’vaahn, he ran for it…but it was a trap.

Just as Picard reached the edge of the bridge a contingent of Romulans led by Tomalak intercepted them. Picard was protecting the front of Sa’vaahn when Tomalak got his chance to shoot the Vulcan female…so it ends…Tomalak said to himself.

Picard saw Tomalak at the last moment and dove in front of Sa’vaahn, taking a disruptor blast straight in the chest. Picard hit the ground and began to fade away…

Tomalak: No! Picard!

Tomalak didn’t know why he was suddenly remorseful of his act. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way- Picard was supposed to kill him after he killed the Vulcan but instead he felled the only man he ever truly respected. While he was sitting next to Picard he felt a gentle had touch the side of his head…

He was no longer in sitting next to Picard- his men were gone, and the lush, tropical environment was quiet. He felt a presence; he spun around to see…him. Tomalak had never seen S’task, but he knew it was him. S’task was holding a Romulan child, he was bloodied and beaten, and when Tomalak looked up to ask about the child, S’task was crying. S’task spoke:

“Our people…”

  Tomalak closed his eyes and then looked down at his hands. What has he done? What has he been doing? He has been responsible for prolonging the suffering of his people and helped them into ruin. He nodded in understanding and was then released back to the hell he had started. He looked in the sky and saw the Allied vessels and his vessels destroying each other. He looked at the battlefield and saw the ruined forms of Romulans everywhere…and at his feet was a man he admired and thought of as a friend- even across empires. All shattered because of his actions…

Tomalak stood up and commanded his men to stand down. To his surprise, and relief, his order was obeyed immediately. He bent down and grabbed Picard’s hand:

Picard: Tomalak

Tomalak: Forgive me…

Picard: Sa’vaahn…

Tomalak: I will escort her myself.

Picard: Tom…a…lak…

Picard was gone…

Picard was standing looking down at himself. Standing next to him was a familiar face.

Picard: Q?

Q: Yes, Picard. It is I…

Picard: Return me at once!

Q: As you wish, but your knowledge would be wasted. Come with me Picard, come with the Q…

Picard: Q, I need to return to my duty.

Q: (gently) No, Picard. Not this time…come with me.

Picard: Am I…?

Q: If I return you then yes- but it doesn’t have to be so. Come with the Q and explore the multiverse…there is so much to show you.

Picard stood in stunned silence. He had lived a long and fruitful life, but he was not ready to let the adventure end. As he looked out over the landscape, frozen in time by Q, he could see that the sun was beginning to rise on Devoras. He had been so engrossed in battle he hadn’t noticed. It was beautiful. Is this really how I end? He thought hard for a few seconds…no. In this realization Picard reached out his hand to Q and entered the Continuum…forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Unification

22

 

Sa’vaahn stood in front of the bridge with Tomalak at her side. She looked out over the battlefield. All eyes were fixed on her. Through the still, sea of soldiers her eyes caught movement. It was Tovaal. She knew his face

and he knew hers. He began to walk faster and faster until he trotted and then ran to her. He stood before her in awe, his chest pounding with such force he thought it would burst open. She was real…

Tomalak escorted the pair to the hallowed ground of S’task’s resting place and bowed his head in shame and humility. The two walked on to the center where Sa’vaahn’s priests and Tovaal’s servants gathered around them.

Corah: Tomalak…thank you. You may go.

Tomalak: What’s going to happen now?

Corah: It is their task to finish…

Tomalak nodded and left the two in peace. He would vanish from the planet, never to be seen again and no one would now what became of him…

 

Tovaal: I am Tovaal…I know your face…you consume me in my dreams. You devour all corners of my sole…you are ever in my thoughts…who are you?

Sa’vaahn: I am Sa’vaahn…hello

Tovaal: Why are you…? Why…?

Sa’vaahn: Sshhh…give me your hand, Tovaal. Join with me for now and always…for the future.

Tovaal stretched out his hand and Sa’vaahn took it. She bent her fingers in the traditional fashion for Vulcan mating rituals and in an instant Tovaal called out in pain and fell to his knees. The pain was different…it was a need, he had to have her. As she moved her fingers over his to the back of his hand his blood cooled and he took her in an embrace.

As their bodies joined, Sa’vaahn touched Tovaal’s head and melded with him. In an instant they shook violently but did not break from each other. In an instant, the Vulcan and Romulan people reunited and conceived the future. The katras of S’task and Surak became one for their people and together the two souls healed the heartbreak that had endured for millennia…

***

     As Picard predicted the mind-meld traveled from person-to-person until, a year later, the entire Romulan Empire had been exposed to the mind-meld. Admiral Griss had been named Praetor and Dentra made Admiral of the Fleet. There was much work to be done. The fleet was in shambles, the Romulan homeworld had been devastated, and their energy production on Remus was no more. Then there was the issue of the Remans. They disappeared; no one knew what became of them or where they went. The Romulans however wished them peace and long-life.

The Federation Alliance had stationed a fleet of warships inside the Romulan Empire to assist with security incase the Breen returned. However Griss made a public declaration, the fleet would stay as they were friends to the Romulan people. The door was opened between the Federation and Romulan borders for the first time ever; and to further signify their allegiance to each other, the Neutral Zone was redefined as the space between the Romulan Empire and the Breen Confederacy; all other space was open.

Like the Klingons, the Romulans were given seats on the Federation Council. Romulans also eased into positions in the Alliance command structure. All over the quadrant Romulan forces would be found alongside those of Klingon, Cardassian, and Federation. It would remain that way forever.

***

 

A huge fleet of ships entered Terran space. It was not an invasion- but a homecoming. The USS Enterprise was bringing home the body of her master and commander, Admiral Jean Luc Picard. Species from all over the quadrant arrived; even those outside the Federation Alliance. A huge crowd gathered on the fields of his family’s farm where a pyramid was erected to hold his body for all to see. At 0800hrs on a Tuesday morning, the body of Jean Luc Picard was beamed from his vessel to the top of the pyramid.

Twelve men spoke, including Worf, who echoed the sympathies of the Klingon people. He sang a song in his native tongue about his great Captain…he could not think of a greater way to honor him. Others called him the greatest statesmen the Federation ever produced next to Sarak, Spock’s father. Others would say he was simply the Federation’s finest warrior, peacemaker, and friend. Admiral Janeway said Picard had been one of the most pivotal men in Federation history, and he would be missed…

Across the field a man with chiseled features listened to the words spoken of Admiral Picard. Of all the deaths he had to oversee in his career this was by far the most unpleasant. But Picard’s death was not only necessary for the security of Section 31; it pulled the entire Federation to a new level of awareness: the universe was dangerous- so much so it took their beloved Picard away from them. Section 31 had been successful yet again; with the building blocks of the Great Plan complete- it was time to get to the real work…

 

Another ceremony, another sky, another star…somewhere out there was one of General Cain’s deepest desires…revenge. Looking deep into space, a single word came in a whisper from his lips…

“Breen”


[1] J Dillard. The Lost Years. Pocket Books;New York,NY. 1989

[2] J Dillard. The Lost Years. Pocket Books;New York,NY. 1989

[3] J Dillard. The Lost Years. Pocket Books;New York,NY. 1989

[4] J Dillard. The Lost Years. Pocket Books;New York,NY. 1989

[5] The name in Romulan is far more impressive than the translation…

[6] One side of Remus always faces the sun.

[7] Star Trek Genreations. Paramount Pictures.