written by Travis Cannon

The hallway out in front of him was dark and foreboding. He looked out of the turbolift and blinked.

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe glanced over at his companion, Commander Robert Tuff, and raised an eyebrow. Tuff noticed the captain’s quizzical expression and gestured forward.

“This way, sir,” Tuff said.

Kelsoe gripped the crutch tightly with his hand, securing its place under his left armpit. He stepped forward, out of the turbolift, feeling a sharp pain run down his left side. He must have made a noise, because Tuff was offering his shoulder as support. Kelsoe waved it off with a smile.

“No thank you, Rob,” Kelsoe said. “I believe I can manage.”

Kelsoe hobbled forward with Tuff at his side. The hallway was indeed dark. The captain was shocked when Tuff had showed up at his quarters in the hospital and brought him here. Here? Where exactly were they? Kelsoe was wondering that himself when they had to go through a security check point before entering the turbolift. Now they were walking down a hallway, and Kelsoe had no idea what to expect. A door to their right opened and Kelsoe saw a Vulcan admiral, with his retinue, step out.

“Admiral Pavoc,” Tuff said, nodding as they walked past.

The Vulcan admiral gave a curt nod of recognition, and embarked away in the direction of the turbolift.

“Pavoc?” Kelsoe questioned. “The head of Starfleet Intelligence?”

“The very one, yes,” Tuff said, stepping sideways to allow an ensign to pass. The ensign looked young and in shape, Kelsoe figured that he was probably an aide.

“Commander,” Kelsoe said, feeling exacerbated. “Where exactly are we going?”

“We’re almost there, sir,” Tuff said.

A door to their right opened and a Starfleet officer wearing the rank marks of a commander stepped out. He smiled and nodded at Commander Tuff, and then looked over at Captain Kelsoe.

“Commander..., Captain,” the commander nodded, and extending his hand. Kelsoe extended his arm and they shook hands. “I’m Commander Peter Bradford, Starfleet Intelligence.”

Commander Connor Burt sat in his chair on the bridge of the U.S.S. Pioneer.  His attention was currently on the small panel in-between his chair and the captain’s. The interface system had just been updated by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. The new LCARS system was a little different than the previous one, but it did not require too much time to learn. With the captain down on Earth recovering from his injures, Commander Tuff on temporary assignment to Starfleet Intelligence, and Commander Braxis on leave, Burt was the only senior office left aboard.

Burt arched his head to look over at the science station. It was empty, as he expected. He leaned to his left and looked over his shoulder to see Lieutenant Norman Craig busy at work at his station.

“Lieutenant Craig?” Burt called.

Craig looked up. “Yes sir.”

“How’s the new system look to you?”

“Fine, sir. Fine.”

Burt nodded. “Ensign?” he said, directing his attention to Eric Zimmer at the helm.

Zimmer spun around in his chair.

“They’ve changed the helm controls a bit, sir,” he said spinning back around to face his console. “But it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“That’s good to know, Ensign,” Burt said adding a slight chuckle at the end.

Zimmer smiled and began going over the new helm controls.

Commander Burt stood up.

“Lieutenant,” Burt said.

Craig perked up.

“Yes, sir.”

“You have the conn,” Burt said, stepping away and stepping up towards the turbo-lift.

“Sir?” Craig questioned.

“Just taking a walk around the ship, Lieutenant,” Burt said. “Hey! Don’t sweat. We’re docked in space moorings. What could possibly go wrong?”

“Damn it!... All right, shut it off!” A bluish gas discharged from the compartment. “I said shut it off!”

“Yes, sir,” Kavoc said, standing at the engineering console. He immediately typed in the appropriate commands.

Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome lay flat on her back underneath the control station located right in front of the warp core. At her side was a tool box. She reached out and took one tool, replacing it with another.

“All right,” she said out loud, and not to anyone in particular. “I think this will work.”

Kavoc cocked his head and watched. He turned when the doors opened and Commander Burt strode into Engineering with a big grin on his face.

“Kavoc,” Burt said nodding.

“Sir,” Kavoc nodded in reply.

“Okay,” Joanna said from underneath the console. “Try now!”

“Beginning starting sequence,” Kavoc said, looking down at the console in front of him.

The was a sudden surge of power in the station, which quieted as quickly as it had come, replaced by a soft humming noise.

“Yes!” cried Joanna, who crawled out from underneath the station.

Burt looked down at her puzzled.

“Everything all right, Joanna?” Burt inquired.

Now!” Joanna said triumphantly. “Here, give me a hand.”

Joanna reached up with her hand, and Burt took it. He helped her up to her feet and she thanked him.

“So, how’s the new warp core?” Burt inquired.

“Starfleet and its crazy ideas,” Joanna said rolling her eyes. She bent down and picked up the tool box, placing the tool back in it and closing it. She then handed it to Kavoc, who went to return it to its holder. “The Corps thinks that they can fix every little problem in the engineering of something... Instead they screw everyone up.” She chuckled.

“Messed with your baby, did they?” Burt said grinning.

“Hey, don’t you laugh at me,” Joanna said. “You know they, the same as I, that every ship - every warp core, for that matter - as a mind of its own.”

“You bet,” Burt said looking up at the glowing blue of the warp core. “I remember once on the Constant, Captain Mantada wanted me to prepare the core for a five day warp travel. Of course, back then, and in the Constant, those particular warp cores could not handle that sort of thing. And our core had a nasty temper if she was ever forced to go at full speed for more than three days. But, Mantada wanted her ready just the same. I told her that the core wouldn’t be able to handle such a long duration, and she just made it a direct order. And you know what the warp core did? It decided to malfunction two days before we were suppose to leave. Now tell me that that thing didn’t know what was going on!”

When he finished his story, they both laughed.

“So,” Burt said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “How’s the Pioneer? She holding up well to the changes?”

“Well, I can tell you that she didn’t like strangers fooling around with her,” Joanna said, grinning. “But I believe we’ve got her ready for the Captain, when he returns.”

“Good...,” Burt said looking around. “That’s good.”

Burt’s commbadge chirped.

“Burt here,” he said.

“Commander,” it was Craig. “We’ve got an urgent call from Admiral Truman on the line.”

“Patch him through to Engineering,” Burt said.

He nodded to Joanna and then stepped over to a console with a small square shaped view screen on it. It blinked on as soon as he reached it. The cold blue eyes of Admiral Christopher Truman started back at him.

“Commander Burt,” Truman said with a deep gravely voice. It reminded Burt of his old drill instructor at the Academy. “I believe we’ve met before, son.”

“Yes, sir,” Burt said. “At the So’ja and Federation's first official meeting, over ten years ago.”

“Sharp memory,” Truman said. “I like that. Remember what fleet the Pioneer was commissioned under?”


“Answer the question, son,” Truman said. “Do you remember what fleet the Pioneer was commissioned under?”

“Of course, sir, the Third,” Burt said. “Why?”

“I’m the new Third Fleet Commander,” Truman said. “Admiral McCloud just made it official. And as my first official act as Fleet Commander, I’m sending you on a wild goose chase.”

“Are there geese roaming the stars now, sir?” Burt said jokingly.

“This is no laughing matter, Commander!” snapped Truman. “It involves Tyson Calok.”

“Oh,” Burt said, his expression changed immediately. “What are your orders, sir?”

“We’ve got word from a Dinokian transport that Calok’s been seen around the Dallos Cluster,” Truman said. “I’m going to send the Pioneer to investigate.”

“With all do respect, sir,” Burt said. “The Pioneer’s in no condition for this. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to send the Shoemaker or the Marques?”

“Maybe,” Truman said, nodding. “But the Pioneer has the most experience with Calok. You’re the best for the job.”

“But the Captain and the Chief of.....!”

“Doesn’t matter,” Truman interrupted, holding up his hand to silence Burt. “I’ve made my decision and its final. Get underway at fifteen hundred hours. Don’t worry, I’m sending the Fortune to rendezvous with you. No buts, Command. Truman out.”

Burt looked at the screen in frustration. He turned around and looked at Joanna.

“Can we be ready to leave by fifteen hundred?”

Captain Kelsoe starred through the two-way mirror at the So’ja operative sitting in the room on the other side of the mirror. They stood in a dark and dim room listening to the interrogation. Kelsoe turned and looked at Commander Robert Tuff, who shrugged. Kelsoe turned and looked back into the room. Commander Peter Bradford was in the other room with the prisoner. A door on the right side of the two-way mirror opened and Bradford entered the room. He shrugged his shoulders and rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand.

“He just won’t talk,” Bradford said.

“Of course,” Tuff said.

Bradford turned and looked at Tuff.

“Yes, Commander Tuff?”

“The So’ja are very proud people, Commander,” Tuff said, stepping forward and gesturing towards the prisoner. “He failed his mission. No matter what, he considers his life over. If he returns home now, it would be in disgrace. He would most likely be executed for his failure.” Tuff paused for a beat. “So, he sees no need in assisting us, because no matter what... he’s already dead.”

“In his mind,” Bradford said. “But he’s not. He’ll break. Everybody breaks. It’s just a matter of time.” Bradford paused and glanced over at Kelsoe. “What do you think, Captain?”

Kelsoe shifted his weight, and leaned against the wall.

“I’m sorry, Commander, but I must agree with Commander Tuff,” Kelsoe said.

Bradford cracked a smile.

“Whatever,” Bradford said, lifting his hands up into the air. “I know it is true. You are the soldiers... I, well, I am an expert interrogator.”

Suddenly the door that Kelsoe and Tuff had entered the dark room opened. Admiral Anton and his entourage - Jovan Diggs, Anton’s personal assistant, Admiral Pavoc, the head of Starfleet Intelligence, Admiral Duston McCloud, the head of Starfleet Operations, as well as some other Admirals and their assistants.

“Admiral,” Bradford nodded.

“Commander Bradford,” Anton said, nodding in response. Then turning towards Kelsoe and Tuff. “Captain Kelsoe, Commander Tuff.”

“Admiral.” Kelsoe and Tuff nodded.

“So,” Anton said, shifting his attention back to Bradford. “Report.”

Bradford cleared his throat before beginning. “The subject is unwilling to talk, Admiral.” Bradford paused. “Commander Tuff believes it is because of the disgrace the subject already feels at being captured and failing to complete his mission.”

Anton nodded. “Indeed.”

“Sir!” Tuff said stepping forward.

“Commander Tuff?” Anton said, turning to face Tuff.

“I don’t think that Commander Bradford fully understands his subject,” Tuff said.

“Now wait just a damn...!” Bradford began.

“Admiral,” Kelsoe said, interjecting. “I’m afraid I must agree with Commander Tuff.”

“Admiral, I most protest,” Bradford objected.

Admiral Anton raised his hand to silence Bradford. He turned and had a quiet conversation with Admiral Pavoc and Admiral McCloud. After a while Anton turned around and nodded.

“Okay, Tuff,” Anton said. “You can try.”

Burt leaned forward in his chair.


“Three minutes until we reach the Dallos Cluster, sir,” Zimmer said in response.

Burt nodded. He stood up and walked up to the Operations station.

“Lieutenant Craig?”

“Yes, sir?” Craig inquired.

“Did the sensor pick up anything?”

Craig looked down at his console and punched in the appropriate commands. The new LCARS system lit up on the screens on the console in-front of him. Craig scrolled through the analytical text on the LCARS screen. Burt leaned against the Operations station and looked down at the screens.

“Anything, Lieutenant?” Burt inquired.

Craig’s brow furrowed. Burt noticed.


“Nothing, sir,” Craig said.

“What?!” Burt stepped up and around the station to look down at the console. He pressed the console and looked down at the LCARS menus. He punched the appropriate buttons and the analytical text popped up on the screen again.

“Your right,” Burt said surprised, he almost began to chuckle. “All this text and still the sensors pick up nothing unusual, just the material and other matter of the cluster.”

“Sir, approaching Dallos Cluster,” Zimmer said from his station.

Burt looked up and nodded.


He stepped out from behind the Operations station and stepped down into the center of the bridge.

“Take us out of warp, Ensign,” Burt said.

“Aye, aye,” Zimmer said.

Burt watched as the stars began stagnate white dots on the screen.

“Come about and bring us to bear with the Cluster,” Burt said as he turned and sat down in the command chair. He watched as the stars spun and slowly slowed, and the purplish gaseous vapors that made up the Dallos Cluster came into view.

Suddenly the proximity alarm went off.

Burt looked over his shoulder at the Operations station.


“Sensors are reading a three trans-warp signatures coming up fast,” Craig said, his eyes scanning the console in front of him.

“From what direction!” Burt said, and grew impatient. “Now, Lieutenant!”

“They’re coming from behind us, sir,” Craig said.

Burt nodded. “On screen.”

The view screen flashed to show the back of the Pioneer. Burt stood up, clutching the arms of the command chair.

“My God...!”

Beyond the tips of the ship’s nacelles he could just make out three Borg cubes flying in a tight formation.

“Red Alert!”

The bridge’s lights switched to a crimson color, bathing the entire bridge in a red glow. Burt spun around on his heel.

“Give me weapons, Mr. Craig!” he barked.

“Weapons malfunctioning....,” Craig stammered. “The Dallos Cluster must be interfering with our systems!”

Burt turned around to watched the view screen. The three Borg cubes were approaching them very quickly. They would be on them at any moment. Burt slowly sat down into the command chair.

“Ensign,” he said as calming as he could. “Can we go to warp?”

“Negative, sir,” Zimmer said. “The helm is not responding.”

The Borg cubes were almost on them. Burt said a little prayer to himself and closed his eyes. He felt the ship shake violently and he thought it was the end. Using all of his courage that he could muster he opened his eyes to see the Borg cubes speeding past them.

“What the...,” Burt’s question was answered before could finish it.

As the Borg cubes disappeared into the distance, and small scout vessel zoomed passed and appeared to be following them.

Burt bolted up from his seat.

“Lieutenant...? Talk to me,” Burt said.

“The scout ship appears to be of Orion design, sir,” Craig said. “I’m picking up one life-sign and... sir, you’re not going to believe this. It’s human.”

Burt turned around and squinted his eyes. “Human?”

“Yes, sir.”

Burt stood there with his jaw slightly ajar. He then turned to face Tracy Carson.

“Ms. Carson, would you hail that ship,” Burt said.

“Opening hailing frequencies, sir,” Tracy said, and nodded.

Burt turned to face the view screen.

“To Orion vessel, this is Commander Connor Burt of the United Federation starship Pioneer, please respond,” Burt said.

The view screen blinked and a pair of red eyes met his.

“Calok!” Burt exclaimed.

“Sorry, Commander,” Calok said in a mischievous voice. “I don’t have time for idle chitchat, I’m behind schedule.”

Calok terminated the transmission and Burt watched as Calok’s ship speed away after the Borg cubes.

“What could Calok want with the Borg?” Craig inquired.

“I think a better question would be, why are the Borg running away from Calok?” Burt said looking of his shoulder at the Lieutenant standing behind the Operations console. “Ensign Zimmer, do you have helm control back?”

“Helm control has been restored, sir,” Zimmer said. “Orders?”

“Set course to follow that bastard,” Burt said settling down in the command chair.

“Course plotted in, sir,” Zimmer reported.


Kelsoe left the mug from the table and pressed the rim to his lips. He felt hot coffee pour onto his tongue. He savored the blend and swallowed. He sighed and placed the mug back down on the table and looked up into the face of Admiral Anton.

“Where’d the hell did you get real coffee, Harry?” Kelsoe inquired.

Admiral Harold Anton shifted in his chair and looked down at his mug.

“I know some people in Italy, around Tuscany,” Anton said. “Mainly family. My old man’s brother - ha, my uncle Bruno - lives there. They, my uncle Bruno that is, believe only in consuming what you grow yourself, nothing artificial - that means no synthetics.”

“No synthetics! Ha! How do they live?” Kelsoe joked.

Anton smiled. “Yeah, well, they get by. Uncle Bruno sends me some fresh ground coffee once a month. Darlene really likes it.”

“How is your wife?”

“Fine, doing great,” Anton said, giving a weak smile. “She’s gone right now, off commanding the nineteenth fleet near Starbase 24.”

“And the children?”

“Both doing fine, Ben,” Anton said, now smiling ear to ear. “Lilly’s planning on attending an art institute in Paris, and Stephanie’s looking forward to winter recess.” He paused and sipped his coffee. “Why the sudden interest in my family?”

“I like to think that were friends, Harry,” Kelsoe said. “And as friends, I’d like to keep in touch with what’s going in with you and your family.”

Anton smiled.

“Friends, huh?”

They both began to laugh, but were quickly silenced when Lieutenant Peter Bradford strode into the room. Anton slide his thermos over, and poured some of the fresh coffee into another mug sitting on the table. Bradford walked up picked up the mug and gulped down the coffee before sitting down. Bradford grabbed the thermos and poured himself another cup full of coffee.

“Anything new to report, Bradford?” Anton inquired.

Bradford sipped the coffee and sighed.

“Nothing, yet, sir,” he said softly. “The damn bastard is keeping his mouth shut.”

“Well, we have two of them, don’t we?” Kelsoe inquired, remembering the failed assassination attempted and the thereafter battle in Golden Gate Park.

“Yes,” Bradford nodded. “The only thing we have been able to get out of them is their names: So’han and Ba’fos.”

“Do we have any records of them?” Anton inquired.

“According to our information that we obtained from the defector a couple of years ago...,” Bradford began.

“You mean Major Kroge,” Kelsoe said, not as a question, but as a fact.

“Yes, the information from Major Kroge,” Bradford confirmed and then continued. “Ba’fos is a doctor, and his So’han appears to have an affair with Na’fa, Chancellor Ar’kon’s daughter.”

“So you think that So’han was sent on a suicide mission by Ar’kon?” Anton asked.

“Far from it. I believe that Ar’kon - though he most currently did not like him - sent So’han and his team to assassinate the president - very much wanting it to succeed. It failed and now So’han and one of his team have been captured. I believe that was the so’ja doctor who had performed the cosmetic surgery to make the so’ja operatives appear human. Ba’fos has actually be most up front and open with us.” Bradford chuckled a bit. “The good doctor could not stomach what we might do to him if he did not talk - so he talked.”

Both Kelsoe and Anton nodded.

“What else as Ba’fos told you?”

“Only that the mission they were on was part of something larger, beyond his understanding or security clearance,” Bradford said with pursed lips. “For that we’d have to get more out of So’han.”

Commander Connor Burt gripped the arms of his chair tightly. The Pioneer was in pursuit of Tyson Calok, who was in pursuit of three Borg cubes. What Calok was planning, Burt did not know - part of him did not want to know. On the view screen Burt saw the dark purple colored dust clouds of the Dallos Cluster approaching fast. He cocked his head to his right.


“Yes, sir!” Craig answered from his station.

“Can you get a fix on Calok’s ship?”

“Aye,” Craig said.

“Magnify!” commanded Burt.

The view screen blinked and Burt now saw an image of Calok’s small scout vessel. The vessel’s cockpit was small, and only took up a small section of the vessel’s complete bulk. Most of it was dedicated to engines and something that Burt could yet not place, but he had a gut feeling that it wasn’t good.

Calok’s vessel curt left and one of the Borg cubes came into view.

“Distance?” Burt inquired.

“We’re almost on top of them, sir!” Zimmer responded from the helm.

“Slow to impulse and bring us up perpendicular beyond to Calok’s vessel,” Burt order, and then muttered under his breath, “Just in case something bad happens.”

Calok’s vessel seemed to hover for a moment in front of the fleeing Borg cube, when suddenly a light blue pulse radiated from the vessel’s nose. Burt, unsure of what he was seeing, slowly stood. The blue pulse became a beam of light that pulsated away from Calok’s vessel towards the Borg cube. The shaft of light collided with the Borg cube and Burt nearly fell backward as he tried to cope with what he was seeing. As soon as the blue pulse light hit the massive cube a bright light engulfed space and the cube veered wildly out of control until, like a sonic boom, the cube began to burst. The cube shook violently and began to fall apart. Then with a bright blast of blind blue light, the cube vanished in the destructive power of Calok’s secret weapon.

The two other Borg cubes stopped and immediately rotated on their axis, only to be struck by the pulse weapon from Calok vessel. Burt watched in awe and horror as Calok destroyed all of the Borg cubes. Each one vanishing in a burst of light the color of tropical water.

“Shockwave approaching fast!” Craig shouted from his station.

Burt jerked his head to his right.

“All hands brace for impact!” he shouted.

As he gave the command, Burt turned to grab onto the chair’s arms, but just as he jumped around the shockwave hit, and hit hard. Burt felt himself go flying into the air. His body rammed up against the top of the bridge and was then knocked back down. Alarms and hissing steam seem to sprout from all over the place. Somewhere someone shouted that the shield were down. Burt collapsed onto the floor of the bridge and could feel the Pioneer spinning out of control. He reached out, searching for the railing between the center of the bridge and the step down towards the helm. He found it and wrapped his fingers around the cold metal.

“Turn us into the wave!” he shouted, unsure if anyone could hear his command over all the noise.

“Turning!” Zimmer’s voice sound like it was coming from a great distance.

Burt looked up and saw the spinning stars in the view screen. He took a quick breath and then grunted as he hauled himself up, using the railing as his ladder. The ship was still shaking violently, and he had difficultly standing, but he did. Despite the spinning stars, Burt could see the shape of Calok’s vessel as it turned about, surveying the damage and destruction that had been caused by his weapon. Burt swore to himself as he saw Calok’s vessel disappear as it jumped to warp.

The Pioneer was hit by the remnants of the what once were Borg cubes. Burt could hear the debris bang and bounce off the hull of the ship. With the shield down, and the ship spinning out of control, there was no telling were the debris was hit. Eventually Zimmer seemed to get control of the ship.

“Thank god that’s over,” Craig said aloud. Burt looked up at the Operations officer, and hoped he was right.

He looked back towards the view screen, where the stars were not steady and the vast cloud vapors of the Dallos Cluster settled not far off. That’s when Burt’s eyes caught something in the distance. It was coming towards them at a rapid velocity. Craig had spoke to soon.

The large debris was half the size of the Pioneer and it was hurling straight towards them. Burt jumped down behind Zimmer and gripped the edge of Zimmer’s chair.

“Evasive maneuvers!” he shouted.

Though it he had had time to react, Burt felt that it was to late. The massive section of the Borg’s cube was on them in a matter of moments. In that short amount of time Zimmer only had enough time to turn the ship so that the port side was facing the tumbling chunk of debris.

“Everyone hold on!” Burt yelled.

He closed his eyes and awaited the impact.

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe leaned against his crutch as he stood, with Commander Robert Tuff, in the dim observation room watching Commander Peter Bradford interrogate So’han. It had not gone well so far. So’han would not talk, and when he did, it would only be to insult Bradford, which only made matter worse. Kelsoe could see that Bradford was becoming agitated and frustrated. If So’han would not relent soon, Kelsoe feared that Bradford might lose control.

Inside the interrogation room, the atmosphere was tense. Bradford was not used to this - he always was able to make his subjects talk. But this so’ja was nothing like any other prisoner he had interrogated. He furrowed his brow as he looked sidelong at So’han. He rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Let me get this straight,” Bradford said. “All you have to say is, ‘Long live the Coalition. Long live Chancellor Ar’kon’?”

So’han did not budge.

Bradford sighed in frustration. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Assume,” mumbled So’han.

Bradford glared over the table at him.

“Excuse me?”

“Assume,” grumbled the so’ja. “That is what you fleshy creatures do. You assume that you have rights. Bah! You had no right to come to our world and tell us how we should live and govern ourselves. We had been living for long before you came. Our government and society was fine. Until the Federation came and ruined everything. You and your ideas of rights and equality. Ka’al had never heard of such words. We were ruled by a king, and it was glorious. We had pride, worth, merit, substance. But then you Federation come with your technology and your ideology and tell us about freedom and equality. You encouraged revolution, and set up a puppet government that you dared to call a democracy.” So’han’s reptilian eyes blinked. “Democracy is not for the So’ja people. We are not human. We are So’ja!”

“Oh really, and what does that mean?” Bradford said, leaning forward.

“To be So’ja is to be pure,” So’han said. “To be So’ja is to be courageous and glorious. It is beyond the comprehension of your puny mind.” So’han spat at Bradford.

Bradford suddenly lost all his self-restraint. He flung across the table and wrapped his hands tightly around So’han throat. Startled, both Kelsoe and Tuff rushed, the former crippled and limping, into the interrogation room and tried to restraint Bradford, but his force of will was too powerful. He tightened his hold around So’han throat.

“That’s right,” gurgled So’han. “Prove my point. Human kind is a barbarian race.”

“Tell me what I want to know!” Bradford said.

“Or what?” hissed So’han. “You’ll kill me! Huh? I’d welcome death. I will die gloriously for my people.”

Bradford released So’han and Tuff, now that Kelsoe had given up realizing he was useless in his current state, pulled Bradford back.

“Calm yourself, Commander,” Tuff said softly into Bradford’s ear.

Bradford yanked himself out of Tuff grasp and stepped over to the wall. He took a deep breath and returned. He stared down at So’han.

Bradford said, “You can hide behind that pathetic self-glorification for only so long. I have other methods. Mark my words, So’han, I will make you talk!”

And with that Bradford, in a fit of rage, dash out of the room leaving a cloud of tension in his wake. Kelsoe and Tuff looked at each other and then back at So’han, who grinned dubiously.

Burt opened his eyes. The ship was still intact, at least the bridge was. He pulled himself up off the floor and looked around. He remembered the ship lurching and spinning, but it had come back under control. He gripped the edge of Zimmer’s chair and looked over at the startled CONN officer.

“Are you all right, ensign?” Burt inquired.

“Yes, sir, I’m fine,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know about the ship though. I’m not getting in response from the port nacelle.”

Burt nodded. He tapped his commbadge.

“Bridge to engineering, damage report.”

Joanna’s voice came over the intercom, “It’s pretty bad down here, sir. The port nacelle’s was hit hard... I’m afraid we’ll have to go without it.”

“Can we go to warp?” Burt inquired, a hiss of steam suddenly burst out from the left side of the bridge. Burt glanced over as bridge staff quietly rushed over to shut it down.

“Afraid not, sir,” Joanna said. “The warp core has a leak. All I can give you at the moment is impulse.”

“Do what you can,” Burt said. “Bridge out.”

Burt turned around and stepped up into the center of the bridge. Sparks exploded from behind the operation station. Lieutenant Craig quickly shut down his console, moving over to the tactical station. The repair staff rushed over to his station when he departed. After initializing the operation system on the tactical station, Craig looked up.

“Calok’s gone, Commander,” Craig said.

Burt nodded. “Yes, I know. I saw his ship go to warp. Can you pick up his trail?”

“Sorry sir,” Craig said, looking down at his console. “Sensors took a beating. I’m just barely able to get reading.”

Burt spun on his heals to face Tracy Carson.


“Negative, sir,” Tracy said, brushing her blond hair out of her eyes. “The communication array appears to have been damaged.”

“Is there anyway to send a message to Starfleet?” Burt inquired.

Tracy thought for a while, her eyes scanning across the bridge as she thought. She then returned her attention to Burt and he could tell that she had an idea because of the grin that slowly spread across her mouth.

“We could reprogram the deflector dish to send a message,” Tracy said. “Of course, we can only do that if the deflector dish is still operational.”

Burt turned and looked toward Craig for confirmation.

“Deflector dish is operational, sir.”

Burt nodded. “Then let’s do it.”

Admiral Anton sat behind his desk in Starfleet Headquarters. The doors to his office hissed opened and his personnel assistant, Commander Jovan Diggs, stepped in.


Anton looked up from the pile of data pads.

“Yes, Commander Diggs?” he inquired.

Diggs walked into the room and up to the desk, the doors hissed closed behind him.

“Captain Kelsoe and Commander Tuff are here to speak with you,” he said, and paused for a moment that told Anton some one else was also there.

“Who else?” Anton asked.

“Admiral McCloud, sir,” Diggs said.

Anton nodded his head. He had be expecting McCloud to show up sometime today considering the capture of the two So’ja operatives. Anton hesitated for a bit before speaking.

“Show them in,” Anton said.

“Even McCloud?”

“Yes, even McCloud.”

Diggs nodded and left the office, leaving Anton alone to finish reading over the document in his hand. He quickly put his thumb against a thumb pad and thumb-printed-document.

The doors hissed opened and Diggs reentered, this time leading Kelsoe, Tuff, and McCloud into the room. Anton stood up, nodding hello to each man, and then handed the PADD to Diggs.

“Take this to Admiral Pavoc’s office, Commander,” Anton said.

Diggs took the data pad into his hand, examined it, and then nodded. Diggs left the room, and Anton turned, looking at the three men standing in front of him. Anton noticed Kelsoe still had his crutch, and not wanting to be mean, offered Kelsoe the only seat available for guest. Kelsoe grinned, and nodded his thanks, and then took the seat.

“So,” Anton said, lean against the front of his desk. “What can I do for you?”

“Well,” Tuff said, stepping forward. “I’d like to voice my objections to Commander Bradford’s mistreatment of the prisoner.”

“Mistreatment?” Anton said, glancing from Kelsoe, who nodded his agreement, to McCloud, who looked unfazed, and then back to Tuff. “What has been going on?”

“Commander Bradford just tried to choke the prisoner,” Kelsoe said, looking up from his seated position.

“Really?” Anton said, shocked and a bit disgusted that a member of Starfleet would act in that manner. “He tried to choke the son of a bitch?”

“He did,” Tuff said, very stern and firm. “We practically had to pull him away from the prisoner.”

Anton looked from Tuff and Kelsoe. McCloud grunted, and therefore grabbed Anton’s attention. McCloud could have been standing in Anton’s position today, if he had been chosen to be the Starfleet Commander back when John Hayes, the previous Starfleet Commander, had been killed in an accident during the test flight of the new quantum slip stream drive aboard the U.S.S. Guanine. Anton was unsure whether he would have felt better or not having McCloud as the Starfleet Commander at this current juncture, with the looming conflict between the Federation and So’ja Coalition, Anton had no doubt that McCloud would be a warmonger. It had always been clear to Anton that McCloud was a man built to lead men in battle, not for the always political position of Starfleet Commander.

“Yes, Duston?”

“I just think you all might be losing the big picture,” McCloud said in a his dominating voice.

“The big picture?” blurted Kelsoe. “And what, pray tell, is that, Admiral!?”

“The So’ja are our enemy, Captain Kelsoe. So stomach it or resign.”

Connor Burt sat in his chair, frustrated that repairs were not yet complete. He looked about the bridge as the repair crews busied themselves about their respective tasks. Burt had been surprised when Joanna had sent up Crewman Second-Class Jake Phillips to take command of bridge repairs. Usually that was a job reserved to someone who had been with them long, like Ensign Kavoc, but Burt had to admit to himself that Lieutenant Commander Joanna Withrome probably needed all her best people with her to repair the warp core and get any warp factor out of it.

“Crewman Phillips,” Burt called the young crewman over.

Phillips, who was not used to speaking with senior staff members stepped down into the center of the bridge, a little nervous.

“How are repairs going?” Burt inquired.

“Fine, sir,” Phillips said, his nervousness showing.

Burt nodded. “How long until Lieutenant Craig can have his station back?”

“Under an hour, Commander,” Phillips said. “The wiring in the aft console must have short circuited when the shockwave hit, so it shouldn’t be too long.”

“Good,” Burt said nodding. “Do you know how the repairs are going in engineering?”

Phillips nodded. “Lt. Commander Withrome has the entire engineering staff working nonstop until she can give you warp drive.”

“Commander!” Ensign Tracy Carson came darting down into the center of the bridge. Burt stood up immediately, noticing the startled and almost frightened look on her face.

“What’s the matter, Tracy?”

“I was running a routine frequency check on the communication array when I picked up a faint channel that was not a standard Starfleet channel,” Tracy explained rapidly. “I took some time to analyze the signal, and my initial guess was right, it was So’ja. There’s a So’ja vessel somewhere out there transmitting this!” She produced a PADD and handed it to Burt.

Burt took it and read it: Liberation of the Rizac V penal colony has be successful. Awaiting further order.

Burt looked up.

“Rizac V penal colony?” he questioned. “Where do I remember that from?”

“It was the penal colony in which Tyson Calok was held,” Tracy explained. “We delivered him to that prison colony, personally. Don’t you remember, sir?”

Burt thought for a while, and remember the incident where Calok was able to switch bodies with Captain Kelsoe and had almost escaped with Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome as a hostage. He looked back up at Tracy, and his eyes told her that he remembered and understood the gravity of the situation.

“Can we transmit anything yet?” he inquired.

“No,” Tracy said. “Norman’s still working on converting the deflector dish.”

Burt felt his heart sink. His eyes then lit up when he thought of something.

“Crewman Phillips,” Burt said, turning and looking squarely at the young crewman. “I want you to remove as many people as you can from the task of repairing the bridge and work with Lieutenant Craig on converting the deflector dish to transmit a message. This is now your top priority, understand?”

“Yes, sir!” Phillips said, snapping to attention and then rushed cross the bridge to the science station to relieve the repair crews of that task.

Bradford put his phaser back in its holding and grinned. He leaned forwarded and reached out, gripping the side of the So’ja’s head. He pulled it back and his grinned widen.

“Now wasn’t that easier than you thought,” Bradford said.

“Commander, I most protest,” Captain Kelsoe said standing, propped on his crutch, behind Bradford.

Bradford straightened and turned on his heels to glare at Kelsoe.

“Admiral McCloud thinks differently than you,” Bradford said, and seeing how Admiral Anton did not object to McCloud’s proposal, I see no reason in stopping. Anyway, a little pain never does any harm.”

“Yeah, as long as you’re not the one receiving it,” Tuff said glaring at Bradford. “What if you were captured by the So’ja, would you like such treatment.”

“No matter,” Bradford said stepping away. “We’ve learned what we want from him. The rules never applied to him.”

Tuff grabbed Bradford’s arm, causing Bradford to stop and spin around to face him.

“Those rules you just violated were created for a reason, Commander!” Tuff explain, the angry in him nearly spilling out. “We are not barbarians anymore!”

Bradford rustled his arm away from Tuff’s grip.

“Our history would beg to differ... and our present,” Bradford said with a sardonic grin. “Besides, you heard Admiral McCloud, the So’ja are our enemy.” Bradford’s eyes darted to the doorway, where two security personnel appeared. “Ah, good, you’ve arrived.”

“Sir,” they both said, nodding in a curt acknowledgment.

“Well you please remove the Captain and Commander Tuff,” Bradford said, returning Tuff’s glare. “I have work to do, and they are in the way.” He walked up to Kelsoe, who clutched his crutch tighter. “If I were you, I’d leave before some one started thinking that you were sympathetic towards the enemy.”

Kelsoe squinted in the dim light. “The only treason here is being committed against the Federation Constitution... and its not by me.”

“That’s enough, Captain!” growled a fearsome voice. Kelsoe looked past Commander Bradford to see Admiral McCloud step into the room. McCloud raised his hand and pointed at Kelsoe and Tuff. “Remove those two.”

The two security personnel seized Kelsoe and Tuff. In the end Kelsoe and Tuff went peaceful out of the room. There was no longer need for any scene. As they were escorted out of the SI wing of the Starfleet Command building, Kelsoe felt that their protests were falling on deaf ears, and that included Admiral Anton. Kelsoe closed his eyes in sadness and despair. He never thought that Starfleet would stoop so low.

A small scout vessel dropped out of warp and swung to its right revealing a large fleet of So’ja Warships and Destroyers awaiting its pilot. The small scout vessel zoomed around and maneuvered its way to the flagship, and gracefully docked itself in the hanger deck.

A loud buzz announced that the vacuum had been replaced by oxygen and the vessel’s cockpit hissed and the top portion slide up and back, revealing the inner cockpit, where Tyson Calok remained fasten to the seat. He unbuckled himself and hopped out to be greeted by a Romulan Commander and a So’ja Admiral.

“Commander L’Mar,” Calok said, inclining his head. “Nicely done. Everything performs exactly as my diagrams and blueprints suggested it would.”

L’Mar inclined his head in a nod of thanks.

“The work is worth it,” L’Mar said, turning and looking at his So’ja colleague.

“Ah yes,” Calok said, grinning sardonically to himself. “How did your little operation go - I believe it’s admiral now, right? Admiral Da’note?”

The So’ja smiled the best he could. Da’note had received a promotion for the construction of the So’ja-Romulan Hybrid vessels, one of which they were now aboard. These ships were now the Warships of the So’ja Coalition and they practically made the Destroyer class ships obsolete, but he had decided not to decommissioned the older Destroyers, thinking that he would prefer the numbers for what was to come.

“The mission was a failure,” Da’note hissed, his disappointment clear. “So’han was clearly the incorrect so’jan to lead the operation.”

“Ah, but I beg to differ!” Calok said with a wicked smile. His red eyes lit up in a way that made both L’Mar and Da’note back away from him. “That little operation, though it failed in its attempt to kill the President of the Federation, was a success in distracting Starfleet long enough for us to liberate Rizac V!”

“Why would we care about a penal colony filled with humans?!” Da’note demanded, filling like Tyson Calok was putting him down on his own ship.

“Why, you ask?” Calok chuckled. “I’ll tell you,” he become deadly serious. “Every one of those damned souls has sworn allegiance to me. They are cutthroats and thieves, and will make very good grunts in our war with the Federation. Leave them to me.” Calok turned and started walking away.

“So they’ll be your own little private army,” Da’note called after Calok.

“I suggest we make our way towards our next target,” Calok said, not responding to Da’note’s question. Da’note had the sickening feeling that Calok was doing his nasty sardonic grin. Da’note turned and looked at L’Mar, who shrugged.

“I’d rather have him on my side than against me,” L’Mar said to his colleague, noting the distress on the reptilian's features.

Da’note looked at his Romulan friend and then back towards the departing Calok and could only nod in agreement.

Back in the interrogation room, Admiral McCloud looked down at the limp body of the so’ja operative named So’han. He smiled to himself and nodded to the security guards, who then removed the unconscious so’jan. McCloud turned and looked up.

“Computer,” he called out, and was responded by a soft chirp. “Lights to standard illumination.”

The computer chirped and beeped, and the lights raised to standard brightness. McCloud looked over at Commander Peter Bradford, who was leaning against the wall with a smug look on his face. McCloud stepped over to him and gave him a friendly pat on the arm.

“Well done, lad,” McCloud said. “So’ja are below us, just like all the other aliens. They don’t deserve the same treatment. They’re scum.”

Bradford grinned in response.

“Now,” McCloud said, stepping back and a grim look crossing his face. “It’s time we take care of the mole we have. Thanks to your work, we’ve discovered where he is. I wonder if what he said was true?”

“Which part, sir?” Bradford asked.

“That they killed him, after their clone was complete.”

The news of the assassination attempt had only become worse when Lieutenant Albert Buerk had learned that the prisoners being held at the Rizac penal colony had escaped with the help of a new and improved So’ja strike force. Buerk now stood in the office of Admiral Jonathan Dutton, and after giving the Admiral his report, he awaited his orders. The Admiral was not himself. He had been nervous and withdrawn since news of the assassination attempt reached Deep Space Five. Buerk had shrugged it off thinking that it was merely the shock of such a thing happening, but the news of the prisoner escape only seemed to intensify whatever feelings Dutton was experiencing.

“Is everything all right, Admiral?” Buerk inquired.

Dutton jerked his head up.

“What?! Oh, you’re still here... yes, yes, everything is fine,” muttered Dutton.

Buerk narrowed his eyes, something did not seem right.

“Are you sure, sir?” he asked stepping forward.

“Yes, yes,” Dutton nodded, very must agitated.

Buerk decided that he would call the doctor in and have Dutton sedated, when suddenly the red alert was set. The doors opened and six of Buerk’s security officers stepped into the room with their phasers drawn.


Buerk looked at them, with a shocked expression on his face.

“Lieutenant, step away from the Admiral,” one of the officer’s said.

“What’s this about?” Buerk said stepping back.

“It’s the Admiral, sir,” the officer said, pointing his phaser at Dutton. “We’ve just receive word from Starfleet Command: He’s to be arrested.”

“What?” Buerk said. “Arrest Admiral Dutton?”

“Yes, sir. He’s a clone.”

Buerk turned and looked over at the Admiral, who was very much agitated at this point. Buerk reached for his phaser. Just then the Admiral stood up holding his phaser and shot out blindly. Buerk watched in horror as the beam struck one of his officers, who then disappeared in a burst of red glow and screaming noise.


Dutton dodged the beams of light very quickly. He seemed to be moving faster than possible. Buerk shook his head and reminded himself that he was not aiming at Admiral Dutton, but a clone. Dutton fired again and another officer vaporized in a beam of bright red light. Buerk then watched as Dutton tapped the back side of his left hand and held it up to his lips.

“I’ve been discovered!” Dutton cried into the hidden transmitter.

And with that a sudden burst of greenish light engulfed the Admiral and he disappeared, transported off the station. Buerk and his men rushed forward and surround the empty spot where the clone Admiral had once stood. Buerk cursed to himself and issued orders to his men to search the station. When his men had left on their respective tasks, he turned his attention to the view screen on the wall.

“Computer,” he said softly. “Connect with Starfleet Command Emergency Channel, authorization: Buerk Charlie-Gamma-Zeta.”

“So the clone has escaped,” Admiral Anton said, standing behind his desk. 

Captain Kelsoe and Commander Tuff, along with Commander Bradford, Admiral McCloud, and the rest of the senior staff stood around the Starfleet Commander’s desk. “And according to Lieutenant Buerk, the Rizac penal colony as been raided by So’ja ships and freed. This is unacceptable!” Anton fumed.

“The So’ja want a war, Harry,” growled McCloud. “And by God, I say let’s give it to them.”

“Hold your tongue,” Anton said, glaring at McCloud.

Kelsoe was almost amazed to see McCloud back down and remain quiet.

“It is not our place to declare war,” Anton said. “I’m going to have to take this information to the Federation Council and then I’ll speak directly with President Mot.”

The doors hissed opened and Commander Jovan Diggs rushed into the room.

“Admiral, excuse the interruption,” Diggs said. “But I have the Pioneer on channel five with some news I believe you should hear.” Diggs made his way over to the small view screen mounted on the wall and pressed in the appropriate commands. The view screen lit up and Kelsoe saw the face of his first officer, Connor Burt. The transmission was degraded and of poor quality, but Burt’s voice was still clear enough to understand.

“Admiral Anton,” Burt said, inclining his head. “We’ve just spent the last couple of hours reconfiguring the deflector dish to send a transmission.”

“Yes, yes,” Anton said, waving his hand in a gesture that said get to the point. “Very interesting! What’s the news that is so important?”

“Tyson Calok, sir,” Burt explained. “Admiral Truman sent us to the Dallos Cluster because of a rumor of him being sighted. Well, we saw him, and he has a new weapon. A weapon so powerful that it can destroy a Borg Cube!”

Admiral McCloud burst out into laughter.

“Come now, Commander, surely you can’t be serious.”

“I’m dead serious, Admiral,” Burt said looking towards McCloud. “We saw it with our own eyes. If our communication array was functioning I’d have our sensor scans sent to prove it, but at the moment that is impossible.”

“Calok has a weapon that can destroy the Borg?” Anton said stumbling back, looking over at the collective group of Admirals.

“Sir,” Kelsoe said, limping forward on his crutch. “This news deserves the same respect as Admiral Dutton’s clone. Calok and the So’ja are working together, and I must agree with Admiral McCloud, as much as I regret it, that the So’ja’s aim is war. That’s what Calok would be wanting, too. You must report this to the Federation Council.”

Anton nodded.

“You’re right, Ben,” Anton said inclining his head, and falling back into his chair.

Kelsoe turned his attention to the view screen.

“Connor, do you have warp power?” Kelsoe inquired.

Burt looked over to his right and nodded to an officer off-screen. He then turned back to respond.

“I’ve just been informed that engineering has warp factor one available, but that’s too...,” Burt began.

“I’ll take it!” Kelsoe said. “Use what you have and make your way back to Deep Space 5. I’ll meet you there.”

Burt nodded. “Pioneer out.”

The view screen blinked to the Federation logo and then when blank. Kelsoe turned to Admiral Anton, as did the rest of the group.

“Your orders, sir.”