EPISODE 6.51 - “Dawn”
written by Travis Cannon
“On screen,” Kelsoe gave the command, though something in his gut had told him not to.
Everyone became fixated on the view screen as the image flickered from the vast So'jan fleet to the dark interior of the enemy bridge. Staring back out at them were a pair of glowing red eyes.
“Hello, Captain,” came the haunting voice of Tyson Calok. He leaned forward, his face coming out of the shadows, lit from below, a true demon incarnate.
Tuff remained standing, but was soon joined by Kelsoe. Kelsoe stepped forward slightly and glared at Calok.
“What do you want, Calok?” Kelsoe demanded.
“Only to speak,” was Calok's response.
Kelsoe inhaled deeply through his nostrils. “Well, then speak.”
Calok grinned. It was not a pleasant sight, fore such a grin was done by someone who had just achieved what he wanted.
“Very well, Captain,” Calok said, his red eyes barring down on the captain. “I have only one word to say to you, Benjamin Kelsoe.”
“Yeah, and what might that be?” Kelsoe demanded.
For a moment everything around Kelsoe seemed to spin and become a blur, his eyes however remained fixated on the deep red glow of Calok's eyes. The spinning continued, he closed his eyes, feeling dizzy.
Then it stopped, and he opened his eyes.
The Revenge immediately began to fire on them. The ship rocked with each impact. Sparks flew across the bridge.
“Lower the shields,” Kelsoe ordered.
“Uh, sir... What?” a confused Craig asked from the operations station.
Tuff's face filled with a perplex look. “Captain?”
Kelsoe pointed his index finger at Craig.
“I said lower the shields!” Kelsoe barked. “That was an order, Lieutenant Craig!”
“Uh, aye sir,” Craig said, turning his attention to his console. “Lowering shields.”
Commander Tuff shook his head. “Belay that order!”
“You heard me, Lieutenant!” Tuff said.
Kelsoe turned towards Tuff.
“Captain... what's going on?” Tuff inquired, stepping forward.
“I want the shields lowered!” Kelsoe screamed. “Obey my orders!”
Tuff rushed up to restraint him, but Kelsoe threw him off and hurled him towards the damaged science station. Tuff fell back and hit his head against the bulk head. He fell to the floor. Kelsoe raged and dashed to the helm, shoving Ensign Zimmer out his seat.
“If you won't do it, then I will!”
The first officer shook his head, clearing his thoughts. “Craig, lock him out of the helm!” Tuff ordered.
Craig nodded. “Done!”
Valdez nodded and tapped his commbadge.
“Security to the bridge!” he said.
With in moments a security detail appeared. Tuff stood up and signaled for them to restraint Kelsoe, who had begun pounding the helm console in frustration.
“Lower the shields, damn you!” Kelsoe raged. “I am your captain. You must obey me! Now!”
As security pulled him from the helm, Zimmer quickly took his seat and activated the console. Tuff, meanwhile, slipped into his chair.
“Take the captain to the brig,” Tuff said, still confused. “And Mr. Zimmer, set a course to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet. Engage.”
On the Revenge, Calok leaned forward and watched as the Pioneer banked right and went to warp. He closed his eyes, and chuckled.
“Let the game begin.”
Tuff gripped the arms of the command chair, feeling out of place. Kelsoe's sudden change was too hard to believe. He looked up at the view screen; the stars streaked by as they zoomed away from the massacre at Minark.
“Tuff to engineering,” Tuff called out. “How are we down there?”
“We're still in one piece, if that's what you mean,” came Joanna's voice. “The shields took most of the beating, and we have a few hull breaches, but the force fields held. All in all I think we'll come out of this fairly well. The Deflective Hull Platting is what really saved us.”
“Good to know,” Tuff said.
“Sir,” Joanna's voice came softer. “Is it true, what I've been hearing... about the Captain.”
Tuff brow furrowed. “I'm afraid so.” He paused. “Can we maintain warp?”
“The core's fine, sir,” Joanna said, getting back to business. “My only concern is the right nacelle, it took some beating, but it's holding.”
“Okay,” Tuff said. “Report back if anything else comes up, Tuff out.”
Tuff stood and stepped over to the communications station.
“Anything from the Skyfox?”
“Its all a bit jumbled, sir,” Tracy replied. “But I am getting a signal... It's Captain Tellening, she's changing the rendezvous to Deep Space Five. She's ordering the fleet to remain in warp until then.”
“Send our acknowledgement,” Tuff ordered.
“Shall I inform them about the captain?” Tracy asked.
Tuff looked around at the bridge crew and shook his head. “For the moment, no. Let's keep this in the family.”
“Aye, sir,” Tracy nodded her understanding.
Commander Tuff, with a grim outlook, turned back to the helm and stepped down into the bridge center. “Continue on course, Mr. Zimmer.”
The energy beam flashed green and Calok materialized beside L'mar aboard the command center of the Mass Driver. The Romulan inclined his head as he watched the bombardment proceed.
“We'll have to destroy Minark,” Calok said.
L'mar cocked his head, confused. “Tyson?”
Calok turned sharply and gripped L'mar throat. “Minark must burn! They must witness the strength of our resolve.” He released his grip and L'mar stumbled back, clutching his throat.
“Of course,” he inclined his head in submission. He turned to the corporal. “Charge up the plasma beam injectors, and prepare the annihilation array.”
The so'jan corporal grinned with delight.
Calok straightened his back. “Tonight our plans will come to fruition. And all will know the full power at our disposal.”
“Injectors at thirty percent,” the corporal called out from his station.
Tyson Calok shifted, placing his hands, locked, behind his back. He glared across at the wall screen, showing a crater riddled surface of the once peaceful planet of Minark.
“Injectors at sixty percent.”
Commander L'mar stood beside his master. “Are we not getting ahead of ourselves, Tyson?”
Calok shook his head. “No, my friend,” he said softly, his eyes glowing slightly. “It is time. The Federation's back has been broken, and it is time for us to reveal ourselves. The First Ones original discovered it, but failed to see the significance of such raw power.”
“And the Oppressors?”
“They perfected it,” Calok said.
“Into a perfect weapon, yes,” L'mar said. “But your modifications to the projectile... I fail to see the significance of such alterations to the energy pattern.”
“Eighty percent,” the corporal droned on.
“Dr. Eyota's research was the final piece of the puzzle,” Calok said. “Without his knowledge of the energy particles in sub-space, the Plasma Pulse would be of no use.”
“But a Mass Driver is design to hurl plasma projectiles, not energy beams,” L'mar protested.
Calok cocked his head towards his friend and grinned. “Ah, but this one is.”
“Injectors at maximum,” the corporal turned from his station. “Plasma Pulse is charging.”
Calok turned back to the screen. “You'll want to watch this, Telek. It is not every day you get to destroy a whole world.”
L'mar inhaled and looked down at the floor. He was beginning to doubt some of his decisions.
“Plasma Pulse is steady, sir,” the corporal hissed in glee.
Calok looked over at L'mar and grinned. “Fire.”
The firing chamber of the Mass Driver glowed bright blue and pulsed as the color dimmed and charged to a slime green. The massive vessel glowed brightly and then seemed to shudder as all power was diverted to the primary weapon. As the power divert the light arrays, all over the ship, dimmed. The firing chamber glowed with more intensity until the slime green tint faded into hot white. And then, with a great groan, an intense white energy beam burst from the firing chamber and hurled towards the planet below.
King Ar'kon reveled in the celebration of his coronation. He had declared that the day be made a public holiday, with feasts and games. Plus all those who did not celebrate would be executed by burning; an old form of punishment that he believed should be brought back. According to the ancient so'jan mystics, dying by burning was the ultimate way to be brought before Ba'gee for judgment. Those who were not worthy of being in His presence would then have their soul consumed by fire. Ar'kon grinned as he watched fifty such demonstrations in the square below.
“A wonderful sight,” he exclaimed. “Don't you agree?”
The First Legate to the Senate and So'jan people nodded submissively. Hasz'fos was clearly not watching.
Ar'kon took a deep breath.
“Breathe deeply, my friend,” Ar'kon narrowed his eyes as he watched Hasz'fos shudder in terror. “Today is a great day for the So'jan people. Our Kingdom has been restored and the Federation has finally learned that we are not be trifled with.”
The balcony doors opened and Admiral Isen'ko stepped out. He stepped up behind Ar'kon and whispered into his ear hole.
“Really?” Ar'kon smiled.
“What?” Hasz'fos asked, his voice trembling with fear.
“It appearance that Tyson Calok's gone and destroyed Minark,” Ar'kon said, not revealing his true terror that this brought to him. Though it was clear from Isen'ko's reaction to the King's reaction showed that he felt the king was making no sense.
“Calok cannot be trusted, my liege,” Isen'ko spoke aloud. “If anything that Tealuian said was true, that was.”
Ar'kon shook his head. “Tyson Calok is a true and loyal friend.”
Isen'ko's scaly brow furrowed. Had the king suddenly forgotten their conversation of the last evening.
“How is Ru'kon? I trust he's enjoying his cell?”
“He is a traitor,” Isen'ko said. “You'd need not worry about the likes of him.”
“But he is of noble blood, yes?” Ar'kon asked, waving out at the crowd; Most of which waved back, if not in admiration then in overwhelming fear.
“Yes,” Isen'ko inclined his head. “But a traitor nonetheless.”
“We cannot kill him,” Ar'kon said.
“Oh, and why not, my lord?” Isen'ko had decided to amuse his asinine king.
“The people love him,” Ar'kon explained. “If we would kill him, then my people would become upset... and that is something I cannot allow.”
“I concur, sire,” Isen'ko nodded, surprised at such a sharp observation by the king. He, himself, had not thought of that. Admiral Da'note's plan for an eventual coup would require an angry populace to back them. He noted this observation for a later conversation with the Supreme Admiral.
“Good.” Ar'kon cheered up. He pointed out into the crowd. “Do you see that man?”
“Sire?” Isen'ko starred down into the square.
“In the yellow.”
“The old man, with the cane?” Isen'ko inquired.
“Yes, him!” affirmed Ar'kon. “Have him executed.”
“You will obey.... me!” growled Ar'kon.
Isen'ko, sensing the atmosphere, gave the order to a corporal. The message was passed along.
“My liege?” protested Hasz'fos as the old man was grabbed by the palace guard. “That is my father... he is but an old man. His mind has gone, he knows not of the decree against wearing yellow.”
“Only I and my family may wear the color of the Ba'gee,” Ar'kon said. “Beside, it is an ancient law passed down from the kings of old. If someone so ancient cannot obey it, then how can the youth of today be expect to obey?” They watched as the old man was tied to a pole and the flames were ignited. “Watch and learn.”
The alarms were blaring, and Admiral Truman stood firm in the center of operations. He turned to Ensign Tolorev, the blue Andorian's antennae twitched.
“Report?” growled Truman.
“Sensors are detecting multiple warp signatures,” Tolorev replied.
Tolorev scanned the LCARs display before him and shook his head. “Not clear, sir. The station's sensor relay is malfunctioning.”
“What a great time for it to do that,” grumbled Truman to no one in particular. He tapped his commbadge. “Lieutenant Buerk, come in.”
“Buerk here, sir?” came the lieutenant's voice from SI-5's command and control.
“It appears the station's sensors have decided not to cooperate with us today,” Truman explained. “How are things on your end?”
“We're linking with SI's satellite network,” Buerk said. “I'll see if we can find out any more through their sensors... hold on.”
Admiral Truman turned to Tolorev and furrowed his brow. Tolorev shrugged. As the second passed, Truman began tapping his foot in anticipation.
“Sir!” came Buerk's voice. “We've picked up the warp signatures. Their ours. It's the expedition force.”
Truman gave a sigh of relief. He turned to the communications officer.
“Are they in communications range?”
The communications officer shook his head. “Not yet, sir. It seems they might be having difficulty with their comm. systems.”
Sparks flew from the helm. Captain Sarah Tellening gripped the arms of her chair. She spoke softly, asking her ship to hold together. The original plan was to rendezvous back at Paos, but considering their losses, she decided it would be better if they pushed on towards Deep Space Five.
“Approaching DS5,” the helmsman called out.
“Take us out of warp and drop to impulse,” ordered Tellening.
She watched as the stars on the view screen slowed. Within moments Deep Space Five came into view, with the USS Normandy circling the station on patrol.
Truman looked up at the view screen. “Report?”
Tolorev and Buerk exchanged a glance. “It's the Skyfox,” Tolorev said, glancing down at the sensor screen. “The expedition force is coming out of warp.”
They watched as the rest of the fleet started to appear behind the Skyfox. But something was wrong. The ships were damaged and so few were returning. The Jefferson burst out of warp back into regular space and shuddered.
“What's happening?” Truman turned around from the screen and glared over at this officers.
“The Jefferson's warp core is unstable!” Tolorev reported. “The ship is going to implode.”
“Can we beam the crew off?” Truman asked.
“I don't know,” Buerk said, punching franticly on the transporter console. “Something's interfering with the transporter array!”
“Contact Captain Gates aboard the Normandy,” Truman said. “Having them transport the crew from the Jefferson.”
“Aye,” Tolorev turned towards communications and the ensign manning the station.
Truman and Buerk turned their attention back to the view screen. The Jefferson trembled and they watched in horror as the deflector dish flashed and exploded, sending a shock wave through the ship. Then in seconds the ship erupted in burning plasma.
Truman placed his hand over his mouth in shock.
“Did... did... did we get any of them?” Buerk looked at Tolorev.
The Andorian's antennae lowered, his expression grim.
“No...,” he said. “There... there wasn't enough time.”
Eventually all of the expedition force had made it back to Deep Space Five. All, that is, except for the Pioneer. Admiral Truman turned from the view port to look out across his desk at Captain Tellening, Captain Riganoff, and Captain Burt.'
“So what happened?”
“It was a trap,” Tellening said.
“Da,” Riganoff confirmed. “They knew we were coming.”
“Calok,” Burt said. “It was Calok, sir.”
“How do you know?” Truman asked, as he took a seat behind his desk.
“Just a feeling, sir,” Burt said. “The slick bastards been a thorn in our side since the moment we met.” He paused. “That, and the whole thinks reeks of one of his sick little games.”
“From what I've read about Calok, I would have to agree,” Tellening said, crossing her arms across her chest.
Truman nodded, gravely. “Our loses?”
“Heavy,” Riganoff said. “Early reports estimate hundreds of dead.”
“Damn!” growled Truman softly.
“I know,” Burt said. “Our first major battle since the start of this God's awful war started and we lose big time.”
Truman took a deep breath. “What about the Pioneer?”
“Last I heard from them,” Tellening said, “was an acknowledgement of the change of rendezvous from Paos and DS5.”
“Well,” Truman said, leaning forward. “We'll just have to wait then.”
“But, sir?” both Tellening and Burt interjected simultaneously.
“We're in no condition to mount any form of a rescue attempt,” Truman barked. “Half the damn fleets lost and the other half is so battle damaged, one ripped apart coming out of warp!” He slammed his fist against the desk.
After a moments silence, Tellening spoke up.
“You couldn't do anything about that, Admiral.”
“I know,” Truman said, after a beat. “But... god... it's just so damn frustrating.”
“Maybe the Fourth can help?” Burt suggest.
“Afraid not,” Truman said. “Admiral Rutledge is busy preparing the Horizon for some big experiment.”
“Jump drive?” Tellening asked.
Truman nodded. “Calms he's found the solution to the problem. The Dallas was just here, dropped Jack Keller off. I sent him on with the Titan. He'll be at the Jupiter shipyard in five days.”
“Keller?” Burt asked. “That's a loss to the fleet.”
“Not to mention the Dallas,” Riganoff said. “Captain Ramses spoke highly of Keller.”
Truman nodded. “Speaking of heading home,” he started. “I've got a mission for you three.”
“Sir?” Tellening stood at attention.
“Seems that the politicos have finally got off there asses,” Truman said, standing up. He looked back down at his desk and picked up a padd. “Takes Starfleet getting a big ass whopping for them to realize that this is going to be a long fight. Appears the President and Secretary General Jordan feel that it's time to bring the Romulans in on our side.”
“Sounds good, sir,” grinned Burt.
Truman nodded. “Yes.” He leaned forward and pressed a button on his desk. “Send the ambassador in, Baines.”
The door hissed opened and the ambassador strode in. Back erect, tall and straight. Hair meticulously combed. Chin impeccably shaved. Ears pointy.
“Admiral, captains,” he inclined his head. “Reporting for duty.”
That's what they were doing.
Spinning out of control.
“Are you sure you know what you are doing?” Bradford asked, looking away from the view port. He could not look at the spinning stars for much longer before becoming nauseous.
“I'll have you know that all Tealuians are trained in piloting at a young age,” was Xojo's reply.
“So young you must forget it, huh?” retorted Bradford. “And we're lost.”
“No we're not,” Xojo said. “According to my navigation system we should be approaching Minark.”
“Well I've got new for you, it ain't there!”
“What!?” Xojo exclaimed, taking his hands off the controls and clutching his head with his hands. “Take the controls! Take them!”
Bradford shifted to his right as Xojo jumped out of the pilot's chair. He climbed in and pulled the straps shut. He quickly took control of the craft, slowing down their velocity and sinking the stabilizers. Within moments the stars were no longer spinning, and resumed the familiar streak as viewed during warp.
“I can sense it,” Xojo murmured in the chair behind him. “Their voices... all crying out at once, and then.... then silence.”
“What is it?”
“Minark's gone,” Xojo said, tears streaking down his face.
“How can you know that?” Bradford demanded.
“My species is telepathic you fool!” moaned Xojo. “Such death... such loss! All of my people can feel it!”
Bradford furrowed his brow. Unsure what he should say. A day ago Xojo Manjala was one of his warders, now he was an ally. At least he thought so.
He stretched his neck.
“So what do we do?” he asked.
Suddenly the sensors began to beep.
“What is it?” he cried. “Xojo!”
“Yes, yes...,” mumbled the Tealuian as he arched his long neck over the back of the control chair and peered at the terminal.
“I'm picking up a Starfleet signature, Peter,” Xojo said. “Yes, definitely Starfleet.”
“Can we hail them?”
“One moment,” Xojo turned back to the communications console. “No, not yet, we're not in range.”
“Ambassador Spock?” Burt jaw dropped.
“Yes?” Spock answered. He raised an eyebrow. “Ah, I believe you are having what they call an emotional response to my presence.”
“Yes,” concluded the great Vulcan.
“Ambassador,” Truman gestured to a chair, which Spock took. “We we're just discussing a possible alliance with the Romulans.”
“Indeed,” Spock said. “The most logical conclusion to such a discuss during the current juncture would be to seek such an alliance.”
“As I thought,” Truman said, taking his seat. The rest followed suit. “Captain Tellening, here, will be your chief Starfleet attaché. Captain Burt and Captain Riganoff will accompany you two as back up.”
“Now,” Truman leaned back in his chair. “You believe you've been briefed as to what Starfleet wants.”
“Affirmative,” Spock said. “During my journey from Romulus I had a long discussion on the subject with Admiral Anton and Admiral McCloud.”
“Yes, yes,” Truman nodded. “I'm sure Brickenhouser also briefed you.”
“If a may say, he is quite an disagreeable man, this Mister Brickenhouser,” Spock asserted.
“Coming for you, I'll take it as a compliment,” Truman said.
“To each his own,” was Spock's response.
“With all your time amongst the Romulan people,” Truman began. “I most assume you understand their way of thinking.”
“On the contrary, Admiral,” Spock affirmed. “The Romulan people are quite complex. They're way of thinking is highly illogical, based primarily on emotions and, as my good friend used to say, gut instinct.”
“That's always worked for me,” Burt chimed in.
“And as a result you very nearly destroyed your Starfleet career,” Spock said. “Is that right, Captain Burt?”
“Well, yes,” Burt said. “But it was a crazy time, man. You know... stress all around, captain gone, forced to work with someone you feel was an inadequate replacement. Nah, what am I talking about, you don't know how I feel.”
“Indeed I do,” Spock said. “It may come to surprise you, but I once thought that Jim Kirk was not the ideal replacement for Christopher Pike. However time proved me wrong.”
“Whoa, did I just here a vulcan admit to being wrong?” Burt asked. “Damn, I wish Brax was here.”
“Indeed.” Spock eyebrow raised. “Back to the matter at hand, the Romulan Star Empire, has already made overtures to a possible alliance.”
“Yes,” Tellening spoke up. “They sent Commander Takaram to speak with the Admiral and Captain Kelsoe.”
“Hence our problem,” Spock said. “Which follows that such another meeting will require the said captain present.”
“What?” Truman said, leaning forward.
“The Romulan government may know me and my methods, but they do not officially acknowledge my efforts on behalf of our two world for unification,” Spock said. “On Romulus I must operate in the shadows. I am an outlaw. I cannot make direct contact with the government. Such a move would disrupt an all ready unstable atmosphere amongst the populace of Romulus.”
“But I thought you had connections within the Praetor's staff?” Truman asked.
“I do, indeed,” Spock explained. “However those are private acquaintances. I would never ask them to risk exposure on my behalf unless it was absolutely necessary.”
“But surely you can still represent the Federation at the bargaining table,” Tellening said.
“With the Pioneer MIA,” Truman said. “We need you to do this, Ambassador. Only with your involvement will the Romulans send Takaram back to the table to deal.”
“I do not follow your logic,” Spock said.
“It's as you said, Spock,” Truman said. “The Romulan people are quite complex.”
Spock inclined his head and thought. “I see your point, Admiral. And I am honored to accept the task.”
“It was thanks in large part to your efforts which brought an end to our long hostilities with the Klingon Empire,” Truman said. “I have no doubt that you can help us here.”
Spock nodded and stood. The rest followed. “Back then I had a lot of help from my friends, Admiral.”
“You must miss them,” Tellening said.
“Considerably,” Spock admitted, his expression still that of an unshakable vulcan. “But from time to time, Dr. McCoy, Captain Scott, and I get together to reminisce about, as the good Doctor puts it, the good old glory days.”
“Then you'll do it?”
“As I already affirmed, of course,” Spock steepled his fingers. “If it is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is the honor to serve the greater good.”
“Very well,” Truman said. “I'll have word sent to Romulus. I'm sure Commander Takaram is somewhere nearby.”
“I have no doubt,” Burt interjected. “Sir.”
Tuff stood on the bridge, eyes fixated on the view screen. The whoosh of the turbolift doors as they opened caught his attention. He smiled, pleased to see Braxis stepping from the lift and entering the bridge.
“It's good to have you back, Commander,” Tuff said, smiling.
“Indeed,” Braxis said, as he slide on over into his station.
Tuff grinned, and cocked his head. Almost back to normal, he thought. All they needed now was to have the captain back. He turned to seat down and paused. He caught himself almost setting down in the command chair. He bit his lower lip, not yet ready to give up on the captain, and slide on over to the executive chair, his chair, and sat.
“Report,” he called out to Zimmer.
“We're approaching Paos, Commander,” Zimmer called back. “We should be passing the planet in a matter of...”
A communications alert blared across the speakers.
“We're receiving a hail, sir,” Tracy called from her station.
Tuff glanced over. “From whom?”
“Unknown,” Tracy said. “But the signal is Tealuian.”
Braxis lean back. Tuff looked over.
“They could be survivors of the attack,” Braxis said, inclining his head.
All Tracy needed was a nod from Tuff to confirm that he wanted the channel opened.
The view screen flickered from the streaming stars to the dimly lit interior of Tealuian cockpit. Tuff stood up and furrowed his brow at what he saw.
“Bradford?” he questioned.
“Yes, it's me,” Bradford called back. “You are not hallucinating.”
“Suffice it to say, it's a long story...,” Bradford said, glancing over his shoulder. “But we're running low on oxygen. We had to cut back on life support to reach you.”
“We?” Tuff inquired.
“Hello, Commander,” the pale face of Xojo Manjala came into view. His dark eyes scanned the bridge. “Tracy,” he nodded.
“Xojo,” Tracy narrowed her eyes.
“Permission to come aboard, Commander?” Bradford inquired.
“Why should I?” Tuff demanded, crossing his arms.
“Because of Captain Kelsoe,” asserted Xojo. Tuff jaw dropped. “Ah, I see then that I am up to date. Correct me if I'm wrong, Commander, but at this current juncture, Kelsoe is currently locked up for reasons such as uncontrollable rage and anger?”
“Correct,” Tuff heard himself say.
“I thought so,” Xojo said. “You might want to drop out of warp to allow us access to the shuttle bay.”
Tuff nodded. “Zimmer.”
“Once Command learned of your participation, Ambassador,” Takaram said, taking a seat at the conference table aboard the Skyfox, his staff doing like wise. “How could they say no?”
“Indeed,” Spock merely stated, seated on the opposite side of the table with Tellening, Riganoff, and Burt.
Takaram grinned. “Yes... it is.” He looked around at the table, seeing Sarah Tellening, Markev Riganoff, and Connor Burt. “It appears that once again the Federation seeks our help. What's that human phrase the Klingon's like to use all the time? All right... once more onto the breach, dear friends! Ha!” Takaram bellowed with laughter. “Damn Klingon's can't even come up with their own sayings. They've stolen all their proverbs from everyone else!” He leaned forward. “But isn't that what you do, too? Your Federation? You exchanged ideas and cultures. Learn about other civilizations and such.”
“Exploration has always been Starfleet's primary focus, yes,” Spock inclined his head.
“I know!” Takaram cheered. “Isn't brilliant!”
“What is?!” Burt demanded.
Takaram glared at Burt. “Your arrogance knows no bounds!” He paused and inhaled deeply. “The Federation claims to be an organization of peace and exploration. But time after time you find yourselves engulfed in a war without end. And what do you then? You turn to us for help. First with the Dominion, and now with the So'ja. Really? Will it never end?”
“We did not seek out this conflict,” Riganoff spoke up, leaning forward.
“Perhaps so,” Takaram said. “But that's beside the point.” He paused and received a padd from an aide. “By the way,” he said looking up from the small screen. “Where's Captain Kelsoe?”
“Indisposed,” Spock said.
“Is that true?” Takaram said. “You know... I don't know if we can continue our talk. Sure this may have just been a big waste of time, having you come all the way out here, near the border and all, but it was worth it... just to see you, Ambassador.”
“I fail to see the logic in that line of reasoning,” Spock said. “To presume arrogant presumption upon Starfleet is illogical, when it is the Star Empire whom refuses to accept the current circumstances we presently find ourselves in.”
“Oh, we see them,” Takaram sat straight up, almost to the point of jumping out of his chair. “We see them very clearly.”
“What's the matter?” Burt interjected. “Just a couple of weeks ago you sounded as if you wanted the Empire to join the fighting?”
“I still do,” Takaram said. “It's just the method of which you have chosen to procced with such talks.”
“And what method is that, Commander?” Tellening finally spoke up, leaning forward and folding her hands on the table.
“Captain Tellening,” Takaram said, leaning back. “The Federation knows very well how we would react at seeing this criminal represent them at the bargaining table.”
“I have committed no crime,” Spock said.
“You're words are blasphemy!” Takaram ragged, the veins in his neck popping out.
“What is it that you want, then?” Spock inquired.
Spock raised an eyebrow.
Xojo Manjala stood in sickbay. Gervasio Valdez and a small team of from security stood near by.
“Really, the security is not needed,” Xojo protested.
“Last time you were onboard it was uninvited,” Tuff said. “They'll stay.”
“Fine,” Xojo smirked.
Commander Peter Bradford sat on a biobed, awaiting Dr. Braga's return from the med-lab. Dr. Rhell pushed a hypospray against Bradford neck.
“Ah, that hurt,” Bradford complained.
“You we're in a prison cell on Ka'al, Commander,” Rhell said. “You should be glade that you ran into a Federation vessel first.”
Bradford was confounded. “What?”
“You picked up Rigelian fever,” Braga said, emerging from the med-lab.
“What!?” Bradford cried startled.
“No need to panic,” Braga said. “It's quite easy to treat nowadays.”
Braga nodded. “You'll just have to have regular injections of the antivirus for about two more weeks.”
“Two weeks,” Bradford gulped.
“Don't worry,” Rhell said, stepping forward with another hypospray. “They'll just fly by.”
Xojo turned back to Tuff. “Commander Bradford does not of Rigelian fever.”
“And how do you know?” Braga questioned, stepping over.
“I just do,” Xojo said looking away.
“You know, for a guy who just lost his home world you're surprisingly spry!” Braga said.
The Tealuian turned back with his black eyes. “You know I could melt your inners with a single thought.”
“That's why Tracy's here,” Tuff said, gesturing towards the doors.
Xojo arched his neck to look and saw her. “Tracy?”
Ensign Carson told erect, her blue eyes piercing.
“Oh... you've been practicing,” Xojo said, almost sounding glee.
“Yes,” Tracy responded. “If you try anything funny, I'll be able to tell.”
“Aw, but can you stop me?” Xojo said stepping closer to his being he lusted after.
Tracy backed away. Valdez and one of his staff reached for the phasers. Xojo held up his hands and back off.
“You know, it's quite unnecessary,” Xojo said, returning to his conversation with Tuff.
“Really?” Tuff questioned. “Would you care to enlighten me?”
“Calok destroyed my world!” groaned Xojo. “He destroyed everything I ever cared about... and... and he used me!”
“Really? And how long did it take you to figure out that's what he does?” Tuff demanded.
“Granted I didn't see it at first,” Xojo pointed out. “But I could sense it. Something was wrong. He wouldn't trust me. He just kept speaking with that Romulan all that time. They're tight, as you humans say.”
“He's right,” Bradford said, rubbing his left arm, just below the shoulder. “During my incarceration, all Calok would do was interrogate me with that Romulan.”
“Commander L'mar?” Tuff asked.
“Yes,” Bradford said, thinking. “I believe that's him.”
Tuff looked down. “What did he want?”
“I couldn't say,” Bradford said. “Calok is behind reason, that's for sure. He's mad... insane!”
“We know that!” Tuff blurted out.
“And we know about his mental abilities,” Braga confirmed. “You may have be compromised.”
Bradford nodded. “I know.”
“Wait! What if Calok's done something with Kelsoe's mind,” Tuff said. “Something that's making him act like the way he's acting.”
Braga nodded. “Could be.”
“I would bet on it,” Bradford said.
The three turned and looked at Xojo.
“What?” Xojo said, looking over from Tracy to them.
“Grand news, your majesty,” Isen'ko said, as he walked into the King's private offices.
Ar'kon looked up from the papers he was reading. “Yes?”
“Supreme Admiral Da'note plan to take advantage of Calok's move against Minark has paid off,” Isen'ko said, handing a scroll to his sovereign.
King Ar'kon snatched the scroll from Isen'ko's hands and unrolled it. His grinned widen as he read.
“So the 1st Command Group has taken Dealu,” Ar'kon said.
“We are making inroads in the Tealuian Alliance,” Isen'ko said, locking his hands behind his back. “Within a matter of weeks we shall have them.”
“And a very good couple of weeks it shall be, then!” cheered Ar'kon with glee.
They had adjourned for a fifteen minute recess. Sarah Tellening was standing by the windows in her ready room, looking out at stars and the nebula in the distance. The Romulan Warbird was off the side, its presence distracting from the magnificent view.
The doorbell chimed.
“Enter,” she said with a wave of her hand.
The door whooshed opened and Ambassador Spock stepped in looking regal and grim.
“I believe it was a mistake for me to come, Captain,” Spock said, joining her at the window.
“I don't think so,” Sarah said.
“I spoke earlier about arrogant presumption,” Spock said. “A line I've used before... however I believe that it was I who was arrogant today.”
“My presence is a distraction to the matter at hand,” Spock stated in that cold vulcan way that aggravated some. “I just no have come.”
“Stop it, now,” Sarah said, turning to face the elder diplomat. “The Federation called upon you and you answered. You are doing you duty.”
“Duty,” Spock repeated. “A concept the Romulans understand all too well.”
“See,” Sarah said, wanting to give Spock and pat on the shoulder, but knowing that vulcan's did not like to be touch, passed on it. “That's why you're here.”
“My insights into Romulan nature are no different than they have been since the day I first encountered them,” Spock admitted. “Their true being is still an enigma.”
“You could say that about anyone,” Sarah said.
“True,” Spock said, inclining his head. “However, the true character of a person cannot be glimpsed on passing.”
“Do Vulcan's always speak in vague riddles?” she asked.
She swore that Spock almost grinned.
“It pleases me to see that Starfleet still has the officers she once did,” Spock said.
Sarah nodded. “I keep forgetting that you work with him. Kirk. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the Vulcan lifespan is far greater than a human's.”
A the intercom chirped.
“Tellening here,” Sarah called out.
“We're gathering together again for another romp in the rhetoric,” came the drawl of Connor Burt. “Care to join us, m' lady.”
“Yes, yes,” Sarah said. “Very funny, Burt. We're on our way, Tellening out.”
“All right, all right,” Xojo held up his hands in protest. “I know what Calok did to your captain.”
“Really?” Tuff questioned, with a skeptical look.
“Yes,” Xojo assured him. “I was there during the major interrogation sessions. Calok may have been able to prevent me from enter his mind, but I could still enter Kelsoe's!”
“Then you know what to do?” Tuff asked.
“Maybe,” Xojo said, crossing his arms and looking away.
Tuff shook his head. “We won't get any help out of him,” he said. He turned to Braga. “Do you think Braxis might be able to mind meld with the captain?”
“I don't know if that would be wise, sir,” Braga said. “Who knows what Calok did. He could have set something up to prevent such an assault. That's even what he might want us to do.”
All Tuff could do was nod.
“Fine!” groaned Xojo.
They returned their attention to the Tealuian.
“You've got me!” Xojo said, throwing his hands into the air. “I'm hiding my sorrow and rage behind a facade of stubbornness.”
“Then you know what to do?” Tuff asked again.
“Yes,” Xojo said, exacerbated. “Yes, yes!”
“Good,” Tuff said. “Then you'll be willing to help?”
“Will you be willing to allow me to help?” came Xojo's retort.
Tuff gave him a quizzical look.
“I mean will they still be here?” Xojo demanded, pointing at the security guards.
“Oh yes, most definitely,” Tuff said.
“But I'm helping you,” Xojo protested.
“Having you help us, and trusting you are two completely different things, Xojo,” Tuff said, and then turned to Lieutenant Valdez. “Let's go and get him.”
“I'll be right here!” Xojo said, stamping his feet by one of the biobeds. “And I'll need Tracy's assistance.”
“No you don't,” Braga said.
“Hey, hey, hey!” Xojo stammered. “I'm the one with the mental abilities to destroy whatever it is Calok's created in your dear captain's mind. So when I need Tracy's assistance, I mean it!”
Tuff exhaled, exacerbated. He turned towards Tracy and lowerd his voice. “You don't have to, if you don't want to.”
“No, I'm fine,” Tracy said, starring over his shoulder at Xojo's beaming mug.
She looked Tuff in the eyes.
“I'm fine, sir,” Tracy said. “It's for the captain. I can handle myself... besides if he makes a move we get to stun him!”
“Right you are, Ensign,” Tuff grinned. He turned back to Valdez, who had assembled another group of security. “All right, let's finish this.”
The stars streaked past the mighty Revenge, as the ship tore through subspace like a dagger at maximum velocity. On the bridge Tyson Calok watched as the entire 3rd Command Group began their campaign against the survivors of Minark. He chuckled to himself. In the corner, Colonel Ba'dal spoke in hush voices with one of his lieutenants. The hiss of the back door broke Calok concentration and he spun his chair around to see Commander L'mar step onto the bridge.
“Welcome aboard, Commander!” cheered Calok, as he jumped out of the chair. “Come to watch the survivors of Minark make their last futile stand?”
L'mar inclined his head. “Regrettably no. I come for our schedule check in with Admiral Da'note.”
“Yes, of course,” Calok said, his glowing red eyes dimming. He turned to a corporal at the communications station. “Corporal, open up a channel to the Kal'sa.”
“Yes, sir,” hissed the so'jan.
Calok turned back to the view screen and watched as the glorious mayhem of Tealuian death switched to the cold and industrial interior of a so'ja battleship. Admiral Da'note wore his combat fatigues, an orange garment with gray blotches. Da'note grinned, show off his yellow razor sharp teeth.
“Tyson Calok,” he hissed.
“Admiral Da'note,” Calok said. “I believe your spies amongst the 3rd have informed you of my success.”
“Yes, indeed, they have,” Da'note said, leaning back in his command chair. His eyes darted over at Ba'dal. “The Colonel has, of course, be official court martial for his actions.”
“Of course,” Calok said. “But of course, the death sentence will have to be postponed indefinitely.”
“But of course,” Da'note crooned. “After all, a deal is a deal. Is it not?”
Calok turned to L'mar and then back towards the view screen. His eyes glowed slightly.
“I made no such deal with you, Da'note!” he stated.
“Oh, but you did,” Da'note asserted. “At least that's what the Admiralty and the brainless politicos in the Senate believe.”
“And your precious king?” Calok questioned.
“As usual he thinks he is calling all the shots,” Da'note said. “Not need to worry about him. I have Isen'ko watching him.”
“Isen'ko, eh,” Calok said. “Good man. Great man. He's great at all that political intrigue. Makes him a good second.”
“Yes, it does,” Da'note confirmed. “He's loyal to a fault. Which makes him even more valuable.”
“How goes your campaign?” Calok inquired. “Is it as good as mine?”
“I'm afraid my Mass Driver doesn't have the enhancements that yours does,” Da'note said. “But I don't want to destroy worlds, I want to conquer them. Our invasion of Dealu is going has plan. In a matter of weeks all of the Tealuian Alliance will bow before us.”
Calok smiled, it was a smile that made Da'note and the rest cringe. You did not want to see a smile like that, especially coming for Tyson Calok; It meant he had devised a dastardly and despicable plan, a plan that he would undoubtedly succeed in caring out.
“You do that, Da'note,” Calok said. “Meanwhile, I'll finally achieve my revenge.”
With a flick of his hand, the communications links was terminated. L'mar stepped up from behind to stand beside his master.
“Was it really necessary to taunt him?” he asked.
Calok kept his eyes straight. “Yes... it was.” He turned towards the helm. “Pilot,” he ordered. “Continued on course.”
Kelsoe woke with a cold sweat. His eyes darted around, getting his bearings. He immediately jumped up and rammed his hands against the force field holding him in his cell.
“Let me out, Soto!” he ragged at the security guard.
Ensign Rick Soto, stood back and gripped his phaser, yet kept it holstered.
“Take it easy, sir.”
“Easy!?” exclaimed Kelsoe. “How can I take it easy when my crew has mutinied against me!?” He paused and rammed his fist against the force field again. “Let me out! That's an order, Ensign!”
“You've been relieved command,” came the first officer's voice.
Commander Tuff was standing in the doorway. Lieutenant Gervasio Valdez, along with Crewman Stackhouse and Doogan, stood behind him. Tuff entered, followed by the security team. Both Stackhouse and Doogan had compression rifles. Valdez stood firm with a hand on his phaser.
Kelsoe's eyes darted around, as the retinue fully engulfed the brig. Tuff turned and nodded to Soto. Soto removed his phaser and held it securely in his left hand. With his free hand he punched in his access code on the security console that controlled brig systems.
The buzz of the force field ceased.
Kelsoe immediately burst out, ramming a fist in Doogan's face, breaking his nose. He jabbed Stackhouse in the gut with his elbow and head butted Doogan, as the later regained his focus. Doogan collapsed. Kelsoe gripped Stackhouse and yanked the compression rifle from his hands. Then a red beam shot across the room and hit Kelsoe square in the chest. He collapsed, dropping the rifle.
Valdez lowered his phaser, and holstered it. Doogan got to his feet, dazed, clutching his nose, blood seeping down his face.
Tuff exhaled softly.
“As I was saying, Ambassador,” Takaram said. “Our government's policy is quite clear. The Romulan Star Empire does not and will not negotiate with a known criminal.”
“Ha!” laughed Burt. “Never seemed to stop you before.”
Spock gave Burt a look that shut him up immediately. He turned his attention back to his Romulan counterpart.
“Have I been convicted of a crime?” Spock asked.
“I asked, have I been convicted of a crime?” Spock repeated.
“No,” Takaram answered.
“Have I committed any offense against the Romulan government or its people?” Spock asked.
“No,” Takaram looked confused.
“If I have not been convicted of a crime, nor committed offense, how can I be a criminal?” Spock questioned.
Takaram sat back and looked over at one of his staff. The political attaché merely shrugged. Takaram glared at him, and the attaché stood up and excused himself from the room. The Romulan commander then returned his attention back to Spock.
“You make a sound argument,” Takaram said. “For a vulcan.”
Takaram narrowed his eyes. “What game are you playing at, vulcan?”
“I do not play games,” Spock stated.
“Really?” Takaram questioned. “Then what is all this about?”
“I was merely defining myself as not being a criminal in the eyes of the Romulan state,” Spock said. “And with your help I have succeed.”
“Oh boy! You got played, man!” Burt shouted from across the table, and then quickly become serious before Spock to look at him.
“With standing Captain Burt's outburst, I concede that you have proven your point, Ambassador,” Takaram said. “As an official representative of my government I hereby recognize you as an official diplomat of the United Federation of Planets.”
“That is what you intended to do all along, isn't it?” Tellening asked.
Takaram grinned. “Bravo, Captain. You're smarter than I thought.”
“Captain Kelsoe would have seen though that quicker than you, of course, but he's what...?”
“Indisposed,” Spock said.
“Yes, indisposed,” Takaram repeated. “Whatever that means.”
“So that's that, then?” Riganoff asked, looking stunned.
Takaram and Spock looked across the table at one another for a moment. Then the Romulan turned to Riganoff. “Yes.”
“Now what?” Riganoff inquired.
“We negotiate, Captain,” Spock said, leaning forward.
Xojo stared hard at Kelsoe. Valdez stood with Stackhouse and Ensign Tom Dunn in the distance, while Crewman Doogan was being treated by Dr. Rhell in the background. Tuff and Braga stood by the foot of the bed, monitoring from a medical terminal.
Tracy, along with Nurse Lowell. Tracy looked over at Lowell's medical scanner and then back at Kelsoe. Dr. Braga had gave him a sedative after they had brought him to sickbay, but from what she could tell it looked like he was having a nightmare.
Suddenly a Xojo gripped her hand. She looked up and saw sweat pour down his pale face.
“It's stronger than I thought it would be!” he hissed through gritted teeth.
“Concentrate,” Tracy said. “You can do it, I know you can!”
Xojo inhale and exhaled deeply, nodding. He glared back down at the captain, as if piercing Kelsoe's skin with his eyes.
Tuff shifted and looked down at the medical terminal.
“Are those reading accurate?” he asked Braga.
“I'm afraid so,” Braga said. “In a way it almost looks like he's going with withdrawal.”
“Have you ever seen anything like this?” Tuff asked.
Braga shook his head. “No.”
Xojo arched his long neck back and let out of cry of pain. Before anyone could stop him, he grabbed Tracy and placed his hands over what the vulcan's referred to has katra points.
Valdez and Dunn rushed forward with phasers drawn.
“Get back!” cried the Tealuian. “I need her help!” He glared at Tuff. “I told you... I told you I would.”
Tuff raised his hand to stop Valdez and Dunn.
“It's all right,” came Tracy's voice. Her eyes were wide and her expression that of the dead. But she was alive. Braga confirmed this with a quick scan.
“I would never arm here,” Xojo said. “Trust me. Please. It is the only way to save your captain.”
Tuff thought for a moment and then nodded. He signaled for Valdez and Dunn to step down. “Continue,” he said.
Xojo gave a weak smiled and returned his focus to Kelsoe. As his eyes moved, so did Tracy's.
“Together we are stronger,” Xojo said. “Together we can break the bond the hold Benjamin Kyle Kelsoe hostage.”
Xojo closed his eyes. Tracy followed suit.
The sickbay became silent. Then with a sudden exhale of breath, Tracy and Xojo collapsed on the floor. Rhell, and Nurse Lowell attended to them, as Braga ran to the bedside to check on the captain.
“Report!?” Tuff ordered, running up along side the doctor.
Braga whipped out his medical tricoder and ran it over Kelsoe. “The reading appear normal.” Kelsoe moaned and shifted. “He's coming out of it.”
With a sudden jerk, Kelsoe jumped out of bed and grabbed Braga. Valdez and Dunn raised their phasers.
“Doc!?” Kelsoe groaned. He looked past Braga at Tuff. “Rob? What's going on?”
“Sir? Is that you?” Tuff asked.
Kelsoe groaned and laid back, placing he hand on his forehead.
“Of course it's me,” Kelsoe said. “Who did you expect?”
“Anything seem strange or different?” Braga asked.
Kelsoe looked around.
“No not really...,” he paused. “But you can explained the passed out Tealuian on the floor.”
Calok work with start. He gripped the arms of the chair and pushed himself up. He dashed for his quarters and went to the bridge. The so'jan personnel scattered as he entered the bridge. He went directly to the command chair, where Commander L'mar sat. The Romulan looked up, surprised to see his friend.
“They've broken it,” Calok said. “I don't know how they did it, Telek, but they've broken it.”
L'mar's brow furrowed. He was indeed worried. This was the first time he had ever heard a touch of fear in Calok's voice.
Someone knocked at the door.
President Korvin Mot looked up.
“Excuse me, Mr. Secretary,” Mot told, Secretary General Bill Jordan as he told up. “Enter.”
The door opened and Chief of Staff Rodney Brickenhouser entered.
“Oh, sorry, sir, was I interrupting?” Brickenhouser asked.
“No, not at all,” Jordan said, standing up. “I was just leaving.” He turned back to the Mot. “Think about what I said, Mr. President.” He shook hands with Mot and left, giving Brickenhouser a look as he walked passed.
“Yes, Rodney?” Mot said as he walked back behind his desk, looking at reports.
“News from Deep Space Five, sir,” Brickenhouser said.
“He did it,” Brickenhouser said.
“Spock,” Brickenhouser explained. “He got the Romulans to join the fight.”
Kelsoe woke with a start. He looked around.
He was safe, resting in sickbay. Above him stood the pale skinned Tealuian known as Xojo Manjala.
“The Doc says you help me out,” Kelsoe said.
“Yes, I did, Captain,” Xojo said. “Though it took a mind meld with your Mr. Braxis for them to believe me. All they had to do was trust me.”
Kelsoe sat up on his elbows.
“How can we trust you? You were allies with him...,” Kelsoe said, fighting through his headache. “You were allies with the enemy.”
“It appear Captain, that you have no choice,” was Xojo response.
“Your wrong,” Kelsoe said, laying back down. “There's always a choice.”