EPISODE 6.53 - “Internal”
written by Travis Cannon
Major Kovok stood, with a stiff back, looking out the window at the barren landscape of the moon Regus V. He hated this place. So close to the homeworld of the Tacumah'da, a despicable race. They had no back bone, literally. Kovok merely tolerated them, as did most of the men under his command. The Empire was counting on him for information. Vital information on the war. He was determined to do his duty.
The hiss of a door opening and closing alerted his senses to the presence of another.
“Welcome Centurion,” Kovok said, turning around to greet the latest arrival to Regus V.
Centurion Avin, despite his long years, had served the Empire well in his extended career and was a close friend of General Kassus. His gray hair was nearly white.
“I have to say that I was surprised when I learned that a mere Major was in command here,” the Centurion spoke, his voice echoed experience.
Kovok locked his hands behind his back and straighten his posture, pushing out his chest.
“The Tal Shiar understands success,” Kovok said. “And I have succeeded where others have failed.”
Avin nodded, looking out the window at the spinning planet of Regis. The star of Regii was slowly coming into view from behind the planet.
“The Empire has had little success in the war so far, Major,” Avin said, glaring at the youth.
“The war is still young, Centurion,” Kovok bowed his head in respect. “We can still prevail.”
Centurion Avin gave a nod. “There is still hope for you yet, Major Kovok.”
“It's been a month, and we still have no news of this Beast thing,” Captain Connor Burt said, as he leaned back. He was in Captain Kelsoe's ready room aboard the USS Pioneer. Seated across from him, behind his desk, was Benjamin Kelsoe.
Kelsoe shook his head. “You must have patience, Connor,” Kelsoe said. “Good things come to those who wait.”
“Yeah, but that Beast fellow,” Burt replied. “He isn't any good news.”
“Remember what the Youths said,” Kelsoe asserted. “They said he was one of the First Ones.”
“Surely the First Ones can prevent him from doing any damage,” Kelsoe said.
“Didn't stop him from leaving his Mark on Yoth,” Burt said, making quotation signs with his hands as he said the word Mark.
Kelsoe inclined his head in agreement.
The intercom chimed.
“Captain, incoming transmission from Admiral Truman,” came Tracy's voice.
“Route it to my ready room,” Kelsoe said, as he pushed a button on his desk that brought the small screen out from inside his desk. The screen quickly blinked on and Kelsoe was met by the stern face of Admiral Christopher Truman. “Admiral?”
“I need both you and Captain Burt in my office... immediately,” Truman growled. “We've got a problem.”
“What's the problem, sir?”
“Internal affairs,” was all the Admiral said.
Kelsoe and Burt stepped into the Admiral's office. Sitting in front of Truman's desk, with his back to the door, was a sandy haired man. He stood and slowly turned around as they entered the room. They were met with cool gray eyes.
“Captains Kelsoe and Burt,” the man said with an icy voice that sent a shiver down Kelsoe's spin.
“And you are?” Burt inquired.
“Commander Bradley Smith, Internal Affairs,” the commander said.
Kelsoe looked to Admiral Truman.
“I'm not happy about this either, Captain,” Truman said in that gravely voice of his. “But orders are orders. Commander Smith, here, has complete access to everyone, including you.”
“I look forward to our chat, captain,” Smith said with a smile. It was not a pleasant sight. Kelsoe shook his head, it reminded him too much of another smile, one that he would sooner like to forget than remember. He merely nodded in affirmation.
“The world is shrouded in darkness,” came the voice from the shadows. “It's name shall not be spoke, doing so would only provoke it.”
“Really? But the deeds he has performed are great!?”
“The deeds have been heinous blasphemies on the sanctity of life,” the voice answered.
“Think of it, though,” insisted a pair of glowing red eyes. “Deeds, terrible or great, are a matter of opinion. What I really care about is the power he has.”
“That is all you care for,” spoke the disembodied voice.
The conversation was suddenly interrupted by a sharp beeping noise. The red eyes shook and he spoke, “Enter. Lights... on.”
The door hissed opened and a figure appeared in the doorway.
“What is it, Telek?” Tyson Calok spoke. He was sitting in the center of the room, cross-legged, in a meditating stance.
“Sorry for intruding, Tyson,” L'mar said, bowing his head. “But we are about to arrive at the coordinates.”
A grin slowly spread across Calok's dark features. “Good... good,” he spoke softly. “Bring the fleet out of warp.”
L'mar saluted him. “You will shall be done, master.”
“I've assigned some ships to patrol the region around that quantum nebula,” Truman was saying.
It had been an hour since Commander Bradley Smith had left the office with Captain Burt. Kelsoe was getting nervous. What was Internal Affairs doing here? Kelsoe had known no other place with officers more loyal to the Federation than Deep Space Five.
“Sir?” he returned to the present.
“I said that I've assigned some ships to patrol the Evadus star group,” Truman repeated, being more precise with his information.
Kelsoe nodded. “Intel has reported the massing of so'jan fleets in the area.”
“With the fall of the Tealuian Alliance, we have to keep an eye open,” Truman huffed and leaned back in his chair, rubbing his face in exhaustion. “I never thought I'd see them in our own backyard.”
“The dogs have been barking for quite a while now, sir,” Kelsoe said.
“More like viciously growling,” Truman said. “The damn scalys advance, and what do we do?” The admiral waited for a response, but Kelsoe did not, knowing the question was rhetorical. “We fall back. Lose ground!” Truman stood up and rubbed his hands with vigor, as if they were unclean. “This war, Ben... damn it, I never thought it would last this long.”
“Things rarely go as planned , sir,” Kelsoe said. “I never thought I'd make it to captain, and look at me now.”
“Yes, your a captain,” Truman said with a humph. “And a damn good one at that. But...,” he hesitated and looked out the window. “You don't have Starfleet Command putting the pressure on you. This war was not supposed to last this long.”
That was the second time that admiral made a reference the length of the war. Kelsoe could hear the tension in the admiral's voice and decided to ask the question.
Truman looked his way. “Yes?”
“What is Internal Affairs doing here?”
Truman clenched his jaw shut. Tight.
Kelsoe could tell that Truman was struggling with the decision on whether or not to confide in him. In the end, he read the admiral's eyes and knew that his patience had paid off.
“With all that has happened,” Truman explained. “Command feels that there might be a leak in the chain of command, specifically from my office.”
“That can't be.”
“The war is not over, Captain,” Truman said. “It should have been. With the addition of the Covert-class starships and the assistance of other fleets besides the Third, it should have been over.”
“The Coalition has amassed a much longer arsenal that was expected,” Kelsoe asserted. “Command could not have expected the war to be over. Admiral Anton would not. It would be arrogant to assume so.”
“He's not the one who ordered the investigation, Captain,” Truman said, retaking his seat. “Command has many layers of command, Ben, and not all of them report directly to Anton.”
Kelsoe nodded. “Who do you think is behind this? Could it be Section 31?”
“No,” Truman said. “Section 31 wouldn't send someone like Smith.”
“Sir?” Kelsoe questioned, confused.
“Smith's legit,” Truman clarified. “I checked his records before he arrived.”
Kelsoe nodded, remembering what Chief O'Brien told him about Section 31 and his and Dr. Bashir's dealings with them. They had dealt with a man named Luther Sloan, who first appeared to them as an Internal Affairs rep. However, unlike Commander Smith, when they had check for him in the Starfleet records, they found none.
“Maybe they've changed their tactics,” Kelsoe suggested.
Truman shook his head.
“Section 31 acts covertly, Ben,” Truman said. “Whoever gave the orders wants us to know that Command questions my ability to maintain this front.”
“Who do you think it could be?” Kelsoe questioned. “McCloud?”
“Humph,” Truman chuckled. “Wouldn't surprise me. He's been piss as hell since we've signed a defense pact with the Romulans.”
“He was against it?”
“McCloud's a sleek piece of work, Ben,” Truman explained. “He doesn't trust anyone, not even his fellow officers. Not even the Starfleet Commander.”
“It's no secret he wanted the job,” Kelsoe asserted.
“And he is the head of Starfleet Operations,” Truman insisted. “He can do as he pleases, even without Anton's approval.”
“But he can only do so much,” Kelsoe argued. “If Admiral Anton knew about this charade, surely he would not allow it to continue.”
“He knows, Ben. Believe me, he knows,” Truman said, inclining his head.
“Why do you say that, sir?” questioned Kelsoe.
“Because Smith was sent,” was Truman's answer.
The sonic pulse echoed throughout the Evadus system as the massive fleet of the 3rd Command Group shot out from subspace and back into normal space. The massive claw-like wings of the Revenge seemed to slice through the particles of the nebula, like an oar in water. As the fleet emerged from the nebula, sparks of blue lightning lashed out at the ship, only to dissipate along the energy shields surrounding the hull.
Dead ahead was a vast line of ships, a hodgepodge of different Starfleet classes and Oralian Peace Union vessels.
The view screen on the Revenge flickered as the ship completely exited the nebula of the Quantum Creatures. Colonel Ba'dal sat in the command chair, awaiting the arrival of his master to the bridge.
“One of the Federation ships is hailing us, sir,” a lieutenant at communications said.
Ba'dal inclined his head, wondering whether or not he should respond. After a moment, he nodded to the lieutenant.
“Open a channel,” he said with all the command presence he could muster.
The wall screen blinked and he was met with the fleshy face of a human with orange hair.
“Ba'gee would be disappointed in you, friend,” came his mellow voice, his head slightly inclined a bit.
Ba'dal narrowed his reptilian eyes. “We only follow Ba'gee and his representative,” Ba'dal spoke. “And right now, pu'tak human, Ba'gee smiles upon us.”
“Really?” smirked the human captain.
“Yes!” snarled Ba'dal.
Behind him the doors opened and the Romulan entered with the Ra'tee Master behind him. Ba'dal relinquished the command chair to Tyson Calok.
Calok stood before the chair, did not sit, and glared at the screen with his red eyes.
“Timothy Franco, I believe?” Calok questioned.
The human captain merely responded with a nod.
“Well,” Calok grinned. “This is such an honor then.” He turned to L'mar and laughed. The Romulan laughed along with his master, though was clearly at a loss for what was so amusing. “The Starfleet scum who introduced the Federation and its morals to the so'jan people,” Calok said, as if answering L'mar's unspoken question.
Franco straighten his back.
“The Tealuian Alliance may have fallen to you, but we won't,” was Franco's retort.
Calok grinned, “We'll see, captain.” He eased down into the command chair and crossed his legs. “We'll see.”
Rodney Brickenhouser was running a fever. And it was cold. But he had to be here. It was not out of duty that he had come, it was fear.
His last meeting with President Korvin Mot had not gone well. He was slowly being pushed out of the president's confidence, while Starfleet slipped in through the back door, and the peace loving Vulcan clerk from the office of the secretary-general made headway with Mot's wartime policy.
After a month of waiting for another message from his former Section 31 colleague, he had finally been summoned.
Summoned to his own office.
Brickenhouser slipped into his office unseen. The corridors were dark. All of the staff had left for the evening. He was alone. At least he thought he was.
He heard the shuffling of clothing from behind his desk.
“Computer... lights,” Brickenhouser commanded.
The office immediately illuminated. Brickenhouser glared across his desk at Tolleson, dressed in the traditional black garb of the section.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“Why do you have to be so hostile, Rodney?” Tolleson inquired in his irritating sing-song voice.
Brickenhouser shook his head and loosen his tie. “We risk too much meeting here!”
“But this is your office,“ Tolleson asserted, standing up, and spreading his arms wide. “Why should you not be here?”
“It's after hours,” Brickenhouser explained. “Everyone else is home.
“Then why do you show fear on your face?” Tolleson questioned, stepping forward.
Brickenhouser slowly moved around Tolleson, so that he was behind his own desk. He took a seat. “They're suspicious!”
“Yes, me, God damn it!” Brickenhouser ragged. “I'm being cut out of everything. Admiral Anton and Admiral Pavoc, the head of the Starfleet Intelligence, came to met with the President.”
“That is not uncommon,” Tolleson reasoned.
“I was asked to leave,” Brickenhouser said through clenched teeth, clearly angry.
“So you were not privy to this particular meeting, so what?” Tolleson said, taking a seat. “You are not in Starfleet, are you? No. You are merely Mot's political advisor, a consultant.”
“I am the Chief of Staff! I should be more!” Brickenhouser insisted.
“And you can be,” Tolleson reassured him. “Under a different administration.”
Brickenhouser shook his head. “You're still going on about that, are you?”
Tolleson inclined his head. “Mot's no good for the war effort. Now, as we speak, the 3rd Command Group is about to engage a joint Federation-Oralian Union task force.”
“The 3rd?” Brickenhouser pondered. “That's the fleet which Calok has direct control over, right?”
“Correct,” Tolleson said, examining his fingernails, as if he was only slightly interested in the conversation. “Calok will easily defeat them.” He looked up and stared into Brickenhouser's eyes. “To combat Calok we'll need a new strategy. A strategy which Mot cannot conceive of. Kaenar Korban must rise to the presidency now more than ever. Once he does, there'll obviously be roles to fill.”
“And I'll become vice president?!” gleamed Brickenhouser.
“You?” laughed Tolleson. “Heaven's no.” He laughed some more, and then shook his head, as if the entire idea was absurd. “No. We have someone else in mind for that particular role.”
“A man with a Starfleet background,” Tolleson said. “Someone that Starfleet would not object to, and is a favorite amongst his fellow Federation Councilors.”
“Avery Amiott,” Tolleson said with a grin. “The Sundance's former commanding officer. He was an excellent engineer, but an even greater politician. He oozes charm and charisma.”
“He's no lackey,” Brickenhouser warned. “He has a mind of his own.”
“So?” Tolleson argued. “He'll only be vice president. His sole role in this endeavor is to appease Starfleet and Mot's supporters.”
Brickenhouser leaned back in his chair. “And what will my role be in this new world?”
“Something well deserving for your services rendered,” Tolleson said with a disarming grin. “It will be well worth the wait, I assure you.”
“And when will this miraculous change happen?” Brickenhouser inquired.
“Soon, my friend,” Tolleson replied. “Soon.”
The advancing ships hit the line, and the Federation-Oralian Union front began to falter.
“The Resolute has taken a severe hit, sir!” Lieutenant Armstrong called from the Amerigo's tactical station.
“Keep her steady,” first officer Kelly Jameson called to the helmsmen.
“Shields are taking a beating!”
Franco watched as the Revenge-class ships that comprised most of the 3rd Command Group plowed through the defense line. He turned to Armstrong.
“Bring us about and target the closest ship,” he ordered.
The Amerigo spun on its axis, and immediately launched two torpedoes, which struck the hull of a so'jan destroyer. The destroyer's nacelles buckled as its center fuselage exploded. The Amerigo banked right to avoid the debris.
Coming up behind the Amerigo, the Revenge, sent a pulse beam out destroying whatever remained of the destroyer.
“Was that necessary?” L'mar inquired. “We still could have had soldiers aboard.”
“If we did, they were not worth of saving,” Calok responded. “Pilot, bring us to a stop, and warm up the pulse cannon!”
“Tyson?” L'mar questioned.
“They will learn to fear us, Telek!” Calok ragged, his eyes glowing bright red.
Kelsoe stepped through the door and found himself standing in a dark room.
The lights flickered and came on. Sitting in a chair, on the other side of the table was Commander Bradley Smith.
“Captain,” he said with a twisted smile. “Please sit.”
Kelsoe stepped over to the only other chair in the room and sat.
Before Smith, arranged in a neat pattern across the table top, were a plethora of data pads.
“Oh, this?” Smith said, gesturing to the pads. “Just a bit of light reading.”
“Really? On what?” Kelsoe asked.
Smith grinned. “You.” He reached over and picked up one of the PADDs and skimmed the contents. “You know, Benjamin - may I call you Benjamin? - Well, you know, you have quite an interesting service record.”
“The Christopher Pike Medal of Valor!” Smith read. “Quite an achievement, and very impressive. Captain Burt raved on and on about it… kind of annoying, actually. But what I find more fascinating is this little bit here! Kidnapped and tortured by the renegade Tyson Calok.”
“Your report,” Smith explained. “It was... how should I say it? Ah yes… quite illuminating.”
“What about it?”
“You made references - numerous, in fact, to Calok probing your mind,” Smith said. “Alone this would seem absurd, but I've read Mr. Calok's file as well. He has developed, how did you put it? certain mental abilities beyond normal human capabilities.”
“He is quite powerful, yes.”
“And according to you, he messed with your mind,” Smith said. “And once more, he implanted some sort of trigger, which was activated not more than four months ago at the conclusion of the Battle of Minark.”
Kelsoe shifted in his chair. He was beginning to understand Smith's true purpose here, and it wasn't about the Admiral. It was about him. Starfleet must be desperate, and he couldn't blame them.
“According to reports filed by your own first officer and medical officer, you went rather mad,” Smith said, looking down at another padd. “You demanded that the shields be lowered. Do you know why you did that?”
“No,” Kelsoe answered, and it was the truth.
Smith grinned. “Come now, Captain? Think for a moment.”
Kelsoe waited for a few seconds before repeating his previous answer.
Commander Smith replaced the padd on the table, exactly where he had picked it up, and leaned back. “Are you sure about that, Captain?”
Kelsoe nodded. “Whatever was wrong with me, whatever programming Calok put in, is gone.”
“Really?” Smith questioned. “I find that hard to believe.”
“How can I prove it to you?” Kelsoe demanded.
Smith smiled. It was not a smile that Kelsoe liked. It was too much like Calok's. The intelligence officer looked down at his collection of padds and picked one, and slide it across the table.
“Read that,” he ordered.
Kelsoe picked it up and examined the contents of the padd.
“Fuel consumption reports, repair orders,” Kelsoe read. “Nothing classified.”
“But that's not a Starfleet report, Captain,” Smith said. “What you hold in your hand is a Romulan report.”
“The universal translator must translating what I see,” Kelsoe retorted.
“I've got news for you, Captain,” Smith said, taking the padd back. “You're universal translator has cease function since that incident on your bridge.”
“Whatever Calok did you, whatever happened to your mind,” Smith explained. “It's not natural.” He tapped his commbadge. “Now, gentlemen.”
The door behind Kelsoe opened and two Starfleet security personnel entered.
“Captain Kelsoe,” Smith explained. “You're being placed into custody.”
“On what charges?!” Kelsoe demanded, as the security personnel began locking his hands in manacles.
“Treason,” Smith answered, as if it was obvious.
“The Wyoming's warp core is going to overload,” Armstrong called out from his station.
Timothy Franco shifted in his chair, as the Amerigo shook from another hit. “Is the crew evacuating?”
“Yes, escape pods being launched,” Armstrong confirmed.
“What's the Revenge doing?” Jameson asked, from the helm. The helmsmen had been injured from an exploding relay below the deck platting.
“Its just sitting there, ma'am,” Armstrong answered.
“Holding in the center of the chaos,” Franco observed.
“Tim!” Jameson turned from the helm, her ponytail off center, the constant rumble of the ship from enemy attack had caused her knot to loosen.
Franco followed her eyes to the view screen, and watched, helplessly, as the escape pods of the USS Wyoming were being picked off by Coalition ships. “Let's give them some cover,” he ordered.
An archaic console flashed, and a speaker began to beep. A figure moved towards the terminal and clicked a button.
“Yes?” came a controlled and calm voice.
“Centurion Avin?” came the regal voice of General Kassus.
“It is me, sir,” Avin confirmed.
“Activate scrambler,” Kassus ordered.
Avin punched and switched several knobs on the archaic console. “Done.”
“Good,” Kassus was pleased. “Now we can talk without worry of being overheard.”
“We released Dr. Adar over a month ago,” Kassus said. “I was wondering if you have heard any word about his whereabouts?”
Avin rubbed his forehead, running his fingers over his brow ridge.
“No, I have not,” Avin answered.
“From all appearances, Adar has dropped off the radar, sir,” Avin informed the General. “Anything else, sir?”
“Yes. How is Major Kovok doing?” Kassus asked.
“He performs his duty well,” Avin judged. “An ideal commander, especially for one so young.”
“Good, I am pleased,” Kassus said.
“General, if I may speak plainly?”
“By all means, Avin,” Kassus said. “You are, after all, my oldest and closest friend.”
“Which I am forever grateful for, sir,” Avin asserted. He paused before continuing. “I am curious, however, as to why I am posted here. Major Kovok does not need my supervision. He is a fine officer, and a tribute to Romulan efficiency.”
Kassus did not respond immediately. Avin was worried that he had overstepped his bounds. His friendship with the General had been long and fruitful, but he had never asked for such an explanation.
“Remember Remora?” Kassus asked.
Avin thought for a moment and his eyes widen with understanding. “The daughter of the hero Malev?”
“You remember her, then?” Kassus questioned.
“Yes, of course,” Avin responded. “Her beauty knew no bounds.”
“She was an exquisite fruit, yes,” Kassus said. He paused. “Kovok is her son.”
“I was unaware that she had married,” Avin said.
“She did not,” Kassus said. “Never has.”
“Then who is the fa...,” Avin suddenly realized the answer. “You are. Kovok is your son.”
“Yes, Avin, old friend,” Kassus gave in. “I would have told you in person, but I wanted your first meeting with him to be unbiased.”
“I understand now why I am assigned to this outpost,” Avin said.
“I would think so,” Kassus said. “Kovok does not know that I am his father, and I would like it to stay that way. Having said that, he is still my son. You are my most trusted associate, and I would trust no one other than you to look after and mentor him.”
“I am honored by your trust, General,” Avin said. “I will not disappoint you.”
“That is to be expected,” Kassus said. “I must go, Colonel R'mor has a report he wishes me to review. I will be in contact. Stay sharp, old friend.”
“And you, General.”
Supreme Admiral Da'note stood before the wall screen of the CWS Kal'sa and watched as the 3rd Command Group engaged the Federation task force. He grinned.
He looked over his shoulder at his lieutenant, Colonel Val'gar.
“Yes, Colonel, what is it?” he inquired.
“Can we trust Tyson Calok to crush the enemy?” he asked.
Da'note laughed hard. “Are you blind, Val'gar? Minark has been destroyed. Completely wiped out. Trust me, we can trust in Calok to crush the enemy!”
Val'gar nodded, and stood with his hands locked behind his back.
Da'note turned his attention back to the wall screen. “See! There!” he pointed at a Revenge-class ship in the center of the melee. “There is the Revenge.”
“Calok's ship,” Val'gar nodded in affirmation. Da'note turned and looked at his subordinate.
“You don't see it, do you? What he is doing?” the Supreme Admiral questioned.
Colonel Val'gar shifted and shook his head. “No, I do not,” he admitted.
Da'note grinned. “Better to admit ignorance than shame yourself with lies,” he said. He looked back at the wall screen and pointed at the image of the Revenge. “He is charging his primary weapon.”
“The pulse cannon?” Val'gar asked.
“No,” Da'note said. “The pulse cannon is not his primary weapon. According to my sources amongst the 3rd Command Group, Calok has upgraded the Revenge with his plasma beam weapon.”
Val'gar nodded. “A powerful weapon, indeed. Capable of destroying a Borg cube... and only at half charge.”
Da'note nodded to his lieutenant. “You understand.”
“Yes,” Val'gar said. “I do.”
A lieutenant came up to Val'gar and handed him a data pad. The Colonel examined it.
“What is it?”
“Your contact,” Val'gar said. “He wishes to speak.”
Da'note nodded. “Tomorrow, Colonel. Tell him tomorrow.”
“Plasma conduits are fully charge, sir!” hissed a so'jan corporal from the weapons terminal.
Calok spun around in his chair. “Excellent!” He turned back to the wall screen and pointed at the image. “Target that Galaxy-class starship!”
L'mar stepped over to the weapons station, as the weapons officer programmed the targeting solution. “The USS Lawford, under the command of ...,” L'mar began.
“Patrick Gilmore, yes, I know,” Calok finished, his eyes fixated on the image of the Lawford.
Ba'dal stepped over to L'mar and leaned in close.
“Sir? I do not understand?” Ba'dal asked, softly, so he would no be overheard.
“Captain Gilmore was a former Maquis,” L'mar answered.
Ba'dal looked confused.
“He was Maquis,” L'mar repeated. “No more need be said.”
“Target locked, sir!” the weapons officer announced.
Calok's eyes began to glow.
Franco gripped the arms of his chair as the Amerigo was knocked off its axis by an impact of a pulse cannon beam. However, his attention was drawn to the image on the view screen.
The USS Lawford was pitching to its left, heading for what he presumed was an attack run on the Revenge, however something was wrong. A bright beam of bright light burst from the nose of the Revenge and struck the shields of the Lawford. For a moment, Franco thought the shields would hold, but only for a moment. Within seconds the shields collapsed and the destructive beam penetrated the Lawford's hull. After which the Galaxy-class starship began to implode.
“My god,” Franco was stunned.
Aboard the Revenge, Tyson Calok grinned with glee.
Admirals Anton and Pavoc just finished briefing President Korvin Mot on a potential security leak, when the door opened and Commander Jovan Diggs walked in with a padd. He handed it to Anton, who skimmed the contents.
“Mr. President,” he said, looking up. “I have some bad news.”
Mot leaned back in his chair, and looked out the window at the Eiffel Tower. “More bad news from the war, Admiral?”
“I'm afraid so,” Anton said. “The Coalition has broken through the defense line outside of the Evadus system.”
Pavoc shook his head in an uncharacteristic display of emotion.
“Grave news, indeed.”
Korvin Mot twiddled his thumbs in frustration. “We've got to do something, gentlemen,” he said. “We can no longer allow the Coalition to keep pushing us back.”
“I know the situation looks bad, sir,” Anton said. “But you must have faith in our people to hold the line.”
“But that's just it, Admiral,” Mot said. “They didn't. The line broke and the Coalition has advanced.” Mot slumped in his chair.
“The leak needs to be plugged,” Anton said.
“And you're working on that, right?” Mot asked.
“Yes, Mr. President, we are,” Pavoc spoke up. “As we informed you earlier, we are running an internal investigation to discover the breach.”
“There's your trust, Harry,” Mot told Anton. “One of our own is selling us out to the Coalition.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Anton said. “The investigation is still on going.”
Captain Connor Burt came charging into the officer's lounge. He wore a scowl on his face, spotted his target, and ran up to him.
“You keep you're filthy hands off him, you here!” Burt said, grabbing Commander Smith by the collar and lifting him out of his chair.
“I am merely doing my job, Captain,” Smith said.
“The hell you are!” Burt took a swing at Smith and hit him square in the jaw. Smith fell back. Burt raised his fist to take another swing, but station security was on him, and was holding him back. “You're finished, Smith! You here me! Finished!”
“I understand his feelings, Commander,” Truman was saying.
Commander Bradley Smith rubbed his jaw with the palm of his left hand. “As do I, Admiral,” Smith said. “But that does not excuse his actions. He struck a fellow officer.”
“Are you filing charges?” Truman asked.
Smith gave a shrug. “I'll need to contact my superior, but as of now, I have no inclination to do so.”
“What about Captain Kelsoe?” Truman demanded, leaning forward in his chair.
Smith smiled. “Another matter all together, I'm afraid.” He leaned back in his chair and looked over at the Federation flag draped on a pole behind Truman's desk. “Treason is a serious matter, Admiral, not taken likely.”
“You of all people should be aware of that, Commander,” Admiral Truman said, gravely.
“I beg your pardon, sir?”
“After you locked Kelsoe up, and decided to dig a little deeper into my check on you,” Truman said, retrieving a padd from a desk drawer. Smith leaned forward, attempting to catch a glimpse of the padd's contents. “Interesting read.”
“According to my sources,” Truman said. “You were brought up on charges of treason in 2371.”
“If memory serves, a lot of Federation citizens were accused of treason during that time,” Smith objected.
“You were Maquis,” Truman said. “JAG had you up on charges and then suddenly, poof, they were dropped.”
“The charges were unfounded, and illegal,” Smith defended himself.
“Not according to my sources,” Truman said, holding up the padd. “According to this, your father, Rear Admiral Mikael Smith, stepped in and spoke with JAG. After that conversation, Admiral Frigg had the charges dropped.”
Smith shifted uneasily in his chair.
“Why did you come here, Commander?” Truman asked. “And I'd like the truth, this time.”
“Are you sure?” Truman questioned. He reached over to a small terminal on his desk and pushed a button. “Enter.”
Lieutenant Albert Buerk and a pair of security officers stepped into the office.
“Yes, Admiral?” Buerk inquired.
Truman looked at Smith again.
“Don't make me have you arrested for insubordination.”
Smith bit his lip, and folded his arms across his chest, refusing to talk.
Buerk stepped forward and placed a hand on Smith's arm. “Commander, will you come with me, please?”
He made no fuss, no commotion, as he stood up. Buerk and his security guards led him to the door. He stopped at the threshold and turned around.
“I was just following orders, Admiral,” was all he said.
Buerk handed him off to the security officers waiting outside, and turned back to the Admiral to await further orders.
“Your orders, sir?”
“Have Kelsoe released,” Truman said. “But do it quietly.”
Buerk gave a nod, and left with a security officer in toe.
The line was defeated. The ships damaged, some beyond repair. And some were no more. The Wyoming and the Lawford, and countless others… gone.
After Calok's demonstration of the plasma beam, the Coalition forces began using the pulse cannon weapon on fleet. Captain Timothy Franco had witnessed the destruction and mayhem from the battered bridge of the USS Amerigo. He began to question whether or not the Federation could survive this foe. The Dominion had been tough, but they had some handicaps that could be exploited. Right now, he saw no such handicaps in the Coalition.
Near the end of the battle a small squad of Romulan warbirds arrived, but they were too late to prevent the penetration of the 3rd Command Group. In addition, they lost one warbird for their troubles. Calok had angled his warship in perfect striking position, and had taken out the first warbird to arrive.
Franco was forced to call for a retreat. By the time the fleet was ready to disembark, Calok and the Revenge had long since gone, and there was no way to track where they had gone.
“Orders, sir?” Armstrong asked.
Franco stood in the rubble that had been his bridge.
“Set a course for Deep Space Five,” he said. “Best possible speed.” He turned to his command chair, which lay on its side. He sighed and turned back to the helm. “Engage.”
Major Admiral Isen'ko took a deep breath before entering the throne room. At the far end of the great hall was the raised dais, where the king sat; the Throne of Ages, as it was called, since the dawn of the Kingdom, after the fall of the Oppressor overseers, the King of the So'jan people had always sat there, on that throne.
“You bring good news I trust, Admiral Isen'ko,” King Ar'kon called out from his chair.
Isen'ko held back a laugh, as he looked at Ar'kon, dressed in the ancient golden garb of the kings of old. In the recent months, since the disappearance of Xojo Manjala and the invasion of the Tealuian Alliance, Ar'kon had become obsessed with the ancient customs and rites of their people.
The current obsession Ar'kon had was on clothing, especially on anything that the first So'jan king, Ru'tan, wore, which in some respects Isen'ko found amusing, considering the fact that both Ru'mal and Ru'kon were both decedents of the first King, and both opposed the current one.
“You can say that, yes,” Isen'ko said, bowing his head. “The Federation task force in the Evadus system has fallen. Supreme Admiral Da'note is moving the fleet into a stronger position around our newly acquired realm. The Tealuian Alliance is now completely under our control.”
“What of the 3rd Command Group?” Ar'kon inquired, flicking his hand at an attendant who had failed to clip the king's nails properly. The attendant promptly vanished beyond the tapestry behind the throne.
“Reports from various fleets and scout craft have reported that Calok had taken the Revenge to Yoth,” Isen'ko reported. “But that was some time ago. Current intelligence place him near the Argaylen Cascade.”
“Why would he go there? It's so dark!” Ar'kon quipped, thinking himself smart.
“Not the Argaylen Cascade, your liege,” Isen'ko said, hiding his contempt for Ar'kon with a smile. “Usually, yes, but the dark matter in the Cascade is sometimes illuminated by the nearby Argaylen binary star system.”
From his expression, Isen'ko could tell that Ar'kon was not pleased that his witty remark had been ignored. “Are there any planets in that system?”
“No,” Isen'ko said.
“Then why would he go there?”
Isen'ko lowered his shoulders, a very uncharacteristic act by a senior military official. “The High Command does not know,” he admitted, but would Ar'kon believe him or not, he did not know.
Ar'kon nodded gravely. “Ba'gee must be his guide, and ours,” Ar'kon muttered, returning to religious rhetoric. “May He guide us well.”
Isen'ko nodded, and left, straightening his posture as he turned his back to the idiot king.
Kelsoe entered Truman's office, rubbing his wrists, and was greeted by Commander Robert Tuff and the Admiral.
“I knew you were innocent,” Tuff joked, giving him a slap on the back.
Kelsoe smiled, glade to be among friends.
“I'm no traitor,” Kelsoe said, after they had all sat down. “But something Smith said to me... well, it really made me think. Calok messed with my mind. I have no idea what has been planted in there. What seeds have yet to sprout.”
Truman nodded, gravely. “Smith's concerns may well be valid, but his methods were not,” the Admiral said.
“I ran a check on Smith,” Truman explained. “Those orders, supposedly handed down by Admiral McCloud were fake.”
Tuff whistled. “He took a big chance.”
“And he messed with the wrong people,” Truman said. “And this time daddy wasn't around to fix his mistakes.” He had told them about his research into Smith's background earlier.
They all sat in silence for a while, each taking of the gravity of the current situation. The information from the Evadus system had just reached their hears and they all found it disturbing.
“Is Franco all right?” Kelsoe asked.
“Yes,” Truman answered. “He's fine. The Amerigo took some tough hits though.”
“I'm stilled amazed the Pioneer was able to take the beating it did during Minark,” Tuff commented.
“Yes, that is interesting,” Truman said, leaning back and taking a good long look at Captain Kelsoe, wondering if he had made the right decision with Smith. He shook his head, convincing himself he had. He knew Kelsoe. He was a good man, a good officer. Starfleet needed men like Kelsoe if they were to when the war.
The hiss of the doors opening drew their attention to Lieutenant Albert Buerk, who entered the room with Commander Bradley Smith, in manacles. Kelsoe and Tuff stood up.
“The prisoner wanted to say something to you before I sent him off to Earth for trial,” Buerk announced.
Kelsoe turned to Smith. “Go ahead, Commander.”
“I know you have reason to believe what I am about to tell you, Captain,” Smith said. “But I assure you it is the truth.”
Smith took a deep breath. “Things are not going well on Earth, sirs. Starfleet Command has done a good job at keeping a tight lid on the situation, but citizens are becoming restless with the war. We have failed to prevent the Coalition from making advancements, all the while making no gains ourselves. The current stratagem is lackluster and avoid of imagination. And people know this. Specifically people with long reaches, such as those who sent me.”
“What are you trying to say, Commander?” Admiral Truman asked, standing up.
“There is an organization,” Smith said. “One that I believe you have heard of. Many had come to the opinion that it had become impotent at the end of the Dominion War, but that is not true. It is still there, and they are still recruiting Starfleet officers.”
“And you were on such officer?”
“Yes, I was,” Smith continued. “Section 31 is more powerful than ever. They have their fingers in all branches of the Federation. Mark my words, trouble is coming, and its from within, not without. The Federation has internal problems, problems that no politician, no officer, no president can fix.”
“What are you trying to say, Commander?” Kelsoe asked.
“The truth shall set you free, Captain!” Smith shouted. He then snapped the manacles opened. He grabbed Buerk's phaser and pushed the security officer to the floor. Tuff made a move to grab him, but Smith held him at bay with the phaser.
“What are you doing, Smith?” Kelsoe demanded. Behind him, Truman was calling for back up.
“The answers lie in your mind, Captain,” Smith said. “The seeds have been sowed. All you need is to look.” Smith raised the phaser to his head.
Kelsoe and Tuff cried, “No!”
Smith pulled the trigger and the phaser went off, point bank. Station security came running through the door just as his body fell to the deck. Kelsoe and Tuff exchanged looks and Admiral Truman helped Buerk up off the floor.
“The shit's hit the fan, boys,” Truman said.
Tyson Calok emerged onto the bridge of the Revenge. “Report.”
“We've received a message from the Breen,” L'mar informed him. “They've taken McCoy 12. They're relaying the requested information through secure channels.”
“And the Lord of Red?” Calok inquired, looking at the image of the Argaylen Cascade on the wall screen.
L'mar shook his head. “Nothing. Are you sure we can find him?”
“We have to,” Calok said. “He is the Lord.”
L'mar shivered. From what he remember on Yoth, he had hoped never to encounter the Beast again, however it appeared that Calok had planned differently.
“Sir,” Ba'dal stepped over to L'mar. “The Breen information has been transmitted.”
“On screen,” L'mar said, indicating a small view screen beside the operations terminal. Ba'dal signaled to the soldier at communications and the information was transferred. L'mar leaned down and examined the contents of the message. He looked up. “Tyson?”
Calok turned around from the image of the Cascade.
“Yes, Telek, what is it?”
“The Breen believe they have located the lost homeworld of the Oppressors!”
“Did we get that?” Major Kovok demanded.
The sublieutenant at the communications station nodded. “Yes, Major, we recorded the entire conversation.”
“And the Breen transmission?” Centurion Avin inquired.
“Uploading now, Centurion,” the sublieutenant said.
“Major, if you please,” Avin gestured to a terminal in the center of the room.
Kovok inclined his head, and he approached the terminal with the Centurion. Avin activated the screen, and the data flowed through. He looked over at the Major.
“Is this what I think it is, Centurion?” Kovok inquired.
“I believe so,” Avin was as surprised as Kovok. “I'm amazed the Breen did not use a new encryption algorithm.”
Kovok turned around to the communications officer. “Sublieutenant,” he ordered. “Prepare a secure data burst link up to command. We must inform them of this information.”
It was cold.
The wind blew with strength not felt for ages.
The ship rocketed slowly as it was carried along.
He was alone.
The elderly man sat up. A dirty floor mat, his bed. The computer was beeping, trying to tell him something. He punched the flashing button. The computer chirped.
“State authorization code and name?” it asked.
The man stretched his neck. “Authorization code, Jobe-Vex,” he said in a sour voice. “Name...,” he coughed. “Name... Felix Adar.”
To be continued...