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Salvation - Part II by Travis Anderson

The Spy, the Rebel, the Daredevil, the Fighter, the Lightbulb, the Muscle, the Fixer, the
Rock, the Brain, and one ship shared by all. The tale continues...

Chapter Seven

Blek was surrounded by a dozen guards, which didn't include the dozen Constabulary officers surrounding the SID foursome. The regular guards looked smug while the constables were edgy. Their greater experience with foreign troublemakers clued them into the fact that the SID team was the greatest potential threat the Conciliator had faced in some time. Their hands never left the pistol grips of their sidearms.

"So, you are the troublemakers." Blek accused.

"We were minding our own business before a sizable portion of your police force brought us here," Macen pointed out the obvious, "And you have to have been informed of our Level 9 clearance. That clearance prohibits the taking of my people's weapons unless there's been a legal violation. That is, if you're still honoring your treaty with the Federation."

Blek blanched, "But you have violated local ordinances. You fled the scene with a fugitive."

"And what exactly is Ensign Auray guilty of, besides surviving getting shot down while you seized Starfleet personnel?" Macen wondered.

"I never..." Blek started to protest.

"Sure you did," Macen consoled him; "The Ensign could flee Felkor and run to Starfleet. You had to order shooting down her shuttle. And of course, once she was on the ground, she was a witness to the shuttle being knocked out of the sky so she had to be eliminated. Appearances must be maintained after all so that you have a strong negotiating position."

Blek looked frightened that he'd been read so easily, "It wasn't like that..."

"Sure it was," Macen said peaceably, "You'd driven the Intrepid to the edge of your territory. You had Ekosian weapons set to be delivered and you had the ensign lost amongst the warrens of your slums. Even your police are afraid to venture in there so what chance did she stand? Let's be honest. She was just another dead alien and as long as she was dead she couldn't harm you and best of all, you could blame it on the gutter rats."

"Now, see here..." Blek tried again but once again he faltered.

Macen's eyes grew fierce and his voice grew cold, "I'm here to tell you that all of your little plans are futile."

Blek loosed a weak, barking laugh; "And why is that?"

"Because we're going to stop you," it was said with such certainty that Blek had no doubts as to the veracity of the statement.

"But what if..." Blek began before being interrupted.

"You arrest us and put us alongside Johnson and the others?" Macen asked for him, "Starfleet has already hired one rescue team, who's to say they won't hire another? And what happens when they're tired of expending civilians' lives and decide a military strike is called for?"

Blek's jaw worked noiselessly and Macen wore a cruel smile, "I can see you appreciate the possibilities. I suggest you have your constables return us to where they found us now."

Blek motioned for the Chief Inspector to come forward. Macen decided to fire one last shot across his bow, "When this done, you'll be begging Starfleet and the Federation for mercy."

Blek found his voice at last, "Federation Ambassador Blevins and Admiral Johnson certainly never talked to me this way!"

Something in Blek's voice gave away why the ambassador had been silent during all of this and Macen capitalized on the moment, "I'm supposing that was before you locked them up at gunpoint. You might want to take a poll and discover their current state of mind."

Macen taunted him, "But then again, you probably won't like the results."

"Take them away!" Blek snapped.

"Shall I arrest them?" the inspector sought clarification.

Blek had a moment of insight into the SID team. Rockford, Radil, and Daggit all seemed to be standing idly by but they were engines of destruction waiting for the slightest excuse to wheel into action. Macen just stood there wearing an all too knowing grin.

"Take them back to wherever you found them but keep tabs on them." Blek ordered.

"As you say," even the inspector was relieved to be letting them go.

The team was led back to the flyers where they were once again separated. The four flyers returned to Love & Rockets. The inspector returned their various weapons. The Felkorians gave Daggit a wide berth after returning his rifle, pistols, knives, grenade launcher and grenades.

Macen looked around, "Where's Eric?"

"Good question," Radil said bitterly.

"He was following us when the cops picked us up and transported us. He probably had to lay low in order to avoid alerting the guards at the Conciliator's home," Daggit allayed their concerns, "I suspect he'll be around any minute now."

Another flyer landed in front of the bar but instead of being a rental flown by McMasters, this was a 16 passenger armored limo. It possessed 8 gull wing doors on each side and three of those doors swung open. Once open, the first two seats behind the driver were revealed to be facing back into the cab. Two armed protective services professionals got out, one to each side of the flyer. The lone passenger, a Caitian, was bedecked in an opulent business suit cut in the latest style on Delta Vega.

"Greetings Commander, my name is Kreow. My superior wishes to speak with you. I'm offering you safe conduct to, there, and from," the Caitian stated.

"And your superior represents the Orion Syndicate?" Macen asked.

Kreow brightened, "Precisely. Will you come?"

"What happens if we refuse?" Macen wondered.

"Then your only recourse to free Admiral Johnson is to face Brazzinnik's Battalions. I do not think you appreciate those odds, especially now that they're tipped off as to your presence," Kreow explained.

Macen looked over to Radil. She offered him a weak, repentant smile. He returned his focus to Kreow.

"You've received news of my offer?" he sought confirmation.

Kreow nodded, "Indeed. Most generous terms. We have a counter proposal ready."

"And it is?" Macen asked.

"Now, now, that's for my superior to discuss," Kreow specified.

Macen mulled it over, "All right we accept. I suppose we'll be disarmed?"

Kreow waved his hand, "No, when we reach the mansion, you will be asked to place your personal weapons in biometric keyed strongboxes. That is as much for your safety as it is for ours. Some of the Orions guarding my superior know of your exploits in eliminating Bertram Sindis. Over a dozen of their comrades died in that ambush. They hold a grudge and will react negatively to the merest hint of a weapon."

"I see," Macen conceded. He motioned for everyone to mount up. Macen sat in the seat facing Kreow. Rockford circled the flyer and sat in the seat next to Macen's. Radil followed Rockford and sat behind her, next to Daggit."

"Do you have any means of communicating with your fellow in the flyer?" Kreow wanted to know.

"Maybe," Macen replied, "Do you have a message for him?"

"If you would, let him know he can land in the paddock in the rear of the Mansion. We'll be parking there as well. Whether or not he enters into the house or not is up to you," Kreow declared.

Macen tapped the badge on his belt and gave McMasters his instructions. He was to land but wait with the flyer. Macen terminated the connection while the human vented his spleen.

The mansion they landed at had a vast, sprawling estate filled with flowers and greenery. There were also a dozen other flyers of various shapes, styles, and capacities. Macen wore a wry expression as he spoke to Kreow.

"Life's been good," he said.

The Caitian smiled, revealing razor sharp fangs, "You have no idea."

They were brought through the rear entrance of the mansion and led to the foyer. There, a revolving cache of strongboxes was sitting near the fortress-like front doors. Kreow motioned for Macen to step up and show the way for his people.

The box was large enough to hold a dozen rifles. It amused him to no end that all he was putting in there was a single Bajoran phaser pistol. He placed his thumb on the scanner next to a green light. The light became yellow to indicate his biosignature had been recorded. The lid popped open and he lifted it to see the oversized trove. Placing his phaser inside, he closed the lid and the light became red.

Afterwards they ran a tricorder over him to ascertain how honest he'd been. Satisfied they stepped aside and let each of member of the team undergo the same ritual. When they finished Kreow's comm badge, worn on his wrist, sounded.

He stepped away and not for the first time he wished T'Kir's ears were here. Fortunately, Kreow decided to share, "Your erstwhile companion has arrived and is verbally assaulting the exterior guards. Have no fears, I've informed them that he is not to be touched unless he makes the first move."

Macen could only hope the Irishman would hold his temper.

They were led through the mansion by Kreow. Four massive Orions stood around a door. Kreow urged the SID team to keep moving. He depressed the door chime and the door slid open. He entered and Macen's companions followed. Inside Shar sat behind an expansive, and expensive, hardwood desk. The Andorian rose and came around to shake Macen's hand.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Brin Macen, the giant killer. Please have a seat. I can have refreshments brought in. I was about to take my afternoon tea. I do hope you will join me," Shar said pleasantly.

"Starfleet Intelligence lists Kreow there as the sector boss. That makes you someone more dangerous," Macen assessed.

Shar smiled, "I do like you, Commander. Shall we dispense with the looming questions while we await our tea?"

"First, could you have something brought out to my man on the landing paddock?" Macen inquired, "I'm certain he's feeling peckish by now."

"Of course," Shar obligingly agreed and called the kitchen. He ordered a veritable feast and then got down to business, "You're here to liberate, and I presume eliminate if liberation is not an option, one Admiral Robert Tavar Johnson. Then of course there's his security detachment and the Federation ambassador. You've already recovered his pilot so you are feeling the flush of success."

"I must tell you, your chances of extracting or killing Johnson are next to nothing. Ms. Radil can tell you of Brazzinnick's efficiency and competence. She herself was a stellar example of their Battalion so we hired her." Shar chuckled at this point, "Of course, you literally stole her away from us."

"Nostalgia is interesting but you're digressing," Macen accused.

Even that amused Shar, "You must learn to enjoy the moment, Commander."

Seeing that Macen was unfazed, Shar got to the point; "Your offer, while interesting, isn't enough."

"We're talking about nearly unlimited funds," Macen pointed out.

"Yes, but we are not after funds. We want a service," Shar revealed.

Macen was immediately suspicious, "What kind of service?"

"Nothing onerous, I assure you," Shar chuckled, "It is a task you may even enjoy accomplishing."

"What is the task?" Macen was actually dying of curiosity.

"We want Chief Conciliator Blek removed from office," Shar announced.

"Removed as in out of office, off the planet, or dead?' Macen sought clarification.

"Off the planet or dead would be the favorable results," Shar decided.

"May I ask why?" Macen inquired, "After all, he is your lap dog, no pun intended."

"Blek is far from our lap dog," Shar enjoyed the jest, intentional or not; "He is a highly uncooperative ally at best."

"Sounds as though that's his motif," Macen dryly remarked.

"Yes, it is spreading," Shar conceded.

"Why don't you remove him yourself? You've certainly got the manpower," Macen brought up the obvious point.

"The Orion Syndicate cannot be seen as taking sides in local politics," Shar stated.

"Even though you are," Macen quipped.

Shar bowed his head once, "Even though we are."

"I take it Blek's removal is already in motion?" Macen sought confirmation for his suspicion.

"Yes. Your involvement would just clean things up into a tidy package," Shar shared.

"Such as giving the next Chief Conciliator legitimacy and a perfect excuse to abandon the treaty with the Federation," Macen surmised.

"To be blunt, denying this request would only be delaying the inevitable and condemn Johnson to a Klingon mind sifter. His implant will undoubtedly fry his brain under those circumstances but we can at least say we tried," Shar was so nonchalant that it was frightening.

Macen had an uncomfortable realization that Shar was another Sindis on a much smaller scale. The base attitude regarding sentient life was the same and that's all that mattered. He couldn't leave Bob, Ian, and Jonathan in the Andorian's hands.

"We'll do it," he declared.

He heard the rustle behind him as his teammates reacted. They were undoubtedly surprised. Then again, they were all realists and knew that this was the best option around. Radil's dismay at potentially facing her old comrades in arms would be allayed. Which was good, he'd need her focused for the task ahead. They would all have to be focused. And Grace and even Auray would get in on the action so that would stymie some of the complaints.

Shar seemed to sense Macen's thoughts, "I'm so glad you agreed. When do you think you can be finished?"

"I'll try and stick to my original time table," Macen shared, "We'll make our attempt the day after tomorrow."

Macen began to rise and Shar halted him, "Please stay. Your tea has just arrived and I can provide many of the details that you will need to continue with your assignment. If you could each hand me a padd, we shall begin."

Everybody complied while a steward arrived to serve their desires. Shar had details on the Conciliator's home, guard detail, flyers, offices, daily routines, personal preferences, eating and sleeping habits, and his itinerary for the week. All of which revealed how badly and how ready the Syndicate was to removing him themselves. If Johnson's life hadn't been on the line, Macen would've forced the crime racket into doing it themselves but as it was, removing Blek was a cheap price for six lives.


Chapter Eight

The team had received the pertinent data from the Orion Syndicate's databanks and left. As they were boarding the flyer, Shar took Macen aside.

"I can give you seven days. After that Johnson will be offworld and in the heart of the Orion Confederacy. As you already know, the Ekosians are coming with an arms shipment. These arms will be used in support of the coup that will occur of Blek is still in office after that deadline. I know you said you would strike on the third day of your visit here, but can you really manage such a thing on such short notice?" Shar spoke.

"Ask Daveed B'nner," Macen replied.

That silenced Shar. No Syndicate agent would ever forget what Macen's compatriots had done after B'nner killed Macen and his Vulcan wife. The mystery of how the pair had been restored to life was shrouded in legend. The tellers of such stories, though typically reliable, were never believed.

The SID team flew back to the spaceport. There they rejoined Grace and Auray. The two pilots were thrilled to learn that they would have a role to play in upcoming events.

Macen loaded the info on the padds onto the ship's computer. From there, Grace and Auray loaded their own padds and dutifully followed along as the team dissected the data. What was quickly decided was that Blek needed to be observed throughout tomorrow. His comings and goings had to be charted. He had two meetings during the day and it would prove useful to observe his security team in action.

Daggit quickly ruled out an extraction from Blek's domicile. It was too heavily fortified and defended. They might as well strike Mount Fildkirk and try their hand against Brazzinnik's Battalions. No one relished that particular thought. Just to be certain though, Radil shared her knowledge of the Battalions' strengths. She also revealed that Brazzinik had five companies on Felkor. Two would be on duty at all times. Two would be on stand-by and the remaining one would enjoy a furlough.

"We'll need more flyers," Macen decided, "Hannah, you'll pilot one. Auray, you have another and Eric, you have the third."

"But there are four approaches to the compound," McMasters pointed out.

"But we're going to have two stationary units and one mobile. Ensign Auray, how are you at blending into normal traffic?" Macen wondered.

"How do you mean, sir?" she asked.

"I mean, can you repeatedly fly around the compound without attracting official attention?" he clarified.

"Just say the word," she promised.

"Good," Macen grinned, "Because I want you to do the opposite."

"Say what?" she yelped.

"I want them to know you're there. Be obvious. I want them at their highest stage of alert. Then we'll know what a worst case scenario will look like," Macen explained his reasoning.

"If you say so, sir," Auray relented.

"And stop calling me 'sir'," Macen instructed, "I'm not in Starfleet anymore."

"Yessir!" Auray's cheeks darkened to a deeper shade of blue, "I mean..."

"I understand," Macen said with a longsuffering air. He turned back to his padd, "When Blek departs Hannah will follow them. Rab, Jenrya, you'll be with her. Watch his security when he disembarks. I want to know if we can mount a snatch and grab at a scheduled destination."

"I take it that leaves you and me with Eric back at the compound," Rockford observed.

"Yeah, and I have an idea," Macen said.

"Oh?" her eyebrows lifted, "Do tell."

"It's a surprise," Macen replied.

Rockford looked over towards McMasters, "We're going to get shot at."

"Not necessarily," Macen said defensively.

"Darling, all of your plans involve us getting shot at," Rockford duly informed him.

"We'll get to shoot back," Macen offered as way of consolation.

"I might just shoot you," Rockford warned.

"Where's the fun in that?" Macen asked.

Rockford's laugh was one of sheer delight, "Trust me, it'd be fun."

Macen's expression was less than mirthful.

Sleeping in the runabout was a crowded affair. Macen and Rockford shared a cot in the rear lounge. Radil and Auray shared the other cot. Both were familiar with sleeping with members of a female gender and felt comfortable spooning.

Grace grabbed a biobed and McMasters took the other bed. Grace warned McMasters that he'd better not snore and he laughed, "Like your boyfriend doesn't."

Grace was mortified. How did her know Ian had a light snore, almost like a purr? Fortunately for Delaney, Grace found it charming. Of course the thrill would eventually wear off.

Daggit strapped himself into the seat at the Tactical station and slept there. As an Angosian Augment, he would have been just as comfortable on the deck. He just wanted ready access to the defensive systems in case the Felkorian constables came calling. While he could be comfortable anywhere, he preferred sleeping by Parva's side. He'd grown used to her blazing warmth. And besides, her supple curves were much more inviting than a crash harness.

The next morning they rented their extra fliers and went to work. Grace and McMasters each set down on nearby landing platforms. They'd only be able to stay for a short time before building security investigated them. Meanwhile, Auray was making her circles of the Conciliator's building. Watching her through sensor glasses, Macen grinned; "Auray is doing just fine. Blek's security detail has to be going insane."

"His motorcade is supposed to deploy in three minutes," Rockford reminded him.

"Wait, they're deploying a flyer," Macen took a sensor reading, "It has police markings and disruptor cannons. Wave Auray off."

Rockford commed her, "Auray, it's time to break off. You have a pursuit vehicle after you. Lose them and then join us at the spaceport."

Auray acknowledged and flew off with the security flyer in hot pursuit. Next, the motorcade deployed. It consisted of two flyers fore, a limo, and two flyers aft. Grace immediately took off after them.

"I hope Hannah's smart enough to keep a low profile," McMasters fretted, "They're seriously outgunned."

"Hannah knows what she's doing. Now, get us in that landing bay before they seal it," Macen instructed.

McMasters gunned it and the flyer shot forward. He noted Macen was wearing a wry expression, "What?"

"I was just wondering if we could go back and get my teeth," Macen dryly commented.

"You wanted us in there. Well, the roll down gate is already closing. It's gonna be tight as it is," McMasters warned.

They did scrape the roof of the flyer across the gate as it was rolling down. It was essentially a cabled net intended to simply keep people from entering. The questions were, how strong was it, and would it trap them inside?

The flyer came to a halt. The entire level below the Chief Conciliator's residence was a parking and maintenance garage. It wouldn't take long for the remaining security staff to mobilize so they had to be quick.

The trio exited the flyer and the all drew their sidearms. The first guard appeared and Rockford gunned him down. As discussed, their phasers were set on stun. The Felkorians didn't have that option nor would they be inclined to use it if they had it but Macen wanted to minimize casualties.

They stormed up the stairs into the residence. Two guards had them pinned down in the foyer. Macen was exchanging fire with them while Rockford weighed her options.

Pulling a stun grenade out of her belt, she armed it, and then lobbed it in between the two guards. The energy wave lashed out and stunned the pair despite their armor. Macen kept a cover position and Rockford surged forward. She made it to the main hallway and stopped. She took a scan with her tricorder while Macen and McMasters followed her.

Rockford held up three fingers. Macen nodded then waved in the direction of the hallway with his free hand. She braced up against the wall and held up three fingers and then counted down. When she curled her last finger she spun around the corner and began firing at targets as they presented themselves.

Macen crossed the width of the entrance, firing as he did so. He made it to the other side and Rockford sought shelter. Macen tilted his hand to the left, then held it straight up, and then tilted it to the right. Rockford nodded. That was indeed where their foes were located.

Macen pointed at McMasters. Rockford jerked her thumb towards him and shrugged. Macen made a motion, acting like his phaser was a breech loader, and he was inserting a round. Rockford grinned and gave him a thumbs up. She whispered into McMasters' ear and he started grinning like the proverbial Cheshire.

He pulled what looked like a flare gun out of his jacket. Opening the breech, he pulled a cylindrical round out of a bandolier that he wore. Sliding the round in, he snapped the gun shut. Rockford stepped out of the way and allowed McMasters to take her place. He made a finger gun with his hand and aimed down the hallway.

Macen spun around the corner and began to fire. The three Felkorian guards returned that fire. McMasters poked his head around and got his bearings. Then he stepped out and fired the gun. He hopped back around the corner as the Felkorians started shooting at him as well. Macen did the duck and cover.

The three guards stared at the round embedded into the floor between them and then they stared at one another. It pinged and they all barked a yelp as it detonated. The round discharged a burst of neural electricity. Since most humanoid nervous systems were triggered by the same bioelectric energy, the round was effective for most races.

After the initial blast, the Felkorians lay twitching. That effect quickly wore off and the SID trio calmly waltzed past them and into the Conciliator's office. Macen headed straight for the comp/comm. Rockford surveyed the room. McMasters stayed with the aide's desk.

Macen fished a padd out of his belt and linked it to the computer. It carried one of T'Kir's tapeworms. Ostensibly, it would unlock the network's security restrictions and grant access to any and all files.

The worm successfully loaded and within minutes access was granted. He was searching for files detailing Felkor's arrangements with the Orion Syndicate. What he discovered was larger than that. Rockford hurried over as she saw him turn white.

"What is it? What's wrong?" she inquired.

Macen returned the computer to stand-by mode and broke the link in between the padd and the network, "We need to go."

"What is it?" she stubbornly refused to budge.

Macen told her what he'd discovered. Rockford fumed, "So all of this has been a game."

"Essentially. Blek is going to break faith with the Federation whether he stays in office or not," he confirmed it, "The plan all along was for a squadron to rush in and get ambushed."

"And instead they got us," Rockford said with distaste in her mouth, "I don't know whether to laugh at the irony or cry."

"Look at it this way, at least we aren't breaking our contract," Macen offered.

Rockford just glared at him.

"Guys!" McMasters poked his head in, "The computer out here is tied into the security system. Someone is still running around here and they've recalled the flyer that was chasing Auray."

"ETA?" Macen inquired.

"The call went out when we first entered the residence so I assume they'll be here any minute now," McMasters informed them.

"Time to move," Macen ordered.

"Gee, you think?" McMasters quipped but he hustled.

McMasters put the flyer in reverse and smashed into the security fence. Designed to keep flyers out and not in, it broke free of its brackets and fell the dozens of stories straight down towards the streets below. McMasters aimed at the direction the spaceport lay and gunned it.

The guards' flyer spotted them exiting and whipped around and started to pursue. Their disruptors opened fire and the rental flyer was struck several times. McMasters grinned.

"I don't think you'll be getting your deposit back. Between the roof, the rear, and the weapons fire I'd say we'll end up owing the agency money," he grinned.

"Can you think of anything to lose them?" Macen wondered.

"Yeah, but we may get a little more banged up," McMasters warned.

"I think I'm already going to have to buy them a new flyer anyway," Macen replied.

"Strap in. This is gonna get hairy," McMasters instructed.

He steadied the steering yoke with his knees while he pulled on his own crash harness. This made them a steady target of convenience. He had everyone sound off when they were ready. When everyone had confirmed their preparation he dove the flyer...straight down.

Descending through layers of traffic, he dodged and weaved around crossing flyers and transports as best he could. They glanced off of several vehicles in different levels. The guards doggedly pursued them, firing their weapons the entire time.

They were in the teen levels when the guards' flyer was smashed head on by a large transport. The wreckage of the flyer continued to spiral downwards. McMasters leveled out and joined traffic. In the same level, the stricken flyer was hit again by yet another transport. This time it was flung into the opposing lane and hit head on by another flyer. It returned to falling and eventually smashed into the long forsaken streets below.

McMasters was quite pleased with himself, at least he was until he looked over and recognized Macen's displeasure; "What's wrong? We escaped them."

"I thought I made it plain that I wanted a zero body count," Macen expressed.

"When did you go so soft? Back in the Maquis..." McMasters began.

"We aren't in the Maquis," Macen snapped, "Those days are over, Eric. What worked then doesn't work now."

"Well, you certainly don't seem to think so most of the time!" McMasters accused, "One minute we aren't talking prisoners and then we suddenly are. Which is it going to be?"

"It all depends upon operational necessity," Macen was trying to stay calm but he was getting irritated and more than a tad defensive, "Our contracts determine our limits. That changes with each contract."

"That's stupid," McMasters vented.

"It's our life. Can you or can you not live it?" Macen wanted to know.

McMasters gave it serious thought before he finally spoke, "Yeah, I can live with it."

"Then you can stay with the team," Macen decided.

McMasters suddenly realized his future had been on the line. Although he'd only been with the SID unit for eighteen months, he instinctively knew he'd miss it. The members of the team had become his friends. Although Parva wasn't a member of the team, she regularly consulted with him. She respected his opinion and would want a second opinion or some advice on a project of hers.

Grace had become a dear friend as well. She'd been adrift after the loss of T'Kir. McMasters had put her to work on a complete refit of the Corsair and they'd grown close as the work progressed.

It seemed odd to McMasters that his two closest friends were women. Unavailable women at that. In fact, the only female member of the team that was available was Tessa and she was available to everyone. But the truth was, there was only one woman for him: Lisea Danan. Despite her marriage to Tom Riker, he still fantasized about her.

No women, real or holographic, had ever known him the way that she had. It had stuck with him. Every relationship afterwards became compared to those two weeks with Danan and it fell apart. He knew it bordered on delusional obsession and he didn't give a damn. Danan was the woman for him no matter whom she thought she was married to!

They regrouped at the spaceport. The rental agency did indeed ream Macen inside and out for the damages. He paid the overinflated price of buying a new flyer and left. Fortunately, they wouldn't need any more flyers while they were here.

Daggit reported that a snatch and grab at the hotel was impossible. Auray had listened in to official police chatter and discovered Blek was staying in the hotel until a replacement for the security net was installed. Work crews were already on it and they expected to be finished this evening.

Blek was refusing to move until morning, late morning, and several breakfasts later. Radil proposed taking him in the hotel. A lively debate arose and finally Grace interrupted.

"The easiest place to take him is the route," she declared. Every eye turned to her, "He has the least amount of protection while the flyers are en route. Reinforcements aren't readily available; they have to be called in."

She hesitated and Macen urged her on, "Keep going, Hannah."

She moved to the lounge's table and Rockford left her seat so Grace could sit down. Grace activated the touch screen controls and after selecting the map reader app, she traced the motorcade's route, "This is the route they took to get to the hotel. According to Auray's intercepts, they feel it's secure so they're retracing their steps to get back. What I noticed while we followed them is that this tower is unfinished."

She highlighted a tower along the route and then she expanded it, "The top thirty floors are an expansion to the lower levels. The roof is already reinforced. That means we could drive the motorcade into the superstructure, land on the roof, and then pursue them before they can escape the jamming field we'll have in place."

"You thought of this on your own?" Macen asked.

Grace shrugged, "Traffic was light."

"Well, it's brilliant," he declared. Grace smiled great big and practically glowed with pride.

"Rab, can you shoot down some of the flyers before herd the limo into the superstructure?" Macen wondered.

"What happened to zero body count?" McMasters snidely asked.

"I got some good readings on their flyers with my tricorder today. I should be able to disable them enough where they have to fall away without blowing them up or send them hurtling towards the ground," Daggit looked to Macen, "That's assuming we're using the Corsair."

"You bet your bippy we're using her," Macen grinned.

"My what?" Daggit was completely befuddled by the reference.

"Never mind," Macen waved the thought away, "We have an idea folks, now let's turn it into a plan."


Chapter Nine

The night was spent largely as the evening before. They received a communiqué from Shar the next morning outlining Blek's departure time and route. Macen wisely neglected to say that they'd worked out the route but he made a point of confirming the departure time.

Grace lifted the Corsair off of the tarmac ten minutes before Blek's motorcade was to depart. Auray sat beside her, acting as OPS Officer. Daggit had the Tactical station. Macen had bumped McMasters out of the cockpit. The Engineering console now acted as an Infosys board. That was a special command option McMasters had created for Macen.

The engineer joined Radil and Rockford in the rear lounge. They sat around the table, strapped into their seats. They didn't have any clue as to what kind of hairy maneuvers Grace would attempt. Even with the artificial gravity and inertial dampers it was still far too easy to get thrown from your seat when you couldn't anticipate what was coming next.

The Corsair filed a flight plan and made like she was slowly lifting off. Grace slowed the process to a crawl and was queried by Traffic Control.

"Sorry Traffic," Grace lied, "I seem to be having difficulties with my impulse manifold. Give my engineer time to lock it down."

They shunted her to a holding pattern over the city. Grace swung into it and came on to approach over Blek's hotel. Macen studied the sensor readings. Suddenly he grinned.

"The motorcade is setting out," he announced, "Okay Hannah, do your thing."

Grace pitched the runabout into a dive. The Corsair came up on the unsuspecting motorcade. It was then that Traffic Control put out the alert that the Federation runabout was off course and in the city. The guards in the flyers immediately spotted the spacecraft.

"You're up, Rab," Grace announced.

Daggit fired his first phaser volley. It disabled the engine of the lead flyer. It began to sink out of the traffic lane. The second shot damaged the next flyer guiding the limo. It couldn't keep up and fell away. Now Daggit used narrow misses to "seer" the limo.

The two rear flyers split up. One dropped back behind the Corsair and opened fire on her. The runabout's shields were holding but they wouldn't be able to land with the shields up. So Daggit had to divert his attention to disabling the chasing aircraft.

By the time he got back to the limo, it was almost too late. He fired with every forward phaser and got the limo redirected so that it crashed into the framework of the construction site. The remaining flyer followed it in.

The limo was on the 64th Floor and the runabout landed on the roof, right above the floor. The SID team piled out of the ship, fully armed and loaded for anything. Radil and Daggit descended the closest stairwell. Grace and McMasters took the lift while Macen and Rockford ran to the opposing stairwell.

Radil and Daggit appeared even as Grace and McMasters did. Two guards opened up on Grace and McMasters. The Kelvan and the human sought shelter behind different support columns. The bundle of girders deflected the disruptor fire. Grace returned fire and McMasters joined her.

While the guards' attention was focused on the pilot and the engineer, Radil hoisted her phaser cannon and unleashed several salvos at the limo. Daggit wracked a round into his grenade launcher. He unloaded a photon grenade at the flyer. Another one followed as did another. The right side of the flyer was a gutted ruin as Daggit slung his grenade launcher and began to use his phaser rifle.

Meanwhile, the guards formed up as best they could to try and keep the SID under cover while they extracted Blek to the other stairwell. Pulling the Chief Conciliator out of the limo, the four free protective services men started hustling him towards the remaining stairwell. The race would occur over ground with minimal cover. The only protection was the support girders but they would have to risk it.

"Why haven't you called for help?" Blek asked in a panicked voice as he crouched behind the limo.

His Protective Agent in Charge explained to him, "The Starfleet vermin have erected a jamming field. We can't talk amongst ourselves much less to the outside world. We need to get to the lower levels of the building, out of range of their jammers."

"How do you know it doesn't cover the entire building?" Blek wanted to know.

"They're using their runabout to jam our signals. That means the field has a very limited range. Runabouts, even Starfleet ones, only have so much power to spare," The PAC explained, "Now we have to get you across that empty space and to that stairwell. Do you see the stairwell?"

Blek nodded and the PAC spoke again, "I need to hear you say it. Do you see the stairwell?"

"Yes, I see it," Blek confirmed.

"When I give the word, we're going to run to that stairwell. The detail will move with you so you'll be safe. We'll be all around you, do you understand?" the PAC asked.

Blek nodded, "I understand."

The PAC signaled the other three agents and then he said, "Go!"

Blek had an agent in front of him, one on either side, and the PAC behind him. The PAC worriedly watched as Daggit picked off the agents left behind. As soon as one presented an available target, Radil would nail them with the cannon.

The agents at dealing with Grace and McMasters were down and the pair was trying to reposition to get a decent shot at their huddle. The guard to Blek's right laid down suppressive fire but Grace managed to hit him. The PAC took his place and forced Grace to retreat.

They reached the stairwell door and the lead agent swung it open and started to sweep the area visually and with his weapon. Unfortunately for him, Macen and Rockford were laying in wait. The agent was immediately stunned by Macen. Rockford, who'd been waiting pressed up against the wall, shot the agent to Blek's left.

The PAC forced Blek behind him. Radil and Daggit were the furthest away so he'd have a moment before the rear was threatened again. He began rapidly firing into the stairwell. Rockford simply scooted to her left and was safe. Macen hopped to his right and took cover behind the wall.

The PAC backed Blek up. The Chief Conciliator was terrified out of his mind. Why was Starfleet after him? Sure he'd taken an admiral and his men hostage, sure he was holding the Federation ambassador, sure he'd tried to threaten these people, but why would that make them hostile? On Felkor it was a typical negotiating tactic.

"Hey! Big boy!" Radil called out from the limo.

The PAC swung Blek around so he could face the accursed Bajoran and shoot her. Her phaser cannon blew him over. Blek was left all alone, standing in the middle of the vast area, trembling and whimpering.

All of the SID team members surrounded him. Macen grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and began guiding him to the nearest stairwell. Blek protested all the way, but he obediently followed direction.

They reached the roof level and marched Blek to the runabout. Inside Auray had news to report.

"The Constabulary has dispatched four flyers to investigate reports of our shooting the fuzzball down," she stated.

"Hey!" Blek yelped.

Radil shoved him forward with the emitter of her phaser cannon. She herded him to the lounge area. He plopped down into a chair. Radil kept the cannon's emitter placed in his chest. Rockford knelt beside Blek.

"Give me your wrist," she instructed. She used a pair of binders and locked his wrist to the chair's center support strut.

She got up and turned to Radil, "Get rid of that cannon while you can. I'll watch Fido here."

McMasters arrived, "How's the pooch?"

"He's probably been in better moods," Rockford replied as she took a seat. McMasters took the one to Blek's left. Radil returned and sat down.

"We'd better strap him in. Hannah let me know that we're running from the constables," Radil warned.

"My people will find you and kill you," Blek promised.

Rockford only fastened the waist belt, "Your people already have a new leader."

"That's impossible," Blek said defiantly.

"We get local channels. Want to watch the news and see?" Rockford smiled thinly.

She activated the table's touch screen. She then activated a comm channel and surfed until Blek told her to stop. A local news station reported Blek's death at the hands of "Starfleet terrorists". Vice Conciliator Nar had already been sworn in as Chief Conciliator. The planetary Constabulary was on high alert with orders to bring in the murderers, dead or alive.

"But I had assurances," Blek said weakly.

"From Shar?" Radil asked, "He made the deal that got you out of office. The deal was 'dead or alive'. We prefer alive. So you'll be an exile. So what? The Federation is very accommodating even to traitors."

"What makes you say that?" Blek's panic level was starting to rise again.

"We know about your intended change of allegiance," Rockford said coldly, "You really thought the Typhon Pact would offer you better terms?"

The Typhon Pact was a collective of sovereign, star faring governments. It was composed of the Romulan Star Empire, the Breen Confederacy, The Tzenkethi Coalition, the Gorn Hegemony, the Tholian Assembly, and the Holy Order of the Kinshaya. It had taken some doing to unite the xenophobic Tholians and Gorn with outside forces. The Romulans and the Breen had once been enemies but times had since changed. None of the members states easily allied with outsiders yet their desperation had been great enough to bring them together.

In response, the Federation and the Klingon Empire expanded the Khitomer Accords to include the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance. The Cardassians had been a recent inclusion. Gul Maret's Unionists had fallen prey to a popular uprising that they'd inadvertently fostered. Democratic leaders were back in control. The proposed constitutional monarchy was established at long last and the government wasted no time in formally allying itself with the Federation and the Klingons.

The Ferengi, still guided by Grand Nagus Rom, saw their inroads into the markets of the Typhon Pact dry up and they sought protection from the encroaching Orion Syndicate and the ever expanding Meirkus Conglomerate. The UFP, the Klingon Empire, and the Cardassian Union had all been weakened by recent events, whether Borg incursions or internal strife, and their markets were open to what the Ferengi had to offer. The Accords also paved the way to the Protectorate regions and thus an economic boom was created on Alliance worlds.

Despite the Ferengi's official sanction, they faced stiff competition in the Protectorates from the Orion Syndicate. The Orions, struggling to stay relevant in the modern era, were rapidly expanding their concerns, often times with government assistance. Felkor was but a symptom of a widespread disease.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Blek found his voice but he sounded weak and defeated rather than defiant.

"You'd best hope that we find the admiral and his party unmolested or we'll take it out of your hide," Radil warned. The look in her eyes told Blek she meant every word.

"Move it!" the Master Sergeant from the Brazzinnik's Battalions commanded as his troops herded Johnson, Delaney, Striker, the two Security officers, and Ambassador Blevins out in from of Mount Fildkirk.

They were marched out into a landing field. Shar's limo was already there and the Andorian greeted Johnson.

"So Admiral, we meet at last," he said.

"I take it you're the brains behind this operation?" Johnson wondered.

"You flatter me. Think of me as a humble facilitator," Shar urged.

"I rather doubt you're all that humble and you have the stench of the Orion Syndicate all over you," Johnson replied.

"Yes, but I also arranged for your release. So a little gratitude should be forthcoming," Shar challenged.

"You have to know what I think of the Syndicate," Johnson said gruffly, "You're only releasing me because it's convenient to do so. You're gaining something somewhere."

"Yes, we did," Shar chuckled.

"We?" Johnson asked.

"Yes, we," Shar said coldly, "You'll learn all about that soon enough."

One of the battalion troops reported to the Master Sergeant and the Sergeant in return reported to Shar, "We have a Danube-class runabout coming in hot. It looks as though the entire Constabulary force is on their heels."

"Prepare for a touch and go," Shar warned.

The mercenaries scrambled.

"Hannah, we have constables on our tail," Macen reported as he viewed the sensor readings.

"How many?" she asked.

"All of them," Macen said grimly.

"I'm boosting speed. If we get some distance between them and us then we can make a landing, gather everyone up, and take off again just as the Felkorians catch up with us," Grace hypothesized, "Rab, think you can use the chase armament to discourage pursuit?"

"I've just been waiting for someone to ask," Daggit grumped.

"You have permission to engage the enemy," Macen said dryly.

"Right," Daggit said tersely as he went to work.

Grace swiftly outran the horde of flyers. She swung in on the landing tarmac before the fortress. Several Battalion troopers scattered as she came at breakneck speeds. However she came to a halt and gently sat the runabout down. The hatch opened and Macen appeared.

"Macen?" Johnson couldn't quite believe it.

"Don't just stand there," Macen shouted, "Get aboard."

The Starfleet officers and the ambassador looked to Shar. The Andorian nodded, "I suggest you follow his instructions. His pursuers will be here in any moment. Your compatriots are the most vulnerable here on the ground waiting for you."

"Everybody board the runabout!" Johnson ordered. He turned to Shar, "This isn't over."

Shar was amused, "It is on this planet. Trust me Admiral; we'll meet again in the near future."

"I wish I could say I'm looking forward to it," Johnson countered.

"Bob! Haul ass or get left behind!" Macen yelled.

Johnson ran to the runabout and boarded her. Delaney had been standing by in case the admiral needed help. He was the last to board. He sealed the hatch.

"Hannah?" Delaney excitedly asked Macen.

"At the CONN but I think you can wait to have a moment," Macen advised, "Gentlemen, if you'd proceed to the rear lounge, you can get situated. This is going to be bumpy."

The runabout lurched as Grace used the antigravs to lift it off the ground and threw the impulse throttle to maximum all at the same time.

"I see what you mean," Johnson said with a wry grin.

"Hannah, I love you," Delaney called before exiting the cockpit.

"I love you too, you big goof. Now strap yourself in," she called back.

Macen strapped up his crash harness as he checked the sensors, "They've caught up with us."

"Shields are up," Daggit reported as he shrugged on his harness. As soon as he'd finished that chore he began to return fire. The Constabulary flyers were targeting them and firing as opportunities arose.

Grace climbed into the atmosphere. Auray had strapped in and spelled Grace as she strapped in. The Andorian warned her partner, "This is where they opened up on me."

"Rab, tie me into the tactical sensors," Grace requested. The runabout shook as the first disruptor bank hit it.

"Let's see if we can avoid that," Grace murmured.

She began a series of evasive maneuvers. She deftly dodged one burst after another. Auray gaped at Grace's skill. Little did she know that Grace wasn't even remotely human despite all appearances to the contrary.

Grace cleared the disruptors' range with only a half dozen strikes against the shields. They were weakened but they held. What they discovered beyond the lunar range was a flotilla of Typhon Pact ships. Romulan Warbirds, Breen cruisers, Tzenkethi warships, floated beside Tholian and Gorn ships. The Corsair was immediately hailed.

"Route it to my screen," Macen instructed Grace.

Of all the people to appear on his screen, Commander P'ris was the least expected of them. She wore an uncomfortable smile, "Greetings Commander."

"Hello to you as well," Macen returned her greeting, "Been here long?"

"Long enough," was all she'd say, "You are free to go but the Imperator will escort you out of the system."

"Is that the Warbird you're aboard?" Macen asked.

Her chin ducked once in a tense nod, "There will be no further communication between our vessels. You will return to the Obsidian and then depart the system. The Intrepid will leave as well. This territory is now closed to the members of the Khitomer Accords. Test our resolve at your peril."

Macen frowned. He couldn't help it. P'ris was obviously working under duress but unless he could her off of that Warbird, there was nothing to be done.

"I've transmitted your approved transit route. Do not deviate from this path. I repeat, do not deviate from the path," P'ris warned.

Macen could've sworn there was something in her voice. A slight catch perhaps. He forwarded the data to Grace. She perused it and snorted. Macen tried to hide his resultant smile.

"Very well, Commander. We shall abide by your terms...for now," Macen replied.


Chapter Ten

The Imperator escorted the Corsair to the edge of the system. Of course, the Tzenkethi cruiser Almerac, the Gorn battleship Horn's Tooth, the Tholian frigate Akethene's Pride, and the Breen dreadnought Erekeman also escorted the diminutive runabout. P'ris hadn't said anything about additional escorts to the Romulan Warbird but the Typhon Pact was known for committing entire squadrons to the smallest tasks as a show of solidarity...or mistrust.

The Intrepid had rolled all of her fighters but the Akira-class cruiser was still outgunned and outmatched. The Nova-class surveyor holding the border with her was a tough ship but the Obsidian was ill-equipped to fight this squadron. Kend signaled that she and her convoy were proceeding as arranged. All of the Typhon Pact ships broke off and escorted the Ekosians to Felkor except for the Imperator.

P'ris revealed herself to be in command of that ship when she commed McKinley and demanded that he exit the system. The good Captain resisted and tempers began to flare.

"Your admiral is being recovered by the Obsidian while we speak. Once he and his men are secure, you will depart and only return if your desire for open warfare between our two coalitions supersedes your common sense," P'ris declared.

"You'll forgive me if I don't want to take the word of a hostile agent," McKinley rebutted, "I need to hear these demands from Chief Conciliator Blek."

"Blek is no longer in power," P'ris retorted, "I can request confirmation through the offices of Chief Conciliator Nar. "

"It will take some time for my government to recognize the legitimacy of Nar and of your coup here. I will have to stay on station while I confirm the legitimacy of the Felkorians' government," McKinley threw out his last barrage.

P'ris had had enough, "Leave the diplomatic maneuvering to Admiral Johnson, Captain McKinley. You have lost. Accept that and learn from it. Now begone!"

McKinley turned his head to the side and was obviously getting feedback from a third party. He obviously disagreed with what was being said but he acquiesced. P'ris jotted down a reminder for her to thank Macen and Johnson.

"All right. I've received my orders. We'll be pulling out as you've requested but we will be back," McKinley announced.

"Only if you want a war," P'ris warned.

"We'll see," McKinley replied, "Out."

P'ris sagged in her seat as the transmission ceased. What a way to start a day.

In the Corsair, Grace watched her instruments and signaled when the hangar bay had achieved matching atmosphere and pressure. Daggit opened the hatch and exited. Macen followed him out and Auray was on his heels.

They waited on the deck while Radil marched Blek out of the runabout. Daggit joined her and they escorted Blek to a holding cell where he would remain until his peculiar status was determined. Johnson, Striker, and the two Security officers were next out. Rockford and McMasters were on their heels. Delaney spent a moment alone with Grace inside of the Corsair.

"It's good to see you safe and sound, Ensign," Johnson addressed Auray.

"It's only because of Commander Macen and his crew," she declared.

"I see," Johnson was very rigid and didn't take that news well. He turned to Macen, "May I have a word with you in private?"

"Are you sure you don't want to take a shower first?" Macen wondered.

"If I can survive, so can you," Johnson informed him.

Macen turned to Rockford, "Celeste, can you see to it that Kalista arranges for rooms for everyone? You can take them to the Team Room while they wait."

Rockford started to protest but he headed her off, "If Bob wants privacy it means we're going to discuss stuff you're not cleared for."

"But T'Kir..." Rockford began her protest.

"Was telepathically linked to me. She'd learn what was said eventually. I'll tell you what I can when I can, okay?" Macen offered.

"Okay," she relented. Turning to her charges she said, "Eric, get Hannah and Ian off of the runabout. The rest of you, follow me."

As she and the crowd exited, McMasters boarded the runabout and rousted the lovers out of there. While they departed, Macen addressed the shuttle bay crew. He wanted the runabout's logs accessible in less than seven minutes. He then gestured for Johnson to follow him.

The walk to the Infosys Center was a quiet affair. Several off duty crewmen unabashedly stared at the Admiral's filthy uniform. The Starfleet personnel had stopped trying to bathe after a day because of the stench of the water. It clung to them and only added to their own body odors. Ambassador Blevins accompanied them and her once natty suit now more closely resembled rags.

Once inside the Center, Macen offered refreshments. Blevins unashamedly asked for a bourbon and a bottle of water. Johnson requested water. Macen opted for coffee. He had a feeling that this was going to be long and uncomfortable if the Federation officials' emotions were any clue.

Macen motioned towards the available chairs and sat down at his desk. Johnson remained silent as his emotions churned. Macen and Johnson had been at odds before regarding UFP policy and Starfleet's culpability over Macen's contracts but he'd never been so angry before.

Ambassador Blevins, Marti to her friends, definitely didn't count Macen as one of those. She'd seen all of her work over the course often years derailed by one action. She was hurt and confused. Yes, she was angry but the other feelings prevailed.

"I know you're gauging our feelings," Johnson ground out.

"You're not giving me much else to go on," Macen admitted.

"Damn it, Brin!" Johnson suddenly lashed out, "You single handedly ruined out mission to Felkor! We were there to preserve the treaty not to break it with a presidential kidnapping."

"The mission was already a failure. The treaty had been broken and it was your friend Blek that broke it," Macen countered, "He brokered the alliance with the Typhon Pact through Shar, whom I'm sure you met."

Johnson's mind grated at the thought of the Andorian. Outwardly he said, "Accusations are one thing. Do you have proof?"

Macen pulled a padd out of one of his belt's utility pouches and handed it to Johnson. Johnson read it, went white, and handed it off to Blevins. She also lost all color.

"Where did you get this?" Johnson wanted to know.

"Blek's office in the Official Residence," Macen revealed, "We visited it while he was otherwise preoccupied."

"And you cracked their ciphers without T'Kir?" Johnson didn't quite believe him.

"She left some nifty toys behind," Macen dryly retorted.

"I bet she did," Johnson murmured as he turned to face the com/comp, "Will the Corsair's logs be available now?"

"They should be or I'll have to space the hangar's OPS officer," Macen chuckled.

Johnson was suddenly grateful that the Obsidian's computer network was tied into Starfleet's as it accepted his identification voice print and granted him access to most of the ship's files. He noted the restricted sections even he wasn't allowed to access.

"I see you've some open project file restricted. My access also allows me to see that Lisea, Hannah, and Celeste are the only ones permitted to access to these files, outside of yourself of course," Johnson observed.

"Your point?" Macen asked.

"Shouldn't Captain Riker be amongst those august personages?" Johnson was teasing, yet there was a reprimand in his words as well.

"Captain Riker received the information he needs to govern this ship in a timely manner," Macen rebutted.

Johnson thought about pursuing it further but merely shrugged and viewed the runabout's mission logs. After seeing all of the data the SID team had pulled together after Auray's rescue and Shar's intervention, he finally accepted the truth that had already been laid out for him.

"That lying little weasel," Johnson said between clenched teeth, "He was going to give us up to the Orion Syndicate."

"And presumably the Syndicate would hand you over to the Typhon Pact," Macen concluded for him, "Would you like Blek brought in now?"

Johnson and Blevins exchanged a glance and then she primly answered, "That is an excellent idea, Commander."

Blek was escorted to the team's briefing room by two of Radil's Security officers. Macen had moved the venue to the briefing room next door because he didn't want Blek to have access to a secure area no matter how helpless he seemed. Blek was an Alpha in his society and that meant he was capable in physical combat as well as the political arena.

Macen had the two guards wait outside in the corridor. Blevins offered Blek a seat. Blek sat down and his eyes darted from hone Federation member to the other. The longer he waited in silence, the more nervous he got.

Felkorians are pack animals and without the support of his pack, Blek felt especially vulnerable. This was especially true as he faced down Macen, who had beaten his Protective Agents and captured him.

"I can explain everything! I...!" Blek began to babble.

"Quiet!" Macen sharply ordered.

Blek looked like someone had hit him the nose with a newspaper. He quieted right down.

Johnson spoke first, "Former Conciliator Blek, we know about your coercion with the Typhon Pact. You broke faith with your friends on the Federation and you kidnapped her officials. This is tantamount to an act of war. Are you ready for a war?"

"The Typhon Pact has promised to protect us. They're building a naval base, what you would call a Starbase, in the Felkorian system," Blek proudly declared.

"They promised protection and then handed you to us," Johnson said coldly, "How loyal are they?"

Blek remained silent but his countenance was growing more and more downcast. Blevins took over, "What is before us now is your deposition. Your future status in the Federation, or an aligned state, depends upon your wishes and actions."

"You mean I have options?" Blek was bewildered.

"To be blunt, Chief Conciliator Nar is problematic. You're a known quantity and a potentially valuable ally. In exchange for basing rights I'm certain Starfleet and its allies could make arrangements to return you to power," Johnson offered.

"Yes!" Blek barked and then he composed himself, "I mean, I choose that option."

"Then I'm certain the Obsidian crew can grant you temporary lodgings until we drop out of warp and we can transfer to the Intrepid for a comprehensive debriefing," Johnson declared.

Before Blek could speak, Macen summoned the two Security officers and told them to liaise with Kalista had get Blek some guest quarters. It was after Blek was gone that Johnson signaled McKinley and ordered him to comply with P'ris's wishes.

"Bob, before you get to a room of your own, I'd like Celeste and I to observe Blek's debrief," Macen insisted.

"Massoli can handle it and I'll be with her, so I don't see the need..." Johnson began to argue.

"Bob, it's important," Macen stated.

Johnson's face twisted as a wry grin grew upon it, "One of your 'little hunches'?"

"Something like that," Macen confirmed.

Johnson hesitated but finally he nodded, "All right. God knows my life has depended upon your hunches before. Y'know, I was ready to put a motion before the Council that your SID status be revoked. In fact, I was pretty set on revoking all Outbound Ventures personnel's active statuses."

"I was curious if you'd go that route," Macen admitted.

"If you hadn't acquired the proof that Blek initiated the handover to the Pact, I would have thrown you to Jellico's wolves," Johnson confessed, "I have to know though, did you agree to Shar's terms before or after you learned about Blek?"

"Before," Macen honestly admitted.

"Dammit Brin! The mission was more important than my life! I know you meant well but there is a greater cause at stake. You of all people should know that," Johnson vented.

"It all worked out well in the end," Macen pointed out.

"You were justified by coincidence," Johnson snorted.

"I don't believe in coincidence," Macen asserted.

"No, you rely upon plain old fashioned dumb luck. Well, luck will only carry you so far," Johnson warned.

"Why don't I have Kalista show the pair of you to some quarters and you can bathe, change clothes, and have a meal in the Team Room?" Macen inquired, "Chef has been looking forward to trading recipes with you, Admiral."

"Learning to be a diplomat, eh Brin?" Johnson chuckled, "I accept your offer."

Blevins also agreed. Kalista showed up rather quickly. She liked Johnson and would bend over backwards to accommodate him...literally. Macen returned to his quarters to find Rockford waiting for him.

"So, was the Admiral feeling pissy?" she grinned.

"No more than expected," Macen conceded.

"Well, hurry up and take a shower. Radil's officers are showboating everyone around and we're all meeting up in the Team Room. Of course, Ian and Hannah will be discreetly late," Rockford couldn't help but eke approval.

"You haven't changed clothes," Macen observed.

She tapped the end of his nose with her forefinger, "And I haven't showered yet either. I've been waiting for you."

He noted the mischievous twinkle in her eye, "Well this should be interesting."

"It'll be a helluva a lot more satisfying then when you slipped your hand into my panties and started finger banging me in the middle of the night," she said slyly.

"Hey, I'm not the one that almost gave us away." Macen accused.

"But it was just getting good," Rockford pouted.

"I'll be sure to finish the job this time," he promised.

She began pulling him into the washroom. They hurriedly ripped each other's clothes off and he made good on his promise. Grace and Delaney arrived at the Team Room at the same time as they did and they bore wore knowing expressions. Rockford took impish delight in the fact and Macen was too thrilled to feel apologetic.

They were warmly greeted by the SID team and the former prisoners and it seemed everyone knew what had transpired but no one was talking. Johnson had arrived early to add some small flourishes to the meal that chef scribbled down for the next time. The meal went well. The watch changed over and a crowd filtered into the area looking for a meal.

Parva delightedly greeted Delaney and Johnson. Riker and Danan joined the admiral after saying their 'helloes' to Striker and Delaney and wanted the scoop in the completed mission. As far as they were concerned, it was a rousing success. Since the tables accommodated six, Blevins joined them as Johnson sat next to Rockford and next to her sat Macen. Danan sat down between Riker and Blevins.

Johnson began to explain Felkor's strategic importance, "Felkor sits in between two Typhon Pact members. It rests in a pocket between the Tholian Assembly and the Gorn Hegemony. That gave us a staging ground into the Pact's territory without investing in heavy infrastructure."

"If it was so vital, why weren't there any other Allied vessels in the system?" Rockford wondered.

"The Felkorian government requested that they be redeployed while the negotiations lasted," Johnson explained.

"And all of this caught you by surprise?" Rockford snorted, "Thanks for reminding me why I never joined Starfleet."

Johnson gave her a pained look before continuing; "Now we can expect a territorial debate over the area we're now traversing. The Felkorians claimed it and so did the Ekosians before the Federation settled the matter. With Allied ships out of the area, both sides will reassert their claims. Only this time the matter will be settled by the Pact."

"Why not simply redeploy the forces that were originally stationed in Felkor's sector and establish the Federation's claim?" Rockford asked.

"It's not a simple matter of planting a flag on a star chart," Johnson replied, "We're talking constant patrols. And we're not simply discussing border patrols but reinforced fleet maneuvers because the Pact won't think twice about sacrificing Felkor or Ekos in a border war so long as their 'buffer nation' strategy is upheld."

Riker's comm badge sounded and he tapped it, "Riker here."

Shannon Forger's voice came over the line, "Captain, we're dropping out of warp and Captain McKinley is requesting we transfer personnel ASAP."

Riker looked to Johnson, who nodded, "Tell Jim the Admiral is on his way."

Johnson and Blevins excused themselves. Macen returned his tray a step behind the admiral. Johnson noted this and grinned.

"I suppose you're loitering about waiting for me to give you and your woman permission to come aboard." Johnson joked.

"Basically," Macen admitted.

"Okay, you two can come as well," Johnson agreed. He went to the table occupied by the two Security officers while Macen approached Radil.

The officers followed her out while Johnson approached Delaney, Grace, Striker, and Auray; "Ian, I'm giving you a 24 hour leave to stay aboard the Obsidian. Ensign Auray, you'll be accompanying me to the Intrepid where you can get a full medical work up."

"Yessir," Auray took a final bite of food and Grace offered to dispose of her tray for her. Macen and Rockford led the ensign, the admiral, and the ambassador to the Transporter Room. Radil led the two other Intrepid officers as they escorted Blek to the transporter. Striker, Blevins, Blek, Auray, and the two Security ratings transported over first.

Johnson, Macen and Rockford comprised the second wave. McKinley was at the transporter to meet them. Striker was still with him. Blevins had explained Blek's unique status and had ordered Lt. Jameson to assign a detail to the overthrown ruler. Now he was waiting for some answers.


Chapter Eleven

Macen filled out his after action report on a padd while Johnson briefed McKinley on recent events. Rockford leaned into Macen and reminded him of details along the way. Finally, Johnson had concluded and McKinley was waiting for Macen's part of the brief.

"You could always join the 24th Century and record an oral report," McKinley teased, "No one writes reports any more."

Rockford smirked, "He does. What's worse is he has me doing it as well."

"Brin, can I ask you why you insist upon the slowest route possible?" Johnson fired off his own verbal salvo.

"Because this way I can see what's been discussed and I'm not constantly reiterating the same points," Macen replied without diverting his attention.

"But could you spare us a moment?" Johnson wondered, "After all, as you pointed out, you can always pick up where you left off."

Macen gave a brief synopsis of his team's actions on Felkor. McKinley looked pained as he asked about certain legal issues, like assisting the Orion Syndicate in a coup.

"The coup was going to occur one way or another," Macen stressed, "This way we got Bob and the others back safely. I felt that was worth the price."

"I was expendable," Johnson pointed out.

"Yes, my orders made that quite clear. I was to rescue you or execute you. Whichever option presented itself. The case was, I couldn't accomplish either option so I introduced a third. If you don't like it, raise the issue with the Council and vote your conscience," Macen insisted.

Johnson pursed his lips. The comment irked him. McKinley jumped in.

"I'm sure your actions were well meant but in light of their repercussions they will probably have to be reviewed by Admiral Forger if not by the entire Council," he advised, "You've walked this path before. The best bet is to avoid arguments. Present your case and you'll probably be able to convince a majority."

Macen pointedly looked at Johnson, "We'll see, won't we?"

"You seem to think I owe you something," Johnson suggested.

"A 'thank you' might be nice since I saved your life...again," Macen pointed out.

"And you may wish to recall all the times the Intrepid crew has come to your assistance. Factor that into your 'debt of honor' equations," Johnson angrily retorted.

"Bob!" McKinley snapped, "Brin's right. He saved your life. I believe him when he says there was no way of saving the Felkorian government. The data you showed me made it pretty plain that Blek was selling the Alliance out. He couldn't fulfill his orders, which included rescuing you if possible, and he did the best he could under adverse conditions. If you really want to him to evoke the execution clause of his orders, I'm certain he's in the mood to obey and I'll report it as being a justified shoot."

McKinley turned on Macen, "And you! Don't think this is an excuse to get insufferably smug or self righteous. I'm Captain of this boat and if I see you cop any more attitude I'll have you tossed out an airlock."

Macen grinned, "Aye, sir."

McKinley beamed, "That's more like it. It's about time you realized that I outrank you, even if your commission is currently inactive. Frankly, if I was Riker I would've confined you to the brig for insubordination a long time ago."

"Maybe it's because he's captain of the Obsidian and the Obsidian serves the SID and I outrank him in the SID framework," Macen replied dryly.

"Whatever," McKinley waved all of that aside, "While you're aboard his ship, he's the Tin God and you're the puny peon."

Macen thought about it. Contrary to a line of reasoning he'd presented Riker, the Obsidian was Riker's ship. True, Outbound Ventures owned the surveyor but Starfleet owned McKinley's cruiser and it was still his ship. Riker was no longer directly under his command. The SID team served alongside the Outbound Ventures crew. They certainly shared in the team's risk. Maybe it was time to cut Riker a little slack.

"Okay, you've made a valid point. I promise I'll take it up with Tom the next time I see him," Macen vowed.

McKinley's smile grew, "Now that that is taken care of, I'll call Jennifer in and we can prep our debriefing questions."

Massoli arrived a few minutes later. She was technically off duty but she'd been in her office anyway. She'd been made privy to the Corsair's logs and she'd been pouring over every document and sensor scan that Macen's team had captured. Johnson met her at the door as it opened. He did a double take as he beheld her. After all, she'd been a blonde the last time he'd seen her.

"My God, Jennifer, your hair!" he breathed.

She self consciously ran a hand through it; "You don't like it?"

"I adore it just as I've always adored you," Johnson said smoothly.

Massoli knew that there was no overture here. Johnson appreciated the finer things of life. Delicious food, beautiful art, and beautiful women. His compliment was innocent even if it was ardent.

"Thank you, Admiral," Massoli drew herself and she wrapped her professional mien around herself, "How can I help you all?"

"I'll be debriefing former Conciliator Blek. I want you there beside me," Johnson explained.

Massoli's confidence wavered for a second as she glanced at McKinley, Macen, and Rockford; "It seems you have a formidable team gathered already, sir."

"Captain McKinley has other responsibilities. Commander Macen and Detective Rockford will be remotely observing the interrogation," Johnson revealed.

Massoli was amused, "So are we conducting a debrief or an interrogation?"

"It'll begin as a debrief," Johnson explained, "If Blek is resistant or refuses to cooperate, it'll become an interrogation."

"Shouldn't Commander Delaney be present?" she asked.

"Blek will be in the Security Bloc, I think the sight of the cells he can occupy will loosen his tongue," Johnson assured her.

"Forgive my impertinence, Admiral, but are you going to give me a free hand in there?" Massoli inquired.

"Of course," he replied.

She gave him a wry look, "I'm liable to be rather...undiplomatic."

"Commander, Blek has information to vital to Allied security. You have a fairly wide berth. Just avoid torturing him and we'll be fine," Johnson assured her.

She looked wistful, "Too bad. I've studied some Cardassian techniques that'd have him talking inside of a minute."

"Not even our Cardassian allies will support using such methods," Johnson scolded.

"At least not anymore," she flippantly reminded him.

Macen and Rockford were having a hard time containing their mirth at this point. Even McKinley couldn't keep a straight face. Massoli patted Johnson on the shoulder, "It's all right, Admiral. I'm just teasing you. I should've known better than to yank your chain after you've been a prisoner for more than a week."

"If you'd take a seat, we can begin," Johnson straightened out his uniform jacket and went to his seat. The only available chair was placed in front of the captain's desk, next to his. She didn't mind. She liked having the Captain's eye on her.

The debrief did indeed become an interrogation. Massoli revealed a cruel side to her nature that she thankfully kept restrained most of the time. Like his canine ancestors, Blek couldn't sweat, but she had him panting up a storm.

If Johnson was uncomfortable with her performance, it never showed. The only time he had a negative reaction was when Blek complained about the SID team referring to him as "pooch" and "Fido". Johnson pinched the bridge of his nose then and looked like a migraine was hitting him.

At their place in the Security Office, Macen looked at Rockford when this was brought up. She merely smiled and shrugged. He wasn't looking forward to the lecture Johnson was undoubtedly rehearsing.

The Admiral surprised them both by refraining. Rockford complimented Massoli on her interrogation techniques and they promised to exchange notes someday. However, McKinley had reported in that Starfleet had assigned the Intrepid to a new mission. They were headed to Ekos and Zeon.

It was a blatant attempt to shore up influence in the region. Johnson's orders, direct from the Office of the President, were on file and awaiting his perusal. McKinley joined Johnson and Massoli in escorting the SID teammates to the transporter.

"It's too bad we didn't have more of an opportunity to visit," the Captain said.

"I just hate to be the one to break it to Hannah and Ian," Macen complained.

"It'll take at least an hour to get through to President Delane's office and cut to the chase," Johnson assured him.

Macen sighed, "That's something at least."

"And here I was hoping to have dinner with the pair of you," Massoli grumped.

"You could always have dinner with me, alone, in my quarters," McKinley suddenly expressed.

Massoli was definitely delighted and intrigued, "Just dinner?"

He smiled, "We'll see where our appetites lead us after the main course."

"It looks like you two are set for the evening," Rockford winked at Massoli. The Intelligence Officer looked beside herself with happiness as she winked back. Macen and Rockford took their places on the transporter pads and said a final farewell.

Massoli immediately took hold of McKinley's arm, "Do you have any idea how long I've waited for you to invite me to dinner?"

"I ask you to dinner all the time," McKinley defended himself.

"Dinner with other people, silly goose. This is our first time alone, where we can drop all of our walls and become...intimate," Massoli could be heard saying as they headed for the Captain's cabin.

Johnson just grinned. McKinley was in good hands. Now he had to find out what the President had in store for him now.

The trip back to Serenity Station was uneventful. Macen had a chance to have a chat with Riker about the roles of the SID team aboard the Obsidian and how the ship was well and truly Riker's. Riker appreciated the sentiment and the change in the SID team since Macen had hammered it into their heads, particularly Grace's.

Grace moped about for several days but it was understandable so everyone gave her space. Admirals Forger and Nechayev each reviewed Macen's actions on Felkor. In the end they justified his decisions but even then they did so reluctantly. The entire affair was seen as a black eye in the Allies' faces delivered by the Orion Syndicate and the Typhon Pact.

The Federation Council and Starfleet Command had thrown a wall of security up around those events and the SID's participation in them was disavowed. The entire agency was almost blacklisted and dismantled.

While the Council of 5 scrambled to save their respective agencies, Macen and Riker once again reviewed civilian contract offers. They were discussing one such case when Rockford bebopped into the office. She was carrying a drink holder with three cups of coffee. Bryce could be heard expressing her thanks so there had obviously been four cups to begin with.

The cups were all marked so they were easily able to divvy up whose was whose. Rockford plunked down into the couch and asked for a rundown on what the Command Duo was working on. Macen handed her three padds and informed her that they were considering all three contracts for a short term mission.

"I'd like your opinion on which one you think we'd best suit," Macen said.

"Okay," she replied. Truth be told, she was touched that he valued her opinion so much.

She'd just started into the first contract when she heard Bryce yelp, "You can't go in there!"

An austere Vulcan male suddenly stepped into the office. He wore brown travelling robes and bore an amulet signifying he had attained kohlinahr. He studied the three occupants.

"Which of you is Macen?" he asked without the slightest hint of inflection in his voice.

"I am," Macen rose out of his chair and gave the Vulcan the traditional salute.

The Vulcan returned it, "Then you are the keeper of the katra. You must accompany me."

"Why?" Macen let his confusion be known.

"I shall attempt fal-tor-pan and to do so I need the katra stored within your mind," the Vulcan explained.

"But you'd need a body..." Macen faltered.

"We have a body. It lives, as does the mind you carry within you. They must be reunited before there is damage to both your mind and that of T'Kir's," the Vulcan offered as an explanation.

"What body? Who are you?" Macen inquired.

"I am Solek. I am an Adept and a Healer. We have lost much time already and I fear damage may have occurred already," he stated.

Macen frowned, "All right, Healer Solek. I don't doubt your concern or your sincerity. I just doubt the existence of this 'body'. T'Kir's body was incinerated in Odin's upper atmosphere."

"That is what you saw but you did not see the entirety of events. Come, we must board your ship. Dr. Tessa is there awaiting us. She has the body," Solek proclaimed.

Macen wondered if it could be true. Rockford interrupted his churning thoughts, "I think we should check it out, Boss."

Solek couldn't appreciate her gesture as she took Macen's hand. He was merely grateful that it seemed to steady the El-Aurian. Riker also came with. Their path ended in the Obsidian's Sickbay.

"Healer Solek! You came!" she excitedly announced to an audience already in the know.

She began issuing instructions to her orderlies. They released a stasis chamber and there within was T'Kir's naked body. They lifted her with antigravs and put her on a biobed.

Rockford squeezed Macen's hand, bolstering his flagging composure. He admired her own resolve in the face of a threat. A revived T'Kir was her only competition for his affections. Yet she was putting on a brave face and being there for him. He loved her more than ever before.

"Take your place on this bed," Solek instructed.

"Wait a moment," Macen insisted, "Tessa, where did this body come from?"

"It's a clone of T'Kir," Tessa explained, "She'd told me about Ambassador Spock's experience with fal-tor-pan and it was a Hail Mary play."

"The body breathes but it lacks a mind or a sense of self. It is a worthy receptacle for the katra," Solek diagnosed.

He turned to Macen, "If you claim to have loved this woman, you will grant her this second chance at life."

"Okay, let's do it." Macen lay down on the biobed.

Solek reached out and pressed against the nerve loci in the clone's skull with his fingers. He did the same to Macen. There was silence as Solek closed his eyes but the room practically bristled with energy.

Over the course of 8 hours, visitors came and went but Rockford and Tessa were constantly there. Tessa tried to reassure the Angosian, "This won't change anything between Brin and you, Celeste. He's moved on from T'Kir and in the strictest sense, this isn't T'Kir."

Celeste took her eyes off of Macen's prone for the first time all evening and she met Tessa's eyes, "What do you mean?"

"The brain will receive all of T'Kir's memories but the actual thinking and personality, those have to be retrained. Even then, she'll be close but she won't be the same person in the strictest sense. Besides that, I 'corrected' T'Kir's neurotransmitter problems," Tessa explained.

Rockford frowned, "Problems?"

"Yes, her heightened telepathy was the result of a genetic mutation. I eliminated the mutation so her brain will function like your average Vulcan's," Tessa defined her 'fix'.

"It is finished." Solek suddenly said. His voice cracked from lack of use. Tessa got him some water. Macen rose and joined Rockford.

"It's okay, Celeste. I'm fine. Just hungry and stiff," he tried to reassure her.

She studied his eyes, "She really is gone."

"What else do you see?" he asked.

"Love. You still love me," she sighed in relief.

"That was a given," he remarked.

"It didn't seem that way from this end, buster," she snorted.

"Anything else?" he wondered.

"Yeah, a big cloud of uncertainty," she revealed.

Macen grimaced, "The legalities are a tad murky."

"No, they are not." Solek said the foot of T'Kir's bed. Tessa and the orderlies were helping her into a robe so they could get her to the dressing room where she could put on the clothes that Solek had requested before his arrival.

"T'Kir was your wife in her first life. That life died with her. Although she is reborn, she has been reborn in a legal sense as well as a physical. Her bonds to you are broken. As her mind adapts to its new body, she may eventually wish to reestablish a degree of contact with you. I will not sway her one way or the other. But I will express my profound wish that she leave you in the past where you belong," Solek declared, "You have moved on. Allow her to do the same."

Part of Macen recoiled at the thought but the rest of him accepted the simple logic behind it. Vulcans made far too much sense sometimes.

"You have my word, I won't initiate contact," Macen promised, "If she does contact me, I'll apply your logic to the situation and she'll see reason."

"It is for the best," Solek said and he turned to wait for T'Kir.

The SID pair made to leave when T'Kir emerged wearing white robes in the fashion of Solek's brown ones. He escorted her out of the Sickbay and Tessa led him to the airlock.

Macen and Rockford met up with Tessa at the airlock. Tessa looked pensive and Rockford asked her what was on her mind.

"All this time, I'd never really 'lost' her because she was in my stasis vault but now..." Tessa faltered.

Rockford hugged her and Tessa melted into the embrace, "Why don't you call Galen 3? I'm sure he'd love to be with you. It'll bring you two even closer."

Tessa managed a weak smile, "I guess. Are you two gonna be okay?"

Rockford looked up at Macen and he looked down and drank in her eyes. They both smiled.

"We're good," Macen assured her.

"In fact, we're better than ever," Rockford said, "In fact, I need to be put to bed."

Macen smirked and she swatted him, "I need sleep. However I'm of a mind to grant a boon. This one shall be that you can hold me while I sleep."

"I couldn't ask for more," Macen promised.

"I may keep you after all," Rockford decided.

They strolled off to their quarters, hand in hand. Contract reviews could wait until the following day. Once in their bed, they snuggled in close and fell asleep. Nothing could disturb them as long as they had one another.



Captain Thrax looked around the Endeavor's bridge. The 1st Watch had been relieved two hours ago. Before the "monolith incident" two weeks ago, the stations had been manned by a skeleton crew simply maintaining orbit. The only station's that had been fully manned were the Science stations and even that was just the spillover from the labs.

Every major system had been blown by the subspace pulse that tore through the system. Sonya Gomez, his Chief Engineer, had put as much shielding as their tech allowed into the restored systems but the only way to truly test it was to unleash a second pulse, which even the desk jockeys at Starfleet Command weren't willing to do.

Now every station was fully manned and ready 24/7. Right now, Lt. Commander Gev was on the surface with Commander Hennessy and Lt. Prentiss. So was Commander Gomez for that matter. They were running every conceivable experiment they could think of on the monolith and every one yielded the same results: nothing.

"Sir?" the Tactical Officer suddenly spoke. She sounded nervous, "There's a subspace pulse inbound. It's on the same carrier wave as the last pulse except that it's weaker."

"Point of origin?" Thrax asked.

"From the Core Regions, sir," she reported, "My guess is there's a repeater beacon located out of sensor range."

Thrax had been thinking the very same thing, "And it's headed for Omicron?"

"Yes sir. ETA is in three minutes," she confirmed for him.

"Shields up. Go to red alert. Alert the Away Team." Thrax ordered. They'd be prepared this time.

The Tactical Officer did a running countdown in fifteen second increments. When she reached zero everyone held their breath. Nothing happened.

"Anything?" he asked.

"It barely dented our shields," the Tactical Officer reported, "Sir! The Away Team is signaling."

"I'll take it in my Ready Room. Flag all of our sensor readings and send them to the Science Department for analysis," Thrax briskly strode into his Ready Room.

He sat down behind his desk and activated the comp/comm. Commander Hennessey's features filled the screen. She looked decidedly worried.

"Status report, Commander," Thrax decided to get the formalities out of the way.

"The team's fine," she reported, "Some of the equipment blew but everything Sonya whipped up custom made held together."

"Excellent news!" Thrax clapped his hands together, "What was the effect upon the monolith?"

"That's why I'm calling, sir," she said.

"And?" he was growing impatient.

"There's a message," she said succinctly.

"There is?" he couldn't believe it, "Are you certain, Commander?"

"Yes sir. The message appeared after the artifact displayed an energy distortion," Hennessy explained.

"So what? It's probably saying it's out of order. We wouldn't be able to tell because it's written in that gibberish it prefers," Thrax said dismissively.

Hennessy was growing frustrated, "Sir! It's not in the usual language. It's in Omicron."

"Omicron?" again, he refused to believe it, "You mean we can read it?"

"Yes sir," she nearly deflated from the effort of getting this far.

"Well, what's it say?" Thrax demanded.

"'We're coming.'" She informed him.

"That's it?" Thrax was disbelieving again.

"Yes sir," Hennessy felt quite defeated at this point.

"Who's coming?" he finally asked.

Hennessy struggled with the desire to beat her head up against the nearest wall, "We don't know. Presumably it's whoever was intended to receive the signal we sent."

"But we don't know who that was," Thrax realized.

Hennessy sighed heavily, "I believe that's the point,"

"I'd best alert Starfleet Command," Thrax suddenly decided.

"That would be recommended, sir. You do that," she urged. He signed off and her shoulders slumped. Thrax's career had only blossomed because his uncle was a Federation Councilmember who voted for heavy defense expenditures. To be fair, the family line had a proud history in Starfleet. It was just the latest scion of the name that was a nincompoop.

Hennessy had taken the time to familiarize herself with every theory and study concerning the Omicron. If they were an artificially engineered race and they were potentially calling on their creators, or a similarly advanced culture, then the Alliance's troubles with the Typhon Pact may be a drop in the proverbial bucket.


- The End -


Last modified: 02 Jan 2014