Star Traks: Boldly Gone... was created by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler. It's based on Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is owned by CBS, Paramount and Viacom. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, not to mention a huge jump 120 years into Star Trek's future, better hit the 'Back' button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2003


“Breaking in is Hard to Do”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

Captain Reginald Bain marched through the overgrowth on the humid planet D’Sarva Three with a growing sense of consternation.

He didn’t like unsolved mysteries, or hints, or gameplaying, and he felt that was exactly what Captain Pratello Maddox was doing to him. The half Bewhal/half human captain was Bain’s first officer aboard the Malaventure, and before that, they’d served together on the Abu Simbel, Bain as tactical officer and Maddox as Chief of Operations. He’d been in more life/death situations with Maddox than just about anybody. Of course, when he first met Maddox, he’d been a man. But, several years ago, just as full- blooded Bewhal are prone to do, Maddox spontaneously changed genders, and was now a curvaceous, if sometimes cantankerous, blonde/silver haired woman.

“And now that sot has dragged me out to a swampy Federation backworld, and for what?” Bain said to himself.

“This sot has some important information for you, Captain Bain.”

Bain turned to see the orange-scaled Maddox emerge from the underbrush and take a position with him in the relative clearing.

“I guess you’re curious about why I dragged you out here.”

“You could say that,” Bain said. “The Anomaly has a full docket this week, and …”

“I’m sure, I’m sure,” Maddox chuckled, pumping Bain’s hand vigorously. “But the question is, are you happy?”

“As giddy as the day I was born,” Bain said lightly. “Now then, what’s the caper my good man…I mean woman?”

Maddox grinned, then the grin fell somewhat. “It’s the Vulcans, Reg.”

“Not them again,” Bain sighed.

“I have people in high levels of Starfleet.”

Bain nodded boredly. “As do I. Your point?”

“They’re telling me that this Vulcan Alliance is not exactly kosher.”

“What do you mean…kosher?”

“I mean, it may not have developed as the natural progression of Vulcan society.”

“And what does any of that have to do with me?”

“You’ve got a Romulan serving on your ship, right?”

Bain nodded. “Yes. Prosak.”

“Wants to be a Vulcan, doesn’t she?”

“So I hear, yes.”

“Knows more about Vulcans than any other Romulan you know?”

“My goodness yes.”

Maddox smiled. “Well, then. She would be perfect for a little fact-finding operation.”

“Fact…finding?” Bain asked. “You want her to spy on the Vulcans?”

“Who else could do it?”

“Vulcans. We have thousands of them in Starfleet.”

“Not anymore,” Maddox said bluntly, and Bain nearly choked.


“They all quit. Just two days ago. Cited that it would be more logical if they served in the Vulcan fleet.”


“I speak the truth.”

“Well, then, that’s different. Wait right here, old gal, I’ll go get the fleet! We teach those blighters a thing or two!”

“No!” Maddox touched Bain’s shoulder. “This has to be handled…delicately.”

“And why is that?”

“Any actions we take…they can’t be traced back to Starfleet. It has to look like an independent operation.”

Bain shook his head. “You know I’m not one to skulk about in the shadows, Prat.”

“That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to be. You’re going to get Prosak to do it.”

“Sorry, chum, but I can’t do that. I want to get to the bottom of this Vulcan situation as badly as you do, but I’m not about to do anything to jeopardize anyone on my crew! There are channels…there are way things of this nature are done!”

Maddox frowned. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, Reggie.”

“Sorry, old boy…um, girl.” Bain sighed. “Enough shop talk. Let’s head up to my ship and have an ale.”

Maddox looked distractedly to the side, then glanced back at Bain. “I’d love to, old friend, but I have to get back to the Carpathia. You’re not the only one with a full docket.”

“Of course,” Bain said distantly, as Maddox pinched a pip on her collar and disappeared in a blue flurry.

“Damn peculiar,” he said, and tweaked his own collar pip, beaming off D’Sarva Three.

Maddox nodded curtly at a passing lieutenant as she headed into her quarters aboard the Carpathia. She’d popped in on the bridge just long enough to order the ship to maintain orbit for exactly one hour then start its cargo run to Himalyon Six.

The hour delay was a bit of stopover time for the crew…not that any of them would want to spend much time on the dank and sweaty D’Sarva Three, but the option was still open.

Meanwhile, Maddox had business to see to.

She found her contact sitting on the couch in her quarters.

“Well, Captain?” her contact asked.

Maddox sat down next to her contact, letting out a long, frustrated breath. “I tried, Roz, I really did try. It’s just no use. Your husband can’t be manipulated.”

“I figured it was worth a try,” Rosalyn Bain sighed, staring out the viewport as D’Sarva Three spun below. “But no one knows him better than me, and I know he’s not going to allow Commander Prosak to infiltrate the Vulcans if he doesn’t feel it’s in the best interests of Starfleet. And no matter how you slice it, Starfleet would never condone a move like this, not at this juncture anyway.”

“Maybe Reg doesn’t necessarily need Starfleet orders,” Maddox said thoughtfully. “He just needs to feel it’s in the best interest of Starfleet.”

“And how am I going to accomplish that?”

Maddox stretched her legs out and leaned back on the couch. “Well, if you can’t convince the man, convince his closest advisor.”

“Oh, Prattie, why didn’t I think of that?” Rosalyn exclaimed, kissing Maddox on the cheek. “You became so sneaky when you turned into a woman. “

“You’re telling me. It’s almost worth the cramps,” Maddox chuckled.

“Section 31 could use someone like you.”

Maddox shook her head. “Not likely, Roz. It’s bad enough I’m in bed with you folks at all. I wouldn’t be doing this for anyone but you. I had quite a crush on you way back when, you know.”

“I know,” Rosalyn said with a glint in her eye. “Well, I must be off. Wish me luck, Prattie!”

“Luck!” replied Maddox.

Rosalyn wasted no time. With a glance she activated her ocular implant and beamed off the Carpathia. She had to get to Tovar and fast, before this whole Vulcan situation boiled over entirely.

“Tovar, this is absolutely delicious,” Lt. Jamie Torgerson said, slurping down another fork-full of pasta as Tovar punched his fork around at his own plate, spearing a Bajoran mussel in the process.

“The original recipe called for squid, but, I…felt that was inappropriate,” the Yynsian frowned.

Torgerson reached across the table and touched Tovar’s hand. “You don’t have to say anything, Tovar. I saw you go through that awful squid pregnancy. I’m sure you’ll never bring yourself to eat squid again.”

“At least not for a couple years,” Tovar said thoughtfully as Torgerson refilled his wine glass.

“Look at that!” she exclaimed as the last drops of Son’a extra-aged wine dropped into Tovar’s glass. “I’ll run back to my quarters and get another bottle.”

“I assure you, Jamie, that won’t be…”

“I insist!” Torgerson said, hurrying over to peck Tovar on the cheek. “I’ll only be a minute.”

Tovar smiled wanly. “You’re too good to me, Jamie.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Torgerson called over her shoulder as she exited Tovar’s quarters.

“What a lovely lass,” a voice said behind Tovar. The Yynsian nearly jumped out of his seat. In an instant he was out of his chair with a phaser aimed at the source of the voice.


Rosalyn smiled. “Is that how you greet your mummies?” She shook her head. “Come here and give us a hug.”

Tovar put the phaser down and draped his arms around Rosalyn. As he hugged her, he said softly, “This isn’t a social call is it?”

“How’d you guess?” she said back.

Tovar leaned back, looking at Rosalyn with an arched eyebrow. “Because you would have announced your visit. Your anniversary with Captain Bain isn’t for another month.”

“Right as always, Tovar. I’m afraid Reg can’t know I was here.”

“I do so hate keeping secrets from him, Mum.”

Rosalyn pinched Tovar’s cheek lovingly. “But you know it’s necessary, lad. Now, I know you don’t have much time, so let me get down to brass tacks.”

“Please do,” Tovar said.

“We need you to convince Reginald to send Prosak undercover into the Vulcan Alliance to try and figure out what is the reason behind their recent move toward empire-building.”

Tovar blinked. “That is a tall order, mum.”

“Without Starfleet knowing about it.”

“I should have guessed.” Tovar slumped into one of the chairs around his dining room table. “Why can’t Starfleet know about it?”

“Because it could cause complications down the road!” Rosalyn snapped. “Now, Tovar, this is very important to Section 31. I know you don’t feel entirely comfortable helping them, but I’m not asking you this favor as an operative of 31, I’m asking you as your mum. I don’t know much about this Prosak person, but with the Vulcans all gone from Starfleet, she’s our last, best hope.”

“Gone from…?”

“No time to explain. Work your magic on Reginald. You’re the only one who can, dear.” Rosalyn grabbed a chunk of saucy meat off Tovar’s dish and munched on it. “Mmm. Delicious. It would’ve tasted better with squid. Good luck, my boy!”

And with that she disappeared, leaving Tovar looking flabbergasted, just as Jamie Torgerson strolled back into his quarters, playfully yanking the cork out of her bottle of Son’a wine.

“Party time!” she giggled and dumped some wine into her glass. “Drink up, Tovar! You look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

No, just the Federation, Tovar thought to himself as he drank from his wine glass and smiled back at Torgerson. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t anywhere NEAR in the mood.

Early the next morning, after a sleepless night (without Torgerson) Tovar stumbled into the Captain’s Lounge with the phrase he had spent the whole night formulating already coming out of his mouth:

“Captain, it is of the utmost importance that we send an operative to the planet Vulcan so we can uncover their motives. I just came up with this idea, just now, as I was washing up and getting ready to arrive for my duty shift.”

Captain Bain looked up from his wingbacked easy chair with a grin as he sipped his morning tea and munched a scone. “Tovar, old boy, good to see you up and about. I know how you like to sleep in, chum.” He winked. Then he glanced at the view wall, where a holographic image of Rosalyn Bain sitting behind a desk, ostensibly at Starfleet Academy, was projected. “Just having a little chat with Mum.”

Now how did she get back to Earth so quickly, Tovar wondered.

“Tovar, dear, how are you doing? And what’s all this about Vulcan missions?” Rosalyn asked innocently.

“I can’t discuss it with you, Mum.”

Bain chuckled. “What a good lad. Not letting his relationship with his Mum interfere with his loyalties to Starfleet.”

“Um, yes,” Tovar said quietly.

“I’ve got classes to prepare for, Reginald,” Rosalyn said, shuffling padds on her desk. “I do hope you and Tovar have a good day. Try not to overwork yourself now!”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, dear. I love you.”

“Love you too,” Rosalyn smiled, blowing Bain a kiss. And Tovar too. “And you, my boy. Good luck to you, Tovar.”

And her image winked out, to be replaced with Bain’s bookcase of treasured tomes dating back through the centuries, and through many a star system too.

Bain gestured for Tovar to sit. “Now what’s this business about the Vulcans?” Before Tovar could repond, Bain took a thoughtful sip from his teacup. “And why is everyone so bloody obsessed with the Vulcans lately?”

“Their behavior is uncharacteristic, Captain. It probably has a lot of people worried.”

“Indeed,” Bain nodded. “So, what’s your idea?”

“Like I said, I think we should send someone to Vulcan to see what they are up to.”

“But why us?” Bain rubbed his chin, leaning back. “Just yesterday one of my old friends suggested the same thing. Isn’t that a coincidence?”

“Well, um…maybe it’s, uh, a sign that you should proceed with the mission?”

Bain pounded the arm of his chair. “Or maybe it’s a sign I should stay the hell away!”

Tovar sighed, staring up at the ceiling. “Captain, have I ever steered you wrong?”

“No,” Bain said without hesitation. “I don’t suppose you have.” He eyed Tovar. “But who would we send?”

“The logical person would be Prosak.”

“Funny you should put it that way. Do you think she’d be game?”

“If you ordered her to do it, she would. Besides, I think she’s a bit curious herself.”

Bain stood, pacing his lounge. “I don’t like this. Skulking around behind Starfleet’s back.”

“You’ve done it before.”

“Have not!”

“Countless times.” Tovar took a long breath. “The attack on the Gorn near Cestus Five.”

“They stole my silverware at the state dinner!”

“Wiping out the Jarada landing party.”

“They were two hours late!”

“Destroying Vergon Three.”

“It was uninhabited! And the people of Vergon Two were fudging the reporting data on their Federation application.”

“Still…” Tovar said. “You are not afraid to do what is right, even if Starfleet doesn’t approve.”

“Yes, I suppose you have me there, Tovar.” He glanced warily at the tac-ops officer. “How is it you know what I should do before I know I should do it?”

“Just call it…intuition, sir.”

“In a minute…” Prosak rolled over and tried to fall back asleep.

“It’s a matter of some importance,” came Bain’s voice over the comm.

“I’m not on shift for another hour.”

“Actually, it’s another ten minutes, if you really want to split hairs, Prosak.”

Prosak sighed, grumbled something unintelligible, and slumped over to the door. It slid open, letting light from the bridge stream in. She groaned and hopped back into bed, tossing the covers over herself.

“Your pajama top is unbuttoned!” Ensign Arroyo called out from the helm station as the doors whisked shut behind Bain, leaving him alone with Prosak.

“Computer, lights on, ten percent,” Bain said, and moved to sit on the edge of Prosak’s bed. In doing so he tripped onto something and landed on the floor. “Gads! Damned trick hip!”

“Are you okay sir,” Prosak mumbled from under her pillow.

“Right as rain,” Bain mumbled, dragging himself up onto the bed. He picked up the object that had caused his fall. “I didn’t know you played tennis!”

“That is not a tennis racquet. It is a jar’is bat.”

“Jar’is? I’m afraid I don’t know it.”

“It’s a Romulan sport that involves lying and bludgeoning.”

“Sounds like cricket,” Bain said, tossing the racquet aside. “Now, then, Prosak. On to why I’m visiting you.”

“Please proceed,” came Prosak’s muffled voice.

“Right, then. Um. We have a bit of a mission for you, there, Prosak. One I think you’ll be rather interested in. You know how you always wanted to be a Vulcan? Well, here’s your chance!”

Prosak was up and dressed in ten minutes. She was still buttoning her uniform front as she accompanied Bain down the corridor toward Sickbay. “But why us, sir? And why me?”

“You can stop fastening that jacket now, Commander. I expect you’ll be provided with Vulcan garb.”

“Good point. So…”

“Right. Your mission. Well, you could say this mission is not exactly in line with Starfleet orders.”

“Is this revenge for Admiral Larkin putting that diplomacy hologram on the ship?”

“No, no, but,” Bain said, then allowed a small laugh. “Now that you mention it, it’s a nice byproduct. No, Prosak, this is not about revenge. It’s about finding out what the Vulcans are up to. Starfleet’s not pursuing it, at least not through known channels, and they’ve seemingly blocked all requests to investigate. They consider the Vulcans’ borders closed and their reintegration into the Federation a dead issue. I want to know why.”

“I do too. But aren’t we sort of risking our careers?”

“There is no ‘sort of’ about it. Which is why this mission is voluntary.”

“You didn’t mention that earlier.”

“Well it is. Now then, here we are, Sickbay at last. Let’s get you a little face touch-up and get you on your way.”


“Tut-tut. Off you go,” Bain said, and ushered Prosak into Sickbay. Then, before she could say anything else, he was gone. He never did like Fred Nooney.

“And how are we, now that we’re a Vulcan?” asked Dr. Nooney, holding a holomirror in front of Prosak. “To be honest, I am not sure what you did. I look exactly the same.”

“You missing the fine details, silly,” Nooney giggled, and tossed a folded stack of garments at Prosak. “I had Ih’vik throw together a little Vulcan ‘ensemble’ for you. I think you are a shoe-in to win.”

“To win…?”

“The costume contest at the RommaVulc cotillion, silly,” Nooney giggled, slapping Prosak hard on the back. “Now go get ‘em, logician!”

Prosak stumbled, confused, out of Sickbay. Bain must have concocted some excuse for Nooney so he wouldn’t have to tell him about the Vulcan operation. She wondered how many people on the ship really knew about her mission.

“Me, Tovar, and you, and I want to keep it that way,” Bain said as Prosak climbed into the Shuttlecraft Gnork. Bain and Tovar stood in the hatchway as Prosak got comfortable behind the controls.

“Remember,” Tovar said. “Officially, you are taking a vacation on Altair Six.”

“But I really prefer Corsica…”

“It doesn’t matter,” Tovar said impatiently. “This is just a cover story. You’re taking vacation on Altair Six and will be gone three weeks.”


“In actuality, however, you will be going to Deep Space 78, where you will leave your shuttle and take a civilian hypertransport to Vulcan.”

Tovar tossed a padd at Prosak. “There are your identifying documents and account numbers for a Vulcan credit line.”

“How on Earth did you get all that?” Bain asked, looking wide-eyed at Tovar.

“I have connections,” Tovar said, then looked back at Prosak. “Study those documents carefully. Know them by heart.”

“Shouldn’t I have taken more time to prepare?” Prosak asked numbly.

“You will have all the time you need. It will be a four day trip to Vulcan,” Tovar said. “Anyway, all you’re being asked to do is act Vulcan. You know how to do that, so what’s the problem?”

“I guess you’re right.” Prosak wondered inwardly why Tovar was acting so…stressed. It was almost as if he were acting against his will. She shrugged that idea off and began looking at the padd he’d given her.

“Your new Vulcan name is Soprak,” Tovar continued. “You are a journalist from the Logical Report, a Vulcan news publication, and are visiting Mount Selaya to cover High Chancellor Sh’rak’s address regarding the Vulcan secession from the Federation.”

“Soprak?” Prosak asked. Wasn’t that a little obvious?

Bain nodded eagerly. “In addition to the transceiver we had Nooney plant in your ear, Tovar has fashioned you a nifty little locator beacon in the shape of the IDIC symbol.”

Tovar tossed the item to Prosak. “It is attached to a chain so you can wear it around your neck.”

“Aw…Tovar, you gave me a necklace. How thought–”

“Indeed,” Tovar said curtly and ducked out of the shuttle hatch. The hatch suddenly sighed closed, and she heard Bain calling out “good luck!” from beyond.

And off she was launched, without so much as a “how do you feel?”

“I’ve done it, Mum. She’s off.”

“And in record time. Your Uncle Carn will be glad to hear that, bubbins,” Rosalyn said as she pulled a steaming tray of muffins out of the replicator. “I apologize for putting such time constraints on you, but there is an…event coming up…and we want to know what the Vulcans are up to before…”

“Before? Before what?” asked Tovar.

“You’ll be hearing about it soon enough. Now then, I must be off. You know how to find me if you hit any bumps in the road!”

“Yes, mum,” Tovar said as Rosalyn hugged him, then disappeared from his quarters.

Suddenly the door chime bleeped. “Oh, Tovar? It’s Jamie. You ready for our kayaking trip through the Baranna Falls on Betazed?”

“I’ve never been more ready,” Tovar called out and then glanced down at his uniform. “Just let me go get my wetsuit on.”

“Can I watch?” the voice giggled on the other side of the door.

“Why watch a man dress, when you can watch him undress later,” Tovar called out as he ducked through the changing field and emerged fully clothed in a wetsuit, holding a paddle. He stepped out of his quarters into the corridor. “Shall we?”

Thank goodness one of his past lives, Ch’tot, was a gigolo.

“…tried to kill me and my family. Even tried to kill the dog. Went absolutely bonkers, that thing did. It could have wiped out our whole neighborhood had we not gotten to the data core soon enough.”

“Mm hmm,” Prosak said distractedly, looking over the padd Tovar had given her. She’d read it again and again over the last few days, partially as a distraction and partially as a hint for Joras Tanal, the Bajoran holotainment mogul, who’d edged into the seat next to her a day prior.

“When I got into this business I swore to The Sisko I would never get close to the holograms I built. Then I created Lira, and I nearly lost my whole family because of her. I’ll tell you, photonic women are nothing but trouble.”

“Fascinating,” Prosak mumbled as she read through her padd.

“You ever, ya know, make it with a hologram?”

Prosak blinked, then looked at Joras. “Not as such, but my friends and I were nearly killed by one.”

“Then you can sympathize. Believe you me, my wife is still really annoyed with me.”

“That is not surprising.”

“Guess I got what was coming to me. Even worse, since we blew up the data core, it pretty much eradicated my holography business, so she’s controlling the finances. Not that that’s a problem, her being Kai and all…”

“Most definitely.”

“But I tell you, I still have nightmares about that crazed 9- foot woman coming at me with energy bolts shooting out of her eyes. Did you know holograms could do that?”

“Indeed I did not.”

“Oh yeah. They can do all sorts of unpleasant things. Thank goodness we blew her up. Of couse I hear she uploaded herself into the MegaSim at the last minute. Not that it’s my problem anymore. All those cursed holograms can stay in the MegaSim as far as I’m concerned. Nope, it’s real people for me from now on.”

“I wholeheartedly agree.”

Prosak was grateful to have a few moments of silence as she went back over her falsified childhood history, but then Joras Tanal piped up again.

He nudged her elbow. “Want to go in the back and see if we can knock this transport out of subspace, if you know what I mean?”

“We should not mettle with the engine room…”

“I mean, do you want to fool around? You know, um…how do you Vulcans describe it? Pon farr each other?”

Prosak stared at Joras with wide eyes. “You are a first-rate imbecile, Mister Joras. I am going to find another seat. Good day.”

As soon as Prosak stood, the stars outside her tiny viewport turned from streaks to dots.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Thank you for flying Simms Spaceways and enjoy your stay on Efflux Two. And for those Vulcan expatriates who are aboard and wishing to transfer to the Vulcan system, please report to Docking Port two where a transport will take you past the blockade and into Vulcan territory. I’m obliged to remind you that you’re betraying all the Federation holds dear. Have a pleasant day.”

Prosak sighed, stepped over Joras, and ducked down the aisle and out of the transport.

Prosak had a much more agreeable person sitting next to her on the short trip from Efflux Two to Vulcan. This transport, smaller than the Simms ship, only contained Vulcans. These were among the last Vulcans returning home after High Chancellor Sh’rak made it clear that it was only logical for all Vulcans to leave the Federation and return to the newly-formed Vulcan Alliance.

The Vulcan next to Prosak, who’d introduced herself as T’lissa, hadn’t said a word in the first ten minutes of the journey, which immediately made her a superior traveling companion to Joras.

After the eleventh minute, Prosak decided to try and strike up a conversation.

“This is quite a development, isn’t it?” she broke in, noticing T’lissa’s eyes were closed, and she held her steepled fingers to her chin, a sure signal of Vulcan meditation.

After a pause, and without opening her eyes, T’lissa replied, “Of what do you speak?”

“All the Vulcans leaving the Federation. All of, um, us.” Prosak stopped herself from grinning. US! She was one of THEM! In a way, this was everything she’d ever wanted. Too bad it came in the guise of espionage.

“It was inevitable,” T’lissa said simply.

“I do not follow,” Prosak replied, remembering to avoid using contractions.

T’lissa finally turned to look at Prosak. “We Vulcans are superior intellectually. We have been allies of the Federation for four hundred years. It is inevitable that we would one day find a way to improve upon the Earth’s Federation concept.”

“But wasn’t the Federation a joint effort of the Vulcans and the Terrans?”

“Hardly. You know as well as I that the Vulcans have always been the…how was it once put…the intellectual puppets of the Federation.”

“Who said that?”

“I do not know, I simply remember reading it somewhere.” T’lissa emitted a small sigh. “If you do not mind, I wish to continue meditating.”

“Of course. Do you mind if I ask first, what do you do?”

“I am a therapist.”

“Yikes.” Prosak covered her mouth. “I mean, fascinating.”

T’lissa stared at Prosak with a raised eyebrow, then closed her eyes and resumed meditating.

Captain Bain paced his dimly lit quarters, staring at times at his desktop terminal. Still no messages from Prosak. She probably hadn’t even landed on Vulcan yet. He should have gone with her. Really, how difficult would it be for Dr. Nooney to slap a couple pointy ears on him? He could have pulled off the emotionless act. Or Tovar could have done it.

He trusted Prosak, but still, Bain’s finely honed intuition told him that he’d put his First Officer into a situation where she was in over her head.

And if he was right and she failed, he’d have to be ready to swoop in and come to her rescue.

Even though Bain didn’t relish the idea of Prosak failing, he did relish the idea of taking action and forcing the Vulcans’ hand. That was just the way he did things. And all this skulking about wasn’t his forte.

Bain continued to pace.

Prosak felt like a kid on Surak Day when she stepped out of the beam-in center and onto the bustling Vulcan town square. Well, bustling wasn’t quite the word for it. The crowds milled around in silent order, seeming nearly like Borg drones. The well- behaved ones, anyway.

No one pushed, or shoved. Customers and merchants exchanged money for goods without nearly a word, and certainly no smiles.

There was such a…a calm about the place. Something that was sorely lacking on the Anomaly. Something Prosak could easily become accustomed to.

Prosak thought back to the padd she’d read (and thereafter deleted all its contents). She was to attend High Chancellor Surak’s Press Conference, a mere hour away, and try to corner him afterward and grill him for details, posing as a reporter.

She decided to grab a bite to eat before heading to the Grand Assembly Hall on Mount Selaya.

Prosak had taken a field trip to Vulcan when she was 14, so she had at least a working familiarity with the place. Not to mention that she’d studied Vulcan history and geography since she’d converted to RommaVulc some six years ago. Her father, Rorshak, had always been angry with himself for taking her on that trip to Vulcan when she was younger, feeling that was where the seed of RommaVulcism was first planted in her mind. Rorshak could well have been right, but what was done was done, and Prosak had no regrets.

What she did regret, however, was that she was here on Vulcan on an important mission, and not for sightseeing purposes. The tensions between the Vulcans and the Federation made any leisure visits highly unlikely, at least for the near future. Who knew how long it would take, if ever, for the Federation to reunite with the Vulcans?

As she walked the streets, marveling at the impassive faces of passersby, trying her best not to show any emotion herself, Prosak wondered if the Vulcans had gone through a similar situation when the Romulans broke off from them so long ago. For ten years or so after the “Great Egress,” did ancient Vulcans make attempts at smoothing things over with the Romulans and bringing them back into the fold? Did they think this was a situation that would get worked out in a few years, as the Federation viewed the situation with the Vulcans?

Prosak felt a measure of discomfort trying to imagine a world without the free enjoyment of Vulcan civilization. She didn’t like that idea at all, and hoped something could be done to bring the Vulcans and the Federation back together. She’d be extremely proud to be a part of that. Well, not TOO proud. She was RommaVulc, after all.

Prosak came to a small, outdoor eatery, and after scanning the menu (which contained two choices: plomeek soup, and plain soup), ordered a bowl of plomeek soup.

As the stoic old Vulcan hobbled out with her bowl of soup she hoped against hope that it would have a bit of spice in it, but as she tasted it she was harshly reminded of the fact that she was on Vulcan, and Vulcans didn’t have much need for spice.

That’s why the Vulcans needed the Romulans, anyway. To spice things up. Maybe she could convince them of that.

After a not-so-filling meal, Prosak punched her IDIC symbol, notifying Bain she’d landed safely on Vulcan. A few moments later, she got, literally, an earful from Captain Bain as his voice boomed in the microscopic transmitter implant that Doctor Nooney had put in her left ear.

“I’ve been worried sick about you, Prosak. I thought you were going to check in as soon as you got to Vulcan!”

“I got distracted, Captain. It’s not often I get to make this kind of pilgrimage.”

“How about we refrain from calling it a pilgrimage at all and refer to it as a mission?”

“As you wish,” Prosak whispered, not wishing to draw looks from other Vulcans as she made her way up the steps to Mount Selaya. The temple had existed on Mount Selaya for over a thousand years. One would have thought, in all that time, someone would have put in a turbolift.

“So, how goes the mission?”

“I’m working my way up,” Prosak huffed.


“I’m infiltrating the Assembly Hall at Mount Selaya right now.” She stopped to catch her breath. “Well, I’m halfway up the steps, anyway.”

“Any clues as to the Vulcans motives yet?”

“Besides thinking they’re better than us?

There was silence on the channel.

Prosak took a deep breath as she continued trudging up the steps. “None that I am aware of. Of course I’ve only talked to two Vulcans since I got here, and one of them was a waiter.”

“Well, then, just keep us informed of new developments, if you please.”

“Very well. Prosak out.”

Prosak stopped again, glancing down the long flights of stairs leading down to the ground. She watched a steady stream of Vulcans climb the stairs. Then she turned to look up the stairs to see orderly lines ahead of her, climbing up.

With renewed resolve, Prosak pressed on up the stairs. This better be some impressive address, she thought to herself.

It was not.

High Chancellor Sh’rak stood, wearing an oddly smug expression, in the pulpit, looking out over the hundreds of Vulcans that stood before him. Millions more were watching via ultraspace.

He’d only been talking about four minutes. He began by bringing everyone up to speed on the Vulcan’s secession from the Federation, followed by recalling Vulcans from Starfleet, and encouraging Vulcan civilians to return from Federation worlds as well. Almost every single one complied. Those who didn’t were referred to as “radicals.”

“And I wish to conclude by congratulating all of you for doing such an excellent job complying with the wishes of the new administration. It has not been easy setting a new course for the Vulcan people, but I believe we have finally begun a voyage to take our place as the most prominent species in the galaxy. We have already proven we have superior intellects. Let us go on to prove we are the superior species in all matters.”

Prosak waited for cheering. There was none. Of course not. This was Vulcan.

Neither was there a crowd rushing to ask Sh’rak questions as he calmly stepped down from the pulpit and, guided by a small entourage, headed toward an exit to a back room in the temple. The other Vulcans in the audience proceeded to speak quite softly and orderly among themselves.

Prosak saw her opportunity and took it. Moving as subtly as she could manage, she made her way over to Sh’rak.

“Chancellor. May I speak with you for a moment?”

Sh’rak was speaking to one of his advisors. “One moment, Surap.” He turned to face Prosak. “Yes, citizen?”

“My name is Soprak. I represent the Logical Report. I wish to ask you a few questions regarding recent the past year’s developments in Vulcan politics.”

“You may, of course, ask. Would you like to join me in my office?”

Prosak nodded. “Certainly.”

“Please follow me.”

Prosak followed Sh’rak, and the two old Vulcans who accompanied him up, unfortunately, another several flights of stairs to a grandiose office overlooking Selaya valley in all its hot, barren glory.

“Please, sit,” Sh’rak said, gesturing to a chair opposite a large desk. He nodded at the two old Vulcans, who quietly backed out of the room, closing the doors behind them.

Sh’rak sat in the chair next to Prosak. “By the way, you neglected to give me your name.”

“I believe I did,” Prosak said her unease growing.

“Remind me.”

“So…Soprak,” Prosak said quickly.

“Indeed,” said Sh’rak. “Well, Soprak, what have you to ask me?”


“That is a rather vague question.”

“Why have you broken off all diplomatic contact with the Federation? Why did you pull all the Vulcans out of Federation space?”

“Is that not obvious?” Sh’rak answered, raising an eyebrow. “It is in our interest to create a powerful Vulcan Alliance. We need all our citizens to do that. Including, of course, you.”

“M…me?” Prosak asked, swallowing hard.

“Of course.” Sh’rak inched closer. “Would you be willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of all of Vulcan?”

Prosak nodded dumbly. “Of course.” She somehow felt like she was no longer acting. Like she was answering truthfully. “Of course I would.”

“Then you will allow us to join minds.”

“I–” Prosak stammered, but it was too late. In an instant, Sh’rak’s hands flew to Prosak’s cheeks, spread out, and he said in soft tones:

“My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts. Our minds are one,” Sh’rak said, adding, “Commander Prosak.” He sneered. “Did you really think I wouldn’t recognize you? Soprak. Please! Anyway, like I was saying, our minds are one.”

“Our minds are one,” Prosak echoed, as she felt Sh’rak’s own mind, and everything he had planned, bulldoze her own mind over as if it weren’t even there.

Then she blacked out.


“Could you remind me why we’re doing circles around Vulcan space?” Ensign Hector Arroyo asked, turning from his seat at the helm to look back at Bain, who sat leaning forward at tactical.

“Observation,” Tovar said, so Bain wouldn’t have to try to make something ridiculous up. “Starfleet’s orders are confirmed, Ensign. Where would YOU have us go?”

Arroyo turned back around. “Never mind.” That shut him up.

Bain swivelled toward the science console. “Anything, Doctor?”

Natalia Kasyov observed the gyrating graphs and streams of data on her screen. “Nothing, although it would help if I knew what I was looking for.”

“You would know if you saw it,” Tovar said simply.

“This whole mission has just been too weird,” Kasyov muttered. “I mean, not that the missions aren’t weird most of the time anyway, but at least we’re all usually lost together.” She glared at Bain. “You and Tovar, though. You guys seem to know something.”

“I don’t know where you’d get that idea,” Bain said. “We’re just one big happy crew. We don’t keep secrets from one another.”

Suddenly, Tovar’s panel bleeped. He glanced over some data, then cleared his throat. “Ahem, Captain Bain. Good news, on a totally unrelated front. It looks like Commander Prosak is back from her vacation.”

“Really?” Bain’s eyebrows shot up as he spun back to face Tovar–he nearly continued spinning back toward the front of the bridge, but shot a foot down to the deck to stop himself.

“Yes, sir,” Tovar said. “Let’s go welcome her.”

“Jolly good idea. Doctor Kasyov, you have the bridge.”

“But I’m not in Starfleet,” Kasyov replied as Bain and Tovar dashed into the aft turbolift.

“Improvise,” Bain said as the doors closed. “It’s not exactly rocket science!”

Kasyov sighed and strolled over to the command chair. She put a hand on the headrest, testing the swivel. She shrugged. “Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.” She sat down. “Hey, I like this.” She looked at Arroyo. “Hey, Ensign. Fire antiproton beams.”

“We don’t have an antiproton beam, and I don’t work the weapons.”

“Right. Well, then. As you were.”

Bain and Tovar rushed into the shuttlebay as the rear hatch of the Shuttlecraft Gnork slid open and Commander Prosak strolled out.

“Greetings, Captain,” Prosak said, walking past Bain. “The mission was uneventful. I did not learn anything. I sure am eager to return to duty. Talk to you later.”

“What now?” Bain said, shocked, as Prosak walked out of the shuttlebay. He exchanged a glance with Tovar.

“Wait!” Tovar cried, and he and Bain pursued.

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 177123.3. After debriefing Commander Prosak for what seemed like a day, I am convinced she is telling the truth. She really didn’t learn anything from her trip to Vulcan. I did find it strange that I lost contact with her, then she reported back without even updating me as to what she was doing, but she explained to me that a Vulcan t’nitnit fly flew into her ear and destroyed the transceiver, and that her IDIC homing beacon had fallen into a bowl of soup and shorted out. I am forced to believe her, since I can find no earthly reason why she would lie about such things.

“You look preoccupied,” Lt. Torgerson said quietly as she picked through her Yynsian Jambalaya. It had been a particular specialty of Toflay’s. Tovar had let him cook, since he really didn’t feel like hanging around in his body that particular evening.

But now that he was back in control of his faculties, he was forced back into thinking about Prosak, and the Vulcan situation, and what his mum would say, and it all made him dreadfully uneasy.

“I am preoccupied.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not real…mph…” Tovar chewed thoughtfully. And chewed. And chewed. And chewed. He reached in his mouth and pulled out a clump of white meat. “What…what is THIS?”

Torgerson leaned forward, eying the meat. “I’m not sure. But if I had to guess, I’d say squid.”

“There…there’s squid in this?” Tovar growled. “That no good, lousy…”

“Calm down, honey. I’m sure Toflay didn’t mean it.”

“Oh, he did. He’s a real jokester . Well, you just wait. The next time I have a hemorrhoid, I am going to let him out and let him deal with THAT and see how he likes THAT!”

“I think this goes far beyond baby squid and…inflammations,” Torgerson said, standing up and circling around the table to kneel next to Tovar. “Something’s bothering you and I want to know what it is so I can help you.”

“I don’t think you CAN help,” Tovar said. “This is something I have to deal with mys–”


Tovar’s head whipped around. “Mum?”

“WHO?” asked Torgerson.

He bolted out of his chair, knocking Torgerson over in the process. “I just realized I left something in my bedroom that needed tending to. You know the way out.” And he ran into the bedroom, the door sliding shut behind him.

“I give up,” Torgerson mumbled, grabbing the bottle of wine off the dinner table, storming out into the corridor, and taking a long swig from it.

“Mum!” Tovar said, finding Rosalyn Bain glancing around his bedroom.

“You moved the bed over to the other side of the room. I like it there.”

“I take it this is not purely a social call.”

Rosalyn shook her head. “Quite the opposite.”

“I suppose you noticed that Commander Prosak was unable to uncover any new information about the Vulcans.”

“It was a long shot, anyway,” Rosalyn sighed. “Prosak handled herself well down there on Vulcan, and it’s a shame she wasn’t able to answer any of our questions, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to let you know that Starfleet is planning on sending the Anomaly to Romulus.”

“Romulus? Why?”

“To bear witness to the installation of the new Praetor.”

“There’s a new Praetor?”

Rosalyn rolled her eyes. “The universe does not revolve around this ship, Tovar. Don’t you view the news holos?”

Tovar stared at the floor. “Not very often, mum.”

“Yes, there’s a new Romulan Praetor being installed. And you wouldn’t believe who’s attending the party.”

“Um…the Vulcans?”

“You ARE perceptive, Tovar. But not just any Vulcans. High Chancellor Sh’rak himself. We think the Vulcans are making overtures with the Romulans.”

“The Romulans would never join the Vulcans. The Vulcans are in league with the Klingons, and the Romulans hate the Klingons.” Tovar smiled. “I do know THAT much.”

“Well, believe me, Sh’rak would like nothing more than to see the Romulans absorbed back into the Vulcan culture. What good does it have for them to have a galactic alliance if they can’t even get their own people back into the fold?”

Tovar’s eyes widened. “I hadn’t thought of that, Mum. To think, all those years the Romulans have tried to recombine with the Vulcans. Now the tables are turned.”

“And there may not be anything standing in the way of reunification,” Mrs. Bain agreed.

“Only, now that the Vulcans have broken away from the Federation, we may be facing a situation that puts us at a distinct disadvantage.”

“The Federation could become the galactic equivalent of the smallest kid on the playground.”

“We cannot let that happen,” Tovar said earnestly.

“That’s why the Federation is sending the Anomaly to reassure the Romulans about who is allied with who.”

“Couldn’t they spare someone more…impressive? The President, or Vice President? A high-ranking ambassador?”

“Oh, you’re going to be bringing along a guest of honor, don’t you worry about that,” Mrs. Bain said with a long sigh.

“That is a relief.”

“Well, don’t get your hopes up.”

“Isn’t this exciting,” Captain Bain said, leaning against Tovar’s console as he monitored the Anomaly’s anti-sing trip to Romulus. They were only using Warp C, since Romulus wasn’t really that far away.

“I wouldn’t say ‘exciting,’ sir,” Tovar said, and added in a lowered voice, “I would prefer to say ‘worrisome.’”

“When did you become such a worry wart, Tovar?” Bain asked.

“When I had the stable elements of my personality forcibly removed.”

“You mean the interloper who took over this ship and nearly went on a rampage with it?”

“He had the virtue of being smart,” Tovar said, punching his controls.

“Well,” Bain said, trying to change the subject. “Are our guests comfortably aboard?”

“Unfortunately, yes, although I wouldn’t say comfortable.”

Bain nodded. “I don’t know what Starfleet was thinking, sending them.”

“I have a feeling Admiral Larkin had a hand in it as well.”

“Oh, no doubt.” Bain shook his head. “Anyway…” He looked to Arroyo. “Time to Romulus, Ensign?”

“Twenty minutes,” Arroyo said.

Suddenly the doors to Prosak’s quarters (Bain’s former ready room) opened up and Prosak stumbled out, still in her pajamas.

“If you’re going to strut around in those, at least keep them buttoned!” Arroyo moaned.

“Commander?” asked Bain.

Prosak didn’t reply, she just walked into the aft turbolift and it closed.

Bain looked at Tovar. “Damned peculiar.”

Tovar nodded. “Quite.”

Once the Anomaly had arrived at Romulus, and Bain had finally finished fumbling with his dress uniform, he and Tovar, Prosak, and the Federation’s…er, distinguished guests of honor, beamed down to the Romulan capital city, where the large-scale shindig to install Proconsul Prilosek as Praetor was about to take place in the ornate and huge Songbird Ballroom.

“Has anyone seen Prilosek?” Prosak asked, sipping her glass of Diet Romulan Ale as she and Bain watched the crowds of Romulans exchanging handshakes and well-wishes.

“She has been in seclusion, as I understand it, preparing her speech,” Bain said.

“I see,” said Prosak. “Excuse me.”

“Sir,” Tovar said, sidling up to Bain, as if from out of nowhere.

Bain gasped. “Tovar! Don’t sneak up on a man like that!”

“My apologies. Where is Commander Prosak going?”

“I haven’t the slightest. I’m just glad she changed from her jammies into a dress uniform.”

Tovar nodded. “As am I.”

“Captain Bain,” came a patronizing voice Bain recognized as Sh’rak’s.

Bain turned around, pasting on his best forced smile. “High Chancellor. As always, a pleasure.”

“Enjoying your ale?”

Bain held up his glass. “Not quite scotch, but not bad!”

“Very good,” Sh’rak said, nodding at the two old Vulcans who flanked him to disperse into the crowd. “I am glad to see the Federation thought enough of this event to send some representatives.”

“It is quite the occasion,” Bain said. “I think they decided to send the Anomaly since it’s such a fine example of Romulan and Federation cooperation.”

“Indeed,” Sh’rak said blandly.

“And,” Bain added. “Of the lasting and unbreakable relationship between Romulus and the Federation.”

“We shall see,” Sh’rak replied, and moved off into the crowd.

“Gads! I had all sorts of witty rejoinders ready for him, and he just struts right off like the cock of the walk,” Bain muttered, sucking back his Romulan ale. He looked at Tovar. “Get me another one, old chum.”

“Sir, is that such a good idea?”

”**BRAP**Well if I’m going to put a good face on the Federation, I can’t very well do it sober, can I? And I certainly can’t rely on our ‘special’ guests.”

“I would think not,” Tovar said, taking Bain’s glass and heading over to the refreshments table to get him a refill. There, unfortunately, he bumped into the aforementioned Federation “guests of honor.”

“Why are we even here?” one of the two hunched over, decrepit old human men said.

“I’d rather be taking a nap,” grunted the other.

“Admirals,” Tovar said patiently, as he poured ale into Bain’s glass, and got one for himself. “You two have a very important responsibility. To prove to the Romulans that the induction of their new Praetor is of utmost importance to the Federation.”

“Bah! I hate the Romulans,” muttered one of the old men, who was bald and wore a silver goatee.

“You sure can hold a grudge,” grunted the one whose sparse gray hair and grey beard made him look oddly reminiscent of Santa Claus. “When are you going to just get over it?”

“When you lose some weight!” snapped baldy. “Now go find my injection. My body parts are dying faster than these nanites can rebuild them.”

Tovar watched with detached interest as the other old man chortled raspily. “Haha. You old wretch. Looks like I’ll be outliving you, too, just like I outlived your stupid wife.”

“You shut up about that! We’ll just see about…” choked the bald one, bracing himself against the refreshment table. “We’ll just see about…about that one!”

Tovar’s eyes widened. He rushed over to the bald one and touched his shoulder. “Sir! Are you all right? Should I get Doctor Nooney?”

“NO!” he bellowed, sending Tovar stumbling backwards. “I don’t want that stupid quack to touch me. Get me a female doctor. A cute one.”

“I could call Nurse Ih’vik down.”

“No!” said the other old man.

“Andorians are nothing but trouble,” muttered baldy.

Tovar looked at the old bald man with growing concern. “Sir, you are looking very pale. We really should get you some medical assistance.”

“Nonsense. My heart just stopped for a bit.” He cocked his head, his eyes brightening slightly. “There she goes again. Good old thumpy.”

The other man punched the bald one on the arm. “Yeah. Should be good for at least a couple more days.”

“You shut up!”

“Why don’t YOU shut up?”

“Why were we here again?”

“I don’t know, but I want to go back to Starfleet Meadows. I had almost gotten old Bev Crusher into the sack!”

“I’m not going back to the home! I just want my nanites!”

Tovar rolled his eyes. “Enjoy the rest of the ceremony, gentlemen.”

“And where can I get a decent cup of coffee?” bellowed one of the old men.

“Oh you and your coffee,” spat the other.

“Oh, I suppose real men drink grapefruit juice?”

“Damn, there goes the heart again.”

“Die, damn you!”

“Never! I will live to see your decrepit body blown out of a photon tube if it’s the last thing I ever do!”

Tovar sighed and walked away, as the two old men fought on.

As Prosak made her way through the rear accessway of the Songbird Ballroom, she bumped into Ambassador Rorshak.

“Boogles!” Rorshak said, pulling Prosak into a hug. “How are you, youngest! Staying out of trouble?”

“Indeed,” Prosak nodded. “And you?”

“Just coming from a visit with the soon-to-be Praetor. She seems quite nice. You know, Boogles, Proconsul Prilosek was responsible for a lot of the initiatives that made your Anomaly project come to fruition. You have her to thank for a lot of it.”

“I know. I would love to thank her personally.”

“I don’t see why not,” Rorshak said, gesturing back down the accessway. As the pair walked, Rorshak looked at Prosak. “You’re not still on about reuniting the Vulcans and Romulans are you?”

“I will keep those arguments to myself.”

“Good. The last thing I need is for you to embarrass me in front of our new leader.”

“I would not dream of it, Father.”

“That’s a good Boogles.”

“They’re quite the pair all right,” Bain chuckled, sucking back another glass of Romulan Ale. “I don’t know how Admiral Larkin worked with them all those years.”

“Have you seen Prosak, sir?” Tovar asked idly.

“Not as such,” Bain said. “I’m sure she’s about somewhere.”

“I think I will go try to find her.”

“Very good.” Bain nodded as he bumped into a Romulan dignitary he recognized. “Ahh, Commander Carfax! We had a space battle twenty years ago, during the break in the armistice! I nearly destroyed you, remember?”

“Ah, Captain Bain. How good to see you again. Still shooting up enemy vessels!”

“Whenever I get the chance, old boy. Whenever I get the chance!”

Proconsul Prilosek was sitting at a desk in one of the anterooms in the Songbird Ballroom complex. Four Centurions waited outside. Rorshak nodded at them and gestured Prosak into the office.

“Proconsul,” Rorshak said. “I want you to meet my lovely daughter, Prosak.” He rested his hands on Prosak’s shoulders. “Prosak, this is the next Praetor of the Romulan Empire.”

Prosak grinned, reaching forward to shake Prilosek’s hand as the diminutive, but sturdily- built, Romulan woman stood up and shook hands with her.

“A pleasure, Commander. Your father has told me a lot about you.”

“He is too kind,” Prosak said, moving to stand next to Rorshak. “I love him dearly.”

“That’s nice,” said Prilosek. “I hope you enjoy the ceremony.”

“Oh, I am sure I will,” Prosak said, reaching behind Rorshak and patting him on the shoulder.

Rorshak looked down at Prosak, smiling. “I have nothing but good things to say about my Prosak.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Prosak said, and squeezed the base of Rorshak’s neck, causing him to drop to the floor like a sack of Romulan nukbars.

Prilosek’s eyebrows went up in shock. “What…”

“You’re next, darling,” Prosak said in a low voice, and before Prilosek could make a move, she reached over and pinched the Proconsul’s neck, causing her to drop to a floor too.

“She went to see the Proconsul, you say,” Tovar said, following a centurion down the access tunnel toward the back area of the Songbird Ballroom.

“Yes,” said the Centurion. “I think she wanted to extend her congratulations. I think her father introduced her. Ambassador Rorshak is quite proud of his daughter.”

“As are we all,” Tovar muttered, shaking his head. Something felt wrong. Maybe it was Totap’s battle instincts talking, but something was definitely wrong.

Prosak whistled a happy tune as she leaned over Prilosek’s immobile body and withdrew a hairpin from the mound of curls atop her head. She was getting bored of the perm. It was time to straighten it again and return it to its natural, Vulcan-looking, state.

She looked at the hairpin, grinning at the small purplish stain at the end. Just enough of just the right chemical to give the recipient massive neurological failure. A well-planned assassination that would look like an accident, until some clever Romulan coroner discovered the chemical, one Nelpazine, which is used mainly by Starfleet operatives. The Romulans would know this, and their relations with Starfleet would only go downhill from there.

It was pure genius, Prosak thought to herself. She had to hand it to Sh’rak. He was a brilliant strategist. Brilliant.

A small part of Prosak screamed out in defiance as she moved the hairpin down toward the prone body of Prilosek. She ignored that part and prepared to punch the hairpin into the Proconsul’s neck.

Just as an invisible foot kicked Prosak’s hand, knocking the hairpin to the ground.

Prosak turned her head, shocked. There was no one there. Then there was.

“No you don’t, love!” With a glitter of golden light, Rosalyn Bain emerged from her personal cloak and slammed a foot into the side of Prosak’s head.

Prosak shook off the dizziness caused by the impact of the old woman’s foot and rose unsteadily to her feet. “Mrs. Bain…what a pleasure. What brings you here?”

“That’s for me to know, dear,” Mrs. Bain said, and gave a swift roundhouse kick to Prosak’s jaw, “and for you to find out!”

Prosak staggered backward, then piledrived into Mrs. Bain, knocking her against the wall. “Captain Bain has told me you make a tremendous apple pie. I should like to try it some time.”

“And you will try it, providing I don’t kill you here.”

“And providing I don’t kill you!” Prosak cried and clasped her hands together, ramming them into Rosalyn’s shoulder. She stumbled, but quickly recovered and delivered a crushing judo chop to Prosak’s neck, following up with a jump kick to the face.

Prosak pinwheeled back against the wall of the small office and gazed at Rosalyn, dazed.

“You fight well. Why are you here again?” Prosak asked woozily.

“I’m on a mission,” Rosalyn said simply, and swing-kicked Prosak in the side of the head, knocking her out cold.

That done, Rosalyn bent down and scooped up the hairpin. “Damn old knees,” she griped and grunted as she pocketed the murder weapon and looked at the placid expression on Proconsul Prilosek. “Looks like you’re none the worse for wear, old girl.”

Suddenly the doors to the office were pried apart and Tovar rushed in, both wrist phasers drawn. “What’s with all the commotion in here, it sounds like someone’s “ Tovar looked shocked. “MUM!” he shouted as the doors closed behind him.

“Not so loud, boy. They call us ‘secret’ agents for a reason!” Rosalyn scolded.

Tovar knelt beside Prosak. “Oh! Mum…what’s happened here?”

“Something happened to Prosak on Vulcan, Tovar. They tampered with her somehow. Brainwashed her. It makes perfect sense. If Prosak succeeded, and the Romulans deduced that the Federation was behind it, they’d break off from the alliance and possibly join the Vulcans.”

Tovar glanced at Prilosek, an alarmed look on his face. “Oh no! Did she–?”

“No, no. She just nerve-pinched her.”

“But Prosak can’t–”

“All the more evidence that she’s been tampered with. Please, lad, try to get with the program here.”

“Yes, mum.” Tovar looked at Prosak. “So, umm, you didn’t kill…”

“Of course not, just beat her silly. Now listen carefully. I want you to take credit for stopping Prosak. Tell the truth to the Romulan authorities. Have them do a brainscan on Prosak. You’ll find she had an invasive mind-meld. And I think you’ll find the good Chancellor Sh’rak was behind it all.”

Tovar nodded. “Very well. Do you think there will be any way to reverse it?”

Rosalyn stared down at Prosak’s unconscious form. “No way of knowing for sure. I do know one thing. If she wakes up remembering that I was here on a mission, I’ll have to kill her.”

“You are kidding, aren’t you, Mum?”

“Sure I am, dear.”

Ten minutes before the installation of Prilosek, and Bain was already feeling buzzed. He stared, bleary-eyed, as a Romulan aide took the stage.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I am afraid the installation will have to be delayed. There has been a minor…accident…and Proconsul Prilosek will not be able to take part in the ceremony today. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused.”

“I wonder what happened,” Bain said to himself.

“Fascinating,” Sh’rak said from behind him, then pointed at his two advisors and disappeared into the crowd.

Bain glanced over his shoulder, then chuckled to himself. “Silly Vulcans,” he muttered, and went to find another drink.

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 177125.7. At last, we have completed the installation ceremony of Praetor Prilosek and are getting underway to begin our next mission. Turns out the complications Prilosek’s aide referred to had to do with the good Proconsul taking a nasty fall in her office that knocked her unconscious. But, luckily, she recovered from her minor injury and a day later the ceremony went off without a hitch. Meanwhile, I have one bastard of a hangover.

“I’ll probably erase the hangover part,” Bain said, while sitting in the Captain’s Lounge, as Tovar paced in front of the viewport.

“That would be for the best,” Tovar said distractedly. “Otherwise, all official accounts will reflect that what happened down there was an accident.”

“As it should be. Can’t go letting the whole universe know our First Officer tried to assassinate the Romulan leader, can we?”

“That would certainly tarnish our reputation,” Tovar said, staring out the viewport.

“Any word on how she’s doing?” asked Bain.

“Nooney and Kasyov are working on her,” Tovar said. “Apparently they have isolated the neural pathways in Prosak’s brain that Sh’rak tampered with.”

“Can we prove it was Sh’rak?”

Tovar shook his head. “I’m afraid not.”

“Damn. So, for now, the Vulcans get away scot free, and can continue their machinations, toward what end we don’t even know.”

“I’m afraid so. At least they didn’t succeed in destroying the peace treaty between us and the Romulans.”

“Came damn close though,” Bain muttered. “And look what they did to poor Prosak.”

“I feel partly responsible,” Tovar mumbled.

“So do I,” agreed Bain. “It just goes to show, skulking about undercover will only get you into trouble.”

“I’m getting that impression, sir,” Tovar agreed.

“Kasyov to Bain,” came the voice of Anomaly’s Russian scientist over the comm channel.

“Go ahead,” Bain said, his expression brightening.

“She’s awake, and asking to speak to you.”

Bain looked at Tovar. “Let’s go, chum.”

“And how are we today?”

Prosak’s eyes fluttered open, and immediately she shrunk away, pulling the covers up over her head. She peeked back over the covers, relieved to see Dr. Kasyov’s rigid features replacing Nooney’s.

“Get back, you grinning fool. You’re scaring her half to death.”

Then she saw Bain leaning over her, and Tovar.

“Cap…Captain,” Prosak said, leaning up on her elbows. “What happened?”

Bain looked at Tovar. “We think you were the victim of an invasive mind-meld.”

“A form of Vulcan brainwashing.”

“A capability we didn’t even know the Vulcans had until now,” Kasyov said, punching some controls on a medical padd and setting it aside. She looked at Bain. “Something I’d love to investigate more of…but something tells me I’m not going to get to ask anymore questions here.”

“That is a reasonable hypothesis,” Tovar muttered. “Doctor, Doctor, if the two of you could excuse us.”

“Want to go get an ice cream sundae?” Nooney asked jauntily as he followed a flummoxed-looking Kasyov out of the Recovery Ward.

“Never,” Kasyov responded and walked away in the opposite direction.

“What was I…brainwashed into doing?” asked Prosak.

“Murdering the new Romulan Praetor,” Tovar said bluntly.

Prosak gasped. “Gods! Did I succeed?”

“Thankfully, no. Tovar here stopped you.”

“Yes, yes I did,” said Tovar.

Prosak touched the bruise on her cheek, all but healed thanks to Nooney. “You really gave me a pounding, didn’t you?”

Tovar shrugged. “You were about to kill Prilosek. I really had no choice.”

“I understand.” Prosak looked at Bain. “Why would the Vulcans do such a thing?”

“Apparently they want to bust up the Romulan/Federation alliance.”

“But we stopped them,” said Prosak.

“For now,” said Tovar.

Prosak frowned. “I failed in my mission.”

“Not at all,” Bain said, shaking his head.

“You forced Sh’rak’s hand,” said Tovar. “Until now, all we’ve had are suspicions. Now we know the Vulcans will stop at nothing until they control this quadrant.”

“All because of one man,” Prosak muttered.

“What makes you so sure?” Tovar asked.

“Vulcans as a whole do not value conquest. They believe it to be an illogical waste of resources.”

“Sh’rak certainly seems to have the convinced otherwise then,” Tovar said.

“Or the population just isn’t aware of his full plan,” Prosak replied. “I just can’t believe that the Vulcan people would abandon their core values. It’s not possible.”

“RommaVulc to the end, I see,” Tovar replied.

“I stand by my beliefs.”

“As you should,” Bain said. “Right. Enough of this talk. Let’s all go grab an ale and lighten up a bit. The Federation is out of harm’s way for the moment. Let’s celebrate.”

“As long as it isn’t Romulan Ale,” Tovar said, looking sternly at Bain. “You’ve had enough of that for awhile.”

“You two go without me. I’d better call my dad and explain things.”

“Good idea,” Bain said. “He’s one of the few people who is fully aware of what’s happened. One of the privileged few who really knows what’s going on. Huh, Tovar?”

“Um, right,” Tovar said uneasily.

“All right, then,” said Bain. “You can catch up with us later, Prosak. Off we go, chum!”

Prosak eased out of her bed and began searching for her uniform. She didn’t know where to begin apologizing to her Father. She figured he wouldn’t understand . But that was okay, because she really didn’t either.

As she got her uniform on and headed out of the Recovery Ward, she heard Nurse Ih’vik shouting to attendants and rushing out of Sickbay.

“Emergency in the Diplomatic Guest quarters. Two massive heart failures. Subjects are 167 and 168 years old. Bring crash kits! Stat! Go, go, go!”

“Is everything okay?” Prosak asked Ih’vik as she rushed out, followed by two medtechs.

“What do you think?” she snapped.

Prosak thought about that a moment. “I think everything will be just fine.”


“I’m so glad we finally got around to doing this,” Captain Bain said, lighting up a celebratory pipe as Prosak leaned back, patting her stomach. “I’ve been wanting to show you around England for quite some time.”

“That was excellent sheep’s head stew, Captain,” she said, glancing around Bain’s dining room “And may I say, you have a beautiful home.”

“Thanks, Commander. That means a lot, coming from you.”

“Who wants some apple pie?” Mrs. Bain asked cheerily, swooping in out of the kitchen with Tovar following behind carrying plates and silverware.

“Um…” Prosak said.

“Her pies are the best, Commander. You really should have some,” Bain said.

“Well, okay…”

As Tovar sat a plate in front of Prosak, Mrs. Bain scooped a slice of steaming pie out of the dish and set it in front of the Romulan. “There, now. You eat up.” She patted Prosak on the shoulder.

That mere touch sent Prosak shooting out of her chair. She looked at Mrs. Bain with wide eyes.

“Noooooooo! Don’t hurt me! Please, don’t hurt me!”

“Whatever do you mean, dear?” Rosalyn asked sweetly.

“Get me out of this place!” she cried and ran out of the room.

Mrs. Bain stared down at the slice of pie in consternation. She put her hands on her hips. “Now, I wonder what all that was about?”

“I wouldn’t take it personally, dearest,” Bain said. “Prosak’s been very stressed lately.”

“Yes,” said Tovar. “Very.”

“Indeed,” said Mrs. Bain. “So who else wants pie?”

Tags: boldly