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: 2006

STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…

“Scratching the Surface”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler



There are certain actions you expect from your enemy when you are fighting a war, and Captain Reginald Bain had been in enough wars that he’d seen most of these actions in…well…action. For example, an enemy could be expected to attempt to attack your core world or worlds. It just made sense for both tactical and psychological reasons. Therefore, Bain was not at all surprised to learn that the Federation’s current adversary, the Vulcans (a fact that was still strange to think about after centuries of friendship), were planning to have a go at Earth. Like the rest of the Anomaly’s bridge crew, Bain assumed that the target would be either Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco or the Federation Capitol Complex in Paris. Either of those would be right at the top of Bain’s mental list of likely wartime targets.

His science officer’s parents’ farm in the middle of Siberia, meanwhile, would not have even appeared on said list. Yet, according to the coordinates provided by Lieutenant Commander Tovar after a mind meld with one of his Vulcan captors on the Romulan Warhawk Shakalak, that was exactly where the Vulcans were heading.

Faced with this revelation, not to mention a lovely overhead view of the Kasyov’s farm on the Anomaly’s viewscreen, Captain Bain turned to his science officer and asked the question anyone would have asked.

“Why in blazes would they be going there?” Okay. Perhaps most people wouldn’t ask it in this way, but you get the idea.

Dr. Natalia Kasyov looked around the bridge hesitantly. Besides her and Bain, Lieutenant Shelly Marsden was there along with Ensign Yonk at the helm, Centurion Nortal at tac-ops, and Commander Vioxx seated beside Bain. “With all due respect, sir, I would prefer to not answer that question in such a public setting.”

“Public setting?” Bain exclaimed, taking in the bridge officers with a broad arm gesture. “These people are your colleagues and your shipmates, Kassie. You’re acting like you’re sitting on some state secrets or something.”

Kasyov smiled slightly and gave a little shrug.

Bain got the message.

“You are?”

Kasyov nodded.

“Ah. Well. That changes things a bit then. Would you care for a private chat in my lounge?” Bain asked, waving her toward the rear door leading off of the bridge.

“Thank you, sir. And I’d like Shelly to join us.”

“You heard the lady, Marsie,” Bain said to Lieutenant Marsden, who was currently seated at the bridge engineering station. He turned back to his Romulan First Officer. “Vioxx, hold down the fort for me.”

“Wait just a minute here,” Vioxx demanded as Marsden moved to join Bain and Kasyov on their way to the Captain’s Lounge. “I should be a part of this meeting.”

Bain looked back at him confused. “Why?”

“Why?” Vioxx stammered angrily. “Why! The Vulcans are occupying our Empire! As the ranking Romulan on this ship, I should be involved in anything that involves the Vulcans and their plans!”

“No offense there, Vioxx, but right now the Vulcans are headed toward Earth, which last time I checked, wasn’t a part of the Romulan Empire. If something involving the Romulans pops up, I’ll get you involved right away.”

“They’re on a Romulan ship!”

“Tovar made it sound like it’s a Vulcan ship now,” Marsden said.

“Don’t worry, Vioxx,” Bain said. “We’ll be back before you know it. Just take the conn and make sure that Barnum Dax and his bloody Enterprise-J doesn’t get ahead of us.” With that, Bain, Kasyov, and Marsden disappeared down the corridor toward Bain’s lounge.


“All right, Kassie,” Bain said, settling into one of the plush faux-leather chairs in the faux-wood paneled Captain’s lounge as Kasyov and Marsden did the same. “Not to rush you or anything, but Tovar’s in peril, and I need to know just what the devil is going on. What’s so blasted special about that farm that the Vulcans would commandeer a Romulan ship and come all the way to Earth to pay a visit?”

“It’s not the farm. It’s what’s underneath it,” Kasyov replied, obviously uncomfortable.

“Something wrong with the chair?”

“No. It just…I’m not supposed to be talking about this with anyone. If my parents knew we were having this conversation, they’d kill me.”

“If you’re right about the Vulcans, Nat, they may kill your parents before they have a chance to get to you,” Marsden said.

“That’s the only reason I’m telling you both this,” Kasyov said. “Over a century ago, Starfleet Intelligence operated a facility on the land where my parents’ farm now stands. The facility was shut down a few decades ago, but instead of destroying it, Starfleet Intel decided to bury it underground.”

“Bury it? Why would they bother to do that?” Bain asked.

“Because the primary purpose of the place was storage. Rather than move everything there somewhere else, Intel just decided to leave everything where it was. Basically overnight, a steppe was formed over the building and a young couple was recruited to run a farm there and also act as guardians of what was underneath.”

“That couple being your parents,” Bain said, understanding.

“Exactly. The facility was called the Kantelov Annex, and my parents were given the last name Kasyov with the idea that the names would be close enough that over time any locals would forget about the Kantelov land and start calling it the Kasyov land.”

Marsden frowned. “Did that work?”

“I guess so. No one that I know of ever came around looking for Kantelov. We didn’t really live close to any villages, but when we did go into the closest town, we were pretty much treated like we’d always been in the region. Of course, my parents had been there for several years before my brother and I were even born.”

“Brass tacks, Kassie. What’s buried down there that the Vulcans would risk sending a expedition to Earth?” Bain said.

“It could be anything, Captain. The Kantelov Annex stored all kinds of evidence and equipment. From what Mom and Dad told me, Starfleet Intel picked up some strange things over the years, a lot of it dangerous.”

“We’ve got to warn Earth,” Marsden said.

“No,” Bain replied before Kasyov could get the word out herself.

She looked at her captain surprised. “No?”

“That’s what you were going to say, isn’t it?” Bain asked.

“Yes, but I didn’t think you’d agree with me.”

“Me either,” Marsden said.

“Obviously, what’s underneath Kassie’s parents’ place isn’t common knowledge, and I’m going to do my best to keep it that way. Besides, if the Vulcans show up and see that Earth is on full alert, they may realize the jig is up and kill Tovar and the Romulans on the Shakalak. No. We’re going to handle this one personally.”

“Personally?” Marsden said. “You do realize we’re at the Neutral Zone? That isn’t exactly a hop, skip, and a jump from Earth.”

Bain smiled as he stood up from his chair. “Don’t shortchange your ship, Marsie.” He turned to Kasyov. “Get down to Cabral and see how much anti-sing he thinks he can handle. The absolute limit. Marsie, you get to engineering and make sure things are in order. As soon as I hear from Kasyov, I’m going to be giving your engines a workout.”

“Thank you, sir,” Kasyov said, standing up. “But about the crew…”

“What you’ve told us does not leave this room,” Bain said. “You have my word on that. When we get to Earth, we’ll figure out how to deal with the Vulcans. Now get moving, you two.” Bain headed out of his lounge and made his way back to the bridge as Marsden and Kasyov went the opposite direction to the turbolift at the end of the corridor.

“Your parents are Intel, huh?” Marsden said as they waited for the turbolift.

“Sort of,” Kasyov replied.

“Funny. You never mentioned that at Fed High.”

“It never came up.”

“So that time I visited your place for Spring Break, I was standing on top of a secret Intel building.”

“Yep.”

“Huh.” Marsden rocked back and forth on her heels for a second. “Any other big secrets you want to let me in on?”

“I used to have a cat.”

“Used to? What happened to it?”

“It found the tunnel to the Annex, went inside, and had an accident.”

“What kind of accident?”

“You don’t want to know,” Kasyov said with a grimace, stepping into the turbolift that had just arrived. “Trust me on this one.”


All eyes were on Bain as he returned to the Anomaly’s bridge. “Nortal, get Admiral Larkin on the comm, if you would,” Bain said, striding down to his command chair.

“Well?” Commander Vioxx asked expectantly.

“Well enough,” Bain replied.

“You know what I’m asking, Bain. Is your science officer’s home a danger to us?”

“That? No. Just a joke. Kassie’s got an odd sense of humor.” The officer in Bain had a few qualms about lying to his first officer like this, but he was not about to go back on his word to Kasyov. Besides, as unpleasant as this was to think about, relations with the Romulans could dissolve at some point in the future, just as they had with the Vulcans. The less the Romulans knew about Kantelov, the better.

“Where is it then?” Vioxx asked

“What?”

“The threat.”

“Oh that. It’s elsewhere.”

“On Earth.”

“Exactly.”

Vioxx narrowed his eyes. “Where on…”

“Admiral Larkin awaits!” Nortal announced.

“Capital,” Bain said, focusing all of his attention on the viewscreen. “Put her on.”

The view of open space on the viewscreen vanished, replaced by the head of Admiral Kristen Larkin. “Is there a problem, Captain?” Larkin asked.

“There’s been something of a development with the Vulcans,” Bain said.

Larkin glanced at a monitor out of Bain’s view. “I am not aware of any movements by the Vulcan fleet.”

“Not them,” Bain replied. “Those blighters are still waiting on the other side of the Neutral Zone. I’m talking about Vulcans…elsewhere. We’re going to dash over there and deal with the problem. We’ll be back to Starbase 288 before you know it.”

“Dash off?” Larkin said incredulously. “The Vulcans could move across the Neutral Zone at any time, and you want to leave our forces without their field commander?”

“Can’t be helped.”

“What is going on, Reginald?”

“I’ll explain when it’s over. I just need you to trust me on this one.”

“But the fleet…”

“Let Barnum Dax handle it for now. That’s what the prissy git wants anyway.”

“Kasyov to bridge,” Dr. Kasyov’s voice called over the comm system.

“That’s my cue, Krissers. Got to run. Don’t start the war without us. Bain out.”

“Regin…” Larkin suddenly vanished as Nortal closed the comm channel.

“Go ahead, Kassie,” Bain said.

“Cabral thinks can hold us at X.”

“Good show. Keep an eye on our brain, doctor. Bridge out.” Bain settled into his command chair. “Bridge to engineering.”

“Marsden,” the Chief Engineer’s voice replied.

“Prepare for Warp X.”

“X? We’ve never gone that fast,” Marsden protested.

“No time like the present, Marsie. Bridge out.”

“We won’t be able to help your planet if we blow up on the way there,” Vioxx said.

“We’re not going to blow up,” Bain said with a confident grin. “Mister Yonk, take us to Earth. Warp X.”

The Ferengi helm officer turned the Anomaly on its axis, buzzing within a couple of meters of the massive Juggernaut Class Enterprise-J hovering nearby, then hit the polaron engines, speeding the ship through the remainder of the fleet until they broke through to open space. Closing his eyes, Yonk tapped in the final command, activating the Anomaly’s anti-singularity drive.

In Science Lab Four, Cabral, the massive disembodied brain who actually made the anti-singularity drive work, focused all of his energy on maintaining the incredible speed the Anomaly was accelerating toward as Dr. Kasyov sat at the nearby console monitoring Cabral’s vital signs. Half-monitoring anyway. She could not stop her thoughts from drifting to her parents and the danger they were facing. Sure they were Intel agents and had a basic training, but they hadn’t been anything resembling active in years. They weren’t even really farmers, not really. They raised a few crops for the “real foods” market in Omsk, but mostly they just enjoyed each other and their solitude. They didn’t stand a chance against one Vulcan, much less a squad.

At least she knew that the Anomaly would be arriving at Earth very VERY quickly. Yuri and Dariya Kasyov needed her to rescue them. Now all Kasyov needed to do was figure out how to do it without revealing the existence of the Kantelov Annex to the whole ship, and with the Anomaly cruising along at Warp X, she wouldn’t have much time to formulate something resembling a plan.


It had been hours since Colonel Strep ordered Tovar returned to the brig. Hours of nothing to do but stare at the walls and wonder if his message had made it to the Anomaly and, if it had, whether or not they would be to do anything to prevent a potential disaster.

Tovar suddenly felt a change in the thrum of the warhawk’s engines as the ship began to slow. He could feel the ship drop from warp to polarons (Assuming the Romulans used polaron drive. Honestly, he wasn’t sure.) to thrusters as the vessel banked into a slight turn. Presumably the Shakalak was sliding into orbit around Earth.

The time of crisis had arrived, and all Tovar could do was sit in his cell and wait for something to happen.

That something happened approximately 30 seconds later as Audrey Bain, still holographically disguised as Sub-Commander Nural, the Shakalak’s First Officer, materialized outside of his cell.

“You finally found time to fit me into your busy schedule, I see,” Tovar said as Audrey deactivated the forcefield trapping him inside his cell.

“Don’t start with me, Tovar,” Audrey snapped testily. “I have spent the last five days constantly surrounded by Romulans who wouldn’t give me so much as a moment to myself. If the Vulcans hadn’t gassed us, I’d still be there.”

“Wait. What’s this about gas?”

“We’ve arrived at Earth, and most of the Vulcans are going down to the surface. They wanted to make sure the crew would not try to retake the ship while they were gone, so they pumped the cargo bay full of voknizine.”

“I thought the ship didn’t have an intruder control system.”

“It doesn’t. The Vulcans must have brought the gas with them. It doesn’t take much voknizine to down your average Romulan…or Vulcan for that matter. Fortunately, between being human and having a few modifications from Section 31, I was unaffected. I just played unconscious until the Vulcans left, then beamed myself out.”

“With the transporter system offline,” Tovar said.

“The Shakalak’s system is offline. Not mine,” Audrey replied with a smile. “And the Vulcans don’t seem to think they have anything to worry about. I was able to beam to your quarters, grab your equipment, and reset my system to beam here without the Vulcans even noticing.”

“As far as you know.”

“Do you see any armed Vulcans coming through that door?”

“No.”

“That’s because they aren’t going to,” Audrey said, tossing Tovar his wrist phaser and a quadcorder. “Strep left two of his people on board, and both of them are on the bridge. I was also able to access the comm logs from the terminal in your quarters. Two messages left this ship in the last five days, and only one was received. The Vulcans commed another Vulcan ship, which replied that it would be standing by. Of course, the Vulcans only know about this one message since someone tried to erase the records of the second one that was sent.”

“Interesting,” Tovar said, looking away.

“You had to do it, didn’t you? You had to comm father.”

“I had an opportunity, and I hadn’t heard a thing from you,” Tovar shot back. “I went for what I felt was our best chance for assistance.”

“We don’t need assistance.”

“We’re outnumbered ten to one, Audrey. We may be able to take out the two on the ship…maybe. But what about the others. Did you even find out what they’re planning?”

Audrey glared at her adopted brother. “Who do I work for again? Of course I found out what they’re planning. High Chancellor Sh’rak has sent them to retrieve some kind of device from an underground building somewhere.”

“Everything is so clear now,” Tovar remarked sarcastically.

“What?”

“Some kind of device? A building somewhere?”

“Can you do any better?”

“I have coordinates.”

Audrey gaped for a moment before recovering herself. “How did you get those?” she asked insistently.

“Strep attempted to meld with me. I found it far more informative than he did. His poor reaction to the meld gave me the opportunity to contact Father and give him the coordinates I discovered in Strep’s mind.”

“You gave him the coordinates, too?” Audrey exclaimed angrily. “Brilliant. Bloody brilliant. What are they? We need to get down there?”

“What about the ship?”

“I don’t think they’re going anywhere. We need to stop whatever’s happening on the surface.”

“Fine. But first we go to engineering.”

“Why?” Audrey demanded.

“Because I will not have the Anomaly charging in blindly against a cloaked Romulan warhawk, especially if another Vulcan ship is lurking somewhere waiting to hear from its colleagues.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Sabotage the cloak. Nothing overt, mind you, but enough that the Anomaly will find this ship.”

“Fine. But it had better be quick sabotage.”

“You’re too kind,” Tovar said, heading for the exit with Audrey close behind.

“Next time I’m leaving you in the cell,” Audrey muttered.


Science Lab Four was quiet, veritably silent actually, as Kasyov sat with Cabral. The disembodied brain had said nothing since Warp X had been engaged, a fact for which Kasyov was grateful. She was too deep in her own thoughts to be much company right now, yet she found Cabral’s mere presence comforting.

Without Cabral, Kasyov would have no reason to remain on the Anomaly. She was entirely devoted to him, and not just as a subject of research. They had become friends. More than friends, even. They had been together for so long now and shared so much with one another that Kasyov felt closer to Cabral than she did to any being she had ever known. He knew everything about her.

Well, almost everything.

Cabral had no idea that her parents were anything more than simple farmers striving to keep an ancient way of food production alive. Kasyov had never even introduced him to them. Actually, she’d been so wrapped up in her work with Cabral for the last couple of years that she had not taken the time to visit her parents herself. Yuri and Dariya never seemed to mind, though. They were always warm and jovial about the situation when she commed them or they commed her. She was welcome home any time, of course. She could even bring a friend if she wanted (code for “we want to meet whomever you’re dating”). Kasyov had considered taking Cabral’s hovercam with her to the farm during the Anomaly’s last layover at Earth, but she was scared he would somehow find out about the Annex. Yes, it was sensor masked, but at that close range with the tools available on his hovercam, he could have found it.

More than that, though, she just wasn’t ready to have Cabral and her parents in the same room. The conversation would be…awkward.

“Natalia,” Cabral said, pulling her out of her thoughts. The strain in his voice was obvious. “Do not…worry so. I will…get us to…Earth.”

Kasyov forced a weak smile. “I know. I’m fine. Don’t think about me. Focus on the engines. I don’t want you to injure yourself. Slow down if you have to.”

“I…will not…slow down,” Cabral said, the words coming slowly. “This is important…to you. And you…are important…to me.”

Kasyov reached out and ran a hand along the sphere encasing Cabral. “Thank you,” she said. Here he was, pushing himself to the breaking point for her, just to help her, and she hadn’t even told him why.

“I need to tell you some things, Cabral,” she said. “Things I should have told you a long time ago. It’s about my parents…”


Tovar really wished he’d thought to grab a coat before beaming down from the Shakalak. It may have been early spring on Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, but this felt a lot more like winter to him. It was cold. Very very cold. Of course, the fact that he was currently standing in about six inches of snow and huddling against the outside of a farm house trying to protect himself from the winds on the Western Plain of Siberia could have had something to do with that.

“Bloody Hell!” Audrey cried, crouching next to him. “Are you sure you got those coordinates right?”

“Yes!” Tovar shot back. “This is where the Vulcans were heading.”

Audrey peered around the corner of the house at the small jumble of farm buildings on the property. “I don’t understand. Why would they possibly want to come here?”

“Maybe the owner is a Vulcan spy,” Tovar said. “This could be a staging area for some other attack.”

“Then find the owner,” Audrey demanded pointing at the quadcorder coiled up in Tovar’s pocket. Tovar pulled out the device, unrolled it, and fitted it on his head, snapping the eyepiece display into position as he did so.

After a few moments of scanning the area, he shook his head. “There’s some kind of interference. I can’t get any clear readings.”

“We can’t stay out here,” Audrey said, checking the settings on the small cylinder she seemed to use for everything. “We’re just going to have to do this the hard way.”

“If the hard way involves getting inside this house, I’m all for it,” Tovar said, fighting the shivering that threatened to overwhelm his entire body. He and Audrey made their way to an exterior door leading to the basement where a locking mechanism blinked slowly at them. “Stand back,” Tovar said, aiming his phaser.

“Don’t bother,” Audrey said, aiming the cylinder at the lock, which chirped happily and instantly disengaged, causing the basement door to open. The pair rushed inside and down a short set of stairs, tripping an automatic lighting system as they did so. The doors to the outside closed again, leaving them in a brightly lit and blissfully warm cellar surrounded by various odds and ends. An antique rocking horse stood in one corner by a rack of glass jars containing various jellies. Nearby bits of an anti-grav unit lay on a small workbench along with an assortment of tools while stacks of boxes of assorted sizes filled up the other half of the basement.

“I was expecting something more sinister,” Tovar remarked.

The floor above them creaked suddenly, followed by the sound of footsteps. Audrey gestured toward the basement stairs leading up into the house. She and Tovar quickly took up positions on either side of the stairs out of view of whomever was heading their way. With a soft whoosh, the door at the top of the stairs slid open. Nothing happened for several moments, then the same heavy footfalls began making their way down the stairs.

As Tovar crouched beside the stairs, he was able to see a male figure stepping into view. Vulcan. Holding his breath so as to not make a sound, Tovar waited for the door at the top of the stair to side shut. At last it did, and then…

ZAP!

Thud.

The Vulcan hit the ground, felled by a stun blast to the head. Tovar hadn’t fired the shot, though.

“One down,” Audrey said smugly, waving her cylinder in triumph. “Get his body armor. I’ll keep watch for any more of them.”

“I am not masquerading as a Vulcan,” Tovar protested.

“Who said you had to do that? It’s protection!”

“Oh,” Tovar muttered as he slid the body armor off of the stunned Vulcan’s torso. “But as you can see, my coordinates were correct!”

“I never doubted it,” Audrey said, patting him on the arm. “You may be a pain in the arse most of the time, but you’re no fool.”

“What about him?” Tovar asked, pointing at the downed Vulcan.

“He’ll be out for a good long while. Trust me. How many more do you think are upstairs?”

“I have not heard any other movements, so he may be the only one guarding the house. Or the others may just be standing very very still. They are Vulcans after all.”

“We’ll go up the stairs together. Just in case.” Audrey took up position at the bottom of the stairs as the now armored Tovar stepped into place directly beside her. In unison, they placed their right foot on the first step, then their left on the second and so on until they reached the top and the door into the rest of the house slid open.

They were looking at a simple kitchen, somewhat reminiscent of the one in the Bain family home in England. Old appliances dominated the room, with only a small replicator in a corner as a hint of more modern technology.

Tovar gestured for Audrey to remain where she was, drawing a scowl from the Section 31 agent as Tovar strode into the kitchen with what he hoped were logical sounding steps.

He entered the living room where another Vulcan stood guard, peering out the front windows of the house toward the plain beyond.

“Did you find anything of interest?” the Vulcan asked without turning around.

“Armed people invading the house,” Tovar replied flatly.

The Vulcan’s head cocked quizzically. “Fascina…”

Tovar didn’t let him finish, dropping the Vulcan with a phaser blast to the back of the head. Audrey rushed in a second later and hit the Vulcan with a shot from her own weapon, just to be sure.

They stood in tense silence for a moment, listening for any other signs of movement or alarm.

“The others are not here,” Tovar said finally.

“Then we’re going to have to search the property.”

“Agreed. But first, can we find some coats?”


“If we want to stop anywhere near Earth, we’d better start slowing down now,” Ensign Yonk reported from the helm.

“Whatever you need to do, Ensign,” Captain Bain replied distractedly. As much as he hated to let his thoughts run away from him, he couldn’t shake the dread feeling that something horrible was happening to Tovar, not to mention Earth. And if Earth was in danger, that meant his dear Rosalyn was in danger as well. This train of thought was getting Bain nowhere fast. He needed to get to Earth, look over the situation, then make sure everything was okay. After that, he needed something to blow up. There was no better tension breaker.

“Warp X…Warp T…Warp Q…Warp L…Warp G…Warp D…Warp A…switching to polarons,” Yonk said as the Anomaly shuddered from the rapid deceleration. Bain gripped onto the armrests of his chair to maintain his seat. On the viewscreen, Saturn zipped by, moments later, they were past Jupiter and crossing the asteroid belt.

“Sub-Commander, keep a sharp eye out for the Shakalak. It’s out there somewhere,” Bain said, turning to Remax, who was currently manning the science console.

“It’s cloaked,” the Romulan scientist shot back.

“Then I can think of no one better than you to find it,” Bain said. “Get me that ship.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Doctor Kasyov and her team are standing by in the transporter room,” Lieutenant Gworos reported from tactical. From beside Bain, Commander Vioxx snorted.

“Problem, Commander?” Bain asked.

“You’re sending your science officer, your chief engineer, and a floating camera to take on a squad of Vulcan soldiers,” Vioxx replied. “I think you’re the one with the problem.”

“They’ll be fine,” Bain said with more confidence than he actually felt. He’d promised Kasyov not to let anyone else know about the Kantelov Annex, but somehow Bain didn’t think that promise included allowing Kasyov and Marsden to head off on a suicide mission. Cabral’s presence via hovercam would be helpful, but Bain found it hard to fight the urge not to hand the conn off to Vioxx and beam down with them.

“Approaching Earth,” Yonk announced, not that it was really necessary what with the planet growing larger on the viewscreen and all.

“Gworos, try and contact Lieutenant Commander Tovar. Maybe those bloody Vulcans didn’t…”

“Tovar here,” the Yynsian’s voice suddenly said over the comm system.

“I have him,” Gworos said.

“Tovar!” Bain exclaimed, jumping up from his seat. “Good to hear your voice, my boy. What’s your status?”

“We have escaped the Shakalak and beamed down to the coordinates that I gave you.”

“Splendid! Good show! Wait. We? Who’s we?” Bain asked.

“I am here with…” Tovar paused for a moment. “Sub- Commander Nural.”

“You took a Romulan there with you?”

“She can be trusted. Besides, we are still not sure why the Vulcans are here. This appears to be a simple…”

“That’s fine, Tovar,” Bain interrupted before he could say anymore. “Doctor Kasyov will be beaming down directly with…” Bain trailed off. Perhaps it was better not to mention Marsden to the lad just now. “Kassie and her team will be down directly with more information. What about the Shakalak?”

“The Romulan crew is currently unconscious after being dosed with voknizine gas. Only two Vulcans have remained aboard, and I believe they are unaware that their cloaking device is leaking neutrino bursts every 3 seconds.”

“Sabotage?” Bain asked smiling.

“As the saboteur, I would have to say yes.”

“Brilliant. What about the rest of the Vulcans?”

“As far as we know, the other eighteen are at this location, and we have neutralized two of those. At the moment, our position is secure.”

“That’s my boy. Excellent work. Stay put until our people get there.”

“Acknowledged. Standing by. Tovar out.”

Bain couldn’t keep the grin off of his face as the comm channel closed. Just like that the entire situation had shifted from grim to absolutely exhilarating. “Remax, see if you can’t find that neutrino leak and get a fix on our wayward warhawk, if you please,” he said.

“Very well, but something about hunting down one of my own ships really rankles me, even if the logic-mongers have it,” Remax grumbled.

“I know what you mean,” Vioxx said.

“Doubtful.”

“You up to retaking it?” Bain asked Vioxx, ignoring the bickering between the Romulans.

“Me?” Vioxx said surprised.

“I can’t very well leave the Shakalak in the hands of the Vulcans, now can I?” Bain said. “If you’d rather stay here, I can send Prosak over, but I really think a Romulan should handle this, since it’s one of your ships. It appeals to my sense of justice.”

“I’ll be waiting with Nortal and Zantak in the transporter room,” Vioxx said, already up out of his chair and heading toward the turbolift.

“What about me?” Remax demanded.

“Don’t comm us. We’ll comm you,” Vioxx said, disappearing into a turbolift.

“Disrespectful whelp,” Remax muttered. “I’m half tempted not to tell him that I found the warhawk.”

“You found it already?” Bain asked surprised.

“Honestly, I had it even before your boy told us about his sabotage,” Remax said drawing another smile from Bain.

“With age comes wisdom,” Bain said.

“Youth defies age at its peril,” Remax replied.

“Right then. It looks like everything is in order. Let’s send the young ones off to show those Vulcans a thing or two, shall we?” Bain said, settling comfortably in his chair. “Mister Yonk, don’t let on that we’re searching for our Vulcan friends out there. Just swing us into orbit nice and steady, and make sure we pass by the Shakalak’s position.”

“Captain, Spacedock Control demands to know what the hell we’re doing here,” Gworos said.

“Is that an exact quote?” Bain asked bemused.

“Yes,” Gworos growled.

“Tell them that we were in the neighborhood. Leave it at that. Standby to beam the away teams to the surface and the Shakalak on my mark.”

“Standing by.”

The Anomaly cruised smoothly past the moon toward Earth’s Pacific Rim, then slid into orbit over the Asian mainland, moving west.

“Energize,” Bain said.

“Transporting now,” Gworos said.

“Good show. All the way around the planet, Yonk. I have a feeling the situation on the Shakalak will have changed quite a bit by the time we get back.”


The arrival of a Starfleet vessel was not a cause of concern for Corporal Shemp and Private Votek, the two Vulcans who had remained on the Shakalak to run the vessel and monitor the progress of Colonel Strep’s force currently infiltrating the underground storage facility. This was Earth, after all. The center of the Federation and home of Starfleet Headquarters. Therefore, it was only logical to assume that Starfleet vessels would be a common sight there. The vessel in question had dropped out of warp in the outer reaches of the solar system, then slid into orbit around Earth without the slightest hint that they were aware of the presence of a cloaked Romulan warhawk despite the fact that the Starfleet ship had passed within twenty kilometers of the Shakalak’s position.

Admittedly, this mission did not come without a high degree of risk. Should the Shakalak be detected somehow, Strep and Votek would have to decloak before having the ability to raise shields or arm weapons. And should that occur, the odds of successfully retrieving Strep’s team and the item they had been sent to acquire would drop precipitously. For that reason, Shemp and Votek were focusing all of their attention on the various status monitors on the helm and tactical consoles of the Shakalak’s bridge.

They were not, however, focusing on the soft whir of an approaching turbolift and, therefore, were caught rather off guard as the turbolift doors opened and Centurion Nortal stormed out, disruptor rifle blazing. “Unhand those consoles, foul beasts!” Nortal cried as the Vulcans did the logical thing and dove for cover as Nortal’s stun blasts slammed harmlessly into consoles and chairs around them. As the turbolift doors slid shut, the Romulan Centurion sprinted around the bridge, diving in front of the helm console and using it to separate herself from the Vulcans.

“You are outnumbered, Romulan,” Shemp announced. “The logical course of action would be for you to surrender yourself now so that you are not injured or killed.”

“I spit on your logic.”

“If you were to think about this rationally, you would see that the numbers are on our side.”

“Then you need to count again,” Commander Vioxx said as he and Zantak emerged from the returned turbolift, wrist phasers locked on the Vulcans.

“Does logic now suggest that we surrender?” Private Votek asked Corporal Shemp.

“It is a difficult question. We are outnumbered; however, the success of the mission currently being performed by our comrades on the surface requires that…”

ZAP! ZAP!

“SHUT UP!” Vioxx shouted, lowering his just-fired wrist phaser as the two stunned Vulcans collapsed to the deck.

“Find some binders and tie these two up. Leave them over by the viewscreen. I want to be able to keep an eye on them in case they wake up,” Vioxx said as Nortal stood up from her cover. The centurion did not respond as she gazed longingly at the Vulcans.

“Is there a problem?” Vioxx as pointedly.

Nortal looked up at him, lip quivering slightly. “I wanted to shoot them.”

“You can have the next ones. I promise,” Vioxx said, sliding into the command chair. Now this was more like it. A Romulan warhawk under his command. It sure beat the Tyvek. “Zantak, contact the Anomaly and tell Bain that we are in control over here.”

After finding two sets of binders in a bin under the Shakalak’s tactical console, Nortal dragged the Vulcans to the front of the bridge and secured their hands before returning to take her post at tactical.

“Captain Bain acknowledges and says he is sending Doctor Nooney to see to the condition of the ship’s crew,” Zantak said quickly, the taciturn helm officer obviously annoyed at having to serve as a go-between for Vioxx and Bain.

“If he insists,” Vioxx said distastefully. Better them than us, Vioxx added to himself; although, it seemed somehow wrong to let Nooney loose on his own people.

“I will beam the Probing Man directly to the cargo bay,” Nortal said, stifling a shudder.

“Good idea.”

“Commander, the foul ones sent a comm before they were dispatched!” Nortal suddenly exclaimed.

“Huh?” Vioxx said, spinning around his chair to face Nortal.


“There was an automated distress message standing by on this console, and it has been activated,” Nortal explained. “The cur manning this post must have hit it before he fled my wrath.”

“Yeah yeah. Wrath. Doom. Blah blah blah. What about the message?” Vioxx demanded impatiently.

“It was a call for assistance.”

“Assistance?” Vioxx said. “But we’re deep in Federation space. Who would be…” He trailed off. “Get me Bain. Quickly!”

Nortal’s hands dashed across her console. “The Butcher of Breen responds!”

“Do you have to call him that?”

“Call me what?” Captain Bain said, his image now filling the warhawk’s viewscreen.

Nortal gestured dramatically. “Your exalted title of…”

“Thank you, Nortal,” Vioxx said, interrupting. “Bain, the Vulcans were able to send off some kind of distress call before we secured the bridge.”

“Who the devil to?” Bain said. “There’s no one else around here.”

“That we know of.”

“Get the orientation of the warbird’s comm array and track it,” Bain ordered, looking off screen toward Remax at the science console.

“There’s not much along that path,” Remax said a few moments later. “Lots of open space until you get to the Clouds of Orion. Wait. I’m picking up something at the very edge of long range sensors coming this way at high warp. Five contacts.”

“Vulcan ships,” Bain said grimly.

“Impossible to tell at this distance, but I wouldn’t wager against you,” Remax said. “They must have been hiding in the nebula, but how did they manage to get this close to Earth without being spotted?”

“With all of the worlds joining the Vulcan Alliance, the Federation isn’t as vast as it once was,” Bain said. “All the blighters had to do was slip across the border as close to the Clouds as they could get, then make a break for it. We don’t have the kind of monitoring of our border with the Vulcans that we do with…other places,” Bain said, stopping himself from saying “the Neutral Zone.” “All they had to do was slide into the nebula and go to minimal power. All the activity in there would mask them from sensors.”

“You sound familiar with this tactic,” Vioxx said.

“I used it once or twice against the Breen.”

“Hail the Butcher of Breen!” Nortal exclaimed, drawing an angry glare from Vioxx.

“How much time do we have?” Vioxx asked, turning his attention back to Bain.

“At their speed, maybe twenty minutes,” Remax said.

“We’ll be ready for them,” Bain said. “We know they’re coming, and we have our own fleet ready to stop them.”

“Fleet?” Vioxx said. “From what Admiral Larkin has said, just about everything Starfleet has is either massed on the Neutral Zone or patrolling for Vulcan incursions, not that that helped. No one is close except the two of us.”

“And the Navigator,” Bain said. “I’ll take three on five odds any day. I’ll roust Prosak out of bed and get the ship prepped for departure.”

“Prosak? You trust her to command a ship in combat?”

“You haven’t seen her in action,” Bain said confidently. “Make sure your systems are ready, Commander. We’ll see to things here. Bain out.”

Bain vanished, his image on the viewscreen replaced by the Earth below. “You heard the man,” Vioxx said, unable to suppress a smile as he spun his chair back to face Nortal.

“You are pleased by these events?” Nortal asked surprised.

“Damn right I am,” Vioxx said, rubbing the armrests of the command chair. “I’ve got a warhawk!”


Tovar relaxed considerably as he saw the comforting blue of three Starfleet transporter beams cascading down in the living room of the farm house. The feeling was short lived as one of those beams coalesced into the figure of Lieutenant Shelly Marsden. It was Dr. Natalia Kasyov, however, who spoke as soon as the transport was complete.

“Where are they?” she demanded anxiously.

“Over there,” Tovar replied, pointing at the two unconscious and trussed up Vulcans laying in the corner of the room.

“Not them,” Kasyov snapped testily. “My parents!”

“Your parents?” Tovar said, looking around. “This is your house?”

“Yes!”

“Why would the Vulcans want to come to your house?”

“They want what’s under it,” Kasyov said as Tovar noticed that Marsden hadn’t taken her eyes off of him.

“It would seem that this dwelling stands above a Starfleet Intelligence storage facility,” Cabral’s voice said through the hovercam floating close to Kasyov. “Natalia’s parents are the guardians.”

“That still doesn’t tell us why the Vulcans are here,” Audrey said, holographically disguised as Sub-Commander Nural. “What is in this facility that they would want?”

“I have no idea,” Kasyov said, adjusting her heavy winter coat. “And we’re not going to find out from here. The entrance tunnel to the annex building is in the grain silo.” She took another look at Tovar and Audrey. “You two beamed down without coats? Are you trying to freeze to death?”

“Our apologies. We neglected to check the weather before we escaped our captivity on the warhawk,” Tovar said.

“I’ll get you some coats,” Kasyov said, heading out of the room with Cabral in tow.

Audrey glanced between Tovar and Marsden, then followed Kasyov. “I will assist you,” she called after Kasyov.

“We meet again,” Marsden said once she and Tovar were alone.

“Indeed we do,” Tovar replied, smiling slightly. “I am very happy to see you.”

“I’m just glad you’re okay,” Marsden said, letting a little smile of her own slip through. Without either realizing they were doing it, the pair had managed to cross the distance between them and were now standing mere inches apart.

“Did I mention I’m happy to see you?” Tovar asked.

“I think so.”

“I was an idiot,” Tovar said, his head moving closer to hers.

“I know,” Marsden whispered, their lips almost touching. All at once, they stopped. “We can’t do this now,” she said.

“And not here.”

A moment later, Kasyov, Audrey, and Cabral’s hovercam returned to find Tovar and Marsden standing stiffly several feet apart.

“Put this on,” Kasyov said, tossing a coat to Tovar, who complied readily. “The tunnel in the grain silo leads to the main level of the annex building. Other than a small office area near the entrance, the entire structure is devoted to storage. We’ll hit the office first and see if we can get one of the inventory manifests in hopes of finding a clue to what the Vulcans are after. From there we’ll…” Kasyov trailed off. The truth was that she wasn’t sure what to do next beyond “find the Vulcans.” This was really Tovar’s area.

“We’ll find the Vulcans,” Tovar said, finishing her thought. Hmmm…maybe that was all there was to it. “They very likely have taken the Kasyovs hostage, so do not engage the Vulcans unless absolutely necessary. May we assume that their target is on the main level you mentioned?”

“There’s a basement level, but it’s nothing but the environmental system and some preserved bodies and body parts.”

“Body parts?” Marsden asked with a grimace as Kasyov headed for the back door of the house with Audrey and Tovar close behind.

“She did say they were preserved,” Cabral said before heading off after Kasyov.

“That’s helps a lot,” Marsden muttered, trudging forward.

The team sprinted across the yard toward the grain silo, partly to avoid being spotted by any Vulcan sentries that might be watching and partly just to get out of the punishing cold winds whipping across the raised plateau where the Kasyov farm sat.

Once in the silo, the group found themselves standing on a massive pile of heaped grain. Kasyov quickly crossed the pile and opened an almost invisible panel located along the metal wall of the inside of the silo. She reached into the panel and typed in a code. An instant later, the pile of grain vanished, revealing a spiral staircase leading downward into darkness.

“We have thirty seconds until the grain in restored,” Kasyov said, starting down the stairs.

“Hologram?” Marsden asked as the team followed Kasyov down the stairs.

“Yes and no. The inside of this silo is basically a holodeck. The grain in here is just as solid as something you would touch inside the holopod in your quarters.”

At the bottom of the staircase, the group saw the entrance to a short tunnel, sloping downward toward a large closed door. The tunnel itself didn’t look all that different from the corridors inside a starship. Starfleet design at work.

“The office area is just inside the facility on the left,” Kasyov said as she approached the door leading into the annex. “There are several windows around it, though, looking out onto the main floor. We’ll need to be careful.”

“I will go,” Cabral said.

“No, Cabral…” Kasyov said.

“I can fly in silently and transmit information about what I see back to you without alerting the Vulcans to your presence. If I am discovered, I will simply fly farther into the facility, possibly drawing whatever guards are present with me. It does not make sense for you to risk yourself when I am perfectly capable of dealing with the situation. Besides, even if my hovercam is damaged, I will not be.”

“There is a certain logic to his plan,” Tovar remarked.

“I’m going to try to forget you said that,” Kasyov replied. “But you’re right.” She keyed in the code for the door’s locking mechanism, causing it to slide open, revealing a bland beige corridor leading away from them. As promised, the office door and windows were visible on the left a short ways down the corridor. The corridor itself abruptly ended a couple of meters farther down, opening up into a vast warehouse.

Cabral’s hovercam drifted inside and headed for the ceiling, skimming along it until it took up a position outside the office.

“Cabral to Kasyov,” Kasyov’s commpip relayed as Cabral sent his message at whisper level. “I see an armed male Vulcan in the room along with two humans, a male and a female.”

Kasyov instantly brightened. “My parents.”

“They appear to be unharmed but extremely displeased.”

“Imagine that,” Marsden muttered.

“We will need to neutralize the Vulcan before he can alert the others,” Audrey said, stepping forward with her ever-present Section 31 cylinder.

“What is that thing?” Marsden asked.

“Nothing for you, human,” Audrey said, cupping the device in her hand and cursing herself for not bringing a disruptor from the Shakalak. She didn’t realize this was going to become a party.

“Sub-Commander Nural and I will handle this,” Tovar said, interceding between Marsden and Audrey.

“You will, huh?” Marsden said, crossing her arms across her chest.

“I do not wish for you to be harmed,” Tovar said.

“I can take care of myself.”

“Of course. I didn’t mean to imply…”

“Just shoot the damn Vulcan!” Marsden snapped.

Tovar nodded curtly, then entered the facility with Audrey, both of them ducking to a crouch as they approached the door of the office. As Tovar took up a position directly beside the door, Audrey crossed to the far side of the corridor to avoid prematurely tripping the door’s proximity sensors, which would open the door and alert the Vulcan to their presence. Once safely past, she returned to the left wall, just below the large row of windows lining the office. Without a word, Audrey and Tovar exchanged hand signals, then, on the count of three, Tovar waved a hand in front of the door, triggering the door.

The sound of the opening door drew the Vulcan’s attention. Confused, he turned away from his human prisoners and approached the corridor, weapon raised.

“What is it?” Kasyov’s father demanded suddenly. The Vulcan looked back to silence the human. The moment he did so, Tovar and Audrey took advantage of the distraction, bringing both of their weapons to bear and dropping the Vulcan with two coordinated shots.”

“Mister and Mrs. Kasyov, I presume,” Tovar said, rising to his feet and entering the office.

“Yes,” Mr. Kasyov said eagerly.

“Lieutenant Commander Tovar.”

“I told you Starfleet would send someone,” Mrs. Kasyov said as Tovar set to work untying the bonds holding the Kasyovs. She suddenly spotted Audrey. “Is that a Romulan?”

“Sub-Commander Nural is with me,” Tovar said. Cabral’s hovercam floated down from the corridor ceiling and into the office.

“And that?” Mr. Kasyov asked.

“Also with me,” Tovar said. “Additionally…”

“Mama! Papa!” Natalia Kasyov exclaimed, charging into the office toward her parents.

“Natalia!” the Kasyovs cried as all three embraced.

“You’re here!” Mrs. Kasyov said in disbelief. “How did you know?”

“It’s a long story.”

“And one we probably don’t have time for,” Marsden said, closing the office door, then moving over to the set of windows looking out at the warehouse.

“Is that Shelly?” Mrs. Kasyov asked her daughter.

“It’s me,” Marsden said. “Hi, Mrs. Kasyov.”

“Say hello, Yuri,” Mrs. Kasyov said, slapping her husband’s arm lightly.

“We have more pressing problems, Dasha,” Yuri replied. Both elder Kasyov’s were obviously in good physical condition from their farm labors. They appeared hearty and fit. For his part, Yuri Kasyov wasn’t quite the burly specimen that Reginald Bain was, but he could most likely hold his own in a fight. His wife didn’t appear to be a pushover either.

“How many Vulcans are we dealing with?” Marsden asked.

“And what are they after?” Tovar added.

“They left two in the house,” Dasha said.

“Taken care of,” Audrey said.

“Then that leaves…oh…I’d say sixteen. Fifteen now,” Dasha said, giving the fallen Vulcan a little kick.

“That would match my count,” Tovar said. “Did they give you any indication as to what they wanted from this facility?”

“I heard the leader mention the Kolch’ak Device,” Yuri said. “I don’t know what it is, though. Do you have any idea how many crates and containers are in this place?”

“I will begin a search from above,” Cabral said.

“It talks?” Dasha Kasyov said, looking at the hovercam in surprise.

“We can find it in the manifest,” Kasyov said, ignoring her mother as she sat down at one of the desks in the room and activated its obsolete terminal. “Did the Vulcans hurt either of you?”

“They threatened Dasha,” Yuri said scowling. “I did not wish to see her harmed, so I…I let them into the annex.”

“Vulcans do not generally threaten unless they intend to follow through on that threat,” Tovar said. “You did what you needed to do to protect yourselves.”

“Got it,” Kasyov said. “Row K. Section 36.”

Cabral’s hovercam moved over to Kasyov and examined the blinking icon on the layout of the facility displayed on the monitor in front of her. “I see. I will report back as soon as I can.”

“We’ll be ready,” Kasyov said, rising from her seat as Cabral soared out of the room. “Mama, Papa, stay here. We’ll be back as soon as we can.”

Yuri and Dariya exchanged a quick look. “Nyet,” Dariya said as Yuri typed in the code to open a wall-mounted bin. Inside were two hand phasers that had been there since the late 24th century.

Yuri checked the power levels. “Still good.” He tossed one of the phasers to his wife. “They came to our home, and we will help remove them from it.”

“We may need all the help we can get,” Marsden said to an unsure Kasyov.

“The Vulcans are wearing body armor,” Tovar said, unfastening his coat and revealing the armor he’d swiped from one of the Vulcans. “Aim for the head.”

“That we can do,” Dariya said.

“There’s only one way into or out of that row,” Kasyov said, heading for the door.

“Then we will pin them down and pick them off one by one,” Tovar said.

“Agreed,” Audrey said, following Kasyov, Yuri, and Dariya out into the corridor as Tovar waited to bring up the rear.

“I think she likes you,” Marsden said with a smirk, sliding past Tovar on her way outside. Tovar almost blurted out, “She’s my sister!” but managed to stop himself just as his mouth opened. Marsden was already on her way down the corridor, leading Tovar to realize to his relief that she was teasing him. Now all he had to do was make sure they all lived through this, so he could see where this teasing was going to lead.


“Commander Prosak reports that the Navigator is in position,” Lieutenant Gworos said from tac-ops as Bain waited tensely in his command chair. It was a tension brought on from anticipation of a good scrape rather than nervousness about the confrontation to come.

“Good good,” Bain said. “What about the Vulcans?”

“Still moving this way at high warp,” Remax said from the science console. “I haven’t seen any sign of deceleration.”

“And you won’t until they’re right on top of us, I’d wager,” Bain said. “They’re going to wait until the last possible moment to come out of warp in order to avoid as much of the solar system’s defensive systems as possible. Tell Vioxx to get ready, Gworos. We’re going to be opening fire in a matter of moments.”

“Phasers standing by,” Gworos said as he sent the message to the cloaked Shakalak.

“Here they come,” Remax said. “They’re in the system.”

“Fire!” Bain ordered.

Gworos slammed his hand down on the firing control, sending a continuous beam of phaser energy blasting seemingly into empty space above Earth. The space shimmered as the Shakalak’s cloaking field collapsed.

“Vulcan ships dropping out of warp,” Gworos said. “They are moving to intercept. Distance thirty thousand kilometers.”

“The buggers really cut it close,” Bain said.

“Fifteen thousand kilometers. Ten thousand kilometers.”

“Cease fire,” Bain said as the Shakalak listed on the viewscreen in front of him. “Bring us about and ready phasers and torpedoes. Bain to Navigator and Shakalak…NOW!”

“Phasers to full power,” Gworos said. “The Shakalak is raising shields and arming weapons.”

“Fire!”

The weapon systems of the Anomaly and the Shakalak opened up, sending a barrage of phaser blasts and neutron torpedoes at the oncoming Vulcan ships. Quickly realizing that the attack on the Shakalak had been a ruse, the Vulcans broke off, veering hard to port as a group. As they did so, the Navigator, which had been hiding in the interference generated at the North Pole by Earth’s magnetic field, charged them, laying into the ships with a weapons volley of its own.

Shields flashed and explosions raked along the surface of one of the Vulcan battlecruisers. Moments later, it burst into a massive fireball, sending out a shockwave that slammed the remaining four ships of the Vulcan group with violent force and scattered their tight formation. Two of the Vulcan ships recovered and dove toward the surface while the other two broke toward open space.

“Vioxx, stay with me,” Bain ordered. “Prosak and the defense network can handle the other two.”

“Acknowledged,” Vioxx replied over the comm system.

As the Anomaly and the Shakalak sped into the atmosphere to pursue the two Vulcan vessels rapidly descending toward the Western Siberian Plain, the other two Vulcan ships found themselves in the midst of a storm of phaser fire as Earth’s satellite defense network flared to life.

On the Navigator’s bridge, Prosak tried to remain detached as she watched the pounding the two Vulcan ships were suffering. “Inform both vessels that we will accept their surrender,” Prosak said, glancing back at Lieutenant Brazzell at tac-ops.

“They say that it would not be logical to give up on their mission or to allow themselves to be captured,” Brazzell said a few moments later. To punctuate their point, the Navigator bucked as a phaser blast from one of the Vulcan ships seared into the underside of its saucer.

“Return fire,” Prosak said flatly.

Brazzell let loose with a full spread of neutron torpedoes, half aimed at each Vulcan ship. The first Vulcan craft was obliterated instantly, its shields having already been brought down by the punishment it had already received. The second craft jerked to starboard, attempting evasive action. The move spared it from the full brunt of the torpedo assault, but with only one enemy craft to focus on, the defense satellites quickly locked their weapons, hitting the lone ship from all sides with phaser blasts. Moments later, it too was gone.

“Full stop,” Prosak ordered Ensign Nott, the Bolian manning the helm. “Stay alert, Brazzell. We will need to act quickly should Captain Bain require assistance.”

“Do you really think he will?” Brazzell asked as he wiped down his console after a hard-fought battle.

“No, but we will be ready all the same.”


The warehouse in some ways resembled a mini-city with skyscrapers formed from stacks of various crates and containers reaching for the ceiling seven meters above the floor. Cabral maneuvered his hovercam through the artificial canyons until he came to the row in question. At the end of it, almost against the rear wall of the annex building, several Vulcans were working together to extract a large silver container from one of the massive piles as another stood nearby, cooly watching the scene.

In the more immediately vicinity, two other Vulcans were standing at the end of the row as sentries. Unfortunately, Cabral’s hovercam had caught their attention.

“It appears to be a sentry drone of some sort,” one of the guards remarked as they considered the hovercam.

“Judging by the Federation technology evident in the design of the device, I would say that is a logical conclusion.”

“Indeed. We should destroy it.”

“Indeed.”

The two Vulcans raised their phaser rifles toward the hovercam. Cabral suddenly caused the hovercam to swoop down toward the Vulcans, then, as they dodged, he looped it around and sailed down the cross aisle deeper into the annex and away from Kasyov and the others.

“Cabral to Kasyov,” he transmitted. “The Vulcans are in Row K as expected. I have lured two away; however, fourteen others remain.”

“We’ll see to them,” Kasyov sent back. “Be careful.” Closing the channel, she and the others continued along until they reached the end of Row K.

“They have amassed a great deal of cover,” Tovar said, observing the crates and containers now filling the aisle.

“True; however, it looks like their only way out of this aisle is through us,” Audrey said.

“That’s comforting,” Marsden muttered. “Do we have a plan?”

“Start shooting,” Tovar replied.

“Da! I like this plan,” Yuri said.

Tovar counted it out silently on his fingers. On three, the entire team leapt into Row K, firing madly. Audrey and Tovar were able to bring down five of the surprised Vulcans (not that a Vulcan would ever admit to being surprised) and Dariya stunned another as the others scurried for cover. Tovar could see Colonel Strep moving for a particular container. Tovar tried to force Strep away, but the Vulcan was able to reach cover behind it just as Tovar’s team was forced to dive for cover of their own, frantically pulling crates into the corridor proper to avoid the return volley of phaser fire from the Vulcans.

The Vulcans had a surprise of their own waiting as a shimmering green force field dome suddenly popped into place over the Vulcans.

“This is Lieutenant Commander Tovar! There is no way out! I order you to surrender!” Tovar shouted down the aisle. He didn’t expect it to have much of an effect, but he hoped to give Strep one more surprise.

With the protective shield in place, courtesy of a small generator enclosed in a pack strapped to one of the Vulcan’s backs, Strep stood up from his hiding place and stepped to the edge of the shield. “Your arrival is ill-timed, Mister Tovar. You are interfering in Vulcan affairs.”

“These affairs of yours are on a Federation world, if you hadn’t noticed.”

“I am well aware of our location. Just as I am aware that you are still outnumbered. I recommend that you depart so as to avoid the inevitable unpleasant outcome that will transpire should our confrontation resume.”

“Does he always talk like this?” Marsden asked rolling her eyes.

“Yes,” Tovar replied. “It is very annoying.”

“I heard that, Mister Tovar,” Strep said.

“Good for you,” Kasyov shouted. “Now lower your shield, drop your weapons, and surrender!”

“Who is that woman?”

“Natalia Kasyov! And this is my parents’ farm!”

“They were unharmed,” Strep said. “In fact, our presence here does not involve our current quarrel with the Federation. We have come to obtain a simple device.”

“The Kolch’ak Device. We know,” Tovar said. “You cannot expect me to let you walk out of here without knowing what it even does.”

“It is a fascinating device,” Strep said, opening up the silver container and removing a golden helmet like something out of an ancient Flash Gordon serial, complete with two metal fins extending toward the rear. A thick black cable connected the helmet to a thick metal vest. Strep flipped a switch, bringing rows of multi- colored LEDs on the vest to life, blinking erratically.

“Kolch’ak was an Andorian scientist who lived in the late 22nd century. Outside of his scientific accomplishments, he had a particular dislike of Vulcans stemming back to an incident that led to the death of his parents. He could never accept that Vulcan and Andor were now allies in the young Federation and devoted the last years of his life to finding a way to destroy my kind. His efforts culminated with this. He even attempted to use it. Before his ship could land on Vulcan, though, it was intercepted by Starfleet Intelligence and the device confiscated. Kolch’ak is said to have died of rage on the spot. I find the veracity of this to be highly doubtful, though.”

“So what? You came to get this weapon because your superiors think the Federation might dig it up and use it on you?” Marsden said. “We don’t do that kind of thing! We’re the good guys, remember? No…I guess you don’t.”

“I never said this was a weapon,” Strep said, sliding into the vest, then slipping the helmet onto his head. “Kolch’ak was determined to enslave us. His device will control the mind of any Vulcan in a 400,000 kilometer radius. If he had landed on Vulcan and activated his device, our entire homeworld would have been under his control. If this device can control the Vulcan mind, we must possess it.”

“So you can see if it works on your Romulan cousins,” Audrey said.

Strep arched his eyebrow. “Very perceptive, Romulan. Since your people have failed to see the logic of our occupation of your space, we will duplicate this device and spread it to all of the worlds of the Romulan Empire, shielding our own people from its effects of course.”

“We cannot let you use it,” Tovar said.

“You are too late to prevent that outcome,” Strep said, flipping one more switch. An arc of electricity sparked between the helmet’s fins, and suddenly every Vulcan except Strep bolted upright to stiff attention. Audrey shot her adopted brother a covert wink and did the same.

“Fascinating,” Strep remarked. Tovar swore he could almost see a hint of a smirk on the Vulcan’s face. “I command you to destroy our attackers!”

“Run!” Tovar shouted, dashing out of Row K with the others close behind as the Vulcans opened fire, their phaser beams sailing through the shield toward Tovar and his team. Audrey gave chase, firing wildly and missing all of her targets. Once safely out of the Vulcans’ firing range, Marsden stopped and spun around, leveling her wrist phaser at the charging woman, but Tovar grabbed her hand, shoving it down.

“Wait,” he said.

“For what?” Marsden demanded.

“For me,” Audrey said, slowing to a stop. “We need to get through that shield.”

“That much is certain,” Tovar said.

“That thing isn’t controlling you?” Marsden said.

“Perhaps Vulcan and Romulan brains have diverged enough since the Romulan exodus that device is ineffective,” Kasyov said, looking at Audrey’s skull with interest.

“We can discuss the hows and whys later,” Tovar said. “But right now, start opening crates. We need something get us through that shield!”


The Anomaly and the Shakalak jockeyed for position behind the two fleeing Vulcan ships, skirting over the Russian landscape less than 100 meters above the ground as phaser and disruptor beams lanced back and forth between the Vulcans and their pursuers. So far they’d been able to keep the Vulcans well away from the Kasyov farm, but Bain didn’t much like having two enemy vessels this close to the surface of his homeworld.

“Bain to Vioxx,” Bain said as he stood behind Yonk at the helm, gripping the back of the Ferengi’s chair. “We need to finish this. Concentrate all fire on the ship to starboard.”

“I believe the port vessel has suffered more damage,” Vioxx’s voice said.

“Port. Starboard. Makes no difference to me. Just pick one.”

“Port.”

“Port it is then. Gworos, all phasers on the port vessel and fire.”

The combined blasts from the Anomaly and the Shakalak battered the port Vulcan craft, causing its shields to flicker wildly. Suddenly, it veered to starboard, placing itself between its comrade and their pursuers.

“What are they doing?” Yonk said.

“They seem to have decided that it is a logical day to die,” Gworos said.

“Sacrifice strategy,” Bain said. “They get blasted to bits so their friends can continue onward.” Another volley from the Shakalak took the Vulcan ship’s shields down. This was immediately followed by one more shot to the rust red vessel’s polaron drive assembly. Explosions blossomed from the polaron drive, quickly working their way forward as the ship plummeted to Earth, digging a scorched trench through three kilometers of Siberian forest before erupting into one final fireball.

“Good show, Vioxx. One more to…”

Bain’s attention was pulled away as Remax suddenly went ramrod straight in his chair. “Destroy our attackers.”

“What the devil?” Bain said as the elder Romulan leapt from his chair with surprising speed and charged him. “Bloody hell!” Bain barely dodged Remax, then slammed the Romulan on the back with both fists, knocking him to the deck.

“Stand back, sir,” Gworos said, extending his wrist phaser. He stopped as something on the tac-ops console caught his eye. “The Shakalak is locking weapons!”

“Has Vioxx gone completely crackers?”


“Destroy our attackers,” Vioxx, Nortal, and Zantak all said flatly as the Shakalak brought its weapons to bear on the Anomaly. The turbolift doors opened, and Doctor Fred Nooney bounded onto the bridge, making a show of wiping sweat from his brow.

“Whew! I checked each and everyone of the crew, and they are all STILL unconscious!” Nooney said. “I could try to wake them up, but that voknizine is tricky stuff.” Nooney suddenly realized all three Romulans were glaring at him with murder in their eyes. “Um…so what’s going on up here?”

“Destroy our attackers,” Vioxx, Nortal, and Zantak said as Vioxx aimed his wrist phaser at Nooney.

“Oooooh! Bad! Bad Romulans! Bad! No hurting Doctor Fred!” Nooney barely managed to dive back into the turbolift before a phaser blast seared past his head and burnt itself into the wall beside him. “Hey! That’s not stun!”


“With all due respect, Commander, I really think I’m supposed to be the one flying the ship,” Ensign Nott said nervously as Commander Prosak struggled to get out of Lieutenant Brazzell’s grip and make another attempt to remove the Bolian from the helm console.

“Destroy our attackers!”

“We already did!” Brazzell said, trying not to think about the germs that were even now leaping in vast hordes from Prosak’s body to his.

Prosak threw herself forward, flipping Brazzell over her head and on top of Nott, sending the pair crumpling to the deck as Prosak dove for the helm console. “Brazzell to sickbay! Get somebody up here with a tranquilizer now! And bring something to knock out Commander Prosak while you’re at it!”


Bain struggled to get back into his chair as the Anomaly jolted from a disruptor blast slamming into it. “Yonk, get us some room to maneuver!” Bain shouted as Remax began rising to his feet again. “Gworos!”

“Aye,” Gworos replied, aiming his right arm at Remax and firing a stun blast into him while his left hand flew across the tac- ops’s console, sending a few blasts in the direction of the Romulan warhawk. Remax hit the deck with a thud as the Anomaly broke out of the atmosphere into open space.

“Great Nagus!” Yonk screamed suddenly, pitching the ship hard to port as the Navigator streaked by. “They just tried to ram us! Here they come again!”

The bridge bucked violently, nearly pitching Bain out of his chair as sparks rained down from the ceiling and power flickered.

“Torpedo hit from the Shakalak!” Gworos announced. “Shall I contact Earth Defense Control?”

“No!” Bain said. “I’m not sacrificing our people! Get us to the asteroid field. We need some cover.”

Closely pursued by the Shakalak, the Navigator, and the lone remaining Vulcan cruiser, the Anomaly streaked past the moon into open space.


Prosak’s eyes blinked several times as she looked at the viewscreen then down at the helm console. “Why am I sitting here?” she asked confused.

“Commander?” Brazzell asked hesitantly, picking himself up off the deck.

“What is it, Lieutenant? And why are you on the floor?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Remember what?”

Brazzell rolled his eyes. “Brazzell to sickbay. Cancel the tranquilizers.”


“Er…weren’t we at Earth?” Vioxx asked looking at the open space on his viewscreen.

“Missing time!” Nortal shouted. “Some foul alien beasts abducted me and probed my anus!”

“Before we go with that theory, contact the Anomaly, since they’re right in front of us. Maybe they know what’s going on.”


“The Shakalak is hailing,” Gworos said. “It’s Commander Vioxx.”

“Put him on,” Bain said, rising from his chair and straightening his uniform. An instant later, the Romulan commander’s image appeared on the viewscreen.

Vioxx’s eyes widened. “What happened over there?” he asked in shock.

“What happened?” Bain snapped. “You happened! What was the meaning of that?”

“The meaning of what?”

“You attacked us!”

“No, we didn’t.” Vioxx noticed the prone form at Bain’s feet. “Did you shoot Remax?”

“He attacked me!”

“Is everyone attacking you now?” Vioxx asked skeptically.

“It bloody well felt like it!”

“If we’re done with this, don’t we have another Vulcan ship to worry about?” Vioxx said irritated.

“You’re damn right we do. Yonk, turn us around.”

The Vulcan ship, which had been bringing up the rear, found itself with three adversaries again as the Anomaly, Shakalak, and Navigator spun around and opened fire on it. In response, the Vulcans whipped their own ship around and made a beeline back to Earth.

“Here we go,” Yonk said, streaking back toward the planet with the Shakalak and the Navigator close behind. In a matter of moments, they were passing the moon and…

Bain watched Vioxx suddenly stiffen on the viewscreen. “Destroy our attackers,” Vioxx said, then cut the comm channel. The Anomaly suddenly lurched as weapons fire slammed into its aft sections.

“Oh bloody hell,” Bain muttered, scrambling back into his chair.


Tovar threw open the lid of another crate. It was only a matter of time before the Vulcans decided to get out of there, and with a portable shield generator, they’d be able to do just that without Tovar and the others being able to do a thing about it if they didn’t find a way through that shield soon.

He looked into the crate. Slime grenades. Why would anyone want a slime grenade?

Dariya Kasyov screamed suddenly. “It’s a head!” she exclaimed, pointing into the container in front of her.

Marsden whirled on Kasyov. “You said the body parts were in the basement!”

“They are!” Kasyov replied as she rushed to her mother’s side. “Oh.”

“Oh what?” Marsden demanded.

Kasyov lifted a familiar android head out of the box. “It’s Admiral Larkin.”

“Does she keep a spare head here?” Marsden asked.

“The Admiral has existed for well over a century. It is certainly possible,” Tovar said with a shrug.

“Put it back. It’s giving me the creeps,” Marsden said, opening her next crate. Five small blue spheres shot up into the air, narrowly missing her face as she leapt back. “Look out!” There was no need to worry, though. The balls bounced off of the ceiling a few times, then ricocheted away.

“Why would you want a cloaking belt that only makes you transparent?” Yuri Kasyov asked, looking at a padd he’d found in his crate.

“Halloween costume?” his daughter offered. “You could be a great ghost with something like that.”

Tovar moved to the next crate. Someone had actually bothered to put a label on this one. “Inflatable Starship - Do Not Open In An Enclosed Area.” They could try opening it over the Vulcans. Umm…no. Better not.

“Ha!” Marsden cried suddenly.

“What is it?” Tovar asked.

“Portable wormhole,” Marsden said, holding a shiny black sphere. “At least that’s what the description claims,” she added, handing a padd to Tovar. Hmm…throw the sphere at a barrier and it would open a wormhole to the other side. Perfect.

“Let’s go,” Tovar said, a smile crossing his face. If this didn’t get a reaction out of Strep, nothing would.

“We will not have to go far,” Yuri said, craning his neck around so her could peer down Row K. “They’re heading this way. Shield and all.”

“All right. Once the wormhole opens, we’ll only have a few moments before they realize what is happening. Sub-Commander Nural and I will target the shield generator. Once the shield is down, do your best to stun the guards. I will deal with Strep.”

“Personal vendetta?” Marsden asked.

“Yes,” Tovar said darkly. He had every intention of paying Strep back for that forced mind meld. Tovar counted it off with his fingers again. One. Two. Three.

Tovar and Audrey rolled into Row K. The Yynsian hurled the portable wormhole at the Vulcan’s shield. On contact, the sphere flattened into a jet black disk about a meter across and began to swirl. In an instant, gale force winds were whipping out of it, blasting Tovar and Audrey back. The Vulcans were faring no better as a mirror wormhole opened and smashed them around inside the confines of the shield.

Tovar caught himself on a heavy crate and held on as his legs kicked in the air behind him. The rest of his team had found similar anchor positions, but there was no way any of them were going to be getting anywhere near the Vulcans. On the bright side, the Vulcans didn’t appear to be going anywhere either.

The impasse continued for several moments until Tovar caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye. Cabral’s hovercam swooped down into Row K, pushing through the winds as it sailed into the eye of the storm, or in this case, the mouth of the wormhole. Once inside, Cabral quickly located the Vulcan wearing the portable shield generator laying face down on the floor as he and several of the other Vulcans used all of their strength to hang on to a massive container in the middle of the aisle.

Unable to steadily aim the small phaser embedded in the hovercam in the blustery winds, Cabral simply landed on the portable generator, extended the hovercam’s two manipulator arms, and sliced through the straps connecting it to the Vulcan’s back. Gripped by a gust of wind, the generator launched into the air with Cabral still aboard. He activated the hovercam’s anti-grav units again and slipped off the back of the generator, firing his phaser as soon as he was clear. The generator exploded instantly, taking the shield and the wormhole with it.

With the winds gone, the Vulcans scrambled to retrieve their weapons and deal with the robotic menace in their midst. Tovar and Audrey were on their feet in a flash, weapons blasting as they charged the Vulcans with Kasyov and the others not far behind. Three Vulcans fell in the first volley, trapped in the crossfire between the hovercam and Tovar’s team, with three more taken out as they tried to find adequate cover. Focused solely on his target, Tovar crossed the distance between himself and the one remaining Vulcan, Colonel Strep, in a matter of seconds.

“I believe it’s time to discuss that surrender,” Tovar said, his wrist phaser aimed squarely at Strep’s head.

“As improbable as this sounds, you have actually managed to provoke an emotional response in me,” Strep said. “I am…perturbed. I believe that is the proper term at least. This is a new sensation for me. Wait. I think it has actually progressed to anger. We may even be bordering on fury. Yes. I think it’s…”

Strep eyes bulged, and the Vulcan suddenly launched himself forward, his hands shooting up and wrapping themselves firmly around Tovar’s neck. “This is all your fault. From the second I entered that dark pit you call a mind, nothing has gone right!” He squeezed, threatening to crush the choking Tovar’s trachea right then and there.

Strep froze as he felt the emitter of a phaser press against the side of his neck just below the helmet of the Kolch’ak Device. “You’ve got about two seconds to let him go,” Lieutenant Marsden seethed. “And this ain’t stun.”

Colonel Strep forced his emotions back into check and released his grip on Tovar’s throat, raising his hands in the air. The Yynsian collapsed to the floor in a coughing fit as he tried to get some air back into his lungs. As Kasyov and the others jogged up to take control of Strep, Marsden knelt down to see to Tovar.

“I’ll take that,” Yuri said, snatching the helmet off of Strep’s head. The arc of electricity between the fins of the helmet flared brightly then vanished. “Now the vest.” Without taking his eyes off of Tovar, Strep slid out of the vest and handed it to Yuri. In a fluid move, Yuri tossed both vest and helmet into the air with his left arm as he raised his phaser in his right and fired. The Kolch’ak device hit the ground a moment later as little more than a pile of molten slag.


Having just returned to his seat at the Navigator’s helm console, Ensign Nott watched in horror as the Shakalak opened up on the Anomaly with its weapons systems.

“What is going on?” the frightened Bolian screamed, spinning his chair around. He was suddenly face to face with a wide-eyed Commander Prosak.

“Destroy our attackers!” she said, grabbing the front of Nott’s uniform and slinging him out of his chair toward Brazzell, who was racing down from the tac-ops console.

“Brazzell to sickbay! The tranquilizers are back on again! And hurry!”

“What do we do?” Nott cried, climbing back to his feet.

Brazzell grimaced. “Grab her,” he said disgustedly. He and Nott pounced.


“Engineering to bridge!” Lieutenant Devix’s voice shouted over the comm system. “We can’t take much more of this down here. And we’ve had to shoot Selex!”

“Understood,” Bain said through gritted teeth as Yonk took the Anomaly into a tight barrel roll to avoid another volley from the Shakalak. “Stay on the Vulcans as best you can,” Bain said to the Ferengi.

Gworos began to protest. “But the Shakalak…”

“Is still one of ours. Just deal with the blasted Vulcans!”

“Firing,” Gworos grumbled as he let loose with a mix of phasers and neutron torpedoes. The already battered Vulcan vessel fleeing ahead of them shuddered under the impacts, then went dark. “They have lost main power.”

“Damn well time,” Bain said.

The Anomaly bucked violently as the engineering console to Bain’s right exploded in a rain of sparks. The bridge went dark.

“And so have we,” Gworos said.

“Bugger all.”

As the emergency lights and auxiliary power systems kicked in, Bain braced himself for the final blow. He always knew his day would come, but somehow he never thought it would come courtesy of members of his own crew.

“The Shakalak is hailing again,” Gworos reported.

Bain considered this a moment. Did he really want to talk to Vioxx right now? He had no desire for his last moments in this universe to be spent listening to insufferable gloating, but it could be that the man was back to normal. “Put him on,” Bain said finally.

“We did that, didn’t we?” Vioxx said as his face appeared on the viewscreen and surveyed the scene on the Anomaly’s bridge in horror.

“You noticed,” Bain muttered, leaning back in his command chair.

“I don’t know what happened.”

“You were possessed,” Gworos said.

“What’s that?” Bain asked, turning in his chair.

“The Navigator reports that Commander Prosak suffered a similar condition which has also vanished.”

“The Vulcans are behind this somehow. I’m sure of it!” Vioxx said indignantly.

“I’d wager you’re right,” Bain said. “But how about giving us a tow to McKinley Station so we can straighten all of this out?”


“That takes care of that,” Yuri said as he and the others finished securing Strep and the stunned Vulcans. He looked around at the gathered group and quickly realized someone was missing. “Hey! What happened to the Romulan?”

Tovar shook his head.

“What’s that for?” Marsden asked.

“We won’t find her,” Tovar said hoarsely. “She’s gone.”

“No matter,” Yuri said. “We have the Vulcans.”

“There are two more in Row V,” Cabral said floating down beside Dr. Kasyov.

“You were wonderful,” Kasyov said.

“Yes, it is a most impressive little robot,” Dariya said.

Kasyov glanced at Cabral’s hovercam and took a deep breath. “Mama, papa, this is not a robot…not entirely anyway. This hovercam is operated by the brain that lives on our ship. He and I have become very close over the last couple of years. His name is Cabral, and I…I am in love with him.”

Silence.

Complete and total silence. There was, however, a lot of surprised blinking and opening and closing of mouths occurring.

“Well…,” Marsden said what seemed like an eternity later. “Who’s up for some lunch?”


“Captain’s Log. Stardate 177753.6. Repairs on the Anomaly are proceeding at a rapid pace in hopes of getting us back to the Neutral Zone before the Vulcans make a move on our forces there. Personally, I think the build-up there was designed to draw our ships away from Earth, so the Vulcans could make a try for that mind control machine stashed in the Kantelov Annex. Good thing we put a stop to that. If what happened to Vioxx, Prosak, and the other Romulans is any indication, we would have had a real problem on our hands if the Vulcans had been able to distribute devices like that around the Empire.

“Starfleet Intelligence has taken the Vulcans who infiltrated the Annex into custody, and my guess is that no one will be hearing from them for some time. With the Anomaly in for repairs and the scare her parents had, Doctor Kasyov has decided to take a couple of days leave in Siberia to spend with her family. I understand she’s taken Cabral’s hovercam along. I also understand that she and Cabral…um…er…no, I don’t understand. I’ll just leave it at that.

“In any case, the immediate threat seems to have passed. Commander Zanex and his crew have resumed control of the Shakalak and are making their way back to Romulan space, but they are doing it without Sub-Commander Nural. Lieutenant Commander Tovar believes she was vaporized by a stray Vulcan blast during the battle for Kantelov. I hate to see a good officer lost, but Tovar assures me that Nural would have wanted it this way.”


Captain Bain set a glass of scotch down on the small side table beside the armchair in the Captain’s Lounge where Tovar sat reading Bain’s mission report on a padd then settled himself into the chair on table’s other side with a drink of his own.

“Did I cover it all?” Bain asked once Tovar lowered the padd.

“I believe so,” Tovar replied, raising the drink to his lips. “It is certainly more thorough that our usual reports.”

“Krissers insisted. She’s still a little steamed that I up and left the Neutral Zone, but I think this will put the matter to rest.”

“Thank you for that. I’m sorry to have caused you difficulties,” Tovar said.

“Nonsense. My boy was in trouble. The entire Vulcan fleet wouldn’t have stopped me.”

“Besides,” Bain added, patting Tovar’s shoulder. “We might just have saved the Federation from a horde of mind-controlled Romulans. Not bad for a day’s work. Krissers won’t be able to say a thing against it. Starfleet Intel wouldn’t let her even if she wanted to, which I don’t think she does. She and I have an understanding.”

“Speaking of Admiral Larkin, we found…a head in the annex. It looked like one of hers.”

Bain frowned for a moment, thinking, then smirked, his eyes twinkling. “So that’s where they put her.”

“Excuse me?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“But it was Admiral Larkin,” Tovar said.

“No.”

“No?”

“It was Kitty.”

“Who?”

“It’s before your time,” Bain said.

“You’re sure it wasn’t Admiral Larkin.”

“Trust,” Bain said smiling. “It was Kitty. It was definitely Kitty. Can I get you another drink?”

Tovar glanced down at his empty glass. “No. Thank you. I should be going anyway,” he replied, rising from his chair as Bain did the same. The two men stood looking at each other for a long moment.

“It’s good to have you home, lad,” Bain said finally, pulling Tovar into a hug.

Tovar returned the hug in kind. “It’s good to be back, father,” he said.

“Right then,” Bain said, releasing his grip. “Go get settled in. We’ll talk more later. And don’t plan anything for tomorrow night. Your mum wants to see us for dinner.”

“Yes, sir,” Tovar replied, smiling and nodding crisply before turning on his heel and exiting the lounge.


Tovar was less than surprised to see Audrey Bain, back in the traditional black uniform of Section 31, seated in his living area when he returned to his quarters.

“The dead live,” he remarked.

Audrey shrugged. “Resurrection comes with the territory.”

“Thank you for leaving me to cover your disappearance, by the way,” Tovar said.

“I thought you could handle it. And it’s not like Sub- Commander Nural is ever going to show up and prove you wrong.”

“That would be awkward,” Tovar said. The pair sat in silence for a few moments.

“Well, I should go,” Audrey said finally as she stood up. “I just wanted to say…good job. You were a big help in all this, even if it didn’t go according to plan.”

“I take it we’re ignoring the part where Section 31’s assessment of the situation was almost completely wrong.”

“If we could,” Audrey said, a slight hint of a smile crossing her lips. “Oh. Mum sends her love.”

“I’ll be sure to return the sentiment when father and I see her at dinner tomorrow night.”

“Ah, so you’re coming to dinner.”

“Will you be there?”

Audrey shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’m not quite up for one of Reginald Bain’s special interrogations about the state of my life. You have fun.”

“He’s a good man.”

“I know. But good men aren’t always good fathers.”

“He was…he is to me.”

“Only because you decided to follow him,” Audrey said.

“It’s more than that for me. My life is here, too.”

“And will this life of yours be including Shelly Marsden?

Tovar door chime sounded.

“Actually, that should be her now,” Tovar said. “We’re having dinner.”

“And?”

“And talking. I imagine there will be a great deal of much needed talking. We’ll see what the future holds.”

“I understand,” Audrey said. She grabbed him in a quick hug, then just as quickly released him. “Go get her, little brother. And no more sleeping with Prosak.”

“I promise,” Tovar said. “Goodbye, sister.”

“Ta ta,” Audrey said with a wave as she activated her transporter, vanishing in a swirl of white.

Feeling better about his life than he had in a long time, Tovar went to answer his door.


Tags: boldly