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


“Live Long and Conquer”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

“Logic is in the eye of the logician.”

  • Gloria Steinem



“Inasmuch as I am studying for my final exam in Syllabic School, yes,” Prosak said, not looking up from her padd. As other Romulan students milled about the Sela Yar Memorial Library, she wondered why the person talking to her couldn’t find someone else to bother at the moment.

“Have you given any more thought to my suggestion?”

Prosak was intent on her padd. “I have not.”

“You realize I have secured a position on Senator Petorum’s staff. I will be an influential voice for the District Nine Senate seat…and beyond.”

Prosak glanced up. “Harvak, you can stop trying to impress me. My father’s the Romulan ambassador…”

“For Gods’ sake, Prosak, I know your father’s the Romulan Ambassador…”

“So you should know I’m not impressed by a show of power.”

“I’d think just the opposite.”

“I’m finding my own path.”

“You’re seriously considering Starfleet Academy?”

“The Vulcans and the Federation have a strong bond. The Romulans are making overtures to peace as well. If there’s to be unification, the Federation may very well be at the center of it.”

Harvak sat back. “You’re being foolish and illogical. The Federation can only hope to complicate matters. Unification has to come from a joint effort by Romulus and Vulcan alone.”

“According to whom exactly,” Prosak said idly. “Yourself?”

“If not me, then who?”

“Just about anyone else, actually,” Prosak said.

“I would expect you to be more willing to entertain my offer, Prosak. Since you dissolved your relationship with Vorak, you’ve been without a sharal.”

“And I’ve been just fine with that,” Prosak said. “My sharal doesn’t define me.”

“But your politics do. You’ve got a keen mind, Prosak. Together, we could forge a new direction for Romulus and Vulcan together. We could make them understand.”

“If you think my mind so keen, you wouldn’t be so quick to criticize my decision to join Starfleet.”

“Great minds make mistakes from time to time,” Harvak said. “I think you’re on the verge of making a decision that will cripple your career. You’ll be forgotten. A footnote in history.”

“And, in this fictitious history, what’s to become of you?” Prosak asked pointedly.

“Quite simple,” Harvak said, and stood up. “I will write history.”

NOW. . .

Sh’rak stood at the grand window at the rear of his large office, staring out at the vicious Vulcan suns. “And I made good on that promise, did I not, Prosak?”

“How did I not recognize you?” Prosak asked, baffled.

“I had a goatee back then,” Sh’rak explained. “I was going for the ‘evil Spock’ look. It was quite popular at the time.” Sh’rak beamed at Prosak, in a way that made her feel very uncomfortable. “I would have shaved that goatee for you, if you asked me to.”

“You shaved it anyway.”

“I realized when I came here that Vulcan is actually very hot.”

“Apparently,” Prosak replied.

Sh’rak took a step toward her. “Would you prefer it this way, Prosak, or as it was meant to be? The two of us together…”

“I’m happy with the way things turned out.”

“Happy,” Sh’rak said, clicking his tongue. “Some RommaVulc you turned out to be.”

“Better happy than insane,” Eudora spoke up beside her daughter. “Isn’t that what you’ve become, Harvak?”

Sh’rak whirled. “Do not call me that! Never call me that. Harvak was weak. He was laughed out of District Nine for his ideals. He was crushed in his town council electoral campaign. His ideas were dismissed out of hand!”

“Am I detecting an emotional response?” Prosak asked.

Sh’rak’s face softened. “Of course not. Emotion is not the RommaVulc way. Is it, Prosak?”

“Did I mention I’m fine with the way things turned out for me?” Prosak asked.

“Does that include the invasion of the Federation by joint Romulan and Vulcan forces?”

“I don’t think anybody’s fine with the way things turned out for you, Sh’rak,” Eudora said. “Since when does the RommaVulc dogma dictate that you have to take over a people in order to unify with them?”

“I don’t want to unify with the Federation. I want to eliminate them as a threat,” Sh’rak said. “Once we control their territory, they’ll be unable to stop the destined joining of Vulcan and Romulus.”

“How many minds did you have to alter to make this dream a reality, Sh’rak?” Prosak asked. “How many have you brainwashed the same way you brainwashed me when I nearly killed the Praetor?”

“Oh, I lost count at five hundred,” Sh’rak said. “But suffice it to say, I’ve reached enough Vulcans in key places to ensure that my wishes are carried out. And, conveniently, Vulcans believe that questioning leadership is illogical. Anybody that would have posed a threat or brought up a resistance against me has either been mind-melded or locked up. Except that stupid LOL.” Sh’rak mumbled something under his breath and turned his head to the side. “I knew I should have executed Surap and Surat when I had the chance.”

“The Federation will stop you,” Prosak said. “Even the Romulan and Vulcan forces combined aren’t enough to hold them back. All of this…every bit of it…is SO not logical, Sh’rak. You’ve created what is, at best, a temporary situation. You can’t brainwash everyone. What’s to happen when it’s time for you to govern two races who haven’t agreed on unifying?”

“I will make them understand,” Sh’rak said, his eyes going wide. “I envision a unified Vulcan and Romulus. One where all are accepted, all share in the power and glory of our shared ancestry. It will be wondrous…”

“Have you considered therapy?” Eudora asked idly.

Prosak ignored her mother. “This will never work. You have to know that.”

“You could be right,” Sh’rak said. “But even if you are, I’m the one in control at the moment, and we will do things my way.”

“What about us?” Eudora asked. “How do we fit into your plans?”

“You really don’t,” Sh’rak saiid, rubbing his chin. “Which does pose something of a problem, doesn’t it? Oh. I know! We can kill you!”

Eudora and Prosak exchanged nervous glances. Eudora nudged Prosak, who glared at her.

“What, mother?”

Eudora inclined her head in Sh’rak’s direction.

Although they hadn’t spent much time together, Prosak and Eudora shared that semi-telepathic bond that all mothers and daughters, regardless of species, possessed.

“You can’t mean…” Prosak gasped. “No!”

“It’s the only way,” Eudora seethed between her teeth.

Prosak looked at Sh’rak.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go find some guards with sharp nasty weapons,” Sh’rak said, stepping past Prosak.

“Wait!” Prosak said, taking Sh’rak’s arm. “You…big…strong…Vulcan man.”

“Are you referring to me?” Sh’rak asked.

“You are Vulcan, are you not?”

“Implicitly,” Sh’rak said, trying not to smile.

“And you are big and strong.”

“I am a powerful man.”

“Then I would like nothing better than to…” Prosak tried to choke back bile. “Spend the evening with you.”

Sh’rak stared at Prosak. “This is a trick. You just told me you thought my ideas were illogical.”

“Consider it a last request,” Prosak said. “A date with you, so I know what I’m missing once I…cross over into the next life.”

“An intriguing proposition,” Sh’rak said. He looked at Eudora. “Do I have the mother’s blessing?”

“Oh…absolutely,” Eudora said.

“Then it’s settled,” Sh’rak said. “First we will go on a date, then I will kill you.”

“Just as I’d hoped,” Prosak muttered.

Sub-Lieutenant Zantak steadied herself as the turbolift shook, on its way up to the bridge.

“Not good,” Sub-Commander Remax replied gruffly. “Dozens of Romulan ships, possibly more beyond sensor range, all occupying Federation space. We’ve no choice but to open fire on them.”

Zantak shrugged.

“Vioxx informed me that Captain Bain has returned to the ship and taken command.”

Uncharacteristically, Zantak actually opened her mouth to comment, but Remax cut her off.

“I know it’s strange. But you’re talking about the Federation, Sub- Lieutenant. Everything they do is odd. But, apparently, some think of this Bain as a powerful figure. Leader of men, and such. Supposedly, he’s at his best during wartime. But I haven’t seen proof as yet,” Remax said, as the lift thudded to a stop, and the doors opened up onto the bridge.

“Six more ships have been disabled or neutralized!” Gworos announced from tactical. “Reinforcements on the way.”

“Proof,” Zantak said, following Remax up to a vacant environmental systems and engineering console.

“Find out where these blasted Romulan ships are coming from, Kasyov!” Bain ordered, crossing the bridge and leaning on Kasyov’s console. “Check the ionic fields surrounding Galornden Core. Maybe there are some rabbits hiding in the shrubs.” He pivoted back toward Gworos. “Lieutenant, keep up with the tachyon scans. More Romulans could decloak any minute and I want to know about them.”

“Sir, two more ships…” Yonk said, pointing at the viewscreen.

“Modulate neutron torpedoes to six point zero three and fire. Bring disruptors to bear, oh-six-three mark two-one-four. Engage all ahead full on polarons on my mark, then fire all disruptor cannons at the three lead vessels.”

“He’s going to say ‘mark’ now,” Larkin whispered to a speechless Vioxx.

“Mark,” Bain said, gesturing toward the viewscreen.

Beams lashed out from the Anomaly, cutting a swath through three more Romulan ships, sending them spiralling off, listing uselessly.

“Good Romulan souls on those ships, being manipulated by the Vulcans somehow,” Vioxx announced, to nobody in particular.

“Or else the Vulcans brokered a deal with them,” Bain said offhand. “In which case you and yours would no longer be welcome on the Anomaly. Nothing personal, chums. Fire aft torpedoes.”

“Sir?” Gworos asked. “There are no targets…”

“Captain!” Kasyov announced. “Three Romulan Warhawks, decloaking aft!”

“Oh,” Gworos said.

“Let’s hold off on the speculation for now,” Larkin said, glaring from Bain to Vioxx.

“Yes, let’s,” Vioxx said tightly.

“Sir, we stand ready to assist,” Remax said, addressing Vioxx.

“Now’s not the time,” Bain said, holding up a hand.

“Respectfully,” Vioxx said, “Your science and helm officers have been on duty for twelve hours, much of which has been spent fighting pitched battles. We need fresh people.”

“We need continuity until there’s a break in the fighting,” Bain said. “And until we know what’s going on with the Romulans, I can’t trust Romulans in sensitive positions.”

“Does that include me?” Vioxx asked.

“I’ll get back to you. Rotate disruptor cannons three and four zero- six-eight degrees, Gworos, and fire in three…two…one…”

“But there aren’t any…” Gworos said, then caught himself. “Right. There they are.”

“Will you stand by and let Captain Bain alienate his Romulan colleagues, Admiral?” Vioxx asked. “It’s unacceptable, frankly.”

Larkin looked from Bain to Vioxx. “Given the circumstances, it would be best if you and your officers reported on fleet movements from stellar cartography.”

“Busy work,” Vioxx muttered.

“Hardly,” Larkin said. “This is not a suggestion. It’s an order.”

“You heard the woman,” Vioxx said, leading Remax and Zantak into the aft turbolift. “Apparently, our truce with the Federation is only good for times when our people aren’t sending battle fleets into Federation territory.”

“Sorry for the bother,” Bain said noncommittally, and turned back to the battle.

“What to wear,” Prosak said to herself, staring out the window onto the parched Vulcan landscape. Sh’rak had sent her and Eudora away, claiming he had to get ready for his “big date” with Prosak. Considering a massive offensive was underway, and that the situation between Vulcan and the Federation was quickly coming to a boil, Prosak wondered if dating was really the best use of Sh’rak’s time.

“At least you’ll be distracting him from orchestrating the war,” Eudora said from behind her. Mothers and daughters really did have a telepathic bond.

“Small miracles,” Prosak said, glancing about the sparsely- decorated chamber. “I don’t suppose he’ll send along a dress.”

“You want to look your best for your last meal before being executed?”

“A date is a date, mother, and I haven’t been on one in quite a long time.”

“That’s a shame. You’re a beautiful young woman.”

“Please,” Prosak huffed. “Vulcans find me too emotional, and Romulans dislike my bowl haircut.”

“I’ve always thought you would look good with the ‘falcon.’”

“It makes me look like I’m balding.”

“It’s dignified. It’s Romulan.”

“I’m RommaVulc.”

“Yes,” Eudora said dryly. “Which is quite different than being entirely Vulcan. You can’t turn your back entirely on your Romulan heritage.”

“Why not?”

“Because that’s not the point of Unification. You should take the best of both, not discard one over the other.”

“You always were the voice of reason, Mother.”

“Someone had to be, between a radical daughter and a reactionary father.”

“An argument for another time,” Prosak said, and turned toward a mirror mounted on the wall. She unzipped her tunic nearly halfway down, and tugged at the edges a bit. “There. Much better.”

Eudora cocked her head. “You’re planning on defeating Sh’rak with your cleavage?”

“I’m not planning on beating him at all. The best I can hope to do is stall him.”

“Until what?”

“Until Captain Bain does what he does so well. Or until we’re rescued, whichever comes first.”

“You think someone’s out there trying to rescue us?”

Prosak shrugged. “I’m ever hopeful.”

“This mission is folly. You’ll be killed,” Surap said, leaning over Tovar as he stared at the schematics on the display board.

“I did not ask for your opinion,” Tovar said, studying the latest planetary survey schematics, on the austere, taupe-colored bridge of the P’raytel–the flag ship of the LOL (Logicians for Order and Law).

Surat, the co-leader of the LOL, stepped up beside Surap. “Still, you will need our help to execute this plan.”

“I haven’t asked for your help yet.”

“At the very least, you’ll need someone to beam you down.”

“We could always climb out a window,” Tovar said, intent on the sensor readings.

“YES!” Nortal said, emerging as if from thin air, behind Surap and Surat. The Vulcans nearly jumped. “We shall descend from the heavens like avenging angels, intent on beating back our implacable foe!”

“She gets a little carried away from time to time,” Tovar said idly. “Are these the latest readings? Can I get an update?”

“What are you looking for?”

“A way in.” Tovar rubbed his chin. “Could I have access to an ultra-space transmitter, gentlemen?”

“Any transmission you send could give away our position,” Surap said.

“I have ways to mask my transmissions. Be assured, I’ll observe all due discretion.”

Surap and Surat exchanged a glance, then each gave a small nod. “Sharpay will show you the way.”

“Thank you, Sharpay,” Tovar said, leaning on the transmission monitor in the tiny room off the P’raytel’s bridge.

Sharpay bowed slightly.

“Thank YOU, Sharpay,” Tovar repeated, inclining his head.

Sharpay bowed again.

“Can you please leave?”

Sharpay stared at Tovar a moment. “I will be outside.”

“Good enough. Thank you.” Tovar shook his head as Sharpay backed eerily out of the room, then turned back to the transmitter, quickly typing a scrambler code into the unit, and activating a top-secret channel.

Moments later, Rosalyn Bain appeared, wearing a gardening outfit, kneeling in a bed of roses, on a crsip, breezey Sussex, England day.

“It’s Tovar, Mum. You can drop the holographic filter.”

“Good to see you, Tovar.” Rosalyn smiled briefly, then nodded at someone off-screen, and the idyllic image dissolved to reveal the septagenarian wearing form-fitting leather, and standing in front of the backdrop of a massive hangar bay, with scores of troops climbing aboard sleek, deadly-looking fighters (advanced vehicles which only vaguely resembled modern Starfleet design). While the pilots boarded their craft, engineers moved about, checking their armaments and loading them up with neutron torpedoes and all other manner of deadly paraphernalia.

“Enjoying your time in the garden?” Tovar asked archy.

“Quite,” Rosalyn said, then her smile faded. “What do you want?”

“I need your help, Mum. Commander Prosak has been captured down on Vulcan.”

“We know.”

“Can you send someone?”

“No, son. I’m afraid you’re on your own on this one.”

“Pardon? But, Mum…this is serious. We have reason to believe Chancellor Sh’rak has–”

“I know exactly what Chancellor Sh’rak is doing right now, but…” Rosalyn’s face softened. “I’m afraid there’s no way we can help.”

“Surely Section Thirty-One can spare…”

“We can’t spare anyone. We have other matters to attend to. The Federation is under siege, son.”

“Even if you could spare some of your intelligence…”

“I’m afraid I can’t take any more time talking to you, son. I have a great deal to attend to before we reach the rendez-vous. I can only wish you safe passage and good luck.”

Tovar glared at his mother. “This is about me refusing to join Section Thirty-One, isn’t it?”

“Bother. You’re your own man, Tovar. You always have been. Besides, if you had joined Section Thirty-One, you would be at my side, and unable to help Prosak.”

“And where will you be, in the meantime?”

“You know I can’t tell you that. Be well, son. Mum’s got some errands to run…”

And the signal went dead.

“I’m insulted!” Vioxx said, standing in the midst of a quickly rotating starfield, that adjusted as the Anomaly weaved through space, fighting off Romulan ships left and right. “To think, we came aboard six months ago with the intention of strengthening relations between the Federation and the Romulans, and this is the thanks we get.”

“You had to expect this kind of duplicity eventually,” Remax said. “The Federation could only feign goodwill for so long.”

Vioxx rubbed his chin. “Romulus did send a fairly large battle fleet into their space.”

“Oh, that again,” Remax said, shaking his head. “Stop harping on that. Those Romulans are under mind control. They’re not responsible for their actions.”

Vioxx stared at the starscape on the massive floor-to-ceiling screen. “But we are, Remax.”

“Federation scum!” Selex railed, stepping into the room. “Marsden just kicked me out of engineering. I could tell she enjoyed it, too!”

“We’re all in the same plight,” Remax said, and glanced at the silent Zantak. “She’s especially broken up about it.”

“We need to do something,” Vioxx said. “We need to exonerate ourselves. To restore the good name of Romulus.”

“You’re saying we care what the Federation thinks of us?” Remax asked. “Do you hear what you’re saying?”

Vioxx nodded. “As a matter of fact, I do. And I’ve never been more certain. The way I see it, we’ve got two choices. We can continue to sit here on the sidelines, or we can go out there and make an impact on this war, hopefully show Bain that we’re in this fight with him.”

“And how do you propose to do that?”

“A plan is forming,” Vioxx said, and headed for the door. “Follow me…”

“Finally,” Zantak said, bringing up the rear.

“Good evening,” Sh’rak said, standing as Prosak approached the dinner table on the broad, tiled veranda behind the chancellor’s residence adjacent to the Vulcan Grand Hall, and the conference center at the top of Mount Selaya.

The veranda overlooked the deep, sunbaked valleys of Vulcan. The tumbling topography of windswept land that led out to the Forge and beyond.

In its way, minus foliage and waterfalls, the veranda reminded Prosak of the back porch of her home on Romulus–the home she shared with Rorshak after his split from Eudora.

But none of that mattered, as it was now dinnertime.

“You look ravishing,” Sh’rak said, taking his seat at the table and gesturing for Prosak to sit.

“I’ve bared thirty-six percent of my cleavage,” Prosak said. “What’s for dinner?”

“You do get to the point, don’t you?”

“I usually do when I dine with warlords.”

“Oh, now!” Sh’rak said, leaning forward and taking Prosak’s hands. “I wish you wouldn’t be that way.”

“What…Angry? You expected I’d be thrilled that you invaded my home?

“Are you referring to the Federation or Romulus?”

Prosak honestly didn’t know. “Both,” she said.

“You cannot hold a grudge forever.”

“Give it time.”

“Ah, dinner!” Sh’rak said. “I think you’ll enjoy what I had prepared for us.”

At that, a waiter breezed up from out of nowhere, and set two steaming bowls down on the table.

“Soup?” Prosak asked, nonplussed. “SOUP?”

“It’s one thing Romulus and Vulcan shares. A love of broth.”

‘It’s certainly a start,” Prosak said, staring down into her bowl as Sh’rak began sipping from his.

“What are you waiting for?” Sh’rak asked as he slurped right out of the bowl, glancing over its rim at Prosak. “Eat up!”

“I’m not that hungry.”

Sh’rak set his bowl down. “What now, Prosak? You think I’d actually poison your food? Believe me, when I kill you, it’ll be in a much more graphic and disturbing way than poison food. Please!”

Prosak glanced back at her bowl. “Well, when you put it that way…” And she started eating. Very, very slowly.

“Faster!” Bain said, leaning on the helmsman’s chair as Yonk guided the Anomaly through a maze of asteroids.

“Romulans closing on the port and aft quarters,” Gworos called out. “Three more ships decloaking just ahead of us, on the other side of the field.”

“They’re trying to surround us, Captain!” Kasyov called out.

“Sound reasoning and strategy, Doctor,” Larkin said, and Bain thought he detected a note of sarcasm. “But the fact remains, we must elude the Romulans fore and aft.”

“Z-plus ninety degrees, chum,” Bain said, patting Yonk’s shoulder. “Take us up.”

“Although, technically, there is no ‘up’ in space,” Larkin said.

“Right as always, Larkin,” Bain quipped in reply. “But whatever direction it is, it’s not currently filled with Romulans, and that’s good enough for me.”

“Do you regret sending Vioxx and the others off the bridge?”

“Frankly, I haven’t had time to think about it. But I don’t wish the man ill if that’s what you mean,” Bain said as Yonk steered the Anomaly up out of the asteroid field.

“I have had time,” Larkin said. “Due in large part to the fact that my processing ability is vast. Nearly limitless, really.”

“Superb,” Bain said. “Hard starboard. Fire all disruptors, starburst pattern Zed Zed fifteen. Mark!”

Larkin stared at the viewscreen as the Anomaly barrell-rolled through a cluster of Romulan ships, firing simultaneously in all directions and neutralizing one after another of the ships.

“Any word from the fleet, Doctor Kasyov?” Larkin asked.

“They’re holding the line, it appears,” Kasyov said. “Captain Bain has done a good job distracting the Romulans and keeping them out of the fight.”

“As intended,” Bain said, steading himself on Yonk’s chair as the Anomaly pitched from enemy fire.

A chime sounded on the bridge. “Marsden to bridge. We just took a major pounding to the port side disruptor cannons.”

“Send a team to repair them!” Bain said. “We can’t very well fight with one saber tied behind our backs!”

“Whatever that means, I’m afraid all my people are off making other repairs. And since you sent Selex away…”

“You mean the guy who annoyed the hell out of you?” Kasyov blurted, then glanced up at Bain and Larkin. “Sorry.”

“Yes, that guy,” Marsden said. “I’m the only pair of hands not actively fixing anything at the moment.”

Bain thought a moment. “Then go. But don’t be gone long. Your people need you down there, Marsie.”

“Please stop calling me that,” Marsden replied.

“Do you need help, Shelly?” Kasyov asked. “I’m pretty useless up here for now.”

Bain glanced at her. “Mind letting me be the judge of that, Doctor?”

“Well…unless you have any scientific studies on the effect of Romulan disruptors on Federation shield sheaths…”

Bain waved a hand. “Go, go…”

“And bring me an optronic coil spanner while you’re at it!” Marsden’s voice called out.

“Sure!” Kasyov said, and stood, glancing around the bridge. “Anybody know what an optronic coil spanner is?” When nobody responded, she ducked into the lift.

“Shame about the Romulans,” Larkin said, stepping up next to Bain.

“Indeed,” Bain said. “But Vioxx is an honorable man. He’ll take this in the way as it was intended. A safety measure. A necessity of war. He’s not the type to do anything rash or….”

“Captain!” Gworos called out. “Somebody’s overriding the command controls on the doors to shuttlebay two!”

“Override their override!” Bain ordered, turning.

“Too late. A raceabout’s leaving the bay. The Silverwood, sir.”

“Open a channel to the Silverwood,” Bain said as Larkin gave him a concerned glance.

“Silverwood. This is Vioxx,” the voice replied.

“Commander, what in blue blazes are you doing over there?

“My people and I are going to prove to you that the Romulans are pawns in this the only way I know how. We’re going to get on board one of those disabled Warhawks, and Remax is going to examine some crewmen.”

“You’re daft!” Bain snapped. “You’ll be cut to pieces!”

“I have a good helmsman.”

“Get back to this ship, Commander. That’s an order.”

“You don’t outrank me. Technically.”

“Return to the Anomaly, Commander Vioxx,” Larkin said, her voice sharp.

“I’m not part of Starfleet. Remember?”

“Well, bugger that,” Bain muttered. “Would you at least bring us back some disruptor cells while you’re over there?”

“I’ll do my best. Vioxx out.”

Larkin stared at Bain. “And that’s all?”

Bain shrugged. “Not much else we can do. But I admire his daring. Don’t you?”

“Not particularly.”

“We are men of destiny,” Nortal announced in a small voice, huddled next to Tovar, behind a large, oblong refuse bin, on the streets of Selaya City.

“You are a woman,” Tovar said idly, glancing through the lens of his quadcorder headset.

“We are persons of destiny,” Nortal amended. “On a glorious and dangerous path. Few will know of our deeds now, but many will sing of them long after they’ve been done.”

“Where are you getting all that…hyperbole?” Tovar asked.

“I read quite a bit,” Nortal said.

“Remind me to borrow one of those books when we get back to the Anomaly. Hyperbole or not, they must be exciting reads.”

“They are at that, and give you them I shall, once we’ve won the day ,and achieved our glorious…”

“Okay,” Tovar snapped. “Enough already. Keep your eyes on the crowd.”

“And what are we looking for, oh Tovar, Yynsian of Destiny?”

Tovar glanced back at Nortal. He had to admit he liked the ring of that. “Refuse workers.”

“To what end?”

“To beat them up and take their clothes so we can sneak into Sh’rak’s palace.”

“An ingenious plan!”

“Not really, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.”

“Dessert?” a voice asked Sh’rak, after what, thanks to Prosak, had become an interminable meal.

“I think not,” he said, looking askance at Prosak.

“Why not?” Eudora asked, up to the table. “The night is young!”

“How did you get out of your cell?” Sh’rak snapped.

“I told the guards that I was observing the Romulan right of Ri’taat.”

Prosak covered her face with her napkin. “The mother observing the date.”

“An idiotic and antiquated rite,” Sh’rak said. “I should have those Vulcans shot.”

“But you won’t,” Eudora said. “Because Vulcans are a peaceful people, and you want to be more like them.”

“You obviously haven’t been following my track record,” Sh’rak said, ticking off examples on his fingers. “Colonization, empire building, invasion, coercion, outright brainwashing. Does it sound like I’m a pacifist?”

“But, the Vulcans…” Prosak interjected.

“Are spineless!” Sh’rak shouted, and a few bits of food sprayed from his mouth as he slammed his fork down. “They will know conquest, and plotting, and success in battle! Because I will it to be so!”

“Yes,” Eudora said. “You’ve obviously got the situation well in hand.”

“The Vulcans will play the part of interplanetary lapdog no longer!” Sh’rak said, standing. “I will infuse them with a dose of good old fashioned Romulan guile. That’s the value of this joining! Vulcan intellect with Romulan cunning. You’ll see. It will work! I demand nothing less!” And he stalked off.

Eudora stared after him. “Where are you going?”

“To find some Tavokian truffles. You got me in the mood for dessert. Stay where you are, or you’ll be lirpa carvings.”

“This is going wonderfully, so far,” Prosak muttered.

“He’s cracking,” Eudora said. “He’s obviously insane. We just have to chip away a little more, and this whole enterprise will fall apart.”

“Or else we’ll be the ones that get chipped away, Mother.”

“The Enterprise is falling apart!” Gworos called out, as the Anomaly shook. “Taking heavy fire from a combined Vulcan force! Her sheaths are weakening!”

“Send in the Van Buren and the Ontario!” Bain called out, backing to the center of the bridge. “Give her cover, lad!”

“Our defenses are starting to crack,” Larkin said. “We need immediate support, and according to the report I just received, the Fifth Fleet is having trouble getting past the occupying Romulan force to join us!”

“A little longer,” Bain said, staring at the viewscreen, and the spiralling montage of disruptor cannon fire, and exploding neutron torpedoes. “Just a tad longer.”

“Until what, precisely?”

“I don’t know,” Bain said, and gripped his chair. “But I have a feeling, as good as any I’ve ever had.”

“I have a very bad feeling about this,” Tovar said, tugging his beige hat down low over his face as he and his fellow beige-clad refuse worker, Nortal, made their way down the hallway of offices that lead to Sh’rak’s chambers.

“It was your idea, oh great and noble Tovar,” Nortal mentioned.

“Shush,” Tovar said, and backed against a wall, hearing voices. “Someone’s coming.”

“RommaVulcs!” Sh’rak bellowed, rounding the nearby corner so quickly he nearly smashed into Tovar and Nortal.

“Destroy them all!” Nortal said quickly. “Bad, evil RommaVulcs!”

Sh’rak pushed past them, not sparing either a glance. “You two make yourself useful and clear away the table scraps in my dining room. And be quick about it!”

Tovar gave a little bow. “Immediately, sir.” He pointed to the corner Sh’rak had come around, and beckoned Nortal to follow. “This way…”

“What about your bad feeling?”

“I’m ignoring it for the moment,” Tovar said, and hurried down the hallway.

“This stomarr souflee is tangy,” Eudora said, sitting in Sh’rak’s chair, picking through his leftovers.

“You shouldn’t be in his chair when he gets back, mother,” Prosak said. “It will just aggravate him further.”

“He won’t hurt us. Not while he’s pining for you.”

“That’s SO not logical,” Prosak said. “He’s obviously getting more insane by the moment. How can we predict what he’ll do?”

“Because the mating instinct overrides all else,” Eudora said.

“And yet you left Father.”

Eudora glared at Prosak. “I left your father because our ideals were incompatible.”

“You and I shared ideals, but Father stayed with me through it all.”

“Because you are his daughter. That’s different.”

“I don’t see why it has to be,” Prosak said softly.

“Excuse me,” a voice said gruffly, as a pair of maintenance workers stepped up and began swiping the dishes, silverware, and napkins from the table into a rolling metal bin.

Eudora glanced at them, then at Prosak.

“Evening,” the worker said, swiping the table decorations off and into the bin.

“Evening,” Prosak said, and shifted in her seat. She hated those awkward moments when refuse workers would pass by. What was the protocol? What kind of smalltalk was she expected to have with them?

One of them leaned near Prosak. Was he expecting a tip? She had no currency. Of course, he did have a nicely shaped body. And his scent… His scent was musky, familiar…

“Tovar…” she whispered.

“Ready for your rescue?” he asked in a hushed voice.

“More than you know,” Prosak replied. “Tovar, this is my mother, Eudora.”

“These pleasantries must be saved until the end of this grand expedition!” the other maintenance worker said.

“Hi Nortal,” Prosak muttered.

“GREETINGS!” a voice boomed from behind them. Sh’rak stood at the doorway, holding a tray of assorted cakes and truffles, and smiled wide. “You don’t know how gratifying it is to have all my friends in the same room. Tovar, Eudora, Prosak…” He glanced at Nortal. “And…you….whoever you are.”

Prosak sighed. “Harv…Sh’rak. Vulcans do not smile. Nor are they gratified by anything. You are officially the worst RommaVulc ever.”

Sh’rak’s smile faded. “We’ll see about that. Now who’s for some cakes and truffles before painful suffering and death?”

“Me!” Nortal exclaimed.

Tovar covered his face.

“Coming up on one of the disabled Romulan ships,” Remax said, stooping over the sensor controls in the cockpit of the Raceabout Silverwood.

“Excellent,” Vioxx said, leaning against the pilot’s seat as Zantak weaved the Silverwood around beams of disruptor fire arcing this way and that, as massive Warhawks loomed overhead.

“Keep us moving, Zantak!” Selex called over his shoulder as the Silverwood shook again. He looked over shield status. “Shields taking a major pounding.”

“Reinforce them!” Vioxx called out.

“The hits are coming from two many directions at once!” Selex replied.

“We’re almost there!” Remax shouted.

“Stop shouting at me!” Vioxx snapped back.

The Silverwood rocked.

“Damage to protective armor in four places!” Selex called out.

“Keep us together!” Vioxx shouted.

“I wasn’t shouting!” Remax said after some moments of silence. “I was just reporting on our situation!”

“Well report more quietly! This is a civilized bridge!”

“It’s not a bridge, it’s a cockpit!” Selex chimed in.

“Will you just focus on keeping us together! Be professional!”

“WILL ALL OF YOU SHUT UP!” Zantak called out as she frantically steered the Silverwood.

Everyone stared at her for a few moments of silence, as disruptor blasts thundered outside.

“She has a point,” Vioxx said quietly.

“I have transporter coordinates!” Remax shouted.

Zantak sighed.

“Our lines in the neutral zone are crumbling. The Vulcans are breaking through!” Gworos announced.

“I’m going to lose my bet,” Larkin mumbled.

“Pardon?” Bain asked.


Bain thought about it a moment, staring at the tactical overlay on the screen that displayed the image of the swarming Romulans and Vulcans, sandwiching the Federation fleet on both sides.

“We just got word, sir. The Roosevelt, the Celestia, and the Tappanze are dead in space,” Ensign Lennum, the Vorta backup science officer, said from the science console. “Enterprise is still taking heavy damage. Captain Dax doesn’t know how much longer they’ll hold out.”

“Damn it all,” Bain said. “Bring us around. Instruct the Wilmington and the Flagstaff to flank us. We’re going in. Yonk, make course to intercept the Enterprise. Weapons and shields…what’s left…to maximum.”

Larkin leaned toward Bain. “We’re the lead ship, Captain. If the Anomaly is destroyed on a suicide run, it does no good to anyone.”

“If the Vulcans and Romulans cut through the middle of our fleet, the Anomaly won’t make a damn bit of difference, sir,” Bain said, and turned back to the viewscreen. “All ahead full on the polarons, my good Ferengi. Take us in.”

From out in the corridor, Kasyov stared up into the Jefferies tube. “Are you almost finished?”

“You could have gone back ten minutes ago,” Marsden called back down to Kasyov.

“Granted. But someone’s got to make sure you do…whatever you’re doing…right.”

“Thanks for the help.”

The all-call suddenly chimed: “All hands, this is the Captain. We are heading into the thick of the battle. Expect some heavy trade winds. Bain out.”

“Crisp, concise. You have to love that about Bain,” Kasyov said thoughtfully. “Bet you can’t say that about all captains.”

“Believe me, you can’t,” Marsden called back down the diagonal tube. “Just give me a minute, and I’ll close this thing up. Maybe we can stop for a coffee or something, since this is a light day.”

“Sounds nice,” Kasyov muttered, shaking her head.

“Just one…more…tweak…” Marsden continued, when the Anomaly suddenly shook hard, and the deck pitched out from under Dr. Kasyov.

Her arms pinwheeled and she fell down, just as the sound of grinding metal boomed from up in the Jefferies tube, smoke billowed out, and she was dragged up into the tube by the sudden suction of air.

Kasyov reached out and grabbed the ladder railing, feeling wind whip past her face, when suddenly she heard the familiar flickering sound of forcefields popping into place, and her feet touched back to the ground.

She stared up through the smoke. “Shelly? You in one piece up there?”

No response.


Sh’rak wiped his mouth primly as he looked up from the empty plate that once held his muffin. “My, that was good.”

“Enjoying food is not a trait shared by most Vulcans,” Prosak said. “As evidenced by the blandness of their soup.”

Eudora glared at Prosak. “I think we’ve made the point that Sh’rak is not that great at being a Vulcan.”

“I disagree!” Sh’rak snapped back, turning to Eudora. “On the basis that I’m the leader of the Vulcan race, and I can disagree with anything I want, whenever I want.”

“That’s logical,” Tovar said, shifting from foot to foot, as he glanced idly at the Vulcan soldiers who stood in front of the doorway, bearing deadly-looking lirpas. If he moved quickly enough, he could disarm one, then pummel the other before they could run for help. Problem was, if he was mistaken, they’d all end up dead.

Then again, that seemed to be Sh’rak’s goal anyway.

“When will we end this pathetic display, ‘Sh’rak’?” Prosak asked. “When will you stop taking your rejection and unfulfilled life out on the rest of the Universe? Can’t you see the kind of damage you’re doing?”

“Are you finished?” he asked, pursing his lips.

“Sort of.”

Sh’rak folded his hands in front of him. “This ‘pathetic display’ will end when I see fit.” He rolled his eyes thoughtfully. “Which is right now! Mister Stankrat, if you please..” he said, glancing over his shoulder.

After getting over his horror at the name “Stankrat,” Tovar stared while one of the soldiers set his lirpa down and walked over to Prosak, turning her in her chair to face Sh’rak.

“Stop right there!” Tovar said warningly, advancing.

The other soldier was on him in an instant, the lirpa up against his throat.

“What are you doing?” Prosak asked, blinking impassively.

“He wants to get inside your mind,” Eudora said, glaring at Sh’rak. “The horrid little man wants to meld with you before he kills you.”

“You’re next,” Sh’rak sneered up at Eudora, then placed his hands forcibly on Prosak’s temples.

“Been here, done this,” Prosak mumbled. “Anything you’ll find this time that you didn’t get last time?”

“Last time was business, dear Prosak,” Sh’rak said, and leaned forward. “This time is purely for pleasure…”

“This is really embarrassing,” Marsden’s crackling voice called over the staticky comm channel.

“Don’t be silly,” Kasyov called back. “You’re in a very compromising position. You may have injured two ribs. Just let Doctor Nooney examine you.”

“I’m stuck in the tube, butt-first,” Marsden responded.

“And a happy posterior it is, if I do say so myself!” Nooney’s voice chirped, from up the tube.

“Just try to breathe and stay calm. Doctor Nooney is a professional.”

“Hah!” Marsden replied. “In fact, double hahhhouuuuch!”

“Shelly?” Kasyov asked, looking up into the tube, just as Nooney slid down, shaking his head.

“She’s wedged pretty good,” he said. “You wouldn’t happen to have a gravity crane on you?”

“I don’t keep one handy,” Kasyov said. “Isn’t there any other way to get her out?”

“Transporters,” Nooney shrugged. “But they were destroyed in the last naughty salvo.”

“I wish you’d stop calling them naughty salvos,” Kasyov muttered. “So what do we do?”

“Pull her shoulders out of their sockets,” Nurse Ih’vik said, standing a few paces away with a medkit.

“Thanks for the tip,” Kasyov muttered, rubbing her face.

“Please tell me you have other ideas!” the panicked voice of Marsden called back.

“Yeah,” Kasyov said thoughtfully. “I can call a friend I haven’t talked to in a while…”

Bain stared at the viewscreen as the Anomaly weaved in between criss-crossing Romulan Warhawks, and Vulcan warships, each pounding the mighty Enterprise-J with neutron torpedoes and disruptors.

And was it just him, or was the phrase “Vulcan warships” simply silly?

“Mister Yonk,” Bain said, resting his hands on the back of the young Ferengi’s chair. “Execute Bain Nine-Nine-Charlie. Evasive, then full on the polarons, and fire all weapons.”

“We’re vulnerable on the port side,” Larkin said from behind Bain. “Perhaps we shouldn’t take such a direct vector.”

“The Romulans and Vulcans are concentrating on knocking out the Enterprise. They want the symbolic gesture more than anything, Larks. They want to show they brought the giant down.”

“She is our largest ship,” Larkin said. “Mister Lennum, open a channel to Captain Dax. I want to know how bad it is over there.”

“Fire!” Bain thundered, pointing back at Gworos. “Everything we’ve got, on the aft section of that Vulcan ship. Then rear neutron torpedoes, at the pursuing Romulan vessels. Full spread, multiple yields.”

“Admiral, Captain Dax reports that six nacelles have been destroyed along the underside of the Enterprise hull,” Lennum called out.

“Damn it!” Bain said, curling his fists. “That only leaves them with…what…fourteen nacelles?”

“We need covering fire,” Larkin said, glancing up at Lennum’s holographic readout. “The Enterprise’s hull armor is weakening.”

“Thirty degrees port, now!” Bain called out.

Yonk turned in his chair. “Is this one of those things where you anticipate something’s going to happen just before it happens?”

“No, blast it! It’s happening right now!” Bain replied, forcibly turning Yonk’s chair back toward the viewscreen.

“Oh. OH!” Yonk exclaimed, seeing the hull of the Romulan Warhawk looming in on the viewscreen, easily less than 200 meters off. He pulled the Anomaly into a hard roll, just missing the angling Romulan vessel.

“Who’s piloting that thing?” Bain asked, glancing back at Lennum.

“We’re receiving a message,” the Vorta said. “It’s from the Warhawk we just passed.”

“Perhaps they want to trade insurance information,” Larkin said.

“Come again?” Bain asked.

“Never mind.”

“On screen.”

The viewscreen was suddenly filled with a view of the Warhawk’s bridge. Vioxx and Remax stood there, Zantak standing nearby at the helm console, and Selex behind, apparently at tactical.

“Care to guess whose side we’re on?” Vioxx asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I don’t need to guess,” Bain said. “But didn’t you all go crazy the last time you took over a Warhawk?”

“I assure you that won’t happen again. If we both survive, then we can chat about it!” Vioxx said. “Incidentally, Remax studied the skeleton crew of Romulans on this ship, after we anesthetized the lot of them. Would you be surprised to learn that they’ve been the unfortunate victims of mind meld?”

“Good work, Commander,” Larkin said. “You’ve proven your point.”

“Comforting!” Bain said, then glanced at Vioxx. “Welcome to the fray, my good man. Pick a target and start firing.”

“Don’t mind if I do!” Vioxx replied, and quickly disappeared from the screen.

“You smell lovely tonight,” Sh’rak whispered, leaning his head Prosak’s shoulder, as the pair swayed under swirling effervescent lights, and the booming tribal music and straining lyres of “RommaVulcano,” the band hired for the Annual RommaVulc Cotilion and Social Occasion.

“Thank you, I suppose,” a glassy-eyed Prosak said, stiffly shuffling to the music as Sh’rak slipped his arms around her waist. “But shouldn’t I be the one leaning my head on your shoulder?”

“Nah, I like it this way,” Sh’rak said, nuzzling. There was nobody else in the concert hall, unlike the original event, but Sh’rak felt a crowd would be distracting.

“As you wish,” Prosak said distantly.

“I knew you’d come around,” Sh’rak sighed. “It was just a matter of time. And mind bending. Lots of mind bending.”

“You are my golden bull god.”

“That’s the stuff,” Sh’rak said, gently kissing Prosak’s cheek. “More of that.”

“I’m useless without you. Bring me to beautiful fruition my gleaming pointy-eared love-muffin.”

“Yessssssssssssssss!” Sh’rak giggled. “More. MORE!”

“You’re keeping it dark in here,” Kasyov said, glancing around Cabral’s science lab.

“We had to switch to emergency power,” the spherical metal brain replied softly. “Natalia, if you do not mind, I have many…” Cabral trailed off as the Anomaly shook vigorously. Kasyov nearly fell over. “Oops! I just lost hull integrity on the aft port quarter.”

“I know you have a lot going on right now, Cabral,” Kasyov said, stepping toward the thrumming, glowing brain, but not wanting to get too close. “But I need you for something very important. Lieutenant Marsden’s…”

“Yes. I know. She’s stuck in a collapsed Jefferies tube. Unfortunately, nothing can be done at the moment. Once the battle is over, some engineers can go in and…”

“She’s in pain! And who knows if she’ll make it through the battle!”

“Who knows if any of us will,” Cabral said. “But I understand your concern.”

“You’re being weird,” Kasyov said. “Distant.”

“I’m keeping the Anomaly from falling apart,” Cabral said, and the ship shook hard again, with another blast. “Well, except for that part. I hope we didn’t need that.”

“I miss you, Cabral. I miss our talks. Everything about the way we were. But that’s not why I’m here right now. Right now I need you to help Shelly.”

There was a pause. “How?”

“I’m not other people, Cabral. I know the extent that you’ve infiltrated the Anomaly’s systems. You control everything. We could abandon this ship and you’d be able to keep it running smoothly for decades.”

“Providing the antisingularity drive remains stable, you are correct.”

“Well, surely you know some way to get Shelly out of there. Isn’t there some kind of moving bulkhead you could trip or something?”

“No,” Cabral said thoughtfully. “But there are…no that’s too dangerous.”

“What?” Kasyov asked.

“There are explosive charges embedded throughout the hull, as a part of the self-destruct routine. If I activated the one nearest Lieutenant Marsden, that might be enough to free her from the wreckage.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“She might become part of the wreckage.”

“Will she or won’t she?”

If Cabral had shoulders, he would have shrugged. “There’s no way to know.”

“I trust you,” Kasyov said, pressing her hand on his sphere. “Do you think it will work?”

Cabral was silent for a long moment. “Yes. Yes it will.”

She rubbed his sphere gently, then turned on a heel. “Then do it. I’ll be in contact with you and let you know when we’re ready.”

“I am…ready when you are,” Cabral said as Kasyov left.

“The Federation fleet is weakening quickly,” Sharpay said, looking up from his monitors on the bridge of the Vulcan ship, P’raytel. “They are in danger of losing their flagship and about a dozen other ships in the Vulcan attack fleet’s next pass.”

“Vulcan attack fleet,” Surap said, his fingers steepled in front of him, standing beside Surat. “The very combination of words is blasphemy.”

“Stop overreacting,” Surat said, as he stared thoughtfully at the viewscreen. “Tell us about matters down on Vulcan.”

“The Logical Report reports that Commander Prosak and an unidentified Romulan woman, as well as operatives from Starfleet and the Romulan guard, have been captured by Sh’rak.”

“We should take action,” Surap said. “If we are logical, we’ll take action.”

“What do you suggest?” Surat asked. “Charging into Sh’rak’s palace, felling his soldiers left and right with nerve pinches?”

Surap and Surat stared at each other a few moments.

“Sirs?” Sharpay asked.

“We are on our way to the transporter room,” Surat said.

“We are men of logical action,” Surap said evenly. “It is time to save Vulcan.”

“We will bring other Vulcans with us,” Surat said impassively. “We will help free Vulcan, and make the galaxy safe for all who inhabit it.”

“Go Vulcans,” Surap said dispassionately as the turbolift doors closed.

“Here they come,” Yonk said. “The Vulcan and Romulan fleets have consolidated, and they’re making another pass at us.”

“The nerve,” Larkin muttered.

“Bring all our weapons to bear on them. Put us in position to protect the Enterprise,” Bain said. “All power to forward shields and weapons.”

“Reginald,” Larkin said, reaching out and gripping Bain’s shoulder. “This is not a wise strategy.”

“It’s not strategy,” Bain said. “There are 8,900 souls on Enterprise counting on us.”

“At least bring in our other ships for support.”

“They’re coming,” Bain said. “But I don’t know if it’ll be enough. I suggest you hold on to something.”

Bain and Larkin watched the viewscreen as the Vulcan and Romulan ships beared down. Federation ships, those still operable, swung in from either side.

“This is Vioxx,” the Romulan commander’s voice chirped over the comm. “Can I just interject a moment? This is ludicrous!”

“So noted,” Bain said. “Close channel. Mister Gworos: Prepare to empty the chamber.”

“Aye, sir.”

Beats ticked by as the fleet advanced. Closer, closer.

Bain clenched his fists. Closer, closer.

“Wait for it, Gworos…”


“N…” Bain began to say “now,” but was cut off as alarms rang all over the bridge. Simultaneously, orbs rippled throughout the space on the viewscreen. The starfield in front of the Anomaly was suddenly crowded with ships.

Gworos glanced down at his screens. “Sir, those ships…they’re….”

“Federation,” Bain said, and glanced at Larkin. “Though, at present, we’re supposed to be the only Federation ship with a cloaking device. Not to mention that those cloaking devices never showed up on our sensors.”

“Section Thirty-One,” Larkin said, as the ships darted around, firing all manner of weapons at the Vulcan and Romulan ships.

“Someone tell them I’m with you guys!” Vioxx’s voice boomed over the comm system.

“I thought they were a myth,” Yonk said.

“No,” Bain said. “They just haven’t taken overt action in decades.”

“They couldn’t have picked a better time,” Larkin said. “Whatever their motives, we need them.”

“Now!” Kasyov called into her communicator, and a rumbling shook the deck as Cabral fired the explosive embedded in the Anomaly’s hull. Nooney and Ih’vik looked on while more smoke poured into the corridor.

“Well?” Nooney coughed.

“It’s no use. She is dead,” Ih’vik said, and turned to walk away.

“Wa-wait…” a small voice called out, as Shelly Marsden slithered out of the smoking hole, and into Kasyov’s waiting arms.

“You made it!” Kasyov exclaimed. “Kasyov to Cabral. You did it! I’m taking you to dinner!”

“If you wish, Natalia. But after the battle, please!”

“Right. Kasyov out.” She glanced down at Marsden as Nooney ran his tricorder over her. “Are you all right?”

“A world of no,” Marsden sighed, and passed out.

“We can move her,” Nooney said, and glanced up at Ih’vik. “Get an antigrav. She needs to be cheered up, and pronto!”

“I think you mean ‘patched up,’ but whatever,” Kasyov said, grinning in spite of herself.

Alarms sounded. The men came, by the dozens, all bearing razor- sharp lirpas, as Surap, Surat, and a handful of other Vulcans, resplendent in their taupe robes, moved along the grand corridor of Sh’rak’s palace.

They barely moved. Somewhat glided. And effortlessly reached out to each and every oncoming Vulcan shoulder, pinching them at the collarbone and felling them swiftly.

“We should have thought of this sooner,” Surap commented blankly, as he dropped two more Vulcan guards.

“Regret is an emotion unworthy of us,” Surat said. “All is as it should be.”

“I feel vigorous,” Surap monotoned.

“They’re not responding to comms,” Gworos reported, as Bain and Larkin looked on at the scene on the viewscreen. Section Thirty-One was cutting the Vulcans and Romulans to ribbons.

“At least they appear to be disabling the enemy ships, and not destroying them,” Larkin said. “That’s a good sign.”

“Perhaps,” Bain said, pacing the bridge. “When can we get back in the fight?”

“The damage control crew is still working on the forward weapons array,” Lennum reported. “And, apparently, Lieutenant Marsden was trapped in a crushed Jefferies tube. She somehow escaped, and is now being treated in Sickbay.”

“Bloody Vulcans,” Bain growled. “Someone give me something to shoot!”

“Sir!” Gworos called. “We just got a report from a news source on Vulcan. Prosak, Tovar, and Nortal have been captured by Sh’rak.”

“Dammit!” Bain exclaimed. He rubbed his chin. “We need to go there.”

“I understand your concern for your people,” Larkin said. “But we have an obligation to the fleet…”

“Captain Dax to Anomaly,” a voice boomed over the comm. “I was just patching in to your internal audio, and I understand you would like to hand over command of the fleet to someone else. That right, Bain?”

Bain gritted his teeth. “I suppose.”

“I’ll be happy to take over for you!”

Bain gritted some more. “Internal…audio…?”

“Captain Dax,” Larkin said. “Your ship is barely operational.”

“And Section Thirty-One has matters well in hand. I’ll just…supervise.”

Larkin sighed. “Very well. Captain Bain, you may…”

“And engage at Warp R!” Bain told Yonk, and the Anomaly shot forward into warp.

“Thanks for asking,” she said, glaring at Bain.

“Just be thankful anti-sing is still working. It doesn’t work sometimes even when the ship hasn’t just been pummeled.”

“That’s heartening,” Larkin said.

“What’s happening?” Tovar demanded, trying to wrench out of the grip of the Vulcan soldier who held him back. He stared at Sh’rak and Prosak. “I just heard her mumble something about a V-cut neckline and a lace corsage!”

“Who knows,” Eudora said, looking on worriedly. “Sh’rak’s a sick, sick man.”

“And he’s in your daughter’s mind. And you’re fine with that?” Tovar demanded.

“I’m not fine with that at all. However, there are about a dozen lirpas pointed at us right now, so I can’t see there’s much that we can do.”

“We have to at least try,” Tovar said in a low voice.

“Do or do not. There is no try!” Nortal bellowed.

“What are you quoting now?” Eudora asked.

“An epic.”

“Do you hear something?” Tovar asked, cocking his head. Two of the Vulcan guards headed for the door.

“Like what?” Eudora asked.

“Screams. Alarms. Pinching. Don’t you people have good hearing?”

“I have ear mites,” Eudora snapped.


Suddenly the doors to the patio slid open, and a pair of arms reached out and neck-pinched the nearest Vulcan guards, dropping them to the ground.

The other Vulcans moved toward the doors, as several Vulcans, a few of whom Tovar remembered from his short time aboard the P’raytel, filed in, calmly nerve-pinching each guard who approached.

The Vulcan holding Tovar didn’t move though, to his credit. But the new arrivals provided all the distraction that Tovar needed.

He threw his arms out, breaking the Vulcan’s grip, then grabbed the end of his lirpa and flipped him over his shoulder, slamming him to the ground. He twisted the lirpa out from under him, then slammed the dull end into the side of his captor’s head, knocking him out cold.

“Go help the Vulcans. The good ones, not the bad ones!” Tovar said, pointing to Nortal, who quickly dashed off. He then looked to Eudora. “We need to break that bond now!” Tovar snapped, advancing on Prosak and Sh’rak.

“Sh’rak’s mind is strong. I wouldn’t advise it.”

“Let me worry about that,” Tovar said. “I’ve melded with her before. I just need to get in there again. Put your hand on my forehead.”

“It’s not that easy. You have no idea of the complexities of Vulcan…”

“What do you need me to do?”

Eudora shifted from foot to foot. “Put your hand on her forehead while I put my hand on your forehead.”

“Yeah. That’s what I thought. Now do it!”

Sh’rak giggled as he lead Prosak into his darkened bedroom. “Now don’t laugh at me because this place is in my parents’ basement. I was going through a…rough patch. But it has a separate entrance, so it’s a lot like an apartment!”

“I am yours. Do with me as you will,” Prosak said distantly.

“Go lay on the bed. Look sexy, or something,” Sh’rak said, then turned, pacing thoughtfully. “You know, I should have skipped taking over Vulcan and invading Romulus and the Federation, and gone straight to this. Hmm….the invasion. I wonder how all that’s going?” He shrugged, then turned and climbed onto the bed, on top of Prosak. “Not that it matters. You’re all I need now, Prosak!”

“Oof. Yes. You are all I need, Prosak, too,” she said dully.

“We’ll have to work on your IQ,” Sh’rak muttered, clicking his tongue.

He leaned down to kiss Prosak, when suddenly two hands gripped his shoulders, and ripped him off her. He flopped back onto the floor, and looked at the two figures looming over him.

“Tovar…Eudora. What a…pleasant surprise. What are you two doing here?”

“The question is, what on Romulus are YOU doing here?” Eudora demanded, leaning down and grabbing Sh’rak up by the collar.

“A little of this, a little of that,” Sh’rak squeaked.

“We’re here to put an end to this,” Tovar growled, crouching to face Sh’rak. “Now.”

“You and what army?” Sh’rak asked defiantly.

“This one,” a voice said from behind Tovar. “Mind if I construct a torture device out of these fruit rinds, a lamp, and a pair of socks?”

“Go ahead, Totap,” Tovar grinned.

“This place is a mess. It needs to be cleaned, hallelujah, it needs to be cleaned, hey-hey!”

“Have at it, Tarva. Just do me a favor and kick Sh’rak in the skull a few times while you clean.”

“Will do!”

“Who wants scalding hot chili?” another voice asked.

“Sh’rak wants some, Toflay,” Tovar said. “Bring it on down!”

“Who are all these people in my head?” Sh’rak asked, panicked, as shadows loomed up around him from every side.

“They’re people from my head. But I guess you’ve never mind- melded with a Yynsian before,” Tovar chuckled. “That’s okay. There’s a first time for everything!”

Half an hour later, Sh’rak awoke, a sobbing, broken, heap.

Tovar and Prosak, meanwhile, awoke oddly refreshed. And feeling full of chili.

Captain’s Log,

Stardate 177780.4. Funny enough, the Anomaly came to Vulcan to save Tovar and Prosak, but it seems that’s already been taken care of.

To that end, we’ve stuck around to assist Surap and Surat with undoing the assorted damage Mister Sh’rak has caused this planet. The two logicians, along with some of Vulcan’s finest mind melders, have come together to reverse Sh’rak’s mind melds. Once they’re done here, I’m told they’ll take their show on the road. Sh’rak, for his part, is being treated in a Vulcan mental facility for acute insanity. I suppose one might say he’s been…pinched…by the authorities.

And so we go about the routine task of putting the quadrant back together again. Here on the Anomaly, all is well. While we’re a bit worse for wear, we’re in one piece. And that, as much as anything else, is worth celebrating.

We’re scheduled to remain at Vulcan a few weeks for debriefing, then head to Romulus for some additional meetings. Did I mention that I despise meetings? Regardless, I’m glad to have the Anomaly family back together again. Something just isn’t right when I don’t have my people on my ship.

“I couldn’t help but overhear, Captain,” Vioxx said, standing in the door to Bain’s lounge. “You mentioned something about your family being back together on the ship…”

“I was referring, of course, to my Starfleet crew,” Bain said.

“Good,” Vioxx said stiffly. “I would mourn the loss of our adversarial relationship.”

“You have nothing to fear. Safe to say, we’ll be sparring for some time to come.”

“I’m gratified to hear that,” Vioxx said, and awkwardly stuck his hand out. “Still, you were a worthy leader, in this instance.”

“You too,” Bain said, taking Vioxx’s hand and shaking it. “In this instance. Now then, if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a house call…”

Tovar raced into Sickbay, nearly knocking over a surprised Nurse Ih’vik.

“Visiting hours are over.”

“Move aside or I’ll gut you,” Tovar said hotly.

“Now you’re talking,” Ih’vik said, licking her lips, and standing aside.

“What took you so long?” Marsden asked sleepily as Tovar approached her bed.

He took her hand. “I was being debriefed on Vulcan. I…got away as soon as I heard.”

“Kasyov has a big mouth.”

“Actually, Captain Bain told me,” Tovar said, and brushed his hand on her cheek. “You are injured.”

“Not badly. Just…resting and mending.”

“I should have been here.”

“You had a more important job,” Marsden said. She looked at Tovar long and hard. “And so did I.” She squeezed his hand. “But I’m glad you’re here now. Unfortunately, they just gave me something to make me sleep “

“I understand.” Tovar leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips, then pulled back and smiled at her. “When will you be released?”

“A few hours, or so.”

“I’ll have dinner waiting,” Tovar said.

“About that gutting?” Ih’vik asked, hovering behind Tovar.

“Right,” Tovar said, backing away, and nearly backing into Reginald Bain.

“Son!” Bain said enthusiastically, slapping Tovar on the back. “You’re back!”

“Yes, father. I was just visiting with Shelly…”

“Good soldier,” Bain said, patting Marsden’s leg. “Does she know we have to amputate?”

Marsden’s eyes went wide. “You have to…WHAT?”

“Just a little battlefield medical humor,” Bain said.

“Please, no more battlefield medical humor,” Tovar said, and tugged at Bain’s arm. “Shelly needs to rest.”

“So she does,” Bain said. “Good show today, Marsden.”

“Good show to all of us,” Marsden said, and drifted off to sleep.

Bain nodded in Marsden’s direction, then headed out of Sickbay, Tovar behind him. He nearly bumped into Commander Prosak.

“Sir!” she exclaimed. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Do I detect a hint of emotion, Prosak?” Bain asked, gently nudging the RommaVulc.

“This has been a trying time, sir. A little emotion is warranted.”

“Glad we agree on that,” Bain said warmly, taking Prosak’s hand and shaking it. “I’m gratified to have you back on the ship. How are you feeling?”

“I am fine,” Prosak said. “I met with a number of counselors on Vulcan. And while I’m not positive they weren’t among those brainwashed by Sh’rak, they were somewhat helpful.”

“That’s good,” Bain said.

“But they did find it odd that the Anomaly doesn’t have a ship’s counselor.”

“Really,” Bain said flatly. “I wonder why…”

“I doubt they’ll have much time to contemplate that, though. I imagine they’ll have their hands full treating Mister Sh’rak, for some time to come.”

“Of that, I have no doubt,” Bain said. “Tovar? To the bridge?”

“I’m…making dinner…” Tovar said, pointing toward the turbolift at the end of the corridor.

“Very well, then. Off you go, old boy.”

“Bridge to Captain Bain,” Lt. Bre’zan Brazzell said over the comm.

“Bain here.”

“Sir, we have an ultraspace communication coming in for you from Earth. It’s your wife, sir.”

“Good show. She’ll want to make sure I’m in one piece. She’ll have heard the news by now, I imagine.”

“It’s a fair bet,” Tovar said. “Tell Mum I said hello.”

“Will do,” Bain said, and headed off down the corridor.

Prosak accompanied Tovar toward the turbolift.

“Are you really okay?” Tovar asked her.

“Indeed,” Prosak said. “In fact, I’ve developed a new appreciation for Vulcan ideology.”

“Funny, I’d have thought just the opposite.” Tovar pushed the call button.

“Sh’rak’s emotion was his undoing. He was a brilliant man who had a deep and abiding desire to unite Vulcan and Romulus. He had vision. And his emotions ultimately caused him to fumble it all away.”

“Still, I’ll keep my emotions if it’s all the same to you.”

“Your choice,” Prosak said. “Have a nice evening with Lieutenant Marsden.”

“I will,” Tovar said, and nodded at Prosak as he headed into the turbolift. “How about you? What are your plans?”

“I have a date, of sorts.”

“A date, eh?” Tovar said, smiling as the lift doors closed. “Good luck with that!”

“I have no need of luck,” Prosak said, and turned the other way down the corridor.

She walked up to one of the doors, Guest Suite 13A, and pressed the call button. Moments later, Ambassador Rorshak appeared in the doorway.

“Boogles!” he exclaimed, throwing his arms around Prosak.

Prosak squirmed a bit, attempted to hug him back, then stepped back. “Father. Are you ready for our date?”

“I have reservations,” the Ambassador said. “Have you cleared the deck? Will anyone see us together?”

“You worry too much. A Starfleet crew doesn’t care who you associate with.”

“Still, you never know who’s watching.”

“Don’t be so illogical,” Prosak said, and took Rorshak’s hand, leading him down the corridor about fifteen meters to another set of doors. She pushed the call button.

“Come,” came the voice from inside.

They stepped in, to see Eudora sitting at a dinner table, complete with flickering candles, and steaming bowls of soup.

“Right on time,” Eudora said. “Pull up a seat.”

“I cannot stay long,” Rorshak said, and sat at the other end of the table, as Prosak took her seat in the middle. “It’s agreeable to see you again, Eudora.”


Prosak looked from one parent to the other. “Thanks for doing this.”

They sat silence for a while and slurped their soup.

“Have you anything else to say, Prosak?” Rorshak asked.

“I choose to savor this brief moment of family completion, Father.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Did you tell him about the position you were offered?” Eudora asked.

“I have not.”

Rorshak’s eyes widened. “Position?”

Prosak nodded. “I was offered an Emissary position with the Vulcan government. Surap and Surat have announced that they will begin studying ways in which they can eventually unify our two worlds. Without, you know, explosions. They felt that my RommaVulc background and Starfleet diplomacy training would serve me well in that position.”

“Boogles, that’s excellent!” Rorshak said, tossing down his napkin. “This is a huge move in the right direction.”

“I’m not taking it,” Prosak said quickly.

Rorshak looked blank. “Why not?”

“Because I feel I’m needed on the Anomaly. Because I’m happy here, even if some days are better than others. And because there’s someone else at this table who’s better suited for it.”

“That’s nice, Boogles, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to…”

“I was speaking of mother,” Prosak said, and Eudora grinned.

“Isn’t that nice of her to think of her Mom?” Eudora asked. She reached across and patted Rorshak on the hand. “Know what this means? I’ll be seeing you at diplomatic meetings!”

“Fantastic,” Rorshak said.

“I thought you’d approve,” Prosak said. “Now eat up. Your soup’s getting cold.”

“…so it seems that, because he was directing the fleet at the very end of the skirmish, Captain Dax has been credited with a major role in the battle with the Vulcans,” Bain harrumphed, leaning back in his wingbacked chair, as a hologram of Rosalyn’s head nodded sagely from the projector on his desk.

“Dax always was something of a publicity hound,” Rosalyn observed.

“Hmmph,” Bain said. “They’re calling him the bloody Vanquisher of Vulcan.”

“It has a nice ring.”

“Rubbish. Anyway, it’s not important. I’ve never gone to battle seeking credit. Just…why did it have to be Dax?”

“All things happen in their time, dear,” Rosalyn said.

“And you? How have you been on Earth?”

“I’ve…been busy,” Rosalyn said slowly. “Say, Reginald, I understand some other ships showed up at the end of the battle. That they helped protect the Federation Fleet…”

“Yes, that’s right,” Bain said. “Turns out they were Section Thirty- One. Disappeared as fast as they appeared, too. Buggers.”

“Well, be that as it may,” Rosalyn said, and took a deep breath. “Reginald…there’s something I have to tell you. I’ve been waiting a long time to find the right way to say it, and truth is I’m just not able to hold on to it any longer. Reg, I’m…”

“Blighters!” Bain suddenly spat out, and stood up, pacing around his desk. Rosalyn’s eyes followed him. “Skulking about the cosmos, hiding in the shadows. That’s no way for a soldier to be, Ros!\ Who do they think they are?”

“I’m sure they have their reasons. Ultimately, they helped…”

“True, but we don’t know their motives. Any group who trades in secrets and lies, who hides the truth–they’re no friends of mine. If you want to help Starfleet, stand up and be counted. Don’t…don’t skulk about like a common thief.” He sighed, then turned back to Rosalyn. “Sorry about that, Ros. Just needed to get that off my chest. You had something you wanted to tell me?”

Rosalyn blinked, then gave Bain a warm smile. “Your petunias are blooming better than ever this year, Reg. You really should see them…”

The doors to the dimly lit science lab swung open, and Kasyov stepped in tentatively. “Cabral?”


“You sound distracted.”

“Just overseeing Anomaly’s auto-repair functions.”

“Great,” she said.

“Can I help you with anything?”

“I thought we could talk.”

“I believe I can make room in my cognitive routines for you.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m positive, Natalia. I’ve…missed you.”

Kasyov stepped forward and patted Cabral’s sphere. “So no more silent treatment?”

“I hope not. Your friendship means a great deal to me. And I realize that it’s ludicrous for you to try and have a relationship with a disembodied brain. It’s…rife with complications.”

“Yes,” Kasyov said. “Complications.”

The lab was silent for a long moment. “So…friends?” Cabral finally asked.

“Good friends.” Kasyov said, then leaned in and kissed Cabral softly on his sphere.

“This is nice,” Marsden said, sitting opposite Tovar at the table in his quarters, as Vulcan spun lazily by outside the viewport.

“Toflay suggested the foie gras. But the spinach casserole was my idea.”

“Don’t you know any Yynsian recipes?”

“Yynsian food is boring.”

“I want to try some,” Marsden said. She reached out and took Tovar’s hands. “It wouldn’t hurt to know a little bit more about where you come from.”

“Not much to tell.”

“You know, I realized you never talk much about your parents…”

Tovar glanced over his shoulder. “It’s a lovely night out there tonight, isn’t it?”

“Space is out there, Tovar,” Marsden muttered.

“Still,” Tovar said, standing and gently lifting Marsden out of her chair. “The stars in this sectors are beautiful, don’t you think?”


He turned toward her, pulling her into his arms. “It’s good to be back.”

“You’re not kidding,” Marsden said softly, looking up at him.

Tovar cupped her chin, lifted it up. “I know we said we’d take this through its natural paces. That we wouldn’t rush anything…”

“Kiss me now,” Marsden ordered.

“Right. Because spontaneity also has its place in a relationship. I’ve often found…mmmph!”

Marsden took Tovar’s face in her hands and pulled him into a deep, long kiss. Together, entangled, they stumbled back toward the bedroom.

The spinach casserole would probably taste just as good in the morning.


Tags: boldly