Sala growled at the noisy group of Vulcan ministers. The High Command chambers was abuzz with rumors and innuendo this morning, after the destruction of not only the MoI mainframe but the entire top level of the MoI building. As well, there was the disappearance of Salek. Despite all of that, there were still more pressing matters on the table.
“Please everyone, be silent,” Sala again tried to restore order. The new defense minister, an older woman named T'Shalan patiently waited for Sala to acknowledge her. T'Shalan, one of the commanders in the unit that struck the LDF base, knew exactly where Salek was, and as such, was uninterested in the babbling that was going on around the room.
“Salek left me a message saying that the MoI may have been breached by Section 31, and that is why he needed to execute a mainframe meltdown,” Sala tried to explain. His partial explanation was enough to quiet down most of the ministers. T'Shalan took this as her opportunity to interject.
“High Commander, we have much more pressing matters right now,” she stated, standing and walking to the room’s view screen.
“More pressing matters than a security breach and a missing minister?” one of the others asked.
“Salek isn't missing,” T'Shalan groaned. “He knows where he is and when he feels it's necessary to tell us, he will.”
The minister who asked about the breach felt slighted but didn't respond. T'Shalan smirked and brought up the tactical overview of Wolf 3-5-9 on the view screen.
“This is Wolf 3-5-9. It lies between Vulcan and Earth. Intelligence reports that Starfleet is using it as a staging ground for a full-out assault on our planet.”
The room gasped. “How accurate is your intelligence?” Sala asked.
T'Shalan passed out PADD's to everyone. “This is a copy of the Use of Force Authorization signed by the Federation President. It's known as Operation Reclamation. Their goal is to bring Vulcan back under Federation control, first by assuring our orbital assets including starships are decimated, and then by landing upwards of two million ground forces to pacify the planet.”
The room began to look over the document.
“The causality count will be in the hundreds of thousands on the planet alone,” one minister remarked.
“That's a rather low estimate,” T'Shalan corrected. “We're projecting upwards of five to ten million Vulcan deaths.”
Sala shook his head. “Do we have the forces for a preemptive strike on their ships?”
T'Shalan shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. However, what we can do is force them to split their forces back up again by attacking Federation facilities, especially ones that pose a threat to Vulcan colonies and installations.”
T'Shalan pulled up a new chart, showing three starbases in three different locations in the quadrant. “Starbase 5-5-1, Starbase 3-1-7, and Atlantis Shipyards are all viable targets and close to our now sovereign colonies.”
T'Shalan turned to the group. “They are also now currently undefended. If we engage them, they will be forced to send ships, potentially reducing the assault fleets capabilities by 50 percent.”
Sala thought about this for a moment, then nodded. “Do it.”
T'Shalan nodded and she and her assistants quickly left the room. One of the other ministers turned to Sala. “I certainly hope we're not getting in over our heads here.”
Sala sighed. “We cannot just sit here and wait to get slaughtered by Starfleet.”
The second minister nodded as the conversation quietly turned into mundane domestic issues.
FIVE HOURS LATER
The commander of the Atlantis Shipyards was starting to get a cramp in his hand from thumbprinting invoice after invoice. He hated this time of the month, but at the same time, you cannot build a starship without parts.
“Hey Billy!” he yelled out of his office door.
A scrawny Ferengi, whose real name was obviously not Billy walked in. “Yeah, boss?”
The commander, Cooper Parks, motioned to the stack of PADDs he had just completed signing. “Let the business office know that all the materials have been signed-in and they can start work on those two Intrepid class birds.”
“Yes sir!” the Ferengi replied, before scurrying off.
Cooper smiled and leaned back in his chair, taking a drink of what was surely an alcoholic beverage. He really did think that asides from having to stamp his finger on a PADD 100 times every month, he had the easiest job in the universe.
<RED ALERT KLAXXONS>
“What the fuck?” Cooper angrily asked, as he stood and ran out into operations. He looked out the window into the massive dry dock, expecting to see the station's half-constructed Sovereign class ship having dislodged and floating away, however she was still firmly secure in her moorings.
Cooper turned to one of the few actual Starfleet officers working in the shipyard. “What's causing the alarm?”
The officer began checking systems. “We have multiple ships inbound?”
The officer gritted his teeth and looked up at the gruff civilian overseer. “The alarm doesn't sound if they are friendly, sir.”
Cooper could not disagree with that logic. “Activate the defenses and send out a general distress call.”
“Aye. However, the nearest Starfleet ship is three days from here.”
Cooper blinked. “What?”
“Nearly every Starfleet ship has gone back almost to Earth.”
Cooper sighed. “Well, here's hoping there are some Klingons cloaked nearby.”
There were not though, and the shipyard's sentry guns and shielding were no match for the six Vulcan cruisers that spent no more than ten minutes ripping the dry dock to shreds.
The two other targets met similar fates as well, both being torn apart, their minimal defensive systems being no match for the powerful Vulcan cruisers. As for help, none came.
The Salvation continued to cruise at warp 6.5, the maximum speed it could maintain and still hold a solid cloak, towards the MoI facility Saanik had pointed out.
Ranma was already displeased.
They had spotted what they believed was Salek's transport on long-range scan, however, it was moving at 9.7. To catch it, they would have to decloak. That would have brought them the other issue that Ranma was fuming about.
Orbiting the MoI facility was an armada of Vulcan ships; 25 to be exact. The Salvation would be obliterated. Surrounding it is also a massive tachyon net, complete with mines, so a cloaked approach and insertion will be out of the question.
Ranma concluded that they are not even trying to pretend it is a mining facility anymore.
Regardless, Larson told Ranma not to worry about it, and to park the Salvation a few hours drive from the facility. Ranma, albeit annoyed from not getting a more thorough explanation, followed the Admiral's instructions and assumed that he had Romulans on the way to help. The Salvation continued, undeterred.
Until then, Ranma spent some time in his office, thinking about the past year. More specifically, thinking about one man.
Ranma stared intently at the picture of Salek he had on his monitor. Ever since he first met him, which was almost a year ago to the day, he knew that he would end up being trouble for him. However, Ranma could not understand how much trouble this one Vulcan could cause. How many lives he could destroy – or extinguish.
Ranma felt a certain irony. In the beginning, it was Salek's hands, among others, that Ranma's life and career rested in. Now Salek's fate would be determined by Ranma.
Although, as anyone could tell by the stone solid look of contempt that flowed from Ranma's face to the image of Salek that adorned the liquid plasma screen, Ranma had already decided Salek's destiny. It was just the matter now of getting a hold of the son-of-a-bitch as most of the Salvation's crew had come to call him.
<Nifty Star Trek Romulan Doorbell Sound>
Ranma snarled at the sound of the Romulan door buzzer. While he was grateful to have a ship at all, he really wished they could download some sound files or do something to make this ship sound or feel more like a Federation ship.
The door slid open, and Larson walked in, a large grin on his face. The grin slipped when he saw the young captain gnash his teeth.
"Even the hydraulics sound different," Ranma hissed in annoyance.
Larson stopped in his tracks and turned towards the door. He intently listened as the doors slid shut and sealed. He slowly turned to Ranma, doing his best to not laugh.
"I suppose they do," he said, humoring his protege. Larson ambled over to the chair across from Ranma and had a seat, leaning back and eying the pig-tailed man for a moment.
Ranma blinked. "Is something wrong?"
Larson shook his head. "No, I am just..." Larson paused for a moment, looking for the right word. "Amazed."
Ranma continued to look at his boss with a confused expression on his face.
"You've been through a lot, Captain," Larson stated, drawing an obvious snort from Ranma. "Yet it doesn't seem to have aged you a day."
Ranma laughed. "Well, my boyish good looks are my greatest asset." Ranma leaned back and tented his fingers, a smug grin creeping across his face. A trait that Larson believed he had to have picked up as a condition from captaining a Romulan starship. "I certainly cannot allow them to just wither away."
Larson smiled and nodded. "No, I suppose not."
With a chuckle, Larson stood and walked to the tactical screen that was attached to the port wall of the Talon class starship's ready room. He grimaced at the massive blob of Vulcan ships forming around Vulcan.
Ranma's eyes slowly moved towards Larson, watching him as he moved his hand down to the icon representation of the Starfleet reclamation force that assembling. Larson's hand slowly traced a line from Wolf 359, where the bulk of the Federation fleet was, to Vulcan. Ranma's eyes followed the elder Starfleet man's hand as it came to a stop, then slowly fell off the screen.
"Ranma," Larson said quietly, without turning towards him.
"Regardless of who wins that fight, the game is over."
Ranma nodded, despite Larson not being able to see him. "I know, sir."
Larson switched the screen to the MoI facility and finally turned towards Ranma and nodded. "About five D'Kyr battle cruisers and twenty Suurok class cruisers are guarding the planet that Salek is on."
Ranma bit his lip before sarcastically scoffing. "What? No battleships?"
Larson smirked. "I'm more interested in what Salek said that managed to convince the High Command he was important enough to drag twenty-five ships away from the defense of Vulcan."
Ranma pondered this. "Maybe there's something else on that planet as well. It wouldn't be the first time the Vulcans had hidden something from the Federation."
Larson knew that Ranma could be right. If there was something there, he would love to be the one to find it. However, he would have to come up with some reason not to share it with their current Romulan allies. But first things first.
"Well, at any rate, twenty-five ships are a few too many for this one ship to take on."
Ranma, who was leaning back in his seat slightly, almost fell out. "Wait, what? One ship? What about the Romulans?"
Larson knew he had not fully explained the situation to Ranma. Time was a commodity they did not have a lot of right now, so just the little things had been talked about. However now he had a Captain who thought for certain that he was heading into a certain slaughter.
"As much as the Romulans would love to kill Vulcans," Larson explained, "the Romulan government is only willing to provide the Federation with material and covert support."
"Why?" Ranma asked the obvious question.
"They do not feel a war with Vulcan is something they can deal with right now."
Ranma was so furious he did not know what to do with himself. "But Vulcan is part of the..." He trailed off and stared directly at the wall straight in front of him. Ranma blinked a couple of times and then looked at the Romulan print on the bottom of his monitor.
"They think the Federation will fail to reclaim Vulcan," Ranma stated.
Larson sighed. This was not helpful.
"It doesn't matter what they think," Larson motioned at Ranma as the Salvation dropped out of warp. "I have something better. Come on."
Ranma shook his head and stood, following Larson to the door and out onto the bridge of the Salvation. Larson began to walk to the turbolift with Ranma in tow. Shampoo stood and turned to them.
Larson smiled and paused just short of the turbolift. He turned to Shampoo.
"Commander, you have the ship. The Captain and I are disembarking for a bit."
"Disembarking?" Shampoo asked.
Ranma shrugged as he followed Larson into the turbolift.
The doors to the Salvation's transporter room slid open for Ranma and Larson. The pair walked together, however, Larson moved to the control panel to speak with the transporter chief. Larson motioned for Ranma to go ahead and step up onto the dimly lit pad as the Admiral tapped his communicator.
"Larson to Infinity."
"Go ahead," a voice replied that Ranma instantly recognized as his father's.
"Request permission to come aboard."
"Granted," Genma replied. The Salvation's transporter chief looked to Larson as his terminal began to chirp.
“I am receiving transporter coordinates,” he informed the Admiral.
Larson nodded. “Very well. Beam the Captain and me over there.”
The chief simply nodded as Larson walked up onto the pad. As the transporter began to activate, Ranma turned to Larson.
Within moments, Ranma had his answer. The transporter room in which he appeared was very obviously not a Romulan ship, but a Federation one. However, that seemed quite impossible to Ranma. There were no ships within parsecs of their positions. Unless of course...
“This ship is cloaked,” Ranma stated.
This was obvious to everyone but Ranma. Larson put his arm around the younger man and led him out of the transporter room and into a brightly lit hallway. A much different scene than what he was used to from not only the borrowed Romulan ship but from the Sisko as well.
“Indeed. You're onboard the U.S.S. Infinity,” Larson finally explained.
“My father is here as well?”
Larson nodded. “Yes. He's on the bridge, which is where we're going.”
Ranma managed a nod and continued to walk about a half step behind Larson. As the pair walked, Ranma could not help but notice how the crew members that walked by, some enlisted, some officers, all made a point of looking in his direction. It was not just a 'hey, someone new' look. It was more like they were looking at someone they knew. A pair of people even slowed down to look in Ranma's direction.
“Why are they all staring at me?” Ranma uncomfortably whispered to Larson.
Larson chuckled. “I am sure they have heard of you, my boy.”
“So, are they happy to see me, or plotting my assassination?” Ranma asked, becoming more and more uncomfortable at the ever-growing number of rubberneckers.
Larson laughed as they, after what seemed like forever, reached the turbolift.
“Not sure,” Larson shrugged as the pair got into the turbolift and ordered it to the bridge. “Genma tells me their captain is a close friend of yours.”
Ranma cocked his head. “Close friend?”
The turbolift doors slid open. Ranma turned back towards the opening in the lift and that is when he saw her. Captain's pips and all. His mouth dropped open and all he could say was “Oh no.”
“Ukyo?” Ranma asked, completely dumbfounded.
Ukyo tackled Ranma knocking both her and Ranma to the thinly carpeted floor of the turbolift. Larson, after executing a brilliant Ukyo/Ranma dodging maneuver, watched the two hit the deck then turned back to the bridge to see a smiling Genma standing there.
“This ship is so damn big, Scott,” Genma complained. “We couldn't get to the transporter room before you guys did.”
“You should have just beamed there,” Larson smiled, grasping Genma's hand and shaking it firmly as Ranma squirmed to get out from underneath Ukyo.
“So, you actually married her?” Ukyo asked, for what seemed like the tenth time while glaring at the ring on Ranma's left ring finger.
Ranma sighed deeply for what seemed like the tenth time as well. “Yes.”
The pair walked to another station on the Infinity's bridge. Ranma was in awe of this ship. Her bridge seemed to be as big as the Sisko itself. She had two tactical stations. Her operations station could seat four. Her helm required two operators. Engineering had its own room and there was an open 'situation' station that could be configured for almost anything. There was a smaller science station as well as a communications station. The COMM had seats for the Captain, XO, and second officer.
All in all, fully staffed, the bridge could have thirty people on it working.
Ranma, eager to get Ukyo off the subject of his marriage to Akane, quickly walked to the master situation display. Having not seen the exterior of the ship, the outline of the ship on the large screen was the closest he was going to get to knowing what she looked like.
“This is a fine ship you have her, Ucchan,” Ranma acknowledged honestly.
Ukyo beamed. Regardless of her dislike for her now ex-fiancée’s choice in wives, she had to acknowledge he had good taste in ships. “Yes. I don't know how I lucked out in getting her. Right place at the right time, I suppose.”
Ranma smirked at the irony. He had gotten his command, the best command of his life, out of the spite of his father and a bitter old, panty sniffing Admiral.
Ranma studied the Infinity. From the outline, she resembled a Norway class starship, except that she was much, much bigger. Whereas a Norway is only ten decks, this beast was 37 with a length and girth to match. The Norway also had a gap between the nacelles. The Infinity did not. For good reason too.
“What's all that?” Ranma asked, pointing to the area between the nacelles that extended two-thirds of the ship long and about twenty decks deep.
Ukyo smiled. “That's the hanger decks.”
Ranma turned to her. “Hangar decks?”
Ukyo nodded. “We're a carrier, sweetie.”
Ranma turned back to the master situation display. “No kidding.”
“Would you like to see?” she asked.
Ukyo turned to Genma who was speaking to Larson about their plan of attack in the situation center. “Admiral, I'm going to go give Ranma a tour of the hangar deck.”
Genma nodded but Larson interjected.
“Don't spend too much time down there. I'd like to be underway by 19:00.”
Both Ukyo and Ranma turned to the clock above the main view screen.
“Yes sir,” the pair replied.
The two stepped into the turbolift. “Hangar deck A,” Ukyo ordered as the doors slid shut.
The pair rode in silence for a moment before Ranma, hoping to avoid another question about his marriage, began to ask more questions.
“So how big is your crew?”
“Including the flight crew, a little under twelve hundred,” Ukyo replied.
Ranma whistled. “And I thought it was difficult being responsible for four hundred.”
Ukyo nodded. “I have great department heads, so, I really don't worry too much.”
Ranma sighed. “Ultimately you're the captain though.”
Ukyo leaned up against Ranma. “I'm really sorry about the Sisko.”
Ranma nodded. “Thanks,” Ranma patted Ukyo on the back and grinned. “I guess I can look on the bright side here. Not only will we be able to catch the bastard who did that to my ship, but we can save the Federation at the same time.”
“Two birds with one stone, eh Ranchan?”
“Well, two stones now that you're here,” Ranma smiled.
Ukyo smiled at Ranma. She was not going to try and pretend that she was not upset that he chose Akane, but at the same time, she knew that he and Akane were always going to be together. That is just the way it was.
But there was always Ryouga.
The turbolift came to a stop and the doors slid open. The pair walked out as a very dirty enlisted man ran up to Ukyo.
“Captain!? I'm sorry, if I had known you were coming down, I'd had gotten the boys to clean the place up.”
Ukyo shook her head. “Don't worry about it, Petty Officer,” the young man sighed in relief as Ranma stifled a chuckle. “Besides, if the place was too clean, I would have been worried you guys weren't doing any work.”
The petty officer smiled and nodded.
“Is Commander Beckett down here?” she continued.
“He's supervising the installation of a repaired launcher,” the enlistee replied. “Maintenance Bay 16.”
The petty officer nodded and scurried off as Ukyo walked off towards the maintenance bay with Ranma following right behind her.
Ranma looked down the long hangar deck. It seemed like kilometers from where they were standing to the large door that would open and allow the fighters to exit the warship. In reality, of course, it was not that far, but the sheer enormity of the room made everything appear to be much larger than it was, and Ranma to feel much smaller than he was.
“There are two more bays,” Ukyo explained. “Below us. Basically, we would launch two here, two from B, two from C, then start from A again.”
Ranma nodded, while still looking around. “Where are the fighters now?”
“Maintenance,” Ukyo stated matter-of-factly. “They needed to be equipped with new communications and sensor equipment to work with your ship.”
The pair reached the maintenance hangars and walked in. They then ended up walking what seemed like another several kilometers, though again Ranma knew it was not, to maintenance bay 16 where Ranma and Ukyo found some more dirty enlisted kids working on what Ranma thought was a shuttlecraft on drugs.
“Ranma, meet the Peregrine class attack fighter,” Ukyo smiled. The enlistees, upon hearing Ukyo's voice, all stopped working to acknowledge her. A gruff man popped out of the cockpit. He was wearing only his sleeveless gray undershirt as he had abandoned his uniform jacket. He had a bald head, yet had a full, but closely trimmed beard. He spoke with what could best be described as a Russian accent.
“What the hell are you doing? Hold that shit in place!” he barked. Ranma couldn't help himself. He started to laugh. The gruff man, thinking it was one of his workers, grabbed a piece of metal, ready to either throw it, or beat someone, but he suddenly noticed both Ranma and Ukyo.
“Oh, Captain. Hello.”
“Commander. How are you?”
“Just a moment, I will grab my jacket. It's a bit hot.”
“Don't worry,” Ukyo said. Ranma leaned towards Ukyo.
“Don't worry?” he teased. “Muscley?”
Ukyo simply growled.
With a clang, the man jumped down out of the fighter and onto the flight deck. He walked over to the two captains as he put on his jacket. Ranma noticed that on one of his arms he had a large tattoo, looked remarkably like one that the Maquis used to have.
Ranma decided that now would probably not be the best time to get into a political discussion though, so he put that off and smiled as the man zipped up his jacket and walked over.
“Ranma, this is Commander Anton Beckett, Chief of Flight Operations,” Ukyo explained.
Ranma outstretched his hand. Beckett took it and shook it firmly. “Captain Ranma Saotome of the U.S.S. Benja-” Ranma paused. It was still not out of his system yet. “Of the, I guess, U.S.S. Salvation.”
“Saotome?!” Beckett exclaimed. “Oh, Ukyo's said so many good things about you, Captain!”
Ranma couldn't help but smile and shake his head. “I've heard.”
Ukyo giggled before speaking. “Anton, Ranma's team will be the ones, eh, extracting, a high-value detainee from our target location. We're going to need to be able to clear them a path so that they can get in there.”
Anton smiled. “Oh, trust me. Between Infinity's guns and my fighters, tain't going to be a soul alive in space left to harm you.”
Anton smacked the hull of the fighter a couple of times lovingly. The torpedo launcher that the enlistees were working on dropped off the wing and slammed to the deck with a clang. Anton looked to the two officers.
“To be fair, we hadn't actually secured it yet. The fact that it didn't fall off simply due to gravity just goes to show you how awesome we are.”
Ranma and Ukyo both smiled and nodded. “We'll be getting underway in about fifteen minutes and will be at the target within the next twenty-four hours,” Ukyo explained.
“This is our last bird,” Anton replied.
Ukyo patted Anton on the back. “Great. Back to work then.”
Anton nodded turned to Ranma. “Nice to finally meet you, Captain.”
Ranma smiled. “Likewise.”
The trio went their separate ways with Ranma and Ukyo heading towards a turbolift. Once inside of one, curiosity got the best of Ranma.
“So, he said 'the Infinity's guns',” Ranma asked. “She's got a couple of torpedo bays too, eh?”
Once Ukyo stopped laughing, she turned to Ranma. The incredibly annoyed expression on Ranma's face explained to Ukyo that she should probably not laugh at any of Ranma's questions anymore or face some sort of wrath.
“Sorry,” she mumbled. “A couple. We have eight phaser banks, four dorsal, four ventral, eight phase cannons, same configuration, and twelve torpedo bays, four tubes each.”
Ranma just stood there staring at Ukyo. “And a cloaking device.”
“Well, the Romulans installed the cloak just a few days ago.”
Ranma shook his head. “Fuck me.”
“What?” Ukyo asked.
“Well,” Ranma pondered, “I understand the need for warships, but it almost sounds like this ship was built to destroy planets.”
The turbolift doors opened and the pair walked out onto the bridge. Larson and Genma turned to the pair and then to the clock. 18:52.
“Good timing,” Larson smiled.
Genma could not help but notice how distraught his son looked though. Somewhere buried deep beneath his Genmaness, there was a father in there. “What's wrong, Ranma?”
Ranma looked to Ukyo. “Well, Infinity is a fine ship. I just wonder why she was built.”
Larson looked at Ranma.
“Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she was,” Ranma quickly stated the obvious. Right now, this ship was their only hope of getting through the net of Vulcan ships protecting Salek. “But a ship that's only purpose seems to be destruction seems a little-”
“Anti-Federation?” Larson finished.
Ranma nodded. Ukyo, not particularly interested in hearing the man she still had feelings for bad mouth her ship, slowly slinked back to the COMM and slouched down in her chair.
“You're right. It is,” Larson admitted. “That's why after the Dominion War her construction was canceled.”
“I'd hate to see how big she would have been if they had finished her,” Genma joked, drawing a chuckle from Ukyo who apparently had been paying attention. Ranma, on the other hand, who was quite frankly getting sick and tired of all the cloak and dagger, was not amused.
“But?” he pressed.
“But what do you think I am going to say?” Larson replied.
“Section 31.” Ranma dryly replied.
“I can neither confirm nor deny that allegation,” Larson replied.
Ranma looked to Ukyo, who was just staring at the main viewer.
“None of the crew are in 31, Ranma,” Larson stated. “If you want to talk about it more, we can talk about it more *AFTER* we capture Salek.”
Ranma conceded. He did not know if he wanted to talk about it more. Quite frankly he was growing tired of the whole ordeal. He was just interested in bringing to justice the person who had murdered his captain, members of his crew, and was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Federation citizens.
After that, he did not know what he was going to do. It was going to be a whole new world by then.
“Ranma and I will be returning to the Salvation now,” Larson stated. “Genma will be coordinating things over here. Because everyone needs to be on top of their game, we will be waiting twelve hours before departing. After that, it's only a four-hour warp from here to the edge of the solar system where Salek is.”
Both Ukyo and Ranma nodded. Ranma smiled at Ukyo. “It's good to see you, Ucchan.”
Ukyo smiled back. “You too.”
Ranma and Larson got into the turbolift and the doors closed. Ukyo turned to Genma. “It wasn't forced anymore, was it?”
Genma shook his head. “No, Ukyo. They actually fell in love.”
Ukyo sighed. “Well, that sucks.”
Genma smirked as Ukyo slumped down further in her chair. Maybe for you, he thought to himself. Maybe for you.
ONE HOUR TILL ASSAULT
Saanik smiled at T'Pah. This was as close to bliss as he had been in a long time. However, he knew that there was a very good chance that both he and T'Pah would be dead before the end of the day.
Salek had quite the armada of defenses built up around the MoI post, and Saanik had his doubts about the Romulan tin can they were flying in being able to sneak past it all.
However, he had to acknowledge that had he been left in prison, he would be dying by the end of the day anyway. At least this way, he was with her. And she was with him.
“How are you feeling, Saanik?” T'Pah asked, bringing the older man some tea.
Saanik continued to smile contently. “I am at peace.”
T'Pah sat down next to him. Saanik took a drink of his tea before wrapping his arm around T'Pah and pulling her close to him. “I am pleased we can spend our last hours together, Saanik.”
Saanik nodded, though his smile faded. “Had they left me in the prison, you would have been left alone.”
“Had they left you in the prison, the Federation may have killed millions of our people, including me,” T'Pah argued.
Saanik sighed. “They still might. If Saotome fails, there will be no way to stop the invasion.”
T'Pah had no response. She simply leaned down on Saanik's midsection, as Saanik ran his hand through her hair.
<Nifty Star Trek Romulan Doorbell Sound>
Saanik turned to the door as T'Pah sat up. “Who is it?” Saanik called out.
“Captain Saotome,” Ranma answered.
Saanik stood. “Please come in.”
T'Pah also stood as the doors slid open and Ranma walked in. The pig-tailed captain smiled and bowed slightly to T'Pah before turning to Saanik.
“I'm sorry for disturbing you, Minister.”
“Not at all, Captain. Is there something I can do for you?” Saanik asked.
“I was wondering if we could have a conversation,” Ranma smiled.
Saanik blinked. “Of course,” he responded after a moment.
Ranma continued to smile, stepping back to the door, allowing it to open. Saanik turned to T'Pah. “I'll be back in a moment.”
Ranma turned to T'Pah as well. “It'll just be a couple of minutes, I promise.”
T'Pah nodded to Ranma and watched the door as the pair walked out.
Ranma and Saanik walked down the Salvation's corridor in silence for a moment before Ranma began to speak. “I hope your accommodations are adequate. Those were the largest quarters we could locate.”
Saanik nodded. “They are, thank you, Captain.”
Ranma kicked a bulkhead as they walked by. “I'm not a fan of this ship myself. It makes a ton of weird noises, it's far too green and it reminds me of prisoner of war simulation from the academy.”
Saanik smirked as he followed Ranma into an observation lounge. “Is the Federation giving it back when you’re done?”
“Good lord I hope so,” Ranma exclaimed. “I can't imagine the Romulans loaned it to us before they stripped anything we could salvage militarily off of it anyway.”
“Mmm,” Saanik agreed as he sat down in front of the viewscreen. Ranma walked up and activated it.
“For what it's worth, Minister, I'm just trying to satisfy my own personal curiosity here. So, nothing we talk about is leaving this room,” Ranma smiled.
Saanik nodded cautiously as Ranma brought up some tactical scans.
“Three Federation bases were destroyed in the last few hours by three different groups of Vulcan ships.”
Saanik shook his head. “No...”
“Yes,” Ranma acknowledged. “There are twenty-five cruisers and battle-cruisers around our target and about one-fifty around Vulcan.” Ranma turned to Saanik. “Why -”
“Ranma- The Dominion War-”
“Goddammit!” Ranma cursed, turning away. “I am so sick of hearing that! The war was four years ago, and it's over! Starfleet has been rebuilt-”
“Not to where it was,” Saanik interrupted. “You should know that as well as I do. You weren't tasked with border patrol, but what did you spend most of your time doing?”
Ranma groused. Saanik had a point there.
“Janeway damaged the Borg's ability to come and go at will, but who knows when they could reestablish it. Who says the Founders weren't going to change their minds and seek revenge for Section 31 poisoning them? Klingon leaders come and go at the drop of a hat.”
Saanik stood and walked to a window and looked towards the streaking stars. “And who knows what’s out there, past where we can get to. Just because we don't know how to get to them, doesn't mean they don't know how to get to us.”
Saanik turned to Ranma. “Self-preservation is the right of every species. The MoD never meant for our build-up to be used against the Federation, but to supplement and help Starfleet. However, first and foremost, to defend Vulcan and our people.”
Saanik sighed. “They should have been reported to Starfleet.”
Ranma bit his lip. “We kept secrets too.”
Saanik turned to Ranma.
Ranma pointed to the window. “There is a gigantic ship probably a kilometer away, full of fighters and enough firepower on it to destroy a small planet.”
“Huh,” Saanik grinned, squinting. “So, perhaps we will not die.”
Ranma laughed. “I sure as hell hope not.” Ranma put his hand on Saanik's back and guided the older man out the door and back to his quarters.