Chapter 1 - Skirmishes

Young inhaled the salty sea air contently. There was just something about the sea that he loved, even if he could not stand the sound of seagulls. The sun setting over the bay was doubling his contentment.

Young's relaxed attitude and his fixation on the orange and red reflection of the massive ball of plasma dropping below the horizon is likely why he did not hear a man beam into the living room of his large, over extravagant Pacifica, California home.

It was not till Young noticed the shadowy reflection in the glass barrier surrounding his balcony that he noticed the intruder.

Young had, however, become accustomed to his friend's covert entrances, and while slightly startled and annoyed, he had broken his habit of diving for the 'summon help' button every time the elder Vulcan appeared.

“You need to learn to knock,” Young smirked at Salek, pointing to a glass of green liquid Young had already prepared for him.

Salek casually walked over to the beach chair that sat across from Young and sat down. The drink that was offered to him was something new. Salek, not a drinker at all, was unsure if he wanted to tempt the fates by trying it.

“It's just tea,” Young said reassuringly, knowing Salek's dislike of alcohol. “From one of the Trill planets. It's actually quite good.”

Salek did not seem very convinced, but he tried it anyway. Taking a quick sip, he nodded, making sure not to show any sign of his enjoyment of the drink.

“You're right. And I did knock. It's not my concern if you're too busy staring off into the water to hear me,” Salek finally replied to Young's earlier complaint.

Salek smiled. “Would you rather meet in my office?”

Salek shook his head. They both knew a Vulcan in a Federation building would not be welcome, especially one that worked for the Vulcan government. Once Vulcan had seceded, all Vulcan diplomats were expelled, and Vulcan government officials had their immunity revoked.

Vulcan Starfleet officers were questioned intently on where their loyalty lied and if there was any question, they were at best, removed from duty. At worst, they were arrested.

Vulcans who lived on Earth began fleeing en masse, in fear of anti-Vulcan backlash. The ones who remained were subject to the same type of loyalty tests as the Starfleet officers were.

To anyone who was a student of history, it all seemed awfully familiar.

“So,” Salek continued, taking another sip of his Trillian tea, “do you have any good news for me?”

Young laughed as he picked up a couple of PADDs from next to his beach chair. His laugh drew the famous raised eyebrow from Salek, but Salek did not question him, instead he allowed Young to explain himself first.

Young plopped his feet up onto the railing of the balcony as he read off the reports, almost like a sports reporter reading off football scores.

“Near Starbase 21. Two Vulcan science vessels refuse to obey an order from the U.S.S. Cheyenne. They are destroyed.”

Young sips his drink and continues.

“The U.S.S. Magellan attempts to enforce a blockade, is popped by a half-a-dozen Vulcan ships. The U.S.S. Vancouver and the U.S.S. Oklahoma are heavily damaged in a skirmish with Vulcan task force along the Neutral Zone of all places!”

Young chuckled and looked to Salek. “What were you guys doing there?”

Salek shrugged. “They were probably trying to avoid your ships. Technically, the treaty to stay out of the Neutral Zone applies to the Federation.”

Young nodded. “Good point.” He returned to the PADDs. “It just goes on and on. Skirmish after skirmish. Doesn't look like any more ships destroyed in the last week, just pew-pew run away on both sides.”

Salek continued to sip as he pondered what Young had just told him. “It seems that both your side and my side are testing each other.”

Young grabbed a new PADD and slid around in his chair so that he faced Salek.

“With good cause too. Here, check this out. The operational briefing just came down today.”

Young tossed Salek the PADD. Salek began to read over it, mainly just glancing through the normal Federation gibberish about ship strength and policies. Finally, he got to the meat of the document.

“They can't be serious.”

Young nodded. “Don't be angry with me, but I voted in favor of the action.”

Salek almost laughed but stifled himself. He continued to read the PADD in detail as he spoke.

“This is not a 'reclamation' as your operational planners seem to want to call it but is an annexation.”

Young shrugged. “At this point do you really think they care? Obviously, Starfleet isn't in a position to take back Vulcan. But they think they can send a message by capturing the Vulcan colonies and bringing them under Federation control.”

“What did the president say about this?”

Young smirked. “She wasn't involved. In fact, this all falls under 77280G since, at least according to Federation law, technically all Vulcan space is 'Federation space'. So, as far as the Council was concerned, it didn't qualify as an annexation.”

Salek stared at Young for about a minute, took another sip of his tea, and then finally said what he thought. “That's far too devious for the Federation to think of. Was this your idea?”

Young, who was drunk from before Salek's arrival, nearly fell out of his chair he was laughing so hard. Salek just shook his head and turned his attention to the sea until Young regained his balance and composure.

“I appreciate your confidence in me, Salek,” Young chuckled. “However, some of the other council people can be pretty devious too, given the opportunity.”

“Apparently,” Salek said, not taking his eyes off the water.

Young returned to his relaxed state with his feet on the railing, casually sipping his drink. Salek also continued to nurse his while watching the occasional boat pass by. The pair sat in silence for a while before Salek spoke again.

“It's been eleven weeks. What of Saotome?”

Young snarled at hearing that bastard's name. Fortunately, though, he had, at least what he felt, was good news about him.

“I've checked DS9's logs every day. They've had no ships come from the direction they warped off to.”

“Is Larson and Saotome's father still missing?”

Young nodded.

“And you're certain Larson was in Section 31?”

“I'm all but certain.”

Salek sighed. Young turned to him to try and reassure him.

“They couldn't have walked back. Every starship but six have been accounted for and are in or near Federation space. The six that aren't are on deep space assignments.”

Salek shook his head. “You can't account for ships that don't exist.”

Young, not wanting to think about Ranma ruining their plans, continued to try and convince Salek.

“You know as well as I do that you cannot tow a ship back cloaked. As well, you also know that the modifications made at Chii made it impossible for a cloak to be installed on the Sisko.”

Salek did know that. He also knew there was no guarantee that they were bringing the Sisko back. He also knew though that humans were emotional and developed emotional attachments to inanimate objects, such as starships.

However, he was growing weary of arguing and decided to let it go for now.

“I have to return to Vulcan. Saanik's trial is finally beginning.”

Young smiled. “Took long enough. I thought you people were the epitome of efficiency?”

Salek stood and finished off his tea. “Yes, but we're also the epitome of procedure and technicalities. The fact that it has only taken this long just goes to show you how efficient we are.”

Young knew at that moment exactly why he loved Salek as much as he did. “Have a safe trip.”

Salek nodded, did the Vulcan hand gesture, and activated his transport enhancer, beaming him to his personal, disguised ship in orbit.

Vulcan, in general, hadn't changed much since the declaration of their independence from the Federation. The most noteworthy difference was the total lack of any Starfleet or Federation presence on the planet.

Despite a lot of huffing and puffing from both the Federation Council and Starfleet Command and the repeated assertion that Vulcan was still in the Federation, both evacuated their assets from the planet quickly after the secession.

That said, the departing forces certainly did leave their mark when they left. Asides from being noisy as possible, something that was frowned upon on Vulcan, the Starfleet defense forces also left their bases fully intact. A sign that the Vulcans took as the Federation's intention to eventually return to Vulcan.

One of their bases was not intact though. Far from it. That was why former Defense Minister Saanik was in the position he was in. And while the Vulcan military prison that he sat in was not miserable, it was far from the serene setting that he had turned his home into.

Saanik had spent the previous three months with his attorney filing motion after motion to get him released on procedural grounds. Finally, the word had come down from the Chief Adjudicator.

He had lost his last motion and his trial was to begin today.

Under normal circumstances, he would have faith that the fair, impartial and logical Vulcan judicial system would find him innocent, but there was nothing in his mind or body that was telling him that today was going to end well for him.

Saanik sighed and looked at the breakfast the guards had brought for him. He had little appetite right now but realized there would be no logic in sitting in court all day hungry. The Vulcan officer slowly ate the rice and vegetable concoction, pausing occasionally to again ponder what he had been thinking about since his arrest.

*Why me?* was the question that bounced around in his head.

Saanik could not understand at all why someone would go through the effort of framing him for such a heinous crime. Why do the crime at all? None of it made sense to him. Of course, he was trying to think of things logically. He realized, though, that this might be his greatest flaw in determining who was behind this.

As Saanik finished his breakfast, three guards walked up, along with Saanik's attorney, T'Pah. T'Pah was a young woman, very attractive, at least by Vulcan standards, and about half Saanik's age. She had worked for the Ministry of Defense at one point and the pair had become – close. How close was anyone's guess, as it was not like a Vulcan to kiss and tell. Especially one who might be disciplined for being involved with an officer in his charge.

“Minister,” T'Pah smiled, using Saanik's previous title, despite it having been stripped from him upon his arrest. The guards took no notice of this and deactivated the force field that secured Saanik.

“Is it time?” the elder Vulcan asked, standing.

T'Pah nodded, handing Saanik some formal clothes. “I'll wait here.”

Saanik took the clothes and returned the nod, following the guards to a changing area. Saanik was quite pleased to get out of the prison uniform, as it made him feel like he was a criminal.

Of course, that was the point, he acknowledged.

After a short bit, Saanik and the guards returned. T'Pah again smiled but said nothing. Saanik walked next to her with the guards shadowing them towards the transporter room.

“Are you nervous?” T'Pah finally asked.

Saanik allowed himself to smirk. “I am facing execution for a crime I did not commit. I would be lying if I said I was not.” Saanik turned his head slightly as the group walked to look towards T'Pah. “However, I am represented by the best legal counsel on the planet, and I am innocent. Logic would dictate that I will be freed by the end of the day.”

T'Pah moved a bit closer to Saanik. “I know you will be.”

The quintet seemingly stepped in unison till they reached the prison's transporter, where they then beamed to the Vulcan Military Tribunal Center. Once inside, Saanik and T'Pah were escorted into courtroom C.

The courtroom was a large, intimidating room with a high ceiling. Like everything else on the planet, it was mainly lined with red decor and a skylight that allowed even more red into the room. Towards the front of the room sat two metal tables, one for the prosecutors and one for the defendant. In front of that there was the advocates or judges panel; raised higher to add to the overall intimidating and in-your-face stern justice system theme the Vulcans had, where the five Vulcan judges would sit.

Behind the tables was a small spectator gallery. Saanik's trial was not open to the public, but authorized interested parties could attend. There was not an empty seat in the room. Anyone and everyone who could get into it did.

Some people he knew, Saanik acknowledged as the guards walked him and T'Pah to the defense table. They were members of the military, the Interior Ministry, members of the press. Saanik noted that the new head of the High Command, Sala, was in attendance. He also saw people that he would rather not. Mainly Salek.

Saanik passed a piercing glare at the commander of the rouge battalion who was seated directly behind the prosecution table, however, the commander either didn't see it or chose to ignore it.

Saanik took one last look around. A few others he didn't know. No Starfleet though. While that wasn't entirely surprising, it did seem a little strange, considering it was Starfleet that he was supposedly guilty of attacking.

After a few moments, and right on time, the judges began to walk out of their chamber. The room stood and paid their respects before returning to their seats. The lead judge, an older man, probably in his 150's with gray hair, who sat in the highest, center seat, nodded to the crowd, looked to both the prosecutor and Saanik, and began to speak.

“This trial is called to order,” he stated, banging his Vulcanish gavel. “Defendant, please rise.”

Saanik and T'Pah both stood. “Former Defense Minister Saanik, son of T'Jan and Saran, you stand accused of dereliction of duty, issuing an unlawful order, unauthorized use of military hardware, and 97,271 counts of first-degree murder. How do you plead?”

Saanik blinked. It was the first time he had heard the charges read out loud to him. It shook him.

“Not guilty,” he finally responded.

“Very well,” the judge replied, picking up a PADD. “The court has decided that the recent political events between the Federation and Vulcan shall have no bearing on this case.”

“Noted,” the prosecutor stated, standing.

T'Pah just nodded, acknowledging that it would not make any difference in her defense anyway.

“Prosecutor, you may begin,” the judge instructed.

The prosecutor walked over to the witness stand. “As my first witness, I would like to call Sub Commander Sanna.”

The man Saanik glared at earlier, the one in charge of the rouge division, stood and walked to the witness stand. After being sworn in by the court officials and giving a brief history of his service record, the prosecutor got down to business.

“Sub Commander, how did you know the order came from the Ministry of Defense?”

“My garrison received a communication over the encrypted channel,” Sanna explained very matter-of-factly. In fact, you would almost think he was hosting a how-to video, not testifying in court. “The communication had all the proper authentication protocols and was verified with the action key set.”

“What's an action key set?” the prosecutor asked.

“It's a coded password that no one knows till it's opened,” Sanna answered. “If my password doesn't match the password I am sent, then the order is likely not authentic.”

The prosecutor turned and looked towards Saanik. “So, there is no way the order could have been fabricated?”


The prosecutor began to walk back to his table. “I have nothing further.”

The judge looked to T'Pah. “Counsel?”

T'Pah nodded and walked to Sanna. “Sub Commander, do you not think it was questionable that you would receive an order to attack a Federation base?”

“It's not logical to question authentic orders,” Sanna replied.

“That's not what I asked you,” T'Pah responded, slightly annoyed.

“The logical process is to validate the order, which we did, and then execute it. We assume the commanders have a good reason for issuing it.”

“So, you make no attempt to ensure orders that might not be valid, are so?”

Sanna was beginning to get annoyed as well but refused to allow it to show. “If you are asking, would I try and communicate with the Ministry, the answer would be ‘no’.”

“Why not?”

“That could compromise operational security.”

T'Pah sighed and turned towards Saanik. She saw him mouth something at her. At first, she wasn't quite sure what, but after a moment, she figured it out.

“Sub Commander, have you ever been involved with the Ministry of Intelligence?”

Salek sat up slightly upon hearing her mention his ministry. Sanna at first did not say anything, however, his silence was overshadowed by the prosecutor.

“Objection. What does that have to do with anything?”

“I believe my client was set up by someone within the Ministry and if the Sub Commander has worked with them before this will bolster my theory.”

The judges conferred for a moment before the lead judge turned back to T'Pah. “Very well. But if this whole day is going to be nothing but fishing, let us know and we will just end the trial now.”

T'Pah nodded at her partial victory and turned back to Sanna. “Well?”

“No,” Sanna responded. Salek looked around with his eyes to see if anyone was looking at him. He was relieved to find that everyone thought T'Pah's theory was as crazy as he had hoped they would.

“Liar,” T'Pah snapped as she walked back to her table. “Nothing further.”

The judges excused Sanna and turned back to the prosecution. “Next witness?”

“I'd like to call the former Defense Minister to the stand.”

Saanik stood, turned to T’Pah, and nodded to her reassuringly. He then walked up to the witness stand and is sworn in. He then read off all his background, making special note to draw emphasis on all his commendations and citations he had received for his service to Vulcan.

After the five-minute presentation, some of which even impressed the young prosecuting attorney, the questioning began. Most of it was reasonable. What his opinion of the Federation was, what he was doing that night, how his relationship with the military was. But this prosecutor knew what he was doing and knew how to turn up the heat when it was time.

“Sir, how many people, besides you, have the action key set?” he asked.

Saanik knew this question was coming. He dreaded answering it. “No one,” he dryly replied.

“So, you are the only one who can issue an offensive strike order?”

“Yes,” Saanik replied. “Legally,” he amended.

“You say you were at your house that night,” The prosecutor continued, “but Defense Ministry computer and security camera logs show you there until 03:35 – almost an hour and a half AFTER the strike occurred.” The prosecutor turned to the judge. “I would like to enter these logs into evidence as Prosecution Exhibit 1.”

The judge nodded and made a note on his pad as the associate judges began to review the logs and tapes.

“These have to have been altered. I was not there,” Saanik argued.

“Nonsense,” the prosecutor sniped. “I can see you plain as day.” The prosecutor brought up an image on the court's viewscreen showing a clear video image of Saanik walking past a security guard. The footage shows the Stardate of the attack as well as the time.

“I was not there,” Saanik insisted.

“I enter into evidence, Prosecution Exhibit 2,” the prosecutor began to punch some things up on his PADD, uploading data to the judges, to T'Pah, and to the monitor. “Forensic evidence, your DNA, and fingerprints were found in the command room after the strike.”

“WAIT!” T'Pah yelled. “This was not in discovery! I object to this evidence!”

“I've worked there for fifteen years,” Saanik stated, keeping much cooler than his lawyer. “My DNA and fingerprints are probably all over that building.”

“The evidence was legally obtained,” the chief judge stated, addressing T'Pah's outburst. “Your objected is noted, but overruled.”

T'Pah scoffed and sat back down. She had a feeling walking into this that the trial was going to be for show only and in her mind, surprise evidence was clinching it. The fact that the evidence was obtained legally was moot. How could she prepare a proper defense if she had no idea what evidence the government had against Saanik?

The prosecutor, who was obviously far more experienced than his young age let on, showed no thrill in his victory and disregarded T'Pah's emotionless pouting and continued to work on Saanik. “What about the three Sh'Ran class ships that destroyed the food convoy?”

Saanik remembered back to the argument he had gotten into with Salek back in Vora's office several months ago after the food convoy was destroyed. He was beginning to become more and more convinced that Salek had something to do with all of this.

“Those ships were not acting under my authority,” Saanik told the court. It was the truth. Saanik had not and would not order any of the ships in his command to attack unarmed ships. They had to be acting alone or much more likely, under someone else's command. He was sure he knew whose authority they were operating under, but he needed more proof.

“So, everyone was just going rogue? That's what you're saying?” the prosecutor mocked.

“No,” Saanik replied, refusing to let the young man's belittling tone get the best of him. “They were operating under someone's orders. Just not mine.”

“I would like to enter into evidence Prosecution Exhibit 3,” the prosecutor stated, uploading more information. He had grown tired of not getting Saanik to go all emotional, which would have certainly made him look foolish and worked against the elder politician.

“This is the strike order,” the prosecutor pointed at the viewscreen. “Sir, is that or is that not your signature and your thumbprint?”

Saanik studied the display for a moment. “That does look like my signature and thumbprint, yes.”

“Is that your personal authorization number?”

Saanik again looked at the screen, studying the wall of numbers below his signature. “Yes.”

“Who besides you knows your authorization number?”

“As far as I am aware, no one,” Saanik replied.

“So logically speaking, you are the only one who could have placed it on that strike order, yes or no?” The prosecutor more stated than asked. Saanik knew there was no point in trying to argue with the prosecutor. He would have plenty of opportunities to plead his case when T'Pah questioned him.

“Logically speaking, yes,” Saanik replied.

The prosecutor paused, almost expressing shock at how easy Saanik admitted that he was likely the only one who could have issued the order. The young man pondered for a moment, deciding whether he had any more questions, then turned to the judge.

“I have no further questions, as I believe I have proven my case.”

The judge nodded and looked to T'Pah. “You may question the witness.”

T'Pah acknowledged the judge but remained seated for a moment. She looked across the table at the man she had grown quite fond of, both professionally and personally. A man she knew would never turn his back on his people and especially not on the Federation.

“What are your feelings on the Federation, Minister?” T'Pah asked, again using Saanik's revoked title, something that seemed to irk many in the room.

“I already asked him this,” the prosecutor objected.

“And now I am,” T'Pah snarled at him.

The prosecutor just rolled his eyes and shook his head, indicating his annoyance with T'Pah's questioning.

T'Pah meanwhile turned back to Saanik. “Minister?”

“I believe the Federation is a good device to ensure peace and free trade between many planets,” Saanik replied.

“Do you think the Vulcan secession was good?”

Saanik shook his head. “No.”

“What about the Federation's presence on the planet?” T'Pah asked, standing, and walking to Saanik. “You were the Minister of Defense. Didn't having all those foreign soldiers on our soil concern you?”

Saanik again shook his head. “I did not consider the Federation troops ‘foreign’. I looked at them as a supplement to our own planetary defense forces.”

“So then why did you attack them?” T'Pah asked, somewhat startling Saanik.

Quickly though, Saanik played along. “The idea that I would is simply ludicrous. I've been in that very building-” Saanik pointed out the window at the High Command Headquarters that sat across the street from the judiciary building, “-arguing that we need to allow Starfleet to continue to be our primary defensive mechanism.”

T'Pah smiled and moved on, walking to the viewer that still had the image of the strike order on it. “You acknowledge that this is your signature and thumbprint?”

“I acknowledge that it looks like my signature and thumbprint,” Saanik clarified.

“Fair enough,” the young lady grinned. “Can you tell me, if you didn't sign this order, how it could be possible for someone to forge the document?”

“Objection!” the prosecutor called out. “Didn't you warn her?”

T'Pah turned to the judges. “My client's defense is that he didn't issue the order. Surely he should be allowed to explain how a fabricated order would be issued.”

The judges conferred for a moment. The chief judge turned to T'Pah. “We agree. You may proceed. The objection is overruled.”

“Thank you,” T'Pah bowed. She turned to Saanik.

Saanik thought about this for a moment. Hacking and being sneaky was not his department. If he was ever brought into the mix, it was for an out-and-out slugfest. “I am no expert,” he admitted. “But I would assume someone hacked into the computer network and got a copy of my signature, thumbprint, and authorization number there.”

T'Pah nodded. “What about the action keys?”

Saanik turned towards Sanna who was quietly observing from the spectator section. He paused, unsure if he wanted to make the accusation he was about to make. However, with his life on the line, he had no choice. “That would require deception from both the sender of the message and the receiver, as an entirely new set of keys would have to be generated.”

It was probably best that there were several Vulcan policemen in the room because at that exact moment, Sanna had never wanted to kill another man with his bare hands so much before in his life. It took every little bit of emotion repressing mojo Sanna had to simply keep himself from screaming.

But he held it in. Saanik noticed his face though. He could tell. His face was full of rage. But was it rage because he had been found out, or rage because he had been falsely accused?

Saanik's eyes darted towards Salek. Salek seemed cool as a cucumber. Saanik assumed it was because he was a spy. He was used to lies and deception. He could easily disguise his emotions. He wondered though. He wondered what Salek really was thinking right now.

“Minister,” T'Pah continued. “The strike was ordered at 23:40 local time. Where were you?”

Saanik knew exactly where he was. “I was at home.”

“Is there any proof of this?” T'Pah asked, knowing the answer.

“There are transporter logs of me returning home at the end of my day. There is no way to prove I stayed at home though, as I live alone since my wife died.”

“No transporter logs of you beaming back either. And the guards stationed outside your home...” T'Pah turned to the judges. “All the Ministers get military protection at their homes.” T'Pah turned back to Saanik. “The guards said they never saw you leave.”

Saanik watched the young lady walk over to the prosecutor’s desk and look at him. “So, either he beamed over and deleted the transporter log, but forgot to delete all the other evidence that would implicate him, or he never left his house, and the evidence is fabricated.”

T'Pah marched back to Saanik. “Did you order the strike?”


“Nothing further.”

“The witness is dismissed,” the chief judge said.

The trial went on for another few hours with the remainder of the witnesses mainly being people blabbing on about technical issues and material witnesses talking about how trustworthy one side was and how shady the other side is. Once that was done, the judges went off to confer privately. As they were doing that, few people chatted with each other, most however sat in silence.

Saanik had this sinking feeling, though, that someone was eyeing him. Obviously, all eyes were on him, as the trial was about him. But there was someone there who probably was not actually supposed to be there. And they were watching him closely.

Saanik took another look around the room. In the back sat two Vulcans who chatted quietly to themselves, taking the occasional look at Saanik. One of them noticed Saanik looking at them and nodded a greeting.

Saanik wasn't sure why but felt reassured by them. He nodded back. T'Pah looked to him.

“Who are you nodding at?”

Saanik turned to his friend. “I don't know. However, I feel like they're here to help me.”

T'Pah was about to turn to them when the rear door opened, and the judges began walking back in. The room stood to pay their respects until the group of Vulcan judges seated themselves.

The chief justice turned to Saanik and T'Pah. “Please rise.”

The pair did as they were instructed. The judge continued. “Former Defense Minister Saanik, Vulcan law states that we must start off with a presumption of innocence and that guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. And while your attorney has brought us theories that would make for a good human spy novel, we must consider the evidence at hand.”

Saanik lowered his head as T'Pah bit her lip.

“By a vote of five to zero,” the judge continued, “we find you guilty on all counts.”

A quiet murmur went through the room as the judge smashed his Vulcan gavel against the hard metal table. “As well, for sentencing, by a vote of five to zero, you are hereby sentenced to death, with the sentence to be carried out in seven days.”

Another gavel bang.

The guards moved up towards Saanik. He looked to T'Pah as the room began to clear out. Saanik smiled at her. “You did the best you could. I am proud of you.”

T'Pah, determined to continue repressing her emotions, bit harder on her lip. “Saanik.”

Saanik held up his hand, his fingers split into the Vulcan hand gesture. “Live long and prosper.”

T'Pah could only watch as the guards took Saanik away to the final seven days of his life.

In the back of the room, Salek also watched, his emotion repressing system working full blast to keep from dancing a jig in the middle of the courtroom. Every thorn in his side was now gone. Well, almost everyone. Saotome was still out there somewhere, and Larson was missing but right now they were not here and that was all that mattered.

Salek almost skipped out of the room and past the two Vulcan strangers who had made eye contact with Saanik earlier. They looked to the dejected T'Pah and then whispered to each other before walking out of the courthouse.

The pair slowly walked down a Vulcan street noting some of the 'Vulcan is now free' propaganda that some of the 'anti-Federation' groups had hung up.

Most of it was taken down as soon as it was put up simply because most of the population did not really care. They were neither pro-Federation nor anti-Federation. They were just Vulcans.

Once the pair got to a less populated area they began to walk faster, their Vulcan robes blowing in the light breeze. The heavy gravity on the planet caused their breathing to grow heavy, causing anyone who was paying close attention to tell that these two were not ordinary Vulcans.

Finally, the pair got to an unpopulated area. They slinked around a corner and into an alleyway where one of them pulled out a small, black PADD. He tapped it and looked at his friend.

“TC to Minneapolis. Two to beam up.”

After a moment, the two disappeared in the usual blue, Starfleet transporter effect.