Kio slowly pushed through the bushes with her free hand. For a forest, there sure did seem to be a lot of jungle trees around here.
“About another kilometer,” Lt. Kaii’s voice relayed to the NEO team as they moved towards the wreckage of the assumed Eastern bomber that the Sisko shot down.
“Copy, Nighthawk,” Kio replied. Having an invisible scout flying a few thousand meters above you, watching for people was so helpful, Kio had to acknowledge.
Though apart from stepping on the occasional snake or otherwise poisonous looking forest/jungle looking creature, the hike itself had been uneventful.
Too uneventful in Kio's opinion.
They were well outside of the Sisko's crew’s perimeter, yet they hadn't seen a single gunship, solider, or aircraft. Granted it was overcast, but their technology was to the point where they should be able to fly by instruments alone.
“I don't like this,” Kio made her suspicions known.
“Yeah, I don't either, Chief,” Rei commented back from her position to the east. “That's why we need to be extra vigilant out here, get what we came to get, and scram.”
“Yes ma'am,” Kio replied.
Meanwhile, on the Sisko, about seventy-five marines and thirty security officers milled around Cargo Bay one waiting to find out if they were going to be transported out.
Ryouga was among them.
“Ryouga,” Minako called out.
Ryouga turned and looked towards Minako who was running in his direction.
Minako ran up to Ryouga and smiled. “Wow. You look so cute in your assault uniform.”
The standard assault uniform, which in this case was for land, was green and black digital camouflaged with a protective vest and helmet.
“Thanks,” Ryouga said, nervous.
“What's the matter?” Minako asked.
“Oh, just first mission jitters, I guess.”
Minako nodded uncertainly. “Well, if you guys go, be safe!” Minako leaned up and kissed Ryouga on the cheek and walked off.
“Hey way to go there, Hibiki! WOO!” the security officer next to Ryouga taunted.
“SHUT UP!” Ryouga barked.
“You know, I'm your supervisor.”
“Shut up, sir?”
As the first NEO group reached the end of the tree line they paused. Kio looked around, her tricorder showing no bio signs except that of her group and those of the other NEO group in the distance.
“Nighthawk, can you confirm, no one around?”
“That's affirmative,” Kaii responded from the cloaked scout ship.
Kio sighed. “Commander, we're at the tree line and we can see the wreckage. We can secure the perimeter for you-”
“Negative,” Rei cut Kio off. “If you have eyes on the wreckage and it's clear, your team is go to take possession. We'll secure the perimeter.”
“Aye,” Kio replied, somewhat surprised. She turned to the rest of her group. “Okay gang, let's move.”
Kio, Anthony, Michael, Ensign Yayo, and Corporal Xiang, the entire complement of NEO's Beta Team, bolted from the wooded area and set up defensive positions around the crashed wreckage of the bomber aircraft.
Kio and Xiang climbed onto what appeared to be the cockpit of the aircraft. Kio investigated the window.
“The pilots are still in here.”
Yayo, the medic began to climb up onto the aircraft as well. Xiang, after some searching, managed to locate where the cockpit canopy and the fuselage meet and applied some plastic explosives to that area.
“Fire in the hole.” He dryly stated before setting off a small explosion that popped the canopy open enough for Yayo to check the three pilots inside the aircraft.
“They're all dead.”
“Do they have marks on them?” Rei asked.
“No,” Kio replied. “Their skin is a single color. Plus, the writing inside this aircraft doesn't match the writing sample Commander Aino gave us.”
“Sisko to NEO, is it overcast enough that their satellites cannot photograph us?” Ranma's voice asked.
“Quite,” Kaii replied. “I had to drop to about 1,500 meters to scout.”
“Beam that aircraft back here then,” Ranma demanded.
Tony looked to Mike before pulling out one of the transport enhancers from his pack. “You heard the man.”
“Hopefully, we can beam back too. My dogs are barking!” Mike laughed.
Larson and Genma walked into a dark office that was peppered with pro-Romulan and anti-Federation propaganda. The man sitting behind the desk motioned for the two to have a seat while he finished reading a memo.
Genma turned to Larson but Larson silently ordered Genma to be quiet and trust his elder, as Genma had so often told his son to do. It was rare that Genma was on the receiving end of that look, especially without the panty raids of Happosai being involved.
The old Romulan behind the desk was menacing in appearance. He appeared about seventy Earth years old, but of course, since Romulans and Vulcans live such long lives you can assume he is much older than that. His hair was dark black with a few streaks of gray in it. His eyes were green, probably stained with the blood of Vulcans he has had killed over the years. He had a thin goatee that had turned all gray, with the odd exception of one spot, which remained black.
The old Romulan finally put down his PADD and turned to Larson and smiled.
“Scott, old friend,” he said in a voice that certainly did not match his look or his earlier demeanor. “How are you?”
“I'm well, thank you,” Larson replied, also smiling. “Van'dy, this is my associate, Admiral Genma Saotome.”
Van'dy leaned across his desk and shook Genma's hand. “You're Ranma Saotome's father, aren't you?”
Genma nodded. “Yes.”
“What a shame, the way they railroaded your boy. Just to make the Vulcans happy,” Van'dy shook his head in both sadness and disgust. “He should be hailed as a national hero on Vulcan for killing that traitor, Vor’Gal.”
“Mmm,” Genma replied.
“Anyway...” Van'dy continued, feeling Genma's obvious discomfort with him. “What's the urgent situation?”
“I have a ship stranded. Interestingly enough, Ranma Saotome's ship. And I am fairly sure that someone inside of the Vulcan defense or intelligence ministries are wanting to keep it that way.
“I've lost four ships so far trying to rescue them, and now Starfleet won't send anymore since they don't have any escorts.”
“Not to be harsh, but this is a lot of effort to go through for a ship. Why not just send someone to recover the crew?”
“The crew found tampering with her engines which I think will prove and bring down the conspiracy that is trying to break apart the Federation.
“Without that evidence, everything is just hearsay.”
Van'dy nodded and picked up another PADD. “I am lacking SRV's.”
“We have two,” Larson stated.
“We do?” Genma asked.
“Well then!” Van’Dy “You guys have a nice long voyage to prepare for!”
Genma and Larson stood and began to walk to the office door. Genma stopped and looked at a propaganda poster that showed a Romulan drinking what appeared to be Romulan Ale out of the head of a human.
“HAHA!” Van’Dy laughed, patting Genma on the back. “Stupid propaganda. Do you know how terrible Romulan Ale would taste if you mixed it with blood and brain matter?”
Larson laughed as did a couple of other Romulans within earshot. Genma let out an uneasy chuckle as he and Larson were led out of the office.
The pinkish-orange Geneva sunset crept in the window of the Federation Council building. Slow footsteps were the only sounds that could be heard as Zack Young came walking down the hallway towards his office; a PADD in his hand and a smile on his face.
The PADD, partially obscured by his palm, displayed the headline from the local newspaper.
'STARFLEET ATTACKED BY VULCANS!' it read.
Young smirked. In a little under a day, he had managed to set in motion what he had hoped would end up being the start of the end of the Vulcan-Earth alliance, and end the end, would allow Earth to regain, what he believed was its rightful place as explorers and conquerors.
The tall, blonde man looked at the PADD once more before deactivating the lock on his office and walking in. As he began to take off his suit jacket, his office chair began to turn around towards him.
“I have been waiting for you,” Salek said calmly.
“GOD DAMN IT!” Young screamed, jumping against the wall and instinctively going for the security panel. He managed to realize who was in his office though and stopped himself before alerting the guards.
“You see jumpy,” Salek mused.
Young resumed removing his jacket and walked to his replicator in a huff.
“You'd be jumpy to if someone had broken into your office and was pretending to be some sort of Bond villain. Coffee, black.”
The replicator complied as Salek tried to comprehend Young's slight towards him.
“What's a 'Bond villain'?”
Young picked up his coffee and shook his head.
“Never mind,” he sighed as he walked to his desk and sat down across from Salek.
“So, what do I owe the honor of your trespassing?”
Salek grinned. Whenever Salek grinned, Young knew treachery was afoot. This was always good news for the pair's plans.
“Tragic news. First, a Starfleet scout ship attacked a Vulcan science ship, killing all on board. Incredibly sad.”
Young nodded. “Indeed.”
“Then another Starfleet ship came within the Vulcan defense perimeter. They apparently didn't identify themselves quick enough and were quickly dispatched by the planetary defenses.”
Salek quickly turned away in what appeared to be an attempt to stifle a laugh. Once he had regained his composure, he turned back to Young and attempted to look even more stern.
Young nodded in faux understanding.
“Anyway, I didn't even have anything to do with that. Seems like the real military is getting pretty paranoid of Starfleet ships now.”
Young leaned back in his chair and began to chew on his fingernail. “That's all well and good, but misunderstandings aren't going to get the job done.”
Salek smiled. “Well, what's going to happen tomorrow will be no misunderstanding.”
“A rouge Vulcan Army division is going to retaliate for Nagaya.”
“Oh?” Young chuckled. “Against the LDF?”
Salek nodded. “It will be ugly.”
“Saanik will have a hard time explaining his way out of that.”
“Saanik will be arrested shortly after the attack begins and accused of ordering it. All the evidence is ready.”
“Nice work,” Young grinned.
Salek nodded. “Speaking of nice work, what about things on your end? I stopped the rescue fleet. Has Larson tried to launch more?”
“Tried, but I made sure they don't have any warp cores for that ship, any SRVs, or any transport ships.”
Salek nods. “Let's taunt him.”
Young laughed. “How Vulcan.”
Young turned his computer around, so it faced him and began to hit a couple of buttons. After a moment, a pretty young woman appeared wearing a Starfleet uniform.
“Starfleet Headquarters, how may I direct your call.”
“Admiral Scott Larson's office, please,” Young replied.
“I'm sorry, but the Admiral is out of town on business, would you like his voice mail?”
“Can you transfer me to where he is?” Young asked.
“I'm sorry, I cannot.”
Young scratched his head. “Okay, well, can you tell me where he went?”
“I'm sorry, his destination is classified.”
Young, despite his appreciation for young Petty Officers, was growing frustrated with this one.
“This is Councilman Zack Young. I have level Alpha One security clearance.”
The young girl looks at her screen for a moment, then back to the camera. “I'm sorry, but this is classified Black Five.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Councilman?”
Young sighed. “No. Thanks.”
“Have a great day!” the girl cheerfully smiled before ending the transmission. Salek looked to Young, who was getting more and more agitated by the moment.
“What does ‘Black Five’ classified mean?”
Young, whose head looked ready to explode, turned to Salek.
“Section 31?” Genma asked. A few of the Romulans who were in the lounge with Larson and Genma turned their direction, but most ignored them, as they had no clue or no interest in what the two humans were talking about.
“Yes. For about twenty years,” Larson continued. “But as the threats became more obvious and more dangerous, I decided to become a Starfleet officer and put my talents to use here.”
Genma nodded while taking a drink of his tea. “It's good that you didn't burn any bridges. Having these... friends... is quite useful.”
Larson looked and nodded to a couple of Romulans who were giving the pair the dirty eye.
“Eh, don't worry. I don't think most of them like us any more than you like them.” Larson took a drink of his Romulan Ale and leaned back. “I guess I don't mind being around them because I spent a lot of time on Romulus.
“Van'dy and I were 'enemies' you could say. But at the same time, we were friends. We would pass each other information, and at the same time, use each other to keep the peace. It worked that way back in the twentieth century too. Backchannels.”
Genma nodded. Espionage was something he didn't really care to get into, nor really care to understand the finer details of.
“Man, we could have used an agent like you, Genma!” Larson laughed. “I can't imagine how many places I could have gotten into if I could have turned into a panda!”
Genma laughed for a moment before looking out the window and seeing the ship drop out of warp.
“Bridge to Admiral Larson,” an unnamed Romulan called.
“We've reached the rendezvous.”
“Thank you!” Larson replied. “You ready, Genma?”
Genma looked out the window at the two ship recovery vessels and the transport ship idling in orbit around an exceptionally large gas giant.
“Starfleet lied to us.”
“No, they didn't lie,” Larson corrected Genma as the pair walked to the turbolift. “Someone altered the ship inventory to make it look like there were no ships available.”
The pair stepped into the turbolift and instructed it to head to the transporter room. Once there Genma resumed his questioning.
“Why would someone do that?”
Larson shrugged. “Energize.”
One the pair rematerialized on the transport ship, the U.S.S. Muskogee, Larson continued.
“Why, I don't know. As to who... Well, I have my suspicions, but I don't know yet.”
Genma nodded. “So do we also have a warp core?”
Larson nodded as the pair hopped into a turbolift and rode it to the bridge. “Basically, everything we had the first time, we have now.”
“No escort,” Genma sighed.
The pair rode in silence for a moment, before Genma turned back to Larson.
“So, why are we dealing with the Romulans then?”
Larson didn't turn away from the front of the turbolift.
“If we stay in Romulan space, we'll be safer. The Vulcans, especially those acting out of the authority of Starfleet, will be less likely to cross the Neutral Zone to attack us. Plus, like that...”
Larson smirked as he continued. “...freighter crewman said, the Vulcans have issues with breaking their encryption.”
Genma nodded slowly as the turbolift to the bridge slid to a stop and the doors opened. The pair walked out as Larson continued.
“The Bajorans have been given permission to come into Romulan space as well and will catch up with us in about 15 hours. They're sending a pretty heavy escort.”
Genma smiled. “Well, that's nice of them.”
“They're pretty attached to that ship.”
The pair walk down to the ship’s captain. “Hello!” The captain, an older, black man with a thick goatee and an even thicker voice greets them.
“Good morning, Captain. I'm Admiral Scott Larson, this is Admiral Genma Saotome.”
“Nice to meet you, Admirals. I'm Commander Edwin LeBeaux and I understand we've got a long trip ahead of us?”
“Yes, about two months,” Genma sighed.
“I guess we better get going then,” LeBeaux stated.
“One second, Captain,” Larson interrupted. “Open a channel to the Romulan ship please.”
The communication officer complied and Van'dy appeared.
“Scotty! Best get going!”
Larson smiled. “I just wanted to say thanks.”
Van'dy nodded. “We're even now, okay?”
Larson nodded. “You got it, old friend.”
The channel closed and Van'dy's ship cloaked. Larson turned to LeBeaux. “NZ-12G. Best possible speed, please.”
LeBeaux turned to the helmsman. “You heard the admiral. Link with the SRV's, make sure they are with us. Engage.”
After a few seconds of the ships aligning, all three took off in a blinding flash of light.
SEVEN HOURS LATER
Salek rolls over in his bed and angrily looks at his terminal, which is flashing and making some God-awful Vulcan version of the standard 'Star Trek' chirp. He manages to hit a button that sets it to audio-only.
“This is Salek,” he grumbles.
“Minister, sorry to wake you, but I think we've found the ships you're looking for.”
Salek sat nearly straight up in bed. “You *think*?”
“Well...” the voice on the other end explained nervously, with what can only be described as the Vulcan version of fear in his voice. “There is a large fleet of Bajoran ships headed towards empty space, just across the Romulan border. You said last time that they were going to get a Bajoran escort-”
“-Bajoran escort,” Salek interrupted.
“They're running with their transponders off. Unless Bajor is invading Romulus, there is nothing for months in the direction the Bajoran ships are headed.”
“Send the squad,” Salek ordered. “I’ll be in there shortly.”
Ranma was the final one to walk into the main conference room as the sunrise began to shine through the windows. The large transparent aluminum slightly tinted automatically to contain some of the glare, however many of the occupants of the room had to squint, depending on where they were seated.
Ranma took his seat at the head of the table as Akane and two doctors walked up to the main monitor to begin their presentation.
Akane began to speak as she activated the monitor, showing a picture of the deceased pilot.
“After performing an autopsy, DNA analysis, and full genetic markup, and comparing it with all the information we could find on the Valarie computer network, we are reasonably comfortable with assuming that these people are indeed from the Eastern continent.”
“Reasonably comfortable with assuming?” Ranma asked in a tone that made clear that the doctor's statement was not what he was hoping for.
“Yes, captain,” one of the doctors responded. “Basically, the Easterns and Westerns DNA is more or less identical, which would make sense, given that with the exception of the markings the Westerns have, they all appear to be the same race.”
“Wouldn't the marks themselves be caused by something genetic?” Minako asked.
“Yes,” the other doctor replied, changing the display to the pilot’s genetic profile. “But the issue is that unless you can bring us known Western DNA to compare this to, we won't be able to tell what the difference is.”
Akane sighed. “The seemingly one thing that both sides have been able to agree on is that 'God made the marks'. So, neither side has bothered to try and figure out a scientific cause for them, or why only those from the west have them.”
“But it is genetic,” the second doctor added on. “We saw a few cases where children were born without the marks.”
“What happened to them?” Minako asked.
Rei scoffed. “I really don't think we want to know.”
The second doctor shook his head. “They were deemed to not be in favor of God.”
Ranma sat up before this became a theological discussion. “So, how certain are you that these men are from the east?”
“From a biological standpoint, I'd say 90%. There's no sign of surgery that would suggest that their marks were removed.”
Ranma turned to Makoto. “And you verified the language in the aircraft, and the aircraft itself matched Eastern language and equipment?”
“Yes sir,” Makoto replied.
“Alright then. Doctors, Akane. You're dismissed.”
The doctors left the room. Akane stayed for a moment, nodded to Ranma in support, and then followed her coworkers out.
“Last night, Prime Minister Mao called me again. A third city was hit by an Eastern ICBM.”
Ranma hit a button and the devastated ruins of a Western city appeared on the monitor. Minako rubbed her face as Makoto just shook her head. Rei bit her lip for a minute.
“It's been a long time since I have heard another man cry,” Ranma said softly. “Sadly enough though, not long enough since I had cried myself. Especially when I told him 'no' again.”
Ranma punched up a map of the Eastern continent. On it, several lights began to flash.
“General Garone sent this to us. It's a map of the Eastern Republic's ICBM bunkers. They apparently have thirty-seven left. If one of them were to hit us, we would be killed.”
“We could shoot them down easily before they got here,” Makoto replied.
Ranma nodded. “Or we could destroy them in their bunkers.”
“Ohhhhh...” Makoto grinned.
Ranma looked to Rei. “I know you object to us interfering...”
Rei nodded. “Yeah, Captain, I do. And I think this is an interesting way of getting around it.” Rei paused and looked at the window and the less than two meters of invisible metal that was between here and the air outside.
She turned back to Ranma. “But at the same time, I have no interest in one of those missiles landing on us.”
Ranma smiled. “Can you put together a plan in five hours?”
“Can you get me schematics to one of those silos?”
Ranma smiled and bowed as Mao stepped off his helicopter. Mao walked up to Ranma, bowed, and smiled in return.
“Captain. Nice to see you.”
“You as well, Mr. Prime Minister.”
“General Garone said you had to talk in person.”
Ranma nodded as the two walked away from the noise of the helicopter.
“I want to make a deal with you,” Ranma said.
“Oh?” Mao asked.
“I will end the Eastern nuclear attacks by destroying all of their nuclear silos. However, in exchange, you must promise me that you will not use that awful weapon on them.”
Mao blinked. “They deserve-”
“I know what they deserve,” Ranma interrupted. “But two wrongs don’t make a right. They will get their comeuppance in the afterlife.”
Mao sighed and bit his lip.
“Do we have a deal?” Ranma asked.
“How are you going to do it?”
“General Garone is going to provide me us with intelligence on locations and we will insert teams in to destroy the ICBMs while they are still inside their silos.”
“Are you going to use your magical disappearing beam?” Mao asked.
Ranma chuckled. “A famous writer from my planet once said, ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’”
Mao nodded and smiled. “You have a deal.”
Larson and Genma sprinted up the corridor of the Muskogee as the red alert lights flashed and the alert klaxons blared. The two men reached the turbolift after a short sprint, both out of breath.
“Bridge,” Larson ordered as Genma panted.
“I thought my running days were over,” the bald man whimpered as Larson smiled worriedly.
The turbolift did not take too long to get the pair to the Ambassador class ship's bridge. Once there, Genma walked over to the tactical station and Larson to LeBeaux.
“Status, captain?” Larson asked.
“Three unidentifiable ships on an intercept course,” LeBeaux replied, looking at the tactical display on the main viewer. “Based on the information you gave me from the last engineering fleet, their size and speed lead me to believe that they are the same Vulcan cruisers.”
Larson groaned. “Dammit. I thought we'd be far enough away from Federation space to avoid being detected.”
Genma looked to the operations station. “How long before the Bajoran fleet gets here?”
The operations officer shakes his head. “Way too late.”
Larson ran his hands through his black and gray hair and bit his lip. “Send out a general distress call. Maybe the Romulans will get it.”
Ops nodded as Tactical began to tighten his stance. “They're locking their weapons.”
“HOLY SHIT!” Ops screamed, pointing to the main viewer.
Larson, Genma, and LeBeaux all looked up to see a single Romulan Bird of Prey and four Romulan Valdore type heavy cruisers decloak and break formation.
“They're hailing us,” Ops called out.
“On screen,” LeBeaux ordered.
The screen came to life with the grinning appearance of a young Romulan captain. He had an arrogant appearance to him, with his fingers tented and his legs crossed. He nodded to the officers on the Muskogee.
“Good day. I'm Commander Torah, of the Romulan Warbird Jarok. Please allow me to dispatch these vagabonds who seem to be wanting to impede your travels and then we'll deal with pleasantries.”
“Sounds good, Commander,” LeBeaux replied.
Torah nodded again and the channel closed. The bridge crew of the Muskogee watched as the five ships intercepted the three Vulcan cruisers. However, the battle was not as one-sided as one would think.
The Vulcan cruisers were obviously rigged for battle with larger, more powerful ships, and were manned by crews that had skill sets beyond what one would consider a normal ship’s crew. Before the first battle cruiser was destroyed, one of the Romulan cruisers was immobilized and was on fire.
Without the third battlecruiser though, the other two battlecruisers seemed to go down quickly. The Romulans showed no mercy as they made no attempts to demand either ship surrender.
“Set a course for that damaged ship,” LeBeaux ordered. “The least we can do is see if we can get it moving again.”
“Aye,” Helm responded as Ops piped up.
“They're hailing us again.”
Torah reappeared on the screen. He appeared to have taken a slight beating in the battle, but in general, was no worse for the wear.
“Commander, thank you for your assistance,” LeBeaux stated.
Torah nodded. “I'm noticing you're changing course.”
“We're a repair team, we thought we could help with your disabled ship.”
Torah shook his head. “I appreciate the thought, but we cannot allow non-Romulan military onboard our Valdore class ships. She is being evacuated and will be destroyed.”
“Mmm,” LeBeaux acknowledged. He turned to the helm and began to issue more orders as Larson stepped forwards.
“Commander, I am Admiral Scott Larson.”
“I'm just curious, why were you following us?”
Torah smiled. “We were escorting you. By order of the Tal Shiar.”
Both Genma and LeBeaux looked up at Larson who was grinning from ear to ear. “That old dog,” Larson mumbled to himself. “Well Commander, we thank you for your diligence.”
“Please, Admiral, the pleasure was ours,” Torah smiled, leaning back. “If it means I get to blow up Vulcan swine, quite frankly I'll do it for free.”
“How much longer will you be escorting us?” Genma asked.
“Until you are safely under the guard of the Bajorans,” Torah replied.
“Well, thank you very much,” Larson smiled. “We appreciate your help, and it will be remembered in the future.”
Torah nodded and grinned. “You know, Admiral. Growing up, I dreamed of joining the military so that I could kill Starfleet officers.”
Larson continued to smile, as Genma looked on worriedly. LeBeaux also slowly turned from the operations station.
“However, after fighting with your people during the Dominion War,” Torah paused for a second. “Well, while we're not yet allies, I am glad that I am escorting you, rather than killing you.”
“You and me both,” Genma mumbled.
“Commander Torah, for you to be flying one of the Romulan Guard's finest new ships, you must an excellent commander. When I return, I will be sure to alert your supervisors to your competence.”
Torah, who looked like he'd be complemented by the Praetor himself, nodded and closed the channel. The four healthy Romulan ships then opened fire and destroyed their disabled vessel and quickly cloaked.
“Captain, if you'd like to resume course,” Larson said as he started to walk back towards the turbolift with Genma following slowly behind.
“Aye,” LeBeaux nodded.
As the turbolift doors closed, Genma turned to Larson. “The Tal Shiar?”
Larson nodded, watching the front of the turbolift.
“You don't think that Section 31 would talk to just any old Romulan, do you? Deck six.”
Genma leaned back and sighed as the turbolift began to work its way downward. “No. No, I guess not.”
Larson turned to Genma. “What's wrong?”
“Well, at first I thought Section 31 was bad for what they did to Commander Kino. Then I have my world turned upside down because I thought the Tal Shiar was bad.”
Larson chuckled. “They are. Oh, they've killed more people than I can count.”
“Then how can you be friends with that man?”
Larson turns to Genma. “Pause.”
The lift comes to a stop as Larson rubs his face. “How can he be friends with me? Do you have any idea how many of his colleagues I've killed?”
Genma shook his head.
“Neither do I. Do you know how many people you've killed?”
Genma started to talk but couldn't find the words.
“Would you believe me if I told you that because he and I have the relationship that we do, we've saved far more than we've killed? That we've stopped the Federation and the Romulans from going to war dozens of times.
“Think about that. Killed... A few hundred. Saved. A few hundred billion. Resume.”
Larson turned back towards the front of the turbolift as did Genma.
“Espionage work is dirty. But it's necessary and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps the peace.”
The turbolift comes to a stop and the doors open. Larson begins to step out, but Genma stays. Larson notices this and turns around.
“I'm sorry, Scott.”
Larson shakes his head and walks back to Genma and pats him on the back.
“Don't worry about it. You have a lot on your mind right now.”
Genma nods and walks out of the turbolift with Larson, unsure if he feels any better or not.
FORT VOKAU – VULCAN – 0218 LOCAL TIME
Rain continued to pour down, reducing the already limited visibility of the soldiers driving the Vulcan Defense Force transports. Most were driving by sensors, but they were still occasionally hitting trees, which was infuriating their commanders who were hoping for a stealthy approach to the Starfleet base.
They realized that they would only be able to get to within a kilometer of the base and would have to fire from there.
The drive for the approximately sixty troops took another fifteen minutes, before the order to disembark was received. The soldiers, with almost android-like order, moved out of the transports and lined up in formation. Quickly, the soldiers began to move mobile plasma artillery into position. Between the Vulcan's expert mathematical skills, the computerization of the artillery, and the fact that the Vulcans knew exactly where the base was and exactly what they wanted to hit, meant that the opening salvo would be devastating.
It would have to be. After the first hit, the base's shields would be raised. However, the damage would have already been done.
The clock was ticking.
Nothing could be seen. The rain had increased to monsoonish levels. Night vision was useless. Not that it really mattered. No one would be watching the perimeter for ground forces. They were on friendly soil. They were there to protect the Vulcans.
Not to be attacked by them.
It would go into Webster's 24th Century Dictionary under 'back-stab.
“Now,” The order was given.
Every piece of artillery opened fire.
It took the plasma charges under fifteen seconds to make it the kilometer to the base. Barracks exploded. Fuel silos exploded. Everything that could possibly explode, exploded.
The base went dark.
Again, the artillery fired. The troops expected the plasma charges to hit the shields and dissipate, but they did not. The base’s shields did not activate. The plasma charges hit again, this time, their secondary targets, hitting shuttle hangers, transports, storage facilities.
The artillery took about 45 seconds to recharge, every time it did, it hit a different part of the base, demolishing everything. After a few volleys, a second, smaller group of scouts reached the perimeter of the base.
“There are no life signatures coming from within the base,” one scout reported.
“Starfleet has dispatched interceptors and troops from Fort Vash. ETA, seven minutes,” another informed the soldiers.
“Transports, pick up the troops, and let's leave.”
The transports quickly zipped down and picked up the soldiers at the base entrance as the artillery and the main group were transported to an unknown location. Within five minutes, all the Vulcans had come and gone, and the Starfleet base was destroyed; inside lay nearly 100,000 dead Starfleet LDF personal.