Disclaimer : You know the drill...I own nothing, only my sinister view of the world :) and some caracters, and the story, and the idea behind it...The rest, I borrowed it :) and hope they don‘t sue me...
Background : Well, this really is the continuation of another novel, so it would be advisable to read that one first. For those of you stubborn enough not to do so, here‘s a lil‘ summary :
DS9 is still under occupation. The minefield is down, but the Prophets ridded the Federation of the Dominion reinforcements. Oh, yeah, perhaps the most important thing is that Voyager has returned to the Alpha Quadrant. Paris, Tuvok, Data and Crusher are on some sort of special mission for the Federation.
Voyager and Enterprise-E have fought in the battle with the Defiant. When things were running badly indeed for the Feds, some ‚old friends‘ appeared.
And now the Continuation...
Author‘s Note : Again, I have to apologize to all the P/Tlers out there. This one, I‘m afraid, is not really a P/T story either. Perhaps towards the End, but I dunno. But I think there will be plenty of feelings in this one, in other words, perhaps it will get a bit sappy. Or perhaps not. Well, last time we left Picard, hanging out with Sela (I hope you remember her), and Paris being hung out by some Cardassian lunatic. Well, lets see what I got for you this time. :)
Feedback will be appreciated, enshrined, and carefully read! Feel free to write. You liked it? You hated it? You survived it? Tell me about it :) Everything, from praise to scorn, goes to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dedicated to Gene Roddenberry, for having invented Star Trek and making us believe in a better future, as always, and to William H. Keith jr. and Micheal A. Stackpole, some of my favourite authors. Oh, yeah, and to Terry Pratchett, my actual (!) favourite author. Also I would like to thank William Shakespeare, who helped me greatly in my last effort, even if he doesn‘t know it...and to the many poets who will appear in this one...As well I would like to apologize to all those who can‘t stand poems and whom I will bother with lots of them...this time and forever and ever :)
« Five hundred years ago, before the sailing-ship pioneers ventured into great waters, the oceans were an empty space, the only area of the world‘s surface in which men did not deploy military force against each other. In a future war, the oceans might appear empty again, swept clear both of merchant traffic and of the navies which have sought so long to protect it against predators. Yet the oceans‘ emptiness will be illusory, for in the deeps new navies of submarine warships, great and small, will be exacting from each other the price of admirality. »
The Price of Admirality
« No, great king :I come to thee for charitable license,
That we may wander o‘er this bloody field
To book our dead, and then to bury them ;
To sort out nobles from our common men,
For many of our princes, -woe the while !-
Lie drown‘d and soak‘d in mercenary blood ;
So do our vulgar drench their peasant limbs
In blood of princes.
O give us leave great king,
To view the field in safety, and dispose
Of their dead bodies. »
William Shakespeare, Henry V.
Part 1 - Aftermath
The stars sprinkled faintly, like small pin-pricks, distributed among the dark coat of night.
Between them, outside in the void, the once-proud remains of far too many Starships floated through space, lifeless, dark. The traces of the long battle they had fought, clearly visible on their hulls, the wrecks slowly moved among the stars.
The ghostly scene was intensified by small glimmers of light, appearing every now and then, partially hidden by the remains of the wrecks‘ outer hulls.
Jean-Luc Picard silently watched the scene displayed on Enterprise‘s view-screen. The same, hollow feeling gripped him, that had taken control of him almost 8 years before. The same emotitions spilled over him, that had overwhelmed him when he had seen the battlefield of Wolf359, after StarFleet‘s defeat by the Borg, and after the war. Only this time, the losses were heavier. Much heavier. When he saw the dreadfull silhouette of a Romulan Warbird moving between the dead, he gulped nervously.
Who‘d have thought that the Federation might receive help from that source?
The Warbird moved towards them, dodging the debris crossing their paths. Jean-Luc noticed some green-coloured pieces floating in front of the two ships.
The Romulans had gotten their shares, as well.
It seemed like yesterday to Picard. Not many years ago, they had met Sela once. During the Klingon Civil War, Sela appeared, claiming to be Tasha Yar‘s daughter. Nobody believed her at the beginning, but Guinan had told him that she believed Sela. True enough, Sela‘s story had sounded unlikely, but not totally impossible. She had pretended that in an alternative reality, Picard had sent Tasha Yar back to the past, on board the Enterprise-C. During the defense of a Klingon outpost at Narendra III against a Romulan attack, the Enterprise-C had laid the foundation for the Alliance between the Klingons and the Federation. But in combat, the Enterprise was destroyed. Tasha had survived, along with few others, and had ended up as spouse of the Romulan commander that attacked them. One night, Tasha and her daughter, Sela, had tried to flee. They had been caught, Tasha Yar executed. During the War, Sela had helped the Duras house by equipping and supprting them in their struggle to win the Klingon Empire. The plan had failed. A Federation Task Force had sealed the Klingon-Romulan border with a Tachyon detection-grid. The effect of that grid was to nullifie the Romulan cloaking. It had suceeded. Sela had to break off, and Gowron had been named Chancellor. Driven by her bitter disappointment, Sela had worked hard to elaborate a plan to destroy the Federation, and had almost succeeded in doing so, when she kidnapped Spock, Picard and Data on Romulus, and sent an occupation army to conquer Vulcan. This plan too failed. She had warned them they would meet again.
Now they had.
The sounds coming from Tactical brought Picard back to reality. ‚Sir,‘ his First Officer said ‚a message from Admiral Haze. We are ordered to fall back to StarBase 89.‘ Will grunted ‚Attack, fall back. Advance, fall back. I tell you that‘s becoming our favourite tune.‘
‚They better do something about it.‘ Geordi remarked. ‚Or soon, the only tune we‘ll be singing will be - ‚
‚...Hail the Conquering Dominion.‘ Julian finished.
‚That‘s not fair Julian.‘ Dax remarked ‚After all, we just won a great victory.‘
‚Great victory!‘ B‘Elanna spat the word out ‚Yeah. Right. And at what cost? We lost hundreds of ships, and we still needed the Romulan‘s help.‘
Chakotay heard the despise in his friend‘s voice. Unlike other Klingons, B‘Elanna did not always despise the Romulans because of what they were. At the moment, she despised them for helping the Federation, strange at it seemed.
Janeway sighed. ‚Set a course for SB89. Maximum Warp.‘
Jean-Luc nodded towards the Lieutenant currently manning Tactical.
‚Tell our Romulan friends to accompany us to SB89.‘
‚Warp 8. Engage.‘
On board the Salatrel, Colonel Sela paced her bridge. ‚Sir,‘ Varel, her First Officer reported ‚the Enterprise is ordering us to follow them to StarBase89. Ordering. Us!‘
Sela could her the disgust in the young woman‘s voice. It was obvious that she did not like taking orders from a StarFleet officer.
‚At ease Varel.‘ She soothed ‚It is in our own interest to help the Federation.‘
‚I know that sir, but it doesn‘t make the whole thing more comfortable.‘
‚We are at war, Varel. War never is comfortable.‘
Apparently Varel heard the unspoken threat in Sela‘s voice, for she did not bother to reply to her.
‚The High Consul on Romulus has decided to help the Federation. It is of no importance if you like it or not. We will follow the orders. Is that clear ?‘
‚Totally, Colonel,‘ Varel said, pronouncing Sela‘s rank perhaps a bit more than necessary.
Grimly satisfied by her reaction, Sela turned away.
‚Navigator, lay in a course for SB89. Go to cloak before we go to Warp.‘
The lights on the bridge dimmed, and Sela could hear the soft, soothing hum of the cloaking device, ready to work.
‚As our dear Captain Picard likes to say : Engage.‘
Sela smiled mysteriously.
The Salatrel shimmered out of existence, yet one could observe her warp engines glooming greenly, as she went to Warp, before she disappeared. She blazed among the stars, leaving no wake of rainbow light, nor any other sign of her passing.
She was fully cloaked.
In Federation Space.
Which could be construed by some as an act of war.
Which it was.
Though the war was not against those who dreaded it thus.
The elegant disc of Terok Nor slowly spun around it‘s horizontal axis, circled by an armada of Jem H‘Adar Attack vessels and Cardassian heavy cruisers. One of the beige-painted ship, long, slender and dreadful in shape, was currently attached to one of the upper pylons of the station. When Terok Nor was built, it‘s goal, like that of all Cardassian, had been war and occupation. Its goal showed itself in its design, practical, and with no trace of the elegance most StarFleet or even Romulan ships showed. It was therefore no surprise that the duranium-white starships of the Federation, in many cases, did not fit in with the station, the different senses of aesthetics being too different. On the other hand, the Galor-class destroyers and cruisers, deadly instruments of mass destruction, and visibly so, were the perfect match for the station, in itself anther sign of Cardassian imperialism. Terok Nor had once orbited Bajor, as the outermost and most visible sign of Bajor‘s conquest by Cardassian forces, as military outpost, as refinery for the ore mined on the planet itself, and as an instrument of the oppression of the Bajorans. Though the station had never reached, in measures of cruelty and industrial genocide, the perfection of the work-, concentration-, and death-camps on Bajor itself, it had been dreaded among Bajorans. Going to the station had meant death for over one third of those who were forced to work in its refineries. When it had come under Federation command, the station‘s reputation had improved somewhat, and had somehow become a week-end attraction for Bajorans.
Today, again under Dominion rule, Terok Nor fared little better than seven years ago, when it still was Cardassian. Though the Dominion had kept its part of the treaty it signed with Bajor, and had not invaded the planet, many Bajorans did not like their new allies, and resented that their first and only space station had been taken away from them again. Still, many Bajorans kept visiting tit, and since they were not arrested, they lived, to tell the tale that the old Deep Space station hand not become totally uninhabitable for Bajorans. So, the traffic to and from the station, though not flourishing as before, was still existent.
When close enough, one could see the activity on it‘s deck through the giant windows.
Figures were moving past them, some of them armed, some not. On its Ops, Damarr and the rest of the Alphashift suffered from one of Gul Dukat‘s anger attacks.
‚Where, by the Firefalls of Chun D‘Ai, did that ship come from?‘ he yelled.
‚I don‘t know sir.‘ Damarr responded very carefully ‚The Romulans-‚ ‚The Romulans did not interfere in this whole damn WAR ! Why did the green-blooded keltaqs have to do it right now ?‘ Damarr briefly considered giving an answer, but then decided that perhaps it was wiser to stay silent.
Apparently he was wrong.
‚Someone ANSWER me!‘ Dukat shouted.
‚Dukat.‘ The cold, calm voice of the Founder was almost more shocking than Dukat‘s rage.
‚What?‘ Dukat turned, somehow managing not to jump at the beeing. He put his hand on his phaser, though. The Jem H‘Adar soldiers unsheated their weapons in response.
The atmosphere was pretty tense, Damarr noted.
‚Stop shouting around, Dukat.‘ The Founder said. ‚It happened, we can‘t change it anymore. Find out what happened to our ships.‘
For a moment, Damarr was afraid that Dukat would actually shoot at the Founder. But somehow his superior controlled himself.
‚At once.‘ He said, watching the Founder leave.
The Vorta, as always, followed her like a lapdog.
It was dark, when Tom Paris regained consciesness. It lasted several seconds until he realized that he still had his eyes closed. He opened them.
He shut them again. He thought he was hallucinating. He opened his eyes again, and he finally realized that what he saw was the floor, its different parts quickly crossing his field of vision. When he could feel his limbs again, he felt strong hands gripping his arms, and dragging him over the floor.
Tom was too weak to struggle.
After considering briefly what had to be done, he decided that he hadn‘t got any options.
He closed his eyes again, and let the guards drag him away.
When the doorbell to his office chimmed, CounterAdmiral Owen Paris looked up from the PADD he was currently reading, and called the late visitor in.
He was surprised when he saw FleetAdmiral Haze, his superior officer and long-time friend enter the room. The painful look on his face did not indicate good news. Owen got up, and stood to attention. ‚Sir.‘
‚At ease, Owen, at ease.‘ Paris gestured towards the couch, indicating his friend to sit. Then he went over to the replicator. ‚Computer, 2 cups of tea, Earl Grey, hot.‘
When the cups materialized before him, he took them, walked over to the couch, handed the older man one of the steaming cups, and sat down beside him.
‚So, what bad news are waiting for me Bob ?‘ Owen asked.
Robert Haze smiled bitterly. ‚We just received word from the front line.
The battle was...a succes. In a way. The Dominion forces are retreating.
But the price was high, too high. Out of 617 ships, we lost 214. Practically every ship left, badly needs repairs. We‘re not entirely sure how many the Klingons lost, but their losses should be equally high as ours. Thanks to their ‚heroism‘ probably more. We suspect around 247 out of roughly 350.‘
‚250 ships? That leaves them with only 1 fleet left. Plus the one that stayed in Klingon space.‘
‚I know.‘ Haze sighed sadly ‚Oh, I know. I‘m afraid soon we have to help our allies.‘
‚How many people know about this ?‘
‚Not many. The Klingons will never admit how weak they really are.
And if we did, I‘m afraid morale would sink even further.‘
Owen nodded slowly.
‚What are they going to do now ?‘ he asked.
‚I suppose they are going to withdraw their ships to Quo‘nos. To protect it.‘
Admiral Paris nodded slowly. ‚They‘re effectively retreating out of this war. I can‘t say I blame them. If I were they, I too would try to protect Earth in the first place.‘
‚Which means, we must now consider our strategy. We can no longer count on the Klingons. It will undoubtedly surprise you to hear we had some help lately.‘
Owen raised an eyebrow.
‚The Romulans have interfered with the battle. In essence they have saved us.‘
Owen Paris scratched his chin. ‚The Romulans. I thought they behaved neutral in this conflict.‘
‚Well, obviously, they don‘t. At least not anymore. I‘ve ordered the fleet to return to StarBase89. The Romulans too. Once they‘ve arrived here, we‘ll know exactly what we‘re dealing with.‘ Robert Haze stood up and stretched himself. Before he turned to leave, he faced his friend one more time.
‚I have some other bad news for you. The Ketarra returned from Corvus II. Without the away-team. We suspect they have been either killed or captured. I‘m sorry.‘
After an uncomfortable silence, Owen trusted his voice enough to speak. ‚We‘re at war Admiral. Things like that happen. And, for their own sake, I hope they are dead.‘ Not believing his own words, Owne quickly added ‚Goodnight sir.‘ And shut the door.
His eyes were burning with unshed tears, but he refused to show any emotions, even to an empty room.
Silently, he returned to his desk, and got back to his work.
When Thomas Paris heard a loud, disturbing noise, he opened his eyes again. He saw a heavy door being opened.
The guards roughly pulled him to his feet, and brutally jerked him into the cell, slamming him to the floor again. With a loud, and sudden voice, the door shut again. Inside the cell, it was dark, the only light coming from an old-fashioned neontube.
When he tried to sit up, he moaned in pain.
‚What have you bastards done to me ?‘ he shouted. He finally got to his feet and made his way back to the door, angrily slamming his fists into it, again and again. He couldn‘t bear it for long. Exhausted as he was, he stumbled backwards, the room spinning in front of his eyes.
He would have fallen to the groung again, if it wouldn‘t have been for a pair of hands grabbing him softly from behind, and slowly lowering him against a near wall. He saw a dark figure kneeling in front of him, running her hands up and down his arm.
Before he drifted into sleep, Tom could hear an unknown voice whispering to him.
‚Tom ?‘ it said.
When they arrived in StarBase89‘s conference lounge, the senior staffs of the most important StarFleet ships, Enterprise, Defiant, Voyager, were greeted by the highest-ranking Admirals in StarFleet command. Morale among the armed troops had improved considerably, after news of the Federation victory had reached home. Even the Romulans had been greeted rather warmly. The long area of mutual distrust had been forgotten for a while, when the first in a series of festivities had been arranged. Although no-one really could understand the Romulan help, everyone was grateful for it. It had been badly needed. Now, some of the Federation‘s most famous officers were assembled in one room, and their thought were roughly concerning the same subject. What to do now, with our two allies who will kill each other on the first occasion?