Star Trek: New Horizons Season 5, Episode 8 (Open Doors) by captaintigranian
Summary: The Pershing returns to Earth for Katie and Phil's wedding. The crew looks forward to only having to worry about bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners, and family reunions. However, across the galaxy, the fight for freedom continues.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 10117 Read: 52 Published: 28 Jan 2018 Updated: 28 Jan 2018

1. Chapter 1 by captaintigranian

2. Chapter 2 by captaintigranian

3. Chapter 3 by captaintigranian

4. Chapter 4 by captaintigranian

5. Chapter 5 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Sol System: Federation Space

Stardate: 54454.3

"Pershing, this is Capital Space Traffic Control, I have you right in the center of the slot passing Luna Marker. Everything's looking good. You are cleared for final approach. Drop to one quarter impulse and transition to harbor freq for terminal guidance."

"Acknowledged, Capital Space Traffic Control," Phil said from the helm as he expertly manipulated the controls.

"Helm," Tigranian said from his chair. "Drop speed to one quarter impulse, prepare auto-systems."

"Aye Sir," Phil said with a happy smirk.

"Now, that sight never gets old," Annabeth said smiling as the blue and green orb of Earth filled the viewscreen. "Leaving wears on you, but coming back feels new every time."

"Welcome Home, Number One," Tigranian said grinning.

"Speak for yourselves, Humans," Scharr said from the aft of the bridge. He crossed his arms and curled his antenna. "We just left my house." Tigranian turned his chair to cast a glare in the direction of his curmudgeonly chief engineer.

"Point taken, Mr. Scharr," Katie said from Tactical with a chuckle. "However, our home is your home, too."

"You can keep that ball of liquid water. Too much sun," the Andorian said shaking his head. The humans on the bridge laughed.

"Look!" Phil said as they began to pass over the European continent. "RMS Olympic is getting ready to leave port." The Southampton passenger docks in geo-synchronous orbit over Britain contained several civilian starliners. Among them, as a gigantic tear drop shaped craft painted in white, black, and red began slipping away from her berth. Underneath the transparent observation dome, thousands of passengers waved goodbye to the individuals still along the mooring platforms. Her nacelles glowed in idle as they prepared to depart for another trans-Federation crossing. Two space tugs stood ready to tractor the immense ship out of orbit towards open space. The Pershing passed closely enough to see the golden letters painted across her stern:

OLYMPIC

LIVERPOOL

"That's the ship that brought us to the Federation," Laria said from the science station. "I still remember the three of us cramming into one of the small state rooms at the bottom of the hull. It was the first time in my life I ever slept in a real bed. It was amazing. Then, we had to pass through the New York Immigration Station. That…not so much. At least we got to see the big, green statue from the posters. That was pretty cool."

"You mean the Statue of Liberty?" Katie said in shock. "You think that was only 'pretty cool?'"

"A statue is a statue," Laria said. "But your first bed is something you really remember. That's what liberty means to me."

A few moments later, the giant silhouette of Earth spacedock loomed in front of their bow. Another voice sounded from the room's overhead speakers.

"Pershing, this is Starbase 1 Dockmaster on Harbor Freq. I have you passing the outer buoy. Standing by for lock on at your signal."

"All Hands, this is the Captain. Docking Stations. Prepare for mooring operations." A few seconds passed.

"All Departments acknowledge, Sir," Annabeth said.

"All set, Phil?" the captain asked.

"Aye Sir," he said. "I can finally kick back and have a pint."

"Not quite yet, Mr. Lexington," Tigranian said tugging on the bottom hem of his jacket. "Lock on, engage auto systems."

"Locking on, Sir," Phil said pressing several buttons in rapid succession.

"Starbase 1, Pershing, you have control," Tigranian said over subspace.

"Acknowledged, Pershing," the dockmaster replied. "Opening port gates, standby for tractor lock." The bridge crew relaxed in their seats. The harbor pilot in Earth Spacedock's operations center now had control of their vessel and would be bringing it on remote. All they had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.

Four tractor beams reached out and gently grabbed their hull. Soon, they were being pulled towards a maw rapidly opening in the side of the space station's giant dome. As soon as they passed into the cavernous, sheltered dock, lighted panels on the deck below indicated the path to their slip. Soon, they smoothly settled in to their berth.

"Docking maneuver completed," the dockmaster said through the speakers. "Welcome back."

"Pershing confirms. Appreciate the ride," Tigranian said shutting down the subspace link. "Phil, set all moorings, gravitational, and life support umbilicals."

"Set Sir," he replied. Tigranian noticed Phil nervously shifting in his seat. He looked over his shoulder and saw Katie in a similar state of jitters. He didn't blame them.

"Mr. Lexington, Ms. Stone," Tigranian said rising to his feet. "You have a lot going on in the next few days. Permission to leave the bridge."

"What?" Katie said confused.

"You two have a wedding to pull off. Get outta here and handle your business."

"Thank you, Sir!" Phil said rising from his station. He and Katie made a dash for the turbolift.

"Annabeth, you too," he said. "Get going."

"Dan," she said shaking her head. "We have an entire power down checklist to get through…"

"Annabeth," he said holding up his hand. "I don't need your help to turn off a bridge. Go. I think you have some people waiting for you."

"Thank you!" she said flying out of her seat with a smile. "I owe you one."

As soon she was gone, Laria crossed her arms.

"Do you know how long it'll take us to get through the whole checklist without them?" she said annoyed.

"It won't be too bad," Tigranian said calmly. "With Tren's help…"

The captain turned around just in time to see the Andorian disappear through the side turbolift's closing doors. Tigranian pursed his lips.

"Don't worry," Tigranian said correcting himself. "We'll take a break for dinner…"

****

Annabeth stood at the port airlock hatch nervously wringing her hands. The retractable gangway was taking forever to extend and seal. Finally, she got a green light and opened the hatch. She bolted down the gangway as fast as her legs could carry her.

At the far end of the gantry, Alex held Max in one arm and a piece of poster board in the other. It read:

WELCOME HOME MOMMY!

Alex rocked Max and whispered in his ears.

"There she is!"

Annabeth ran up and immediately wrapped herself around them. Max smiled as soon as he recognized her familiar arms.

"Oh my God," Annabeth said fighting back tears. "I love you both so much."

"Welcome back, Beth," Alex said grinning from ear to ear. "Dan said he was gonna try to get you to disembark a little early. Didn't know he could pry you outta your seat so soon. I figured you would stay until he literally kicked you off the bridge."

"You're the best, Babe," Annabeth said, "but the person who really convinced me was this guy right here." She scooped Max into her arms and brought him close to her chest. "Ich liebe meinen kleinen Mann so sehr!"

"We've got the apartment all set up for you," Alex continued. "You've got a real home to come back to."

Annabeth laughed as she shook her head.

"Home is wherever you two are," she said before leaning in and passionately kissing Alex.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Ginza, District: Tokyo, Japan, Earth

The next morning, Katie nervously stared at herself in a triple-mirror nested in the corner of a dress shop. She was finally in her wedding dress. The elderly Japanese woman currently fiddling with the hem had pulled off a miracle. She had made it solely from Katie's subspace requests, holophotos, and laser measurements. As Katie marveled at its beautiful construction, she knew it was perfect. She just secretly wondered if the woman inside deserved to be wearing it.

"Katie, you look like a princess," Alex smiled from a couch a few meters behind. She held a sake mimosa as Annabeth was in seventh heaven playing with Max next to her. Laria smiled from behind her hands as she watched Katie examine the different angles of her reflection. T'les stood behind the group with a champagne flute in one hand and the other hand stroking her chin as she examined her friend's appearance.

"It is amazing!" Laria exclaimed nearly jumping to her feet.

"Quite aesthetically pleasing," T'les echoed with as much excitement as a Vulcan could muster.

"Thank you," Katie said grinning. "Mayumi-san makes the best wedding dresses on the Pacific Rim."

The woman took a break from her stitching long enough to smile up at Katie and bow her head.

"Arigato-gozaimasu, Katie-sama," Mayumi-san replied.

"It really is gorgeous, Katie," another older woman with short blonde hair said coming up from behind and planting a peck on Katie's cheek. She tilted her head to the side and looked at the dress's neckline with an experienced clothier's eye.

"Mayumi-san," the woman said. "Nekku rain ga motto kuru hitsuyō ga aru to omoimasu ka?"

Mayumi-san focused her eyes and awkwardly grabbed Katie's torso. She definitely didn't like being treated like a living mannequin, but knew it was part of the process. Katie had certainly seen enough women go through it at her mom's place in California.

"Hai, Ashley-sama," Mayumi-san said nodding her head. "Anata wa yoi me o motte iru." She chuckled as she ran off to grab more thread.

"Arigato, Mayumi-san," the woman replied gratefully.

"Mom's store in Long Beach referred customers here all the time," Katie clarified. "Otherwise, I would have no chance of getting this dress. The waiting list is almost a decade."

"Please," Ashley Stone said shaking her head. "I was always lucky to have Mayumi-San trust me so much. She's the artist. I just sell the stuff."

"It also meant I learned Tokyo very well as a girl," Katie said. She was doing her best to sound chipper, but Alex knew something was off.

"Ok Katie," Alex said standing up and walking over. "Talk to us. What's going on in that head of yours?"

Katie rolled her eyes as she had the terrifying realization that she had two mothers with her on this expedition: her real one and her Starfleet one. She spent years learning to hide things from the first, but she hadn't cracked the code on Alex yet.

Katie looked back at her face in the mirror and felt so alone. As she looked around the room, she realized that the only two people who hadn't already gone through this were her and Max, and she didn't feel he would be much help for advice.

Slowly, she pulled the veil off her head and stared into her mother's eyes.

"I don't know if I can do this…" she said trying to hold herself together.

"Oh Baby," her mom said wrapping her arms around her. Annabeth and Laria exchanged worried glances while Alex downed her mimosa and set the glass down. "Of course you can do this," Ashley Stone continued. "Every woman gets a little cold feet before the wedding. It's completely normal. I nearly jumped on a shuttle to Mars the night before I married your father, and Phil is such an incredible young man…"

"It has nothing to do with him!" Katie said finally realizing the creeping feeling in her gut. "I know he's incredible. It's why I fell in love with him in the first place." Katie paused. "It's me."

"What do you mean it's you?" Alex asked concerned. Katie shook her head and looked down at the ground.

"Phil is just…he is such a caring person. He throws himself into everything with such passion, and he never lets any of my crazy push him away, even when I can tell it drives him crazy. He would never say it, but sometimes I feel like I'm a burden to him. What happens in five years? Ten years? What happens if he can't stand me anymore? He's an egghead from England and I'm a harbor chick from California who likes to drink too much. What hope do we have?" Katie said fighting back tears and burying her face in her mother's shoulder. Ashley started tenderly rubbing her back.

"Katie…" her mother said at a total loss for words. Alex hugged her from behind. T'les' ears perked up.

"If we are simply to examine this logically…"

Annabeth reached up, put a hand on the Vulcan's elbow, and shook her head slowly. T'les uncomfortably swallowed her words. Then, Annabeth curled her lip, and whispered to herself:

"Enough."

She passed Max to Laria.

"Hold this," she said as the Bajoran nervously took the baby. Annabeth stood up, walked over and glared at Katie.

"Katherine Stone," she said with just a hint of command tone. It took the others off guard and they turned to her with surprise. Annabeth suddenly grabbed Katie's bare shoulders and turned her to face her reflection. "What do you see?" she asked firmly.

"I'm in a wedding dress…" Katie said shaking her head, "and it looks too good for me."

"Bullshit," Annabeth said loudly. "Try again."

"I see me."

"Getting warmer. What else?"

"And I look pretty?" she said confused.

"Also true, but definitely not what I was going for," Annabeth continued. "You know what I see? I see a badass. I see a fighter, and I see a survivor. I see someone who never admits defeat no matter how hard things get, and I see the strongest crewmember on my ship."

"Really?" Katie asked in surprise.

"I'm going to give you a little insight into the chaotic mass of stupidity that is the male psyche," Annabeth said. "I did attend Dan's bachelor party with Phil and those other clowns. Do you wanna know why Phil loves you so much?"

Katie shook her head as Alex, Laria, T'les, and Ashley continued to look on in shock.

"He loves you so much because you remind him of what he wants to be: strong, confident, and loyal. You show him his ideals in practice, and he will be forever grateful for it. That's what a good wife does for her spouse. She makes him or her want to be a better person," Annabeth glanced over at Alex who was now smiling. "That is what will make you a GREAT wife."

"Maybe Captain Tigranian was right about talking to you instead…" Katie muttered.

"What?" Annabeth asked.

"Nothing," Katie said shaking her head with a laugh. "Thank you, Annabeth," Katie said gratefully.

"It's my job, both as your first officer and your friend," Annabeth said grinning as Mayumi-san emerged from the back room with tray of thread. Alex and Annabeth returned to their seats as the fitting continued. As the seamstress immediately went back to work, Ashley reached over and gently wiped her daughter's eyes. She then leaned in close and whispered in Katie's ear.

"You have some incredible people back there…"

Katie turned to her and whispered back:

"I know."
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Lincolnshire: United Kingdom, Earth

"Alright Gents," Phil said as he did his best not to fall over. "Going through a transporter blindfolded was weird enough, but being led around like this is getting a tad disorienting."

"Just relax, stick boy," Scharr said holding one of his arms.

"We're almost there," Tigranian said holding the other.

"But why the blindfold?" Phil asked.

"Because, without it, you would know exactly what your bachelor party was," Tigranian said.

"As long as it's more fun than yours was, Sir," Phil replied.

He knew they were walking across a concrete pad of some kind. Then, they seemed to enter some kind of large, cavernous space. Their footsteps echoed in his ears from every direction.

"Really appreciate the invite to come along, Phil," Doctor Kinzo Katan said from behind him. "I'll be honest. I didn't really expect one."

"Nonsense," Phil said still moving his head around trying to gain some auditory clue to their location. "One crew, one team, one family, Doc," said smiling. He immediately stopped smiling as his shin banged into a piece of metal equipment. "OWW!"

"Tren!" Tigranian said angrily.

"Sorry, sorry…" the Andorian muttered.

"I think we've gone far enough," Tigranian said bringing them to a halt. "Alright, Phil. You ready for the blindfold to come off?"

"Can't wait to see what you have planned for me, Captain," Phil said smiling.

"Oh, I didn't plan anything. Tren set this whole thing up."

Phil's expression turned from one of happiness to terror.

"WHAT!?" he shouted. Scharr's antenna curled with annoyance.

"You're welcome, Pink Skin," he muttered as he ripped off the blindfold. Phil nearly collapsed to his knees. He was in a massive aircraft hangar filled with vintage prop aircraft from the Second World War: Hawker Hurricanes, Avro Lancaster Bombers, Mosquitos, and Phil's favorite: the Supermarine Spitfire. He looked over to a huge sign painted on the wall that read:

BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT

ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM

"If the British Empire and its Commonwealths last for a thousand years, men will still say, this was their finest hour."

"How did you get access to this place?" Phil said in amazement to Scharr. The Andorian shrugged his shoulders.

"I've been a Starfleet Engineer for over twenty years. You get to know a lot of gear heads with some pretty awesome connections."

Suddenly, Phil felt a strong pair of hands grab him from behind and lift him off the ground.

"The old planes ain't the only surprise here, Sab!" He broke free and spun around. It was Daredevil.

"DEE!" he screamed throwing his arms around his old wingman. "I thought you weren't getting in till tomorrow night?"

"I'm your best man!" she exclaimed happily. "Do you think I would miss this? Besides, old Captain Tigranian there did me a solid. He called my CO and convinced him to let me go a few days early. Cobra Squadron can last for a while without me, even though I am its best pilot," she said grinning.

"Only because I'm not there," Phil said crossing his arms.

"Alright, alright," Scharr said beckoning them to follow. "We've got a schedule to keep." He led them down the center aisle past the rows of ancient planes still painted in their liveries from the 1940s. Phil had spent countless hours on the holodeck flying simulations of each and every one of these warbirds, but he had never been this close to operational originals. These were national treasures of the United Kingdom, each over four centuries old and preserved in flying condition for posterity. He hoped against hope that he would get to see one fly today, but they took off so rarely anymore, it was unlikely.

The rear sliding doors of the hanger leading out to the runway were open. The wintery English countryside was brushed with patches of white snow and yellow grass, but the sky was unseasonably clear and crisp for this time of year. Parked at the maw was the most beautiful Spitfire Phil had ever seen, holographic or not. It's sleek, polished fuselage was painted with green and brown camouflage. It's British Bullseye Roundel in blue, white, and red was almost winking at him. One man in dressed in green coveralls gave orders to a man in a pilot's jacket who was checking the instruments. Phil sucked in a quick breath as he realized it looked like they were doing a pre-flight. Maybe he actually would get to see this beautiful girl fly.

"Well, well," the man in coveralls said turning to greet them. "If it isn't the Blue Baron himself." He reached out a warm handshake to Scharr who smiled as he accepted it.

"Henry Rothford," he said introducing himself to the others from behind his mustachioed face.

"You know Commander Scharr?" Phil said in surprise.

"Know him?" Rothford said indignantly. "I used to work for this bastard when I was in the service," he said with his thick English accent. "Luckily, I was smart enough to get out and get a job here. I'm the senior Mechanical Engineer in charge of keeping these beauties airbourne."

"Using what you learned from me, Rothy," Scharr said holding up a finger.

"Right," Rothford said rolling his eyes. "You must be the bachelor boy," he said shaking Phil's hand. "I hope you enjoy your time with us. It means a lot when we get people here who know what these planes really mean to the country."

"I appreciate that, Sir. Thank you."

"Don't 'Sir' me, Boyo," Rothford said. "I'm not in uniform anymore. But when I was, I was one of the best."

Scharr only shrugged.

"I guess so," the Andorian finally admitted.

"So you're a Starfleet fighter pilot yourself are you?" Rothford asked Phil.

"Yes," Phil said proudly.

"What's your rating?" Rothford added.

"Still got my Class III Astral/Atmospheric certification."

"That'll do," Rothford muttered. "Hey Willy!" Rothford called up to the pilot who dropped down from the wing and shook Phil's hand. "This is Willy Masterson," Rothford explained. "He'll be the pilot going up with you today."

"What?" Phil asked confused. "This is a single seat fighter."

"Yeah," Rothford said unaware that Phil wasn't in on the secret. "And you'll be the one in the single seat. Willy's going up in another bird."

"I'M GONNA FLY A REAL SPITFIRE!?" Phil screamed loud enough to echo off the ceiling. The other members of his bachelor laughed with glee as they realized they pulled off the surprise.

"Are you sure about this, Scharr?" Rothford said. "Boy seems a little highstrung to be flying an old lady with this much horsepower."

"Phil is the best fighter pilot in Starfleet, Mr. Rothford," Tigranian said.

"Hey!" Daredevil said indignantly.

"Sorry, Dee," Tigranian replied. "When it's your party, you can be the best." She rolled her eyes.

"I don't believe this," Phil said. "I wish I had my World War II pilot kit. I would have loved to use it off a holodeck."

"You mean this?" Katan said holding up a duffel bag. "Thank your fiancée. She raided your closet for us."

In a manner of minutes, Phil was dressed from head to toe in a brown leather, fur-lined flight suit with a reproduction leather helmet on his head. He nervously climbed up onto the wing and then into the cockpit. As he slid down into the pilot's seat, he marveled at the controls. It was identical to all the planes he flew in simulation, but somehow this plane seemed more alive.

"Alrighty," Rothford said climbing up next to him. "I suppose I don't need to tell you how to turn this old girl on, do I?"

"No," Phil said shaking his head and smiling. "I have over five hundred hours on Spits on the holodeck at one hundred percent realism."

"That's good," Rothford said, "but this isn't a hologram. It's the real deal and she's over four hundred years old. Means she doesn't handle like she's fresh off the factory floor. On this one, the left rudder sticks a little so you have to trim it out with propeller torque. Can you do that?"

"Yes, I know I can."

"Ok," Rothford replied. He handed Phil a paper map. "Here's your approved flight plan. Once you taxi out, take off along Runway 11, then climb to Angels 6 and turn heading 090. Once you're out over the North Sea, we'll give you a call. Spin her up and taxi out. Get a radio check with the tower. We'll be on Freq 246."

"No worries," Phil said still smiling.

"You ready?" Rothford asked.

"I've been waiting for this my whole life."

"I feel you, Boyo. Just make sure this isn't the end of your life. Don't do anything stupid."

"Understood," Phil replied. Rothford tapped him on the shoulder and slid down to the ground. He pulled out the wheel chocks, grabbed two reflective batons and then moved to the front of the Spit. He flashed Phil a thumbs up, which Phil returned.

"Warning in the hanger! Aircraft cranking!" Rothford shouted before spinning his right hand in a circle. With a final deep breath, Phil hit the ignitor and the powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine began to crank. She wheezed and groaned as the powerful forward propeller started to spin. Final, she roared to life with a tremendous growl that echoed off the walls of the hanger. The spectators on the ground cheered as they saw Phil's face light up. The noise was deafening, but it still couldn't drown out the excitement. Rothford held up the sticks and guided Phil out onto the tarmac.

With a graceful turn, Phil nosed the Spitfire down the runway, gunned the throttle, and shot off into the English sky on a pair of elliptical, duralumin wings. After a few graceful arcs to get a feel for the old girl, he pointed her nose east and headed towards the North Sea.

****

Phil passed the shoreline and was soon out over open water. He gracefully arced through the blue sky and pulled his Spitfire above the clouds. It was incredible. He took a deep breath through his oxygen mask and felt he could smell the history coursing through the airframe as it obeyed his every command. It was one of the most incredible experiences of his entire life.

"Tower to Lexington," Rothford's voice crackled through his headset.

"Lexington here," Phil replied clicking his radio switch.

"We have you on sensors now. You're approaching our maneuver box 12 nautical miles off shore. Masterson will meet you there."

"Jolly good," Phil replied as his natural Englishman began to come out. "What is he flying? Another Spit?"

"Not quite," Rothford replied. "Careful, he's coming in now."

Phil cocked his head around just in time to see a flash streak by overhead. Another ancient fighter pulled directly alongside off his starboard wing, and Phil's jaw dropped inside his oxygen mask. It was a pristine Messerschmitt Bf-109. It's brightly painted yellow nose led its mottled grey fuselage through the sky. An imposing black iron cross stared him in the face from behind the cockpit. A man in German flight gear raised his gloved hand and gave a friendly wave towards Phil. Phil could only wave back.

"Do you see him?" Rothford asked through the radio.

"I believe so…" Phil replied. He had to be dreaming. There was no way this was real.

****

In the tower back at the airfield, Rothford, Tigranian, Scharr, Kazan, and Daredevil huddled around the radio. The base's sensors gave them a real time visual image of what was happening on a small viewscreen mounted to the wall. They all laughed as they saw Phil's surprise at his flying companion for the morning.

"I think the kid died and went to heaven," Tigranian said chuckling.

"As long as he doesn't do it in my airplane," Rothford said before keying the radio. "Alright, Lexington, you have a good amount of free space to maneuver the Spit up there. Just be sure you stay inside the boundaries marked on your map."

"Roger Tower," Phil replied when he finally got his senses back about him.

"If you don't mind, we thought we would give you a little sport," Rothford continued. "Just remember, your plane is a little on the old side. Keep it gentle.

Both of those aircraft have had their machine guns replaced with targeting lasers. Masterson's mission is to shoot you down. You have to stop him. If your plane registers a hit, you'll start trailing white smoke and things are over. You ready for a little dogfighting?"

"Tower, I've been ready for this since before I could walk!" Phil shouted. They could see him raising his hands on the viewscreen triumphantly.

"Masterson's not exactly a green pilot, Lexington," Rothford responded. "Let's see if you can give him a challenge."

"C'mon Saber," Dee said reaching down and keying the radio. "You're an ace twice over in real life!" she said taunting him. "But let's see you if you can actually handle your dream ride!"

Rothford turned and looked at the others with surprise.

"That skinny kid is an actual fighter ace?" he asked.

"We both are," Dee replied plainly. Tigranian and Scharr merely nodded.

"God in heaven…" Rothford muttered. He reached down and pressed the radio again.

"Both of you, be safe and don't be stupid. Tally ho!"

****

Masterson pulled his German fighter into a sudden climb and peeled away from Phil. He then gunned his engine and pulled into a tight spiral trying to get behind the Spit. Phil's eyes grew as he realized that his opponent wanted to end this quickly. He knew the performance of their two aircraft was nearly identical, but Phil had been studying for this fantasy moment for a very long time.

"If you want to beat me," he whispered to himself. "You have to catch me."

Without warning, Phil kicked up the throttle of his Merlin engine and nosed down into a powered dive. The negative G-Force lifted him out of his chair as he plummeted through the clouds back down at the water. Masterson wasn't expecting such an aggressive move and quickly put his plane into a dive to catch up.

Phil was grinning from ear to ear as his altimeter clicked downward towards the blue wave tops of the North Sea below. Warning chirps beeped in his ears as he realized that the Bf-109 was shooting simulated bullets at him. Phil kicked the rudder over but soon realized what Rothford was talking about. He quickly adjusted with his propeller blade angle and began twisting his Spit back and forth, artfully dodging the Messerschmitt's attacks. Phil actually cheered in his cockpit at the sound of his roaring engine and the feel the plane rolling around him. He looked into his rearview mirror to see Masterson begin preparations to pull out of the dive. It was obvious he was afraid of smashing into the water a full speed.

"You have to trust your plane," Phil said to himself grinning. "This girl might be old, but she's the best that was ever built!"

****

"What is he doing?" Rothford asked concerned. It was obvious he was coming up with excuses in his head for explaining how a priceless pair of historical aircraft were lost during a stag party.

"The right thing," Dee said completely calm. She stared at the screen with a little smile. "This is already over."

"What?" Kazan said asked dubiously. "There's no way. He's out of sky and that other plane is right behind him."

"Would you please enlighten us as to your logic, fighter jockey?" Scharr said putting it more succinctly.

"Masterson is treating his bird like she's made of glass, not a partner," Dee said shaking her head, "but it doesn't matter if it's a 400 year old prop fighter or a brand new T-Bat: a combat platform wants to fight. Phil is showing his bird respect and letting her do exactly what she wants. He's not holding it back and flying without fear. That's why he's going to win."

****

At the last moment, Phil yanked back on his control yoke and pulled back with every bit of strength he had. The Spit's engine roared as it turned skyward with an enormous G-shift. If Phil hadn't been ready for it, he would have passed out. He roared back towards the clouds with Masterson trailing farther and farther behind. He's heavier aircraft couldn't hope to match Phil's ascent rate.

They roared back towards the clouds and gained nearly a thousand meters of altitude in less than minute. The Bf-109 kept firing wildly, hoping to land a lucky shot on the Spit, but Phil knew that he was a near impossible target at this speed. Phil could feel that his plane was working harder and harder to maintain its climb and the Merlin engine could barely keep up with the throttle level. That was exactly what Phil was waiting for.

He nosed the bird over into a stall and gracefully rolled backwards in freefall. He could see Masterson's giant, amazed eyeballs looking up at him as he rolled over the top of his opponent and fell directly into perfect firing position on his opponent's tail. Then, it was all Phil.

Masterson gunned his throttles trying hopelessly to outrun Phil's advance, but the Pershing's helmsman rolled and yawed back and forth: dumping just enough speed to stay right behind Masterson. Phil began opening up with his machine guns and he could see simulated streaks of tracers slice through the air on the other side of his gunsights. Phil was laughing out in sheer jubilation.

Masterson tried in desperation to copy Phil's diving tactic, but the Spit's pilot was expecting exactly that. He held down the trigger button on his control yolk and put a few hundred rounds right into the center of the iron cross behind Masterson. As a plume of white smoke began trailing behind the Messerschmitt, Phil climbed back upwards and rolled the Spitfire triumphantly in a 360 degree victory roll. Everyone in the tower could hear his cheering through the radio.

****

"Told you all he would like this," Scharr said with a smirk as both his antenna and his arms crossed triumphantly.

"Shoulda have sent me up there," Daredevil said magically producing a cold can of beer from her jacket. "You would have had more time to drink before he gets back."
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Denton Hall: Yorkshire, United Kingdom, Earth

The Lexington clan pulled out all the stops for the rehearsal dinner. Using Sir Arthur's connections, they had secured a 13th century English country estate for the final gathering before the wedding. In the foyer of the grand house, almost a hundred guests, friends, and relatives were dressed in tweed and plaid and enjoying a full buffet of traditional English fare.

Tigranian and Laria hovered near the crackling fireplace with Annabeth and Alex. Max dozed in a carrier strapped across Alex's chest. The four of them marveled at the surrounding architecture while also sneaking glances at the interactions occurring in every corner of the room. The four of them watched with a chuckle as Crestia flirted with no less than three of Katie's cousins across the room.

"Glad to see her confidence is increasing," Tigranian said taking a sip of pale ale.

"I think it was always there," Laria said grinning. "She just needed to find the right place to let it out."

"And apparently that was Earth," Alex added.

"It tends to have that effect on people," Laria said grabbing Tigranian's arm. He turned to her.

"How would you know?" he asked his Bajoran wife skeptically.

"I wasn't talking about me," she replied. "Take a look around the room. Have you ever seen our crew so socially functional before? Usually, they can barely introduce themselves before they stand and gawk at each other awkwardly."

Tigranian gazed around the room again and had to admit, she had a point.

"Zhenia!" Annabeth exclaimed as Scharr's daughter approached with Marine lieutenant Brett Hawkins hanging off her arm. "So happy you made it!" The young Andorian curled her antennae with delight.

"When I got the news that the two pink skins were finally going through with the wedding, I couldn't resist," she replied leaning her head on Hawkins' shoulder. "Little Stoney was the best fight I've had in a while. That makes us family. Plus, I've barely seen Brett in the last year."

Tigranian noticed that despite the obvious excitement on his Marine detachment commander's face, his eyes were darting back and forth like he was expecting enemy phaser fire at any moment.

"Something wrong, Brett?" Tigranian asked.

"Oh no, Sir," he replied trying to appear cool. "It's just you always have to be ready."

"Ready for what?" Annabeth asked laughing.

"A fist from an angry Andorian father," Zhenia said rolling her eyes. "He's been glaring at us all night."

"Yes, he has…" Hawkins said too nervous to look over in the engineer's direction.

"He just jealous that I got me a marine," Zhenia said as her antennae straightened with happiness. She turned and waved at Scharr standing as motionless as a statue across the room and doing his best not to crush the glass of scotch in his hand. "Hi Daddy!" she said smiling from ear to ear. Her happiness did nothing to alleviate the steel rod inserted up her father's backside. His antennae dropped to point straight at them. "He really is happy for his little girl," Zhenia said feigning a simper.

"Could have fooled me," Hawkins said nervously.

"C'mon Babe," she said grabbing his arm again. "Let's go get another drink."

As they walked off, Annabeth turned to Tigranian.

"Scharr is definitely going to kill him tonight," she said plainly.

"Shame too," Tigranian replied shaking his head and finishing his beer, "Hawkins was actually pretty good at his job."

A few moments later, Katie and Phil walked over with both sets of parents.

"Are you all enjoying yourselves?" Phil asked.

"Of course," Tigranian said. "This is wonderful, Phil."

"Well," Katie said smiling. "I know the girls have already met my mother, but Sir, these are my parents: Ashley and Command Master Chief Petty Officer Retired Neil Stone," she said gesturing to the pair at her side.

"Wonderful to meet you, Ma'am," Tigranian said shaking Ashley Stone's hand. He turned to the man next to her. "And you as well, Chief," the captain said shaking his hand next.

"Oh Sir," the greying but still muscular man wrapped in a leather bomber jacket said as he gripped Tigranian's hand like a vise. "I've been retired for ten years. You can call me 'Neil.'"

"Nonsense," Tigranian said with a smile. "Once part of the Starfleet backbone, always part of the Starfleet backbone."

Chief Stone turned to his wife and raised his eyebrows.

"Wow," he said with seemingly genuine surprise. "A senior Starfleet officer who might actually get how things are. I'm shocked."

"Dad…" Katie muttered uncomfortably.

"I take it as a compliment," Tigranian said nodding his head respectfully. "I had a sergeant major when I was with the marines that beat it into me. What division were you?"

"Spent a lot of my career in security operations on starships: Trieste, Musashi, and Kongo mostly," Chief Stone replied proudly. "Went on more away missions than I care to admit in 28 years of service. However, I knew it was time to retire when I got stuck as a CDCMC on Jupiter Station."

"How did you feel when your daughter decided to join the Dark Side?" Alex asked referring to enlisted member's slang for the Starfleet Officer Corps.

"Giving her first salute after commissioning was one of the proudest moments of my life," he said tussling Katie's hair. "Especially when she decided to go Security."

"Dad!" Katie said as her cheeks grew red with embarrassment.

"Well, she's certainly makes us proud every day," Tigranian said with complete seriousness. It actually got a small smile from Katie as well. It was then that Laria noticed Phil standing uncomfortably with his parents. Both were older, silver-haired, and dressed like they had just stumbled out of a philosophy lecture. Phil's father was actually wearing a bowtie. They certainly provided a contrast to Katie's relaxed California kin.

"Wonderful to meet you as well Mr. and Mrs. Lexington," Laria said holding out her hand.

"Doctor and Doctor Lexington actually," Phil said making introductions. "Ladies and Gentleman, May I introduce my parents: Albert and Virginia Lexington, PhDs."

"My apologies and very nice to meet you," Laria said politely. "Phil is the best pilot in Starfleet."

"Seriously?" Daredevil screamed from the bar a few meters away. "You guys know I'm still here, right?"

"Yes," Phil's father said in a cultured British accent while giving a polite smile. "We are quite proud of him, even if we were quite surprised by his career choice," he said chuckling. "Both of us actually hate to fly."

"Really?" Laria said in shock as it was Phil's turn to turn red.

"Oh yes," Phil's father replied. "I would never go more than ten meters off the ground if the university library wasn't three stories tall," he chortled. "If it wasn't for the toy models Phil kept putting together when he was a lad, I don't think he'd even know what a spacecraft looks like."

Katie chuckled. Phil looked like he was about to keel over.

"It's also wonderful to finally meet Philip's friends from the service," Phil's mother added. "That Asha Neman is certainly full of surprises."

"Yes she is," Alex said holding back a chuckle.

"So, are you both professors?" Annabeth asked trying to cut through the awkwardness.

"Yes," Phil's father said perking up. "It's quite funny actually," he said leaning forward. "You see, I'm a senior professor of Medieval European History at King's College, Cambridge and my wife is a senior professor of Early Modern Japanese History at New College, Oxford!"

Everyone stared back at him with a confused look on their faces. Phil rubbed his eyes.

"Funny," he said looking back to his wife. "That joke usually kills in our circles."

"That was a joke?" Chief Stone asked before Ashley Stone elbowed him hard in the ribs. Katie joined her fiancée in rubbing her eyes as Laria, Annabeth, and Alex all uncomfortably looked down into their drinks.

"It's moments like this I'm actually glad both my parents are dead," Annabeth whispered to Alex.

"Beth!" Alex screeched back under her breath as she held both her hands over Max's ears.

All of a sudden, an epiphany crossed Tigranian's face and he almost dropped his pint of beer.

"Wait?" he said as his eyes grew wide. "Phil, your mother is Dr. Virginia Lexington from Oxford University!?" he said with more shrillness in his voice than he intended.

"Yes," she replied with a curious grin. "Do you know my work?"

"Know your work?" Tigranian asked like it was obvious. "Shoguns and Samurai: An Overview of Tokugawa Japan was like 'THE' book to read on Earth history's striated feudal warrior cultures. I cited it about fifty times in my senior thesis at the Academy!"

Virginia Lexington grinned at the chance to discuss her job.

"We don't really like to use the word 'feudal.' It doesn't quite capture the appropriate dynamics of the Japanese bakufu period…"

"Mother!" Phil said gritting his teeth.

"Well, I wrote that book almost twenty years ago," she said realizing that she was getting a bit technical for the audience. "Glad to see it's still useful for someone."

"Oh, it was amazing!" Tigranian said still fawning with academic worship as Laria giggled. "It was exactly what I needed for my comparative study."

"Were you a student of Japanese history at Starfleet Academy?" Virginia Lexington said with newly found interest.

"No, Klingon history actually," Tigranian said.

"17th and 18th century Japan is applicable to Klingon history?" she said genuinely surprised. "I had no idea."

"Oh, you'd be really surprised. The House System and dynamics of the warrior caste are very similar. My thesis was on the comparative development of Earth and Qo'noS societies. I actually translated a lot of passages from your book into Klingon. Part of the requirement for my degree is that the paper be completely in tlhIngan Hol."

"That is fascinating!" she said. "Do you still have it? I don't speak Klingon, but I would love to read your analysis in translation."

"Absolutely," Tigranian said with even more excitement. "I'm sure it's still on my personal database. I can download it onto a PADD for you. I can't believe Dr. Virginia Lexington wants to read my work!"

Phil still looked mortified. Laria stepped in.

"Honey," she said grabbing her husband's arm. "Katie and Phil still have a lot of people to meet. It is a rehearsal dinner after all."

"Of course," Tigranian said reigning in his enthusiasm. "I'll get it to you tomorrow at the wedding."

"I look forward to it," Doctor Lexington replied as Katie and Phil led their parents back towards the crowd.

"It was wonderful to meet you all!" Tigranian called after them.

"You as well!" Phil's father replied over his shoulder as his son dragged him away.

Annabeth and Alex chuckled.

"What?" Tigranian said. "I've wanted to meet her for years. I had no idea she was the mother of my helmsman!"

"You never cease to amaze me, Dan," Annabeth said shaking her head.

"What?" he asked.

"For a moment, I thought the Lexingtons were the biggest geeks I had ever seen. However, you once again proved me wrong."

Laria burst out laughing as Tigranian grumbled under his breath.

****

Ashley Stone and Virginia Lexington soon bonded over their mutual ability to speak Japanese. They both sat at the head table and spoke on and on about their trips to Tokyo, favorite restaurants to catch a late night bite to eat, and their various excursions around the islands. After an hour, Virginia excitedly accepted Ashley's invitation to take her to a soba noodle restaurant outside of Sapporo followed by an afternoon insider's shopping expedition to Ginza. In return, Virginia promised to take Ashley on a tour of Kyoto's Gion neighborhood, traditional home of the Geisha, followed by a visit to a traditional ryokan to soak in the natural hot springs.

Chief Stone and Albert Lexington were finding it a little harder to find common ground, but to their credit, they were at least trying. Finally, it seemed they were having some luck with Albert telling the chief about fun castles to visit in Europe.

After dessert, the time came for the speeches dedicated to the couple. Both sets of parents stood up and told a series of affectionate stories about their children growing up and finding love. It was all from the heart, but rather unremarkable for the occasion. Then, it was Phil and Katie's turn to address the guests.

They stood up hand and hand and walked to the front of the gathering. Phil spoke first.

"First off," he began looking around the room, "Katie and I just want to thank everyone for being here tonight. We know many of you travelled hundreds of lightyears to be here, and for that we are grateful to share our special day with you."

He then turned to look Katie in the eyes.

"The very first time I had a conversation with Ms. Katie Stone, we were in the gym on the Pershing…"

She immediately started laughing as she remembered.

"She was hogging the squat rack and I asked if I could get a set in. She graciously stepped aside and asked me to show her how it was done…"

"That's not quite how I remember it," Katie said still chuckling. Phil was laughing too, but he continued.

"Well, I suppose we'll agree to disagree about the details," he said shrugging his shoulders. She held up a hand to her mouth and said to the audience:

"He was hopeless! Hopeless!" she said with a grin.

"Ok, maybe I was," Phil said shaking his head. "The point is that from that first moment, I knew she was extraordinarily special: someone who doesn't come along very often in a person's life…"

The audience all held back emotions as they watched the two still gazing into each other's eyes.

"Over the next few months, I got to share so much of my life with Katie. My love of old movies, my love of replicated junk food…"

"We both already loved that," she interjected. Phil chuckled.

"I got to share with you the things that make me who I am. Most of all, I treasured the ability to share with you my love of space, of the stars, and what it's like to fly through them. That day I got to fly with you off the Pike is a day I'll never forget…" he then turned to glare at Daredevil in the crowd, "even if somebody almost ruined it!" he added. Dee just held up her hands innocently. "And then, I got to share the things you love: your love of the outdoors, your humor, your amazing Tongo skills, but most of all your endless strength. That was when I really fell in love with you…"

He gently took Katie's hands in his.

"And that is what makes me the luckiest man in the universe," he said softly. "I got to discover what makes you special, and every day I get to share with you makes me special. I think that's what love truly is: finding someone to share your adventures and someone who lets you be the real you.

Katie, in the past three years, you've become my shipmate, my gambling partner, my companion, and my best friend…and tomorrow, you'll become my wife. For that, I will always be the luckiest man alive, and I will always love you."

He leaned forward and kissed her as the room burst into applause.

"Wow," Katie finally managed to say while wiping the corners of her eyes. "I'm not sure how I'm going to follow that." Inside, her heart was pounding as she realized that maybe her fears about the future were wrong.

"But I'm still going to try," she continued. "For the record, Babe," she said grinning. "You really were atrocious that day in the gym." The room laughed again. "But seriously, I just wanna echo Phil's gratitude at all of you being here for our wedding. There's just so many wonderful faces in the room. Some of them are people we've known since we were born. Some are people we've just met. In either case, all of you have become essential parts of lives…"

She paused as she chose her next words carefully.

"When I first joined the crew of the Pershing, I was absolutely positive that it was just another assignment. I didn't want to get close to anybody and I didn't want to make any friendships. All I wanted was to do my job and then crawl back into a dark hole at night…"

The room grew quiet.

"But despite my best efforts, this crew wouldn't let me. Captain Tigranian, you let me know that I was important to everything that happened on the ship. Commander Scharr, you were always there to challenge and mentor. Annabeth, Alex, Laria, and even you, T'les, you helped me to grow and feel like I belonged to something again." She then turned to look at Phil. "And then there was this one. I made things so hard for you, but no matter what, you refused to be pushed away. No matter what, you always reminded me that there was always something to be thankful for and always a reason to find the joy in life…even if it was just mushroom pizza and cheap beer." She couldn't fight back the tears anymore. "You were always the light in the darkness, and you helped me find my way back. That is why I fell in love with you."

Phil's own lip started quivering.

"With all the planning for the wedding," she continued, "I've been thinking a lot about families. Normally when people get married, it's just two families coming together. However, Phil and I are lucky enough to have four here tonight.

We have both the Stones and Lexingtons, obviously. Over the past year, I've gotten to know Phil's family and I can't tell you how proud I am to become a part of it. I know Phil is proud to become a part of mine as well. However, there is another family here that Phil and I are already a part of: the Pershing family.

Tomorrow, we will have the privilege of uniting our newest family members together with our oldest ones. I cannot think of something more amazing than bringing everyone we care about under one roof."

She turned to look at the main tables.

"Tonight, I've already seen new relationships being formed hand in hand with old ones. People who were strangers two years ago, mixing perfectly with those I've known for decades. It's just fantastic, and the fact that I get to share it with the man I love makes it all the sweeter."

Another round of applause echoed through the hall.

"Before we say goodnight, I do have to acknowledge the fourth family of ours here represented by that woman over there," Katie pointed to the head table where a grey-haired woman sat next to her parents. It was Pam Montgomery, mother of Paul Montgomery, her fallen fiancée from the Trinity. Though she found herself completely alone after her son's death, she was always there for Katie through the harsh periods of grief and mourning.

"As I'm sure most of you know," Katie said in an amazing moment of public honesty, "I went through one the hardest periods of my life three years ago and there were many times when I just wanted to give up. However, I was too young and stupid to realize that someone else was going through it too. I was so selfish and so blinded by guilt and rage, I couldn't see the amazing person who was always there and always telling me that I would find happiness again. Well, Pam, tonight I can say that you were right all along and I'm so happy that you're here to share it with me."

Pam touched her fingers to her lips and blew a kiss in Katie's direction. Katie smiled as she continued:

"Sometimes you were another mother, sometimes you were a sister, sometimes a best friend, but you were always the person I needed. You will always have a cherished place in our lives." Phil nodded his agreement. "I love you, Pam."

The room gave a final round of applause for Pam who was so overwhelmed with gratitude, she looked down at the carpet as Ashley Stone placed an arm around her. Phil pulled Katie close and gave her another supportive kiss on the cheek.

"Alright then," Katie said wiping her eyes with the back of her palm. "Thank you all again for coming, but it's getting kind of late and we have a bit of a big day tomorrow. Please, stay and enjoy yourselves for as long as you like, but we've got to go. We're getting married tomorrow!"

Tigranian rose to his feet and started clapping as Katie and Phil pulled even closer. Laria joined her husband before the rest of the room followed suit.

Soon, the hall began to empty as Phil and Katie said their goodbyes to the guests. Finally, even the two sets of parents departed with Ashley and Virginia still conversing in Japanese as their husbands awkwardly walked out beside them. At last, it was just the Starfleet officers alone with a tense looking Phil and Katie.

"I guess this is it," Phil said with a last deep breath. "We won't see each other till the big moment tomorrow."

"Nope," Katie said shaking her head. "It would be bad luck otherwise," she said leaning forward to give him a final kiss.

"Don't worry, Lexington," Annabeth said prying Katie away from him. "She's coming back to Germany with us tonight and we'll take good care of her."

"And we'll be sure to get her to the church on time," Alex added with a smirk.

Tigranian gave another hug to Laria.

"Are you sure you don't want to come back to the hotel in Frisco with me?" he asked.

"And miss this slumber party?" she said batting her eyelashes sarcastically. "No," she continued shaking her head. "After hunting down traitors in the Klingon Empire for ten days, I'm actually looking forward to a night of bridesmaid dresses and cocktails."

"Alright," he said. "You girls have fun. Scharr, Dee, and I will take Phil back and see you tomorrow."

"All the better!" Scharr shouted. "It's only 1500 hours back in San Fran. We still got a whole night of drinking ahead of us."

He raised a palm which Daredevil immediately slapped with a high five.

"Mr. Scharr," Katie said glaring at him. "If you bring my fiancée to the wedding tomorrow hungover and sleep deprived, I swear I will rip those things off your head and shove them where the Andorian sun don't shine."

Scharr laughed.

"That's what I love about you, Stone," he said shaking his head. "That fire. Don't ever let it go out."

The group began heading for their shuttles back across the planet. Just before Phil and the rest of his groomsman disappeared into a taxi, he turned to look back at Katie and her bridesmaids.

"Katherine Stone!" he shouted out across Denton Hall's immense gravel drive. She turned to look at him. "I love you!" he said with genuine elation. She laughed as Scharr shoved him unceremoniously into the backseat.

"Still having second thoughts?" Annabeth whispered into Katie's ear as their own hovertaxi pulled up.

"Of course," she replied back to Annabeth. "But I think Philip Lexington might be just the one to help me get over them…"
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Pomparath Nebula: Romulan Star Empire

Rellas and Onorok stumbled into the council chamber at the rear of the Soldiers of Akarath's asteroid base. Lucretia, her face crossed with worry lines, worked diligently on a computer terminal.

"How did it go?" she asked the group. She didn't look up from her work.

"We hit the supply depot in the Terashnar system," Rellas said rubbing his exhausted eyes. "The Romulan garrison on the orbiting security platform mobilized, but we were able to fight our way out just in time."

"Did you manage to get any of the food or medical supplies we needed?" Lucretia asked hopefully.

"We were able to load six crates onto the shuttles before we escaped," Tulan answered.

"Six crates?" Lucretia yelled "Six crates won't last us one week!"

"I'm sorry," Onorok said raising his head to look at her. "We were too busy trying to get out of there with our lives to get your shopping list completed!"

"Shopping list?" Lucretia said still fuming. "Do you think this is all a joke? We now have almost a thousand people living under our care. They need food! They need aide! We don't have the energy or replicator capacity to keep them from starving to death without those supplies."

"I thought that we were fighting for our freedom," Onorok replied. "Not running a homeless shelter for ex-slaves!"

"Fine," Lucretia said throwing her hands up. "Why don't we just put swords in the hands of all the children and tell them to fend for themselves. That would really bring more people to our cause…"

"It might!" Onorok shouted back. "That more than telling them they have nothing to look forward to other than sitting inside an asteroid and waiting to die."

"I've been telling you for months we need to pick more lucrative targets," Lucretia said turning back to her computer.

"And how do you suggest we attack them?" Onorok replied. "More Romulan soldiers arrive every week from Cardassia."

"This is pointless!" Rellas said holding up his hand to silence them. "Onorok, we have to find a way to care for those people out there. They have no place else to go and it is our duty to protect them. And Lucretia, Onorok is right. If we get too reckless with our attacks, our limited forces will be destroyed and this whole uprising will be for naught."

"Then what do we do?" Lucretia replied. "We can't keep living like this. We're barely surviving."

"That is the million bar of latinum question…" Rellas muttered. "Senator Trallian sent me a message that the Senate is still mired in debate about the best way to destroy us. However, he thinks it's only a matter of time until the hardliners convince the Continuing Committee to act more aggressively. I can't think of anything else but to ask the Federation and Klingons for more help. We've met their terms and more."

"Ha!" Onorok scoffed. "The Federation and the Klingons. Do you really think they care about us? All they want is for us to fight the Romulans for them."

"Have faith in Kahless, old friend," Rellas said placing a hand on Onorok's shoulder. "If we continue to serve him honorably, we will find victory."

Alarms echoed through the stone chamber.

"What is it?" Rellas said jumping to his feet and running over to Lucretia. Onorok quickly followed.

"Our sentry ships on the periphery of the nebula have detected three Romulan warbirds decloaking. They are proceeding at full impulse straight towards our location!" she said.

"Do you know what this means?" Onorok said turning to Rellas as his eyes filled with real terror. Rellas' answer was barely above a whisper:

"They've found us…"
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