Star Trek: New Horizons Season 6, Episode 4 (Lone Star) by captaintigranian
Summary: A new starship joins the fleet, a new relationship blooms onboard the Pershing, and a new investigation threatens to rip the Federation apart.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 10378 Read: 409 Published: 02 Jun 2018 Updated: 02 Jun 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

6. Chapter 6 by captaintigranian

7. Chapter 7 by captaintigranian

Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Caleb System: United Federation of Planets

Stardate: 54512.7

T'les rolled over in bed. A pair of fingers gently pulled away the dark strands of hair covering her ears and then began softly massaging her lobes from the tip of the points down. In her sleepy haze, the hint of a smile poked out from the corner of her mouth, but she quickly repressed the emotion as her senses fully awoke.

"I would be quite impressed if your anatomical training included the little known fact that ears are an erogenous zone to Vulcan females," she said opening her eyes and glancing up at the shirtless man lying next to her.

"You'd be amazed what you can pick from a good textbook," Katan smiled as he continued to stroke her lobes. After a few more seconds of illogical pleasure, T'les sat up and pulled her long hair behind her shoulders. Though most Vulcan women kept it traditionally bobbed, she wore it long as her own personal sign of freedom.

"Kinzo," she said betraying nothing on her stoic face. "The past few weeks have been quite enjoyable. However, I must now know what your intentions are. Do you consider this relationship merely an outlet for carnal release or do you seek something more?"

"Wow," Doctor Katan said quite surprised. "I wasn't aware that we reached the point where we had to define things just yet."

"You must understand," she said stepping out of bed. "Vulcans generally do not engage in frivolous sexual encounters. When our species is pair bonded, we only have monogamous relations once every seven years. Though I have found more frequent coitus to be quite enjoyable,I would desire more romantic gestures if we continue this course of behavior."

Kinzo found himself distracted by the fact that she was standing in front of him completely nude. She looked down at her body and then back at him.

"Is the fact that I lack garments making it difficult for you to concentrate on my sentiments?" she asked cocking her head to one side.

"A little bit," Katan said with a slight blush.

"Fascinating," T'les said. "I guess it is true that the males of most humanoid species react to visual stimuli."

"Are you saying Vulcan males don't?" Katan asked chuckling.

"Vulcan males only have the drive to mate during Pon Farr. Otherwise, they refrain from unnecessary fantasies. As a physician, I am surprised you do not already know that."

"I'm sorry, T'les," Katan said pushing himself up to a seated position. "Actually, I've never been with a non-telepath before. Normally, this conversation plays out up here without a lot of talking," he said pointing to his head.

"Your assessment is only half correct, Doctor," she said. "The logical solution is clear. May I have your thoughts?" She said holding out her fingers.

"Well," he said with a shrug. "Considering I already have access to yours, it only seems fair."

"Good," she said walking over and kneeling on the bed in front of him. She rested back on her legs and placed her chest directly in front of Katan's face. His breathing instantly quickened. "This process is far more effective if you are relaxed," she said with an exasperated expression. "ALL parts of you," she said looking down towards the sheets.

"Sorry, sorry," he said blushing again with a smile and shifting his waist. She reached up with her hands. Gently, she placed her thumbs under his chin and rested her fingers on his cheeks.

"A word of warning," she said before beginning. "I am not as practiced in this art as more senior Vulcans. I am not as proficient at…hiding things…as they are. I would not attempt this if I didn't think you could endure it, but if it becomes too much, please ask to stop immediately.

"I understand," Katan said sensing her trepidation. "It's alright. I'm ready," he nodded.

"My mind to your mind…" she whispered. "My thoughts to your thoughts…"

Katan inhaled sharply as he instantly sensed a mental connection so powerful it was overwhelming even for a Betazoid. He wasn't just experiencing the thoughts currently in her head, but a sea of images and feelings from the repressed emotions of her entire life:

"I'm a seven year old girl. I don't want this. I'm standing in a darkened stone building. I'm wearing an uncomfortable dress my mother made put on. I don't like it. I'm frightened. There are many people here I don't know. A strange man and woman walk up. They have a boy I've never seen with them. The strange man and woman say something to Mommy and Daddy. My parents nod. The boy reaches up to put his hand on my face. I turn away. I'm afraid! Daddy grabs my head and holds it so hard I cannot move. It hurts. The boy touches my face…

I am now an adult. I know what is coming but I have traveled as far away from Vulcan as I can. Maybe he won't be able to reach me out here. I am in Engineering working with Mr. Scharr. Suddenly, I feel a burning rage enter my mind. It's him! It's Saren. The strange little boy has grown into an evil man. I want him out of mind! He is so angry. It frightens me to my core. I want him out! GET OUT OF MIND! I AM SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE IN MY MIND...

I'm a standing in Saren's ancestral marriage grounds. This is supposed to be my wedding day but all I am is afraid. I do not want to live like this. I don't want a monster like Saren in my life. I have asked for the challenge, the Kunat Kalifee. All my new family on the Pershing wants to fight for my freedom. I choose the one I respect the most. Mr. Scharr will fight for me. If he doesn't win, I don't want to live…"

Katan gasped as the meld broke. He stared up at T'les. She was shivering and a tear had formed in the corner of her eye. She steadied herself as she wiped it away.

"I had no idea," Katan said as he still felt her raw emotions. "I'm so sorry, T'les."

She cleared her throat.

"Now that you know the whole truth, if you no longer wish to carry on with our relationship, I understand," as her cool, Vulcan demeanor fully returned.

Katan took a deep breath and grabbed her hands in his. Gently, he placed them back on his face. Then, he used all the mental strength he could muster to send an image to T'les:

"We are standing together in a meadow next to Lake Cataria on Betazed. It is the most beautiful spring day either of us has ever experienced. Warm breezes and the smell of millions of flowers surround us. I smile at you. Then, I reach down and pick a toyar blossom from the ground. I hand it to you. You wish you could smile back at me, but your Vulcan discipline forbids it. Then, I whisper into your pointed ear:

'I understand your past, but it does not define you. I still want to be with you. I want to be the good thing in your life. I want to make you happy. I want to try…'"

The meld broke apart again. Both of them gasped. Katan looked up at T'les. His eyes begged for an answer. Her Vulcan reserve finally failed and a small smile emerged from her face.

"I desire to try as well…" she replied.

****

Down the corridor in her quarters, Captain Geist was getting dressed for the day. As she pulled on her red undershirt, her holoscreen broadcast the morning FNS news in the background:

"Welcome back to 'Federation Today,' I'm your host, Karla Greensburg. Now, back to the ongoing story surrounding disgraced Starfleet Captain, now General of the Klingon Defense Forces, Daniel Tigranian. My first guest is the Federation Councilor from Ardana, Vraska Vanna, who yesterday proposed legislation in the Council that would suspend the Treaty of Alliance with the Klingon Empire pending the results of her committee's formal investigation into the Klingon government's involvement with Tigranian's career."

"Thanks for having me on, Karla," Councilor Vanna said via subspace link. Annabeth took a break from adjusting her captain's pips to cast one eye at the screen.

"Joining her is the Federation Councilor from Andoria, Ter'chan Charassak, who introduced a motion to table Councilor Vanna's proposal. It failed 57 to 93 with both Vulcan and Betazed abstaining. Now, the proposal to suspend the Klingon Alliance may get a vote in open Council if the Diplomatic Subcommittee approves it." Greensburg said as the image of an older Andorian dressed in a suit and tie appeared next to the face of Councilor Vanna.

"Good morning, Vanna," Charassak said as warmly as an Andorian could.

"First to you, Councilor Vanna," Greensburg began. "Can you tell our viewers why you believe that the Federation needs to move away from the Klingon Empire?"

"I think it's pretty obvious, Karla," Vanna began. "We are not sure how deep the corruption currently goes at Starfleet Command and to what level the Klingon Empire is dictating the actions of the United Federation of Planets. Can any rational person explain to me how else a Klingon agent could gain command of one of our nation's most dangerous starships?

"Starfleet Command has vehemently denied that Captain Tigranian ever had any connection to Klingon intelligence and that his dismissal had nothing to do with foreign entanglements," Greensburg interjected.

"I hope that is true," Vanna continued. "However, it was obvious by the events on Cardassia that he had too many Klingon connections to be a captain in Starfleet. It was only by the concerted actions of Federation citizens that he was finally removed from command after a pattern of misconduct."

"But why terminate one of the most successful alliances the Federation has if Tigranian is no longer in Starfleet?" Greensburg asked.

"Because we simply don't know how many others in Starfleet command could still be acting in the interests of the Klingon Empire. Qo'noS wants us to help fight their wars, but the Federation is not in the business of war," Vanna countered. "Even today, a new Pershing class battlestarship is being commissioned in direct opposition to many members of my bloc in the Council. Our social, environmental, and diplomatic programs are suffering while we sink ridiculous amounts of resources into building warships that the Federation does not want and does not need."

"Councilor Charassak, your response?" Greensburg said.

"First off," the Andorian began, "what Councilor Vanna and her bloc don't seem to understand is that you don't cut off your antennae to spite your face. The Klingon Alliance has been an integral part of Federation defense for the past twenty-five years and proved essential during the Dominion War.

However, I'm not concerned because there is no way this bill is ever getting out of committee for a vote. Cutting ties with an entire nation over the questionable conduct of one officer is ridiculous. Second, even if we do end this alliance, I think we're gonna find that we need all the Pershing class ships that we can get. The combined threat of the Romulus Pact is real and we have to be prepared as a nation to fight…"

"This has nothing to do with the new quantum torpedo factory on Andoria that you slipped into last year's defense appropriation, does it, Councilor?" Vanna asked.

"That factory has provided over 1700 new jobs on Andoria while employment on Ardana is down six points," Charassak said as he straightened his antennae, "but no, this isn't a reflection of that."

"Another new warship named for an old, dead human doesn't reflect Federation values either, Councilor," Vanna sparred back.

"I would also like to point out that the captain of the new Pershing class ship is not human, but Vulcan. That makes three out of the five Pershing class captains non-humans. In addition, three out of the five Pershing class captains are women. Are you saying that doesn't reflect Federation values, Councilor Vanna?" Charassak spit back.

"Please do not put words in my mouth, Councilor," Vanna replied angrily.

"HOLOSCREEN OFF!" Annabeth said rolling her eyes as she zipped up her black and grey uniform jacket. "It's going to be a long day…" she muttered as she grabbed a mug of tea and headed for the bridge. It was bad enough to hear her friend's name dragged through the mud on a daily basis, but she drew the line when others tried to use her as a political pawn. She just wanted to do her job and do it well.
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
"Captain's Personal Log: Stardate 54512.7. I hate dog and pony shows: a choreographed event where men and women in uniform are trotted out to put on a show for someone else. The Pershing has arrived at the Caleb System to be present for the launch of our next sister ship, the USS Houston. This will be the first Pershing class commissioning with the media present, so Captain Quan from the Nelson, Captain Tarn from the Nevsky, and Captain Zhe'vasda from the Shran will all be there right next to me.

Despite the Federation being a hair's breath away from full blown war with the Romulus Pact, it was decided the our place was not on our bridges, but in front of the cameras to show 'solidarity and confidence' in front of the cameras, whatever that means.

To make things even better, the new captain selected to command the Houston is an old colleague of mine. Hopefully, he doesn't hold a grudge…"

Annabeth made her way to the stands in the pressurized section of the "Caleb IV Construction Slipway Number 3." The brand new battlestarship, USS Houston, gleamed in her berth just beyond the transparent aluminum observation windows. It was the same location where she had participated in the launch of the Pershing almost two and half years before. This time, she would only be a witness to the festivities from a seated place of honor. Despite all that, she hated being here. It was yet another reminder that some very important people in her life were no longer present.

The stands were loaded to capacity with visiting dignitaries and very important guests. All were dressed in their best and they laughed and joked with each other like it was merely another fancy picnic or luncheon. It was a far cry from the relatively secret launch of 'Lady Blackjack' during the final days of the war.

An usher in dress uniform led her towards her designated spot. She glanced over to the platform where the senior staff of the Houston stood at parade rest awaiting the start of the ceremony. Over the ceremonial stage hung three banners: the flag of the Federation, the Starfleet colors, and a long black banner emblazoned with the crest of the Caleb IV "Skunkworks" shipyards and the words:

WELCOME TO THE FLEET

USS HOUSTON

NCC-19864

"LONE STAR"

ON TIME AND READY TO GO!

Off in a corner, a ceremonial brass band was playing away at a series of bombastic military marches as Annabeth saw the other Pershing class captains already in their chairs. She was the last to arrive.

"Annabeth!" Belan Tarn, the Coridanite captain of the Nevsky said rising to his feet. "It's good to see you. We were hoping that you'd make it in time."

"Sorry," she said shaking her head. "The Pershing was delayed a little getting through the Secarius nebula last night."

"Really?" Shu Yin Quan, captain of the Nelson, said raising an eyebrow. "I thought it was just because you hated coming to these things."

"It's nice to see you too, Shu Yin," Annabeth said fighting the urge to roll her eyes. She picked up an old-fashioned paper tri-fold program that had been placed in her chair and sat down. "Hey, Kivrana," Annabeth said to Captain Zhe'vasda.

"Annabeth," the Andorian said with nod of her head and curl of antennae. "So, you know this guy?" she continued with a gesture towards the Vulcan captain at the head of the Houston's crew.

"Unfortunately yes," Annabeth muttered after clearing her throat.

"I sense there's a story there," Tarn said with a chuckle.

"His name is Soloth," Annabeth answered. "He was my first officer during my short tenure on the Venture. Last time I saw him, he was standing in the conference room on Starbase 10 as they stripped me of command. He had just finished testifying why he believed I was not fit to be a leader in Starfleet."

"By Uzaveh the Infinite," Zhe'vasda said as she burst out laughing. "This is going to be fun."

"Speaking of fond memories," Quan interjected. "I just got back from a fun little jaunt to the Leminora System with your old boss…"

Annabeth clenched her jaw. She knew Quan liked her even less than she liked Tigranian.

"I'm aware…" Annabeth said keeping her eyes on the stage to their front.

"I'm surprised you didn't immediately ask me about him," Quan said. Tarn and Zhe'vasda both turned their heads to gauge Annabeth's response.

"I didn't need to," Annabeth said turning to Quan. "I heard that Lord Daniel achieved an amazing victory over the Cardassian State while Starfleet personnel present only shut up and colored."

Tarn and Zhe'vasda's faces both contorted into smirks as they turned to watch Quan's reaction. She merely grumbled and looked back down at her program.

The resulting awkwardness didn't last long. The news media began to make a commotion so loud it overpowered the music from the band. The reporters and their camera crews rushed over to the railing separating the crowd from the VIP seating as Admiral Paris, Admiral Murphy, and a surprise guest walked towards their chairs.

"Lord Torlek…" Annabeth muttered.

"Well, this just keeps getting more and more interesting," Zhe'vasda said with a grin. "I wish someone was selling popcorn."

The reporters pushed their microphones towards the delegation and began screaming questions.

"Governor Torlek! Does the Klingon Empire have a statement on Councilor Vanna's official inquiry into Klingon influence in the Federation?"

"Does the Klingon Empire also want to terminate the Treaty of Alliance?"

Torlek stoically ignored the questions until one reporter dove over the barricade and shoved a microphone directly in front of his chest:

"Did the Klingon Empire pressure Starfleet to advance the career of Daniel Tigranian?"

Torlek immediately stopped and turned his head towards the offending newsman.

"In the Klingon Empire, when a member of the press insults the honor a noble family without evidence, we send them to the dilithium mines on Rura Penthe for a slow death," he said with an angry expression that made the reporter leap back behind the barrier. Paris immediately jumped between Torlek and the media. The admiral held up his hands trying to calm things down.

"I believe what Lord Torlek meant to say is that there was absolutely no pressure placed on Starfleet by the Klingons to put Daniel Tigranian in command of the Pershing," Paris explained with a nervous smile. "However, we will cooperate with the investigation of the Federation Council to the fullest possible extent. Thank you for being here and please enjoy the ceremony."

"Admiral Paris! Admiral Paris!" the other reporters started shouting as the admiral led Torlek and Murphy towards their seats.

"Pete," Paris said looking towards Murphy. "Maybe you should go ahead and start the ceremony."

"Yes Sir," Murphy replied with a glance towards Torlek who appeared to have no qualms about publicly threatening the life of a member of the Federation News Service. As Murphy walked towards Soloth standing on the platform, Paris leaned towards Torlek and whispered:

"Governor Torlek, the entire reason I invited you to this ceremony is to show that the alliance between our governments is still functional and strong. That comment did not help things."

"You are afraid of them:" Torlek said gesturing to the reporters with his head, "a group of ravenous muckrakers who scream falsehoods into cameras to feel powerful." The Klingon sneered with disgust.

"Freedom of the Press is one of the most sacred traditions on which the United Federation is founded," Paris replied while trying to appear calm for the cameras watching their every move. "It is what makes our government accountable and functional. It is how our people stay informed of the truth."

"The truth?" Torlek asked a bit surprised. "How are your people so sure it's the truth if there is no penalty for telling lies?"

"You simply don't understand…" Paris muttered with exasperation.

"Perhaps not," Torlek replied. "But I'm not sure you do either, Admiral."

Paris didn't have a chance to respond. Murphy walked up onto the platform and gestured to Captain Soloth.

"Detachment!" the Vulcan shouted snapping rigidly straight. "Attention!"

The assembled ranks obeyed and the commissioning ceremony began.

"Admirals, Allied leaders, Starfleet officers, Ladies, and Gentlemen," the polished, clear voice of an announcer boomed over a set of loudspeakers. "Please take your seats as we begin the ceremony to welcome the newest ship of Starfleet, the USS Houston, into active service of the Federation…"
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Annabeth materialized on the Pershing's transporter pad already rubbing her tired eyes. Katie, her acting first officer, was waiting and chuckled as soon as she saw her boss return.

"Fun day?" Katie asked while crossing her arms.

"Mein Gott, Number One," Annabeth said stepping down from the pad. "The ceremony just kept going and going. Soloth wouldn't shut up about how it was a privilege to command the best crew in Starfleet, the best in ship in Starfleet, be under the best leadership in Starfleet… Meanwhile, he's casting side eye in my direction the entire time."

"Don't let a Vulcan get you down, Ma'am," Katie said with a smirk. "Besides, we both know that none of what he said was true."

"Oh?" Annabeth said raising an eyebrow.

"Of course," Katie replied. "Everyone knows Lady Blackjack is the best ship with the best crew in the galaxy."

"Well put," Annabeth said with a laugh. "Any issues?"

"We're orbiting one of the most secure facilities in the UFP with twenty starships between us and the nearest intergalactic border," Katie said. "What do you think?"

"It's my job to ask," Annabeth replied nonchalantly. "In any case, I don't envy either Admiral Paris or Admiral Murphy for the media circus surrounding General Torlek down there," she said heading for the doors. "However, that is THEIR problem. Mrs. Lexington, I leave the Pershing in your capable hands. In the meantime, I am heading to my quarters for a stiff drink and a long sonic shower."

"You've earned it, Ma'am," Katie replied. Annabeth barely made it to the doors when her comm badge chirped.

"Bridge to Captain Geist," Ensign Gleeto said.

"Scheiße," Annabeth muttered her breath. "War better have just been just declared…" she said tapping her chest. "This is Captain Geist. Go ahead, Ensign."

"Ma'am, we're receiving an encrypted transmission from the USS T'Pol. It's coded for your eyes only."

"Admiral Paris' flagship?" Annabeth asked surprised.

"Oh dear," Katie said.

"Put the message through to Transporter Room One, Ensign," Annabeth said walking over to the wall panel. Her eyes immediately scanned through the message.

"Well, are we at war?" Katie asked.

"Unfortunately no," Annabeth replied sarcastically. "You have got to be kidding me…"

****

Admiral Paris had turned his guest quarters on the T'Pol into a temporary office. He was busying himself behind the desk reading reports from around the fleet when his door chimed.

"Enter," he said not bothering to look up from the PADD in his hand. Annabeth walked in, snapped to attention, and saluted.

"Captain Geist reporting as ordered, Sir," she said still completely unaware of why the Chief of Starfleet Operations had summoned her.

"Annabeth," he said immediately smiling and rising from his chair. He returned her salute and gestured to two armchairs in the corner of the room. "Please sit down." His demeanor made her nervous. When a senior officer was this happy up front, it usually meant an unpleasant conversation was soon to follow.

"Thank you, Sir," she said cautiously walking over and taking a seat.

"May I get you something? A beverage?" he said gesturing towards his replicator.

"No, thank you, Sir," Annabeth replied. Paris walked over and sat in the chair across from her.

"How're things in your new command? Everything alright?"

"Yes Sir…" she said unsure of where he was going. He saw that she wanted him to get to the point.

"I apologize for bringing you over, but I wanted to have this conversation face to face and not over subspace. Before we begin, I want to make it clear that nothing said is to leave this room."

"I understand," she said cautiously.

"Bottom line up front, Annabeth: you're one of the best officers in the fleet and I can't afford to lose you to politics."

"Ok, Sir," Annabeth said shaking her head. "What is going on, Sir?"

Paris sighed and shook his head.

"Have you had any contact with Dan Tigranian since he was discharged?" he asked.

"No," Annabeth said.

He nodded.

"Good," Paris said with a pause. "I'm ordering you to have no contact with him or Tigranian Laria until Councilor Vanna's investigation is complete."

"Sir?" Annabeth said with total shock.

"The Federation Council's investigation into Tigranian's career is more in depth than even the news reports say. They've subpoenaed almost everyone he's ever had dealings with from his instructors at the Academy all the way to me and Admiral Murphy. They've even secretly asked the President to give a statement. I'm sure it's not long until they come to question you and the Pershing as well. They are leaving absolutely no stone unturned in their attempt to ascertain whether or not the Klingon Empire put an operative into one of our captain's chairs."

"Sir, this is ridiculous," Annabeth said. "They can question me and my crew all they want. We both know that Dan was no Klingon agent."

"You and I both know that but they need to find that out on their own. The oversight of Starfleet is their business, and Starfleet will cooperate with them in every way we can."

"Is this way you wanted to speak with me, Sir?" she asked. "To warn me about the Council? I won't hesitate to defend Dan Tigranian. He is a good man and he served his country well during his tenure."

"Actually, that defense of Dan Tigranian is why you're here. It might be better for your ship, your crew, and your family if you didn't go out of way to clear his name…"

"What?" Annabeth said completely shocked.

"I'm not telling you to lie or omit anything, Annabeth," he said holding up his hand. "Dan and Laria were good officers, but what's done is done. No matter what we say they are not coming back to Starfleet. They're gone. You aren't.

Any connection to the Tigranians, personal or otherwise, could be unnecessarily damaging at this point. The people of the Federation want answers and they want results to ensure the integrity of their government. Don't forget, Starfleet officers serve at the pleasure of the President and the Council. Even if no impropriety exists, they may terminate your commission just to be on the safe side."

"Sir," she said very uncomfortably. "Alex and I used him to conceive. He is the godfather of my son."

"I know," Paris said with a deep exhale.

"Well, what do you expect me to do about that?" she said staring at him.

"Once the investigation is complete, I cannot order you to do anything where your family is concerned," he said. "However, I strongly advise you…to reconsider that relationship."

"Reconsider the relationship?" Annabeth said almost jumping out of her chair.

"Dan Tigranian has no legal standing over your son as far as Federation law is concerned. He signed over any paternity rights he had to Alex, correct?"

"Of course, but…" Annabeth tried to say.

"Then you and Alex should just raise your son," Paris said. "It's better for you, it's better for Alex, and it's better for Max. Being connected to Daniel Tigranian could be a stigma that he never lives down."

"Permission to speak freely, Sir?" Annabeth said with rising anger in her voice. Paris only nodded. "How the hell do you presume to know what's best for my son!?" she screamed.

Paris closed his eyes, stood up, and walked towards the window.

"Do you know about my son?" he finally managed to get out.

Annabeth took a sharp breath.

"I know he's in Starfleet and on Voyager, Sir."

"In Starfleet might be too liberal a term," Paris said turning back around to face her. "The only reason he's still in uniform and not in prison is because of a deal Captain Janeway made. She needed a pilot familiar with the Maquis for her first mission.

Tom's childhood was very difficult…mostly because of me," Paris said walking back over to Annabeth. "I always thought I knew what was best for him. I always thought that if I pushed him to excel, he would be better off for it. I forced him to give up his dreams of becoming a sailor in the Naval Patrol, I forced him to go to Starfleet Academy, and I forced him to become a pilot. None of that was what he wanted.

I forced him to do so many things against his will that I lost him twice: the first time when he was dishonorably discharged from Starfleet, and the second when he got flung across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant."

"Why are you telling me this, Sir?" Annabeth finally asked.

"Because it was only when I thought that my son was dead that I truly realized how wrong I was. Hearing that Voyager was safe and on its way home was a miracle, and it gave me hope that one day I would get to see Tom again and apologize face to face."

He took a seat across from Annabeth.

"Many people tried to warn me not to put my personal stubbornness over the needs of my child when he was still young enough for it to matter. I wish that I was smart enough to listen then. Do you understand, Annabeth?"

She stared back into Paris' face. She understood, but still didn't want to believe it.
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Lakarian City: Cardassia Prime, Republic of Cardassia

Stardate: 54513.2

The sea outside the Imperial jenSa''s palace balcony was beginning to glow red with the last light of day as Tigranian walked into his living room. He grunted as he unbuckled his grey leather cuirass and dropped it onto a chair. Then, he lifted the heavy klongat fur and chain mail undershirt over his head and then let it drop to the carpeted floor with a satisfying thud. After over fourteen hours, he felt like he could finally breathe again. He pulled his sweat-soaked undershirt away from his skin a few times to promote a bit of air flow.

"Why is it always so ghuy'cha hot on this planet?" he muttered as he collapsed onto the couch and pulled off his long, leather boots. "Ohhh, after a long day, that's better than sex…"

"I'm gonna remember you said that, Stud," Laria said walking in from the bedroom. "Also, I've told you a million times we have an armor stand in the closet for a reason!" Laria said walking over to a table to pick up a few PADDs.

"I finally did it," Tigranian said with a grin on his face. "I finally made it home before dark. We can have the whole evening with just the two of us."

"Sweetheart, I love you," Laria said furrowing her brow, "but no we won't. Remember, I'm taking the nentay around the moons of Cardassia VIII tonight to test our impulse upgrades, remember?"

"I thought that was tomorrow night!" Tigranian said with crushing disappointment.

"I said Thursday night, Babe," Laria said with a shrug as she adjusted her grey armored vest more snugly around her waist.

"By Kahless," Tigranian said rubbing his eyes. "I spend the entire day thinking it was Wednesday. I still haven't completely adjusted back to the Klingon calendar yet. Can't you reschedule?"

"Daniel," Laria said apologetically as she walked over and took a seat next to him. "I'm sorry, but I'm that ship's captain and what does a ship's captain do?"

"She stays with her ship when it needs her…" Tigranian muttered.

"That's right," she said patting him on the chest before standing back up.

"When are we ever actually going to spend time together?" he said. "We always seem to be working now."

"You're an Imperial jenSa'' and I'm a flagship HoD. Both of us have a lot of responsibilities now," she shrugged. "We'll find time. However, General," she said putting her hands on her hips. "You have earned yourself a night off. Relax."

"What I am supposed to do alone on Cardassia?" he asked.

"You can head over to the leSjuHmey on the other side of the compound for a sauna and some bloodwine. You can work out. You can go to the capital and grab a nice dinner and a holosuite…"

"I didn't really want to leave the house again," he replied.

"Then sit right here and enjoy yourself. I finally hacked the holoscreen to get both Klingon and Federation channels. Watch a movie or some trash tv."

"It has been awhile since I get to see my cooking shows…" he muttered.

"There you go!" Laria said grabbing her kit bag.

"But what Klingon general watches Terran cooking shows?" he said to himself self-consciously.

"One like you!" Laria said turning back towards him. She leaned over and planted a kiss on his lips. "You wear the armor. It doesn't wear you. Never forget who you are."

"You're amazing," he said softly.

"I know," she said bobbing her hide to the side, "and I love you, but right now this captain's gotta go. See you in the morning!"

"Love you, too!" he shouted back as she headed out. "Qapla'!" The only response he got was a closing door. He found himself alone. "Great…" he muttered.

He briefly considered attacking the massive pile of reports awaiting review in his terminal's in-box, however, Tigranian finally decided against it. Then, he realized there was someone he hadn't spoken to in a while.

He reached over to a side table, picked up a PADD, and looked up Annabeth's personal subspace code on the Pershing. He keyed it in and let it ring once, twice, three, then four times. Finally, after the fifth attempt, a pre-recorded computer message played:

"The Starfleet member you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. If you desire to leave a voice or written message, you may do so at this time. Otherwise, please try again later. Thank you for using Fednet Subpace Service."

Tigranian keyed his PADD.

"Annabeth, it's Dan. Just calling to see how things are going. Congratulations, Captain Geist. I heard the admiralty finally made a smart decision and gave you the chair permanently. Lady Blackjack couldn't have gone to a better officer.

Please call me back when you get a chance. I really want to speak with you. And please let the whole team know that Laria and I miss them every day. Also," he paused briefly, "could you tell Max that his qa'vav still thinks about him every day and can't wait to see him again. All the best to you and Alex. Talk to you soon. Bye."

He hung up.

"Well," he muttered to himself as he threw the PADD onto the couch. "I guess she's busy tonight too…
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Ternaria System: United Federation of Planets

Stardate: 54513.2

Scharr tasted the bratwurst on the plate in front of him.

"This is delicious, Ma'am," he said turning to Annabeth at the end of the table.

"I'm German, Tren," she replied trying to put a smile on her face. "I may not be able to cook anything else, but if I screwed up sausage, I'd be disowned." Annabeth wanted the crew to have one more nice meal before what was sure to be a hard day tomorrow. She still had no idea what she was going to say to the Council's investigators.

"Do you think what we tell them even matters?" Phil asked taking a sip of lager. "It seems like the entire Federation has already made up their mind."

"The truth always matters," Katie said playing with her fried cabbage with the tines of her fork. "It doesn't matter if Councilor Vanna and her toadies get it right. Even if Captain T and Laria never get to come home, they'll at least know we stood up for them."

Annabeth pursed her lips and took a sip of beer.

"What do you think, Ma'am?" Phil suddenly asked Annabeth. "Are they really gonna push for political action against the Klingons?"

His question roused Annabeth from her introspection. She shook out of her haze.

"You know as much as I do, Phil. Starfleet didn't tell me anything else."

"I never trust politicians," Scharr said. "They always put themselves before everything else. Not a shred of honor among any of them."

"Don't you think that might be a bit of an overgeneralization, Tren?" Annabeth asked.

"I just call it like I see it, Ma'am," he replied shrugging his shoulders and his antennae.

"Why don't we switch to a happier topic?" Annabeth suggested. "What about you two?" she said looking down the table to T'les and Katan. "You're both uncharacteristically quiet."

The doctor and and T'les exchanged glances.

"I believe T'les was wondering if Starfleet Science had selected a replacement at Science?" Katan said covering for his clandestine girlfriend. T'les still felt unease at revealing their relationship to the group.

"Actually," Annabeth said smiling. "I do have some news on that front," she said wiping her mouth with a napkin. "His name is Lieutenant Aaron Adamson and he'll join us when we return to Earth in two weeks."

"Aaron Adamson?" Phil said. "His name is really Aaron Adamson? Sounds like a 20th century sitcom character."

T'les immediately perked up.

"I do not care what his name his," the Vulcan replied raising her eyebrow, "as long as he allows me to return to my place in Engineering."

"Our family continues to grow," Annabeth said with a smirk before turning to Katie. "Oh and before you ask, Number One, no your replacement hasn't been announced yet. I have a request in, but Starfleet is still mulling it over."

"Dammit," Katie grumbled.

"Looks like you'll have to be happy filling out duty rosters for a little while longer," Annabeth said. Everyone else laughed.

Suddenly, Annabeth's personal monitor pinged with a message.

"Excuse me," she said pushing back from the table and walking over to her desk. As soon as she read it, her eyes grew wide. Then, her comm badge chirped.

"Ensign Gleeto to Captain Geist."

"Go ahead," she said tapping her chest.

"We just detected a strange energy reading on Deck 2 in Captain Tigranian's old quarters…"

"Acknowledged," Annabeth said cutting him off. "I'm right next door. I'll check it out."

"Captain?" Gleeto replied confused.

"I said I'll check it out!" Annabeth said. Maintain current position and speed. "If it's something, I'll let you know!"

Gleeto paused on the other end.

"Aye Ma'am…"

"Captain, what is going on?" Katie said rising from the table.

"All of you, stay here until I get back. That is an order!" she said disappearing out into the corridor.

The doors closed behind her as she disappeared. The other members of the dinner party sat in silence for a few moments. Finally, Scharr took another bite of sauerkraut and turned to T'les and Katan.

"He's a good man, T," the Andorian said with a smirk. "Congratulations."

"On what, Mr. Scharr?" T'les asked trying to conceal her surprise. The old Andorian laughed and glanced at Katan.

"My Dear, you don't have to be a telepath to figure some things out."

****

Annabeth stopped outside of Tigranian's quarters. They had been sealed since Dan and Laria left the ship.

"Computer, Security Override: command authorization, Geist Whiskey 8-2 Bravo."

"Acknowledged."

The doors parted and Annabeth stepped inside. In the middle of the dark and empty room, a figure stood with his back to her.

"Computer, Lock doors. No one enters without my authorization," Annabeth said crossing her arms.

"Acknowledged."

Then, Annabeth tapped her comm badge.

"Bridge, this is the captain. Must be a false alarm. There's nothing in here."

"Roger, Ma'am. We'll run a sensor diagnostic."

"Geist out." Once the transmission disconnected, she turned back to the intruder. "I'm not going to ask how you beamed aboard without setting off the intruder alarms," Annabeth said walking towards the shadowy form. "But I know how close your cloaked ship has to be to do it. As soon as you sent me that message, I could have raised shields and had you arrested." Annabeth said angrily.

Torlek slowly turned around.

"But I knew you wouldn't," he said calmly.

Do you have any idea how bad it would be if you were detected?" she added with her hands on her hips.

"The human fascination with what might be always amazes me," the old Klingon said. "I figured that with the arrival of your special guests tomorrow, this would be better than a more public meeting."

"Torlek, why are you here?" Annabeth said rubbing her temples. "You could have just called on subspace."

"No. To get the answer I require, I had to look right into your eyes."

"And do you have it?" she said exasperated.

"Yes," he said nodding. "I do." Slowly, he crossed towards her. "I have lived long enough to know that the Federation could once again become my enemy, but there will always be good people within it. You may fight under their flag, Annabeth, Daughter of Geist, but you are also cha'Dich to the House of Torlek, mother of my brother's godson, and a woman of honor."

From beneath his cloak he pulled out a leather-bound book and handed it to her.

"I gave a copy of this to Daniel many years ago. May it speak to you as it spoke to him. Unfortunately, it loses something in translation. Perhaps you should learn Klingon."

"I doubt that's going to happen," she muttered as she took the book and opened it to the cover page:

The qeS'a'

Precepts Derived from the Teachings of Kahless the Unforgettable

She noticed that a page had already been marked. She turned to it and read:

Tenth Precept

Guard Honor Above All

"Is this a warning?" she said skeptically.

"Not at all," he said shaking his head. "It is merely a guide. Go with Kahless, Daughter of Geist. Farewell. I pray that it is not for the last time."

Before Annabeth could respond, he pressed the communicator on his sleeve.

"jol yIchu'"

Torlek instantly disappeared in a sparkle of red light. Annabeth found herself alone.
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
The next afternoon, Annabeth stood outside of the Pershing's wardroom wringing her hands. Suddenly, the doors parted and Phil stepped out. As soon as the doors closed, Phil let out a deep breath and looked her in the face.

"How is it in there?" she asked. Phil just shook his head.

"Good luck, Ma'am," he said. She nodded and then he headed back towards the bridge. The visitors to the ship had spent the entire day squatting in her meeting space and taking statements from the entire senior staff. Annabeth was the last to face them.

Finally, she worked up the courage to press the chime.

"Enter," the voice of an Ardanan woman said. Annabeth stepped inside. All the chairs save one had been pushed against the wall. The last seat was in the middle of the floor facing a long table where three civilians sat glaring at her: The Ardanan, her Rigellian assistant, and a Tellarite male. All were dressed in crisp suits. Mountains of PADDs were stacked in front of them.

"Captain Geist," the Ardanan said perking up. "Thank you again for meeting with us."

"Of course, Councilor Vanna," Annabeth replied. "I hope you find the facilities on board to your liking."

"Oh much more than that," Vanna replied. "Your crew has been excellent and very forthcoming. We truly do appreciate it as we want to have the most accurate inquiry possible."

"I'm glad to hear it," Annabeth said.

"Please," Vanna said gesturing to the lone chair. "Have a seat and place your hand on the authenticator pad. This shouldn't take long. I know how busy you must be."

Annabeth smiled uncomfortably and complied. As soon as she placed her right hand on the white and silver pad next to the chair, it lit up and the computer began speaking.

"Verified: Geist, Annabeth Marie. Service Number: 4831945-18 Service Rank: Captain. Position: Starship Command. Current Assignment: USS Pershing. Commendations: Christopher Pike Medal of Valor, Grankite Order of Tactics: First Class, Starfleet Advanced Tactical Training with Honors, Starfleet Commendation Medal with Four Palm Leaves…"

"Computer," Vanna said. "Thank you, we are aware of Captain Geist's excellent service record."

"Acknowledged."

"Now, Captain, Mr. Horasku here is going to place you under oath," Vanna said indicating the Tellarite seated to her left. "Don't be alarmed. It's completely standard procedure for an inquiry such as this one and does not mean we suspect you of any wrongdoing."

"I understand," Annabeth nodded.

"Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give this committee is the whole truth, nothing but the truth, and will accurately reflect your knowledge of the events in question under penalty of perjury?" Horasku snorted at her.

"I do," Annabeth replied.

"Ok," Vanna said with a sickeningly sweet, politician's smile. "Like I said, this shouldn't take long. Gentlemen?" she said looking to her left and right.

"Have you had any contact with Daniel or Laria Tigranian since the events on Cardassia Prime on Stardate 54510.1?" Horasku asked.

"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "On the advice of my chain of command, I blocked both their transmissions pending the outcome of this investigation."

"A prudent measure," Vanna muttered making noting of it.

"On Stardate 53226.0, youaccompanied Daniel Tigranian to the Klingon Homeworld and appeared before the Klingon High Council. Could you please provide us the details of that visit?" the Rigellian asked curtly.

Annabeth sighed.

"Sir, with respect, those events were well documented in both my and Captain Tigranian's reports. We debriefed Admiral Paris and Admiral Murphy upon our return," she said.

"Captain Geist," Vanna said firmly. "I believe what Mr. Guzka is asking is if you could please give us your personal recollections of those experiences. We need to know everything that happened. Even things you may not have thought to include in your original reports."

Annabeth sighed again. The memories surrounding those days were extremely painful and she did not enjoy reliving them.

"Captain Tigranian had just made a public apology before the Romulan Senate urging the release of Doctor Alexandra Hunter from captivity on Remus…"

"Computer," Guzka rudely interjected. "Please reflect that the Doctor Alexandra Hunter referred to by Captain Geist is now her wife."

"Reflected in Record."

"Continue please," Guzka said.

"As a result, Captain Tigranian had been summoned to appear before the Klingon High Council to face charges of cowardice," Annabeth said.

"But why did you accompany him?" Horasku asked. "Did he order you too?"

"No, I requested, Sir," Annabeth said.

"Why?" Vanna said. "Was it a feeling of personal obligation?"

"I don't believe that's the most accurate why of phrasing it, Ma'am," Annabeth said.

"Then Captain," Vanna replied. "Phrase it accurately."

"Captain Tigranian had placed his personal honor at risk for the woman I loved and was facing possible execution by the Klingons as a result." Annabeth paused. "If he was going to die for it, I didn't want him to die alone."

"Die alone?" Guzka asked. "Did he not have his Klingon family present?"

"He did Sir," Annabeth responded. "But a person can have more than one family."

"Is this why you volunteered for the position of cha'Dich during the ceremony?" Horasku asked while scribbling notes on her testimony.

"cha'Dich?" Vanna asked while looking through her notes for a Klingon translation.

"An honorary second that stands with the accused in the event of combat," Guzka explained.

"It didn't seem very honorary at the time…" Annabeth muttered.

"After Tigranian was acquitted by the high council, did you observe any subsequent interactions between him and other members of the Klingon government?" Vannna asked.

"Not with Chancellor Martok or the High Council, but we returned to Lord Torlek's estate."

"What was the nature of the interaction between Tigranian and Lord Torlek?" Horasku asked.

"Nothing out of the ordinary. We had dinner at his home, spent the night, and then left the Empire in the morning. We both had a wedding to make it to," she said with a smirk.

"Captain Geist," Vanna said firmly. "You were his first officer for over three years. Did you ever suspect at any time that Daniel Tigranian was ever officially or unofficially employed by the Klingon Government?"

"No," Annabeth replied equally firmly.

"Really?" Vanna asked skeptically. "Even when he relinquished command on Stardate 53108.6 to protect the Martok government against Lord Morjod? Your logs reflected a bit of skepticism at the time"

"You've seen my logs?" Annabeth asked surprised.

"Of course," Vanna replied. "Any officer's log is subject to official inspection at any time. That is why they exist."

Annabeth sighed and continued.

"He publicly took a leave of absence to serve in the KDF. He never used any Starfleet resources to support the Martok government," Annabeth said. The tone of their questions was growing noticeably more hostile.

"But you did," Vanna said. "You took the Pershing under your authority to fight on behalf of the Klingon Government? Was it because Tigranian requested it?"

"No!" Annabeth said.

"Then why?" Guzka said. "Why did you put the property of the United Federation of Planets at risk along with a crew of almost 200 people to fight against Klingon rebels?"

"It wasn't to fight Klingon rebels. They were conducting active smuggling operations in illegal biogenic compounds," Annabeth said. "I was merely enforcing the provisions of the Treaty of Bajor which was this ship's mission at the time."

The three civilians exchanged skeptical looks back and forth and made more notes on their PADDs.

"How convenient that it also allowed you to come to Captain Tigranian's aide then…" Horuska snorted under his breath. Annabeth balled her fist a few times trying to suppress her indignation.

"One final question, Captain Geist," Vanna said looking straight at Annabeth's face. "Who is the father of your child?"

Annabeth clenched her jaw and stared right back.

"Daniel Tigranian, Ma'am. However, my wife and I conceived through artificial insemination. He was our donor. We never had any kind of sexual relationship if that is what you are implying, Councilor," Annabeth said.

"So Daniel Tigranian's contribution to Max's life is merely biological then?" Horasku asked.

Annabeth looked down at the carpet as Paris' words of warning came rushing back.

"Daniel Tigranian did have a role in raising my son."

"Did?" Vanna said. "Past tense implies that you have severed that relationship, Captain. Are you saying that you no longer consider your son connected to Daniel Tigranian or the House of Torlek?"

Annabeth took in a deep breath.

"Captain," Vanna spoke up. "May I remind you that you are under oath? Please answer the question."

Annabeth briefly shut her eyes and then opened them again. Then she began to speak…

****

It was nearly midnight onboard the Pershing. Vanna and her entourage had left the ship. Annabeth sat on her bed and stared at the subspace transmission on her PADD.

"He's so beautiful," she whispered as Alex held her device to capture an image of Max sleeping in his crib. Alex then tiptoed back into the living room of their Munich apartment to continue the rather serious conversation. "I'm so sorry, Babe," Annabeth continued. "I should have talked to you first. What I told the committee could have consequences for us both."

"What's done is done," Alex nodded back at her. "You did what you felt was right." She paused but then continued speaking. "But if it makes you feel better, I think you did the right thing."

"Really?" Annabeth said skeptically. "Because it could cause us both to removed from Starfleet…" she shook her head. "I just couldn't do it. I couldn't turn my back on Dan and Laria. They deserve better than that…" she said glancing down at the book on the blanket beside her.

Alex paused.

"The Federation has no right to tell us who in our lives is good or bad. That is up to us. Dan is Max's godfather. He promised to be there for our son when needed. Therefore, we have to be there for him and Laria as well. They saved me, they saved you, and they gave us Max. They're good people who are innocent of any crime. The government may have forgotten that in a sea of fear and confusion, but we won't."

Alex turned to look at Max's bat'leth hanging on the wall besides her. Her eye caught the inscription on the blade and she remembered Tigranian explaining its meaning:

"vam voq laH SoH"

"This, you can trust"

Alex then felt the scar on her palm where she contributed her own blood to the blade's forging back on Qo'noS.

"No matter what," she said to Annabeth, "we swore to be in this for the long haul."

"And if we both end up unemployed and labeled as possible spies?" Annabeth said only half joking.

"Then, we do what we've always done and move forward together. Who knows? Earth isn't the only place in the galaxy. I'm sure we can find some planet that will take us in." Alex replied back with a smile. "We can move to Ferenginar and not have to worry about buying clothes."

Annabeth actually laughed.

"Can I see him?" she asked. "Just one more time."

Alex nodded. She quietly stepped back into Max's nursery and held the PADD up to the crib. Annabeth put her hand over her mouth as she gazed at the image of her son gently sleeping. The words Torlek spoke at his christening passed through her mind:

"Maximilian George…from this day forward: Conquer! Conquer your fears, conquer your enemies, and conquer death. For, from this day forward, you are Klingon."

"Ok Beth," Alex whispered into the screen. "I've got to call it a night. The little man and I got to make the 0700 shuttle to Canada tomorrow morning so I can drop him before work."

"I love you," Annabeth whispered back. "Goodnight, and kiss him hard for me when he wakes up."

"Goodnight," Alex replied. "I will and I love you too."

Alex kissed her fingers and touched them to the screen. Annabeth did the same before the transmission disconnected. Annabeth placed the PADD back on the bed and then picked up the copy of qeS'a' Torlek had given her. She mindlessly opened to a page and began to read:

Dictum: The Broken Cage

Warriors must hate above all the cages that constrain them. Imprisoned, a warrior finds everything precious taken from him, his will thwarted. And without the power to do one's will, one cannot be free. Captivity is a shameful state that must be resisted, for imprisonment is a twilight existence wherein all needs go unmet, all desires unfulfilled. The captive lives at another's pleasure and never his own. A prisoner does not hold the deed to his own life. Though some cages are constructed by circumstance and not by masons and smiths, and though they exist only within the mind, these too must be broken. Anything that would confine your will must not remain.

Annabeth pondered those words for a few quiet moments. Then, she put the book down, walked to the terminal on her desk, and opened her subspace contacts. She scrolled down to Daniel and Laria Tigranian. Without hesitation, she immediately selected:

"UNBLOCK"
Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
Proconsul's Chambers, Ki-Baratan: Romulus, Romulan Star Empire

Stardate: 54513.5

Semachs leaned back in his opulent desk chair and stared at the holoscreen mounted on the wall. He enjoyed the Tal Shiar intercepts of the Federation News Service. They offered a unique perspective on his enemies that dry intelligence reports often lacked.

Though the story on the new Pershing class dreadnaught caused him great frustration, the fact that the moronic talking heads were so distracted by the comments of Governor Torlek made him want to jump out of his chair and shout with sadistic glee:

"Did the Klingon Empire pressure Starfleet to advance the career of Daniel Tigranian?" a weakling human reporter screeched at the hideous Klingon animal.

"In the Klingon Empire, when a member of the press insults the honor a noble family without evidence, we send them to the dilithium mines on Rura Penthe for a slow death…" Torlek replied with a banal aphorism that Semachs had come to expect from his sub-Romulan, barbaric species.

"And there you have it Ladies and Gentlemen," the Federation anchor continued, completely ignoring the battlestarship moored in the background of the footage. "This exchange occurred at the Caleb IV shipyards while Governor Torlek was a guest of honor. Timoshan, your thoughts?" the anchor said turning to a Cygnian man sitting at the desk next to him along with a female Catullan and another male Zakdorn.

"It's just shocking," the Cygnian said shaking his head. "I mean, we have it right there on film. The Klingons no longer have any kind of respect for our values or who we are as a society. Now, their leaders are openly making death threats to Federation civilians. The only question I have is what is our government going to do about it?"

"I'd like to jump in here," the Catullan woman said. "I think the answer is that our government is not going to do anything about it until we demand it as a people. You see it now all across the Federation. Everyday men and women are standing up for their rights against a government that used the threat of war for so many years to curtail them. The only reason we needed the Klingons after they withdrew from the Khitomer Accords back in '72 was because of the Dominion.

Now that the threat from the Gamma Quadrant is gone, we need to be the ones demanding change. If the Klingons want to remain relevant in the galaxy, they need to evolve. General elections are in less than three months. People need to stand up, get out, and vote. Otherwise, nothing is going to happen."

"I think you bring up a really interesting point Cerikylia," the Zakdorn said in his species' typical high-pitched, nasal tone. "Strategically, the Klingon Alliance made sense a quarter century ago. Now that the Federation is in a much more powerful position than it was then, the question we all have to ask is, is it really worth the cost to our sense of morals as a union of free peoples?"

"Unfortunately, we're out of time for today," the anchor said cutting in. "Join us tomorrow…"

Semachs smiled and leaned back in his chair. He looked across his massive desk to the corner of the room.

"It really is pathetic how easy it is to undermine a democracy," he chuckled. "Throw some uncertainty, confusion, and violence their way and they tear themselves to shreds voluntarily. You'd think they'd be smart enough just to turn it off."

"That's the beauty of it all. They can't," said a figure emerging from the shadows. "Indignation is an addiction for the Federation. They crave it like a narcotic." She walked closer to Semachs and leaned on his desk. "I told you Tigranian was the key. His body may be human, but his mind is Klingon. Therefore, it is utterly predictable. The forced evacuations from the MDL along with the Romulan-Cardassian Labor Exchange program was just the bait he needed to go over the edge.

The elections will drive the Federation away from the Klingons, the President and Council with break the Alliance, and then there will be nothing standing in our way from reclaiming our rightful place as the dominant power in the galaxy."

"After we get our own affairs in order first," Semachs corrected her as the Romulan Sub-Commander walked to a side table and poured two glasses of kali-fal. She returned to the desk and handed one to Semachs.

"Of course, Proconsul," she said holding the bright blue spirit next to her blonde hair. "With the Federation and Klingons no longer a threat, that is only a matter of time."

"Perhaps Neral was right about you, Commander Sela," Semachs said taking a sip of his drink. "I was wrong to doubt it."

"I am honored to serve the Star Empire, Proconsul," Sela replied with a respectful bow. "I'm just sorry that it took the return of the slave rebellion for it to happen."

"Do I detect a veiled rebuke, Sub-Commander?" Semachs said with a hint of admiration.

"Not at all, Sir," Sela simpered. "I am simply stating that desperate times require devious measures."

"Spoken like a true Romulan," Semachs said hoisting his glass in her direction. "I do admit, when I found out that your mother was human, I had my doubts. I am glad to see that they were misguided."

Sela held back her internal anger and let her cool Romulan visage hide her emotion. She raised her glass towards him.

"To the Senate and the People of Romulus, Proconsul. May their enemies die in agony."

"Jolan Tru, Commander," Semachs said with a grin before taking another sip of Romulan Ale.
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