Stardate 50564 (Earth year 2373)
“You might ask, should we fear joining the Dominion? And I answer you, not in the least.”
Skrain Dukat gave his inaugural address once a Jem’Hadar fleet reached Cardassia Prime, signaling the Cardassian Union’s new alliance with the Dominion. The Tal Shiar had intercepted the Union-wide transmission within a solar day of the actual address. Senator Vreenak and Commander Suran presented Dukat’s address to Proconsul Neral in the proconsul’s chamber.
“Intelligence operatives outside of Cardassian space picked up this Union-wide communiqué this morning,” Suran stated, before entering a command to pause the recording. He gave a hard look at the image of Dukat, seeing a resemblance to a Romulan Imperial Army general whose name he could not remember.
“The question now is how we respond,” Vreenak added. “In all likelihood, the Federation and the Klingon Empire will reinstate the Khitomer Accords.”
Suran immediately knew what Tirak would suggest: use this opportunity to annex the border systems without regard how such a move would stretch military supply lines too far. Immediate direct action was rarely ever a Romulan strategy. Yet with the Dominion now ever closer to their doorstep, passive observation was not an option either.
“And those two powers will be concentrating their forces on the Dominion,” Suran offered, recalling his people’s recent history of attempting to derail alliances between the Federation and the Klingons from the Khitomer conspiracy to the last Klingon civil war.
“We have an opportunity like no other,” Vreenak continued. “War will come eventually. I’m not suggesting something as grandiose as an alliance.”
“You would suggest lending assistance,” Neral replied, “as a gesture of good will.”
Suran quietly scoffed at the very idea of any form of cooperation with the Dominion. While he was not too fond of the Federation, he was even more disdainful of the empire from the Gamma Quadrant. The Founders would likely seek retaliation against the Cardassians and the Romulans after the failed attack on the Founders’ home planet.
“Feel free to suggest it at the next Senate session,” Neral said pensively. “Dismissed.”
Suran and Vreenak headed for the entrance. After Vreenak walked out, Neral called to Suran. “Commander Suran, a moment in private.”
The commander gave a wry smile in Vreenak’s direction. He slowly turned around to face the proconsul. He seemed relieved that Neral did not completely trust Vreenak. “I have to admit,” Neral began, “I’ve had my suspicions about Vreenak.”
“As I have had suspicions of his chief-of-staff,” Suran replied. “Yet I have found nothing to use against him.”
“His suggestion does have merit. As soon as war does break out, the first battle will be at Deep Space Nine. I want you to dispatch a fleet there for simple reconnaissance. We need to know the Dominion’s short term plans.”
As Vreenak had expected, the Federation and the Klingon Empire did reinstate their alliance. A combined fleet of Starfleet and Klingon Defense Force vessels converged at Deep Space Nine in preparation for a Dominion attack. Dukat indicated that it would be soon when he vowed to take back the former Cardassian space station.
“Sir, I’m picking up a tachyon buildup,” Miles O’Brien reported to Sisko. “Multiple vectors. Ships decloaking.”
Nearly two-dozen D’Deridix-class warbirds appeared alongside the station. Several Romulan Star Empire insignias began appearing on Sisko’s readout screen.
“Romulans,” he gasped.
“They’re requesting permission to join the fleet.”
“I’ll be damned. Permission granted.”
Any trained Starfleet officer knew Romulans had some kind of ulterior motive. But no one on Deep Space Nine knew what exactly that motive was. The impending battle would not happen for another five months. The crew was led to believe an attack was imminent at this particular time in order to cause a supernova in the Bajoran sun. The USS Defiant stopped a Changeling from carrying out that plan. Though war still remained on the horizon.
“Senators, we have a momentous opportunity before us.”
As the prospects grew stronger at the end of the Earth year 2373, the Romulan Imperial Senate continued debating the Empire’s role in a possible conflict between the Dominion and the restored Federation-Klingon alliance. Vreenak made his case for a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. Though he had plenty of dissenters in the Senate of whom he had to persuade.
Senator Irrawik was the first to speak. “Senator Vreenak,” he began, “I have reviewed your projections indicating that the Empire will be in a far better position to annex Federation and Klingon territories after an extended conflict with the Dominion. Yet we have no guarantee such a war is winnable. The Federation has taken little action while the Dominion continues to fortify its foothold in the Alpha Quadrant.”
Vreenak could immediately deduce what Irrawik was implying: that such long-term planning was only favorable if the Federation prevailed. Vreenak shot a quick glance at one of his most vocal dissenters over the last decade. “You perceive a problem in the event of a Dominion victory?” he asked while looking towards Neral.
“Because we cannot guarantee that the Dominion will leave us alone if they should be victorious,” Irrawik replied.
“Yet by not becoming openly involved in a war with the Federation, we demonstrate our good intentions.”
The Senate chamber filled with raucous jeering. How could the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, of all people, make such a naïve statement? Neral pounded a stone sphere on the right arm of his throne-sized chair, quieting the crowd.
“Then why do you not endorse a full military alliance?” Cretak forcefully demanded.
“What Skrain Dukat is unable or unwilling to realize,” Vreenak humbly stated, “Is that the Founders could seek to avenge the aborted attack on their homeworld. By allowing soldiers free reign in our territory, they will be at a significant advantage should they decide to carry out the extermination of our race.”
The crowd erupted in outrage again. Through the uproar, one junior Senator’s words became distinguishable. “How do we know you are not part of such a plan?” he hissed.
Outside the Senate chamber, Tirak snuck a peek through the metal double doors. A shadow emerged over him. Tirak turned to his right to see Gelnon, the Vorta representative in the treaty negotiations. They both exchanged devious grins.
Vreenak later met with Gelnon in an alleyway after nightfall. Normally, they would meet officially during the next session of the treaty negotiations. However, Gelnon had requested an urgent meeting off-the-record. Vreenak did not know what to make of the request, so he had two of his personal guards accompany him.
“I’ll let you know if I need you,” Vreenak told the guards when he turned a corner and saw the Vorta.
“Your dissenters could cause problems,” Gelnon said plainly. “I can them eliminated if you wish.”
“No,” Vreenak shot back. “Their deaths would arouse too much suspicions.”
“It was just a suggestion,” Gelnon replied, holding in a giggle at Vreenak’s short-tempered response. “This treaty will be your crowning achievement. You cannot let a few unruly junior senators impede your road to becoming the next praetor.”
Just several meters away, one of the senator’s guards removed a holo-imager from his belt and began recording.