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1 yr ago
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
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2 yrs ago
O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.
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Most Recent Posts

You are a bold one...

Welcome!


Hello, I'm Starboard Watch and I'm not quite good at introductions. Breaking out of my usual mold, I've decided that I'm looking for a very specific type of 1x1. That, as the title can surely tell you, is set within the confines of Star Wars. Call it an obsession-of-the-month, but I've been lurking for a little bit and I've seen a few ideas but a bit too late in the game for me to catch the ball. Anyway, I've taken it on to cast my line out on my own, and see what comes up.

Since we'll be doing Star Wars, I can lay out my rough knowledge of the lore and say what I'm down and comfortable to do, what I can do, and what I won't do as far as setting goes. I'm most comfortable and pleased to do something set during the Clone Wars, or at least in the death throes of the Republic (from Darth Plagieus up until the Jedi Purge, really.) In close second, I'm definitely game and willing to do something set with the Empire after the events of Revenge of the Sith, and up until Return of the Jedi. As for what I won't do, I will not do the sequels. I didn't like them, I don't care for them, and I don't know enough about its "lore" to try. If you want to do something set after Return of the Jedi, we can take cues from the Thrawn Trilogy and such and build from there.

I'll lay out, in simple terms, what I'm looking for from a partner below, and then I'll list a few plots of mine that I've already got written, and you can pick to see which one you'd like to do. If none of those interests you, or if I've already found someone to do that plot, we can always brainstorm a concept together. You'll find that I have an excess of ideas.

What I'm Looking For:
  • An 18+ person willing to roleplay in the Star Wars universe.
  • Ability to write quality and at least one paragraph replies
  • Knowledge of the lore and the setting we're writing in.
  • Ability to write punctually and to keep up, or otherwise let me know if you won't be able to write as often, and to indulge me when I'm unable to write as often as I'd like
  • Enthusiasm


I really have no strong ideas, only general murmurings of them. I'd prefer to see what sort of character you had in mind, and then we can build from there. Anything from the movie timeframe of TPM-ROTJ interests me the most, so we can roll with whatever we'd like. We can do canon (or EU) characters, but if you want to do OC that'd be all the better. I'm also not really looking for either a female or a male in particular - just someone to roleplay with really.

If this interests you, feel free to shoot me a PM.
There're many bionical monsters, legendarous and primeval, my question was if series mattered. If it's a free-for-all, then, the warriors themselves would be foes to one another, at least for me - a Pohatu.

I reenlightened myself with reading the fandom wiki. For me personally I never imagined to use what action figures I got against someone's elses, or as a commando, or prince and so whatever. I battled as myself with my toys those days I relaxed in my room from companioning... Which barely got away from battle-royaling. But I did start as Pohatu, and even got to nuva. My 3rd bionicle, and last, was randomly an Inika.

So, I havnt watched the movies. And Inika is a different series. Excuse my crude typing. In essence I'd be barbarian first not celestial. Which is why I asked to see your playing llevel of interes for Bionicle.


Inika/Mahri is the best of the Bionicles.


This is Captain Strenn.

He is standing in his ready room, watching the stars flutter past at warp speed, feeling the tension brewing inside of him like a kettle boiling for tea. With every second that passes, he feels the loose threads of his emotional control begin to fall away from the cloth. He isn't sure if the momentary tension is because of the mission now forked upon him, or if it is just another one of his turns - another battle waged in the war for his soul.

A war that he knows, deep within him, he will lose.

At once, he feels a flurry of emotions. Cold as ice pressing against his heart, sharp as razorblades cutting his throat and drenching himself in his unworthy green blood, and a peculiar sensation tugging within him - deep within him. Deeper than he can even imagine. The Vulcan, having long forsaken the boyish names for emotions, cannot quite pin down what this feeling is.

Is it destiny coming to meet him?

Is it the feeling of utter hopelessness in the face of the future?

Am I coming home?

The last thought crashes into him like a speeder out of control, smashing through his wall with casual abandon. Vulcana Regar is my home... another voice implores him, far different from the probing inner-voice that asked the question to begin with.

Is Vulcan really home?

The voice asks again, and this time, the Vulcan cannot answer. He knows the answer - he knew the answer to that question for a long time now; it had been answered long ago - but cannot bring himself to face the truth of it, and all of the ramifications the admittance would bring.

So he boils, hissing and sizzling, watching the stars pass before him.

This is Captain Strenn.

***




This is Commander Udrus.

He is pacing back and forth on the bridge, watching the officers and the enlisted run themselves ragged without clear direction. He never trained for this - he never wanted this - and thus he cannot even begin to approach the situation. An absent Captain? He could handle that, there had been many missions on Bajor with the resistance fighters where their leaders were killed and someone had to step up. But what he couldn't handle was the mission.

The Bajoran was a warrior - is a warrior - and always will be a warrior. His soul was forged in the fires of holy war against invaders, whether they be Cardassians or Jem'Hadar, and thus every lesson taught to him had been one of war. Of fighting. Peace was never an option on Bajor during those dark days. Peace would only be won through the barrel of a phaser rifle, and the only peace would be met with an unconditional surrender of the Occupiers.

But now he was being asked to lead a mission of peace. Peace! What is peace? And for that, he doesn't quite have an answer. In fact, he has nothing. His life, up until he was a young man, was spent in war. Spent fighting against a dreaded and ancient enemy of his people. He had failed, up until this point, to assimilate into Starfleet's way of life. To its mission of peace, of its humanitarian aid missions and its peacekeeping ventures.

The Commander lets out a sigh, watching hopelessly from the center of the bridge as the other Starfleet sailors move around. They know the mission better than I do...how can I hope to ever lead them?

He contents himself that, one day, he will be able to prove his abilities to them. To the Captain. And most of all, himself.

This is Commander Udrus

***




This is CMC Byn.

He has retreated into his office, taking a seat behind piles of datapads and hoping to lose himself within the paperwork - if only to forget the monumental pressure placed upon him and the crew of the Vigilance. The Command Master Chief buries himself in the leave requests, the training reports, and all of the minute details of Starfleet life. He signs off on the training reports, duly and without any real regard for their contents, and denies all of the leave requests - leaving the final say to the Captain, as always - knowing that their mission will not allow any leave in the near future.

Wanting to prove himself at least somewhat useful, the CMC turns his attention to port visits. Maybe the crew can look forward to that... it wasn't so long ago, after all, that he himself was a junior sailor aboard one of these starships. Times were simpler back then... a sigh echoes out of his mouth as he looks over the possible worlds.

None of them seem particularly inviting.

The Romulan Provisional Government's tenuous hold on the systems under its control seem to prohibit any possibility of extended liberty planetside. And outside of the RPG, anything else is out of the question. The 'Client Races' are in full revolt, most of them lacking any cohesive government to restore order. Even on the Romulan worlds, there seems to be no clear owner - chaos reigning over order.

Never has the CMC felt more useless than in this moment. His head collapses into his hands, the weariness of the changed Starfleet - and the changed Galaxy - weighing so hard on his shoulders that he can barely keep himself together anymore.

But he will have to. I must do my duty.

This is CMC Byn.

***




This is Lieutenant Commander Tremblay.

The Operations Officer skulks into the Wardroom once more, wanting to remove himself from the bridge and all of the responsibility of being the Chief of Operations and the ship's Third Officer. He never wanted this responsibility, and he never asked for it either. Starfleet, in its infinite wisdom, decided to grant him a second chance. A second chance!

And now, more than ever, he wishes that they had quietly mustered him out of the service. The Lieutenant Commander drags himself towards the replicator, ordering like clockwork his usual drink, and moping his way over towards a wooden table in the corner. There are other officers here - officers he doesn't recognize, nor would he care to talk to them - but he ignores them, taking his seat in the corner.

I should've told them no... but he knows, deep down, that he wanted to come back. That, in his heart of hearts, he wanted this. He wanted Starfleet, to be out here on the cusp of greatness. To prove himself in deep space. But when he came back from that exile on the Starbase, he thought that he was going to be assigned to a quiet desk job somewhere on some forbidden planet.

Not in his wildest nightmares did he expect to be a Third Officer on a rinky-dink ancient starship, barreling into unknown space to resolve the biggest crisis in Galactic History. God...why did I ever come back? But as he asks himself the question, he knows the answer.

And he can only let out a sigh, smothering the thought as he shoots back the synthetic alcohol, and wishing deeply that the contents of the drink were the real thing. At least, then, I could forget about all of this...

This is Lieutenant Commander Tremblay.


The light of the sun danced over the lake as the late evening sky turned purple and orange, the wonderful orb beginning to settle down behind the mountains many miles away from this idyllic spot. The trees whispered in the soft eventide breeze, shaking around as the air began to cool. He could hear the faraway birds chirping their last song before nightfall, and he watched as the grass waved its goodbye to the daytime.

It was perfect. Or, it would've been, had the circumstances for his being here been anything more than nightmarish. For it seemed as though every moment for the last few weeks had been nothing but a waking nightmare, his worst fears realized in one instant, and everything he had ever known and ever loved washed away in fire and ash.

He had cried his tears, and he had beat his fists against the walls in impotent rage, and he had screamed at the Gods for forsaking their people in the worst way possible. There was nothing left in his heart anymore - the grief had overwhelmed him and seized control of it, making its own domain - and so he stood here, unfeeling and unthinking, watching the sunset from the balcony of an old mansion on this godforsaken planet.

There was a glimpse of a bitter smirk across his face, as he remembered his indignation of being assigned to a battlecruiser over a more prestigious posting on ch'Rihan. He had wanted to be stationed at the Hall of a Thousand Eyes, where his career could soar to the heights that he knew it would reach. To be in the halls of power, hearing the whispers of intrigue and plotting alongside the best of them. But instead he had been sent away as little more than a state enforcer, to keep the Navy in check.

In some ways, it had saved his life.

But a part of him wished that he had been on ch'Rihan when it was engulfed in the final fire. Not out of some sick and convoluted sense of duty - I am too intelligent for that! - but out of guilt. His entire clan, every last one of them as far as he knew, perished in that all-consuming blaze. They were dead mere minutes after they saw their Sun explode, just long enough to know that they were about to die and just short enough to know that there was no hope of escaping. He hoped they faced their death with dignity, but he wondered if he could've done that - had he been in their position.

A grim smile, toothy and twisted, appeared on his face as he thought back to all the rats of the Senate, and the Military, and even in the Tal'Shiar itself. All of those useless bureaucrats, the desk-riders, and the useless intriguers were killed too. The Emperor and his family were gone, that much was certain, but so was the entire military apparatus. He took some satisfaction, no matter how morbid, knowing that the half-breed Sela perished along with the planet.

It was a small thing, but in these dark times, he couldn't help but feel that way.

His mechanical hand gripped the stone wall as the sun dipped ever lower, and he felt his head drop down, and tears well in his eyes.

Why did they have to die? Why did I have to live? He felt sick feeling the way he did, knowing that these kind of attachments...these kind of sentimentalities...were not welcome nor wanted in the Tal'Shiar. They had tried to break it from him, and outwardly he truly was the perfect Tal'Shiar officer, but they never fully succeeded. His heart was gripped with agony at every execution he had to order, and he was brought nearly to despair at the thought of his family burning away - with not even a gravestone to mark their bodies.

And he wondered if all of this, all of the ruin and disorder falling on the Empire, was their fault? Had they angered the Gods? Had they, in their hubris, broken the Covenant of the Raptors? The possibility seemed to be unthinkable and...yet...so had the destruction of ch'Rihan. It had happened all so suddenly. He had heard the rumors of an instability in the Star, and he had heard that the Vulcans - the Minsharans! - had sent Spock to help.

What good did that do? For all he knew, Spock died along with the rest of ch'Rihan.

At least, then, he had died like a true Rihan.

The Subcommander turned his gaze towards a group of sailors, drunkenly walking along a cobblestone path some distance away from the mansion, and he cursed them under his breath. The Tomal had been sailing back and forth on the Neutral Zone ever since the news of ch'Rihan reached them. Some of them wanted to flee the Empire, and seek refuge in Vulcan, but others wanted to go back and fight for the Empire. In the end, neither side seemed to win, and so they sailed around and around in circles, growing more desperate.

And it was out of this desperation that the Subcommander himself ordered this respite on ch'Sankanz. They can have their rest. They can drink themselves blind, for all I care. What Empire is worth fighting for anymore? What is there, but Federation puppets and disloyal traitors? He sighed, and pushed back another wave of tears as he remembered the Empire of his dreams, and how far it had fallen into the darkest nightmare.

***


"Fetch the ale, please!"

She shouldn't have been celebrating. She knew that it wasn't the time for it, and that she ought to still be in mourning for the untold number of souls lost when the Sun of Suns exploded and consumed everything good and wonderful - and everything terrible and wicked - about the Empire. She knew that she'd ought to be wearing mourning black, with tearstained eyes, lamenting about the worst tragedy in known Galactic history.

But, instead, she sat at a long table, in a fine green-and-black dress that resembled something worn by the debutantes at the Imperial Balls, surrounded by friends and half-friends, drinking to remember their times together and drinking to forget the darkness banging on their door. Laughter, hollow and empty, echoed throughout the rooms of her well-to-do house in the upper-class district of Torek. It had not been this full since...by...it must have been the Coronation...and it's such a shame he only ruled for two years...he would've made a fine Emperor...

The Senator felt her mood dropping slightly, thinking back to the Boy-Emperor who was no older than 18 when he ascended to the throne. He had such bold plans, ingenious ideas to turn the decaying Empire into a vibrant state, where the Tal'Shiar's power was broken forever and where the Minsharans and the Rihannsu could reunite once again. She remembered, vividly, discussing her plans with the young Emperor shortly after his coronation, and held a smile on her face as she recalled how much they agreed.

The smile fell away when she remembered that he, and his mother, and his siblings, and most of the Imperial Family perished along with the rest of ch'Rihan. And then she remembered all of the Senators who died too, some of them good people who she had served with for years, who she had come to see as not only colleagues, but trusted friends.

She downed another glass of ale and poured herself another, and let herself be merry for once.

"Did you hear about the Federation, my lady?" Her servant, a Troknai woman by the name of Arnosha, her head-tails curled around her neck as she poured the Senator another glass, "they have already entered the Empire!"

"What Empire, Arnosha?" Linora shook her head grimly, "there's nothing left of us anymore. It's why I freed you," she looked up to meet the Troknai's smile, "the Tal'Shiar, the Military, even the Emperor...it's all gone," she looked away, and felt herself growing distant again, "why do you stay here, Arnosha? You could leave...you aren't bound to me any longer. You could return to your homeworld...wherever it is."

"No, I know you're a good person, my lady," the Troknai bowed her head in reverence, "and I serve you now not because I have to, but because I want to."

"If only half of our people were as loyal as you..." she shook her head, remembering the stories she had been hearing about the new 'Rihannsu Government.' The more traitorous wings of the Senate and the Government had coalesced and send tendrils out to the Federation. They wanted to replace the Empire - the Empire that had stood for centuries - with a decadent Republic. And while she was a proud supporter of democracy - no one more than me! - she knew that this...'Republic'...was doomed to be little more than a military oligarchy.

But what can I do?

She thought to herself wistfully as the Troknai disappeared into the Rihannsu crowd. She wanted no part in politics anymore, with the death of everything she held dear it seemed like clutching to ashes rather than trying to give birth to new life. But another part of her tugged against it, and told her that if she wanted to change the course of the Empire, to truly better the people, then she would have to go. She would be needed there, a voice of reason among the chaos.

She knew she was popular, and that her voice would create an air of legitimacy around the fledgling government. She knew that by her mere presence, she could steer the ship towards the goal of a truly prosperous Empire that she wanted - that she had always wanted. But in the end, she decided that if that were the case, then they would seek her out. If they wish for me to join, then they should come and find me!

And with that thought, she eagerly downed another glass of ale, and called over Arnosha for another.
He couldn’t help but feel that he should’ve handled that better.

Captain Strenn felt the rush of air against his service uniform as the sliding doors to his ready room closed behind him. With that brief breeze, he felt the weight of the universe pile even heavier on his shoulders. This would be no simple mission into Romulan space - the Commodore’s speech had all but assured that - but rather a complex web of alliances and diplomacy.

And he had to remind himself that he had trained for this, in fact he had spent his entire career before the Dominion War as a Starfleet diplomat. His career, before the War, was defined by his ability to solve diplomatic problems no matter how complex. He had won awards, acclaim, and respect for it. But now, after the War, the only thing that ever seemed to matter - the only thing that ever seemed to define him anymore - was the two years spent in total war, embroiled in the bloodiest battles the Galaxy had ever seen.

With a regretful sigh, he sat down at his haze-grey desk and turned on the computer sitting in the center of the table. It lit up and he immediately went into his official communications. Right at the top, above the nonsense and the chitter-chatter of the humdrum Starfleet captain’s comminques, was a message from Commodore Doma.

He hesitated.

Strenn knew that he would have to open it, and his finger moved the cursor over the message, entitled ‘FOR CAPTAIN’S EYES ONLY,’ but he wanted to delay it. If he could, he would banish it - he would banish all of this - from existence. Everything to do with Romulus, with Starfleet, with the whole Universe if he could. Knowing that he could not delay fate, as much as he could not change the past, he clicked on the message and a box opened, detailing the entirety of the Commodore’s message:

“TO: Captain Strenn, son of Soral, Starfleet Naval Forces
Commanding Officer, USS Vigilance

You are hereby requested and required, immediately upon receipt of these orders, to proceed at highest speed possible with USS HAMMERSLEY to the DOMUK'AZEN System (SSPR-78125) and make contact with Senator Linora Tiros. You are then to escort the Senator and her entourage to the HASSELEH System (SSPR-9014) in full haste to ensure that she will join the Romulan Provisional Government. The Senator has much sway with the more liberal-minded governors and her presence within the RPG will add to its credibility and stability.

This is a TIME-CRITICAL MISSION, and thus must be executed with haste to ensure that the Senator does not fall victim to hostile action. You are given extreme operational discretion to ensure that this task is completed successfully, short of what could be called 'gunboat diplomacy,' as quickly as possible.

Commodore Doma, Starfleet Naval Forces
Commanding Officer, Federation Forces, Joint Task-Force
USS Courageous”

As he read the message, he felt a little relieved. But only a little.

It was an easy enough mission. They would, with one of the Meteor-class destroyers, sail off at high warp to some godforsaken system, pick up a Senator, and bring her to the Provisional Government’s capital. But he was too smart to ignore what was hidden in between the lines, too perceptive to disregard the obvious written in plain Standard before him.

There were rumors already of hostile bands of raiders roaming Romulan space. There were fleets of old Imperial Navy officers who refused to align with the Provisional Government, and instead pledged their allegiance to the new Emperor, or to a cabal of Military Governors. And that didn’t even include the multitude of fractured nation-states, comprised of the Slave Races now itching for independence.

He breathed deeply. He could do this. He had to do this. It was a simple mission - a test of his capabilities. And there was no room for failure.

Strenn pressed down on a button located on his desk, which routed a message up throughout the ship, “All Department Heads, report to the Main Conference Room at 1815.”

Fifteen minutes for them all to arrive. And fifteen minutes to center himself enough to brief them on the mission.

It would have to be enough.

***

“Thank you all for coming on short notice, but most of you were on the bridge anyway, so it should not have taken up much of your time.”

Commander Udrus smirked as their Vulcan Captain sat at the end of the long oak table, the senior staff of the Ship’s Company - as well as the commanding officer of the embarked Marines - sitting along the table. He didn’t need to be a Betazoid to tell that the Captain was on edge. Most remarkably, especially for a Vulcan, he could tense the tension on his face. Most strange...strange indeed...he thought to himself as the Captain continued.

The Vulcan pressed a button on his end and a holographic display appeared at the center of the table. The holographic projectors were a new-found wonder of Starfleet, and it made briefings far more interesting. It was a depiction of the current position of the Vigilance, and then two star systems some light years away.

“The Vigilance, with the assistance of the Hammersley, proceed to SSPR-78125, known to the Romulans as Domuk’azen, to retrieve a high value individual, a senator by the name of Linora Tiros. Once we make contact with her, we will bring her to the capital of the Provisional Government and ensure her safety en route. It is believed that her life is in danger from any number of the threats now present in the former Empire, so time is of the essence in this mission. I trust that all of you are capable officers, and will be able to fulfill this simple mission.”

The Vulcan paused, scanning the room with nervous eyes - can Vulcans be nervous? - before clearing his throat, “are there any questions? Or any concerns? Please raise them now before we proceed.”

Udrus had a few, but he decided to wait for the rest of the Ship’s Company to ask theirs.

Security Chief Rokuua was the first to speak up, “Will any individuals need to come aboard? On board Security forces are limited due to the quickness we were set en route, so it would be recommended we prepare with the Hammersley to determine who is best equipped to take on the Senator in case her ship is damaged.”

“The Senator will embark aboard the Vigilance,” Strenn spoke resolutely, mustering as much courage as he could summon, “she will be retrieved from her planet and brought aboard our ship for the journey to the Hasseleh system.”

The Vulcan felt something stir in him. Was it Destiny? Was it Fate? He had no idea.

“The Hammersley is there to provide us an escort in case of an emergency,” the Vulcan was almost tempted to crack a relaxing smile, before he realized it would be more unsettling if he did so, “the Vigilance is an aged vessel, and thus she needs an escort wherever she goes.”

The Saurian took some notes on his pad, “I recommend we seal off decks 20 to 25 with containment fields and keep her confined within those decks for the duration. It’ll be simpler to keep her safe…”

Lt Cmdr Lox spoke up, “What kind of resistance are we expecting? Do we know how well organized the extra-provisional government operatives are?”

“I concur, Commander,” the Vulcan Captain agreed with the Security Officer, “but I suspect our Senator is independently minded. We should allow her free rein throughout the ship, but restrict her from all the major workspaces,” he paused for a moment to consider the Trill’s input, “we are expecting anything. Starfleet is currently in the dark on the exact resistance movements within the Empire, but we must be ready for anything.”

Lox sat back and contemplated a moment, “it reminds of those novels about the Wild West from Earth’s history, there’s no governing body and the threat of violence everywhere. So far we have full torpedo compliments and our offensive capabilities are at max, surprisingly. Chief Horst, do we have anything to worry about as far as our shields are concerned?”

Chief Engineer Horst piped up, happy to have something to add, “Well no, absolutely not. This old bird has polished circuitry when it comes to weapons and defense systems, our scientific equipment could use some upgrading though, our main deflector dish…” Lt. Commander Lox raised his hand for the engineer to stop before he got too far into the unnecessary babble.

Lieutenant Commander Rexa Avurem sitting near the towering, dark skinned marine was, in her mind, a rather odd contrast. Her height and build made the Betazoid the shortest and nimblest of the officers around the table. As a full blood Betazoid, she was naturally more flexible - bulky muscles were not natural for her planet. Concentrating, allowing her mind to feel the room, she could sense the nervous energy, the anticipation, and a little bit of eagerness, bravado in the mix. The Vulcan Captain, however, put her on edge a little, his unreadable wall, she had long ago gotten used to being able to at least know a person's rough intentions and driving emotions. She could feel danger coming. But with him? She had nothing.

Hearing the deep tones of the Major, he projected a confidence and he gave off a feeling almost of controlled fire. Her response was beaten by a second so she took time to calm her abilities. “We need to know who is taking the lead on recovery. If this gets tense we may start a battle, and far as i can see, we are not at our best for combat. We need time to simulate and pick a steady insertion team who can handle the pressure on the ground. Any way we do this, we need to know to prep ” The Saurian was a Professional, but maybe not the most diplomatically minded. “If you decide to utilize the Ship's Force, my Marines can pick up the slack on watchstanding duties here aboard.”

Taking a chance before one of the others jumped in, Rexa Avurem hid her feelings well but had one concern. “Do we know what race our Senator is, if she is wounded or it goes south, it would help to know, a few minutes getting the right drugs or treatments could mean life or death. My department can handle it, but forwarning is useful.” The Betazoid Doctor was a great believer in prepared plans, winging it was asking for trouble. Blunt, bitch or whatever they said, she knew a dead Senator on her beds would be risking all their lives.

Commander Rokuua responded, “She’s Havarsth-Romulan, I’ve reviewed her background, she’s been working in the Senate since she was 20 and supports strong policies for the population, I guess she doesn’t have to worry about that much anymore does she?” The Saurian sat back after making the brutal statement. He turned to the Marine, “I’ll accept your staff on security, gladly, but inside the ship I have jurisdiction, so your boys will answer to me until the Captain says otherwise. Are those acceptable terms Major?”

The Major relaxed a little, they were not butting heads like the classic movies made out, drama queens and egos the size of red giants. He could work with this. “That’s acceptable. Main departments and important passage ways we can handle. But I need to keep my own sentries on our Cargo bays and armory as well.”

The Doctor nodded and noted down on a pad she tended to keep handy or some form of recording information. Remembering her rather embarrassing pre mission briefing.. polite..“Thank you. While I am here, Lt Cmdr Lox, can you pop by my Office some time when you're free. It's not Urgent.” Keeping it fairly low key. She did need to update his file, just not blurt it out to the whole staff, Bitch yes. Professional Bitch also. There were any number of things she did including basic physicals. Feeling more Nerves, apathy, stress. Science. That was Science.

“Nothing new to my department. The sensors work, but expect a few lights to blink and other minor issues. This hull’s older than most of us and she’s been modified to hell and back. We’re working, but the bugs need ironing out. The Vigilance is a temperamental Lady. Having had the pleasure of working with Romulans in the past,I can say though with definite experience, The Senator, if she’s like any of the Romulans I’ve had to work with...well...they can test your patience. Need some cool heads on her personal security.” The Science Officer had worked with them, spent weeks debating a short trip. Hours on itinerary and entire reems of documents and forms to access a single library. It was almost a labour of Hercules to complete his treatise.

“Well, if that’s all, you’re dismissed,” Captain Strenn seemed to cut it all off with a wave of his hand as he rose to his feet. It was abrupt, sudden, and to all except him he was sure that they were eyeing him with suspicion and curiosity as he walked over towards the great windows looking out into deep space. The Vulcan could hear the shuffling of feet as they walked away from him, leaving the room one by one. He could feel their presences withdrawing from the room, and he felt himself growing more and more at ease, watching the stars flutter by.

But he knew, in his heart, that this calmness would not last. It would not last the hour.


"-Romulan refugee ships have begun to filter across the Neutral Zone. Starfleet ships have been dispatched to assist in aid operations, which is becoming the greatest humanitarian crisis of the Alpha Quadrant's history. Here with us is-"

"-Defense Minister Alexander Tobias and Chief of Starfleet Operations Admiral of the Fleet Jean-Luc Picard have announced that the joint Klingon-Federation task force has entered Romulan space and is proceeding to make contact with the Romulan Provisional Government in the Hasseleh system. The Romulan Provisional Government consists of former sen-"

"-Chairman Istvan Cordalis announced today that any action taken by the Federation Council to aid the Romulans in the growing crisis would be tantamount to treason. He added that 'so long as one Bajoran, one Betazoid, one Human remains hungry, not one loaf of bread should go to the Empire.'"

"-in soccer , Vulcan has beat Earth 5-4 in the third round of the Federation Cup. They will proceed onto play the Saurians in the next match tomorrow. We'll now take it to T'Pra for the latest stock exchan-"


Captain Strenn switched off the newsreader. It was all too much.

The swirling hurricane that was consuming his mind grew in intensity, even in the silence. He sat with his back rigidly against the cushioned couch of his ready room, the smell of a Vulcan herbal team - slowly losing its heat - filling his nostrils with thoughts of home, and more fuel to the burning fire of his heart. The storm of his soul battered furiously against the mental wall that had been carefully constructed over the course of his nearly five-decade life.

They had once been an impregnable fortress. Throughout his youth, and well into his career as a Starfleet officer, he had been nothing but the perfect Vulcan - or as close to perfection as someone can get. He had read the Meditations of Surak cover-to-cover, with companion commentary from the finest philosophers and writers of the Trahokna t'Ozhika (Institution of Logic). He had gone on a pilgrimage to Mount Seleya, to bear witness to the spot of the Great Surak's martyrdom at the hands of the Raptors. Around his neck hung a rock taken from the Forge, where he spent many months in meditation after the devastating battle over Cardassia.

And at the mere thought of that wretched planet, the Wall cracked as emotions and memories leaked into his mind.

"Helm! Change course to two-four-eight!"

"Change course to two-four-eight, aye!"

The helmsman had not even begun to turn the ship about before it was wracked by a series of Cardassian torpedoes, fired from one of the Galors now circling around the T'Kumbra. An Excelsior-class suddenly exploded on the viewscreen, causing the image to momentarily distort as the bridge team helplessly watched their comrade ship break apart under the weight of Cardassian and Dominion phaser fire.

"Sovik! Prepare for a volley on the Galor, bearing zero-zero-eight! Fire when ready!"

Those would be the last words of Captain Solok, son of Polok.

Not a second after the words left his mouth, the ship was struck by another volley of torpedoes - fired from a Jem'Hadar warship crossing their bow. This one was more devastating than the last, tearing down the Nebula-class's shields with the first blast. The next made the ship shudder and shake, as conduits exploded over the heads of the bridge team. Just above the Captain's chair, a bulkhead ruptured, coming right down upon Solok's head.

He didn't even see it coming. Strenn could barely register it before he felt the burning sensation of plasma climb up his cheek. The fire seemed to shoot straight into his blood and into his brain, climbing its way up. He wanted to scream out in rage and pain, to cry out for help. But there would be none today.

"All hands! Abandon ship!" He shouted out, resolute in his voice no matter how much his body cried out against it. The bridge was exploding everywhere. Fires were breaking out at every console, and stoic Vulcans let out wails of agony as the flames consumed them. Strenn reached through the fire, trying to pull Captain Solok's body out of the inferno, but two sets of hands reached out and pulled him away, screaming incomprehensible things into his ear as they pulled him away. He screamed and pulled against them, as his mental barriers collapsed one by one.

But there was nothing he could do.

Strenn watched with tear-filled eyes as he and the survivors fled the devastated bridge, making their quick escape into the pods.


Captain Strenn opened his eyes and let out an audible sigh. The surroundings of his ready room, barebones and lacking anything that wasn't standard-issue Starfleet, did nothing to comfort his thoughts. They bore down upon him with such intensity that he struggled with every spare energy left in his soul to resist screaming out in rage at the heavens for doing this to him.

Why had he even come back to Starfleet after that dreadful day? Why had he even bothered? The medals he had earned, even the Medal of Honor - the most prestigious medal that could be awarded by the Federation - seemed to be nothing but a trinket. He had failed in every way, shape, and form. He had failed as a Starfleet officer by letting the T'Kumbra be destroyed. He had failed as a loyal comrade and friend to Captain Solok by allowing him to die. He had failed as a Vulcan by allowing his emotions to overtake him like a flood.

Another swelling tide of rage entered into his heart, and he pushed back against it vainly. There was no stopping this wave - only lessening its impact. He had gone to Mount Seleya to find answers, consulted with the most learned and wise Vulcans around, but he had found nothing but religious platitudes under the guise of "logic" and "reason." The only thing that he had been able to learn on his sabbatical back to his home planet was an ancient technique of the Followers of Surak, who used the mind's energy to erect a protective barrier from intrusion by others.

But the answers he was really looking for, the answers to all of his problems and how to solve them, eluded him. The priests and the philosophers could only tell him to center himself on the teachings of the Great Surak, advising him to consult the Meditations of Surak and to follow his precepts.

But with just that single thought, he felt the rusty chains that had bound his heart together all those years ago - as a child on Vulcan - begin to pull under tension and snap. He felt the rage boiling like hot water in a kettle, surging and bubbling and hissing. Strenn clenched his fists with ill-hidden anger, his mind lashing out at the priests light years away. They had failed him. The ancient institutions of Vulcan - the very cornerstone of their society and their way of life - had failed him.

And his world collapsed around him, piece by piece. And with it, the wall that held his fragile mind together fell away brick by brick.

The door buzzed, breaking through the clouded thoughts of the Vulcan captain.

"Enter."

***


Commander Udrus Ahrume, Executive Officer of USS Vigilance, entered into the ready room of his Commanding Officer. It would be his first time meeting face-to-face with Captain Strenn, who had suspiciously secluded himself in the two weeks that they had been on the ship, getting the heavy cruiser shook down in preparation for what the papers were now calling "Operation Vanguard," the largest peacekeeping mission in known history. It sounded like horse-shit to him, but what did he know? He had spent his early years of youth fighting a war of survival against occupiers. Integrating with Starfleet and its 'missions of peace' had been...difficult...to say the least.

The only peace that we ever knew was the one that came after death... He had seen two Cardassian occupations in his life, and had fought against them both in equal measure. They had taken away his mother and his sisters never to be seen again. They had blinded his father for speaking out against the Vorta. They had killed his brother in cold blood for daring to rise up against them.

But, now, since apparently the Cardassian Government had been "co-opted by rogue elements," they were now supposed to be friends with them! It made him angry - angry at the world and, specifically, angry with the Government. They had failed Bajor from the moment they had entered the Federation. His war-torn home was no better than it had been a decade ago. There was still so much work to be done - but none of them cared. No one cared about them.

No one ever did.

"Good afternoon, sir," Commander Udrus, banishing the thoughts that swirled in his head in the seconds before, stood at attention as he entered into the cramped ready room, which was little more than an office desk, a settee with a coffee table, and a replicator mounted to a wall. Nothing adorned those walls, typically spartan as most Vulcans tended to be. Udrus made notes of his surroundings as he stood in those brief seconds before reporting, and did a glance down upon his own uniform. His Service Uniform was immaculate, pressed with no lint or dust hairs, and his shoes were so polished you could see the streaking stars on the toes. Not that if mattered if he was unsat, since he couldn't change it by then anyway, "We've crossed the Neutral Zone, and entered Romulan Space."

The Vulcan looked up from his gaze, firmly set upon the tea cup sitting on the table, and locked eyes with his First Officer. Udrus could see the contours on the man's face, the serious looking chisel-marks that bore his age and his weariness. On his right cheek, a nasty plasma burn cut across his face, greenish hues mixing in subtly with the scarred tanned copper tissue. His eyes could betray nothing of his thoughts, except a steely mind that struck into the Bajoran like a dagger. Commander Udrus, though no telepath, knew the thoughts running through that analytical Vulcan's mind. He would, by now, be recalling that this Bajoran Rebel-turned-Starfleet Officer had a track record the size of some small holonovels, most of all that damned business on the Albatross with that Cardie frigate.

If the Vulcan asks for an explanation then I'll simply tell him that I only regret that I did not kill the lot of them when I had the chance.

But instead of demanding that he explained in detail why he hated the Cardassian Race so much, the Vulcan simply rose to his feet and spoke one word, "Good...." and without further discussion led the way back onto the bridge. Udrus noted, in the back of his mind, that this Vulcan was perhaps the most peculiar he had ever known. Even more strange than that bastard Stavath.

One thing's certain, Vulcans are hard to get along with, and even harder to understand.

***


Command Master Chief Byn Ch'oviaval rubbed his eyes as he walked through the passage ways of the Vigilance, feeling exhaustion already. He had just conducted a tour of some of the Engineering Division berthings. He was required - at least once a week - to make a personal tour of one of the berthings across the ship. Truth be told, he hated the whole thing about the inspections, even moreso than when he was a junior sailor dealing with an irate petty officer, eager to hit him on everything and anything.

At least, now, he could affect change - and save a junior sailor from the trouble of reinspecting while already dealing with his own troubles in his division.

The ancient ship that he walked through was not like the ones he had once served under. The blue two-piece uniforms felt out of place to the aged Master Chief, who had been used to the flowery colors and tight-fitting uniforms of the last age. There had once been a time when civilians - family and honored guests of the crew - would wander the passage ways of these ships. There had once, a long time and yet not so very far into the past, been children aboard starships!

Those years had gone by now. All that was left of them were the memories of officers and senior-enlisted sailors who could still remember how things were before the War changed everything. Before Starfleet was bloodied and nearly brought to heel. Before the very fabric of the Federation was torn asunder and threatened with total annihilation.

He contented himself that all the sacrifices that had been made - all the luxuries that had been lost - were necessary to keep the Federation free and secure. He reminded himself, as he walked into the turbolift to take him up to the bridge, that the Federation had nearly been destroyed by the Borg and the Dominion and that they needed to think of themselves less as explorers armed for self-defense, and more as sailors and soldiers who could explore when necessary.

The days of Starfleet as a vehicle for space exploration and good-faith diplomacy had been brought to an end by the Dominion War, replaced by the need for a capable military force utilizing power projection and not-so-subtle gunboat diplomacy to force its way in the Quadrant. For the last ten years, it had held up well. The Congress of Bajor, as shaky as it seemed to be, was holding out. He even thought, for a moment, that things would be getting better. Maybe not as good as they once had been, but at least better.

Then the news of Romulus' destruction came. And then the confusion. Then the panic. Then the reaction. Starfleet was sending a task force into the region to "secure the peace" but what did that really mean? Well, what does it really mean, Master Chief? He chided himself as the turbolift shot up, opening on the bridge.

He was unable to find an answer for himself.

The silver hexagonal bridge was a flurry of activity as enlisted sailors rushed around to the department heads gathered at their stations. The CMC looked briefly at the consoles as he walked towards one of the railings, admiring how much work had been done to bring his old girl up to speed. He could see the different department heads, hanging their heads over the junior watch officers assigned to man the departmental stations on the bridge.

Even the Chief Engineer hung over the Engineering Officer of the Watch with some anxiety in his eyes. The CMC knew how poorly the ship was - how much work had been short-cutted to bring her out to space - and he knew that CHENG was having a heart attack. The last thing they needed was the warp engines cutting out in the middle of the Neutral Zone.

Then again, I don't think we need to worry about the Romulan Navy anymore.

The CMC's eyes turned to one of the sliding doors, opening for the CO and the XO walking out of the passage way that led towards the Captain's ready room and the briefing room. The tall Vulcan, standing well above most of the crew, was an imposing figure. But he was also a mysterious one. The two had exchanged maybe only a handful of words in the two weeks they had been aboard.

The Andorian had known many Vulcans, and he knew how stand-offish they could be at times, but this was something else. He made a mental note to remember it.

The XO seemed like a genuinely good guy though, although his record seemed spotty to say the least. But what could one do about such things, the old Chief wondered. The Cardassians had taken so much from him...and he was now supposed to pretend as though he loved them? That he wanted to be their friend? He could understand Starfleet policy - that was one thing - but the Master Chief knew that for some of them, he could never agree to them.

"I have the bridge," the Vulcan Captain spoke to the Saurian Chief of Ship's Security.

"Yes, sir," the Saurian nodded, "attention on the bridge! Captain Strenn has the bridge."

"Sir, we're getting a transmission request from the Courageous," Chief Operations Specialist Kernaghan, on the Communications Station, turned towards the Captain from his seat, "should I put her through?"

"Do it," the Vulcan replied simply.

"Aye, sir."

Suddenly, the screen came to life with the image of the grizzled Commodore Doma. He was a Bolian, and a well-decorated war hero from the Dominion War. Seems like everyone's some kinda war hero...except me... he grumbled under his deepest thoughts. He had nothing but respect for the Commodore and the Captain and all the rest, but he couldn't help but feel that he had...missed something. His thoughts, however, were quickly dashed by the Commodore, who began speaking.

"All Starfleet and Federation vessels, we are about to undertake a mission unlike any other in the Alpha Quadrant's history. The eyes of thousands of species are upon you today, the hopes and dreams of billions of souls depending upon your adherence to duty. I expect every sailor in my task force to be model Starfleet servicemembers, and to act in accordance with the Starfleet Creed. We represent the Federation, and we cannot let these people down. Captains, you will receive a coded transmission detailing your specific operational goals." The Commodore paused, "I wish you all the best of luck. Godspeed!"

The screen was replaced by the eternal starscape of deep space, displaying a region of space that had not been traveled by Starfleet since the days of the Earth-Romulan War. "I'll be in my ready room. Commander, you have the bridge." Strenn turned heel, and without doing the formal trade-off of the conn with the Executive Officer, disappeared into his ready room as quickly as he had come onto the bridge. The bridge staff was stupefied by the quick disappearance of their Captain into the ready room, none moreso than Ch'oviaval, who had been used to ostentatious and eccentric Captains using every opportunity to "show their feathers."

***


"I'll take a rum and coke, thank you very much."

The mixed drink phased into existence on the replicator dispenser tray in the Officers' Wardroom, and was eagerly taken in hand by Lieutenant Commander Tremblay. He was thankful that the Starfleet replicators ensured that the beverage was distinctly nonalcoholic. If it wasn't, well, he would probably be stuck back on that Starbase in Terminal Holds.

It's a wonder that they let me back into space at all, after that whole business on Risa, he mused to himself as he sauntered his way through the gunmetal haze grey wardroom, empty of any souls except his own. As he took a seat in the desolate wardroom, he chuckled quietly to himself about the crazy turn of events that led him here at all. An adventure while on leave in Bajor made such a shock in the new Member State that politics forced Starfleet Command to re-evaluate the troublesome Lieutenant. A reassignment to a tinpot cruiser was one thing, but a promotion? When the Commodore gave him his official certificate, he could've hardly believed it possible.

Smug bastard told me that he'd see to it that my career ended there! That look on his face when he promoted me...I'd die to see it again.

Politics was the name of the game, after all, and Tremblay played it exceedingly well. He even got a nice medal from the Republic of Bajor to show for it too. How many non-Bajorans had been able to get anything from their government, even a thank you for liberating us? Very few, so few that they could all be counted on a human's hands.

As the ship sped at warp speed into Romulan Space, the Chief of Ship's Operations downed his synthetic mixed drink and slammed the glass on the table, and debated within himself on whether or not he wanted another drink. In the end, he decided that he did, ordering the same drink as before and throwing it back as quickly as the last. There was something, naturally, missing within the synthetic alcohol. What was it? Was it the natural ingredients of handmade, old fashioned, traditional rum? Was it the lack of intoxicating chemicals that made the drink seem hollow?

It has no soul.

He shook his head bitterly as he rose to his feet, walking out of the wardroom and into the haze grey passage ways, passing by enlisted and fellow officers alike with little care to either. His head was somewhere else, as it usually was. He was an excellent officer - or so he thought to himself that he was - and knew his job well, but the feeling that Starfleet had wronged him pervaded his thoughts, and soured any good working relationship with his ship and his shipmates.

You were the one that made the mistakes to begin with.

His conscience reared its ugly head as he boarded a turbolift and summoned it up to the bridge, where he was awfully late already. The Captain had wanted the senior officers - as many as their duties could permit - to be on the bridge for the entry into the Neutral Zone. But Tremblay had figured his Operations Officer of the Watch had it covered. The Lieutenant Junior Grade, a Zakdorn whose name escaped him, had it under control he reckoned. What purpose would his presence serve, except to crowd the room?

As the turbolift went up, he couldn't help but look back in his mind's eye fondly on those months spent on Bajor. It was the time of his life, and those brief weeks - which flew by like paper from a fan - were the highlight of his memories. There was not one sour emotion associated with them, and all of them were more pleasant than the last. Even those dark times in the mountainous jungles, when all hope seemed lost, were washed away by the exhilarating moment when they came across the fabled Walls of Ito.

And, there was Eerjo...

The young Bajoran girl, who had stolen his heart like it was hers to take. A girl who seemed untouched by the trauma that her race had suffered for generations. She had been born only a few years before the Cardassian Occupation ended, and had come of age during the Dominion's brutal subjugation of the planet, but yet...her soul remained pure. The way her eyes fluttered in sunlight of Bajora, the way her auburn hair swayed in the whistling wind of the peaks, the way her skin seemed to open itself to his touch...

Why did I come back at all?

He sighed deeply as the turbolift opened, clearly late as he saw the Captain disappear into his ready room. The eyes on the bridge team betrayed all of their thoughts, and indeed they resembled his own. There's something about that man...but if I ever find out what it is, I'll probably have to hop off the wagon!

ACT ONE
THE ROMULAN CRISIS


The President of the United Federation of Planets looked out across the bustling city of Paris. Flying craft, following the carefully designated lanes of air traffic, bustled through the busy day while down below, commuter land traffic and pedestrians went about their day - all too oblivious to the struggle of the man in the pristine marble building located only a few blocks away from the Eiffel Tower. Even through the devastating Third World War, the landmark had survived - when so many others in Paris and throughout the World did not - and although there were many buildings now that towered well over it, it still dominated the city with its ancient presence.

There had been a time when the Presidential Palace had been a place of great comfort to him, but now it was nothing more than a gilded cage. To have moved in here from the large - but still modest - manor that he possessed on Alpha Centauri was a culture shock. There were so many rooms in the marble palace that he did not know what to do with them all, and so many servants and dignitaries attached to it that, although he had been in office for nearly four years, he had not yet learned all of their names. To think I had once prided myself on always remembering a face... he looked solemnly down towards the gardens, where Presidents of the past had entertained guests from Vulcan, Andoria, and Kronos.

Now, although the flowers were in the full bloom of spring, it seemed to him as if the life was dying from them. As if they were slowly withering away - as if the Sun had abandoned them.

"Mister President, the members of the Cabinet have arrived..." the President's thoughts were shattered by the staffer, intruding into the conference room and informing him of the new arrivals. He did not reply, but simply bowed his head in acknowledgement. President Anton Luther felt the tug of destiny pull him away from the balcony, and towards the ornate conference room behind him. As he walked towards the oak table, where a holographic display matrix sat - looking rather out of place - in the middle of the great table, he looked at the paintings that lined the white walls. Some of them were old - a reproduction of Liberty Leading the People catching his eye at first - but some were newer, including one depicting the great moment at the end of the Dominion War when a Marine officer planted the flag of the Federation above the Cardassian Chancellery.

Sighing deeply, he tugged down at his tight fitting three-piece black suit, and took a seat at the head of the table, a painting from John Martin titled 'The Last Judgement' right behind his head. And there he waited, his pale face growing paler as the seconds ticked by, waiting for the entry of the Cabinet. He knew in his mind what would happen when they walked through those doors - the news that was being plastered on every holoprojector from here to Deneb told him that well enough - but he wanted to avoid it. To hide from it.

He had been elected to see the Federation return to prosperity after over a decade of economic downturn and setbacks. The Conservative Party had made him their golden child, as the man who would stave off the extremists of the Unity Party - and indeed the radicals in his own and in the Workers' Party - and to lead the Federation into an era of peace and plenty that they had enjoyed before the Jem'Hadar had stormed out of the Bajoran Wormhole and wreaked havoc across the Quadrant. But ever since he had ended up in this office - in this palace - he had been thwarted at every turn.

Starfleet could not be reined in, and their budget continued to increase exponentially with every quarter as more starships and more personnel entered into service.

The Principality of Betazed, the Republic of Bajor, and hundreds of other Member States continued to require billions of credits to repair their planets from the devastation wrought upon them by the Dominion occupation over a decade ago.

Upstart colonists - and even planets deeper into the core of the Federation - chafed and swore under the yoke of the heavy burden placed upon them by the Dominion War. Taxes had gone up, but wages had not. And these planets had become fertile ground for the new up-and-coming party in Federation politics, which was soon growing from a minor nuisance in the smaller electorates to real challenge in Parliament.

And to top it all off, by some act of the Divine, Romulus had been destroyed! Its star had gone supernova unexpectedly, and had taken both Romulus and Remus out of existence, plunging the Empire into chaos - which would surely spill over into the rest of the Quadrant.

If he had any hopes of reelection, the news of the brewing crisis had put an end to that. And, to think, I was already preparing my victory speech...

The white double doors opened suddenly, smashing through his self-pity, as men and women in fine suits entered in one by one. He knew them well. There was Foreign Minister Ramadhani Shamasdin, his olive-skin and his beard striking him out prominently as he took his designated seat, followed by the beautiful Betazoid Chancellor of the Treasury Lerorat Egaar, the political-cat Prime Minister, a stout and portly Tellarite by the name of Brortund lorin Clerv who was a Conservative - just as the President was - and a good ally and friend of his as well. There were others, such as the Minister of Defense Alexander Schultz and Minister for State Security Stellir, son of Sko, who took their seats accordingly. Finally, after the civilian ministers entered in, the Chief of Starfleet Operations walked through the door.

The man needed no introduction, for the weight of his presence carried itself through the air. He was a man that stories were spoke of in a hushed tone of reverence. He was a man who had saved the Federation on countless times, who had spent his life in service of its highest ideals, who had gone farther in pursuit of knowledge and freedom than any man alive. Admiral of the Fleet Jean-Luc Picard, wearing his dress uniform adorned with more medals than the President thought existed, walked through the threshold and stood for a moment, scanning the faces of the attendees, and then took his customary seat with the President on his right and the Minister of Defense on his left, looking across from the Prime Minister.

"Let's get to business, then," Admiral Picard broke the silence that had fallen upon the room, following the closing of the doors behind him, "we have a lot of ground to cover, and so little time."

"The Romulan Empire is disintegrating by the minute, Mister President..." The Foreign Minister began first, stopping all attempts to get the first word in from anyone else. He leaned into the table, increasing his presence - however vain it might be in the face of a hero like Picard - with every gesture of his hand, "with the destruction of Romulus, it is believed that their entire government is decapitated. The Emperor, his immediate family, as well as nearly the entirety of the Imperial Senate, the Military High Command, and the leaders of the Tal'Shiar are presumed to have been lost in the sudden supernova."

"Have we figured out its cause?" The President asked meekly, trying to avoid the elephant in the room for as long as possible, "is it possible that this is a ruse?"

"Impossible," Picard shook his head, taking firm control of the conversation with a single word, "stellar fortresses along the Neutral Zone, as well as our listening posts along the region of space closest to the Romulan homeworld, detected energy readings from the Romulus system identical to a supernova. They also intercepted internal Romulan communications confirming this..." he paused for a moment, his weary eyes having a glimmer of sadness in them, "...it is believed than nearly 20 billion lives were lost in the explosion. Both Romulus, Remus, and the other planets in the system were totally annihilated in the supernova."

"I see..." The President's eyes fell to the desk. He wasn't sure of the course to take. He wasn't elected President to deal with a crisis like this...A refugee crisis? Destabilization of the Quadrant? The end to the Congress of Bajor? All of this pointed to the one unshakeable fact: he would be relegated to a single, terrible term. History would forget him, lost in the seas of time to all except a few studious bookworms, "...so what should our response be?"

"Unfortunately, Mister President, the Federation cannot afford any response at this time," the Betazoid Treasury Minister finally spoke up, after getting a full sense of the room. He was sure that she could feel his thoughts of inner doubt - she always did - and they were more stronger today than ever before, "we are running nearly a two-hundred trillion credit deficit. Even an aid mission...it would ruin us economically...."

"Nonsense!" The Defense Minister cried out, slamming his hand on the wooden table with a fright, "we must secure our borders! Any chaos in the Empire will surely spill out into our space! The Federation does not exist in a vacuum."

"I'm not sure the people will support a grand mission of peace, Mister President, no matter how noble it may be..." The Prime Minister spoke up, "we have our own problems at home. People will see the humanitarian mission in Romulus as betraying them...when people on Betazed and Bajor are starving, why are we helping our enemies in Romulan space?"

"I see..." The President solemnly nodded, then looked towards Admiral Picard. Their eyes met, and he could feel the determination in the old officer's eyes. The look of commitment to the ideals he had spent his life upholding. And he wished that he had even half of the courage to stand up for his own ideals as Picard had done for his own, "Admiral, I want to hear your thoughts."

"Mister President, Honorable Ministers..." Picard cleared his throat, as the President listened with baited breath to the speech delivered by Picard. He had heard of these, and he wondered how the Starfleet officer seemed to effortlessly speak what was on his mind. It was as if he had come up with this speech before he had even entered the room, "...I have pledged my entire life to Starfleet. I sacrificed everything in service to the Federation - my time, my youth, my family - so that it may continue to be the guiding beacon of lightness in the darkness of space. I believe in the ideals of freedom, and I will never waiver from it so long as I live. Starfleet has sought, from its early foundations as United Earth's space organization up to today's service to the United Federation of Planets, to live in peace and harmony with the universe. It has sought to help others, to aid them when they are in need. And now, when a race's homeworld has been destroyed and its political union shattered forever, we sit here and debate politics? We sit here and ask ourselves about money?"

He paused for a moment, and rose to his feet. The silence was suffocating as his well-polished shoes clicked against the floor tiles, the elder Admiral strolling towards the balcony and looking out over Paris. All eyes seemed focus on him, and were not willing to speak until he had finished. Certainly, the President was not. Admiral Picard turned heel, and walked back towards the table, looking directly at the President with a look of fiery passion, "Mister President, I must ask you to forget any notion of retaining power. I must ask you to forget your so-called 'party line.' I must ask you, instead, to think about the trillions of lives at stake here. Right now, it is the time to act! It is the time to stand up for the ideals to which your office stands for! You represent the United Federation of Planets, the greatest force for good the Galaxy has ever seen and ever will see! And you must not allow trillions of lives to be thrown away in the tidal waves of civil war and chaos for electoral politics!"

"Admiral Picard, if I may interject..." if I may interject….” The Foreign Minister butted in, “I don’t believe we have the resources to commit to another full-scale conflict, which this will surely spiral into. Who knows what’s beyond Romulan space! Or what’s in it, for that matter! They’ve never let us know the true number of client races within their Empire. We have no reason to do anything except increase security along the Neutral Zone.”

"And if we do that, honorable Minister, we’ll only be delaying the inevitable flood of refugees. It will be like the Hunnic hordes storming across the Rhine and into Rome. Do you wish to be the one who causes that, Foreign Minister?” Picard looked from the Defense Minister and turned his gaze towards the President, “Or you, Mister President? If not, you must act decisively and you must act now.”

All eyes fell on him. He was the only man who could make this decision. The President's eyes darted around the room. He knew their thoughts - it didn't take Betazoid telepathy to read the expressions on their faces to know them - and he could feel them all waiting on his word. Even the Prime Minister looked resigned, knowing that either choice would sooner or later spell the end for their government. Why couldn't I have stayed away from politics? He bit his lip and shook his head, resting back in his chair and feeling the anxiety wash over him like waves on a beach. They came with growing intensity, as the seconds ticked by like hours.

Then, finally, he spoke.

"Very well..." He sighed, rubbing his temples, "Admiral Picard, I want you to formulate a plan of action. I'll leave the details up to you, but we must head into the Empire to restore some semblance of order. Mister Shamasdin, I want you to establish contact with the friendliest regime in Romulan space at the moment, because we will need an ally in it. Mister Tobias, find a way to mobilize the Defense Forces in the systems closest to the Neutral Zone to prepare for any possible invasion. Dear Lerorat, find some way...any way...to balance the books so that we can afford this. I don't care what you have to do...just do it. And, finally, Brortund...I want you to call an emergency session of the Council and to prepare a statement that details our plan..." He paused, giving a look over on the faces of those present. They all were looking to him, some looking relieved, others looking disgruntled, but most anxious and weary, "...for now, I call this meeting adjourned. We will meet back up after the emergency session to discuss more formally our plan of action. If that is all, you may now leave."

The Ministers took their leave, standing up one by one, exiting the room in a similar fashion. Admiral Picard lingered for a moment at the door, with the President still sitting at his chair at the end of the table, rubbing his hands together with anxious energy, "you have done the right thing, Mister President. Don't forget that." And, with that, Picard left the room, the white doors closing beside him.

For a moment, even the briefest moment, the President felt every bit of his title. He felt like a leader of men, doing the job that he was elected to do. Making hard decisions that would turn out to be the right ones. But a part of him nagged at him, gnawed away at him.

And, in the end, the moment faded. And all that remained was the self-doubt and the anxiety and the unshakeable feeling that he had done something awfully wrong. Rising to his feet, the President slowly walked towards the balcony once more, and rested his arms on the steel lifeguards that stopped him from hurling himself over and onto the busy streets below.

The scene was no different from the one he had looked at earlier, but for some reason, it felt different. It felt like a darkness had fallen upon it, and he turned away in disgust - at himself and at the cosmos.

STAR TREK: THE NEW ORDER

PROLOGUE


A new day dawns on the Milky Way Galaxy, but the lights are going out across the stars.

Corruption and decay have seized control of the great powers of the Universe, and are dragging them ever downward into the spiraling center of the Galaxy. One by one, little by little, the Light is dimming. Darkness creeps in at every turn, as once-proud institutions fall away to disorder and subversion. Nowhere in the realm of the stars is safe from the hands of the corrupting influence now seizing the Cosmos, try as men might to fight against it.

The wheel is turning towards change, towards yet another shift in the ages. And nothing anyone can do will stop it. The Last Age is already over, and nothing can be done to change that.

This tragedy takes place hundreds of years into our future, in a realm spread out across space and time. And, yet, it is occurring right now - right here - for us to see. To watch. To feel. This is more than just a tragedy of a fallen golden age, but a tragedy of men and women swept up in a time of upheaval beyond their control. It is a time of bravery, of betrayal; a time of sacrifice and selfishness; a time of the highest highs as well as the lowest lows.

This is how two centuries of progress came to an end. Deceit and darkness have smothered the greatest dreams of peace known to the Universe. This is not just the end of an age - but night falling on civilization itself.

This is the twilight of the Federation.

The end starts now.
EXTRANEOUS MATERIAL


Material that doesn't quite fit elsewhere.



Another thing that I will be altering is the uniforms. We can pretend as though Starfleet, true to its traditions rooted in the United States Navy, is altering its uniforms again for all servicemen. This time it's a total shuffle in regards to learning lessons in the Dominion War. In the hiders below, I will link these uniforms and their intended usage. This is mainly for your own visualization and to ease my discomfort on the idea of Starfleet personnel working pretty much their entire time in service uniforms. I mean, who does maintenance in a service uniform?


In addition to this, I will be introducing the Starfleet Marine Corps. I will detail their history and such in the Fact Files post below, but for now I will post the ship's compliment of Marines, their uniforms, and weapons



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