Chapter 13 Imperfect Memory

Amanda

Location Romulus: Upper Stratosphere Altitude 50 Kilometres
Year 2160.250

The In-Helmet Monitor offered guidance every fifteen seconds. So far, so good. There were no proximity alerts: also good. The readouts for the two coming in behind her were fine, life signs good. As she shot down through the stratosphere her hands and feet splayed, buffeted by its winds she took in the nightlights on the East Coast. They looked so innocent, they could be the lights of the Eastern Seaboard of the North American continent of Earth. But this was the Eastern Coast of Romulus, the heart of the Romulan State Empire with which they had been at war with for four years, bringing death and misery to millions, most of whom were innocents.

Getting clearance for the Orbital Sky Dive had been an uphill battle but her argument was compelling. The Communications Officer on the Enterprise had managed to pick up chatter from a spy censor buoy indicating that the two ex Star Fleet Officers who had gone on a covert mission were still alive. They had been able to triangulate where the chatter was coming from. It was the epicentre of Romulas, the capital.

The chatter indicated that an escape had been planned. They had also picked up the debriefing of a Guard who had been overcome during the escape and had been sentenced to death implying the escape had been successful.

If they had survived four years, they must have valuable intelligence. That Mr Tucker was Major Cole’s partner was a secondary issue. The Plan was simple: find them, signal to the stolen Romulan Shuttle Craft in Orbit and meet them in the Mountains. The controversial part of the Plan was to commit Starships to attack Romulus’ Planetary Defence System to give their escape cover.

The only element of the operation that she was uneasy about was that the chatter had only picked up T’Pol’s voice planning to leave and a Romulan Guard being interrogated about the escape but not Mr Tucker. However, after a painstaking search by long range satellites they had located the Vulcan Shuttle from the Ti’Mir. She had considered it might be a trap but before they committed themselves, they would check for DNA matches with the two.

She had dived to a height of eighteen kilometres, still no proximity alert had been triggered. It was a dark night and the area they were diving toward was undeveloped. Right now, they were nearing the Mountain range which ran the length of the main landmass, north to south. The plan was to fly over the Mountains and then drop very quickly into the foothills.

The war had been long and arduous with no quarter given. The Romulans had begun with an attack by one hundred Warbirds and four hundred scout ships, which the Alliance had first encountered in 2154. The latter wreaked havoc against the slower, less agile, Starships. Major Cole’s MACOs had been instrumental in generating a tactical response and designed small phase cannons, which had been added at strategic points on the saucer section of the NX class.

Since their introduction, the Alliance had regained the initiative and the Romulans had been pushed back toward their own system.

The Romulans sought to take advantage of their cloaking technology but their ‘Birds Of Prey’ needed precious seconds after de-cloaking before they could fire their disruptors, which the MACO battery teams had learned to exploit. Cooperation within the Alliance had grown as the war went on, with key personal being seconded across the Alliance Fleet. But after four years the outcome remained very much in the balance. One step-change in capability or the acquisition of key intelligence could be decisive.

She looked down as they crossed the Mountain range. Snow capped peaks, hidden valleys and glaciers came into view on her night-sight. Thank God their trajectory was good, coming down in that Mountain range would be a disaster.

Major Cole checked her altimeter: five kilometres. The central mountain range was now behind them. The sky dive had been exhilarating but now the adrenaline began to pump as the wind whistled around her. She could see her target through her visor. On the edge of the forest, behind uninhabited rolling hills, her Infrared told her the Shuttle was inside a simple structure. It was time to open the chute. She pulled the levers, the chute was released and momentarily she shot back up in the sky. The target for the drop had come into view, three kilometres west of the Shuttle, in grassland, beyond a river. Down she went, crossed the river and then the grasses rushed up to meet her. Amanda had many years of experience: legs and feet together, release buckle on contact and then a horizontal position rotating to the side, rock backwards and then flat. Quiet as could be, she unhitched her chute, collected it together and readied herself for defence in thirty seconds. She moved to the side of the field and even as she did so her two sergeants were with her. They were all down safely. It was a text book dive. So far so good.

They moved in on the Shuttle, passing quickly across the grasses at the end of the Forest. All three were hyper alert, checking 360 degrees with their night-sights. Deep down, Amanda wanted to get those DNA readings out the way. If they didn’t match, they had fifty kilometres to cover to the rendezvous in the Mountains. She triggered the device: one humanoid, one vulcan in the structure. Both matches were good but she would not allow herself to become excited.

They moved in slowly. Amanda, using sign language which their night-sights could pick up, indicated they should fan out, not to come in on too narrow a range. The structure might have been connected to agriculture in the past but there was no mistaking the shape of the silhouette of a Vulcan Shuttle in the darkness. Her weapon at the ready, she crossed out of the grasses and stepped up to the rear of the shuttle. Her companions remained crouched in the grasses.

She checked again for life signs, the two DNA matches were beyond the shuttle in the rear of the building. Amanda edged her way along the side of the shuttle in the dark. She was close to the front of the vehicle, she looked round, nothing, she moved forward still registering the two life forms, no sound.

“Are you Good?” Pause. “All clear, no hostiles.” “OK, move in.” Another pause.”We’re in.”

The night-sight told her the two were kneeling behind some machinery. Here goes, she illuminated the area. They stood up and came out from behind the machinery. “No! Damn, damn! damn!!”

She was completely bemused but kept calm, keeping her torch light trained on the two of them.

Dim lights came on all over the building. She picked up some transporter feedback behind her, her team were surrounded and the doors of the barn were slammed shut; they were trapped. A fire-fight was out of the question.

One of the two strangers spoke. “I am sorry to disappoint you. I believe you were searching for two of your colleagues, we are but poor substitutes no doubt, but,” and said with irony, “we do share their DNA.”

Universal Translators on. “Who the hell are you?”

“Relax, Welcome to Romulus, I am Tolsek, father of the Vulcan T’Pol and my colleague is, well, as you may have guessed, he is a clone of Commander Tucker of the Enterprise.” He noted her look through the visor. “Oh, don’t look surprised. The humble monastic performance didn’t fool me for a moment.”

She looked at Tolsek’s companion. It was Trip, but a younger Trip, dressed in a nondescript combat kit. It maybe the body, but she knew it was not the man. It explained the deception. “Rather accurate don’t you think?”

Amanda pulled her skydive helmet off and shook her head, her hair falling around her face. “Well, good for you, Father of T’Pol. My name is Amanda Cole. My rank is Major, my number is 404-172 and that’s your lot. If you want anything else, you’re wasting your time. Just shoot me now.”

“Oh Major, I think we can better than that.” Tolsek moved quickly toward Amanda, walked round the back of her and placed his hand on her shoulder in a Vulcan ‘Grip’. She lost consciousness and fell to the floor. Tolsek grabbed a chair and put it in the middle of the space and spoke to the Clone. “Sit her down and restrain her.”

He walked to the rear of the shuttle, the Sergeants, who hadn’t seen what had gone on, were surrounded by Tolsek’s Reman troops, small ugly creators with pointed ears, small eyes and bald heads, who had transported in.

He asked Major Cole’s colleagues their names and circled around the two captives. “An audacious dive, gentlemen.” They said nothing. “Well, I am sorry, but no: we don’t have time for idle chat, either.” using the Grip on them simultaneously. As soon as they slumped to the ground, lifeless, he turned to the Reman who had been corralling them, “Leave.”

Once the Clone had secured Amanda, Tolsek administered a hypo-spray to wake her up. She woke, shaking her head. She was drowsy and pliable, thanks to the Vulcan Grip.

Tolsek grabbed the other chair and sat opposite her. He wasted no time: he wanted this done as quickly as possible. He placed the forefinger of each hand on the top of her cheek, the rest of the fingers splayed on each side of her face and the thumbs on her chin. Amanda tried to edge back. It dawned on her what he was going to do, she tried to resist.

My Mind To Your Mind

Your Mind Is Mine

She still tried to resist, “Get off me, you bastard.”

He put more pressure on her, both physically and mentally.

Your Thoughts are MINE!

Cool, cold, calculated but almost snarling the last word.

She relaxed into his hold, her pupils dilated. He had her in his thrall. He drained her of every important piece of Military Intelligence she had. Plans, codes, protocols: everything. Somewhere along the way he discovered, like his half breed off-spring, she was another conquest of the pious human. He laughed to himself. What was that Human saying? ‘Revenge definitely is a dish best served cold.’

It hadn’t taken long. The entrapment had gone well. The Clone cleared the barn, opened the shuttle doors, placed the three comatose bodies in the shuttle and left. Tolsek passed into the shuttle and re-established a link with each one of them. A simple request, instruction, command: call it what you will, ‘Forget.’

He checked for any data recordings on their personal readers, nothing. He killed the lights, walked out of the building and disappeared through the forest to rejoin his Reman friends. It was now down to the heroic crew to complete the plan. They simply needed to make a brave and successful escape from Romulus, an enterprise which he was entirely certain would succeed.

_______________________________________________

Amanda was momentarily puzzled. Had she been day dreaming. She shook her head. Her Sergeant, a Vulcan who had been assigned just for this purpose, had the same curious feeling seconds before and triggered the Shuttle’s controls. He checked the flight path and placed it in reverse. “Ma’am, do I have your permission to engage?” She turned round to her human companion, who like the others had unknowingly come round and gave the OK sign.”Right, let’s get the hell out of here.” The manoeuvring thrusters fired lifting the shuttle. “Any hostiles?” “No.” The shuttle reversed, swept round on its axis and shot towards the mountains. Once over the mountains, the Vulcan Pilot switched to manual and headed North for a Polar Exit, Warp and the Ti’Mir.

On the ground, Tolsek looked up at the shuttle’s burners offering a trail as it disappeared in to the stratosphere. He turned to the Clone. “Well done, my friend. DNA appearances can be deceptive.”

_____________________________________________

Location : Endeavour Briefing Room
2160.252
Two Days later

Captains Hernadez and Vanik, from the Vulcan ship Ti’Mir, entered, all stood. “As you were.” She ushered Vanik to sit and made the introductions.

She sat and considered everyone: Malcolm Reed, Head of Security; Major Cole, MACO Operative and a prim looking young woman who was T’Pol’s replacement on the Enterprise.

“I have read your report, Major Cole. Apart from the positives, the Ti’Mir getting its shuttle back and you making it back in one piece, I find the whole matter slightly… ‘off’. It feels as if something is missing. Thoughts everyone?”

Malcolm went first, “With respect, Ma’am, security operations do go well if the risks are properly understood and the intelligence is strong. They completed an Orbital Sky Dive, which ensured they were not detected, reached the exact co-ordinates and found the shuttle precisely where we expected from surveillance. I had a personal stake in this mission; Commander Tucker was a close personal friend. It is regrettable but the only data which gave me concern was the chatter. It might have been old material that found its way into the ether, that may explain why there was no sign of them.”

“Ma’am, on my return my team were scanned and passed through decontamination, and then some.” Major Cole indicating how rigorous it was. “The only DNA traces found on us matched T’Pol and Mr Tucker. I would suggest these were acquired whilst we traveled in the Shuttle.”

It was now Captain Vanik’s turn, “Before the Emissary and her Companion left for Romulus,” The way Vanik described them made Amanda feel uncomfortable; it felt like Trip was somebody else, no longer hers, “we carried out a purge of the Shuttle. On its return we found five samples of DNA which are all accounted for: your team,” looking at Major Cole, “and those of the two travellers. We also considered the Shuttle Craft’s Logs. They arrived on Romulus at coordinates which we now know to be the Romulan Capital. Several days later, indeed the day the final beacon warning was activated, the craft was flown to the location at which you found it. The Logs have not been tampered with. It is logical to assume that they arrived at the location, then moved off to their final location. Two journeys.” Vanik spoke with an air of finality; there was nothing further to say.

He stopped, placed his hands together on the table in a sign of calm reflection and looked around the room. “Your determination to find them and the audacity of the execution shows both skill and courage. I would, however, remind you that in my last conversation with them, they made it clear they understood that no rescue would come. Indeed, they had planned for such an eventuality. As I think the Companion would have said to you all at this point, ‘it’s time to close the book on this one.'” Amanda smiled in a resigned kind of way, this man knew Trip. It’s precisely what he would have said.

The atmosphere of the meeting was broken by the Enterprise’s Science Officer. “If we consider the transcripts from the chatter and the Log of the Shuttle it is clear now, whatever their context, they are four years old. I do not think we should expend anymore resource on this matter.” Amanda rarely took an instinctive dislike to any one but the young female British Science Officer had what Trip would have said was, “a broom up her arse.”

Hernandez, who had taken over the Endeavour two years ago once her First Officer was ready for Command on the Colombia, nodded. “Ok, Ok, let’s leave it at that. It’s not as if we haven’t a thousand and one other things to do. Dismissed.” Amanda interrupted, “With your permission, Ma’am, may I speak with Captain Vanik for a moment?” Hernandez looked at the Captain. Vanik nodded agreement.

Amanda came round the conference table and sat at Captain Yanik’s side, facing him. “Whilst Mr Tucker was attached to the MACOs, he was under my command. Given you were the last person to see them, I would be interested in your recollection.” Captain Yanik looked at Amanda Cole and thought carefully before speaking. “I believe both of them were adequately prepared for the mission. I had met them five years previously and to their credit they had, I think the word is, grown. I was most impressed by the Companion. He had become, to use a phrase he might use about himself ‘a little bit Vulcan’. Does that answer your question, Major?” It did, but she realised as she heard the answer it wasn’t the question she wanted to ask.

_______________________________________________

Hoshi

Location : Enterprise Mess Hall
Year 2159.236 Twelve Months Earlier

Hoshi was sat eating her supper alone in the Mess Hall. Like the rest of the crew she was tired. Tired of the war which seemed never ending. Tired of the Engagements with the enemy, tired of the damage and the repairs. A lock of her hair fell over her face, her uniform was dishevelled from constantly passing through corridors strewn with debris from damaged systems. Tonight was different though. It was three years almost to the evening that she had sat in the Mess with him.

After their time together, the dreams of the night had been replaced by dreams of the day. As Communications Officer and a Codes Analyst, she had easily, but inappropriately gained access to the Captain’s exchanges on the matter of ‘what was really going on’. By the time he left, she knew two things. As a man of honour, he was bound to insist on accompanying T’Pol to Romulus and she had fallen in love. Three years on and… nothing. She had a very real conundrum: because of the Meld with T’Pol she knew that she was still alive.

If T’Pol had died it would have been like a cold wind passing over her, an instinct that something was gone. She could still sense her aura, that meant she was alive. So if she was alive she figured, so was he.

She had broken all the rules, tapping into the listening Buoys around Romulus and came across some chatter. She suspected it was old, but it was her only way to justify the Captain taking action. It forced Archer to tell her about the mission and open up the dialogue to others. The smart ass who was now Science Officer had constantly argued against diverting resources to finding the two. But Jonathan Archer cared more for his first Chief Engineer and Science Officer than anyone and he began the battle to have a rescue mission approved.

______________________________

Location : Enterprise Briefing Room
Year 2160.253 Twelve Months Months Later

The Smart Ass was taking the meeting attended by the Captain, the senior MACO on board Sergeant Richards and Ensign Sato.

“Ok, the rescue team have arrived back. Other than acquiring the Vulcan shuttle craft, they came back empty handed. The material that the Ensign acquired was confirmed as being out of date.” Jonathan didn’t like his Science Officer’s style. She was supposed to be human but showed the kind of lack of empathy that his Vulcan Science Officer had displayed in the early days. This woman had no such excuses. He looked round the table. “Thoughts?”

The MACO Sergeant was first, “Well, I gotta say an Orbital Skydive in and Shuttle Out shows a lot of… ” he hesitated, “courage sir. As for the Vulcan and Tucker It doesn’t add up to me: I cannot see a plausible reason for the two of them not trying to get out from under the Defence Shield. I gotta say, whilst they had been holed up in a monastery before leaving they had repeatedly showed extreme ingenuity and improv. in countless situations. It beats me.”

Jonathan turned to Hoshi, “Any thoughts?” “If they decided to stay it could be to foment unrest. They might have found Romulans who sympathised with their message and are developing some kind of resistance movement.” The Science Officer raised her eyebrows, “I don’t think we need to start writing novels just yet about these two. I say let’s focus on the matters in hand, like survival… and winning this war.” Jonathan hadn’t got the time or energy to reprimand the Science Officer and dealt with it in an economic way. “There’s something ‘off’ with this. Erika feels the same. Hoshi: just watch all the data. Look for anything and… keep monitoring.” He tapped his ears and as an after thought, “And report anything directly to me.” Hoshi smiled at her Captain. “Thank you, Sir. I’ll get right on it.”

___________________________________________

Tolsek

Location: The Citadel Romulus
Year 2160.252

Tolsek walked into the Praetor’s Throne Room. His step had never been more certain, his demeanour more imperious which, given he was about to stand in front of Praetor Atare, the holder of the keys to power in the state empire, was a little ironic. Tolsek believed his latest adventure had put him one step closer to replacing Atare.

“Come.” Atare beckoned him to sit opposite him, the other side of the Consul. This was no meeting of minds. As always the atmosphere was subdued, quiet. The throne room full of shadows, much like Romulan society and certainly like the mood within the Citadel: brooding, secretive, suspicious. Tolsek had successfully performed emergency surgery on the Senate following the incident of ’56. He had removed the canker of his half breed daughter’s visit from the Romulan consciousness but the patient that had recovered was instinctively more wary, more uncertain.

Atare ready to begin looked up.”It seems to me the only decision we have to make is what to do with this intelligence, would you not agree?” No praise, no ‘you have done well’, sometimes Tolsek wondered whether, in different circumstances, the Praetor might have responded to ‘Peaceful Co-Existence.’

“I believe we must strike hard and strike fast. The core of this Alliance is now at our mercy. If we move in stages they will adapt. Indeed, they may work out we have all the data to neutralise their weapons and lower their defences.” Atare nodded agreement, “I am no warrior but I think we should divert all our resources for one final show down. I have only one suggestion: begin with a stand off, destroy one ship and only then de-cloak.” Tolsek was surprised. Even he would not commit the entire fleet on an educated guess. “We will be ready in three months.” “In the meantime, keep losing. We do not want even a whiff of this to emerge.” Tolsek was Vulcan for a moment. “Indeed.”

Hoshi

Location :Enterprise Year 2160.252

Hoshi was passing from the Mess Hall back to the Bridge, stepping over debris and avoiding exposed cables. She didn’t see the MACO Sergeant coming and cannoned into him. “I am so sorry.” He smiled at her. “Never mind, Ensign. All things considered, bumping into someone else is a result.” Hoshi wondered whether he was flirting and quickly established by the look on his face she should take him at face value. He was understanding rather than smooth. “To be honest, Ensign, I am glad we met. I thought your contribution to the meeting was well judged. I know these two from the Xindi campaign your option fitted the profile.” Hoshi smiled, pleased at the recognition. “Some people think because I do Comms I am some kind of librarian.” He nodded in agreement. “Well you know I know better: your capacity for sorting the wheat from the chaff is legendary….. and your bravery.” Richards had been part of the team that had rescued Hoshi from the Xindi Sphere in ’54.

His remark gave her an idea, “Sergeant, would you mind bringing your Pad along to the Briefing Room later?” She checked the schedule on her in-ear monitoring, “Say 1600 hours? I’d like to take a fresh look at the data.” He checked his schedule. “I don’t know how I can help, but, yep. See you there, Ensign.” Hoshi made her way to the Bridge, nodded at Travis and sat down. She began working through the Incoming of the last hour, her mind elsewhere.

Location : Enterprise Briefing Room
1600 hours.

Sergeant Richards and Hoshi sat round the corner of the Briefing Room table. Anything remotely ornamental had been removed. A table, chairs and water dispenser was all that was left after four years of war. Unless you counted the charring and blackening of some of the conduits and wall sections as providing atmosphere.

Hoshi began.”First off, my supposition was merely trying to make certain people in the room realise two very valued and resourceful members of Star Fleet went on this mission. That’s the kind of thing they would do, but my instinct says ‘no’. Here is the bit that puzzles me: the Major is a first class debriefer of her missions and yet the text suggest they came upon the shuttle in the dead of night, secured the building and got in and took off. There’s no sense of waiting for the two to break cover or making any attempt to communicate or find the Commanders, sorry, Emissary and Companion, or any evidence of them.”

He looked at Hoshi.”It maybe because we are all strung out, but I knew I wasn’t comfortable. I just couldn’t figure out why. You have nailed it. The report reads as if they went to retrieve the shuttle not The Vulcan and Tucker. Let’s have a look at the chronometer readings.” He looked at the readouts and called them out to Hoshi. “18.3 minutes for the Orbital Skydive, fine, 12 minutes from the landing to cover the 3k to the Building, fine. 15 minutes to investigate and lift off.” Richards frowned and shook his head. “Hey, come with me to the Cargo Bay. I have an idea.”

Hoshi stood on the Gantry of the Cargo Bay. It had been plunged into darkness. The Sergeant came in over the Comms. “I am ready.” Hoshi: “Go.”

The door of the Cargo Bay burst open. Three figures, equipped with night-sights, stole into the Bay and worked their way to the front of the shuttle. They then spread out and checked the entire Cargo Bay for hostiles. They clambered up the gangways, checked the gantries and, once they were certain there was nobody present, moved back to the shuttle, released the hatch and climbed in. “All clear.’ The lights came up.

Hoshi clapped from the Gantry and then looked serious. “OK. That took 2 minutes 40 seconds. I set a parameter scan to check you covered everything, nothing was missed.” The Sergeant turned to his men, “Thanks for that. The beers are on me.” He climbed up to the Gantry, “So, let’s say it took the Vulcan Pilot five minutes to ignite the shuttle, which is a stretch. He knew the shuttle inside out and was in a desperate rush to get away. The report indicates it ignited straight away. So, what happened in that seven, possibly ten, minutes of time?” Hoshi looked at him, “There’s only one way to find out. Leave it with me.”

Hoshi had just come out of her shower cubicle when her personal Pad came on with an incoming priority message warning. As it was attached to the desk module, she wrapped a towel around her before switching it on and sat looking at the screen. Amanda was in her fatigues. She was tired, her hair pulled back, inside her cap. “Ensign, can we drop the formalities? I’d like to speak with you candidly.” Hoshi took another towel wrapped her hair in it and sat. “O.K.” slightly uncertain.

“Look, Hoshi, I am well aware you have a crush on Trip and will do anything to try and find him. I know all about your time together on the Enterprise.” Hoshi interrupted, “He was completely honourable… And so was I.” Amanda found that even more galling than an admission, but carried on. “But this request that I have a Mind Meld is frankly insulting. I take offence at the suggestion I am lying.” Hoshi, “May I to speak candidly?” Amanda looked tired, irritated, resigned, “Carry on.” Hoshi, being Japanese, was honourable and honest.

“This is not about Trip, as much as I want him back safe. It’s about security. I have Melded with T’Pol and,” Hoshi began to get emotional, “if you must know, that’s how all this began for me. But much more important, T’Pol was able to obtain vital evidence from my sub-conscious that I could not offer in a formal debriefing. The same might happen here.” Amanda shook her head; she was now having to deal with T’Pol. “I have no time for this… When this is done, I expect an apology.” and switched the Pad off.

Location: Enterprise Briefing Room
Year 2160.254 11:00 hours
Two Days Later

Hernandez, Jonathan and Hoshi sat on one side of the table, Major Cole on the other. Everyone with their own thoughts. At the door were two members of the security team, armed.

The entry chime sounded.

Ambassador Soval walked in. He acknowledged those present, “Jonathan, Captain, Ensign.”

“Major Cole, we have certainly met in easier circumstances.” She was well presented and quiet. Quite different from two days ago. “May I have your mind?” She looked at Hernandez who nodded agreement. “Yes.”

Soval remained standing and Major Cole stood up to face the Ambassador.

The ritual began.

Your Thoughts are mine.

He stopped almost immediately. Everyone was puzzled.

Soval, “May we sit?” Amanda sat down and Soval, a picture of dignity, began to speak to the three opposite.

“As you know, Vulcan mysticism is like an ever-opening flower: it grows as you become more adept. I immediately sensed another Melder. Major Cole shows signs of two intrusions: she has been rendered unconscious and an element of her memories tampered with.” Amanda looked down, Hernandez looked at Jonathan and said shaking her head, “Well, we did join up to explore.” Ensign Sato spoke. “Did you detect the Melder?” Soval knew that Hoshi had Melded with T’Pol, “No, they maybe a high level adept who can shield their mind whilst looking into their subject.”

Jonathan spoke next.”Two things are clear: firstly, whoever did this was trying to ‘cover their tracks’ and, secondly, we have to assume this occurred on Romulus.” Soval: “It is the only logical conclusion.” Jonathan: “So either Romulans can Meld or it’s a Vulcan, neither of which makes sense.”

Hoshi intervened.”May I suggest what has happened here?” Jonathan looked at Hoshi, “Go ahead.” “The chatter I found, which we now know is four years old, was bait. Even the placement of the Shuttle could have been bait. They would know a rescue mission would be led by a senior member of the military. Major Cole’s mission knowledge is now in the hands of the Romulans, which they believe we are unaware of. At some point they plan to use it to their advantage. As to the Melder, may I remind everyone of the evidence presented to us by T’Pol of infiltration by the Romulans into Vulcan Society.”

Jonathan looked at Hoshi, “My God, Hoshi. You maybe right.” Hoshi looked at Soval, “I too am adept, at “Shogi” ‘the Game of Generals.‘” Soval nodded acknowledgement, whilst Amanda looked across at Hoshi and thought ‘and I’m just a soldier.’

_______________________________________

Tolsek

Location: Cheron System

Year 2160.340 Three Months later
1500 Hours

Tolsek stood on the Bridge of the lead Bird Of Prey, directly in front of him was the NX Endeavour. The Romulan ship was currently cloaked and he noted with a smile the Armada of Star Fleet ships surrounding the Endeavour. His scans indicated Alliance ships fanned out behind the Terran ships. No lateral or three dimensional thinking. He was looking forward to plucking this cherry.

He requested the armourer de-cloak to begin the Parley. The Bird of Prey’s outline began to emerge in Space. “Hail their Captain. Audio only.”

“Ah, Captain Hernandez. It is an honour.” “You have me at a disadvantage.” Soval was monitoring the transmission and spoke in her earpiece. “I am certain that is him.” He knew the voice and he knew he had heard it on Vulcan.

“I am Tolsek, Commander of the Romulan Fleet. Withdraw or we shall destroy you. It is time to end this war and for you to accept Romulan tutelage.” Hernandez, “It is a gracious offer but you will forgive me if we refuse such generous terms.” Tolsek in his ear piece “Prepare to launch the Scouts and to fire the disruptors.” He returned to his quarry, “You humans do have a curious sense of humour. A brave if foolish response, Captain. Consider this Parley over.” He turned again to his armourer: “Fire and Launch!!”

The Romulans modulated their weapons frequencies and disabled the Endeavour’s shields. The scouts were launched. Their battle plan was three dimensional: attacking from above and below. Their targets: the command and control systems and the Endeavour’s phase canons batteries.

The Endeavour didn’t stand a chance, the Bird of Prey fired a deadly burst of disruptor fire across the Saucer section and the port-side Nacelle. The Romulan Craft began an upward left hand turn, climbing away from the enemy that lay before them and watched as the doomed ship, electrical storms and fires breaking out all over the saucer section, spewing smoke and debris from the damaged Nacelle ploughed on, pursued by Scouts which were picking off the batteries.

The educated guess had worked. Tolsek issued the Command to the Fleet: “De-cloak.”

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