While reading a PADD Captain Shran walked onto the Bridge of the Enterprise. His XO Lieutenant Commander Travis Mayweather got out of the command chair and allowed Shran to sit without ever lifting his head from the PADD. Lieutenant Commander Sato looked at Shran's antennae; they were flat which meant he was enraged. She cleared her throat softly drawing Travis' attention. He now noticed the antennae and rolled his eyes. They had become used to most of Shran's moods, except anger. Anger made him mercurial.
"I just received information from Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Operations," growled Shran then he looked up at Travis. "The Romulans have taken the Regulus System. They are now right on the doorstep Andoria with a minimum of one hundred and fifty ships."
"What is Starfleet going to do, sir?" asked Travis.
"Well, XO Brownskin, they don't mention what they intend on doing about it. I guess I am too low down the food menu for that," spate Shran.
A combination of a fumbled idiom and being called XO Brownskin made Travis clinched. He told Shran he didn't like being called that and Shran tried to stop, except when he was too angry to care. Andoria was at risk and that was all he cared about at the moment. Even if his wife Jhamel and newborn baby girl Talla were on Earth, the rest of his family and friends were still on Andoria.
"Helm, set a course for Starbase 7," he said. "Maybe we can get some information there."
"Aye, aye, sir," said Helmsman Romeo.
"Lieutenant Commander Sato, get me Commodore Williams at Starbase 7. I want to tell him we are coming in for some repairs."
"Yes, sir," Hoshi said.
"Sir, we don't really need repairs," said Travis.
Shran snorted, "We both now, Travis, that Kelby is always on the verge of breaking something."
"I'll head down to Engineering and get a list of repairs that Kelby thinks we need," said Travis.
"You do that," said Shran then he went back to reading the PADD.
With his two attachés, General Tavon strode into the monolithic Romulan Imperial Fleet Headquarters. Most architecture on Romulus was designed to be imperial and impressive. Tavon returned from Vulcan with a story that Maldore tried to have him killed, intel on Regulus, a plan for an invasion, and a plan to make Regulus a staging platform for further invasions into coalition territory. He was hailed a hero and made the head of Tal Shiar.
Tavon had a meeting scheduled with Fleet Admiral Tuvon. Leaving his two attachés outside in the waiting area, he entered the Fleet Admiral's office. It was large, ostentatious, and a symbol of the power he carried. On one wall was a gold lirash and on another a black marble bust of the Praetor that sat on a self.
"Sit," Tuvon said.
He was standing near a bar pouring each of them a Romulan Ale. Walking over to the now seated Tavon, he handed him a glass of ale then sat down behind his desk.
He patted the top of his desk and laughed, "I once almost lost a female SubCommander on this desk. I eventually outflanked her."
He laughed and Tavon smiled. Tuvon liked to play the buffoon, but he was far from one. The Romulan ran the fleet and even survived failures.
"You called me for a meeting," said Tavon.
"Yes, I want you set up a spy ring out of Regulus. I want our intel so fresh it bleeds," said Tuvon.
"And you want the head of the Tal Shiar to set up this network for you," said Tavon.
"Yes," Tuvon answered.
"Why me?" asked Tavon. "Why not a talented underling?"
"Your predecessor made the mistake of delegating too much. I don't want you to make the same mistake," said Tuvon. He then drank down a good portion of his ale.
"I will need some time to prepare before leaving," Tavon said.
He knew a set up when he saw one. The best way to handle such a thing was to go in with eyes wide open and look for opportunities. There were always opportunities. Maybe once he was settled he would reach out and start looking for Tala. He wondered how both his daughters were doing.
"I'll give you three days before you leave on a Warbird to Regulus," said Tuvon.
"I'll be ready," smiled Tavon. You are the next on my list to die, Admiral.
"Good," said Tuvon. "I was afraid that you might argue and then I would have to have you killed."
Tavon took a swig of his ale, "I am not that stupid and you know that."
"I never thought you stupid, Tavon. Arrogant, yes, but not stupid," he said. "We have captured and an Aenar, so I am sending a drone, the Aenar, and mines with you. Consider them a gift from the Imperial Fleet to the Tal Shiar."
He failed to tell him that they had prepared three drones, since they had captured three Aenar. Giving Tavon one drone and one Aenar assured him that Tavon would show some loyalty for now.
"They are mine to use?" asked Tavon.
"Yes," he answered. "I want you to succeed."
A drone, Aenar, and mines. With these, he could more than succeed. A smile creased Tavon's face. Things were getting better and better for him.
Vice Admiral Archer sat in his Ready Room on the Excalibur throwing a water polo ball off the hull and catching it. It was at moments like this that he missed Porthos, who had finally died of old age. He was expecting a subspace communication any moment from Mary Ellen or some member of the Tucker family with the announcement of the birth of Juliet Tucker-Archer.
Someone buzzed his Ready Room door. Archer caught the ball then placed it on top of desk.
"Enter," he called.
Captain Hawkins entered. Being the commander of a ship with an admiral on it had turned into the bane of Hawkins' existence. He stood in front of Archer's desk.
"How can I help you, Captain?" Archer asked.
"The BARCAP-Alpha is back and I sent out BARCAP-Beta," he said.
Ever since Vulcan's and Trip's grand stand against invasion, this sector had been surprisingly quiet. There had been a few skirmishes but that was all so far. Archer had expected more.
"Good," nodded Archer. "Anything else?"
"Vulcan has requested a five ship escort with the supplies that they are sending us," he said. "I was wondering if we couldn't split this escort with three Starfleet ships and two Vulcan."
"I'd love to get the Vulcans pulling their weight, Captain, but I've been told to handle them with kids' gloves," said Archer.
"So, I should send five ships to Vulcan," said Hawkins.
"Give them what they want," said Archer.
"Aye, aye, sir," said Hawkins.
He turned and left the Ready Room. Archer grabbed his water polo ball and started throwing it against the hull. He was nervous and wanted to hear that his daughter was born.
"Sir, I have a subspace message from you from Charles Tucker II," said Ensign Mandalay.
A big smile appeared on Archer's face. Finally, there was news about his daughter, something to break the boredom of this area of space.
After having a few more medals pinned to him, Trip was now ended a three week press tour that he knew was a form of punishment by Fleet Admiral Yamamoto. With the last interview with Agatha Sebastian of the Holo-magazine LIFE finishing up in his Ready Room, Trip was under orders to report to Admiral Morse's office for his newest assignment.
"Are you lonely commanding a starship?" she asked.
Agatha Sebastian was far more attractive than her name implied. With strawberry colored hair and pale, almost translucent, skin, she appeared almost ethereal. A slap in the head through the bond told Trip that T'Pol was a bit jealous of this one. Being bond wasn't always a pleasure or easy. Too often, he couldn't hide his real thoughts from T'Pol. Trip had to remember to put his mental shield when he was appraising a woman's attractiveness.
"No, there is far too much to keep me busy on the Paladin," said Trip.
"The ship is your mistress. How cliché of you," she said. "Is flesh and blood better than metal and logic chips?"
"Right now metal and chips are all that I can handle," he answered.
She laughed at his comment and then fought down her own attraction to the Fleet Captain. Right now Tucker was a fleet captain without a fleet and that made his next assignment interesting. Sebastian didn't think they would keep a stud on the sidelines for long.
"What's next for you?" she asked. The success of this going from good interview to great one hinged on his answer here.
"I'm on standby until given an assignment by Command," said Trip.
"Captain Tucker, emergency, sir," came the voice of Lieutenant Adamu.
"Tucker, here," he slapped the comm on his desk.
"A Romulan drone is attacking Jupiter station. SOLCOM is responding but they asked for assistance," said Adamu.
"Break orbit and tell SOLCOM we are on our way," said Trip.
He stood up and walked past Sebastian. By the time she caught up with him, he was seated in his command chair and giving orders.
"Sendal, the drone is being controlled by a strong telepath. Find the signal and block it," ordered Trip.
"Yes, sir," said Sendal.
"Trell, frigates and NX class don't carry enough firepower to deal with this thing, so take us in and engage it," Trip barked.
"Yes, sir," said Trell.
"Mal, give me full cannons and best yield on the torpedoes you got. Weapons free when we engage," Trip said to Malcolm, who smirked.
"Some press tour," Malcolm remarked.
Sebastian looked and noticed that Trip glanced at T'Pol but said nothing.
Darlin', have there been reports of Aenar disappearing from Andoria?
None were on my security clearance level.
I bet Section 31 has a report or two.
I assume you are correct, k'diwa.
"Adamu, let Starfleet Command know that we are responding to the drone," Trip told his Communications Officer.
"Aye, aye, sir," she said.
They arrived at the battle site and engaged in the battle. Commander Adu of the UES Frigate Manchester hailed the Paladin. Trip had him put on the View Screen.
"It changed from an Earth Cargo vessel to this thing," said Adu. "We were taken by surprise."
"Commander, concentrate yours and the rest of the frigates firepower on the antennae array in the back of the ship. We'll handle the rest," said Trip.
"Yes, sir," said Adu then disappeared.
The image of the drone attacking all ships that came after it appeared on the view screen. Trip always thought the drone ship looked like some giant insect, which made the drone even more ominous to him.
"Trell, get a clear shot at its bow," ordered Trip.
"Aye, aye, sir," called out Trell.
"Trip, three volleys of torpedoes followed by particle cannons until we crack its hull then I want torpedoes until it explodes," ordered Trip.
"You have it, sir," said Malcolm.
Trip smiled back at him. Malcolm and he were the only two who had ever been on a Romulan drone ship.
The Enterprise found itself in cue to the repair docks. According to the Corp of Engineers, they had a minimum of a fifteen hour wait before being given docking permission and repairs could start. Starbase 7 was a flooded with activity since the news of Regulus had been sent out. Four Yorktown Class ships were orbiting at the moment along with twelve frigates, and the NX Solar.
Shran paced outside of Commodore Williams office. He requested a meeting with Williams in order to get an update on Regulus and Andorians response. Williams' office was part of the Starbase's ops. The door to his office opened and Williams stepped out, looked at Shran, and motioned him to follow him. Shran followed the Commodore back into his office. Williams sat down behind a desk with a top filled with PADDS. It gave the Commodore the impression of being overwhelmed.
"I talk to command, Shran, so that they know you are here," sighed Williams.
"I had no standing orders," said Shran.
"I know," said Williams.
Shran sat down. He willed his antennae not to move, as he didn't want to give away his emotional state.
"Did the mention Andoria's response?" he asked.
"The Imperial Guard is setting up a defense on the border of Regulus and Andoria," said Williams. "They are doing this to the point of pulling ships away from their coalition obligations."
"That is madness. Andoria needs the collation," said Shran.
"Starfleet and Earth government agrees. A diplomat is being sent here. Once the diplomat arrives, you are taking them to Andoria to try and convince them to let Starfleet help rather than pull away from their obligations," said Williams.
"I'm going on a diplomatic mission to Andoria," said Shran then he began to laugh. "That is madness. The Imperial Guard wants nothing to do with me since I officially joined Starfleet. I am considered a traitor by them."
"That is why you've been chosen. You know the Imperial Guard better than anyone else in Starfleet and you get under their skin," said Williams.
Shran stood up, "I ask permission to give my crew some R&R on your Starbase. I hear it has a worthy barroom."
"I give you permission for three twelve hour liberty shifts," said Williams.
"Twelve hours, enough time to have some drinks, food, and not get into too much trouble, am I correct?" asked Shran.
"It's a crowded Starbase, Captain," said Williams. "I want to keep the fights and the use of my security down to a minimum. I don't want Starbase 7 to get the reputation of a good place to get drunk."
"I understand, Commodore," said Shran.
He stood up and offered his hand to shake to Williams. They shook hands.
"Thank you, Commodore, for all your help," said Shran.
"Get some rest, Shran. I think that you'll be needing some rest before you go to Andoria," said Williams. "They aren't sending you there to fail."
Shran smiled then exited the office. It was time to contact Jhamel and check on the baby.
Trip was staring at the first pictures of his niece Juliet Tucker-Archer when the door to his Ready Room buzzed.
"Come on in," he said not taking his eyes off the little baby girl.
The Paladin was back in orbit around Earth, as Corp of Engineer ships collected and sifted through the debris, which was the drone. There was the hope of collecting some new tech from what was left of the Romulan drone.
Admiral Morse and Ambassador Soval entered his Ready Room. Trip stood up.
"Admiral, Ambassador, please sit," he said.
They sat down on the seats in front of his desk. Soval waited patiently for Morse to speak.
"We need you to take Ambassador Soval to Starbase 7, drop Soval off to the Enterprise and then escort them to Andoria," said Morse.
"We must convince Andoria to stay committed to the coalition. The Invasion of Regulus has managed to bring out their isolationist tendencies," said Soval.
"Soval and Shran, I understand them going, bit why me and the Paladin," said Trip.
"The Paladin is the most powerful ship in the fleet," said Morse.
"And it was you and I that stopped a war between Vulcan and Andoria. There is much goodwill for in in the Andorian Empire," said Soval.
"When do shove off?" asked Trip.
"Right after you beam me back to Starfleet Headquarters," said Morse.
"I hope you brought mittens, Ambassador, because Andoria is cold," smiled Trip.
"I will have to preserve," said Soval with a raised left eyebrow.
Trip knew Vulcans well enough that he knew that Soval had made a joke. He chuckled and Morse looked at him as if he was a bit off his game.
"Convince Andoria to stay committed to this coalition at any cost, Fleet Captain Tucker," said Morse.
"Yes, ma'am," he replied.