Chapter Four

The stolen moments he got with T'Pol were by far his favorite ones. Trip kissed T'Pol's bare shoulder working his way to her neck. When she entered his quarters last night through the hidden door separating their quarters, he was too tired to do anything except sleep. She meditated then got into bed with him at some point. When he woke up this morning, her soft, nude form was lying beside him. He couldn't help but take advantage of it.

Her moan of pleasure gave him permission to continue. Gently, he rolled her onto her back then sought out her lips, her mouth. She hungrily responded to his kiss with one of her own. If anyone had ever told him that the most passionate and intense lovemaking he would ever have would be with a Vulcan he'd have laughed himself sick.

"Captain to the Bridge. Captain to the Bridge," came the disruptive words.

Alpha shift hadn't started yet so it was the voice of Ensign Mills. Trip got out of bed and went to his desk and pressed the comm button.

"Captain, here," he said.

"Captain, there is a Tellerite freighter that won't respond to hails and is heading towards the Enterprise," said Mills.

"Call the Alpha shift to the Bridge. Have Tactical raise shields and make weapons hot. I'm on my way," he barked.

Trip turned and looked at his adun'a, the woman he loved. It was at times like this that he wished he was Starfleet.

"You better get dressed, darlin'," he said.

"I shall meet you on the Bridge," she said, as she got up and gracefully walked towards the sliding hull door that connected their quarters.

He swallowed hard as he watched her nude body disappear. Shaking his head, he went to his closet and started to get dressed.

Trip entered the Bridge with the bomber style jacket on, which was unusually for him. It showed that he grabbed the first one in his closet and that his mind was still on T'Pol and their bed. As his Alpha shift crew appeared replacing the Delta shift two hours early, he observed the Tellerite ship on the view screen.

"Sendal, do you pick up either the warp or impulse signature on that ship?" he asked.

Sendal worked his Science Station for a few moments, as T'Pol entered the Bridge. She walked swiftly to her Monitoring Station.

"The ship configuration is Tellerite cargo vessel, but its warp signature is of a Romulan ship," said Sendal.

"Adamu, alert the Enterprise that we have a Romulan Drone disguised as a Tellerite cargo vessel to contend with," Trip ordered.

"Aye, aye, sir," she said.

"Mal, torpedoes aft and cannon fire target the bow," ordered Trip. "Fire on my mark."

"Aye, sir," said Malcolm.

Malcolm and Moorehouse worked together to obey the Captain's orders. The drone opened up firing on the Enterprise, which returned fire.

"Trell, put us on the Enterprise's starboard," ordered Trip.

"Yes, sir," said Trell.

"Mal, on my mark – now," he barked.

The Paladin let loose a volley of torpedoes and the salvo from the cannons at the same time. The Tellerite ship morphed into the big green armored fish shaped drone that proved so hard to kill. Its self-repairing armor meant that you had to inflict maximum damage and then more to stop it.

"Back antennae relay destroyed, sir," said Malcolm.

"Target bow with torpedoes, Mal. Put everything we have on that ship," Trip ordered then he looked at Adamu. "Tell the Enterprise to target the same area we are targeting."

"Aye, sir," she said.

Both the Enterprise and Paladin were rocked by the drone's disruptor fire, but neither one stood down.

STSTST

General Tavon and three Romulan scientists watched the young male Aenar, as he reacted to the destruction of the drone. Aenar's body had wires and connections all over it. His body became stiff then his antennae drooped, as they turned off the machines. He started to pull at the straps that held him in the drone control apparatus. The lead scientist placed his hand on his shoulder in order to calm him.

"My son-in-law has ruined my plans," said Tavon, who then chuckled. "It would have been nice if he had allowed me to destroy the Enterprise. Ahh, family."

"The Aenar is upset. I should give him a sedative," said the scientist.

"Whatever you give him, Doctor, make sure that it kills him," said Tavon. "I have no more use to him."

"But, sir, he has value," said the scientist.

"Maybe to you, but not to me," said Tavon. "Kill him."

Tavon exited the lab and was confronted by his number two.

"Sir, the surgery has been completed to the two Tal Shiar assassins as you requested," said Colonel Talon. "They both look like Andorians."

"Good, good," Tavon said as he walked down the corridor. "Make arrangement for transportation to Andoria for them."

"Yes, sir," said Talon.

"Next I want three agents to be surgically altered to look like Orion pirates," said Tavon.

He stopped in front of his office turned, the doors opened, and then he entered. Walking over to his desk, he sat down. Talon followed him.

"Where do we intend on sending the Orion pirates?" asked Talon.

"They will become spies and liaison to the O111111111111111rion Syndicate. It's time that we start causing more problems for the coalition. Think about it, Talon, if the Orion Pirates start attacking shipping routes and colonies, or if the Nausicaans begin attacking harassed coalitions Starbases and supply lines," said Tavon. "We Romulans forget that we don't have to do everything by ourselves. I want to make allies of these scums in order to make them assets to our cause."

"Ambitious," said Talon.

"Ambitious? You think that is ambitious," he laughed.

Talon shifted under Tavon's gaze. He had heard that Tavon was an unorthodox thinker, but he didn't realize just how talented the man was.

"I have not begun to show my ambitions," said Tavon.

"You are now the head of the Tal Shiar. What more do you aspire to?" asked Talon.

Tavon smiled, "Proconsul."

"Ahh, political aspirations," said Talon. "Wouldn't someone with those aspirations want to have someone replace him as the head of the Tal Shiar who he could trust and know that he would support him?"

Tavon laughed. It appeared that he had underestimated Talon. He liked it when he underestimated someone in his favor. Too often, he underestimated associates and underlings to his own detriment.

"I take it that you are ambitious, Colonel Talon," said Tavon.

"Extremely," he answered.

"Good. Then we should work well together," said Tavon. "Get us three agents who are the best quality and get them into surgery to become Orion Pirates."

"Eight away, sir," said Talon.

Talon turned and left to perform his duty. Tavon watched him go and thought how he would have made a good mate for Tala. If he only knew where she was, he reached out to her. He missed his daughter. His son Movar was doing well in the war, but Movar lacked panache and intelligence. He was a good soldier, but his sister was so much more. Actually, both his sisters were so much more.

STSTST

"We have six causalities, three are serious," said T'Pol.

"Adamu, hail the Enterprise," Trip ordered.

It took a moment but Adamu finally had Shran on the View Screen. The Enterprise Bridge looked damaged. Unfortunately, the smaller ship had taken the brunt of the battle.

"Shran, I'm offering DC Teams, Engineering help, and medical help if needed," said Trip.

"Thank you, Tucker. I believe we could use all of that. Our warp drive is damaged and impulse engines not working to capacity," said Shran.

"Causalities?" asked Trip.

"Three dead and eleven injured," said Shran.

"Beam over as many of the injured as you need to. We can handle it. Our medical Bay holds twenty-five beds and I have two doctors and several corpsmen," said Trip.

"I'll have Phlox pick and choose," said Shran.

"And I'll have two DC Teams and some engineering personnel sent over to you," said Trip.

"Thank you once again, Captain Tucker," said Shran.

"Anything for a friend, Captain Shran," said Trip.

He noticed a grim smile from Shran and his antennae twitch in appreciation. The view screen went from Shran to an image of the Enterprise. There were at least two hull breaches and some stress damaged. The Paladin had been roughed up a bit, but no real damage. Trip looked over at T'Pol.

Darlin', arrange for DC Teams and some engineers to go over to the Enterprise to help with their repairs. Let's get them moving as fast as we can. I feel like we are sitting ducks out here.

I will make arrangements, adun.

To think we haven't even had breakfast yet.

Yes, we were unfortunately interrupted this morning.

Don't remind me, darlin'.

Alpha shift will be hungry.

I think I'll talk to the chef to send up donuts and hot coffee.

And tea, adun.

And tea, adun'a.

Trip stood up, "XO, you have the conn."

"Yes, sir," T'Pol said.

"I'm going to talk to the chef about having some donuts and coffee and tea sent up to the Bridge and a few other spots," Trip said then exited the Bridge.

STSTST

Foley was in San Francisco in a Section 31 safe house. The apartment was in the Haight-Ashbury district. Known for its bohemian ways that pervaded to this day, Foley knew he stood out in this crowd, so he decided to stay in until nightfall came. He just didn't want to stand out in this iconic part of town, which still sold tie dyed shirts and lava lamps. Even when he wasn't in a uniform, Foley looked like a soldier. It was just who he was.

Reviewing the information he collected, he now knew how to cut the head off the beast. The leaders were Michael Huntington and Simon Davis. Beyond them, the money was coming from Jepson, which he had taken care of, and Silas Wentworth, who Foley would have to take care of. The one problem he saw was Admiral Black. He needed to speak to Agent Harris about Black.

Foley took a PADD out from his bag. He typed a message to Harris on it then he sent the message to an unknown address. Harris will get the message then respond with a meeting place. He'd let Harris decide what to do with Black.

STSTST

Shran sat in his Ready Room reviewing repair information. With the help of Tucker's people Kelby almost had the warp engine repaired and impulse working at ninety percent. When Kelby ended up staying on the Enterprise instead of rotating out to the Indefatigable, it was considered a mixed blessing. Yes, Kelby had experience and the talent, but he never had a gift for running Engineering. Hess, who was still his number two, had the gift of dealing with people. Of course, she did, as she was one of Tucker's favorite, or so he had been told by Archer. Now, Tucker was a great engineer. Travis told him story after story how he kept the ship going in the Delphic Expanse.

His door buzzed.

"Enter," he said.

Travis entered the Ready Room. The young man looked tired. With Trip, T'Pol, and Malcolm gone, Travis ended up shooting up the promotion chart to XO. Shran wanted someone from the original crew. He had the skills for it, and, surprisingly, he had the ability to command, but none of that could take away the fact that he was young. As a young man, he was working himself towards collapse taking every duty he had too seriously.

"The Paladin DC Teams and engineering personnel are beaming off," said Travis. "There work here is done, sir."

"I recommend you take the next eight hours off and get some food and sleep, XO," said Shran. "You are looking tired Human."

"I'm fine, sir," said Travis.

"I could make it an order, Travis," said Shran.

"Yes, sir," smiled Travis. He knew not to argue with Shran. "I'll get some rest."

"Good. I need to keep you around. Who else will the crew talk to when they have a problem," smiled Shran. "You know how I hate sloppy Human emotions. They make me turn green."

"Yes, sir," said Travis, who then did an about face and exited the room.

Shran's Antennae drooped slightly once Travis left. Soval was safe, but he had a feeling this was only the beginning of their trouble. The Romulans wanted to rip the coalition apart, but he knew there were others, too, who wanted the coalition destroyed. Some of these others were Andorians in position of power, who were close to the Emperor. Shran had grown to trust most Humans and respect them. He believed in the coalition and what it was coming to stand for.

"I need to talk to Tucker. These are dangerous times ahead of us," he said to himself.

STSTST

Trip walked into the Infirmary. Dr. Ito strolled up to him. Because of his relationship with Yuris, he had never developed a good relationship with his CMO. Ito seemed to get along well with everyone in the crew, except its captain, who she treated with diffidence.

"I forwarded my medical report to you already," she said.

"I came to see a patient of yours, Lieutenant Sato," he said.

"She is in the Medical Bay along with two other patients from the Enterprise," Ito said.

"May I see her, Doctor," he asked.

"If you must," she replied.

Ito escorted him into the Medical Bay, which consisted of biobeds and medical equipment. Trip saw Sato lying on a biobed looking small and alone. He walked over to it and sat in chair beside the bed. Hoshi opened her eyes and looked at Trip. She smiled.

"Captain Tucker," she said.

"Lieutenant Sato," he smiled.

She had two broken ribs and internal damage, which his medical staff had repaired. She was going to be fine.

"When you're ready to leave this bed, I'll have my chef make you a special meal," Trip said.

"I should be back on the Enterprise," she said.

"Actually, Hoshi, with your linguistic skills you should be back at Starfleet helping with translations and language misunderstandings," said Trip.

"Well, I'm the Communications Officer of the Enterprise," she said.

"I've spoken to Starfleet Command, Admiral Morse, so don't be surprise if you are offered a new position," said Trip.

"Why would you do that, sir?" she asked.

"Hoshi, it's me. You know Trip. I know what you are capable of doing with languages. Believe me when I tell you that your skills are desperately needed in keeping this coalition in one piece," he said.

"Travis needs me," she said softly.

"Honey, Starfleet needs you. You are being wasted right now," he said. "Trust me, Hoshi, you are needed elsewhere."

"Do you think Admiral Morse will offer me a position?" she asked.

"In the DiploCorp assigned to coalition building and troubleshooting," smiled Trip.

"Sounds like this Admiral Morse knows and listens to you," said Hoshi.

"She's been known to listen to my opinion," Trip said.

"If she calls I'll listen," said Hoshi.

Trip knew that Hoshi was too valuable to be wasted on a Starship during a war. Her skills could help with the coalition and allies. He smiled to think she was going to listen to him. Shran might be angry with him when he finds out he'll be losing the best Comm Officer in the fleet, but he knew Shran would come to understand.

"She'll be calling back tomorrow. I'll make sure you have some privacy to take the comm," he said then stood up. "Get well."

"Thank you, sir," she smiled.

"Hey, what is your favorite meal so I can tell the chef?" he asked.

"Sokisoba," she said.

"Okay, how about something less Japanese. I have to admit I got this chef because he's good with Vulcan and Andorian foods," he said.

"Baked macaroni and cod cakes," she smiled.

"Now that he can handle," said Trip.

STSTST

Harris told Foley to meet him at a diner in the height-Ashbury area. It was an around the clock joint, so they made the time 0300 hundred hours. When Foley showed up, he saw Harris seated in a booth sipping on a cup of coffee. He walked over and sat down.

"Jepson was sloppy," said Harris.

"You didn't tell me you wanted it neat," said Foley.

A waitress walked over to their booth. Foley appraised her. She was older but with a body that he wouldn't spending a few hours enjoying.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'll have a coffee, black, and waffles with sausage," he said then smiled. It was a friendly, check me out later smile.

"You got it," she said then offered him a smile.

She walked away.

"Can we get back to business?" asked Harris.

"I've got enough names to cut the head off this beast. It's going to be bloody," said Foley.

"Bloody is no problem," said Harris.

"You do have a problem, though," he said.

"What is it?" asked Harris.

"One of the supporters names was Admiral Hiram Black," said Foley.

Both men became quiet as the waitress brought him his black coffee and then put maple syrup container on the table. She smiled at Foley and walked away.

"Damn it. Black, huh?" said Harris.

"I can show you the database," said Foley.

Harris sighed, "I'll need to see the database."

Harris sipped his coffee.

"You're off the wet work for now. I can get someone to replace you in killing off this Earth First," Harris said.

"What do you want me to do?" asked Foley.

"You are now on Admiral Black. We need to find out who else in Starfleet has these leanings and what operations might they have setup," said Harris.

"Why don't you grab Black and work the information out of him?" asked Foley.

"Let's handle this with some subtlety first. If we have to then we can step it up a notch," said Harris.

The waitress brought of his waffles and sausage. Foley and the waitress had another moment then she drifted away. Harris watched as Foley started to eat.

"After this we can go back to the safe house and collect your belongings and the database," said Harris.

Foley smirked, "After breakfast, I'll need an hour with the waitress then we'll go get everything."

"You really how serious this matter is," said Harris.

"Harris, I'll kill for you, steal for you, and spy for you, but I refuse to let an opportunity like her go by for you," said Foley.

"Just be quick," growled Harris.

"I'm a MACO. We take our time and do the job well."