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Opening The Door

DS-19 welcomes its new First Officer and Chief of Operations on the eve of a diplomatic victory; however, not everyone is happy with the political terms.

Opening The Door – 1

USS Janaran (NCC-74747), en route to Starbase Bravo
Stardate: 78278.08 - April 2401 - Frontier Day

“I’ll admit it, Dad, it was impressive,” Tate Horin stated from the main pilot seat. He pressed a few buttons on the holographic controls of the Volga-class runabout before resuming his conversation. “I just can’t get my head around how you and Mom were so lucky to avoid being killed when the Romulans stole it.”

Chuckling at his son’s words, Jaxxon Horin couldn’t agree anymore with him. “Yeah, we were fortunate to be on that supply run, or we may have found ourselves put to work on the mines of Remus.”

“How did the Romulans steal the Prometheus in the first place?” Tate asked.

Smirking, Jaxxon shook his head. “That’s classified, but let’s just say it most likely had something to do with the Tal Shiar.”

Tate shook his head in disbelief at how sloppy Starfleet Security had gotten during the Dominion War to allow such a top-secret vessel to be stolen right underneath their noses. “So, do I have your first commanding officer to thank for my existence?”

“Nah, a pair of E-M-H’s,” Jaxxon replied with a further chuckle. “If it hadn’t been for them recovering the Prometheus, then I’m certain your mother and I would have died trying to retake that ship.”

“Talk about a tragedy in the making,” Tate replied. He looked at one of the readouts from his navigational displays, “We’ve just passed Terra Nova.”

“Almost halfway there,” Jaxxon remarked.

Tate shook his head. “Dad, seriously, your sense of direction and location is surprisingly off for someone who trained as a pilot!”

“Let me guess, your father is lost again!” stated Anizza Horin as she entered the cockpit of the Janaran, bringing with her mugs of Gavaline tea for each of them. 

“Not lost, just not good at working where halfway is between Betazed and Mellstoxx,” Tate laughed as he took the tea from his mother and thanked her. 

“Well, don’t ever ask him to fly this ship in the Badlands anytime soon,” Anizza teased. “One time, when we were on the Artemis, he led an away team to an abandoned Maquis base, but instead of arriving at the moon where it was located, he got us lost between plasma storms. We’re lucky we didn’t end up in the Delta Quadrant!”

Appreciating the laughs that filled their little ship, Jaxxon took the banter from his wife and son well. He took his tea and sipped on it. He could sense their happiness not just in their voices or see it in their expressions but through what they were feeling and thinking. Glad to finally see his wife returning to how she had been was certainly something he was grateful for. After hearing the news of Anizza’s mother’s death, Jaxxon had never seen his wife look so sad. Anizza had taken the news badly. She knew her mother had been ill for some time, but their careers had kept them away from their homeworld for a long time. After months of delaying it, he had organised with his son to take Anizza home to Betazed so Anizza could sort out her mother’s estate. They had been fortunate enough to hitch a ride to Betazed on board the USS Prometheus, the first ship both of them had served aboard after graduating from the Academy. Now, they were using a borrowed runabout from Betazed to return to Starbase Bravo. 

 Turning to his son, Jaxxon was so proud of him. He had recently graduated from Starfleet Academy and would be posted on Bravo as one of the runabout pilots. Now sitting wearing his proper officer’s uniform, Ensign Tateuum Horin was ready to begin his career. Jaxxon envied him a lot. When they had graduated, he and his wife were the last class to enjoy some sort of peace before the entire galaxy had fallen into madness. The Second Borg Incursion took place before the Dominion War erupted. Nothing had been the same since then, and even now, as he reflected on the early days of his career, Jaxxon wondered if what lay ahead for his son would be a new golden age for Starfleet. Being a Starfleet Captain now, one that was the head of one of the largest departments on the Fourth Fleet’s Headquarters, he had seen so much in his career. 

The communication array then went off, and Jaxxon knew then that madness was around the corner for them.

“Dad, I’m detecting a distress call coming from the U-S-S Cobb,” announced Tate.

Concerned to hear that, Jaxxon sat up straight in his chair, placed his mug down and took over the controls. Worry now filled their cabin as Anizza took the engineering station beside her husband.

“The Cobb is one of the new Sagan-class ships. What trouble could it be this close to the core of the Federation and on Frontier Day?” Anizza asked as she tried to locate where the Cobb was.

“Tate, put the call through,” Jaxxon ordered his son. 

Tate just nodded as he opened a channel to the ship, giving the signal to his father to speak. 

U-S-S Cobb, this is Captain Jaxxon Horin of Starbase Bravo on board the runabout Janaran. Do you require assist-”

Jaxxon didn’t have a chance to respond when he was interrupted by the sudden reply of the Cobb’s captain. “This is Captain Margo…” There was a lot of heavy static, accompanied by screaming and what sounded like phase fire. “Our junior officers have revolted…turned into…Borg! A signal from Earth is penetrating…we’re abandoning ship…help!”  

The channel then went dead. 

Turning to his wife, Jaxxon knew that Anizza would have found where the Cobb was. “How far?”

“Less than two light-years,” She replied. “There’s no other Starfleet ships nearby. I’m starting to detect that signal. Whatever it is, they were right; it is Borg in origin.”

Realising that they couldn’t let whatever was happening to the Cobb go without action, Jaxxon had a moment with his wife, his Imzadi. We need to help them. He said to her telepathically. Sensing her agreement, he turned around and was about to ask his son to lay in a course for the Cobb when he noticed the black streaks appearing across Tate’s face. 

He couldn’t sense his son anymore. 

His entire individuality was gone. 

He could hear Tate’s thoughts, but they weren’t only his. There were thousands, if not millions, of voices piercing through Tate’s mind. 

“By the four deities,” Anizza whispered in shock as they looked at their son in pure horror as he turned to them.

“We are the Borg,” He said in a menacing tone.

Without thinking twice, Jaxxon jumped across the cockpit to tackle Tate to the ground. His son’s strength was stronger than ever before. The two of them had played numerous games together over the years and even sparred with one another. Though Tate had developed a keenness to visit Starbase Bravo’s gym daily, Jaxxon knew he wasn’t meant to be this strong. The two of them struggled while behind him; Jaxxon knew what Anizza was doing. She rushed over to the nearest weapon locker, pulled out a rifle, set it to heavy stun and then called her husband out through their minds.

Imzadi, move! 

He did as he was told and rolled off their son as Anizza aimed and fired her weapon at him. 

Stunned immediately, Tate lay unconscious on the cockpit’s floor. 

Getting his breath back, Jaxxon wanted to know what the hell had just happened and was grateful the moment his wife fell to her knees to hug him tightly. Together, they looked at him. 

“We need to get to the Cobb,” Jaxxon whispered. 

“Agreed,” Anizza said slowly. “I’ll get something to sedate Tate with.”

Jaxxon looked at his son one more time. The Borg veins were apparent across his face. He looked almost dead. What had happened? He thought. Then he realised.

The madness had reached them again.

Opening The Door – 2

USS Formidable (NCC-74207), docking at Deep Space 19, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78497.63 - Present Day

“My friends, we are home,” announced Commander Layla Fitzgerald from the science station of the Formidable. Turning in her chair to face inward, the chief science officer looked at her crewmates. “Three weeks of convoy duty and patrolling the border is certainly worthy of a few drinks later. Who’s up for a round in the Dock of Bay later?” Turning her chair further to face the centre chair, she smiled as she looked at their commanding officer. “Commander Sturok, will you join us?”

The Vulcan commander was finishing reading a PADD in his hands, raised one eyebrow and answered with a simple, “No, thank you. Not tonight.”

“Come on, Layla; you know the commander is busy; he has to empty his possessions of the Formidable’s ready room ahead of our new first officer’s arrival.” The mocking tones from Doctor Parin, standing at the aft station, made Fitzgerald chuckle. The tall, slim doctor walked around the raised console to stand beside Sturok. “Or did you pack away last night?”

“Doctor, I do not understand your logic in constantly reminding me that we are due a new first officer and that his responsibilities will override my work here on the Formidable,” Sturok replied. “We knew this day would come, and my current posting was temporary.”

Parin laughed. “I just think it’s a shame to end your tenure as master of this ship in such a way without celebrating it with your crew.”

“That is a very human eccentric tradition, doctor,” Sturok replied as he returned to work.

Parin clutched his heart, “Ouch, commander. You wound me, sir, but you keep forgetting I am not human. Ventaxians aren’t that all bothered with such customs.”

“No, you prefer to submit your world to a she-devil before realising you were conned,” Fitzgerald remarked as she stood up from her chair and stretched. “Come on, Sturok, surely one drink couldn’t harm you. Do it for me.” She begged.

Realising he wouldn’t win this debate, Sturok relented. “Very well, one drink.”

Pleased to hear they had worn him down, Fitzgerald gave a short whooping noise before high-fiving Parin. “Now, Jowain, you make sure Tom comes, and I’ll bring Lenara and Jacinta!”

Parin agreed to her terms before Sturok quickly officially dismissed everyone off the bridge of the Defiant-class ship. Fitzgerald knew he wanted time alone from what he would call ‘nonsense’. She couldn’t blame him either. Filling out of the bridge with Parin beside her, she smiled at the younger man. Though there were three years between them, Fitzgerald couldn’t get over how young Parin always appeared to be. 

Doctor Jowain Parin had a lean but muscular build. He was a true charmer and was a true boy-next-door type of guy. They had worked together on joint scientific projects on many occasions. She being the Chief Science Officer on Deep Space 19, and he being its Chief Medical Officer. She enjoyed his enthusiasm a lot, as well as his curiosity about the galaxy around them. It was a passion they shared. She had felt like an older sister to him on more than one occasion over the last few years. His charming personality had gotten him into trouble with a few romantic endeavours. The many late nights they had stayed up together over the years as he drowned his sorrow in a bottle of Aldebaran whiskey in one of the many bars operating on Deep Space 19. 

On the other hand, she had settled down with her husband and was very happy in her marriage. Though he rarely indulged her in her quirky and sometimes mischievous ways (especially when she was with Counsellor Taf), Sturok knew when to give and take. He certainly took her sense of humour with a pinch of salt. For that, she loved him. She also loved how loyal and selfless he was, especially to her. He had separated from his previous wife a long time ago, but after an away mission together, Fitzgerald had shared her feelings for him, and he surprisingly reciprocated them. She knew that later on, she would have an earful from him regarding her joint exploits with Parin in manipulating him to come out for a drink later. It was worth it, she thought. 

Parting ways with the doctor as he went down one junction and she carried along her route, Fitzgerald walked to the end of the deck before reaching the small steps that took her to the next level below. She had almost placed her foot on the last step when she heard her name being called. Looking up, she instantly smiled at the person approaching her.

“Jacinta, you okay?” Fitzgerald asked the station’s chief security officer. 

Lieutenant Commander Jacinta Harper was a size similar to Fitzgerald, but, like Parin, she was a few years younger than her. Harper just nodded, her large frizzy hair bobbing with her head. “Yeah, did you hear that the admiral wants the entire senior staff to meet in the wardroom later tonight to welcome our new first officer and chief operations officer?”

Fitzgerald shook her head. “No, I didn’t know that,” In the back of her mind, she wondered if her husband had known and why he had given in to her barrage of joining them for a drink tonight. He must have known they couldn’t do that and needed to attend the admiral’s gathering. “Damn, Jowain and I had just convinced Sturok to join us all for a few drinks tonight.”

Harper chuckled. “I swear you two try so hard to outsmart him, and he always gets something past you. He must have known, as we received the message an hour ago. I’ve got to get my team to check that caterers don’t poison any of us.”

“I swear he is more Romulan than Vulcan,” Fitzgerald mumbled before placing her hands on her hips. “I will get him back, but none of us are on duty tomorrow morning; why don’t we all go to the gathering and head on from there for more drinks? You in?”

Agreeing to the idea, Harper said she would get the message around before telling Fitzgerald she would see her later. 

Moving on, Fitzgerald’s mind went back to the upcoming social event. She wondered what their new first officer would be like. The only thing they knew was they came from Starbase Bravo. Fitzgerald hadn’t visited the newest Starbase Four but knew it was one of the prestigious assignments in the Fourth Fleet. She had let her mind wander a bit more as she entered the central science lab on the Formidable. It wasn’t a large room, though big enough to conduct general scientific investigations and experiments if needed. Thankfully, their last mission didn’t require much use of the science department. Fitzgerald had enjoyed doing more command-level work as the ship’s first officer. She didn’t have many science officers with her, but the five she did have were all packing up in the lab as she entered. 

“Are we all don here?” She asked aloud, and within seconds, she got her affirmative response. They had pretty much-closed shop up hours ago, so what they were tidying away wasn’t much. Mainly equipment that needed to be transferred to the station. 

While she had their attention, Fitzgerald briefed them about their possible upcoming mission with the Formidable. “I know we’re now Pathfinder-class; despite this, I want the Formidable ready. The Treasure Trove Project is something I know Admiral Jaret and Captain Levy are very keen to ensure goes without a hitch. Once it enters Kovar, we need to ensure our final analysis is complete and ready to be reviewed. That way, the plan to capture it goes without delay. Am I clear?” 

 She received a round of affirmations from her staff. Pleased they understood her expectations, she thanked them for their work before dismissing them. “Great, now rest and enjoy your next few days off!” Fitzgerald said, smirking. 

After watching them file out of the lab, Fitzgerald looked around one more time at the empty space before ordering the computer to shut down all power in the room. Stepping over the threshold, with the dark room behind her, Fitzgerald wasn’t expecting a call from her husband to meet him in their shared quarters. 

Minutes later, she entered their cabin to find him in the final stages of packing away his belongings. Her bag was already perched by the door. She smiled at the gesture he did if anything. Sturok liked to be organised, and she would generally find him doing something sweet for her, like packing her bag or providing her with a mug of raktajino. Walking up behind him, she placed her arms around the tall Vulcan and squeezed him tightly. Releasing him from her embrace, Fitzgerald placed a kiss on his cheek. 

“Thank you for packing my stuff away,” She said. 

“You are most welcome,” Sturok replied. “Thank you for your service during our recent mission.”

Smirking at him, Fitzgerald loved it when she complimented her professionally in a private manner. “My beloved, I would be your first officer whenever you need me,” She answered him as she perched on the end of the bottom bunk. Though she preferred their vast, luxurious shared quarters on the station, the smaller cabin was intimate, and there had been a few times she had squeezed in with him on the top bunk to feel him close while she slept. “We make a good command team, you and I.” 

“Agreed,” Sturok answered as he closed his case after folding the last of his clothes and placing them in it. “Is your team ready for the next mission?”

Nodding at first, Fitzgerald confirmed she was confident in their abilities to do what needed to be done. “They’re itching to get started,” She added. “Over the last few weeks, I’ve caught them reviewing the long-range sensors feeds from the Treasure Trove.” 

 “It will certainly be an interesting mission to challenge their skills and expertise,” Sturok remarked. “Are you ready?”

“Absolutely, I just wish we didn’t have to do it with you know who watching our backs,” Fitzgerald stated as he sat beside her.

“An unfortunate circumstance that we cannot avoid, and it is one that we must support the admiral with,” Sturok said flatly.

“I know, I know,” Fitzgerald said as she took her husband’s hands into hers. “This type of scientific endeavour should be enjoyable and not another attempt to put out further diplomatic efforts with our nosy neighbours.”

“I can appreciate your perspective on this, Layla; nevertheless, if it had not been for-” Sturok paused as he quoted her, “‘nosy neighbours’, then we would not have been aware of its existence and be prepared to study it.”

“Study it, manipulate its heading, and then dice it up,” Fitzgerald said with a slight chuckle. “I know it will be a game changer for Kovar and our mutual efforts with our nosy neighbours, but you can’t blame a science girl for wanting to enjoy it without all the trimmings.”

“I believe you will be able to enjoy it without all of the trimmings; that is the job our commanding officer and other superiors have to deal with,” Sturok reminded her. “Talking of which, I-”

“Haven’t told me about the admiral’s gathering for our new first officer and chief operations officer?” Fitzgerald interrupted. She carried on. “Don’t worry, I heard, but that does not get you out of joining us later for drinks. You promised Parin and me!” 

Raising one eyebrow, Sturok looked at his wife. “I do not believe I promised.”

“Yeah, but you took a wedding vow to me and promised to be with me forever. You’re not getting out of it, Commander Sturok!” She emphasised his rank to show she meant it.

Reluctantly, he sighed before responding. “Very well.”

Pleased to win this battle, she kissed his cheek before standing up and pulling him. “Now, let’s get out of here and enjoy the rest of the afternoon before we meet our new first officer and chief operations officer.”

Opening The Door – 3

Deep Space 19, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78498

Walking through the airlock with his wife’s hand intertwined with his and his son walking beside him, Jaxxon Horin was surprised by the welcoming party that awaited him. He could feel a tinge of excitement mixed with anxiety as he took his first few steps on the deck plating of his new posting to Deep Space Nineteen. 

A welcoming party had arrived, comprising three women dressed in command red uniforms. The woman in the middle was their new commanding officer, Vice Admiral Jaret Taila. Despite her imposing physical presence, being a tall Bajoran woman in her early sixties, she exuded a sense of warmth and approachability. Her blue eyes sparkled, and she wore a friendly smile, making the Horin family feel welcome in their new home. Jaxxon could already sense the friendliness coming from the admiral; the same could be said for one of the other women.

“Captain Jaxxon Horin, reporting for duty, ma’am,” Jaxxon said as he approached her and stood formally to attention.

His wife, Anizza, did the same thing, maintaining a pleasant smile. Her dark brunette hair was tied back into a bun, so her friendly facial features could be seen. “Commander Anizza Horin, reporting for duty, admiral.”

Jaxxon and Anizza both turned to their son. Tateumm had kept his head down, looking at the ground. As he lifted his head, he sighed heavily. “Ensign Tateumm Horin, reporting for duty, ma’am.” Tateumm almost mumbled.

The admiral looked at the ensign briefly before returning her focus to her two new senior officers. She extended her hand towards them and offered the human exchange of greeting them. “Welcome to Deep Space Nineteen; we are so pleased to have you all here.”

Shaking her hand, both older Horins thanked the admiral for the welcome.

“We are looking forward to the new challenges,” Anizza added. 

“That’s good to hear, commander,” Jaret said before turning to the woman to her left, “This is Captain Dawn Levy, our second officer and head diplomatic officer.”

Levy was a lot older than the admiral. Though she had a hairstyle similar to the admiral’s, Levy gave off a mother-figure vibe. Levy stepped forward and repeated the admiral’s gesture by shaking hands with both Horins. “It’s such a pleasure to welcome you all to our outpost in the middle of nowhere!” A huge grin complimented Levy’s generous reception. “To echo the admiral’s sentiments, we are so happy you could join us so quickly.”

The married couple looked at one another one more time before Jaxxon replied for them both. “It was no trouble at all. Moving on from Starbase Bravo was hard, but we know Deep Space Nineteen is a great opportunity for us all,” He looked over at his son. “Isn’t it, Tate?”

His son just nodded in agreement, still not engaging with the more senior officers. Jaxxon shot him a look that he knew Anizza could hear mentally. 

Eyes up, ENSIGN. There are two captains and an admiral present.

Tate stiffened up after hearing that cold burst from his father’s thoughts. Jaxxon was pleased that the manners he and his wife had taught their son were still with him. He understood that Tate was still suffering from the trauma of Frontier Day; however, he would not have him be rude in front of a flag officer. Especially somewhere like Admiral Jaret, who had such a fierce reputation.

“Yes, we are looking forward to the challenges Deep Space Nineteen will offer us,” Tate said, almost sounding rehearsed. 

Jaxxon noticed that the admiral was sensing how uneasy Tate was with them all, so before she introduced the other woman, she stepped forward and signalled for someone to come over. He was a young-looking human male who wore the blue science uniform with two silver pips on his collar. “This is Lieutenant Thomas Hawkins, our Chief Communications Officer,” Jaret said.

Hawkins had a massive grin on his face and appeared to be quite a bubbly and cheerful person. He was about the same size as Tate and quite handsome. His curly, dark, sandy blonde hair and blue eyes only complimented his young appearance. He appeared to be abundant with energy, almost like a puppy. After he said hello and welcomed the Horin family, the admiral asked the Hawkins to take Tate to his new quarters. Tate blushed as he looked up at the communications officer, who was more than happy to show the younger Horin to his new quarters and away from the group. The admiral explained that Tate’s quarters were near his parents but far enough not to cramp his style. Tate only grinned in thanks. As they made their way from the group, Hawkins was heard offering to take one of Tate’s bags. He shook his hand and asked him to call him Tom. 

For a moment, Jaxxon looked at his son as he walked away. He hoped that Tate would try to make new friends and not make any silly choices compared to those he had made on Starbase Bravo. 

“Our Mister Hawkins will make sure Ensign Horin feels included here,” said the other woman to the admiral’s right. Her tone, like her expression, though serious, was pleasant.  

Jaret turned to her and apologised for not introducing her sooner. “This is Captain Sandra McCord, our Judge Advocate General for the sector.”

A small smile cracked at the corners of McCord’s mouth as she welcomed Jaxxon and Anizza to the station. She went on to assure them that they understood why Tateumm was the way he was. “Though we were not in range of the Jupiter Signal, in the last few weeks, those that have joined us for a new assignment and were affected by the Frontier Day massacre, that those scars are still with them.”

Annizza nodded in agreement. “Unfortunately, what happened with Tate has significantly impacted him. We can only apologise for his behaviour.”

Jaret held her hand up and shook her head. “No, you’ve got nothing to say sorry for. I read his file and yours,” She looked at both of them. “Having to see your son go through that transformation in front of you and then hold him down to stop him from affecting so many others must have been difficult.”

“And the fact you were able to help the crew of the Cobb too. You both must have gone through a lot yourselves,” Levy added, showing regard for what they had endured. 

“It’s been tough, and to be brutally honest, leaving Starbase Bravo and the Mellstoxx system wasn’t an easy choice,” Jaxxon shared.

“We did it for Tate,” Anizza added.

“That’s understandable,” McCord replied. “I understand both of your families are quite high in Betazoid society on Mellstoxx Three.”

Jaxxon nodded. “Yeah, our departure wasn’t well received by them. Nevertheless, they all got how a change of scenery was needed.”

“Well, I hope you find Deep Space Nineteen and Kovar a warm, welcoming place,” Levy said, remaining positive and welcoming.

“Talking of warm and welcoming,” Jaret said, “We have arranged a small informal gathering in our wardroom with the rest of the senior staff for you both.”

“That’s very kind of you, ma’am,” Jaxxon said. He appreciated the gesture and was starting to like his new commanding officer. She certainly felt like the type who cared for those she led. “What time?”

“Twenty-hundred hours, and you don’t need to wear uniforms. As I said, it’s informal. Just some food and drinks and a get-together. And, of course, Tateumm is welcome to come as well.”

“That sounds lovely,” Anizza said. 

“Well, you both must be tired from your trip,” Levy remarked. “Can I show you both to your quarters? If it helps, I’m happy to stop by and show you to the gathering.”

“Thank you,” Jaxxon said. 

The Horins thanked the admiral and Captain McCord again before Levy took them to their quarters. Jaxxon looked at his wife as they went down the corridor, their hands intertwined with one another again. She mentally gave out a sigh. He nodded to her, showing that he shared her sense of relief. 

Maybe this new chapter would be as good as they planned.

Opening The Door – 4

Deep Space 19, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78498.2

As the clock struck twenty hundred hours, the Horin family entered the wardroom with great anticipation. They were instructed to be punctual, and they did not want to disappoint. They were struck by the scene’s grandeur before them when they stepped inside. 

Despite being no strangers to impressive sights, having been on Starbase Bravo for a considerable time, there was undoubtedly something special and different about Deep Space Nineteen. The station’s main conference lounge was a semi-circular room with tall, impressive windows that offered a stunning view of Kovar below. The Horin family was in awe of the sight before them. It was a different view compared to seeing Barzan most days.

The room was filled with the soft and calming sounds of light jazz music playing in the background over the internal speakers. It added to the already calming atmosphere of the room.

What caught their attention was the long table with a marbled top placed by the windows. It was filled with an extensive range of food and drink for everyone to pick from. 

After being offered a drink by a holographic waitress, Anizza Horin was starting to feel comfortable in the presence of her new comrades. She knew how important it was to build relationships with everyone she would work with. Admiral Jaret had gone out of her way to introduce her and her husband to those they had yet to meet.

Standing talking to the station’s chief counsellor, Lieutenant Commander Lenara Taf, a very kind, fun-loving individual, Anizza was trying her best to focus on what the joined Trill was sharing with her about how far things had developed for the station ever since the Synth ban had been lifted. However, at the corner of her eye, Anizza was trying to keep her attention on her son. Tateumm had taken a plate of food for himself and was picking at it alone by one of the enormous bay windows. She knew she needed to give him his space, but a Betazoid mother never kept out of the interest of their children. It was something her mother had always done when she was growing up, and to a certain point, Anizza knew she had done with her son. Though lately, it had become a lot. 

“He’ll be okay,” Taf whispered before adding one more word, “eventually.”

Anizza blinked a few times before turning back to Taf. “Sorry, who?”

Taf, holding her plate, which had mini-hasperats on it, placed her hand over her semi-full mouth and quickly swallowed what she had bit in. She cleared her throat, “I’ve been a mother before, and I know that look. You’re worried about your son, commander, and that’s totally understandable.”

Anizza could sense the genuine concern and branch of care that Taf was sharing with her. “Thank you, counsellor. It’s been hard these last few months.”

“I bet, however, he needs to find his own way back,” Taf indicated. “And that is both the mother and counsellor in me talking.”

“How much does a session cost me?” Anizza joked back as they walked towards an empty set of armchairs, far away from the main crowd and sat in them.

“It’s free,” Taf smirked as she got comfortable. “Has it affected his work?”

Anizza sighed and nodded. “He almost didn’t graduate,” She shared. Her concern for her son was deeply etched into her words. “Jaxxon and I have tried everything to help, and at one point, we thought we had a breakthrough with him.”

“What changed?” Taf asked, picking a piece of her hasperat off her plate and popping it into her mouth. 

“He fell in love,” Anizza said as she sipped on the Bajoran spring wine she had in her hands. “Though I didn’t initially agree with it, the relationship seemed to have turned him around. He was more positive, and the old Tate had returned.”

“What happened?” Taf leaned forward as she placed her plate down on the nearby glass coffee table.

“The problem was, we never met this new love interest of his until it all fell apart,” Anizza explained. She tried to justify her actions but knew she couldn’t be responsible for what happened. “Tate had fallen head over heels with an Orion Dabo Boy, and when he caught him in the act with a paying customer, it distraught him. One night, one of his classmates called us down to his shared quarters; he had gotten drunk on kanar and trashed the place. She had found him puking his guts up across their shared living space. He was a wreck.”

“Oh wow,” Taf replied. “That must have been hard for him as much as it was for you both.”

Anizza nodded. “Yeah, you never think that after seeing your son become a Borg Drone a few weeks later, you’ll find him at his lowest point. Almost on death’s door.” She rested back in her chair, looking over her shoulder to see Tate still by himself. Turning back to Taf, she carried on the chat. “Jaxxon and I took him under our care. He had a few more slip-ups, but we soon realised he needed a break from everything. So, coming here seemed like a good move for us all. A fresh start.”

Taf smiled and reached out with her hand. She pattered the top of Anizza’s hand. “I hope it is, and I promise that our tight-knit community will care for you and your family.”

“Thank you,” Anizza said. She felt comfortable and that she could trust Taf. She could feel a sense of genuine coming from the joined Trill. She took one more glance at her son. She noticed the youngest member of the senior staff approaching Tate. Lieutenant Thomas Hawkins was the station’s communications officer, and a few seconds later, the station’s chief medical officer, Doctor Jowain Parin, walked over. 

Instantly, Taf spoke up. “I promise you, Tom and Jowain will most likely take him under their wing and look after him.”

Anizza looked back at her. “What do you mean?”

Smirking, Taf explained what the two officers were like. “Tom is the nicest, kindest soul on the station. Like most around here, he will do anything for anyone, but he will do it with a smile and a sense of joy. Tom is a bit like a puppy. He wants to easily please others and is very generous with his time. That said, he has an impressive memory and is one hell of an officer. The admiral places a lot of faith and trust in him.”

“And Doctor Parin?” Anizza inquired.

“He is very much like Tom. I think it’s what makes them such good friends. They are always attached at the hip off duty. Jowain is like the big brother Tom never had. It’s kinda cute how Jowain looks out for him.” As Taf spoke, Parin looked over at her and instantly smiled in her direction, followed by a wink. She smiled sweetly back at him and copied his wink.

Anizza noticed the exchange and looked back at Taf. “Is there something more there that I should know, counsellor?”

Taf paused before responding. “It’s complicated.” she sighed. “We’re just very good friends.”

Pleased to hear some gossip on her first evening, Anizza nodded in approval. “Well, do tell me about our colleagues.”

Chuckling, Taf nodded in agreement. “Very well, but we need more spring wine, and I may need one of my accomplices to join us.” She gestured towards Fitzgerald to join them. 

For the first time in ages, Anizza felt her guard drop as she became comfortable with those around her.

Opening The Door – 5

Deep Space 19, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78500

Vice Admiral Jaret Taila stood at the head of the table in the wardroom, her expression a blend of concern and determination. This meeting would be the first for her senior staff since the arrival of her newest members. Jaret looked around the room as everyone started to assemble. It was midday on Deep Space Nineteen, and most had just completed half their duty shift. Before any of them could go on a lunch break, she had received a communique from Starfleet Command less than an hour ago that would scuttle what should have been a routine day for them. After familiarising herself with the update, she called for her staff to assemble. Knowing this meeting could go on, she ensured refreshments were available. Thanks to her good friends who managed The Hasperat Temple, one of the station’s premier places to eat if you were a Bajoran. After everyone had turned up and had time to grab something to eat and drink, Jaret knew she needed to get started as time was now not on their side. 

The admiral pressed a button on her PADD, and the holographic display shimmered in the centre, projecting an intricate map of the Kovar system and the trajectory of an asteroid about to enter the system. She glanced around at the assembled senior staff, taking in their focused expressions before turning her attention to the two newcomers, Captain Jaxxon Horin and Commander Anizza Horin.

“First off, I wish to welcome Captain Horin and Commander Horin to their first senior staff meeting,” she began, her voice resonating with authority yet tempered with warmth. “I’m sorry that your first day on the job starts with this crucial briefing.”

Her new first officer exchanged a quick glance with his wife, the new chief operations officer. Their Betazoid connection likely already sharing unspoken thoughts. Jaret continued, her gaze sweeping over the holographic display.

“To get you both up to speed, this asteroid,” She said, pointing at the display, “will enter the Kovar system in the next few days. It is no ordinary asteroid. It is, in fact, a piece of Remus.”

“The Reman homeworld?” Anizza inquired.

Jaret nodded. “Indeed. It is a remanent from Remus after it and Romulus were destroyed by the Hobus Supernova.”

“How has it entered our space?” Jaxxon asked. 

Jaret turned to Fitzgerald for that answer. 

“Between the shockwave produced by the destruction of the planets and its own star going supernova, along with several other subspace anomalies along the way, this large chunk of Remus has been hurtling towards Federation space for many years now.”

“None of the Romulan factions have wanted to deal with it; however, none of them has had the resources to deal with it,” Commander Sturok added. 

“As a result of that, the Romulan Free State requested our assistance in securing this piece of Remus once it entered Federation territory,” Taila explained, gesturing toward the projection as she took her seat. “This asteroid, laden with dilithium crystals, is now on course to enter the Kovar system, our jurisdiction.”

Captain Levy leaned forward, her brow furrowed with concern. “For the past two years, we have been in talks with the Romulan Free State about this matter. Our negotiations with the Romulan Free State have been delicate, to say the least. We’ve reached an agreement for a joint mining operation. In return for us capturing the asteroid in orbit of Juvir, the largest gas giant in the Kovar system, the Free State will send a small contingent of workers to mine the dilithium. We protect the asteroid, too, and then we share what is mined. We get sixty per cent, and the Free State gets forty.”

“Seems like a reasonable agreement,” Jaxxon remarked. “So what’s happened?” 

Jaret smirked; she was starting to like her new first officer. He was anticipating matters already. “Two days ago, a group of Reman refugees seized control of the asteroid, claiming it as their own. They’re using old Romulan ships to defend their claim, and tensions are escalating.”

Sturok raised a logical query. “Do we have an assessment of their defensive capabilities? How many ships are we dealing with?”

Smirking at how fast her chief strategic operations officer brought up the question, Jaret answered him as she pressed another button on her PADD. A tactical display showing the Reman fleet’s positions was added to the holographic presentation. “Initial scans indicate at least six retrofitted D-Seven battlecruisers and a handful of smaller craft. They’re heavily armed, but their technology is outdated.”

McCord, who had sat with her arms crossed against her chest, was not impressed with the news. As the Judge Advocate General, she worked closely with Levy to develop this agreement with the Romulan Free State. Countless hours and days of work had been put into it to ensure both sides were happy with the wording. Knowing what she was like, Jaret knew she would interject with a legal perspective. “The Romulan Free State will be adamant that we resolve this situation swiftly and without escalating hostilities. Our agreement with them will hang in the balance.”

Jaret nodded solemnly. “Our priority is to secure the asteroid and ensure the safety of all involved parties. We cannot afford to let this situation spiral out of control.” She turned to Captain Horin, her gaze firm. “Captain, I want you to take the lead on putting together a plan that minimises conflict while upholding our agreements with the Romulan Free State.”

Jaxxon inclined his head, his expression thoughtful. “Understood, Vice Admiral. We’ll do everything we can to resolve this crisis peacefully.”

Levy, her experience in diplomacy evident, spoke next. “Perhaps we can appeal to their sense of reason. The Remans have suffered greatly, and their claim to the asteroid is understandable. If we can offer them assurances of fair treatment and representation in the joint mining operation, they may be willing to stand down.”

“It’s crucial that we approach this with empathy and understanding,” suggested Counsellor Taf. The joined Trill showed her concern for the Remans. “Many of these refugees have endured trauma and displacement. Our actions must reflect a commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

“I couldn’t agree more with you, Lenara,” Jaret said while nodding. “This is a piece of their home that they lost. However, they are now in Federation space, which makes it our problem.”

“Admiral, we should also consider the structural integrity of the asteroid.” Fitzgerald raised in a calm and measurable tone. “If we can pinpoint weak points or vulnerabilities, we may have a tactical advantage in any potential engagement.”

“Layla, I really hope you’re not considering blowing this thing up, are you?” Doctor Parin countered quickly. “These people have suffered enough under the brutal hands of the Romulans when they were forced to work in the mines of Remus.”

“I’m not saying to blow it up to kingdom come, Jowain,” Fitzgerald answered back, “What I meant is if we ever needed to get around their ships to access the asteroid, then knowing its weak points would help us.”

“Surely a dialogue needs to be opened with the Remans first,” Hawkins asked at the end of the table. The Chief Communications Officer was the youngest member of the senior staff and, most of the time was the most effective in seeing both sides of an issue. “I know they’re in Federation territory now, but we need to know their intentions before we blow anything up. Clear and direct dialogue may be our best tool in de-escalating tensions.”

“Tom’s right,” Parin agreed. “We need to hear their side first.”

“But we don’t want to get ourselves into a firefight with them either,” Harper warned. The chief security officer sat opposite to Hawkins. “It’s bad enough we’ve had to work hard on this deal, especially with the governor on Kovar who opposed the idea of this asteroid entering our space; now we’ve got to inform Governor Thompson that we’ve got extra visitors joining us.”

“Well, there’s nothing like starting your first day with several challenges!” Anizza said, trying to sound optimistic about the situation. 

“Oh, and it only gets better,” Jaret responded. “The Romulan Free State is sending a representative to the station to monitor the situation. Starfleet couldn’t say no as the Free State would have pulled out of the agreement and planned to attack the Remans.”

“In our own territory?” Sturok questioned. “That would have been an illogical move.”

“More like ballsy,” Harper remarked. “Ever since Coppelius, the Free State has not forgiven Captain Riker and Admiral Picard for their little stunt, which we get to babysit now.”

Wanting to bring the meeting to an end, Jaret held her hand up. She summarised what she wanted them to do. “Jaxxon, I want you, Lenar, Jowain and Tom to take the Formidable to the asteroid and see if you can open some dialogue with them. See what they want and see if we can help find a way to get them off without resorting to any violence.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jaxxon agreed and looked at the others joining him.

Jaret turned to McCord, “Sandra, you, Jacinta, and I will meet with the Free State representative to discuss their concerns and fears. I want them to see we’ve got the situation secured.”

Both women nodded at her with that plan.

“Dawn, Sturok, take a runabout down to Kovar and meet with Governor Thompson. Brief him on the situation and see if you can prevent him from becoming a problem with this issue.” Jaret ordered with a smirk. They all knew how hot-headed Thompson could be, and if they wanted to keep the governor out of it, then sending Levy and Sturok to him would certainly help.

“Don’t worry, admiral, I will charm the pants off the governor, and if I fail, then Sturok could baffle him with logic!” Levy wittingly said. 

“An excellent plan,” Sturok agreed with a raised eyebrow.

The admiral smirked. “Great; in the meantime, we have a timetable for the asteroid entering the Kovar system. Layla, I want you to brief Anizza on how we are going to capture this asteroid and stick it in orbit of Juvir and look to see if those plans can be hurried along a lot sooner. I have a feeling we may need it ahead of schedule.”

“Consider it in good hands, admiral,” Fitzgerald said with a friendly smile in Anizza’s direction.

Ensuring no one else had any other questions, the admiral dismissed her team so they could get on with dealing with the latest crisis to fall in their laps.

Opening The Door – 6

USS Formidable (NCC-74207), Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78503

Captain Horin sat on the bridge of the USS Formidable, his Betazoid senses tingling with anticipation as the sleek Defiant-class starship glided through the depths of space. The mission ahead was fraught with uncertainty, yet his resolve remained steadfast. He had to prove to Admiral Jaret that her trust in him leading on such a delicate matter was the right choice. He had to impress her on his first mission as her new executive officer. 

The soft hum of consoles filled the air, punctuated by the occasional chirp of communication and the steady thrum of the ship’s engines as it forged its path through the depths of space. Rows of sleek consoles lined the perimeter of the room, manned by a dedicated crew whose expertise and dedication were a testament to the finest traditions of Starfleet. Horin had been impressed by their work since departing Deep Space 19. Their focus was unwavering. He could feel that with them all. 

Before the captain, Ensign Tate Horin manned the helm with a steady hand; his gaze focused on the swirling expanse of stars that stretched out before them. As his son, Tate’s presence on the bridge brought both pride and a twinge of parental concern for Horin, a constant reminder of the fragile balance between duty and family that defined their lives among the stars. This would be Tate’s first mission, too, and Jaxxon knew that his son was a gifted pilot. He just hoped that nothing would happen that would place Tate in harm or cause him more upset. His recovery from Frontier Day was still itched into the back of his mind. Jaxxon could sense it whenever he was in Tate’s presence. 

Across the bridge, Lieutenant Tom Hawkins worked diligently at his station, his fingers flying across the controls with practised precision. Despite his nervous disposition, Hawkins displayed his professionalism. Beside him was Doctor Parin, sitting at the science station. Though he should be sickbay, he was also a fully qualified science bridge officer, and the admiral had advised Horin to have Parin nearby. Sat to the right of Horin, at the mission ops station was his first officer for this mission, Counsellor Lenara Taf. Taf’s presence was a calming influence amidst the controlled chaos of the bridge, her symbiont pulsing gently beneath her skin as a testament to the wisdom and experience that she brought to their mission. Alongside this, he was starting to learn that her wisdom was also mixed up with a great sense of humour that helped defuse any tense situation. 

“Approaching the asteroid field, Captain,” Tate reported from the helm, his voice steady despite the gravity of the situation.

“Thank you, ensign,” Jaxxon replied, his thoughts racing as he considered the myriad possibilities that awaited them. “Doctor Parin, prepare to initiate long-range scans of the asteroid. We need to gather as much data as we can before we make our approach.” Lieutenant Hawkins, keep an open channel to Vice Admiral Jaret,” Jaxxon instructed, his tone firm yet measured. “We may need to consult with her as the situation develops.”

“Aye, Captain,” Hawkins replied, his fingers flying across the console as he established a secure line of communication with the station.

“The Reman battlecruisers are keeping close to the asteroid,” Taf announced from her station. 

Getting out of his seat, Captain Horin moved over to stand behind Taf to see what she saw. “Those battlecruisers are more than a century old; none are a match for the Formidable.”

“I’m detecting over ten thousand Reman life signs altogether,” Parin announced. “There may be more that our sensors can’t detect that are deeper within the asteroid.”

“How are they surviving within the asteroid when no one has set up artificial environments?” Horin asked.

Parin tapped a few more buttons on his console and then replied. “I’d say they came prepared to set up the environments themselves. I’m detecting several fusion-based generators, duranium shielding and force fields set up to entrap the inner parts of the asteroid. It is a self-contained habitat, sir.”

“How did a bunch of Reman refugees establish such an operation so quickly?” Taf questioned. “They must have got help from someone.”

“Maybe, and there’s too many unanswered questions here,” Horin stated. “Let’s get some answers,” he said. He made his way back to his seat and sat down. “Tate, full stop. Tom, open a channel to the Remans.”

Both officers complied with their orders, and when Horin had the signal he was on with the Remans, he spoke up.

“I’m Captain Jaxxon Horin of the Federation starship U-S-S Formidable. We are from Deep Space Nineteen and have monitored your presence on the incoming asteroid while in our space. We bring no hostile intentions but would like to open a dialogue to discuss what is happening here.”

Nothing happened at first until the viewscreen changed to show the appearance of a Reman surrounded by darkness. He wore the uniform of an officer within the Reman Commando. “I am Colonel Shivux, and we Remans claim this shard of our homeworld in the name of our people. We do not recognise your sovereignty or your right to approach it. We are prepared to defend it.”

“Greetings, thank you for sharing your intent with us,” Horin said diplomatically. “However, you are in our territory, and we cannot permit your presence to go by without knowing more.”

“There is nothing else to discuss, leave or be destroyed.” spoke the Reman leader with determination in his tone. His fangs were a menacing appearance and a reminder to Horin just how strong-willed the Reman people were. 

“Your ships are no match for mine. They are over one hundred years old. The Formidable is battle-tested and has the latest technology Starfleet has to offer. Alongside that, several Starfleet ships nearby can be reassigned to deal with your incursion into our space.” Horin stood up and tugged on his jacket as he took a position just behind his son at the helm. “Now, we have a deal with the Romulan Free State over this asteroid, and we are willing to discuss it more with you.”

“The Free State have no right to place a claim over it. We Remans were born and suffered on this rock. We are taking back what is rightfully ours.” 

“And I sympathise with what your people endured under the Romulan Star Empire, and we are prepared to give you a forum to discuss your grievance, but we will not tolerate a blatant disregard for our territory,” Horin said firmly. “Now, will you meet with me to discuss this matter or not?”

Several seconds passed as the Reman considered his position before he spoke. “We are sending over transporter coordinates.” He pressed a button off-screen, and the channel closed instantly. 

“Wow, this is certainly going to be fun,” Taf remarked from behind. “Maybe we should see if Captain Levy wishes to join us.”

“No,” Horin snapped. He wouldn’t let anyone else deal with the Remans except him. “She has her hands full with the admiral; we must deal with the Remans ourselves. Lenara, Jowain you are with me. Tom, the bridge is yours and have three security officers meet us in the transporter room.”

Hawkins was surprised to hear that and looked at the captain and the others before nodding a few times. “Umm, yes, sir.”

Tate turned around in his chair and reached out to his father mentally. He sent him a telepathic message of hope and said he would watch his back. Jaxxon smiled back at his son just as he left the bridge. 


Moments later, the away team materialised deep within the heart of the asteroid, the dimly lit tunnels enveloping them in an eerie silence broken only by the faint echoes of Reman voices. They were met by several guards who offered to take them to the central chamber where Colonel Shivux awaited them.

As they pressed forward, the air grew heavy with the scent of desperation and despair, mingling with the faint traces of hope that lingered in the shadows. Their journey through the labyrinthine passages brought them face to face with the harsh realities of life on the asteroid. Reman men, women, and children huddled in the darkness, their gaunt faces etched with the weariness of survival. Hunger gnawed at their hollowed cheeks, their eyes pleading for relief from the relentless grip of deprivation.

The away team pressed on, their hearts heavy with the weight of compassion and empathy for those they encountered along the way. Horin could feel both Parin and Taf wanting to help these people more. He shared the same sentiments. 

Eventually, they reached a set of large doors that had been built into the rockface. Reman guards stood on either side of it. Their escorts took them into the dimly lit room.

“Captain Horin, welcome to our humble abode,” Shivux greeted them, his voice tinged with a hint of defiance as he regarded the Starfleet officers with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity.

Horin met Shivux’s gaze with steely resolve, his Betazoid senses attuned to the subtle undercurrents of tension that hung in the air like a palpable presence.

“Colonel Shivux, we come in peace,” Jaxxon replied, his voice calm yet commanding as he sought to establish a rapport with their enigmatic hosts. “We seek only to understand your intentions and find a peaceful resolution to this matter. Furthermore, we certainly want to help your people.”

Shivux regarded Jaxxon with a measure of respect, his eyes betraying a flicker of uncertainty as he weighed his options.

Parin spoke up. “Surely receiving Federation aid to help the thousands of starving men, women and children we’ve just seen isn’t bad.”

“It depends on how long that aid lasts us,” Shivux uttered back.

Horin looked at the Reman leader, curious to know what he meant. “Can you elaborate on that point?”

Shivux reacted quickly, “We Remans are treated with the same distaste by the Federation as our Romulan suppressors did. Why would anything change now?”

“We could have easily opened fire on your ships and this asteroid, colonel,” Taf stated. “But we didn’t; instead, we are here and want to start something that brings about an outcome that all of our people will be happy with.”

“And does that include the Free State and their Tal Shiar puppet masters?” Shivux questioned as he turned his back to the away team and approached a large oval window that looked down upon a large section of the asteroid where Remans were huddling together around make-shift shelters. “No, we Remans stand alone.”

“What stops you from standing with others who want to help you?” Horin inquired as he took a step closer to Shivux. 

“Captain, there are forces at play here that you cannot begin to comprehend,” Shivux said cryptically, his voice echoing through the cavernous chamber like a whisper in the darkness. “The Reman people have suffered enough at the hands of the galaxy’s powers. We will not be subjugated again.”

Horin exchanged a knowing glance with Taf and Parin, their shared understanding of the Remans’ plight fueling their determination to find a solution that would satisfy all parties involved.

“We understand your concerns, Colonel,” Horin replied, his voice steady as he sought to bridge the divide between their two worlds. “But we cannot allow this asteroid to endanger the lives of innocent civilians on Kovar. We have a plan and an agreement with the Romulan Free State to ensure this asteroid is caught safely and its resources shared. Surely, there must be a way we can work together.”

As the negotiations continued, Jaxxon couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to the Remans’ plight than met the eye. 

“Why do we need help from you or the Free State? Not even the Romulan Republic can properly help us. This asteroid is the last remains of our home. We will not let you or anyone else take it.” Shivux said with determination. 

“Then you will be placing Starfleet in a very difficult situation, colonel. We would have no issue relocating your people to a suitable environment and possibly even having you involved in the mining project, but remaining here is not an option.” Horin said firmly.

“More of your people could be harmed,” Parin added.

“We won’t be,” Shivux said as he turned around. He wore a long cape from his shiny uniform. “We are protected.”

“As we said, your battlecruisers are no match for the Formidable, let alone the combined forces of a Starfleet task force,” Taf countered. “This sabre rattling won’t get us anywhere. Can we be reasonable here?”

Before Colonel Shivux could respond, a booming voice shattered the tense silence, echoing through the dimly lit chamber with startling intensity. The away team turned as one, their eyes widening in surprise as they beheld the unexpected arrivals.

A figure strode into the chamber, his imposing presence commanding attention as he moved with the grace of a warrior born. His eyes burned with a fierce intensity, his brow furrowed with the weight of untold battles fought and won.

Horin stepped forward, his Betazoid senses tingling with the unmistakable aura of danger that surrounded the newcomer. “And who are you?” he demanded, his voice steady despite the sudden turn of events.

“I am General Kurak of the House of Konjah,” the man declared, his voice a thunderous rumble that reverberated off the cavern walls. “And Starfleet is not welcomed here!”

The shock of the Klingon general’s arrival hung heavy in the air, casting a pall of uncertainty over the proceedings. Horin’s mind raced as he considered the implications of this unexpected turn of events, his instincts urging caution in the face of an unknown adversary. But in the back of his mind, he could hear both Parin and Taf sharing the same sentiments: Damn Klingons! 

Opening The Door – 7

Deep Space Nineteen, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78503

As Vice Admiral Jaret stood at the airlock, she appeared confident and composed in her crisp Starfleet uniform. Her posture was upright as she awaited the arrival of the representative of the Romulan Free State. Standing on either side of her, McCord and Harper looked equally focused and alert. The corridors around them were lined with Starfleet security officers, who were strategically placed to ensure the safety of all personnel aboard the station.

Under the direction of Jaret, Harper had taken an extra step to ensure that each security officer was armed with a type two phaser and a rifle. Jaret wanted to convey a sense of strength and command to their Free State visitor and make it clear that Starfleet was prepared for any situation.

Although relations between the Federation and the largest Romulan faction were known to be edgy, Jaret believed that maintaining the upper hand was crucial when dealing with the Romulans. While the Romulan Free State was known for being more cooperative than other factions, Jaret was unwilling to take any chances. 

A call from ops announced that the Romulan ship had successfully docked and was waiting for its guests to walk through the airlock. As the heavy doors parted, revealing the distinguished Romulan figure, Jaret offered a respectful nod of welcome. Flanked by his own guards, Senator Valer stood in the doorway, not moving except briefly looking at his new setting. 

“Senator Valer, welcome aboard Deep Space Nineteen,” Jaret greeted, her tone measured yet warm. “Thank you for joining us on such short notice.”

Valer, his countenance bearing the unmistakable gravitas of a senior Romulan official, regarded Jaret with a calculated gaze. He swept his sharp eyes over the Federation officers with a hint of disdain, a subtle indication of his inherent scepticism towards the Federation. Senator Valer was a distinguished Romulan figure with a commanding presence. His countenance bore the unmistakable gravitas of a senior Romulan official. He was tall and slim, with sharp features and piercing dark eyes. He was dressed in a dark, ornate Romulan attire for a government official of his stature. It was adorned with intricate silver detailing but wasn’t very creative like most Romulan fashion worn by traditionalists. It was dull, like the colour grey. His hair was swept in a precise, military-style cut, and his skin was a pale hue, common among Romulans. He exuded an air of authority and command, and his movements were measured and deliberate.

“I trust this meeting holds significance worthy of my time,” Valer replied, his voice laced with a touch of arrogance as if he believed himself superior to those gathered before him. His acerbic attitude was fully present. 

“Senator, this meeting is vital for the continued cooperation between our two people,” Jaret pointed out to him. 

“Vital in your opinion, admiral,” Valer remarked. Clearly, he was still not impressed by having to be on Deep Space Nineteen. “And the opinion of Federation officials is not something I care greatly about.”

Deciding to ignore the comment, Jaret took a deep breath before she introduced her officers to him. Then, with diplomatic poise, Jaret motioned for Valer to accompany her through the station’s corridors, their footsteps echoing against the carpeted floors. 

They spoke little on their journey until a few meters from the wardroom’s entrance. 

“Your attempt to present a strong front with this array of security officers is not intimidating, admiral,” Valer stated bluntly. I’m surprised that you can deploy so many officers for such an insignificant meeting. Your recent losses with the Borg among your junior officers must make it challenging to maintain a strong security presence anywhere in the Federation.”

“The Federation’s security is doing just fine, thank you, senator,” Harper reacted. Her annoyance at his dig seeped through her words. 

“Really? Then how come Reman refugees were able to overtake an asteroid you were meant to have secured?” Valer countered as the guards outside the wardroom pressed the button to unlock the door. 

“An operation both governments agreed to work on,” McCord reminded the senator. “As per the terms of our agreement, your border checks were to ensure the safe passage of the asteroid into our territory. How did Reman refugees bypass the checks at your well-defended border, senator?” 

Valer appeared to sneer at McCord before he looked around the room. Jaret was impressed that McCord could knock that one back at him. 

Now that the air was thick with tension and anticipation, Jaret knew she had to calm things down, so she gestured for Valer to sit on one of the grey leather sofas. “May I offer you a glass of Kali-fal?” she asked, her voice deliberate in an attempt to ease the palpable tension in the room.

Valer accepted the drink with a nod of gratitude, though his eyes remained sharp, betraying his underlying distrust of Federation intentions. He took a sip of the Kali-fal, his expression inscrutable as he evaluated the beverage.

“It has a strong, pungent aroma,” Valer said as he sniffed the drink and took a few sips. He swished it around his mouth before swallowing it. “A dear friend of mine always believed that good Kali-fa should forcibly open one’s sinuses well before the first sip. I see that the Federation finally has good taste in its beverages.”

“You could say that’s thanks to the modification of the treaty that exists between our two nations,” Jaret remarked. “We understand each other perhaps better now more than ever.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t change the seriousness of this situation.” Valer took one more sniff of his drink before he placed it on the nearby glass coffee table. He looked at Jaret, who was sitting next to him. “And this is a situation that is running out of time.”

“We understand the gravity of the situation, Senator,” McCord began, her tone measured yet firm, her legal expertise evident in her every word. “The Federation and the Romulan Free State have a vested interest in maintaining stability along our shared border.”

Valer’s nostrils flared imperceptibly, a subtle indication of his disdain for the Federation’s perceived interference in Romulan affairs. “Indeed, Captain,” he replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm. 

“I have already sent a starship to open a dialogue with the Remans to determine their intentions,” Jaret shared. 

“To determine their intentions?” Valer chuckled lightly. “They are a plague on our society, admiral. They have no intentions.”

“Nevertheless, we have an obligation to find out what they want,” Jaret stated with a firmer tone. “They are in Federation space now.”

“It is reassuring to see that the Federation acknowledges its obligations, however belatedly,” Valer said as he picked up his glass, sniffed it and took another sip. He savoured the test by closing his eyes briefly. “This is really good.” 

“Senator, I am more than happy for you to join us in observing our work to resolve this situation,” The admiral offered.

“That is decent of you, admiral,” Valer replied. He didn’t appear changed by the offer. “How confident are you that your ship will be able to achieve its goals satisfactorily?”

“We are committed to finding a peaceful solution for all sides,” Jaret commented. 

Valer expressed satisfaction with the Federation’s decision to send a starship to investigate the Reman presence, but his tone betrayed a lingering sense of doubt. “However,” he continued, his voice tinged with apprehension, “I fear that your efforts may prove insufficient to quell the threat posed by the Reman insurgents.”

Jaret met Valer’s gaze with steely resolve. “Rest assured, Senator,” she replied, her voice unwavering. “The Federation stands ready to uphold our end of the agreement, even in the face of adversity.”

Valer’s expression hardened, his resolve unyielding. “Oh, I am certain of that, admiral. Nevertheless, you should know that the Romulan Free State will not tolerate the continued occupation of the asteroid by the Remans,” he declared, his words carrying the weight of Romulan authority. “We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the fragment returns to rightful hands.”

“Are such ideal threats necessary, Senator?” Harper questioned. 

“It’s not a threat, Commander,” Valer shot back. “Just a fact, especially with the Klingons being involved.”

“The Klingons?” Jaret questioned.

Valer smirked. “I’ll let you do your homework first, but yes, a Klingon house has been helping these Remans. It has something to do with close ties from the Dominion War. A barbaric ritual for the need of upholding some honourable debt,” The senator chuckled slightly as he picked his glass up. “Klingons are certainly entertaining creatures, feeling the need to pay back those who honoured them. I’m surprised your alliance has lasted this long.”

McCord reminded the senator, “The Khitomer Accords have been the bedrock of Federation-Klingon relations for almost fifty years.”

“Maybe so, but you won’t be able to keep every Klingon in check,” Valer stated. He stood up and looked at the admiral. “As per our agreement, admiral, I formally request that my ship join yours in its attempts to determine the status of the asteroid.”

Knowing she could not avoid this, Jaret agreed to his request: “On the basis that Captain McCord and I join you, Senator.”

 “Having two senior Starfleet officers on board one of our ships is a security concern I am not prepared to entertain,” Valer replied.

“I’ve allowed a senior governmental official to board one of our stations with a full honour guard,” Jaret stated as she gestured to the other Romulan guards in the room. 

“The answer is still no, admiral,” Valer said. 

“Then my answer is no,” Jaret said sweetly.

Valer blinked at the admiral. “What about a compromise?”

“I’m listening.”

“You and I visit in one of your runabouts?” 

“We bring one guard each,” Jaret countered.

“Agreed.”

“Excellent,” Jaret said before leaning forward towards the bottle of Kali-fal. “More Kali-fal, Senator?”

“Please, Admiral,” Valer offered his glass.

“To compromise,” She toasted as she filled his glass and one for her.

“To compromise,” He said before sniffing and sipping on his glass.

Opening The Door – 8

USS Hodgkin (NCC-85017), en route to Deep Space 19, Kovar System, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78503.4

Dawn Levy’s exasperated sigh echoed in the compact confines of the co-pilot’s chair. She cradled a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, its warmth a comforting contrast to the frustration she felt. With a tired gesture, she massaged her temples, as if trying to ease the persistent ache of dealing with her companion.

“Why do I always find myself in the unenviable position of dealing with him?” she muttered to herself, her gaze drifting upward to the sleek curvature of the cockpit’s ceiling.

The Arrow-class runabout glided smoothly through the expanse of Kovar’s skies, its engines emitting a gentle hum that seemed to underscore Levy’s growing irritation. At the helm, Sturok, the quiet Vulcan pilot, remained stoically focused on his duties, his hands deftly manipulating the controls with an almost mechanical precision.

For a time, silence enveloped the cockpit like a heavy cloak, broken only by the rhythmic thrum of the shuttle’s propulsion systems. Then, finally, Sturok spoke, his voice as measured and composed as ever. “It is your job, captain.”

Levy stifled another sigh, knowing all too well the truth in his words. Duty, it seemed, was an ever-present companion, even in the vast expanse of space. Levy’s half-hearted chuckle danced through the air of the shuttle’s cockpit, a fleeting attempt to alleviate the weight of frustration settling upon her shoulders. With a sigh, she shook her head, her thoughts drifting back to the recent encounter with Governor Sean Thompson, a meeting that had left her feeling more drained than any diplomatic negotiation or counselling session ever had.

“That man is impossible,” she lamented, her voice carrying the weight of a thousand unresolved conflicts.

Sturok, ever composed, offered his perspective with characteristic Vulcan restraint. “The governor does possess certain… challenging qualities,” he acknowledged, his words carefully chosen to mask any hint of his personal sentiments.

“He’s like trying to navigate through a nebula blindfolded,” Levy remarked wryly, her frustration evident in her tone. “One minute he’s demanding to be kept fully informed, and the next he’s dismissing everything unless it directly threatens Kovar’s security.”

“Indeed,” Sturok’s agreement was a silent acknowledgement of the labyrinthine complexity that was Governor Thompson’s character.

Levy reached for her coffee mug, its warmth a fleeting respite against the chill of uncertainty that permeated the cockpit. “It’s like trying to unravel a tapestry woven with threads of chaos,” she reflected, her gaze fixed on the ever-shifting patterns of the stars. “Impossible.”

“You performed admirably, captain,” Sturok remarked. “The fact he has not pulled out of the agreement is a diplomatic victory. Your persuasion on the matter ensured no further complexities on our side of the matter.”

“Thank you, Sturok, I couldn’t have done it without your support,” Levy said, smiling at her companion. “Having your calmness kept me from jumping over that desk and shaking him senseless.”

“Attacking the leader of one of the most powerful Federation worlds in this region would not be the most diplomatic approach you could have taken,” Sturok expressed.

“But it would have made me feel good,” Levy reacted as she sat up straight in her chair and placed her mug down. 

“We are approaching the station,” Sturok reported, calmly. 

Levy looked over at her controls and started to hail the station. Knowing she would not get the usual face of Hawkins at communication, she was surprised to see Anizza Horin answering the communique. “Anizza, has Layla ditched you already?”

The Betazoid chief operations officer smirked. “Thank you captain, but no, we’ve completed our prep work with the asteroid project, but the admiral asked me to keep an eye out when you two were on approach.”

“Is the station secure, commander?” Sturok piped up.

Anizza nodded. “We are, but our visitors have been quite… let’s just say they’re a handful and the admiral is keen to speak with you, captain.”

Surprised to hear that, Levy encouraged the admiral to be piped through. Moments later Vice Admiral Jaret appeared on the holographic display. 

“Dawn, please tell me you’ve kept Thompson in line?”

“Mission accomplished, admiral,” Levy confirmed. “Thompson was his charming self.”

Jaret chuckled. “That’s high praise coming from you, Dawn, thank you.”

“It was a team effort,” Levy stated, looking between the admiral and her companion. “Tell Layla, I may have to appoint Sturok as my successor.”

“That is not necessary,” Sturok pointed out. 

More laughter came from the admiral. “I’m about to head off to rendezvous with the Formidable, so I want you to assume command of things here.”

“Understood, ma’am, anything else?” Levy inquired.

“I’m taking Jacinta with me, but we’re also taking our Romulan delegation too,” Jaret informed.

“Oh?” Levy was surprised to hear that. “You need backup?”

“No,” The admiral said, shaking her head. “It’s part of the agreement I made.”

“Very well,” Levy said, reluctantly. She wasn’t impressed with that arrangement and knew that Sturok wouldn’t be either as well as Harper. “Stay in touch.”

“Likewise, Jaret out.”


After a successful docking procedure, and a quick dash on a turbolift ride to ops, Levy arrived in ops. Fitzgerald, who was currently in command between the admiral’s departure and Levy’s return, looked over at the turbolift doors. Smirking at seeing her husband arrive alongside the captain, the chief science officer gestured for them to come over and join her. She was standing by one of the science stations with Anizza Horin. 

“Welcome back, I’m glad you’re both here, we’ve got a slight problem,” Fitzgerald shared. She pointed at the holographic display hovering above the station. “The Kovar tachyon detection grid detected a crossing about five minutes.”

“A Romulan ship?” Levy asked.

“We’re not sure,” Horin replied.

“Have we conducted a metaphasic sweep?” Sturok questioned.

Fitzgerald shook her head. “No, why? Do you know who it is Sturok?”

“I will once we have conducted the sweep,” He answered his wife. 

Levy looked at Sturok, intrigued by what he was thinking, she nodded to Fitzgerald to do as he suggested.

A few seconds later the sensor sweep showed something they were not expecting to see. 

“Is that what I think it is?” Levy asked her team.

“It is,” Horin confirmed.

“A Klingon Negh’Var-class warship,” Sturok declared.

Levy was concerned as to why their ally was playing cloak and daggers with them. Crossing her arms against her chest she took a deep breath and uttered her orders. “Take us to yellow alert, inform the Kovar Defence Perimeter to do the same thing, then Anizza, open a subspace channel to our Klingon visitors.”

“Channel open,” Horin announced.

Moving closer to the centre of the operations table, Levy spoke up in her firmest tone. “Attention Klingon ship, this is Captain Dawn Levy of the Federation station Deep Space Nineteen, you have entered Federation space under cloak. As per the terms of the Khitomer Accords, I request you decloak and identify yourselves.”

She gave it a few seconds. 

Nothing.

She gave it a few more seconds.

Still nothing. 

“The Kovar Defence Grid is requesting confirmation as to what they should do,” Sturok announced from the station beside her. 

Levy looked at him and then took her next action. “Give the signal, have all orbital weapons come online and have the planetary shield grids activated.”

“Aye, captain,” Sturok replied.

“Still anything?” Levy asked the other two.

Nothing.

“Go to red alert,” Levy ordered, knowing that this wasn’t what she meant when she told the governor things would be sorted with the Romulan and Reman issue. Now they had a Klingon issue.

Opening The Door – 9

Remus Remanent, Alcott Sector, Beta Quadrant
Stardate: 78503.5

“The Klingon Empire has no jurisdiction here, General,” Horin said firmly. “You’re in Federation space, and our alliance agreement forbids the Klingon Defence Force from engaging with an internal matter.”

Kurak chuckled deeply at Horin’s words. “You are like a toothless old grishnar cat, trying to frighten us with your roar.”

“Believe me when I say my roar is as powerful as my might, General,” Horin said. “I’d hate for the Klingon High Council to be informed that you trespassed and involved yourself here.”

“I do not fear you, Starfleet,” Kurak replied, his voice filled with unwavering confidence as he moved closer to Horin. “I am repaying a blood oath. The High Council would understand that.”

“Klingon customs are not recognised within Federation territory,” Horin said, remaining defiant against the Klingon. “And I think you must be the first Klingon in Klingon history to make a blood oath with citizens of the fallen Romulan Star Empire.”

“Colonel Shivux and his people proved their worth during the Dominion War,” Kurak stated. They assisted us in defeating the entire Eleventh Order at Septimus Three. If it had not been for their bravery, we would not have been victorious!”

Horin knew his history well and smirked at the general. “The fall of the Cardassian Eleventh Order was one of Chancellor Martok’s easiest victories in the war. You only defeated half a million old men and wounded soldiers.”

At that point, Kurak pulled out his d’k tahg and closed the gap between him and Horin. He raised his dagger towards the captain’s throat.“If you wore any other uniform, I would kill you where you stand.”

“And if you were any true general of the Klingon Defence Force, you would side with your ally,” Horin said, remaining unmoved. He had noticed that Parin and Taf had both pulled their phasers out and were aiming them now at the general.

“Calm down, General,” Taf told him. It may have been some time since I fought with a Klingon, but we’re not letting you interfere here.”

Snarling, Kurak pulled his d’k tahg away from Horin’s neck. “You will treat these Remans with the respect they deserve.”

“Naturally,” Horin said with a smirk. He was pleased that his exchange with the general had forced him to stand down. 

“We will not let you force them away from here,” Kurak threatened.

“The general is right; we will not move,” Shivux said confidently. 

“Formidable to Captain Horin,” spoke Lieutenant Hawkins over Hori’s combadge.

Horin kept looking at both the Reman and Klingon as he answered. He was surprised to see such a pair working side by side. “Go ahead, lieutenant.”

“Sir, we’ve just been informed that the admiral is on her way here with the Romulan Free State representative,” Hawkins reported.

“Very good, lieutenant, thank you,” Horin replied. For a moment, he considered if having a Romulan in the same room as a Klingon and a Reman was a great mix, and then he realised it may help by pushing them into corners they would hate. 

“That’s not all of it, sir,” Hawkins added. “Deep Space Nineteen reports that a Klingon Negh’Var has arrived and is threatening to open fire on the station and Kovar. Captain Levy isn’t the only one to have some Klingon guests arrive. We’ve just had three Birds of Prey decloak in front of us. Their shields are up, and disruptors are locked on us. They’re telling us to leave.”

Horin looked at Kuvak, and his smirk appeared wider. “Understood, lieutenant,” Wondering just how far Kuvak would take this blood oath with the Remans, Horin scratched his chin. “Lieutenant, perform a tactical analysis of the three Klingon ships.”

“Already done, sir; they’re old D-Twelve classes from over fifty years ago; though they’ve had some refits on their armour and weapons, nothing else appears recent,” Hawkins replied.

“Excellent,” Horin smirked at hearing that. “Lieutenant, target my combadge with a spread of high-yield tricobalt devices set at twenty-thousand teracochranes, standby to fire on my command.”

“Sir, did you just ask me to vaporise you and the asteroid?” Hawkins asked, sounding surprised and concerned by his superior’s request.

“Do it, Tom,” Parin added.

At hearing Horin’s order, Shivux stepped forward, “You would destroy us all?”

“Yes, because you and your followers,” Horin replied by pointing at Kurak, “Have just become an intolerable threat to the security of the Federation. Now, I don’t care if the Free State have an issue that we blow this rock to billions of smaller parts; what I do care about is that a joint Klingon-Reman task force is now within Federation space, threatening Federation lives. I intend to end it.”

“He is bluffing, Shivux,” Kurak said. “He wouldn’t kill himself, especially as my ships are holding their trigger against not just his ship but against that station of theirs too.”

Taf moved to stand closer to Horin. She could see that Horin was prepared to hold his ground in this situation. “I hope you’ve got all your affairs in order, General, as you’re about to be judged on whether you go to Sto’vo’kor or head to the Barge of the Dead.” 

“It will be you all who will enter Gre’thor, not me,” Kuvak remarked.

“Maybe, but you will be known as the disgraced general who plunged the Klingon Empire into a war with the Federation, the Romulan Republic and more than likely the Romulan Free State. Do you honestly think the Empire can defend itself against the three of us?” Horin said.

“Your Federation is weak after the Borg killed some of your best, and that puppet Romulan nation you prop up, and the Free State will be easy to conquer. Having the Romulans under Klingon rule would make the Beta Quadrant safer.” Kurak said confidently.

“But you’re people will be dead and won’t be seen as equals in the eyes of the Klingon Empire, Colonel,” Parin pleaded to Shivux. “Do you honestly want to see the genocide of your people?”

Shivux sighed heavily. “I want to see my people left alone and given a place to live. We deserve to make a home here on the remains of our homeworld.”

“Then surely we can find a way to make that work,” Horin said. “But I won’t let your Klingon lapdogs dictate terms to us in our space. You wanted our attention, and you’ve now got it. Tell Kurak and his ships to stand down, and we will disarm our tricobalt devices.”

For a moment, Horin wondered if Shivux would continue with his stand. Instead, he turned to Kuvak. “General, you and your soldiers are released from our blood oath.”

Kuvak looked Shivux up and down, almost like a predator considering whether or not to eat its prey. “The binds that pulled us together in war will always remain strong, Shivux.” He then turned to Horin. “Remember this, Captain Horin: You and your people threatened a Great House. We will not forgive or forget this.” He tapped his combadge on his arm and was transported off the rock. 

“Sir, someone just beamed to one of the Klingon ships, and they are departing from Federation territory,” Hawkins declared.

Horin sighed with relief. “What about the ship threatening Deep Space Nineteen?” 

“Captain Levy reports they’re retreating to the Empire too,” Hawkin shared.

“Good, stand down the tricobalt devices and tell me when the admiral arrives,” Horin ordered before he closed his combadge. He turned to Shivux, “Colonel, we get it; this was your home, but let’s find a way that works for you, for us, and for the Free State.”

“It will only work if we can remain here, captain,” Shivux said.

Horin turned to his officers and then back to his Reman counterpart. “Then why don’t you?”

“Explain,” Shivux said.

“We planned to move this asteroid to the Kovar system and mine it. Why can’t we bring you and your people along for the ride?” Horin probed. “We can work out the finer details, but instead of Starfleet and the Federation having to mine this asteroid, you get to it instead? If you ask for political asylum within the Federation, then the Free State can’t touch you, and they would be forced to agree to you living here still?”

Shivux considered the proposal. “If you promise we won’t be moved.”

“You have my word,” Horin said sincerely.

“Then we agree to discuss the matter further with you.”

Horin smiled at Shivux, then at Taf and Parin at this development.


USS Formidable (NCC-74207)

“Well done, Captain,” Jaret stated as they stepped through the doorway from the transporter room and towards the bridge. “Not only have you prevented a war with the Klingon Empire, but you’ve somehow been able to find a new workforce for our new mining operation.”

“Thank you, Admiral, but I’m still worried that Senator Valer won’t keep up with the Free State’s end of the deal,” Horin said as they started their walk down the corridor.

“He had no choice,” Jaret remarked. Plus, we are offering more dilithium than before, and we’ve agreed for them to set up a diplomatic attache at the station to monitor everything. We get to see the senator on a daily basis now.”

“Do you think Command will be happy with us having Reman refugees to babysit?” Horin asked as they turned the corridor. 

“I’ll leave the legal paperwork with Sandra to deal with, and it’s not as if we’re saying every Reman is moving to Kovar, just a few,” Jaret told him confidently. “The only person I suspect will have an issue with this is Governor Thompson.”

“He sounds like a delight,” Horin said sarcastically.

“Oh, he is,” Jaret confirmed. “But I’d leave him to Dawn to deal with.”

“You like to delegate a lot, ma’am?” Horin asked as they entered the bridge, and Hawkins spoke up to tell everyone that the admiral was on the bridge.

Jaret smirked. “Oh, course. That’s the best thing about having a number of seasoned officers under you. Admiral’s prerogative.” She looked at everyone and told them to get back to work. Now, talking of which, you’re going to get us home.”

“Don’t fancy a shot at the chair, Admiral?” Horin offered towards the chair in the centre of the bridge.

“As I said, Admiral’s prerogative.” She said with a wink before leaving the bridge to let Horin get back to work.

Horin could sense everyone now looking at him and waiting for his orders. Taking his chair, he sat down and looked over at Taf. “Counsellor, what’s our status?”

“Ready to get underway, Captain,” Taf shared. “The runabouts from Deep Space Nineteen have arrived to start Commander Fitzgerald’s experiment in moving the Reman asteroid towards Kovar as planned.”

“Good. Are all of the Remans off the asteroid?” Horin checked.

“They are,” Taf confirmed. “Colonel Shivux successfully beamed over after he left us. He has signalled they’re ready and eager to help.”

“I’m not sure Layla had prepared for some old Romulan battlecruisers to be part of her plans,” Parin joked. But if they can help us move that rock, then I’m sure she is all for it.”

“I think you’ll find they’re eager to get to their new home,” Taf stated.

“Don’t you mind going back to their old home?” Hawkins countered. 

“Either way, they want to be home,” Parin said. “And there’s nothing like going home!”

“Home sweet home,” Hawkins added.

Horin smiled at the scene around him. He started to feel that joining Deep Space Nineteen was the right choice. He looked down at the helm, where he could sense his son still keeping his guard up. “Mister Horin, standby to get us underway.”

“Aye, sir,” Tate replied formally.

Horin then looked at Hawkins. “Lieutenant, signal the Reman task force and our runabouts that we are ready to start the operation.”

“Aye, captain!” Hawkins said as he turned back into his station and carried on talking. “Operation Let’s Move A Massive Rock To Kovar is underway, sir!”