Part of USS Centaur: Mission 3: Soldar

Chapter Seven

Devron Starbase / Task Force Executive Office
12th January, 2400
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[Guest Character: Captain Gar’rath, TFCO. – Thank you very much, Lord Cur!]

Captain Gar’rath stood gazing out at the many dry dock platforms scattered around his field of view. A great many of the vessels were awaiting their initial construction, while others were in for repairs or refits. Some of them belonged to the Task Force that Gar’rath now commanded, while others were destined to join other parts of Starfleet for any number of missions once their time in the docks was over. Though the shipyard wasn’t under his direct command, the Gorn felt that it would do him no harm to be familiar with the operations of the facility, which had led to him staring out of the large window in contemplative silence. It was only when he heard someone walk in that he pulled himself out of his ponderous thoughts.

“Commander,” he said, his voice being translated as a very deep one despite Gorn language being much different.

Maxwell found Captain Gar’rath where he had expected him to be, right here in his very office. The meeting with a particular Captain was important, considering some details that came across their desks. Maxwell went over to stand near the Captain. “Captain.” He noticed the Gorn was staring out through the large view port, seeing those eyes darting little by little, which when Maxwell looked, he could see why. The view was beautiful, least to him it looked that way. So many dry dock platforms, so many vessels docked getting repairs, resupply, or even under construction. Ever since Maxwell departed the Sovereign when it arrived here at Devron for its refit, and soon learned that he was now the Executive Officer of Task Force Ninety-Three, he took every liberty he had to study every single vessel that they had in the Task Force and here in the fleet of dry docks. “When I was on board the Sovereign, I was expecting to receive the Captain’s Chair at some point. I had never once imagined to be in this position, with a Task Force such as this.” Maxwell then exhaled slowly. “But I am glad to be back at helping the Romulans again, even if it’s just border colonies on our side. And I would certainly strive at the chance of peaceful negotiations with the three Romulan powers.”

“Our mission is a noble one,” the large Gorn intoned as his eyes continued to stalk the shipyards, “One that my own people would never consider let alone execute. It is good that I am here, in the Federation brood, as I have always believed differently from other Gorn.”

Commander Henry Maxwell then looked through the view port towards the dry docks, one of which was now housing the Centaur. Powerless, lifeless, an empty shell. A shell that is now beginning to be pealed off, piece by piece. The extensive damage that the vessel had taken from its trip from the Sector Fero Psi to here was enough to put the ship out of commission for repairs for a few weeks. Maxwell was briefed on the classified operation after being informed about the classified Omega Directive when he became the Executive Officer of Task Force Ninety-Three. So Maxwell knows of the surprise attack from some Klingon Vorcha Attack Cruiser belonging to a Klingon Captain who’s ship was reported to have been helping the Fourth Fleet deal with the rebels of D’Ghor in the Archanis Sector. Apparently the Captain was merely working for his own personal gain, someone who Maxwell will keep an eye on. Last thing the Task Force needs while conducting its ongoing objective, is yet another rogue Klingon. But the Centaur was enroute to Devron Fleet Yards when the classified operation was concluded as a success, and yet the ship never arrived. What he found to be intriguing was where the Centaur was located and towed back to Devron from, thanks to USS Ceshras, a four nacelle version of the Nebula Class, and to her escorts, the USS Grafton an Akira Class and USS Icarus an Intrepid.

The Centaur was recovered in Romulan Free State space, just a couple light years away from the border too. There was also a Free State Warbird with the Centaur that was just as crippled. Per reports from all three Captains of the rescue ships, the cause was a quantum filament. But also in those reports, was that the Warbird’s Singularity Core was shut down, something that is highly unusual. Also to the fact that being they were in better shape than the Centaur was, some of the Centaur crew were being treated in the Warbird’s medical facilities. This is where Maxwell has to now write up a report of the contribution and assistance that the Romulans of the State have given to Starfleet personnel and submit it up the chain for review, most likely Command will be personally thanking the Romulan Free States, maybe adding some positive points to the current relations. But Maxwell needed to get to the whole story and get straight to the bottom of it.

Then his eyes trailed from Centaur to another dry dock housing yet a familiar vessel, an old friend. The Sovereign. Still undergoing her refit, a lot of those ten year old systems were being replaced with more up to date and advanced equipment. For one thing, a lot of terminals were getting their ‘holographic’ projection upgrades. A lot of streamlining and optimizations were being done. And yet. While a part of him yearns to see the ship fly again, another part wishes he were the one to command it.

His thoughts was interrupted when the door chime went off, signaling that his request for Captain Carter to visit him in his office has been acknowledged and accepted. Was merely a request, the man was still recovering from his injuries after all. Course, it could be someone else at the door, but only one way to find out. He turned his head to look at Captain Gar’rath and smiled, “Must be him. Not expecting anyone else at the moment. Come in.” He said as he turned away from the view port to face the door. He watched as it split in half and slid away from each other, just to see the very man he had hoped for walk right in, allowing the two halves to rush back to each other and embrace themselves once again.

Maxwell smiled, “Captain John Carter.” He navigated around his desk to meet the man half way in his office to shake his hand. “I hope you’re recovering well?”

Carter smiled, grasped the man’s hand and shook it. “I am. Not certain if I am suppose to address you as Commander or as Sir.” Carter then noticed the Starfleet Captain Gorn in the room and immediately knew who it was. He couldn’t think of many that were at the rank of Captain these days. “Captain Gar’rath.”

Maxwell chuckled as he soon released Carter’s hand and returned to his side of the desk. “Well, in a month or so, you may see a change. But just go with Commander.” After all, Henry Maxwell has been Commander for over ten years, it really is only a matter of time and patience at this point. Maxwell then cleared his throat, “Since you already know who Captain Gar’rath is, like you to know that he is our Task Force Commander.”

Carter raised his brows, “What happened to Fleet Captain Azras Dex?”

“She stepped down.” Maxwell answered.

Carter nodded his head and smiled at Captain Gar’rath. “Congratulations, Captain.”

“Thank you, Captain,” the Gorn said in response, “I look forward to serving in this new capacity.”

Maxwell then brought up a holo display of a small pad, air tapped some commands and brought up a few displays. While he was getting to where he wanted to be to ask the questions he wanted to ask, he did ask one real quick. “How’s the crew doing, Captain?”

“Doing all right as far as I hope. They’re on shore leave, so I don’t have a lot to go with besides that my Senior Staff are still here on station.” Said Carter.

Maxwell nodded his head, “Yeah, that would be the case since we are trying to piece together a puzzle with several missing pieces.”

“Right.” Carter nodded.

Maxwell sighed after he finally got himself set up, several holo displays with reports, records and one slightly larger, three-dee display of the Centaur. “The reason for this, as I had already said just a moment ago, is to piece together a puzzle with there being several pieces missing. Rephrased it better for the record.” He cleared his throat lightly. “But it is also due to the fact that, Captain John Carter, you nearly lost your vessel and lost several crewmembers, twenty-eight of them to be precise.” Maxwell took in a deep breath. “Now, the reason why this isn’t being conducted in front of an Inquiry or Court Martial, is because you did not completely lose your ship. But,” Maxwell pressed a button and almost entire three-dee holo display of the Centaur went red. “Severe hull damage, some stress fractures on several sections of the frame itself. Both nacelles took damage but the port nacelle is the more severe, looked like it has been repaired or rebuilt a couple of times. All dorsal phaser banks have been destroyed. If your torpedo launcher was hit any harder, you not only would of lost it entirely but may have risked losing both your nacelles rather than just the one.” He pointed, half of the port nacelle was visibly missing.

Carter cleared his throat. “That’s exactly what my Chief Engineer said.”

“Your Acting Chief Engineer or the one that sacrificed himself to prevent a warp core breach?” Maxwell asked.

“The Acting Chief Engineer, sir.”

Maxwell rubbed the back of his head as he exhaled sharply. “Point is, Captain, it took the engineers a week to clear out and fully diagnose your ship. They tell us it is going to take at least three weeks to fully repair the Centaur. And that’s with extra manpower running double shifts.”

Carter frowned, “Double shifts, sir?”

Maxwell gestured to all the dry docks behind him. “You see all those ships out there. They’re either,” He held up one finger, “Fully crewed and are being resupplied before they return to active duty and are given a mission.” Then he held up a second finger, “Undergoing a refit and thus won’t be in service for several weeks to perhaps a month if not more.” Then he held up a third finger, “Still being constructed and may not be finished in a month or several months from now.” Then he held up a forth finger. “Or they’re undergoing repairs much like the Centaur is. The Task Force has no ships to give, Captain. And quite frankly, I rather that we get your ship fully repaired and back into service as quickly as possible, within regulations of course.”

Carter nodded his head, “Of course, sir.”

Maxwell sighed, “Of course that’s not entirely an issue since your crew has accumulated enough shore leave time for a couple more weeks. But once their shore leave time comes up, you’re going to need to coordinate with the Station’s Operations Chief to give them assignments, because I don’t want officers or enlisted personnel lazing about.”

Carter nodded again, “Of course, sir.”

Maxwell swiped a display away, having gone over that bit and then he pulled something else up. “How about your First Officer and his ‘team’? How is the program working out?”

“They’re doing very well, Commander. They are catching on with their duties quite quickly and a lot of the manual work, considering that you have to self diagnose systems on the Centaur without computer assistance, I think it has really improved their comprehension and professionalism,” Carter explained.

Maxwell nodded his head, looking at the form before him. “Their test scores also show that they are doing very well in the program. Having Officers rise in ranks as rapidly as they have is a huge risk. Also can cause a lot of unfairness and frustrations among peers.” Maxwell scrolled through the scores before swiping the display away. He believed that now was the time to get back to it. “The damage that your ship sustained has essentially left important logs corrupted and damaged. But thankfully, our experts were able to piece back together and show us exactly what happened to your ship while enroute back to the Devron Fleet Yards.” With that, he went to play a visual recording from one of the rear dorsal sensor packets. The video showed mostly space and stars streaking by until suddenly, a T’Liss Class Bird of Prey decloaked and fired almost a dozen disruptor bolts from its two ventral cannons. When Maxwell brought this video up, he also had the three-dee holo image of the Centaur reset in showing the damage the ship had before the encounter of the BoP, only to start showing the damage that the BoP had caused. That of which is where Maxwell’s eyes darted back and forth between the video and the three-dee display to understand how badly that vessel crippled the Centaur. Once the impact to the Impulse Plasma Feed Conduit was shown, the visual recording ended. Maxwell looked at the holo display and then at Carter. “They got dangerously close to hitting your warp core.”

Carter exhaled heavily with a nod. “They did.”

Maxwell took in a deep breath, “That’s what I wanted to show you, Captain. Myself and Captain Gar’rath have already reviewed rest of the logs. We know that your First Officer was captured and taken to some facility and you ordered your ship into Romulan Free State space to attempt a rescue,” Maxwell paused for a second while raising a hand, telling Carter that his acknowledgement was not necessary. “My question to you is, why? Why did you not come back to the Devron station?”

“There was not a lot of time, sir. For one, we didn’t know if there was any ship available here that could fly. Two, if we had been any later, Commander Vakai would of likely been dead.” Carter explained.

Maxwell looked at another display with Vakai’s medical report and scans. “Yes, about that. What is he doing now?”

“He is currently seeing a counselor.”

“He chose to do this by his own free will?” Maxwell added.

Carter nodded, “He did, sir.”

Maxwell took in a deep breath again with a small nod. “I respect a man who knows that he needs to seek professional help. I personally cannot imagine what he went through nor how he could of. His report was… detailed.” Maxwell then swiped the displays away and looked at one more display that he saved for last. “My issue right now is the logs after you rescued your First Officer. You ordered to depart the area and return to the Devron Fleet Yards but after you left, the sensor logs show a critical reaction from the station’s reactor.”

Carter sighed, “I don’t know what happened, Commander. Captain.” Carter looked to Gar’rath then back to Maxwell. “But someone destroyed that station from the inside.”

“Perhaps,” the Gorn said vaguely.

Maxwell pursed his lips, “We are still piecing together the last pieces of the ship’s logs, especially those on weapon systems. Reason for being is, someone got off that station, besides your rescue team and Commander Vakai. And that someone is telling the Free State Senate that you blew up a Romulan Civilian Research Station.”

Carter frowned heavily, “That’s absurd!”

“However absurd it may be, Captain Carter, it remains a fact in the minds of those in the Free State who do not require evidence to support their already low opinion of Starfleet and the Federation as a whole. I would remind you that we are not looked upon favorably by the Romulan people, no matter their affiliation, and that any action we take has the potential to be taken out of context and used for their own political purposes should there be even a grain of truth to the rumors being spread. Currently the only fact that matters to them, and one we cannot refute is that you were there. It will be up to us, collectively, to prove that your being there was not the trigger for the station’s destruction, just coincidence,” Capt. Gar’rath said finally after letting the Commander speak for the majority of the meeting up to that point.

Maxwell raised his hands. “For right now, the delegates that we’ve spoken to are not pointing blame. Not yet. They are looking through the wreckage for their own… type of black box… and while they are doing that, as I said, we are piecing together the last bits of logs to figure out if your weapons were ever fired before you fled with your First Officer.”

“Have either of you spoken to any other officers on my senior staff?” Carter asked. “I’m telling you, we have not fired a single shot.”

“Your crew will be debriefed individually, and their accounts will be logged. This investigation will take time,” the Gorn said, barely moving.

“Again, Captain, no one is pointing fingers yet.” Maxwell then went over to the replicator to replicate a few empty glasses and a pitcher of water. He then brought them over to his desk and carefully poured water into each glass. He then sat the pitcher down and pointed at the seat across from his own for Carter. “How about we start with what happened when you were on your way back to Federation Space. The logs there are too damaged, all we know at this point, is that your ship was found and rescued in Free State space by the three Starfleet vessels and that the Romulan Warbird was using its medical facilities to treat some of our own.”

Carter slowly stepped over and then sat down in the empty chair. “As we were heading back to Federation Space at best speed that we could go with our patched port nacelle, we were attacked…”

Carter, Vakai and Ryker stepped out of the turbolift onto the bridge to find Gomo at his station per usual. Ryker went to relieve the crewmember at the helm while Vakai went over to the tactical station beside Gomo. “What’s the status?”

“We got a State Warbird on our tail, firing right at as. I’ve diverted power that we have to our aft shields and I will keep doing so until we got no available power left.” Gomo reported.

“How much longer are we from Federation Space, Ryker?” Carter asked.

Ryker shook his head, “Ten minutes.” The ship shuttered underneath them.

“Aft shields won’t survive ten minutes! They won’t even survive five!” Gomo responded.

Carter pressed a button on his arm rest. “Bridge to Engineering, we need to keep reinforcing aft shields.”

“There’s nothing left that we can do, Captain. All of our reserves are depleted. All non-essential systems have been shut down. Even if we switch to emergency lighting, it won’t be enough.” Reported Gomez. “All that is left is diverting power from the other facing shields towards the aft. But that’s really it. Unless we reduce our warp speed and push more power to the shield generators from there.”

Carter shook his head, “No. We need the speed we have or we’ll never make it to Federation space.” The ship shuttered once again.

“Hate to burst the bubble, but that last attack brought the aft shields down to fifty percent. I can bring them back up to eighty with the other facing shields but that’s it.”

Carter clenched his fists, swearing that this could not be it for them. He looked to the comms officer. “Hail the State Warbird.”

The officer shook their head, “No response.”

“Then open a channel.” Carter ordered as he stepped in front of his chair. “This is Captain Carter of the USS Centaur. One of your people captured one of mine. We had no choice but to venture into your space and get him back. If you keep up your assault, you will not only be compromising the treaties we have with each other but you could potentially be starting a war that you know your empire cannot win.” Carter paused and waited but the ship lurching about from another attack was evidence enough that they called his bluff. Carter made the cut gesture and the comms officer closed the channel.

“So much for that idea, huh?” Vakai asked Carter.

“Was worth a shot. How much longer, Ryker?”

“Five minutes!” Ryker told them.

“Can we push the engines just a little more?” Carter asked.

Ryker shook his head, “Not without redlining it and if we do that, we risk blowing the port nacelle.” Once again the ship lurched from another attack.

“Shields at forty five percent!” Gomo’s eyes then went wide. “They’re charging a torpedo!”

“Any idea what they are targeting?” Vakai asked.

“Oh shit, they’re targeting the port nacelle.”

“Ryker, can we maneuver at warp!?” Carter asked.

Ryker started inputting commands but the ship barely moved. “Maybe moving slightly to the left will surprise them?”

The tip of the warbird’s beak where the weapon port was, bright green light could be seen emanating from it, illuminating areas around the port before it was then launched, piercing through warp space to not just slam into the port nacelle but pierce right through it, leaving a gaping hole where only bits of hull struggled to hold onto each other. But the moment that lost all power and the warp field began to collapse, the sheer velocity tore half the nacelle clean off just before the ship dropped right out of warp. The warbird managed to anticipate this and dropped out of warp right behind the Centaur as the small ship tried its best to flee at full impulse.

“Engineering to Bridge. I’m trying to reestablish a warp field around the ship with just the one warp nacelle. But we won’t be able to go more than warp two!” Said Gomez over the intercom.

“At that speed, we won’t make it to Federation space for like an hour or so.” Ryker said over his shoulder.

“What does it matter at this point? Our shields are failing.” Said Gomo.

Carter cursed and turned to look at the comms officer. “Send out a general distress call, direct it towards the Devron Fleet Yards. I want you to-”

As Carter was starting to tell the comms officer to send out a distress call, Gomo saw something for a split second on sensors and knew immediately to not second guess his instincts. “Ryker! Hard to Starboard! NOW!” The Cardassian interrupted the Captain in hopes to prevent the worse from happening.

Ryker didn’t question when never heard how frightened Gomo sounded in his voice as he cranked the ship over to Starboard to avoid whatever it is that Gomo had seen. If it could be seen to the naked eye, the Centaur and the warbird were heading straight for a quantum filament. But the Centaur veered hard to Starboard, managing to avoid the entirety of the filament except for a corner…a sliver? Either way, it struck and grazed just the ventral side of the Centaur from the front of the saucer, across and around the tactical sensor dome, all the way down avoiding the already holey torpedo pod and over the port nacelle pylon. Unfortunately for the warbird, it hit the filament head on.

When the Centaur grazed it, the ship lurched everywhere, throwing everyone out of their seats and onto the deck. Everyone could hear what sounded like metal being torn apart, the sound of gas hissing into the air, sparks and explosions emanating from consoles due to power overloads, wires bursting out from the ceiling, ceiling light panels falling to the deck and shattering. Those who were still conscious could see the consoles going dead, complete blankness across the board and the emergency lights themselves blinking out. They’ve been succumbed to utter darkness.

As for the warbird, they too suffered similar fate. The Centaur was already damaged from a series of events and the light blow of a quantum filament was enough to push it very close to the edge of the breaking point. But the warbird, hitting it head on was enough to bring a perfectly good vessel, no damage at all, to a crippling mess. Fortunately for the warbird, most of their primary systems were offline, their emergency lights were up and running, a lot of their basic systems were functional. But they had no weapons, shields, engines, communications, nothing of the sort that would allow them to accomplish their mission or request help.

But the worst of it all, both vessels main power cores were building up to an overload. One more slowly than the other. Nevertheless, if both crews can’t stop both of them from overloading, both vessels were at risk of being destroyed.

“And that is all that I remember.” Carter told Maxwell.

“Right. Report here says that one of the support beams fell on you.” Maxwell told him.

Carter nodded his head, “So I have been told.”

“Well there is not much more for us to talk about then, Captain. We will get the rest from your First Officer.” Maxwell stood up from his seat and held out his hand to Carter across his desk.

Carter rose from his and grasped it.

Maxwell shook his hand. “I appreciate you for coming here, Captain. Again, your ship will be out of commission for repairs for at least three weeks. And in two weeks, please coordinate with the station’s Ops to give your crew something to do until your ship is back in action.”

Carter nodded his head and took his hand back. “Of course, sir.”

“Once we’re finished gathering all the information, you will receive a letter of our decision in the matter, whether that you acted in negligence or if you have performed admirably.” Maxwell told him.

Carter nodded his head once more, “Of course. I for one still have some letters to write.”

“I understand.” Maxwell almost forgot and looked to Captain Gar’rath. “Do you have anything to ask Captain Carter, sir?”

“At the moment, no,” the Gorn said with a slow shake of his head, “That may change depending on the direction the inquiry takes once all the relevant reports have been compiled. I will ask that you do not stray too far from the station during the next few weeks, if you wouldn’t mind, Captain Carter. Also, if you happen to remember anything else during that time, please let us know. The fewer gaps we have in the timeline we have, the better it will be when the time comes to make our official recommendations up to the Admiralty.”

Carter nodded his head once again, “I understand completely, sir. I won’t be going far, I have nothing to hide and nothing to lose.”

Maxwell raised his brows, “Let’s hope that’s not overconfidence, Captain. Dismissed.”

Carter pushed himself out of the chair before he headed right for the door and left Maxwell’s office.

Later that evening, the Senior Staff of the Centaur gathered together at the Sulais, a Romulan owned restaurant filled with wonderful Romulan cuisine and of course, refreshments that Sulais had to sign extra licensing for. Everyone was at the two tables that were brought together for them. Carter, Vakai, Ryker, Gomez, Sivol, Gomo, Koyda and Maya.

“To be perfectly honest, I am just glad that we made it. I’m really happy to have deck plating below my feet that aren’t being jerked out from underneath me.” Said Gomez before she grabbed her mug and gulped down some beer.

Ryker watched her, as gulping down some became more and more by the second before he watched her drink half of her mug already. He chuckled with the shaking of his head before looking at the rest of them. “Wonder what kind of missions they’re going to slap us with once the Centaur is fully repaired.”

“Probably milk runs. Nothing but milk runs.” Maya slammed a shot before leaning back in her seat. “Which means my whole plans of leading a Hazard Team goes straight out the airlock.” She went and imitated a decompression and air rushing out of an imaginary hole.

“I’ll do my best to keep you busy.” Koyda told her with a sly grin on his face, which he got slugged in the shoulder for by Maya.

“They’re not really going to Court Martial us, are they?” Sivol asked Carter.

Carter shook his head, “I will mostly be the one Court Martialed. Vakai will probably be let off easy since he was the one captured, and tortured. Only evidence he has is the medical scans, as well as the scans made for brain activity.” Carter took a sip of his mug before sitting back into his seat. “The rest of you, because you’re in this risky program, will likely end up receiving demotions. Most of you will end up as Ensigns, and rest of you likely Junior Grade Lieutenants. Then be assigned separately, to keep you all apart.”

“No way Starfleet would be that harsh.” Vakai chipped in.

Carter shrugged his shoulders. “They very much can be. I have never been in this deep with Command before. I’ve never gotten this close to losing the Centaur. They take losing a command very seriously, not to mention someone in the Free States is accusing us of destroying a Civilian Research Facility.”

Ryker was gulping down his beer to try and match Gomez before slamming the mug down, “Bull! We didn’t fire anything!”

“We had three torpedoes in the tube, with no capability of reloading. Three torpedoes could not have done sufficient enough damage. They would be able to see that.” Gomez explained.

Carter raised his hands and looked around before leaning forward. “There’s no point in discussing this, guys. The weapons logs are the last logs that they are piecing together. Surely they will find that we didn’t fire a single shot when we were rescuing Vakai. And once they find that out, they will accuse this person who got off the station before it blew, of lying.”

“I bet it was Soldar.” Sivol spoke up, everyone looking at her now. “What? It’s the only logical reason for this. He was a high ranking member of the Tal’Shiar. He most likely had security clearance to overload the reactor. I mean, the Rangers said he was a mad man. Look what he did to Vakai. Clearly he did this and clearly he is the one telling the Free State Senate that we blew up a station that obviously was not a Civilian Research Station. And the Senate knows that as well. The fact that they are going along with this lie is proof right there. The Tal’Shiar controls the Senate.”

Vakai shook his head, “My parents did not say that the Tal’Shiar ran that deep. I don’t know if it is because they themselves don’t have the clearance to know that kind of information, or they just absolutely do not know. All I know is what they do, and that the Tal’Shiar are still as paranoid as ever. I mean, what they did to Mars and what Wu tried to do last year. Clearly they are insane, all of them. The Tal’Shiar sacrificed the lives of their own people, whether it was Wu acting alone or not. They destroyed the rescue armada that Starfleet worked so hard to build, and condemned their own to death on Romulus. That kind of information should be throwing the Romulan Star Empire and the Romulan Republic right at the walls of the Romulan Free State, but no one is doing a thing.” Vakai paused as he had realized he grabbed his fork and was poking at his food. “Fact is, they know how to cover their tracks and how to manipulate information. Fact that no one is at war with the Free States over the Tal’Shiar’s actions, is proof that they are not idiots. And Soldar is the worst one of them all. But.”

“But?” Ryker asked when Vakai had paused some more.

Vakai sighed and set his fork down. “Soldar’s mission was to capture me, extract information, find the traitors in the Tal’Shiar that was giving out classified information to their enemies, and eliminate them.” Vakai then started looking at everyone one by one. “The moment that Starfleet gets all the proof they need to show the Free State Senate that the Centaur never attacked the station, they will be put into a corner and they will be forced to condemn one man for being behind everything that has strained our relationship. They will condemn Soldar, strip him of his rank and probably either exile him or execute him for his failures.”

Gomo clapped his hands, the Cardassian who was very much enjoying the Romulan food, was finally speaking up. “Then that means we are forever done with the madman named Soldar! Yeah!” But not everyone was cheering. “What?”

“You heard the Rangers. Soldar is not the kind of man who will go down without a fight.” Maya told him.

“And it is a fight we will get if he ever shows his ugly face again.” Said Koyda.

Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “We may not see Soldar for a long time. A man like him, is patient. That’s what makes him even more dangerous. He will wait until he finds the right opportunity, a weakness in our defenses, and we won’t even know it until he strikes.”

Carter cleared his throat after he finished his beer and set the mug down. “It doesn’t matter at this point, ladies and gents. As of this moment, that man is no longer our problem. We are stuck here on this station until the investigation is over. And Vakai. You will be the next person they question.”

“Of course. I witnessed pretty much everything and led the team onto the State Warbird to forcefully shut down their singularity core to prevent it from overloading and creating an implosion that would have destroyed both our ships.” Vakai answered.

Carter nodded his head. “I want you all to get some rest as well. If you don’t get questioned by the Captain or Commander of the Task Force, you will most likely be questioned by other officers in the investigation. Be honest. Tell them everything. Leave nothing out. We will win this.”

“Aye, sir.” They all said in unison before they pushed out their chairs and stood up.

Sivol wrapped her arms around one of Vakai’s, “You need your sleep, too. You got another session tomorrow.”

“How are your sessions going, Vakai?” Ryker asked as Gomez done the same as Sivol, wrapping her arms around one of Ryker’s.

Vakai smirked and shrugged a shoulder. “They’re going. Doctor Vax is helping me to cope with the memories and she’s also helping me pull myself out if I am ever triggered again.”

“That’s good. We also have not seen you grasping your hand at all tonight.” Said Carter, as the man was still there as curious as anyone else.

Vakai smiled, “Yeah. She also prescribed me something to help suppress it but she is weening me off so that I learn to have better control.”

“If worst case ever happens, I’ll just perform a mind meld on you.” Sivol smiled.

“No you will not. I don’t ever want you to see what I went through, never again.” Vakai told her.

“When I am your doctor, I give the orders and if I see that I have to interfere, I will.” She glared at him.

Vakai sighed and then pointed at her while looking at everyone. “See what I have to deal with?”

They laughed as the group started to make their way out of the restaurant. It was going to be a long couple weeks for them, with questioning and the fact that the Centaur won’t be ready to fly for a while. But the one thing that they all can agree on, is what Gomez said. Having a deck under their feet that wasn’t jerking out from underneath them was a very good feeling. The peace and the sounds of activity of traders, tourists, officers…it was music to their ears as it was a sign to them that they had survived and they were, in a sense, home.

Stay tuned for Chapter Eight! The Warp Core Breach!