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Part of USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again Part: 3 and USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again

Fall From Grace

Some remote star system
July 14, 2374
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The Vindicator dropped out of warp still cloaked at the indicated coordinates.   Negotiations with Galin and his people had taken nearly two months. Finally, an agreement had been made for 80 ships. Unfortunately, the majority had been smaller out-of-date Klingon birds-of-prey.  But, they could conquer more minor powers and use that territory to extract resources and build up the Imperial fleet.

Jeter looked at the view screen and frowned, “Not what we had hoped for is it?” He said aloud to no one in particular. “But it is a start.”

‘A start to my very own fleet perhaps…’ he thought to himself.

“It’s not going to conquer the Federation,” Órlaith observed. “But we will need shipyards for that.”

“Agreed, these ships will do their job well but we need to locate ourselves shipyards and facilities to build the vessels of a better caliber. For now, though,” Jeter said as he watched one of the birds of prey slowly circle around a formation of its comrades, “let’s expand our domain.”

Órlaith glanced at her brother and then at Jeter, “Where is Galin?   Something feels… off.”

~~~

Meanwhile, Galin made his way through the crowds of people who worked, lived, or were hiding. He walked against the flow of people, and those standing on an upper balcony might have imagined the flow parted around him.

“Seong,  I’ve noticed another woman with you recently,” he said to no one as he walked with his hands behind his back and his pace slow and even.

He knew she was nearby, and as if by magic, she appeared from the crowd and positioned herself behind him.

“Who exactly is she?” Galin inquired as he walked slowly toward the farthest of the observation lounges.

“A very old friend and I must confess older than you and I,” Seong stated in a tone that appeared even but conveyed the message ‘don’t broach the subject again’.

Galin had caught the message and let the subject slip from his mind, for the time being. Seong knew he wouldn’t let it go, but she also knew Vausees’ personal information wouldn’t get to him. She slowly faded back into the masses of bodies that flowed around them, seeing and hearing nothing more from Galin.

Galin abruptly changed directions and headed for a nearby corridor, and the masses moved around him as if they were unaware of the change in direction.

Two servants appeared at Galin’s side as he entered the observatory lounge. He ignored them, but he knew they were nearby. He came to a halt in front of the massive glass and iron wall, peering out into the black inky void of space as the small fleet he had purchased floated about. He felt a slight tingle in his right lobe at that point and realized he was being discussed.

He nodded to one of the servants, and a sharp chirp was heard as the observatory’s comms connected with the Vindicator.

“You know, hooman Jeter, all you have to do is ask, and the facilities that your black heart craves can be yours. And, unlike my fellow Ferengi, this one is completely free.”

He was well aware that only his voice would have been heard and that no image of him would have been seen, let alone discovered. It was simpler to delete an audio file than to hire someone to remove an entire conversation, video, and audio from a ship’s memory without being noticed.

~~~

Seong watched from the shadows as her boss continued to work his way into Jeter’s pockets and mind. She knew that this man would soon be gone from this universe, and her secret would be kept just that.

Seong stood there watching in silence, and without moving a muscle, she said, “Not yet Captain,” her voice low as she spoke. 

Vausees locked her gaze on Jeter and the others standing nearby, just out of reach but close enough for her body to tremble with excitement. She knew that arresting and apprehending them would result in the promotion she so desperately desired.

“This had better not be a trap, Seong, or I will see you in their place, Princess,” she said in the same low tone as Seong.

Jeter frowned as the audio of Galin’s voice came over the coms. He glanced back at Órlaith and her brother Ian and couldn’t help but agree with Órlaith sentiment; his eyes shifted for a moment to the silent woman in the shadows. He didn’t trust the Ferengi and there was something about this situation that bothered him.  “We will see Ferengi. You have held up your end, in part. Provide us with the access codes to those ships and I will consider this deal done.” 

Galin shrugged at the request and tapped on the console that was before him. The codes appeared in the PADD that Jeter had.

As soon as he possessed the access codes to the ships he would be able to set the plans in motion and distance himself Galin, and the annoyance that was Ian before moving on to his ‘parents’. His eyes shifted to Ian momentarily, his intense dislike for the young man was barely restrained before linking back to Órlaith; he was not sure how she would react but he suspected she would need to be eliminated as well unless she saw reason.

He has spent the last two months subtlely adjusting the shift patterns of the crew so that those loyal to him would be there when needed. Finally, after years with Dominus and Bellitor he would be able to satisfy his desire for their deaths and be free to get out of this endless cycle of death and destruction, even if it needed just a bit more of both.

Órlaith eyed Jeter.  Something about his expression sent red flags.  She knew her mother trusted him, and he had always been a loyal servant… but that expression. She just couldn’t decipher it, and she was usually pretty good at reading people.  “What is going on in that head of yours?”

Jeter’s eyes refocused for a moment on Órlaith and he shrugged, a little bit of annoyance coming through in his voice, “Impatience, this has taken longer than I wanted. That and something is off but I cannot put my finger on it.”

Accepting the explanation she turned to stare out the viewscreen. “Maybe I’m just a little paranoid.”

A clone commander entered the bridge drawing uncomfortable looks from those present on the bridge. The clone approached Jeter and simply nodded to Órlaith.  “Where are the ships? My crews are ready to take possession,” she said.

Jeter looked the clone up and down, ‘yet another of the endless stream of clones,’ he thought to himself. “The ships are ready and waiting. A total of 80 vessels are now ready for you and your crews,” he said as he glanced down at the PADD in his hands confirming that the access codes had come through as Galin had indicated; codes he would make sure he kept hold of for any unexpected turns.  “You can now take possession of them immediately, but I want a full report from each vessel’s combat readiness within the next 36 hours.”

The clone nodded, turned on a heel, and headed for the turbolift distributing orders into her communicator.  Órlaith gave her an uncomfortable glance as she departed. “I’ll be more comfortable with them off the ship… they are just… unnatural. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.”

Jeter chuckled under his breath at that, “Yeah; easy to crew ships with and follow orders but they lack the initiative and independent thought I have found.” He turned to look out at the viewscreen and watched the ships, wishes he, they, had more than a smattering of vor’cha-class ships and other such cruisers. The outdated B’rel-class ships when working in swarms could be useful but they had many, many limitations. 

Looking back at Órlaith he continued, “Once they are manned we will depart. The Shengalian system is outside of the control of any of the main powers and is rather rich in resources. A good place to start I think.”

“Does mother know of this?” Órlaith asked not having been told of this.

Jeter nodded, “We were instructed to gather a fleet and we need to be able to supply that fleet and start building a power base. The only way we can do it is to secure resources.” He paused for a moment and looked around the bridge, “I will be updating your mother shortly on this, first I want to ensure we have everything in place and the ships are operational.”

“So, we’re improvising now Jeter? That’s not like you,” she said with suspicion in her voice.

Hearing his sister Ian moved to her side with his arms crossed and glared at Jeter. “When did you decide to grow a spine?”

“Finally found your voice did you, Ian? For all your gusto, you both know very little about me or anything of that matter, after all, you are not even a year old,” Jeter said as he easily met Ian’s eyes and grinned wickedly. Without waiting for a response he looked over at the operations station, “Are the clones all offloaded?”

The officer nodded anticipating the next command, “Good, notify all departments that we will need to take a full restock of our inventory now that they are gone; there is work to do.” The long-awaited command to his people was sent to all decks and officers.

At that, the officer’s grin widen and Jeter turned back to face Ian and Órlaith. Without pause, he rapidly pulled out his phaser and pointed it at Ian’s chest. With that, the bridge officers around Jeter moved quickly, drew their phasers from their hips and from under their consoles, and rapidly stunned the couple of confused crew who were not explicitly loyal to him leaving only Ian and Órlaith standing, multiple phasers pointed straight at them.

Jeter didn’t move this entire time as he watched, the events unfold. “I wouldn’t move or you will be stunned many times and well, I am not sure if it would stun you or kill you,” he said as he looked at Ian. “Maybe it is time you learned some hard truths.” He put extra emphasis on the last two words he spoke. 

Ian clenched his fists,  “If my father doesn’t kill you, I will.”

Jeter smiled, “Oh, Ian. I have known your father for many years and you are not him. And I suspect that like usual he will have overstepped, and let his own inflated ego get in the way. He likely already has the federation bearing down on him.” Jeter couldn’t help but smile inwardly knowing that an anonymous message was moving through subspace to Starfleet with some hint as to where Dominus and Bellitore were hiding.

Órlaith barely reacted.  “Why?” She asked genuinely curious.

Jeter looked at Órlaith and felt a bit of a prang of guilt. She lacked the cruel streak found in the others. “Why do you think Órlaith. Power and Choice,” he said but what he really was after was freedom. He knew some of those loyal to him saw it only as a way to grab power but others wanted to escape.

“You know my mother doesn’t accept betrayal.  For your sake, I hope father finds you.  Your death will be a bit less painless,” Órlaith warned. “Flee, and Godspeed.  We cannot stop you. I just hope you find what you are looking for. If we meet again I will have no choice but to kill you.”

Jeter nodded, “I would expect nothing less but perhaps in time you will see this as an opportunity to become your own person.” He turned slightly to look at the remaining bridge officers loyal to him. “Take them to the brig and let’s ensure we have the ship secure.” He paused for a moment and spoke again, “And make sure they are searched thoroughly under heavy guard.”

“I would rather be dead than a prisoner,” Ian grumbled.

“Give us a shuttle, and you won’t have to worry about us taking over the ship and organizing a resistance,” Órlaith suggested.  “Or just kill us now and be done with it.”

Jeter’s looked at them and smirked, “We shall see.” He glanced at the security officers loyal to him. “Best beam them directly there.” A moment later both Órlaith and Ian vanished, Jeter smiled before speaking to the con officer. Set a course to these corrdinates,” he tossed his PADD to the officer,” We can drop them off there and return here in short order. Let them see how they fair.”

He took a seat in the command chair and glanced out at the fleet before them. “Notify the Galin that we will return shortly. I may want to have another discussion with him.”