Task Force: Kir'Shara retreated from Vulcan space. Due to the inaccuracy of the subspace vortex on its second use, the task force was spread out through the Alpha Quadrant. Federation, Andorian, and Tellerite starships were sent out to aid those damaged ships back to either Earth or a starbase for repairs. By the time all the ships were contacted, eleven Federation starships were lost and nine Vulcan.
The Liberator limped its way to Earth at warp 3. Commander Katsu was in command as Captain Tucker was still in the infirmary under the care of Dr. Phlox and the supervision of Commander T'Pol.
"Come on, doc, I'm fine," Trip said.
Phlox stood over him with a medical tricorder in his hand as he ran it over the surgically repaired shoulder of the captain. T'Pol stood behind him. She had opened up their bond taking as much as Trip's pain as she could handle without interfering with her cognitive abilities.
"You'll need to wear a sling for two weeks and have daily muscle and nerve regen then a month of rehab and you'll be fine," said Phlox.
He turned and looked at T'Pol. The ship was a twitter with the story of T'Pol's reaction to Trip's injury. Commander Katsu had to ban her from interviewing their prison, which they now knew was a Reman.
"If he didn't move, he would have taken the spear in his chest this would have been far worse. He is lucky to have only a shoulder injury," said Phlox.
"He will recover completely?" asked T'Pol.
"Yes," he said.
"Good. Now can the captain of this starship leave the infirmary," Trip said.
"No, he cannot," Phlox said with a smile. "Tomorrow, you can leave. Tonight you remain here."
"Doctor, may I stay the night?" asked T'Pol.
"I'll arrange for the bed next to the captain's to be empty and a screen to be put around the two of you. I know that mated Vulcan couples heal quicker when they are together and their bond is working on the healing," said Phlox.
"Thank you, Doctor," said T'Pol.
"Phlox, you know we are mated?" asked Trip.
"It is obvious, Captain," he smiled. "Now, I'll have Petty Officer Malloy released to his quarters."
Phlox walked away. Trip looked at T'Pol.
I love you, darlin'. Now stop sharing my pain. I can handle it.
Mated couples share, Charles. I want to share your pain.
Charles? I heard you called me Trip when I took the spear.
Once you get better I may call you Trip again.
Trip laughed, as T'Pol sat down on the edge of his bed and took his right hand in hers.
Mendat stood in his office. He had ordered a counterstrike against the Coalition using Xindi and Romulan Birds of Prey. It was his last orders here and he knew it. Grand Admiral Cassius had ordered his return to Romulus. He was being replaced by Fleet Admiral Aurelan and his top adjutant Commander Valeris. Aurelan had a reputation as a butcher. He specialized it scorched planets and decimated populations in order to make other races submit to the Romulan Star Empire. It was said that Valeris had slept her way into her position of power. She was the voice that whispered in Aurelan's ear. Mendat didn't begrudge her that if it was true. Power was power. Four Centurion Guards entered his office.
"Sir, you transport to Romulus is ready," the SubCommander said.
"Transport," he laughed. "You mean my prison."
The four came to attention and saluted him in imperial fashion. He returned the salute. Looking around his office, he admired the large room that he had redecorated Romulan style. It was funny, but from what he knew of Aurelan he would have preferred the Vulcan style. He was an aesthete.
"Has the attack fleet reported in yet?" he asked the SubCommander.
"No, sir. They are expected to report back within the half hour. I will make sure that you are given their update, even if you are on the transport headed home," said the SubCommander.
"Thank you. You are too kind," said Mendat.
He took his place in the middle of the four guards and allowed him to march out of the office. His belongings were already packed and being loaded. When he returned to Romulus, he'd lose his rank and find himself a commander again. As commander he'd be given a Bird of Prey, not even a Warbird and eventually sent to the front lines in order win glory for the empire and salvage his reputation. Gone were the luxuries of power. If I am given a chance I shall repair the Coalition for my fall.
It was quiet at Starbase 8. Commodore Hemsley was in his office reading reports how six starships had been repaired and sent to Earth. They were part of the mission to Vulcan. From what he heard from the captains of those ships it was a hell of a battle. He put his PADD down then turned in his seat and looked out his window.
Under his command were fifteen frigates and five cruisers. Right now he had four ships in his docks being repaired and 500 Marines waiting to be picked up transported to a FOB. He ran a tight starbase and hoped to be promoted so he could take a more active role in this war.
Suddenly, thirty Xindi ships appeared and fifteen Birds of Prey de-cloaked. His starbase was about to be attacked by a superior force. Hemsley stood up and punched the comm button on his desk then yelled, "Battle stations! Get all our ships in the air! Get base defenses online and firing!"
He watched as the Romulan and Xindi ships formed attack formations and began their attack. Calmly, he sat down and hit his comm button again.
"Record as much as you can on this attack fleet then send upload it to an emergency buoy and release," he said.
"Aye, sir," said the comm officer.
Hemsley sat back in his chair and turned it towards the window. He watched as his unprepared ships were destroyed by the Xindi and Romulans. There was no reason to join his people in ops. This attack force wasn't going to take prisoners and it wasn't going to leave anyone alive. Starfleet Commander will have to send the Corp of Engineers to rebuild a new starbase. Maybe they'll name it after him or one of his people who distinguishes himself or herself. Starbase 8 just doesn't have a valiant sound to it.
Syrann and T'Kart made their way out of the Vulcan forge. They look like two harmless, peaceful monks. They headed for the nearest bazaar where they could begin to spread the words about the Kir'Shara and Surak's katra. It was time to rally the Vulcan people and reclaim the Vulcan katra.
T'Pau and T'Les stayed together in the quarters they shared meditating. T'Pau had asked for a meeting with the captain. He agreed and would be arriving soon. The buzzer drew their attention. T'Pau looked at T'Les.
"Let our guest in," she said.
The older woman stood up and opened the door. Trip, who was wearing a sling, was standing there along with T'Pol. T'Les motioned them to come into the room.
When they entered Trip saw T'Pau on the floor in the lotus position. She nodded at him.
"Thank you, Captain, for coming," she said.
"My pleasure, ma'am," he answered.
"Considering the request I have for you, I think it best if you call me T'Pau," she said.
He was going to tell her to call him Trip, but he knew better by now. Vulcans just didn't do nicknames.
"Syrann transferred Surak's katra to me before he left. Since he had already decided to stay on Vulcan to spread the word of the Kir'Shara," T'Pau told him.
"I wish he had warned us about his change of plans," said Trip.
"He knew you would be against it," said T'Les.
"Well, it's too late to cry over spilled milk," said Trip.
T'Pau and T'Les both raised an eyebrow and stared at him for moment. T'Pol felt obligated to intercede on their part.
"Captain Tucker enjoys employing colorful turns of phrases," she said. "It takes some getting used to."
"Well, Captain," said T'Pau. "Syrann told me to ask you if you would become the Giidas, the spirit guardian for Surak and myself."
Trip looked at her with a bemused expression on his face. T'Pol interceded again.
"A Giidas can only be a fellow Vulcan," said T'Pol.
"He is your mate, which makes him a Vulcan citizen," said T'Les.
"Okay, what is a Giidas thing?" he asked.
"A Giidas is an individual who takes responsibility for the katra and, in my case, the vessel that is carrying it. You agree to protect us and defend us," said T'Pau.
"I have read some Human fiction," said T'Les. "You become the champion of the katra."
"It is a great honor considering whose katra we are speaking about," said T'Pau. "Will you be my Giidas?"
Trip looked at T'Pol.
Darlin', what should I do?
It is a great honor, K'diwa.
How come I've got the feeling that this is going to buy be a boat load of trouble?
As my mate you are a citizen of Vulcan. This is something no citizen of Vulcan would refuse.
Trip looked at T'Pau.
"I'll be your Giidas."
The Situation Room was busy with incoming and outgoing comms. Fleet Admiral Masamoto along with Admiral Forest, Admiral Black, Rear Admiral Duval, Rear Admiral Archer, Fleet Captain Ramirez, and Fleet Captain Hernandez were in the clear cube room. On the smart table were the images of the destroyed starbase and the debris of the Starfleet ships.
"Task Force: Kir'Shara was a success," said Black. "The ships are heading back at their best speeds to Earth."
"How is the Liberator?" asked Archer.
"Took a beating that no other ship could take and gave it back in return," said Black. "They headed home at warp 3. I talked to Captain Tucker and the Liberator will need some hull then will be ready for action. They have a prison, a Reman."
"Their ETA is in two days," said Forest.
Archer nodded. He looked forward to seeing Trip.
"We're supposed to be here brainstorming," said Duvall, "so let's get to it. We need to add weapons platforms to starbase defenses. I recommend railguns. They are effective and cost effective."
"I agree," said Archer. They were brutal weapons but that was needed at the moment. "We also need sensor nets for advance warning. The Andorians and Coridans can assist with that. It's time we strengthen this Coalition."
"Prime Minister Samuels agrees. All coalition planets are being offered embassies on Earth and a Coalition of Planets Senate is being convened. Gentlemen, we have to start working more and better with our allies," said Masamoto.
"By attacking Vulcan, we gained a victory, but we also made the Romulans more aggressive," said Forest. "Every time we make advances in our fleet we lose ships. We need our allies to become more active in this fight, especially with these Xindi joining with the Romulans."
"I've asked representative of the Xindi-Arboreals, Xindi-Aquatics, and Xindi-Primates to Earth. They have accepted it," said Archer. "It may behoove us to negotiate a starbase in the Delphic Expanse. It is rich in minerals and materials and during a war those become important."
"Looks like you are taking on added duties Rear Admiral Archer," said Masamoto.
"I thought diplomats could handle them," he said.
"You will handle them," smiled Masamoto.
"Any advantage we can find then we pounce on it," said Forest. "This is not going to be a short war and by the way the Romulans are acting we can't afford to lose it."
"Officers, we are now at the end of the beginning. This is going to be a long slog. I expect the best from you and your people. We are not going to lose this war that much I know. What I don't know is how long it will last or how much blood and treasure it will cost us," said Masamoto then he looked at Archer. "The media needs a face and we have decided that you are that face. Schedule some interviews."
Archer snarled but then said, "Yes, sir."
"Carryon, Gentlemen and Lady," Masamoto said. "You have much work to do."
The End of Part One.
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