Empires' End: Book 1

Spoiled Plans

The Romulan Senate simmered uneasily today, as tides of power shifted through them, their machinations unseen but their effects unmistakable. Senator Mayvar was dead, a victim of mysterious circumstances. With him gone, there was little holding the peace faction together, making way for the warhawks that had been gaining so much momentum in these past months. There were more plots afoot than just Vreenak’s. When Senator Vreenak had first made his proposal, it had taken a lot of steam from the peace movement, as its most prominent member, the man who’d negotiated the original treaty with the Dominion, had left their camp to promote his war machines. But even as the Romulan Empire quietly accelerated its shipyards, turning out and retrofitting warships at a ravenous rate, the warhawks still should not have had such prolific recruitment within the Senate. Vreenak had urged patience, time to fully convert their fleet so that no soldiers would have to die once the war began, and coming out of a peace-dominated Senate he thought this sentiment would stick.

But something was changing the wind. Vreenak didn’t like disruptions to his plans. Especially during his moment of triumph. The project had been almost unanimously endorsed, even the peace supporters feeling it was a good security precaution, and it had not only brought him goodwill, but had made him look like a strong leader. There had been risk that he’d be seen as a flip flopper, going from negotiator to weapons developer, but he’d avoided that. Instead Vreenak was seen as the cunning schemer with plans within plans, the initiative-taking visionary, and the man who’d brought the factions into agreement even as he redrew their lines of engagement. He had become the obvious candidate for the next Praetor- but whatever was behind these new maneuvers and assassinations threatened the potential to overshadow him.

So last night it had been Vreenak coming to see Senator Cretak, and his turn to seek answers on the others machinations.

“I’ve been expecting you,” said Cretak, with a passable impersonation of him from their earlier encounter.

Vreenak smiled and took a seat, “I’m sure you’ve heard about Mayvar this morning.”

Cretak nodded, “I know he was a friend of yours.”

“More of a former ally,” he said.

Cretak smirked at that, “Yes, I doubt you have many friends.”

Vreenak didn’t let that goad him, “I have numerous friends Senator, especially lately. Though I must admit I had thought I could count you among them.”

“And why can’t you?” she asked.

“You’re keeping things from me,” he accused. “And after I let you in.”

Cretak sighed. No doubt some small sense of loyalty was tugging at her; she had gained a degree of prominence from joining him before, after all. “I’m uncertain what you would do if I told you Vreenak. You could be a valuable ally, or an obstinate obstacle. And if the latter it would be a mistake to forewarn you of my movement’s plans.”

Vreenak smiled, “I think we’re probably on the same side, Senator. If there is one thing we have proven to each other, it’s that we’re patriots. If what your movement is after is truly best for Romulus, I will endorse it. And if it’s not, then why are you part it?”

Cretak stared into space for a while, weighing her options. Finally she spoke up, “There’s a way to get a foothold into Dominion space. After secret negotiations with our cousins, the Vulcan’s have agreed to help us take their homeland. They’d rather be under Romulan rule than the Dominion's.”

Vreenak absorbed the news. “You’ve been secretly talking with the Vulcans?”

Cretak nodded, “For over a month now. We’ve been communicating through a network of intermediaries. Though I really didn’t expect that network to assassinate Mayvar. It’s a serious security breach I’ll have to speak with them about.”

“Not to mention a sign of desperation. Vulcans sending assassins, I knew they weren’t above that, for all their arrogant posturings on ethics. But so, this is how you plan to make our first move against the Dominion. I’ll admit Vulcan’s a strategic location, and possesses abundant resources for warships. And with the Vulcans fighting off the troops on the ground, our cloaked fleets could destroy the orbiting blockade, and then take hold of the planet easily. Then with enough ships we could probably hold off a siege, with the Vulcans support.”

“And with the Vulcans fighting on the ground,” said Cretak, “we won’t even have to use any soldiers. We’ll bring in some for securing the planet after, but none will be in the line of fire. Use positronic ships in the destruction of the blockade, and you can still have your costless war.”

Vreenak pondered, “We’ll still need to wait before starting the liberation. Time to build up our new forces to defend against inevitable Dominion retaliation. But yes, this seems like an acceptable first move.” And by consuming this movement into his framework, he could insure his place as Praetor.

Now Vreenak stood before the Senate next to Cretak, as they had months before, and once again changed the course of Romulan history.

Weyoun looked over the list of Cardassian Legates considered for leadership once more with a heavy sigh. He didn’t trust a single one of them. Dumar had been a drunkard, and there was a very good chance he was a danger to his bodily person, but Weyoun doubted he would ever have truly betrayed the Dominion. He was too broken, too tired to do more than play his part. It was difficult to find competent officers like that these days.

“Perhaps,” he mumbled, “I should try a different tactic. There wouldn’t be any objections to picking someone lower on the ranks, someone less ambitious. A glinn, perhaps. If I spin it right, say... as a symbol of upward mobility, ‘proof that anyone can rise to the top if they work hard in service to the state,’ yes that will do. And I bet he’d even be very grateful, or she.”

A chime let him know someone was at the door.

“Come in,” he said, putting aside the problem for now. The vorta scientist in charge of the android project entered his office. Weyoun had not been expecting him, but hopefully this was a good sign. “You have good new, I take it?”

The vorta shifted uneasily. “In a way… The progress on reproducing the technology is still very slow, but we’ve managed to extract much more the android’s memories. Some of it leads to a planet Omicron Theta, a now lifeless world where he was designed and constructed. I thought you may want to organise an expedition there, to see if there are any materials- blueprints, notes and the like- that may have survived.”

“Yes, very good.” This sounded... fascinating. A mysterious technology, a dead world; Weyoun couldn’t resist. He would have to go himself, take a short break from the worries of the Dominion. Perhaps he’d even take his new puppet king along, after he picked one, if only to keep him or her from causing trouble in his absence.

Silani One awoke into the world, fully aware of what she was. Her eyes were closed, and she could feel the warmth of the vitalic fluid suspending her in the cloning tank. Vibrations rocked her as the tank was opened, no doubt by the vorta scientists who must be activating her. But that barely distracted her as existential wonder blossomed within her. She took joy in the simple fact that she was. Later Silanis, perhaps, would upon waking have darker thoughts, contemplating the death of their predecessors. But she was the first of her model, the first of an immortal line of Silanis that would walk across this cosmos.

Hands pulled her up into the cold air, and something wiped the warm fluid from her face so she could open her eyes. Silani looked into the brightness, the blurs focusing into faces of the scientists who’d birthed her, and suddenly a very powerful idea took hold. With all that future lying ahead of her and her line, she could not bare to spend it following these others in monotonous service to the state. She must make her own path.

Little did Silani know that of the hundreds of new lines waking that day, every one of them was thinking that same thing.

The First stood still as a statue on the bridge of his ship, waiting for an attack. The blockade around Vulcan was an imposing force, unassailable in the heart of Dominion territory, but he stayed ready and alert with mechanical reliability. Because this is what he was born for, this is what he was made for.

The ship shook as a barrage of torpedoes assaulted their shields, and the map in his monocular viewer displayed dozens of enemy ships decloaking around the planet. The First immediately selected an attack pattern and ordered his men to engage. But his quick response quickly proved insufficient, as the nimble warships swooped and dived against them with merciless genius. As another phaser blast failed to land, the First took over Tactical himself, relieving the less experiences soldier, and applied all his skills against the enemy. But it was no use. When at last they were maneuvered into a vulnerable position and 3 ships made simultaneous attack runs while on their way to other, more important targets, the First’s only thoughts as his starship erupted around him was shame that he had failed the Founders.

Only a few faint pinpricks in the sky betrayed the conflagration above Vulcan, but it was a heartening sight to the rebelling Vulcans. Deep within their katras, underneath centuries of emotional discipline, the promise of freedom soared up into that sky; and a love was rekindled for their wayward brothers, returning home at last as liberators. On the ground, the organised vulcans continued their assault on the occupation forces, perfectly timed to distract the Dominion administrators just as the Romulan fleet decloaked, and cut off all ground support from the blockade.Within a few hours, the planet was in Romulan hands.

Jack threw his chair across the room, slamming onto a table covered in pads. Patrick flinched and backed away, scared. Lauren retrieved his chair in a huff, casually returning it to its exact position and sitting down in it. “It’s not the first time our predictions have failed Jack. No need to throw a fit.”

“I’m not throwing a fit! I just, didn’t like where the chair was. And you had to go, and put it back. You knew it was bothering me, yet to brought it back anyway.”

Lauren shrugged, “I wanted somewhere to sit, when you threw it I figured I could use it.”

“Then why did you place it in exactly the same spot? Ha! Oh stop talking about the chair Lauren, no one cares. We have more important things to deal with. The entire galaxy just went to war and my plans are in ruins.”

“Our plans,” corrected Lauren.

“Yes yes you can take your credit. But how did this happen? Did Bashir do something? He never did like to let us have our way. Remember when he refused to let us give the Dominion the Alpha Quadrant? He helped us with the calculations, he knew it would save 38 billion lives, but he stopped us anyway because of some, some sense of duty. How do you predict someone like that? You don’t switch moral frameworks when making decisions. Your supposed to be consistent. But he, he was recommending surrender one minute and arresting us the next, just because we acted on the best interests of the Alpha Quadrant rather than following their stupid rules.”

Patrick reluctantly spoke up, “Jack I, I don’t think it was Bashir. This was his plan too, and I think he liked it.”

“Besides,” said Lauren, leaning back in her chair, “I don’t know how he could have orchestrated a Romulan invasion from the heart of Cardassia.”

“Fine fine, then it was someone we don’t know,” admitted Jack. “Something we couldn’t have known or it would’ve been accounted for in our calculations.”

“So what do we do now?” asked Patrick.

“Now, you tell me everything you know about Julian Bashir, and your plans for the Alpha Quadrant,” said someone behind them. They turned, and saw a cardassian pointing a phaser at them while smiling amiably. “I believe you said he was somewhere on Cardassia.”

Patrick nodded spiritedly, staring at the gun.

“Who are you?” asked Lauren.

“And how did you get past Sloan’s security?” snapped Jack.

The cardassian bowed slightly, “My name is Elim Garak, former agent of the Obsidian Order, high level operative of the Orion Syndicate, and expert tailor. And getting past security is just one of my many talents.”

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