Captain Belix looked out of his office window at the fleet massing in his system.
The Tholians had destroyed an entire starbase, and the Federation Council had ordered Admiral Frennier to deal with the situation. He had free reign to do as he wished, and the admiral had chosen this system to assemble his handpicked captains and ships. He had told Captain Belix that if things did not run according to schedule, he would bust him back all the way to civilian on Alpha Centauri, and the captain believed him! Belix was going mad from all of the various requests and orders for supplies and ships coming and going. And he had never seen so many Orions in his life! Thank goodness they were on their best behavior. He would be so glad once the fleet moved away into Tholian space.
Commander Henderson, his First Officer, entered the room. She said, “Sir, Captain Reylan has just reported in. That is the last of the Federation ships on my log.”
“Thank you, Commander.”
“And sir, a force of Breen ships has entered the system, and is demanding to see the Admiral.”
“He is currently interviewing the sole survivor, Kyle Riker, but I shall inform him.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but the Breen? Why does he need them? And so many Orions about.”
“I know, I know. The Admiral has a rather unique relationship with the Orions, and often employs them as scouts.”
“Do you think that he is a member of the Orion Syndicate?”
Captain Belix turned pale, and did not answer.
A voice behind her said, “Many people have been asking that question for years.”
She turned and saw a youngish looking man in an admiral’s uniform. She had seen his picture, but in person Fleet Admiral Frennier looked out of place in that uniform. And the Klingon baldric and knife were an exotic addition.
“Some people would claim that I might even be a founding member.” The admiral was the only one who chuckled at his joke.
He continued. “The Orions make excellent scouts, Commander, and have been all over this galaxy. We have so little knowledge of Tholian space. As for the Breen, the Tholians are from a hot world, and the Breen are from a cold one. Their cold based weapons will have increased effect against the Tholians. Also, they have a unique energy draining weapon, which will come in very useful against the Tholian web technology. The Tholians used some variant of their web device to overcome the starbase’s defenses, and I want to be ready for that. Please patch the call to my temporary office, Captain Belix.”
“Commander Henderson, I have a staff meeting with my captains, but afterwards, perhaps we can finish our discussion of the situation over dinner?”
“I, I would be delighted, Admiral.”
Later that night, Admiral Frennier awoke with a start. He had been dreaming about all of those people on the starbase, klaxons blaring as the Tholians brought their doom. The sound had merged with a hundred other battle sirens, and he was awake. He sat on the edge of the bed, trying not to disturb Commander Henderson’s sleep.
Another war. He had been an ensign aboard the Enterprise when the Tholians had first trapped her in their web. A clever plan had saved them all from an unknown fate. Now, he was going into their space. God help them.
A light touch on his arm and softly spoken words made him smile. The Tholians could wait until tomorrow.
Six weeks later, the main Tholian battle fleet floated as so much space junk on the main viewer. Ahead, the path to the Tholian homeworld lay undefended.
The Tholians had a great hatred of deception, and were too damn punctual for their own good. At the loss of only a single frigate (sacrificed unmanned as bait), the Tholian border defenses and outposts were no more. The draining of their webs had taken them completely by surprise. Bases and worlds fell quickly.
At the climatic battle, when the Tholian admiral had tried to use his super weapon, he was shocked to discover his power draining away. All ships had then concentrated their fire upon his flagship. Frennier watched as the Tholian admiral’s massive ship now vented warp plasma into the void.
“Sir, message from Starfleet Command. The Tholian Assembly has contacted the Federation Council and a ceasefire is now in effect. The Assembly disavows any support for Admiral Levkine’s actions against the Federation.”
“I bet they don’t. Alright, inform the Orions and Breen of my thanks, and they can withdraw after taking their spoils.”
“Sir, there are still life signs on Levkine’s vessel. Shall we beam them over?”
“Put it on main viewer.”
“We can only receive audio.”
The Universal Translator had a hard time with Tholian. The words came broken over the speakers. “The cold. The killing cold of space…” The voice trailed off.
No one spoke. All waited for the Admiral’s response.
“No. Leave them to their fate. Their own government has sacrificed them anyway.”
“Leave them. For all of those innocents they murdered with their super weapon. Return us to Federation space.”
The Tholian ships rotated silently in the void.