Part of Challenger: The Romulan War: The Tholian Stratagam

PROLOGUE

Vintaak Asteroid Star Outpost 1, Vintaak System
21st Period, 47th Cycle, 21559th Rotation
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Clicking furiously in response to what he had just witnessed, Admiral Jaimsekn was almost close to shattering into pieces at the uttermost revulsion that his people were seen as an easy target. 

That was far from the truth. 

As the supreme leader of the Tholian forces in the Vintaak system (along with its surrounding systems) he had just led his people to a victory over the aggressive overtures made by the Romulan Star Empire. His own flagship, the Cobel, had led the charge against the Romulan invasion force, that said though it was not much of a force. Several Birds-of-Prey and a handful of their unmanned drones attempted to make a statement but failed miserably at the loss of every one of their ships – bar one. Still seething that the Romulans thought they could do what they did and get away from it, the admiral had removed himself from the command centre for now and was in his own personal chambers. The higher temperatures that were above normal compared to the rest of the ship, soothed his anger slightly, but only so slightly. 

Tholian rooms like his were shaped out in an octagon-prism like form, it allowed him the space to conduct official business as well as a place to rest and relax (when he was able to do that). His door chime went off and he authorised his adjutant, one Commander Lenrist, to enter. As she scurried across the room the commander shared with the admiral an interesting report from their communications division. 

*Are we certain?* he clicked at her through their native ability to communicate with one another. Unlike their humanoid counterparts, Tholians did not speak in the same vocal tone. 

Confirming, Lenrist added additional information to the report. *Absolutely admiral. The Romulans attempted to use their advanced subspace radio to take control of our vessels. If it weren’t for certain radiations that are naturally present in our ships then they may have succeeded with their plans. I have ordered all departments to begin working on counter measures.*

*Excellent, once these are complete we will ensure the Romulans realise twice before they try to manipulate the Tholian Assembly again.*

Admiral Jaimsekn calmed himself down as he returned to his work, he had to contact his superiors on Tholia with what had happened. He knew there would be one question he would be ask: why did the Romulans do what they did? For that answer he had nothing substantive to share, instead he would bombard his suggestions with a move he knew his superiors would agree with. 

The Romulans will regret what they tried to do; he would see this plan of his through right to the last moment. He would make them pay for their actions today. His plans may take time to put into play, especially as the Romulans were far from the Tholian Assembly, nevertheless the admiral’s conviction was resolved. He would move his armada against them and send a clear message back to the Romulan people that would put chills in their bodies for generations to come. 


Wednesday, November 5th, 2155

Starfleet Training Command, San Francisco, California, United States of America, Earth

Casually strolling through the large common room area, minding her own business, Professor Erika St. Claire had her head down as she was focussing on reading the latest faculty bulletin. The Canadian civilian professor had her long black hair tied up into a tight bun with a bubble pin. Pushing her glasses up her nose, she continued to be focussed on what she was reading and had not taken any notice of what was being shown on the large projected screens based around the room. It took for everywhere to go silent for her to realise something was going on. Stopping in her tracks, the extinguished engineer and well-known scientist, turned to see what everyone else was looking at. The common room was probably one of the biggest areas on the main campus of STC. It held the main canteen and was a place where groups of Starfleet cadets would gather in study groups, or private tuition between professors and students would take place. Noticing a couple of cadets that were part of her engineering class, she calmly made her way over and asked through a whispered tone what was happening. When she was informed that the President of Earth was making an announcement, she had been intrigued to stop and watch the broadcast.

The view of the press room in the Palace of Hope in London always impressed Erika. Since the start of the war, it had become the symbol of where President Littlejohn would come on a weekly basis to address Earth and the Commonwealth regarding where they were at with the war effort. Littlejohn’s podium was set up ready for Earth’s Head of State to address them all. Surprised that the administration was making an unscheduled presidential statement, Erika focussed on what was happening. Littlejohn’s press secretary first came to the podium, announced the arrival of the President of Earth and scenes from inside the press room were shown as the reporters along with their camera operators all stood up at the sight of the impressive presence of Lydia Littlejohn. 

The tall, African American woman wore a dark purple-burgundy dress suit with a matching blouse underneath. The customary jewellery that she wore was apparent too, a simple silver chain necklace with a pearl droplet hung while she wore similar designed earrings. When Littlejohn spoke, the nation heard her. She was a no-nonsense type of politician. This made her quite popular and her leadership during the war so far had yet to receive any harsh criticism from the media, fellow politicians and the general population – even though it rarely felt like Earth was winning the war. 

Good evening,” she said as she stared down the middle of the room at the cameras that were recording her every word and expression. Behind her stood Vice President Elisabeth Reynolds, Prime Minister Nathan Samuels, Defence Secretary Thomas Vanderbilt and Fleet Admiral Moira Hathaway of Starfleet. Littlejohn continued, “I have just come from a briefing with Starfleet Command and I am thrilled to inform the people of the Commonwealth of some good news in our fight against the Romulan Star Empire. A successful joint mission which was led by two of our finest crews has secured Earth an impressive victory in this war. For security reasons I cannot disclose specific details of what the target was, however, I am at liberty to inform the public that the crews of Challenger and Discovery, two of our most recently launched NX-class ships, brought home this victory for us. Their actions have ensured that the current threat we face from the Romulans being able to manipulate and take over our ships and those of our allies has been severely dampened. As many of you are aware of the recent attacks against our civilian ships, including the tragic loss of the ECS Raven and ECS Polaris, has been extremely distressing for the Commonwealth and it has placed high amounts of pressure on Starfleet to ensure that our civilian crafts are well defended. That said, now that the Romulans have been dealt this critical blow to their operations it does not mean we can let down our guard. It is vital we remain firm in our conviction to win this war.” Littlejohn paused for the first time since she started her announcement. It was obvious the next part she was about to say was not good news as her body language instantly changed to appear some sort of deflation. “Sadly this victory came with a price. The crew of Challenger lost three fine officers. I have already reached out to their next of kin to share my condolences and gratitude for their honourable sacrifice. Those who died in the line of duty, including Commander Michael Stanton, Lieutenant junior grade John Conrad and Major Viktoria Yu.

The mention of the first name created ripples of shock among the faculty members standing around, Stanton was a former deputy department head at STC but it was the last name that made Erika drop the tablet that had been in her hands to the floor. 

Viktoria

Tears began to well in her eyes at the news of her ex-wife, her true love, had gone. She couldn’t believe it. The two of them had separated years ago, but somewhere down the road, Erika had wondered if they would ever reconnect. The shock overwhelmed her and she hurried off from the common room and went straight to the private confines of her office. Ever since the Xindi attack, she had made the decision to help out and join as a civilian professor at STC. It made her feel like she was making a difference, however now after hearing the death of her former spouse made her reconsider. Was she doing enough to make a difference? How could she compare what she did against the brave sacrifice made by Viktoria? She wasn’t on the frontline saving lives, being heroic in action to defend the honour of Earth and its mighty Commonwealth. 

Staring out of the small window in her office, Erika realised she needed some fresh air to comprehend what had just happened. The tears continued to drip down her cheeks as years of regret started to wash over her. If she had not been stupid enough not to tell Viktoria sooner that they left things too late, then who knows what they could have recovered. Now she knew she would never have the chance to find out. As a result of that, more teardrops appeared as she made her way out and onto the campus courtyard. She felt like she was suffocating and then suddenly she caught her breath before the guilt pummelled down on her heart.