Cass awoke with a start to the terrifying sounds of a man screaming. She jerked upright to see that Sepak was kneeling across from another man, holding the man’s face in his hands—his eyes tightly closed and an intense look of concentration upon his face. The man, however, screeched in agony as he clawed at the powerful hands that held him. And Matt Dahlgren’s daughter blanched as a trickle of blood began to stream from the man’s nose and ears, his body went limp, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he collapsed.
Sepak’s eyes opened and he frowned at the corpse before him. “Pity,” he whispered. “I had thought that the secrets of the mind-meld were now mine—I was mistaken.” He drew out a hand phaser and adjusted the controls; he then fired a golden beam into the corpse, vaporizing it. And without turning around, he smiled. “She wakes,” he said as he rose from the ground and turned to face her. “I do not understand why I cannot complete the meld, child—I know all that Sepak knew.”
The young woman stood from the couch and she shivered. “Obviously you do not, or you would not be having such troubles now.”
Sepak darted across the room and he grabbed Cass by the throat. “Careful, child. You are valuable to me—but not that valuable,” he growled before he released her. “It is a matter of physiology . . . Vulcans are natural telepathic beings. I should be able to complete the meld—why can I not?”
“Perhaps Sepak is still fighting you,” Cass spat as she rubbed the red marks his grip had left on her neck.
“Child . . . there is no Sepak. There is only Ordan. Sepak was vanquished from existence when I occupied his mind.”
“That is a lie,” Cass said softly.
“Oh? Tell me then, child of Dahlgren, enlighten one who knows more of memory than you ever shall?”
“The Vulcans can transfer their katra
—their souls—upon their death. These katra
s live on, where their knowledge can be consulted by high-ranking Vulcan officials long after their bodies death. You possess Sepak’s body . . . but were he truly dead, his memories would have died with him. They did not; ergo, Sepak must still exist—and he is fighting you, Ordan.”
“Clever girl,” Sepak/Ordan said with a narrow smile. “Yes, Sepak has retreated within himself—but he does not fight me any longer. He is too weak for that.”
“Then why can you not meld with another living person? Sepak is fighting you, Ordan. He is waging a war to keep you from the minds of others. The more you try, the harder you fight against him, the more damage you cause your victims. It is not that lack the knowledge, Ordan . . . you lack Sepak’s discipline.”
Sepak/Ordan frowned and then he nodded. “Perhaps you are correct, Cassandra Dahlgren. But Sepak grows weaker by the hour—and I grow stronger. And while that meld did not accomplish my goal, it has shown me that I am learning from my mistakes. I was able to glimpse his thoughts and soon I will be able to rewrite his personality as my Gift did to the Lorsham long ago.”
Sepak/Ordan snorted. “The Lorsham—they failed me. They were unable to recover my artifacts from the Kraal and they failed me utterly against your Federation. They are unworthy of being my servants . . . and for that I shall withdraw from them my presence.” He walked over to communications station in the safe-house and entered a short code and pressed the transmit key. “I feared that I would have to do this one day—but it was my hope that such frail beings could overcome their deficiencies and become worthy of being my thralls. Humans will make far more effective thralls, I believe.”
“What have you done, Ordan?” Cass asked as she sat back down.
“What I should have years ago. I have removed a thorn in my side that has only hindered me.”
“Commodore!” one of the bridge officers of USS Paris
cried out . . . but Helen Arouet did not need his anguished cry as she stood from the command chair aboard the Apollo
-class starship. Nuclear fireballs were erupting across the surface of Hak’ta-thor, consuming each and every center of population in sequence.
“My God,” she whispered. “Source of the detonations?”
“Nothing got through the blockade, Commodore,” her exec whispered. “And there were no missile launches on the surface—they must have been pre-positioned for maximum destruction,” he paused and what little color in his face remained drained away. “Projections indicate that all but 0.01% of the Lorsham are now dead—the radiation from those weapons was enhanced . . . the survivors will die within hours.”
“Mass suicide? An entire race committed suicide?” Helen asked in an incredulous tone.
“Commodore,” another officer said, "there was a transmission along the buoy chain directed at Hak’ta-thor twenty-two minutes ago—it had codes of the Federation Council and was automatically relayed to the surface by the computer.”
“Did we record that transmission?” she barked.
“Affirmative, Commodore. It was audio-only, replaying now,” he answered as the speaker crackled to life.
“Vorshun . . . know that this is the Voice of Ordan speaking unto you. Authentication code Seven Six Beta Gamma Four Two Sigma Tau Three Five One Nine Eight. Execute the Omega Directive.
“End of transmission, Commodore,” the crewman finished.
Helen sat down heavily in her chair. Three billion Lorsham gone—wiped away from existence. An entire culture—an entire species—destroyed in the blink of an eye. “Communications. Open a Priority Channel to Star Fleet Command,” she said in a wooden voice. “Number One, you have the Conn, I will be in my ready room.”