An Alternate TNG Film Franchise -- after First Contact

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by M-Red, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    I've been meaning to get around to this for awhile now, and I've referenced this idea in several other threads in the TNG and Movies forums. But I'm creating this thread to flesh out the idea and get it out there because I've worked on the concept and refined it for years.

    This is my personal conclusion to The Next Generation film franchise and the TNG saga more broadly. In it, I accept the first two film installments, Generations and First Contact, but then depart in an entirely different direction and ignore everything that came after FC. I also sync up the TNG films with series endings of DS9 and Voyager. In effect, my alternate TNG films after FC serve as the culmination for TNG and the entire 24th century era of Trek in general.

    I obviously can't do this all in one sitting so I'll be sporadically updating this thread with new installments as my personal life can allow. If nothing else, it will be fun for me and hopefully someone else will actually read it and even possibly like it.

    So here goes....



    Setting: Set in 2379 -- 6 years after the events of FC, 4 years after the Dominion War, and 1 year after Voyager's return from the Delta Quandrant.

    Following the Dominion War, the Federation and the Romulan Empire have emerged as the unquestioned superpowers of the Alpha Quadrant. An uneasy peace permeates the quadrant, but all other powers including the Klingons and Cardassians are now powerless to challenge them. Starfleet and the Romulan Empire have become locked into a Cold War, vying for resources, territories, and alliances. Despite the end of hostilities with the Dominion, the Alpha Quadrant once again feels like a powderkeg waiting to be ignited.

    And in the 6 years since defeating the Borg Invasion, many of our heroes have gone in different directions. For the last two years, Captain Riker and Counselor Troi have been married and leading the crew of the USS Titan. Troi has just learned she's expecting a child but has not yet told her husband. Since the end of the Dominion War, Ambassador Worf has been serving as a special envoy between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and he routinely travels back and forth between Earth and Q'noS. Captain Picard, Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, and La Forge continue to serve on the Enterprise-E.

    .
    .
    .
    .


    [​IMG]



    A robed figure struggles to walk across the barren Vulcan landscape of jagged rocks and harsh winds. He fights for every step he can take toward several large stone monuments in the distance. A young man with dark eyes, he looks up toward the distance and, in exhaustion, finally relents to the affliction. He drops to his knees and places his hands over his mouth. Violent coughing produces fresh blood on his fingertips. In his last moments, he reaches out toward the grandiose statues in the distane before succumbing to mortality.

    <cut away>

    A small vessel exits a shuttlebay from one of the Romulan Empire's massive Warbirds. It circles around the bottom of the Warbird and enters the orbit of Romulus. As it descends, throngs of Romulan citizens have gathered below at the center of the Romulan capital. Near the Senate itself, millions of Romulan men, women, and children line the streets and buildings in a state of jubilation. As the vessel lands, several robed figures exit the craft and make their way toward the Senate as the Romulan masses cry out in excitement. The robed figures enter the Senate, a large and ornate empty room, other than a few Romulan high priests. All but one of the newly arrived robed figures leave the room, and the priests begin an ancient ceremony, lit only by torchlight, not seen on Romulus since the ancient times.

    The priests remove the man's robe as he kneels before them. The creases in his face denote experience and wisdom....he appears to be approximately fifty years of age. Dressed in all white from head to toe, and adorned only with a silver breastplate containing the Imperial Eagle insignia, the man closes his eyes. A priest approaches from behind and attaches a blood red cape around his neck. Another approaches directly toward him and extends a small metallic device toward his face, which gently sprays a red substance until the man's face matches the color of his new cape. The third priest circles behind and places a thinly jagged silver crown upon his head. The man's raven hair serves as a perfect backdrop for the shiny object. He opens his eyes and rises to his feet. As the music begins to blare outside the Senate walls, the man nods to the priests before beginning his walk toward the chamber's exit. All of them but one bow on their knees. As the man leaves, the last standing priest extends his hand and presents a staff handle decorated with an opaque green jewel on its top. The crowned man in red cape and red face seizes the jeweled staff handle and exits the Senate chamber.

    The mob roars. The new king briskly walks along a stone path extending toward his loyal subjects. The path is lined on both sides by onlooking Senators, motionless elites now powerless to stop him. He knows as he walks by them, he's walking by many enemies. They'd kill him if they could, but they know they can't. But these men representing the Old Order are not his concern now. He has defeated them. His concern is now The People -- his people. They love him and it is they who have granted him this new power, this ancient title that can only be granted by the people themselves, but which has not been done in eons: Shinzon.

    With crown and cape, standing before the deliriously happy Romulan masses, he extends the staff into the air and taps a small button on its handle. The staff instantly extends several feet in both directions. Above his head, the green jewel begins to glow and it emits a small green energy field that envelopes the jewel. The mob roars.

    In the middle of the chaotic crowd, two robed figures look each other in the eyes with dread and apprehension. One nods to the other and they both turn and begin to make their way out of the boisterous scene. As they pass through the people, two different Romulans make eye contact and begin following them. As the masses yell their approval, the two worried men scurrying away have no idea they're being followed......

    The mob continues to roar. They have their new emperor....their Shinzon.

    <cut away>

    STAR TREK: NEMESIS

    [​IMG]



    ****THE NEXT GENERATION Theme Music***

    The sparkling Enterprise-E effortlessly glides through the Sol system, passing Neptune, then Saturn, then Mars, and arrives in orbit around the beautiful blue and green world of Earth.....

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
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  2. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Another perfect morning in San Francisco: warm but slightly cloudy with a crisp ocean breeze. Strolling briskly side by side, Captain Picard and his first officer Commander Data make their way along a gently curving pathway toward the main ground-level entrance of Starfleet Headquarters. Together, they’re an extraordinary pair – one famous for his deeds, the other marvelous by his very existence. With less than a couple hundred feet to go before reaching the main entrance, Picard glances across the pristine bay and abruptly stops walking.

    [​IMG]

    Data continues for a couple steps before realizing Picard has stopped. Mimicking Picard, Data peers across the bay too before turning back to Picard. “Captain, is everything alright?”

    Picard offers a warm smile. “Oh, yes. Magnificent, isn’t it?”

    Data looks again across the beautiful landscape and nods. “Yes it is. If I may ask, sir, is it different than you remember it?”

    Picard grins again and shakes his head. “No, Data. That’s what makes it so…wonderful.”

    Data flashes a puzzled look toward his captain. “I do not understand, sir. You have seen this many times before, and yet it is currently no different than in your previous experiences. And this in some way enhances your current enjoyment of the same environment?”

    Amused, Picard nods again. “Yes.” He takes a deep breath, slowly exhales, and savors the moment. “It’s difficult to explain.”

    “I have observed that humans…” Data begins to elaborate on his empirical insights before Picard cuts him off. “Come on, Data,” Picard says as he begins to walk briskly again down the pathway. “We have a lot of work to do.”

    The android nods, seemingly satisfied with the abrupt end to the conversation. “Agreed, sir.” The two old friends continue their stroll toward the main entrance.

    Once inside the towering structure of Starfleet Headquarters, Picard informs his first officer that an old friend, Admiral Carlson, has requested a brunch meeting with him in the executive lounge before the scheduled beginning of their larger meeting. The two part ways, Data walks toward a turbo lift and Picard makes his way down a long, brightly lit corridor.

    [​IMG]
    Admiral Robert Carlson

    The doors to the executive lounge slide open and Picard steps through. He surveys the spacious area, a dining room filled with finely manufactured tables of varying lengths. Sliding ceiling-to-floor glass panes dominate the back of the room, inviting natural light to flow in unimpeded and offering senior level officers with breathtaking views of the bay waters, the old Golden Gate Bridge, and lush green hills.

    From one of the back corners, a deep voice calls out, “Jean-Luc!”

    Picard looks over and smiles widely toward his old friend, Admiral Robert Carlson. “Bobby!” Picard walks over to the admirals table and the two men embrace in a genuine way that only old friends can; simultaneously shaking hands and hugging tightly as if they were both reaching back in time for a previous era in their own lives.

    Carlson steps back and smiles widely. “Jean-Luc, how the hell are ya?”

    Picard returns the smile. “I’m well, old friend. How are you?”

    The admiral shrugs and grins. “Can’t complain. How long’s it been now?”

    “Too damn long. Four years?”

    “I think that’s right. Not since the end of the Dominion War. It’s good to see you again, you old rascal. Come on, sit down, sit down,” Carlson motions toward the table. “My coffee just arrived and I got something for you.”

    Picard looks toward the table and laughs. “Earl Grey?”

    “Of course. I never forget the important things in life.” They both chuckle and sit down to enjoy their favorite drinks.

    As they engage in small talk, Picard notices the years are beginning to show in Carlson’s face. His curly jet-black hair is now silver and much shorter. The wrinkles in his forehead are now deep and the creases around his eyes dominate his face, belying a lifetime of service and sacrifice to Starfleet. A lifetime ago, Robert Carlson was the dashing older cadet that all the younger students, especially Picard, admired and sought to emulate. Intelligent, kind, ambitious, and daring – he was the guy all the other guys wanted to be and all the girls wanted to be with. As an African-American born and raised in California, Carlson always seemed so comfortable at in Starfleet. Everyone knew he would one day become a star.

    “You know, Admiral, I’m sitting here talking to you and you’re still the same as you always were.”

    Carlson smiles. “Well I’m not as young, but I’m just as dumb.”

    They share another laugh before the admiral abruptly changes the conversation. “So, when are you going to accept our offer?”

    “What offer?” Picard quickly responds.

    “To become an admiral.”

    Picard sighs. “I wasn’t aware that a new offer was on the table?”

    Carlson grins. “It’s a standing offer, and you know that. Despite the fact that you’ve rejected it twice in the last few years. It’s something you need to do, Jean-Luc. And it’s something Starfleet needs you to do.”

    Picard glances down at the table and rubs his fingers around the rim of his tea cup. “Bobby, you didn’t summon the Federation flagship and two other starships back to Earth just to offer me an admiralship. What the hell is going on?”

    The admiral takes a sip of coffee and his eyes survey the room, careful that no one is within earshot of the conversation.

    “Jean-Luc, something has recently occurred that might change the Alpha Quadrant, and the entire galaxy.”

    “Yes, the outbreak on Vulcan. It’s terrible. We’ve been closely monitoring all incoming information, and the Enterprise medical team actually has begun to…” Picard is cut off by the Carlson shaking his head.

    “Jean-Luc,” Carlson looks him directly in the eyes and sighs deeply. “Jean-Luc, something has happened on Romulus.”

    “On Romulus?” the surprised captain asks without thinking.

    “Yes,” the admiral responds. “And we’re sending you there.”

    “To Romulus?”

    Carlson nods. “Yes.”

    Picard sighs deeply. “Do the Romulans know this?”

    Carlson chuckles again. “Yes. We’ve made back-channel arrangements. But I can’t say anything more here. I’ll fully debrief you and the other captains at the meeting. And speaking of that, they’re probably waiting on us. We should go.” Carlson finishes the last drink of his coffee and places the cup on the table.

    Caught a little off-guard, Picard nods and leaves his unfinished cup of tea on the table and they both make their way toward the exit. Sunlight continues to flood the spacious wood-trimmed room of elegant dining tables.

    <cut away>
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
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  3. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Deep inside the bowels of Starfleet Headquarters, a door slides open. Captain Picard and Admiral Carlson enter a softly lit oval-shaped conference room with no windows. A small assortment of people mingle around a large conference table in the center of the room.

    “Captain!” A familiar voice calls out to Picard.

    Picard turns and sees an old friend standing with Commander Data. Jean-Luc smiles and responds with pride, “Well, now look at you – Captain Riker.”

    Will smiles confidently and the two embrace. “How are you, sir?”

    “I’m doing well, Number One.” Picard nods toward Data and teases, “I see you’ve found your replacement.” Picard and Riker smile and look at Data, but the android remains motionless.

    “How are things onboard the mighty Titan?”

    “Well,” Riker rubs his beard and coyly replies, “she’s not the Enterprise, but she sure is fun.” He allows himself a confident smirk. “And she’s mine.”

    Picard smiles and nods rapidly. “Of course. The most important thing. You’ve impressed Admiral Carlson. On the way up, he’s been telling me of the year-long mission you’ve just completed. He considers you one of the finest captains in the entire fleet.”

    Riker shrugs. “I guess I’ve fooled him. But I have to say -- the last year was pretty fun.”

    Picard smiles. “I always knew you’d be ready for the chair. You made the right choice, and I’m happy for you, Will.”

    Riker exhales slightly as Picard continues with a grin, “now…how’s the real captain?”

    Puzzled, Riker squints.

    “Deanna?”

    The two share a laugh and Riker responds. “The Titan crew would agree with that. Same Deanna – I know my place. She actually just told me she wants to go onboard the Enterprise as see everyone if she can. Do you think that…”

    “Ladies and gentlemen!” Admiral Carlson interjects above multiple ongoing conversations. “Forgive me for breaking up the festivities but we have work to do. Please take your seats and we’ll get started.”

    The two captains nod at one another, and all the officers in the room begins shifting toward their seats around the conference table. Picard and Data sit down next to Riker and Captain Yono, a human female of Chinese descent in her mid-forties who commands the Prometheus Class USS Alexandria.

    As Admiral Carlson makes his way toward the main holo-projector, Riker leans in close and whispers to his old captain. “What the hell is this all about?”

    Picard’s eyes shift toward Riker and then toward Carlson. He whispers. “I’m not sure.”

    An Andorian male, dressed in flowing white robes trimmed in gold fabric, sits in a perfectly upright and proper position next to Yono. Set against his white robes and long, ghostly white hair, the Andorian’s smooth blue face stands out among the small group.

    [​IMG]


    Admiral Carlson clears his throat and the room falls silent. “Ladies and gentlemen, some of things you are about to hear are completely off the record. These are topics that are beyond top-secret. They’re non-existent. Under no circumstances are any of you to share this information with anyone outside this room. If these topics come to light publicly, not only will Starfleet Command and the Federation Council deny their existence, but we will also track down those who leaked this information.”

    Deathly silence and cold stares dominate the room.

    Carlson’s voice deepens beyond his normal tone. “Is this understood?”

    The admiral’s audience nods in unison.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, recent events threaten the balance of power in the Alpha Quadrant and potentially the future of the galaxy itself.”

    Picard and Riker quickly glance at each other. Captain Yono leans in toward Carlson while the Andorian and the android remain in their perfect upright positions.

    The admiral continues, “Through recent intelligence operations, Starfleet now believes with virtual certainty that the Romulan Star Empire has experienced a coup d’état.”

    Gasps and widened eyes animate the audience.

    Startled, Picard quickly asks, “How can you be sure of this, Admiral?

    Carleson sighs. “A year ago, Section 31 placed two high-level intelligence agents on the surface of Romulus to monitor the Empire’s increasing military build-up. Before their mission, they were surgically altered to appear indistinguishable from typical Romulan males. For the next ten months, they lived in the capital city and provided Section 31 with invaluable intelligence about the reclusive activities of the Romulan Senate and the Empire’s political and military maneuvers.”

    “Spies.” Picard answers.

    Carlson nods. “But two months ago, they vanished without a trace. The subspace frequency they had been using to transmit information simply went silent. They have since missed several required safety check-ins, and Section 31 now considers them officially lost in the line of duty. They were no doubt uncovered by Romulan imperial forces and the Tal Shiar.”

    Picard questions his old friend. “And they reported the government was overthrown? How could something of this magnitude possibly be kept secret? Even for the Romulans, that seems impossible.”

    “Well,” the admiral begins to explain, “not exactly overthrown. From what our agents gathered, a new figure emerged within Romulan politics and quickly gained massive levels of support throughout Romulan society. Unhappy with the direction of the Senate, the Romulan people employed an ancient public ritual to anoint a new supreme leader of the empire: a Shinzon.”

    Confused, Riker quickly asks, “Unhappy with the Senate? The Senate has total control of the Empire. And the Romulans are wealthier and more powerful than at any time in history. Why would the people be unhappy? The Romulans are a superpower almost on par with the Federation. The Klingons, the Cardassians…no one can challenge them but us.”

    “That’s exactly right, Captain Riker,” Picard adds. “And we wouldn’t want to.” The old captain clasps his hands together and looks up toward his old friend. “Bobby, how is that possible?”

    Carlson nods. “While the empire is indeed more wealthy and powerful that at any point in history, the fruits of imperial success haven’t been shared by all sectors of Romulan society. The Dominion War resulted in massive gains in new riches for Romulan elites – new worlds were annexed throughout the quadrant and the affluent nobility reaped all the reward. But the war inflicted heavy casualties on the Romulan masses, and none of the spoils of war trickled down to them. This quickly exacerbated a long-running problem within their imperial system that they had managed to effectively conceal for some time. But as the agents relayed to us before they disappeared, a new leader emerged and exploited these grievances to his advantage."

    “Shinzon?” Picard asks.

    “Yes,” the admiral responds. “That is not his name, though. 'Shinzon' is a title.”

    Commander Data interjects the discussion with precision. “The Romulan term ‘Shinzon’ is equivalent to ‘emperor.’ Romulan history records a series of ancient civil wars after colonizing the Romulan Star System, following the species’ exodus from Vulcan thousands of years ago. The Romulan civil wars ended with the establishment of a supreme ruler, a Shinzon, over the entire Romulan civilization. Over time, the position was gradually abandoned in favor of Senatorial control, but the tactic of re-instating the position technically has remained in place throughout the existence of Romulan civilization. But from what we know of Romulan history, that tactic has never been initiated.”

    Impressed, Carlson nods. “That’s right, Mr. Data. Thank you.”

    “And what tactic is that?” Riker asks.

    “The process of instituting a new Shinzon can only be implemented through a process of popular suffrage,” Data answers.

    “Voting?” Picard asks incredulously.

    “Yes,” Carlson answers. “Our agents kept us informed of the process as it unfolded. The new Shinzon expertly played the people against their elites with the goal of acquiring complete power for himself. The last correspondence we received informed us they were on their way to attend the new Shinzon’s public coronation.”

    Captain Yono chimes in. “The people voted for an emperor? And the Senate simply stepped aside? Admiral, given everything we know about Romulan power structures, this doesn’t make sense.”

    Picard shakes his head, trying to process the shattering news. “Quite right, Captain Yono. If this is true, Admiral, then who is this…this…Shinzon?”
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
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  4. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 2, 2001
    Location:
    Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 200ft
    More please! I'm much preferring this so far, and certainly over the dreck we got for Nemesis...
     
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  5. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Carlson taps a small button on the table console and a holo-image instantly appears, a floating transparent face, composed of flickering blue lines of pixelated light.

    “His name is Tamar.” Carlson says. The admiral takes a breath and continues as his audience stares at the hovering projection above the table. “This image of him is dated. We believe by many years. While our agents weren’t able to uncover everything they sought, they did provide us with many current details. And through extensive research, Section 31 is now able to piece together an outline of his life and rise to power.”

    Carlson takes a short breath as his audience remains fixated on the hovering image. “Tamar is an extremely gifted man: brilliant, well-educated, articulate, and wealthy. He’s a master of political maneuvering and highly skilled in the arts of warfare. Above all, Tamar is firmly a member of the Romulan aristocracy. Born into one of Romulan society’s noble families, Tamar enjoyed an extremely privileged upbringing. He has always possessed an elite station in life and politics. His family-line has produced Senators and military leaders for centuries. His father was a Senator, as were both his grandfathers and great-grandfathers. At a young age, his family seemingly bestowed to him control of the family fortune, and he graduated from the most prestigious academic institutions in the Empire. A little over twenty years ago, before the age of thirty, Tamar won a seat in the Romulan Senate.”

    [​IMG]
    A Young Tamar

    Listening with sudden nervousness, Picard exhales and nervously shifts his weight.

    Carlson continues. “From what we can gather, Tamar’s early tenure in the Senate was unremarkable. He remained behind-the-scenes, cultivating alliances and maintaining the political and social status quo. But the onset of the Dominion War changed him. While many of his allies and long-standing family friends in elite Romulan circles urged caution and neutrality, Tamar openly began advocating for the Empire to join forces with the Federation and the Klingons to fight the Jem’Hadar. To make his case, he often spoke directly to the people, avoiding many of the skeptical and more powerful elite voices in the Senate. This created enemies for Tamar, but when the Empire was drug into the war and emerged victorious, he gained a great deal of trust and popularity among the people. When other wealthy elites waffled and refused to be decisive, Tamar was outspoken and proven correct.”

    Picard shares a glance with Riker, but they say nothing.

    “After the war,” the admiral continues, “Tamar used this popular goodwill to advocate for a series of reforms within the empire. He doubled-down against his fellow elites. These reforms were designed to directly benefit the lower classes of Romulan society – those who had suffered the most during the war. In the Senate, he pushed to provide territorial reforms for expansion, which would have allowed non-elites sole access and ownership rights of all newly conquered planets within the empire. An unprecedented suggestion, this greatly angered his noble colleagues. In addition, he proposed reforms that all incoming wealth for a period of ten years would be evenly distributed across all sectors of imperial life. In effect, he was an elite golden boy who became a radical hero of the people. He tapped into a growing frustration and anger among his people toward their leaders. He laid traps for his fellow elites and exploited his inferiors. And he did it very well.”

    “A traitor to his class,” Picard whispers to himself.

    Carlson raises an eye brow in Jean-Luc’s direction and smiles. “In the last year, feeling threatened, his few remaining allies initiated the ancient process of the Shinzon. He promised to radically reduce the clout and prestige of the elite and provide the masses with a more fair and balanced society. And he also promised to expand the Romulan Empire far beyond its current territories and borders. The Romulan people responded as he expected. So out of ambition and perhaps a dose of fear, he gambled again and the people rewarded him. Tamar is now the first Shinzon since the ancient days of the founding of Romulus.”

    The flickering holo-image disappears as Carlson surveys the long faces around the table. “Any questions?”

    Riker promptly responds. “So why are we here?”

    Carsosn obliges. “Because you are going to meet him.” Silence descends again before the admiral explains. “A few weeks ago, with our agents still missing, Romulan envoys contacted Section 31 agents through deeply hidden channels. They stated that Romulan leadership requested to host a high-level meeting of Starfleet’s finest personnel. On Romulus. That’s all we know.” Looking back and forth quickly in the eyes of the three captains, “So we summoned you three.”

    Riker sighs. “Okay.”

    Carlson nods and gestures toward them with outstretched arms. “I know what you’re thinking. But we don’t believe this Shinzon wishes to cause you harm or take you prisoner. Section 31 doesn’t believe that is at all his style. He wants to size us up. But we want to size him up as well. We need you to gather intel on this Shinzon and get a feel for him. What’s he like? What might be some of his weaknesses? We know virtually nothing of his private life. And besides, he’ now the leader of the Romulan Empire and he’s extended an invitation. We don’t wish to start off on the wrong foot with a new warlord from an opposing superpower. We need to send you.”

    The captains share glances at each and nod together in approval. “Alright,” Picard says. “When do we leave?”

    “Immediately,” Carlson responds. “But….there’s something else you need to know.”

    Riker chuckles in near-exhaustion. “What the hell else could there be?”

    Carlson clears his throat. “For that, let me introduce someone.” The door behind them slides open and everyone turns in their chairs. Through the door steps a man dressed in all-black. No insignias. Neatly trimmed hair, well built, with a tight jawline and expressionless. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Carlson offers, “please welcome Agent Diaz from Section 31.”

    Picard sighs again. He hasn’t felt this nervous in a long time, and he’s not quite sure why. But this all just seems to be getting worse by the moment…
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
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  6. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Shoulders back and chin up, Agent Diaz walks swiftly by the sitting officers without looking at them. He walks to the front of the conference table, nods sharply at Admiral Carlson, and turns back to the small audience. Carlson takes a few steps back toward the wall and shares a brief look with Picard.

    Diaz offers himself as a stereotypical creature of the shadowy Section 31. His sharp eyes and expressionless face seem to peer beyond the seated officers. His steely features and mannerisms make him appear almost robotic; more like Data than flesh and blood.

    Riker leans over and whispers to Data. “Typical.” Data cocks his head slightly, processing the remark, but says nothing in response.

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” Diaz begins, “Admiral Carlson has informed of you of the unfolding situation on Romulus. It is my job to inform you of an interconnected development, one which could greatly compound our problems with the new Romulan leader. To be clear, this information is classified at the highest levels of Starfleet Security. It is not to be shared or discussed beyond this room. The only reason you are being informed is because you will soon be meeting with the new Shinzon, and so now you need to know.”

    Picard cuts his eyes toward Carlson, standing a few feet behind the agent. The admiral returns the eye contact but provides no other expressions toward his old friend.

    Diaz continues. “I’m going to make this brief and get right to the point, gentlemen. Six months ago, unmanned Federation probes along the Romulan Neutral Zone conducted a scientific survey of the Gelorian System, located on the edges of the Alpha Quadrant’s frontier region. Previously, the obscure system was virtually unexplored by any interstellar powers, but it has rested within an area that’s long been considered disputed territory between the Federation and Romulan Empire. While surveying the Gellorian System, our probes detected an asteroid belt that displayed the highest concentrations of pure dilithium ever recorded. Upon closer inspection and analysis, Federation scientists estimated the Gellorian Belt to contain more crystalized dilithium than the rest of the Alpha Quadrant combined.”

    This audience receives this wave of news with the same level of astonishment as the previous one about Shinzon himself. Riker says aloud, “Wow.”

    Diaz nods. “Yes. And as you are aware, dilithium crystals are the key component to operational warp drives. Dilithium is necessary for interstellar civilizations to exist, and it’s an extremely rare commodity. Difficult to find, difficult to excavate, difficult to process. But there’s enough dilithium in the Gellorian Belt alone to power hundreds of interstellar civilizations for centuries, maybe even longer.”

    “Remarkable,” Picard whispers to himself.

    “Yes, Captain Picard,” the agent begins to elaborate again but is cut off by a new voice in the room.

    With steely eyes himself, the blue-skinned Andorian ambassador finally joins the conversation. “Forgive me for being so bold, Special Agent, but if I may…?” Diaz seems taken by surprise but nods in acquiescence to the ambassador’s request. The Andorian continues, “What specifically is the interconnected diplomatic relationship between this extraordinary discovery and the aforementioned Romulan political situation? At this juncture, this seems to be at the crux of the matter.”

    Diaz nods toward the wise Andorian in agreement. He glances back over at Admiral Carlson, exhales, and begins again. “Shortly after the Gellorian discovery, Starfleet Command moved a moderately-sized task force through the Neutral Zone and into the Gellorian System in order to protect our vital new resource.”

    Picard’s eyes become wide and he can’t contain his thoughts. The captain blurts out, “You did what?!” Agent Diaz turns and stares into Picard’s bewildered eyes but doesn’t respond.

    Picard continues, “Agent Diaz, just how large was this moderately-sized task force?”

    “That’s classified information, and at this point, irrelevant,” the agent shoots back.

    [​IMG]
    Ambassador Shivek


    The Andorian ambassador grins ever so slightly and quickly asks, “Agent Diaz, you said this dilithium revelation in the Gellorian System occurred roughly six months ago? And Starfleet moved into that system shortly afterward?”

    Diaz nods. “That’s correct, Ambassador Shivek.”

    The Andorian nods in return and looks over toward Carlson. “And Admiral, didn’t you say the disappearance of Section 31 agents and Shinzon’s corresponding coronation occurred only two months ago?”

    “Yes,” Carlson nods with a long face. “That’s right, Ambassador Shivek.”

    “I see,” the Andorian responds. “Gentlemen, I can’t help myself from wondering what occurred during the four-month interval period – between the time of Starfleet’s militarized annexation of disputed territory and the enthronement of a Romulan king?”

    The room falls silent and all eyes fall on Agent Diaz. Carlson takes a few steps forward toward the table and comes to the aid of Section 31. “Romulan security forces identified our movements, and then they identified the dilithium-rich Gellorian Belt. Tamar effectively used our maneuver to scare the Romulan people and portray the Federation as duplicitous aggressors. He made it a centerpiece of his campaign. And it worked.”

    Picard places his left elbow on the table and palms his forehead with his hand. Admiral Shivek grins with amused disgust, and the other officers share pointed looks with one another.

    “Something more," Carslon adds, "and we didn’t know this because of the secretive nature of the Romulans themselves: we now believe the Empire is running dangerously low on natural dilithium reserves. Their rapid militarization during the last decade provided the Empire with perhaps the strongest interstellar navy in the Alpha Quadrant, but it also severely depleted their dilithium storage capabilities. We believe they’re concealing a desperate internal situation.”

    “Perfect.” Picard says sarcastically to his old friend. “Desperate, angry, convinced of their enemy’s cruel intentions, and armed to the teeth.”

    Carlson looks down at his old friend and sighs. “This wasn’t an easy decision, Captain, I can assure you. We had no way of knowing of the potential ramifications, and we would have been foolish to not consider the political and material importance of a discovery of this magnitude.”

    Picard slowly stands and takes a deep breath. He begins to respond, but Captain Yono intervenes, “Gentlemen, as the ancient proverb goes: what’s done is done. The question now is: what do we do?”

    Picard and Carlson continue staring at one another while Diaz answers. “Exactly right, Captain Yono. Here’s what we do: we send your three starships to Romulus to meet with this new Shinzon and assess the situation. Analyze and evaluate him. Search for personal ticks and interpersonal information between him and his staff. Evaluate the situation and make copious records of everything you see and experience. And then get the hell back here so we can devise our next move.”

    Ambassador Shivek attempts to de-escalate the tension. “And what of the other major powers in the Alpha Quadrant, Admiral?” Carlson exhales and slowly takes his eyes away from Picard and back toward the rest of the group.

    The admiral shakes his head. “Unfortunately, the rest of the Alpha Quadrant probably isn’t much use to us at the moment. The Klingon military is a shell of its former glory. Starfleet has dispatched Ambassador Worf to Kronos to explain the situation to the High Council.”

    “Worf…” Riker thinks aloud to himself and the room.

    “Yes,” Carslon replies. “Ambassador Worf and his team have been instructed to enlist support, but we’re not counting on anything. Relations between Starfleet and the High Council have been strained recently, and the Klingons have become more reclusive and defensive since the end of the Dominion War. The Cardassians are still in complete disarray, and the Vulcans are of course preoccupied by the catastrophic health crisis – a planetary-wide viral outbreak. As you know, Vulcan itself is in state of quarantine and inaccessible to off-worlders. They’re in no position to help.” Carlson sighs and shakes his head. “It’s all simply come at a bad time for us. We can only count on ourselves for this one.”

    Agent Diaz clears his throat and projects a dominating voice. “We don’t have all day, ladies and gentlemen. You’ve been sufficiently briefed and understand the situation. Your mission is to travel to Romulus and assess the situation regarding the new Romulan emperor. Collect as much information as possible, protect yourselves, and get the hell home. Is that understood?”

    A chorus of “yes sir” responses ring out and the agent responds. “Good. Ambassador Shivek, you’ve been assigned to the Enterprise. You’ll go with Captain Picard, and you’ll be the primary contact with Shinzon and the voice of the Federation in all matters. We’re sending you several files to study during your voyage. Ladies and gentlemen, I remind you that this information is classified as top-secret and any unauthorized breaches of information will result in swift and decisive consequences.”

    The agent scans the silent room and concludes. “Dismissed.” He walks swiftly around the table without making eye contact, this time not even bothering to acknowledge Admiral Carlson. The door slides open to the corridor and he vanishes into the brightly-lit bureaucratic maze.

    The officers slowly start to vacate the room when Carlson gently squeezes Picards forearm. The captain tells Riker and Data that he’ll be along shortly, and asks them to meet him at the main entrance. The conference room doors slide close, and Picard is alone with his old friend once again.

    “Jean-Luc, I know what you’re thinking.”

    Picard grits his teeth but speaks calmly. “Bobby, I’m thinking you and Section 31 have brought the Alpha Quadrant to the brink of disaster through your reckless aggression, and now you’re asking me to clean up your mess.”

    Carlson shakes his head and wags his finger. “It’s not that easy, Jean-Luc. There’s a big difference between commanding a starship and leading entire fleets. You have a big chair, but decisions are much more complicated when you’re sitting in mine.”

    Picard offers a sarcastic chuckle. “More complicated? Admiral, you ordered a military venture into the Neutral Zone, provoked our rivals and provided the basis for a dictator to seize total political and military control. You did that, Admiral. That’s not complicated, Bobby. It’s negligent.”

    Damnit, Jean-Luc,” Carlson grits his teeth in response. “I didn’t vote for it. I opposed the incursion, but I was outvoted. Section 31 came to Starfleet Command with their plans already drawn up and argued that it was a necessary risk that we had to take. I opposed them every step of the way, but I couldn’t recruit enough admirals to my side. Why the hell do you think I’ve been pressing you so hard to come join me?”

    Picard stares into Carlson’s eyes, but offers no response.

    The admiral exhales and smiles warmly. “You know, Jean-Luc…just imagine if Admiral Picard would have been leading the cause against Section 31’s little venture. Imagine the two of us together. But it’s also a lot easier to make decisions when you’re out among the stars and everything seems so clear – so well defined. It’s easy to have some success and become self-righteous. You don’t know what it’s like to sit in my chair. I didn’t agree with the decision that was made, but I understand it.”

    “Self-righteous?” Picard asks in exasperation. “Bobby, if I didn’t know you better, I might say that you’ve lost your way.”

    Carlson looks slowly looks down at the floor and then back up. “Jean-Luc, if I didn’t know you better, I might say you’ve become selfish.”

    The two men stare into each other’s eyes for several seconds, a brief period that feels like several minutes.

    Picard nods several times and glances away. “Well…Admiral – I have a mission to conduct. Out among the stars.” Picard turns his back and walks defiantly toward the exit. The doors slide open and he takes a step into the hallway.

    “Jean-Luc!” Carlson pleads. The captain turns and stares directly into the admiral’s eyes.

    Carlson sighs and softens his gaze. “Godspeed, old friend.” Picard says nothing, but nods gently back to the admiral, as if to offer his own non-apology in return. The captain turns from the room and makes his way down the corridor as the conference doors slide shut.

    Admiral Carlson inhales deeply and releases a heavy breath. Alone only with his own thoughts now, the admiral turns his back to the door, faces the interior wall, and turns his gaze upward to a large insignia of Starfleet Command hanging overhead. He takes a couple steps closer and studies it even more, as if he hadn’t seen it countless times almost every day of his entire life. A lifetime of service, with the wrinkles and gray hairs to prove it. He sighs and closes eyes. Hopefully, he thinks, it’s all been worth it…

    [​IMG]


    <cut away>
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  7. M-Red

    M-Red Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    [​IMG]

    Along the coldest edges of the Klingon star system, a Defiant-class starship drops out of warp drive. The starship glides along for only a few moments before five Birds-of-Prey and two Vor’cha class Attack Cruisers de-cloak directly in front of the little juggernaut.

    A Klingon voice hails the Defiant class ship. “Federation vessel, you have entered the home system of the Klingon Empire. Identify yourself.”

    Onboard the bridge of the Starfleet ship, a portly, curly haired man grimaces and provides a stern answer. “This is the USS Badger. Starfleet Command has cleared our mission with the Klingon High Council. You know who we are.”

    The Klingon answers tersely with a question. “Is Ambassador Worf onboard?”

    The man nods. “You know he is.”

    Following a long pause, the Klingon voice angrily responds. “Proceed with caution, Starfleet.”

    The portly man glances around the bridge toward his crewmates. He rolls his eyes and answers his uninviting hosts. “Thanks.”

    The Birds-of-Prey encircle the Badger as two more Attack Cruisers de-cloak. The Klingon vessels aggressively encircle the Defiant class ship, and they begin escorting the tough little Badger toward the homeworld of Kronos.

    The human shakes his curly-haired head and calls out. “Bridge to Commander Worf.”

    No response. Again, he tries. “Bridge to Ambassador Worf, are you there?” Again, no answer. “Worf, this is Chief O’Brien…are you there?” Still, nothing but silence.

    O’Brien sighs and stands to his feet. “I hate it when he does this.” The chief stretches his arms and rotates his sore neck. He hears it pop and thinks about his own age. He allows himself a slight smile and heads toward the bridge’s exit.

    In his dimly lit quarters, Worf sits motionless with his legs folded beneath his body. With his eyes closed and smoke rising from a small device directly in front of him, it is a perfect setting for him to become lost in meditation. Ritualized self-reflection has helped him grow, and it is now an integral part of his daily routine. Especially before going back onworld to Kronos, Worf likes to clear his mind and prepare his soul.

    The chiming door ringer interrupts his breathing and slices through his mindfulness. He grimaces but says nothing, trying to repel the outside world. It chimes again.

    Worf growls quietly to himself. “Enter!”

    O’Brien steps through the entrance and looks around the darkened room. With a certain level of calculated misunderstanding –something Miles enjoys –he looks across the quarters toward the crouching Klingon. Worf is sitting at the opposite end, facing the wall with his back toward the entrance.

    “We’ve arrived," O'Brien informs. "And your friends are being their usual selves.”

    Worf closes his eyes again and calmly exhales. “Thank you, Chief. I’ll be right there.”

    O’Brien nods. “Well, don’t take too long. We’ll be there soon.” Miles looks around again for a few seconds, sniffs the smokey air, and then turns exits back into the corridor. Worf hears the door panels slide shut and then opens his eyes.

    The burly Klingon rises to his feet and admires the glistening Bat’leth hanging on the wall. He carefully removes the beloved weapon from its stand, attaches a leather strap to its edges and carefully places it over his back. The strap fits around his chest tightly, like he likes it. He exhales again and turns off the small device emitting the small dancing plumes of rising smoke. Now only a few minutes away from arriving again on his peoples’ ancestral home world, Worf feels ready. For Worf, being ready for this world has never been easy: a long-lost home that’s never truly felt comfortable. But just as the passing years have made him more calm and introspective, they have also put him at ease with his place in the universe. He’s as ready as he’s ever been for Kronos.

    Worf draws in a deep breath and makes his way out of the room, heading for the bridge. Ringed by a slew of Klingon ships, the little Badger enters orbit around the Klingon homeworld.

    [​IMG]

    <cut away>
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016