"Who's flag do you fly?" Captain Dax scratched her head. "This is a Starfleet ship. We follow Starfleet orders. Not illegal ones." The starbase commander stared at the holo-communication and frowned. "The President is the authority in which Starfleet gets its power. Your so-called Commander-in-chief has been rightfully stripped of his title and you are committing treason against the Federation." Dax got testy, "We are defending the Federation from tyranny..." Her first officer whispered in her ear and Dax calmed down. "What I mean is, we can talk politics all day. I need to deliver these supplies to Beta Rigel." "Beta Rigel is deep within the traitor's territory, and you are a traitor ship. We can't allow you to leave and aid the enemy." "For Bird's sake, Strell, these are whole planets. Colony worlds on the brink of starvation. I have a lawful edict, at least according to everyone in the galaxy except your President, to transport aid to those in need." Dax gripped her chair arm as she stared at the translucent Bolian. The Bolian himself peered through his former Trill colleague. "The Federation has cut off all aid to traitor-supporting colonies. You are commanding a Universe-class destroyer, capable of obliterating a solar system on a whim. Contact the Cancri or Ramatins or another neutral party in this conflict, and the Federation will negotiate safe passage." Two years earlier, Strell had been a lieutenant on Dax's first ship, the Eckert, and they had many vibrant talks about the politics of the day. But things grew worse. The President had gone insane and began committing massacres. Or Starfleet had rebelled and tried to murder her. Or a mixture of both. No one was quite sure anymore. Chaos reigned. Systems collapsed into anarchy without a steady supply chain. Pro-President terrorists had destroyed the Starfleet Acting HQ in Antares. In retaliation, the President's son was kidnapped and executed by a rogue squadron of ex-Starfleet officers. Sickening acts of savagery were committed all around. But not on the Enterprise. She had a mission to explore the galaxies. And although the C-in-C had called her back to aid in the resupply effort, Dax was adamant that she would not be used to fire in any of the battles or on any of the "President's Star Fleet" ships. Strell had left his Lieutenant's post to jump three ranks and become Captain of Starbase 12, an ancient strategically located Starbase within PSF territory. But powerful ships like the Enterprise could get in and out of the region undetected. The CSF was making short work of the war, and resupplying the starving colonies and changing hearts and minds. But still, Dax had never fired on a fellow Starfleet officer, regardless of allegiance, and wasn't about to now. And Strell could not fire on his former commander-in-chief. The tractor beam could not hold forever. A task force of PSF raiders would be here in sixteen minutes. They would destroy the starship and all on board. Hundreds of thousands of people wiped out in an effort to prevent them from potentially destroying thousands more. Strell did not like this. Dax did not like this. The galaxy was upside down. Strell hit a button on his command chair, and a klaxon went off. "Enterprise, this is Strell. We're having trouble with our tractor beam. You may be able to break free." "Understood." Dax nodded at the holo of her once-friend. The ship folded out of the region and into Beta Rigel. Strell stood in silence, expecting his crew to chastise him for letting the CSF flagship go. But no one said a word. When the raiders arrived, they would scour the logs and see that Strell had tampered with the beam's integrity. And Strell would lose his commission, and possibly his life, for aiding and abetting the enemy. But it was necessary to save the people of Beta Rigel. And a friend.