“Cat and Mouse”

Stardate 75609.6; August 21, 2398

 

Episode 87

 

 

Edited by Peter Bossley

 

Story by Chris Adamek and Chris Looney

 

Written by Chris Adamek

 

 

 

Prologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the day Admiral William Grayson had been dreading.  After more than four months of quiet on the Romulan front, attention was finally starting to drift away from their alleged weapons of mass destruction.  Months ago, not a day would pass without some superfluous tactical analysis—grounded only in theory— reaching Grayson’s desk.  They were all similarly themed: the Romulans are developing “X” weapon, and if given the opportunity, will strike “Y” system in “Z” amount of time. 

 

In recent weeks, however, the number of analyses dropped off by a staggering number, and today marked the seventh day in a row without a single analysis reaching Grayson’s desk.  Without any hard evidence, there was a limit to the amount of realistic theorizing these Federation think tanks could generate—and they apparently reached that limit a week ago.

 

Grayson had been hoping this would signal the beginning of the end of the alleged Romulan threat, and for a fleeting moment, it seemed to be so—but then came the fateful communiqué from the Agrippa: Lieutenant Commander Ti’mur had returned…

 

Ti’mur was one of the most skilled and valued members in Starfleet Intelligence.  During the Dominion War, he once spent three weeks traversing Cardassian space, clandestinely gathering valuable intelligence on enemy movements right underneath the watchful eye of the Founders.  The deft Vulcan moved like a shadow in the night—swift and decisive, but utterly invisible to Dominion sensors…  And having just returned from a four-month mission into the remnants of the Romulan Empire, it was obvious his tactics had not faded with time.

 

After a lengthy debriefing at Starfleet Intelligence, Ti’mur was sent to Starfleet Command, where he conferred with President Ghodan Makar and some of the Fleet Admirals.  Less than ten minutes into the clandestine meeting, the Federation Council was assembled in Paris; ten minutes after that, Ti’mur stood before the gathered Council.

 

“Over the course of the past four months,” said Ti’mur evenly, “forty-seven convoys—mainly Nausicaan and Yridian—have crossed the neutral zone to deliver supplies.  Federation starships have stopped and searched nine of these vessels; none of the searches turned up anything more than food and medical supplies, but given recent Romulan activities, it is certain that many of the other vessels crossing the Neutral Zone bring with them extralegal goods.”

 

“You have proof of this?” asked the Vulcan Ambassador Tuvok.  He seemed skeptical, and Admiral Grayson did not blame him; much of the presented evidence seemed circumstantial.

 

But if Ti’mur believed the evidence trivial, he showed no sign of it.  Instead, he provided his Vulcan compatriot with an affirmative nod.  “Mining operations on Remus and Talon II have recently resumed; they have increased their dilithium output by more than five hundred percent in the last six weeks.  Most of this dilithium is being transferred to the newly established shipyard in orbit of Talon IV; at their current rate of operation, the Romulans will have the ability to produce more than two hundred Valdore-class warbirds in the next five months.”

 

Grayson saw no problems here.  The Romulans were recently devastated by the Elorg, and had little in the way of a military.  It was only natural for them to rebuild their forces—but apparently, Grayson’s mind was not on the same wavelength as President Ghodan Makar.

 

The Trill sat at the opulent black table at the front of the council chamber, seriously contemplating the situation at hand.  “Ti’mur,” he said thoughtfully, “you said that most of the dilithium is being transferred to Talon IV…”

 

The Vulcan nodded.  “That is correct.”

 

Makar arched a curious brow.  “Where then, is the rest of the dilithium going?  Certainly the Romulans are not simply stockpiling it for future use?”

 

Ti’mur slowly approached Makar’s table.  “My contacts within the empire have indicated the possibility of a clandestine base located on Minos Tureth.”

 

“Minos Tureth,” said Makar under his breath.  The Trill rapidly searched his mind for even a shred of information pertaining to the Romulan world, but ultimately, the search proved fruitless, and he deferred to Ti’mur for further explanation.  “What do we know about Minos Tureth?”

 

“Very little,” said Ti’mur.  “Minos Tureth is an O-class world located in what was once the heart of the Romulan Empire.  Shortly after the Elorg War, the planet was abandoned—it now lies within unclaimed space near the Garidian border.”

 

“And why would the Romulans establish a base there?” asked Grayson.  O-class worlds were practically devoid of resources, and with this one located very near Garidian territory, it seemed completely without strategic value.

 

“The moons,” said Ti’mur matter-of-factly.  “Minos Tureth has three moons that were recently discovered to possess large quantities of VXR-87—one of the primary components of thalaron radiation.”

 

Makar grunted as his gaze fell upon Admiral Grayson.  “We know that the Romulans have been stockpiling therazine for many months now.  And as you know, therazine can be used to counteract the effects of thalaron radiation.  … …Thus, the recent discovery of VXR-87 on Minos Tureth is most curious, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“It certainly warrants further investigation,” Grayson cautiously agreed.

 

But apparently that small concession wasn’t enough for Makar.  “The Romulans are preparing to strike!” he said, emphatically pounding a fist into the obsidian tabletop.  “We need to take extreme measures to prevent any sort of disaster inside Federation space.  I want to triple our patrols of the Neutral Zone immediately!  Any vessel attempting to enter Romulan space will be searched for weapons or other contr…”

 

“Excuse me, Mr. President.”

 

Makar’s voice immediately trailed off, and his fiery brown eyes searched the council chamber for the source of the interruption.  They very quickly settled upon Taylus Drayge, the newly appointed Bolian delegate.  Makar smiled thinly.  “Yes, Ambassador?”

 

The Bolian bristled in his seat for a moment before mustering the courage to speak.  “Don’t you think these actions are a little premature?” he asked, his voice wavering only for a moment.  “I will not back any military action without concrete evidence; thus far, I have seen little more than conjecture.”

 

“Agreed,” said Ambassador Tuvok moments later.  “Federation law dictates that we—”

 

Makar raised a dismissive hand.  “I am well aware of the laws, Ambassador, thank you.” 

 

Tuvok nodded.  “Then the troop deployments will…”

 

“…go ahead as planned,” Makar tersely interjected.  “I am not willing to risk the safety of the Federation citizenry.  The Romulans pose a grave and dire threat to all peace-loving empires throughout the galaxy.  A few of their Garidian compatriots demonstrated that last year when they destroyed this very chamber!  I would hate to see the damage done by a more organized resistance.”

 

Makar paused for a moment to catch his breath, but the passionate fire burning in his eyes never flickered.  “We will not be intimidated by the Romulans,” he loudly proclaimed.  “We will deploy the troops, stop the weapon shipments, and disarm the Romulan Star Empire—one way or another…”

 

And for the first time in ages, Grayson heard dissent amongst the Federation Council.  While many of the ambassadors applauded the President’s bold and daring plan for peace, many of the others voiced their concerns.  They spoke quietly at first, but the disagreement slowly intensified until full-fledged debates about Federation principals were almost literally shouted across the chamber.

 

And the Admiral shook his head.  Four months of quiet, and it all comes down to this.  And this, he suspected, was just the beginning…

 

 

 

 

 

Proceed to Chapter One

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