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No Turning Back

Robert Falcon

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((Admiral Kyle Colt’s Office; Starbase 285 – Earth Year 2380))

“Fools… All of them, fools…”

He tossed his PADD angrily back to his desk, the neatly organized stack of PADDs knocked asunder, then stood and walked over to the office’s viewport. His blue eyes flicked to the walls of his office as his hand came up to scratch his neatly groomed white goatee. His office contained the usual knick knacks that one acquired over a lengthy Starfleet career; models and paintings of his previous commands, decorative trinkets from a dozen worlds, and an odd Tarkelian beaver statue that had been inexplicably placed in his quarters back when he was an Ensign that he could never quite bring himself to get rid of. None of those familiar objects, and not even the expanse of stars and brilliant nebula beyond, could return calm to his mind.

Five years… It had been five long years since the end of the Dominion War, and the start of the pacification of Starfleet.

No. This was not a comment against Starfleet’s mission to explore the galaxy and learn all that could be learned. Peaceful exploration and pacification were two entirely different things.

He knew what needed to be done. The question was, if he made this leap, would anyone one follow?

There was a chime at his office door. Without looking, the admiral spoke. “Enter.”

Another human, with four gold pips on his collar, stepped through the door. His brown eyes were sharp, and he was young enough to still have color in his hair. Quickly, his eyes turned to the admiral. “Admiral Colt. You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Yes, Captain, I did.” The admiral finally turned. Much as he wanted to, he could not manage even a small smile for his long time colleague. The topic of the day was far too grave. “Grab a chair, Dan. You’ll want to sit after hearing this.” Captain Daniel Rainsford approached, taking a seat at Admiral Colt’s desk as the admiral sat in his own chair. Admiral Colt grabbed the newest offending PADD from where it had landed and held it to the captain. “Read this.”

The captain did, his eyes flicking quickly across its screen. The further we went, the more his eyebrows furrowed. “They can’t be serious…”

Admiral Colt’s head gave a rueful nod. “They are, Dan. They are.” The admiral sighed, leaning back slightly in his chair. “Starfleet’s analyzed Voyager’s mission report and sensor data from their Fury incident.”

The Furies: a conglomeration of extremely powerful races which had once ruled the Alpha Quadrant. They had been cast out millennia ago, though had long wished to return to retake their positions of power. During the mid twenty-third century, they had made their first attempt by sending one ship through an artificial wormhole, only to be stopped by an unlikely temporary alliance between the Klingon Empire and Captain James T. Kirk. Their second attempt came over a hundred years later, back in 2371, with a much larger fleet and more stable artificial wormhole technology. A five ship combined Federation-Klingon fleet led by the Enterprise-D managed to stop them.

Voyager had encountered them during their long voyage home, in the Delta Quadrant. The Furies intent was to send an entire planet with billions of their people and an armada of ships through a massive artificial wormhole to launch their final invasion of the Alpha Quadrant. Voyager’s crew managed to deflect their wormhole, halting this last attempt.

Admiral Colt continued. “The science folks at Starfleet Command have concluded that the Furies were, in fact, sent into the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy. Almost 200,000 lightyears away. Thus, they conclude that the Furies are no longer a threat to the Alpha Quadrant. Therefore, Starfleet Command will no longer train any new cadet as to the existence of the Furies.”

Captain Rainsford’s head shook slightly. “Why, sir? Are they afraid they’ll make the kids wet their pants unnecessarily, or something?”

The admiral also shook his head. “No… No, it’s not that. It’s a continuation of the trend which started five years ago.” He reached up to his face, scratching at his goatee once again. “Starfleet Command does not want to even consider the possibility of another war.”

“Can you really blame them, though?” Captain Rainsford leaned forward, elbows against his legs. “I mean… We took major losses against the Dominion. Earth itself got hit.”

“I know,” the admiral said. “I was there.”

“So far, the Dominion has been abiding by the peace treaty. The Furies…” He paused in thought for a moment before he continued. “200,000 lightyears is pretty blasted far.”

Admiral Colt nodded. “It is, Dan. Yet…” He gestured to the now disorganized pile of PADDs between them, “I’ve never seen any verification that the Dominion abide by the treaty. No reconnaissance missions, barely any visits to the Gamma Quadrant. For all we know, they’ve been rebuilding their forces on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole and will strike us next week. Every time I hear of anyone suggesting we get a ship or two over there on a permanent basis, to continue our mission of exploration, of course, is shot down. ‘We don’t want to offend the Dominion’ they say.”

The captain sighed, his eyes dropping. Admiral Colt knew that Captain Rainsford agreed with him. His old friend was also an optimist. That made him a pretty solid devil’s advocate to the admiral’s pessimism. “What of Constable Odo, though? The reports I read indicated he’d rejoined the… what was it called? The Great Link? If all the Founders are connected, then I doubt they’d be able to plan anything like this without him knowing.”

“Who says he wouldn’t know?” the admiral asked. “Him against an entire planet of his people. Now, I didn’t know him, personally, and I only have respect for him based on what I’ve read, but I don’t know of anyone who could stand up to that kind of peer pressure.”

Captain Rainsford considered for a moment, before sighing and shaking his head yet again.

“And when it comes to the Furies,” Admiral Colt said, “200,000 lightyears is nothing to people who have working artificial wormhole technology. A wormhole took them to… where ever they landed. A wormhole could easily bring them back.” The admiral leaned forward once again. “Starfleet has forgotten why a strong defense is required. If not for the Dominion, if not for the Furies, then for whoever the next force is that will try to strip the people of the Federation of their way of life. Eternal vigilance, Dan. THAT is the price of liberty.”

The captain’s face started to turn red. It was clear that he was growing steadily more uncomfortable with the conversation. He shook his head once more. “That’s… That’s not how Starfleet is seeing this. Our vigilance is in our patrols, our long-range sensors, our ability to see what’s coming and prepare for the hit.”

Admiral Colt’s voice calmed, trying to sooth his old friend’s nerves. “It’s making sure that we’re strong enough that no one dares hit us.”

The captain’s head shook almost constantly. “That’s not what the Federation stands for. It’s not what the people want!”

“I know it’s not, Dan,” the admiral said, his voice still calm but now firm. “That’s where we come in. When our leaders are no longer willing to make the tough calls for the benefit of the Federation, it’s our responsibility to find leaders who will.”

There was absolute silence in the admiral’s office as both men considered the implications of that statement. It was Captain Rainsford who spoke first, his voice quiet but his tone direct. “You’re talking about a mutiny.”

Admiral Colt shook his head. “No. I’m talking about a coup.”

The words had been uttered. There was no going back.

“Admiral… It can’t be as serious as that, can it? There must be another way.”

“There isn’t,” the admiral replied. “I’ve tried to get my point across over every official channel, and all the unofficial ones I have. Even those who agree with me refuse to act, or to even speak on my behalf. I see no other way to convince the Federation of the truth.”

Captain Rainsford was silent for several long moments as he considered all that had been said over the past minutes. “You’re asking me if I agree with you? And if I’ll join you?”

Admiral Colt nodded. “That is correct.”

“You realize that we can’t do this alone.”

Another nod. “That is also correct. And I don’t fool myself into thinking our fleet’s captains will be easy to convince… though I do believe they will come around.”

“And if we fail, we’ll be considered traitors of the Federation.”

The admiral actually gave a quiet chuckle at that. “Dan, I am fairly certain that we’ll be considered traitors even if we succeed. What matters is the future of the Federation, and its survival, even if we're not there to see it.”

Captain Rainsford gave one last sigh… and a very slow nod. “Well, then, Admiral… Where do to start?”

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