S1 - Homeward Bound
S2 - You Are Who You Are
S3 - Too Easy
S4 - Visiting An Old Friend
S5 - Finally, Some Rest
S6 - Chance Encounter
S7 - Secrets Revealed
S8 - Preemptive Strike
S9 - Clone Reunion
S10 - Unlikely Proposal
S11 - Gathering Strength
S12 - A Cold Stare Gone Colder
S13 - The Time To Strike
S14 - Locking Horns
S15 - Sadness And Surprise
S16 - One More Stubborn Useran
S17 - A Reason To Celebrate
S15 - One More Stubborn Useran
The Divine Presidentís ruling palace was a majestic building. It was two miles from the command center whereat Azak had sent his insertion agents. The palace was in stark contrast to the command center, in that the palace was made from the brown stone that made up the majestic mountains far to the east. The palace, with its brown colored stone with red and white highlights and details rose a hundred meters into the air with the Useran flag waving swiftly in the wind. The flag itself was unremarkable; it was a red flag with a green wreath of leaves cupping a gold and silver sword. Flanking the wreath and sword were two white stars filling the rest of the space on the red background.
The other resistance leaders had arrived in small transports that now littered the palaceís front lawn. They were gathered in a small waiting room adjacent to where the meeting was to take place. They were all seated in tall backed chairs made of a soft green wood, with fine detailing and a red cushion. The assortment of aliens talked to each other, letting each other know what they were going to demand from the Divine President.
On each of their minds was the priority of freeing all the slaves who still served Useran masters against their will. That was the starting point, after that it was nothing more than demanding certain freedoms and living conditions.
And they all expected the Divine President to grant each and every one of their demands, for he was no longer in power. He no longer had any power; his star fleet was now under P.L.S. controlówell, most of it was.
It was nearly fourteen hundred, when suddenly a palace aid entered the waiting room. The simple man was visibly shaken while he greeted the gathering of resistance leaders. "My name is Corbasch, I am the Divine Presidentís personal assistant. He will see you now."
The leaders began to stand; they all eyed the aid with cold stares. They were too busy looking down the aid to notice a large haze of blue light appearing in the center of the room. The aid noticed the disturbance and gave his own stareóof awe.
Captain Azak Vencor, Admiral Hodge, and Dr. Tolna GiíGilo finally emerged from the blue transporter light.
"I believe thereís room for three more," spoke Azak. "Donít you think doctor?"
The leaders all whipped around their heads at the sudden voice, recognizing the voice and then the image of Azak Vencor. They all gave out various degrees of surprise and resentment.
"I think so, captain." Tolna replied.
The poor aid was dumbfounded at the sight of the great Master Vencor, who was actually nothing more than a clone and a captain. "But, uh," the aid stumbled.
Azak rolled his eyes and forced his way through the crowd of leaders and walked past the aid leading the way into the Divine Presidentís meeting room. Azak opened two large wooden doors and walked into the room, which sparkled from many priceless treasures. Golden shields and swords, sculptures and paintings, and other priceless items caught the entire groupís attention, including Captain Vencorís.
A long wide table occupied much of the vast roomís space, which was also covered in shining dinnerware and lit candles. Seated at the far end was the Divine President, covered in silky robes and multi-colored jewelry.
Azak stood at the other end looking at the man called the Divine President, half expecting it to be either a clone of himself or the real Azak Vencor, but it was a different person. Someone Azak hadnít seen before. Behind Azak, the alien resistance leaders continued to gawk at the antiquities. Hodge and GiíGilo flanked Azak.
"Ah, welcome. Please, sit down," called the president.
This caught the leadersí attention and they moved to take their seats.
The president stood and spread out his arms, "We shall have a great feast."
Azak wasnít about to dine with this man, nor here. He walked down the tableís length toward the president. Suddenly, guards from either side of the room appeared with rifles ready. Azak stopped, his eyes looking from one guard to the next menacing and finally stopping on the president.
"Are you attempting to assassinate me?" the Divine President asked, his head cocking to one side as if the answer would come from an angle.
Azak shook his head. "I wouldnít do that in front of all these people."
"But you would plan it from the dark and have some henchmen do it!" shouted the president.
"This was planned as a meeting of peace, and itís going to continue as such." Azak replied.
The Divine President smiled and stretching out his right hand to point at the chair next to him. "Then sit down, please."
Again, Azak shook his head. "What Iím going to say wonít require me to sit."
The president was silent to listen to Captain Vencor.
"All that I require from you is your complete and unconditional surrender."
The Divine President looked from Azak to the leaders to a goblet filled with orange drink. He picked up the goblet and began to drink.
Azak shifted his feet to stand more comfortably.
After a long sip, the president laid back down the goblet and wiped his face with a clean white cloth napkin. "That is impossible."
"Why?" Azak asked forcibly and sat down in a chair. He sat with both hands on his legs with his elbows sticking up in the air, his head low.
"I am the Divine President, I donít surrender."
"Just as simple as that?"
Azak looked at the guards; they were still pointing their rifles at him. "Well, I canít concentrate with these two pointing rifles at me." Azak announced. He then directed his voice to his communicator. "Chief, beam these two guards out of here. Not too far, just somewhere else in the palace."
The Divine President suddenly turned to watch as his two guards disappeared from sight. All three of them were equally shocked.
"And now youíre going to kill me!"
Azak stood up and walked around the president. All the while, Azak took the brief time to admire some of the artwork on the wall; an accurate portrait of the current Divine President atop a craggy bluff pointing out to a star filled sky. "I told you this was going to be a meeting of peace. But it was also going to be a meeting without pretension and you in control."
The Divine President still sat in his chair; a hand had found its way to the presidentís chin. "I canít surrender."
Azakís patience was wearing thin. He was tired and wanted to sleep for three weeks. But he knew this time was important and needed his complete attention. He acted accordingly. Azak grabbed the chair the president was sitting in and yanked it out from under him. The Divine President fell with a thud, barely missing the edge of the table with his chin and hand.
Now sprawled out on the floor, and the resistance cell leaders looking on in earnest, the Divine President nursed a sprained wrist he used to brace his fall. "Youíre going to pay for that."
Azak took the time to admire what he had done without regret. He looked to the first leader he saw and pointed at her. "You, how does important news get transmitted around this place?"
The gray-scaled humanoid stumbled for the answer. "Uh, itís transmitted out through a population-wide information network. Every Useran watches the news of the day everyday at about sixteen hundred hours, or three hours from sunset on Cordan."
Azak nodded his head in approval. "Good, thank you." He turned and squatted down beside the Divine President, who looked up with hatred at Azak. "Get someone from the news media here to take down your surrender." Azak said with a low voice sounding like an order.
The Divine President began to stand. "I will do no such thing!"
This time Azak grabbed the president by the robes and quickly helped the man to his feet, and let him dangle from Azakís grip a few inches off the ground. "Oh I think you will."
A frightened president quickly nodded his head. "Yes, okay, I will."
Azak let go of the president. The president flipped over a small control panel in the table. Azak grabbed the presidentís arm. "Remember, a meeting of peace."
The man quickly nodded and tapped a button. "This is the Divine President."
The president swallowed. "Send in someone from the news network. Iíll be giving out a statement."
S17 - A Reason To Celebrate
The Divine President surrendered and the news was already spreading out through the Ansterglin star cluster. The president was stripped of his title and ordered to vacate the palace. The palace was then ordered dismantled and all itís lavish treasures given back to their rightful owners, the people. The slaves were also freed, hundreds of thousands of them. At hearing the news, the slaves crowded the streets of many large cities all over the star cluster on many worlds and cheered as if one. The cheering became festivals and parades, and not one negative report sprang from the ruckus. It was as though the Userans were accepting the major change. Many hoped it was true.
A celebration was occurring aboard the Annihilator in the bow of the mighty warship. An observation deck had been converted into a large hall, much larger than even a Galaxy-class cruiserís much vaulted ten-forward.
Everyone was invited, captains from the remaining P.L.S. ships, resistance cell leaders and even several first controllers from some Useran cruisers. At the main table, the resistance leaders were in charge. They all announced salutes, praises and toasts.
Azak found the quiet of a corner off to the side to be comfortable as he went over damage reports still coming in, missing in action reports, and construction updates. In one hand the padd, in the other hand a glass of champagne.
"Not enjoying the party?" Hodgeís voice came from above.
Azak looked up to find his friend smiling down at him. "Oh, yeah, sure I am."
"Iím kinda shocked to find you still here. As I recall at the last celebration I found you at your old P.L.S. facility just before stunning me."
Azak returned the smile. "Yeah, but this time no Section 31."
Hodge sat down. He too had a glass of champagne and brought it up to his lips to take a sip.
"When do you head back to the starbase?"
Hodge finished his sip and let out a satisfied sound. "Tomorrow."
Azak let the padd rest on his outstretched leg. "You mentioned me owing you two favors. What did you mean by that?"
Hodge smiled. "Oh, yeah, almost forgot. When I brought the fleet back to the star cluster a message was coming in for me from Starfleet." Hodge paused to take another sip of champagne.
"What did they say?"
"They gave me a month or so to finish what I was doing here and bring you and the other "renegade" Starfleet officers and crew back for court-martials."
Azak was silent; he did blink quickly a couple of times. "Uh huh."
During his sip, Hodge nodded.
Three days had passed since the surrender of the Divine President. Admiral Hodge had gone back to Starbase-SDL to resume his post and report that he was unsuccessful at bringing back the renegade Starfleet officers and crew.
And, as Azak walked along a pristine lake, elections were taking place to announce the new "leader" and government cabinet of the Ansterglin star cluster. The choices were the resistance cell leaders, Tolna GiíGilo included. The reason there was an election and not an instantly appointed leader was the fact that no one knew how to proceed. It wasnít until Azak had suggested a free democratic election, basing it off the Federation of course. For the last two days, Azak gave out more and more advice as to how to run a government when he just handed out a datapad full of Federation law and government.
Azak didnít even see it coming when someone suddenly suggested making the star cluster a sovereign Federation state. The cluster would be governed by whoever and their party, but would follow Federation law. And since the cluster was so far from Federation space would have to fend for itself until the borders could extend further out. Essentially, the Ansterglin star cluster would be Federation, but separate.
Azak got away from the hustle and bustle of the elections to escape to the small lake. Aboard the Phantom Lord, before it was destroyed, Azak had had a good-sized rock sitting on his ready room desk. Many had asked what it was for, and all Azak could answer was: Itís a piece of my home. I took it before I left to join Starfleet. And I plan to put it back when I returned.
But that idea had turned to dust as soon as the Phantom Lord exploded in an expanding ball of hypermatter. Azak came to a stop and began picking up small stones and throwing them across the water. Somewhere birds began making song, and above the trees swayed in a passing breeze. Leaves began falling into the lake water, and fish of all sizes swam zipping back and forth nibbling up food.
This was life. For a second Azak wished Brian and Melinda could enjoy the serenity of the moment. But Brian was dead and Melinda was still recovering from her injuries and would soon take command of a new cruiser from the Nargolis shipyards.
Azak refocused his mind on the newfound serenity and enjoyed it for both of them. He was in deep when suddenly his communicator beeped. Azak almost threw the damned thing into the lake.
"Vencor here," he spoke.
"Sorry to disturb you captain. But weíre receiving a distress signal from Starbase-SDL."
Azak threw down the rocks he had collected in his hand. "Let me here it."
The officer played the signal for him and Azak listened. Starbase-SDL had been attacked and seriously damaged by the rogue Useran fleet. Jamesí words were barely audible as he mentioned something about setting the starbaseís self-destruct. He called for help, any help.
Azak smiled, "It never stops."