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Kathryn Janeway was not happy.

Ignoring the two security officers who moved in to flank her as she left the transporter room, she strode down the corridor to the Commodore's Office.

The doors opened at her approach. Admiral Spock looked up and rose in one swift movement. Janeway stood to attention, waiting for the doors to close before allowing her gaze to fall on the man who had dragged her ship off the front lines.

"It is agreeable to see you again, Captain."

"I would like to say the same, Admiral, but I know Vulcans do not like lies."

Spock raised a single eyebrow. "You are unhappy."

"Permission to speak freely, sir?"

Nodding, Spock sat back in the chair and steepled his fingers, gaze unwavering.

"Yes, I am unhappy. Saratoga was needed to hold the line at Regulus. With us pulled away, the other ships cannot possibly hold the planet against the Klingons. And if Regulus falls, so does the entire sector. We were holding out, Admiral. People sacrificed their lives to-" Janeway cut off, T'lar's sightless eyes flashing before her.

"You miss your first officer." Spock's voice was soft. "I understand, Captain. I have lost more than most in my years."

Janeway knew that was an understatement. Still, that did not change the reality of the situation at Regulus.

"I believe you have only recently come to captain the Saratoga?"

"Stardate 43625.2." Not a date she would ever forget. They had found out days later that Enterprise had been lost on that date. Destroyed protecting some spatial anomaly against three K'vort-class battle cruisers.

"An unfortunate date," Spock replied. “But one that may yet live on in our history as a positive turning point.”

“How so?”

Spock pushed the padd on his desk across to her. “It was the day I received this.”

Janeway scanned the screen, heart quickening as she read. “The Cardassians?”

“It would seem the Union is worried about the Klingons. Worried enough to be interested in forging an alliance with the Federation.”

“But the Cardassians...”

“Are far from being the ideal friends. One of my former colleagues once said the same about the Klingons. But they proved to be worthy allies, for a time. If a handful of events had gone differently in the past few decades... Perhaps we could have avoided this bloodthirsty conflict. The Cardassians may not be the allies we want, but they are the ones we need.”

“I...” Janeway hesitated. The Cardassians? They were almost as bad as the Klingons, from the reports she had read. Their occupation of the Bajoran Sector had gone almost unremarked in the chaos of war but their methods were said to be beyond brutal. Besides, none of this answered her most pressing question. “I don’t understand what this has to do with my ship and I.”

To her surprise, Spock smiled. “On behalf of the Federation Council, I have accepted the Cardassians’ offer for talks. And I need you and your ship to accompany me.”

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