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Rendiath Expanse: Federation Zone of Occupation, Cardassian Space

Stardate: 53325.8

"Enter," Alex said nervously. The doors to her quarters parted and T'les stepped inside. The Vulcan saw the ship's doctor, Scharr, and Phil all huddled around Alex's dining room table. Each one held a very strong alcoholic beverage.

"You requested my presence, Doctor?" T'les asked with her usual placid tone.

"Yes, T'les. Please come in."

As the assistant engineer walked towards the rest of the group, Alex commanded the computer:

"Computer, lock doors. Alpha One Quarantine Procedure."

"Acknowledged. Quarters sealed on authority of the Chief Medical Officer."

"I didn't realize you were that sick, Doc," Scharr said taking a sip of his drink. "Hopefully, it's not something I can catch?" he said sarcastically.

"I think my attitude is, in fact, contagious, Tren," Alex said taking a sip of Canadian whiskey on the rocks, "But not even the captain can override Alpha One Protocol. That way we can have a conversation undisturbed."

"I take it that you're not happy with the ways things have been going onboard either?" Scharr said as his antennae perked up.

"That's the understatement of the decade!" Phil said slamming his hand on the table. "Laria is gone! The woman I love is in the brig, and a tyrannical madman is sitting in Tigranian's chair with Medusa at his right hand side!"

"Calm yourself, Phil," Tren said turning towards him. "We hate the bastards too, but losing our composure doesn't help a damn thing."

"You cold blooded, ice-skinned…"

"Phil…" Alex said rubbing her temple with her free hand.

"You wouldn't be so damn calm if it was one of your wives sitting alone behind a forcefield!"

"Probably not! But I wouldn't be cawing and flapping my wings like a Tavolian Buzzard!"

"THAT'S ENOUGH! BOTH OF YOU!" Alex said slamming her glass on the table. "We're not going to accomplish anything fighting amongst ourselves. The four of us are the only ones left who can do something…"

"And just what do you propose that the four of us do, Alex?" T'les asked cocking her head to one side.

Alex scoffed at what she was about to propose, but she knew it was absolutely necessary.

"Tigranian is probably gone forever, and Laria now with him, but we still might be able to save Katie. To do that, I'm proposing that we must find a way to remove Captain Grigsby and Commander Hardnett from command of this ship."

"There's a word for that, Alex….mutiny," Scharr said as his antennae nearly touched each other.

"If you want out, Tren, leave now."

"Oh, I never said I wanted out. I was just making it absolutely clear what our goal is."

"I'm in," Phil said without any hesitation. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sure they can't hurt Katie."

"Between my access to the engine room, and Phil's control of the helm and guidance systems, we can do a lot of damage," Tren said starting to formulate ideas. "But we still have a lot of ship to cover and we don't know who we can trust."

"What about Hawkins?" Phil said hopefully. "Tigranian was always very close to the marines. If we can get him and Sergeant Schultz on board, we can take the whole ship!"

"I don't know if they'll join us. Hawkins' loyalty is to the Corps. Any feelings he had for Tigranian might have died with the captain. That's why he's not here…"

"It will not work…" T'les said interjecting.

The other three conspirators looked up at her with shocked expressions.

"I owe my life and my freedom to the men and women of this crew, and I share your aims philosophically, but a takeover of this ship by force would not accomplish our goals."

"How do you know?" Phil said sharply.

"Please, Mr. Lexington, you must learn to govern your passions. Approach this problem logically. Let us theorize that somehow we were successful in gaining control of the Pershing. We would have freed Katie, but the most powerful vessel in the quadrant would be considered an enemy of the Federation and the entirety of Starfleet's resources, plus the combined resources of the other space faring nations of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, would be dedicated to pursuing us, engaging us, and destroying us. You, Katie, and the rest of the crew would be killed or incarcerated. Tell me, how does that accomplish your stated goal of keeping the woman you love free?"

There was an awkward pause.

"Point taken, T'les," Scharr said.

"Ok, then," Alex said. "What do you propose?"

The Vulcan stepped forward and gingerly took a seat at the table across from them.

"There is an old Vulcan parable told to children. It is a lesson in logical morality as it relates to utilitarian obligations. The names and places are not important for this audience, but it concerns a Vulcan prince and his father, a king in one of the ancient Vulcan city-states. This prince was a secret follower of Surak, but his father sympathized with 'Those Who Marched Beneath the Raptor's Wings."

"You mean Romulans?" Phil said.

"Not quite. You see, 'Those Who Marched Beneath the Raptor's Wings' are Vulcans who had not yet left the homeworld. Their descendants did not become Romulans until they arrived on Romulus centuries later…"

"That's also not important!" Alex said. "T'les, please get on with your story."

"As you wish," she said not at all phased. "The king dedicated huge amounts of his city's resources to pursuing a genocidal war against Surak's followers. The people starved as the slaughter grew worse and worse. The prince knew that logically, the king must be stopped to save his people. However, he also knew that the masses would never accept him if he publicly opposed the king, in direct conflict with the ancient Vulcan concept of patrilineal fealty. So, the prince did the only logical thing he could.

He slipped the poison of the Night Star blossom into his father's tea to make it appear his father passed away from cardiac arrest. The prince then ascended to the throne and used his new authority to bring peace to his city and introduce logic to his people."

"You tell that story to children?" Scharr said aghast.

"It is quite appropriate when you divorce yourself from the emotional connotations, Mr. Scharr."

"Are you suggesting we poison Grigsby and Hardnett, T'les?" Alex asked nervously.

"No, Doctor," T'les said calmly. "But I am suggesting we make their deaths appear accidental. Only then will Starfleet not pursue action against us."

"Remind me never to cross a Vulcan…" Phil said collapsing back into his chair.

"That is a wise decision, Phil," T'les said with an expression that was almost a hint of a smile.

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