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Hobus System: Devron Sector, Romulan Star Empire

Stardate: 54760.5

Shinzon impatiently stood next to the observation window of his cruiser's ready room. An uneasy Vkruk was at his side. Krokal, the head of the Reman Corps of Engineers, walked up with three pairs of polarized goggles.

"My Lord," he said handing a pair to Shinzon. The general briefly examined them before placing them onto his face. Vkruk took the second pair and carefully fastened them over his eyes.

"The light of a sunny day is excruciating for us," the old Reman thought to himself nervously. "This is positively suicidal."

Krokal put on the last pair before turning to Shinzon.

"Are you ready, My Lord?" he asked stepping towards a control panel.

"I traveled half-way across the empire to hear your report, Krokal," Shinzon said with a denigrating tone. "The real question is 'are you ready?'"

"Yes Sir," Krokal sighed before pressing the button to open the blast shield.

The heavy tritanium window cover opened with a hiss. Vkruk and Krokal recoiled from the light of a burning star less than a million kilometers from the ship. Shinzon managed to stand his ground.

Hobus was one of the oldest stars in the Beta Quadrant. Though its original bright yellow corona was showing the first signs of transforming to dim orange, the old giant still was absolutely overwhelming to a species used to the cold, eternal night of Remus' dark side. However, it was the only star available to Shinzon that had precisely the correct balance of elements for his purposes.

"So, you claim to have refined the process since my last visit?" "Shinzon said crossing his arms.

"Yes Sir," Krokal answered trying to keep his voice steady against the searing light pouring through the window. "Based on the research in the Tal Shiar database, we originally believed that we could collect the necessary plasma from the outer corona. However, the mix of helium to hydrogen isotopes was still too high to produce viable thalaron particles…"

"Get to the point, Man," Shinzon said rolling his eyes behind his goggles.

Krokal quickly obeyed.

"Last week, our probes finally retrieved a sample from well beneath the star's surface. The decay beginning at a depth of 600,000 kilometers produced nearly the perfect isotope mix. We've begun the construction of a particle drill on the thalaron collection rig so that it will be able to mine the necessary raw materials directly from Hobus' stellar core."

"How long until you can begin refinement of thalaron particles?" Shinzon asked sharply.

"We will be able to activate the particle drill in three weeks," Krokal answered, "but it will take another two months before we will have collected enough core plasma to be able to refine any useful amount of thalaron radiation."

Shinzon snapped his head over and glared at the engineer.

"That is unacceptable!" he shouted. "Our operations are on an extraordinarily strict timetable. Every other Reman laboring to make our freedom a reality cannot afford to wait because of your incompetence."

Krokal began trembling, but still tried to explain.

"My Lord, you must understand," he began, "drilling into the core of a star this old is extremely delicate work. The slightest mistake or imbalance could destabilize the stellar core and exponentially increase the rate of fusion degradation. And, well, you know what that means…"

"Actually, I don't," Shinzon said with great annoyance. "Forgive me, but my knowledge of stellar mechanics is somewhat limited due to the circumstances of my childhood. However, if you would be so kind to enlighten this humble leader of the Reman People," Shinzon said sarcastically bowing. Vkruk shot a warning glance to the engineer. He knew that when his lord was this agitated, he was prone to making rash decisions with people's lives.

"Sir, my apologies," Krokal continued. "If we destabilize the stellar core, it could cause the star to go supernova. The subspace shockwaves could obliterate this entire sector."

Shinzon slowly rolled his head from side to side.

"You say this to me like I should care…" he finally replied.

Krokal was stunned by Shizon's flippant disregard for the nearby planetary systems, including their own.

"Shinzon!" Vkruk shouted in a manner that caught his lord's attention. The general knew that Vkruk only used this paternalistic tone was he was trying to tell him he had crossed a line. He was the only Reman who could do this and not end up on the wrong side of a firing squad.

"Apparently, it is I you owe you an apology, Krokal," Shinzon said in a manner that made it clear he was not actually apologetic. "Very well, if you say it will take two months, than you take two months." Then, the general took a large step towards the engineer. "However, take careful note of what I'm about to say: I won't tolerate any further delay. If you can't get the job done, I will find someone who can. Am I understood?"

"Yes Sir!" Krokal said now trembling even more intensely.

"Good," Shinzon replied. "Now, I believe you have a lot of work to do. Leave me and my viceroy to marvel at your handiwork for a while."

"Yes, My Lord!" Krokal said running out of the room. Shinzon turned to look back out of the window. Vkruk stepped forward and cupped his hand over his eyes to catch a glimpse of the whole reason they made this trip.

"I suppose I should thank the rebel slaves for one thing," Shinzon mused. "With the Romulan Navy obliterated, there's no one out here to bother us."

"You know," the viceroy said refocusing the conversation, "they say patience is a virtue."

"Not now it isn't!" Shinzon said back to him with a steely resolve. "We've come too far to become bogged down by trivial concerns now. We cannot risk our plan falling apart because some piss-ant engineer is afraid of a little risk."

"I would hardly call a supernova 'a little risk.'" Vkruk countered. "My Lord, I have been at your side most of your life. I don't want to see your dream of a strong and free Remus destroyed because you underestimated our enemies."

"Vkruk," Shinzon said relaxing a bit, "For over twenty years you have been a teacher, mentor, father, and friend. I am grateful for what you have done for me, but now I require a bit of faith. There is a reason why I was able to rise from slave to general, and that is vision! I can see our future so clearly," Shinzon said reaching towards the window and pointing outwards. "Now, I beg for you to step forward, brave the terror of the light, and see it with me."

Vkruk gritted his fangs and stepped closer to Shinzon's side. They looked out together to see the huge cylindrical satellite orbiting the Hobus Star. Three Reman construction barges circled the colossus as hundreds of workers in heat-shielded space suits maneuvered pieces of tritanium plating with the assistance of hundred meter long robotic arms. One at a time, the workers placed the flat pieces of metal against the skeletal frame of the collection rig and finally set them in place with hundreds of self-sealing stem bolts.

Vkruk raised arm again and squinted his eyes just enough to make out the particle drill slowly coming together as more workers added it to the end of the superstructure.

"Our enemies already tremble when we emerge from the darkness," Shinzon grinned. "Soon, they will also tremble when emerge from this light."

Vkruk could see Shinzon's vision alright. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore. He stepped back into the shadows, and shut his eyes. He wanted to remember the lost little boy he had adopted all those years ago; the little boy who reached out his pale hand only hoping for a bit of kindness and humanoid affection. The same little boy he had come to love as his own son; the same little boy that loved him before growing up into a madman.

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