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Hobus System: Devron Sector, Romulan Star Empire

Shinzon and Vkruk stood on the observation deck of the Scimitar. The general stared out at the massive, glowing orb of Hobus as his viceroy did his best to shield his sensitive eyes. The doors opened and Krokal sprinted in carrying a tiny object.

The head of the Reman Corps of Engineers ran up the flights of stairs and didn't stop until he reached his superiors. Then, he placed his treasure on the table in front of them.

Shinzon furrowed his brow as he looked at the nondescript thing. It was a simple red sphere about the size of a Terran golf ball.

"What exactly is that?" he said dismissively.

"This," Krokal said trying to catch his breath, "is everything. This sphere contains the first refined thalaron particles mined from deep inside the Hobus star!"

"You've been working almost half a year and this is all you have?" Shinzon said as his voice rose in anger. "You brought me all the way from Remus for this pathetic, insignificant thing!"

"My Lord," Krokal said pleading his case, "this is a miracle of Reman science. It took over 750,000 liters of stellar core plasma to refine this much enriched radiation. For almost five centuries, Romulan scientists have said that weaponized thalaron particles were impossible to contain. Yet here they are, right in front of you. Even more incredibly, we did it safely without damaging the star itself."

Shinzon fought the urge to shove the sphere straight down Krokal's throat. He clenched his jaw and turned back towards the huge, circular window behind them.

"I cannot accomplish my goals with that pitiful ball. I could crush it with one hand." Shinzon spit back.

"My Lord, believe me," Krokal replied. "You don't want to crush that in your hand."

"It is a beginning…" Vkruk said trying to smooth things over. "You are refining more, are you not?" he asked Krokal loud enough for Shinzon to hear.

"Of course," the engineer said nodding vigorously. "Now that we understand the process in finer detail, we are increasing our production rates exponentially. We will begin transferring the first industrial quantities of thalaron particles to the Scimitar's capacitors within the next eight hours."

"That's good news for you, Krokal," Shinzon said. "Otherwise I would have to find someone with far greater urgency than you. Trallian nearly derailed our entire operation here. If I didn't stop him when I did, we could have lost everything.

Now, Semachs is starting to ask questions about my frequent absences as well. We can't keep our plans secret forever. I need this weapon to save our people, Krokal," Shinzon said pointing at the sphere. Do you understand that? The longer we wait, the longer we risk losing our one chance at freedom!"

"Yes, My Lord."

"Good. Now go. Let us know when you are prepared to begin the thalaron transfer."

"Yes, My Lord!" he repeated with a bow before running from the room.

When he was gone, Vkruk turned to Shinzon.

"How often must I remind you about the virtues of patience?" Vkruk asked. "Krokal accomplished everything you asked of him. The Romulans still don't know about our plans, and now we will have an unlimited source of this new weapon for our seizure of power. The entire galaxy will bow to Remus within the year."

"And how often must I remind you that I am running out of time!" Shinzon said convulsing with pain. He pressed his hands against his temples and collapsed to the floor. "Do you want me die without completing our task!"

Vkruk sighed. The old Reman walked over, pressed his claws to Shinzon's skull, and stabilized the attack.

"Of course not, My Lord. We can bring Picard to us and commence the transfusion before the coup," Vkruk pleaded. "You will need your full strength for the trials that lie ahead."

Shinzon sucked in a few deep breaths and rose back to his feet. He reached down, picked up the thalaron sphere, and started passing it through his fingers like a child's new toy.

"No, my friend," the general said shaking his head. "Remus and I will be saved together or we will fall together. We are one body and one soul. That is how it must be."

"As you wish, Shinzon," Vkruk replied. "I just hope you understand the consequences if you fail."

Shinzon burst out laughing.

"For me to fail, Vkruk, I would have to believe that I could fail."

"That is precisely what scares me, My Lord."


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