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Valaa reached the top of the ladder and reached out to jump onto the metal braces containing the plasma lines. She would still have a good distance to travel to get to the top of the reactor column where the plasma lines came together. Valaa hoped that with a lot of skill and a little luck, she could make it without being seen.

Her hand wrapped around one of the duranium girders stem-bolted to the ceiling. Then, she looked down trying to find a foot hold.

"Oh gods…" she said drawing in a sharp breath and tightly grabbing back onto the rungs of the ladder. "Do not look down, Girl. Do not look down…" she repeated as she saw the deck very, very far below. The Remans working on the ground level were now so small she could barely make them out in the darkness. Finally, she worked up enough courage to reach out her hand once more. With a tiny leap, Valaa made it onto the metal brace.

The semi-circular pieces of I-beam were at least solid. They had to be to hold the long stretches of wire and pipe laid perpendicularly inside them. Besides supporting her weight, at only a meter apart, they were close enough to walk across.

"Alright, let's go," she thought to herself. She took one step and easily walked onto the next brace. "One more," she said stepping again. "And one more," she said with another. "Nice and easy: just a nice and easy stroll," she said before her eyes dropped again and she realized that she was nearly eight stories of the ground. She latched onto the next beam with both arms as he heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. "A nice easy stroll between skyscrapers! Fuck!"

"C'mon, Valaa! C'mon!" she heard Rellas' voice echo in her head. "I need you."

"Go! Go! Keep going!" she repeated over and over again. Somehow, she managed to start moving again.

Valaa was now less than thirty meters from a perch above the reactor column. The Remans were too engrossed in their work below to notice the intruder hanging over their heads. She tried leaning closer to the plasma pipes to conceal herself from view, but one of her arms brushed against the exterior of an active conduit. Instantly, the exposed patch of green skin on her right forearm seared and blistered.

"Ahhh!" she shrieked out in pain before biting down hard on her own hand to keep quiet. For a few seconds, she was too frightened to look down in case the technicians heard, but miraculously, the commotion coming from below seemed to drown out her cry.

Valaa ripped a strip of cloth from the bottom of her tank top and tightly bound her wound. The pressure managed to lessen the sharp pain into just a deep throb, but it was definitely still there. Unfortunately she couldn't stop now. She was too close to her objective. Her agony had to wait. With another deep breath, she inched forward again.

Finally, she reached the junction of pipes and conduits where they merged and fed down into the tower beneath her. Just as she removed the anti-matter charges from her bandolier, an alarm echoed through the entire vast compartment.

"THALARON TRANSFER COMMENCING IN TEN SECONDS," Krokal's voice sounded through a speaker system piped in from the Scimitar. "OPEN EXTERNAL UPLOAD DOORS."

The entire rig shook so violently, Valaa barely had time to grab onto one of the braces to prevent herself from falling. She looked down to see a fifty meter wide hatch beneath the reactor column slide open. The only thing preventing the atmosphere from being sucked out into space was a thin forcefield 350 meters below. In the blackness she could see the silhouette of the huge Reman ship hovering beneath them. A similar set of doors had opened on the warbird's spine that was now lined up perfectly with the station's hatch.

"Oh my gods…" Valaa whispered.

"THALARON TRANSFER COMMENCING"

A bright beam of green and white particles shot out of the base of the column and into space. The ship seemed to be absorbing whatever this strange energy was right into its hull.

"THALARON TRANSFER STABLE AT 500 GRAYS PER SECOND."

Valaa noticed that no one was bothering to look up right now. Even the guards were completely absorbed in the incredible sight of the energy beam beneath their feet. She realized that it was now or ever. With a final deep breath, she went back to work planting the explosives.

****

"I am a very busy man, Rellas," Shinzon said dismissively looking at his opponent. "Are you going to shoot me or not?"

"Not until I get an answer," Rellas said stepping closer. His disruptor was still pointed right at the center of the general's chest.

"A Gralluscan?" Shizon said crossing his arms with a bemused laugh. "The one constant report from every incident of slave disobedience was the presence of one of your kind. I'm guessing than that you are the rebel leader Romulus has been hunting…apparently without success. Am I right? Kudos on finding my little getaway spot. What do you think?" Shinzon said pointing out the window. "The view is incredible."

"I thought Remans hated the light," Rellas countered.

"The Remans were molded by the dark, but I merely adopted it," Shinzon replied with a grin. "I wasn't born in it. Perhaps, it is my time to see the light again?"

"WHY?" Rellas shouted angrily.

"Why? Why what?" Shinzon asked. "Why build the thalaron rig? Why build this ship? You need to be a little more specific."

"The Remans have been crushed underneath the heel of Romulus as badly as the rest of us!"

"Actually worse I'd say," Shinzon replied. "Remus is so close after all."

"Then why would you betray your brothers and sisters to help them? Why wouldn't you join our cause to fight for your freedom? With your ships and resources, we could have crushed them."

Shinzon merely tutted his lips and shook his head.

"Because you and I have a very different definition of freedom, Rellas" he began. "What you call 'freedom' I call 'chaos.' Can you imagine," Shinzon asked throwing his arms out in a grandiose gesture, "a thousand individual planets running themselves? Each one squabbling with every other one over their petty needs, petty wants, and petty desires?" Shinzon stepped closer to the Gralluscan. "No, we live in one galaxy. Anyone who understands history knows that inevitably the one body must be guided by one authority to be peaceful and prosperous. I would prefer that authority to be Remus."

"With you at its head, of course?" Rellas sneered.

"It is not surprising that great movements are led by great men," Shinzon said shrugging his shoulders, "Alexander, Surak, Napoleon, Kahless…"

"Don't you dare compare yourself to the Unforgettable!" Rellas roared.

"Touchy, touchy…." Shinzon muttered. "When your pathetic attempt at revolution is long forgotten, they will still be chanting my name: Shinzon the Conqueror, Shinzon the Liberator, Shinzon the Unifier…" he said walking around and waving his hands as if he was addressing an imaginary throng of admirers. "Shinzon the Original…"

"You're insane," Rellas countered.

"Am I?" Shinzon said turning back to him. "If I am, then I am just the product of my insane surroundings. Semachs and the Romulan senate killed half the Imperial Military trying to intimidate their enemies, with a lot from you, I might add. For that, I salute you," Shinzon said with a bow. "Now, I've convinced the military to take revenge on Semachs and the senate. If anything, I am the balancing force in the stars.

It's why I built this ship. Romulus, Earth, Qo'noS, Cardassia, Bajor. All the planets in the galaxy are nothing but obstacles standing in my way. But soon, I will have a weapon capable of knocking them all down one at a time."

Suddenly, a bright flash of light appeared out the window as the thalaron transfer beam activated. Deadly energy flowed from the rig into the Scimitar.

"And there it is, right there," Shinzon leered triumphantly pointing out the window.

"You're insane and you're a narcissist," Rellas said shaking his head. "Why are you telling me all this, Shinzon?"

"Well, that's very simple," the general said calmly walking towards Rellas. "You're not going to be alive much longer."

Shinzon moved like lightning and knocked the disruptor out of Rellas' hand. The pistol hit the deck and skittered away into the darkness.

"One more slave to kill!" Shinzon growled. "One more victory added to my name!" The Reman drew a dagger from beneath his robes and thrust it straight at Rellas. The Gralluscan drew his own knife. The men locked blades.


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