With that last threat, the channel was closed, giving Tom a clear view of the planet and the…different looking ship in orbit. It was roughly the size of an Intrepid class vessel and was mostly rounded. From above, the ship almost looked like an old Native American arrowhead with two powerful protruding sub-light engines.

He moved back to the command chair, hesitated a moment, then sat down. He gave no orders, he simply sat there, staring at the Vendoth ship in orbit.

After a minute, the ensign at the helm asked, "Orders, sir?"

Tom smiled in defiance. "Remain in orbit until three minutes before our time is up," he simply stated. "Once we reach that time, take us back the way we came at warp nine. Let's not show them we can reach Transwarp velocity…because they might think it an insult."

"Aye, sir," she replied, smiling back at him.

To her left, however, Vendar looked at him with a frown on her face. "Sir…this computer recognizes that ship, and it just now brought up a file on the Vendoth."

Tom's eyes suddenly went wide. He stood up in surprise and moved to her console. "Are you sure?"

She looked back at her console, shook her head in confusion and wonder. "I'm positive. There's a file in here under a high security lock out…only the Captain can access the file…and that's only with his situational access code."

Tom looked back at the Vendoth ship…wondering how in the world there could be a record on a species that was only just now encountered...



The bright shimmering cleared, leaving Chris wondering if the transport coordinates had been accurate. There was nothing but blackness…

But a moment later, a light shot on…in fact, several lamps of a sort shot on. He quickly realized that they had beamed down into some kind of a bunker.

Everyone around them was just as tall and lanky looking as Rendal…and each one of them had a surprised look on their faces. The one closest jumped out of his bunk and ran up to Rendal.

"My friend, you made it!" he whispered gleefully, trying to keep quiet. "We heard you had been killed!"

Rendal smiled and did something with his hands. Chris guessed the…odd gesture was a friendly hello of some sort. "No, they didn't. And…" he waved to Chris, "This man and his starship has agreed to help free us!"

Everyone was now crowding around the group. Their eyes quickly diverted from Rendal to Chris…which made him nervous. Instead of a shout of glee or something around the lines, they simply did with their hands what they had done towards Rendal.

Chris quickly went into action. "We don't have a lot of time. Our plan is to send troops down here tomorrow to aid you in taking out all of the Vendoth. I don't…mean to sound unsympathetic about what has happened to your people, but the fact that there are no longer a lot of you and there aren't a lot of Vendoth makes our job very easy, especially since there's only this one complex left to worry about."

"Do not fret over how we feel about what has happened," one Vendoth female stated. "We have long accepted what they have done to us."

"We no longer have to live with it, though," Rendal piped in, trying to raise everyone's spirits. "With the help of this man's brave crew, we will soon be free!"

Chris smiled at his enthusiasm…and hoped it would be justified. "Can you be ready to take action at twelve hundred hours tomorrow?" he asked.

There was a lot of whispers in reply, the Venshai were discussing it but not trying to alarm any guards outside of the bunks. Finally, Rendal left the crowd again and moved to Chris. "They say they can be ready."

Chris smiled at looked at everyone else. "I know a lot of you are worried…and to be honest, a lot of you may die tomorrow. But remember one thing…" He smiled as he remembered the quote on the dedication plaque of the Dragon. "They may take our lives…but they will never take our freedom!"

There was no cheer to that statement, simply a lot of nodding heads and whispers of agreement.

"I hope to see you all tomorrow," Chris said as he stood erect again, ready for transport. He tapped his comm badge and said, "Harriman to Trikal…two to beam up."

Once again, the bright light of the transporter engulfed his vision. However, before he lost sight of the bunks around him...the Venshai once again made their gesture…it wasn't a hello…it was a thank you…



"Computer, access all files regarding the Vendoth," Chris stated in front of the computer console. Everyone waited patiently in the briefing room.

"Situational access code is required." It was only the second time Chris would ever have to use his situational command code, a code that every captain was given and was meant to use only when it was necessary…absolutely necessary.

"Authorization Harriman echo gamma 7 4 7 delta bravo 8 Zulu 5 3 7 Zeta 9 2 7 5 5 fox trot."

After the computer processed his code, it did not respond, it simply brought up the data. He transferred the data to every console on the briefing table then turned around and sat down in his chair. Everyone commenced to read the files.

The information Chris learned was astonishing. It seems that after Praxis exploded, after Captain Kirk's final mission, the USS Excalibur, an excelsior class starship, encountered the Vendoth…but the file didn't say how, where, or precisely when. All it contained was information on how to defeat the Vendoth…information that was out of date and nearly useless. It did, however, contain some useful information.

The Vendoth's weapons, when they impacted on the shields of a Federation vessel, altered the properties of the shields…turned the area of impact into matter…energy from matter. It was similar to replicators in a fashion. Furthermore, the Vendoth's shields held a similar principle. When a weapon impacted on the Vendoth's shields, they weakened…but formed a hard shell over the weakened area. This shell, unlike the one the Vendoth's weapons created, was very difficult to penetrate.

Chris smiled as a thought occurred to him. He waited while everyone else finished reading…then got everyone's attention by tapping his fingers on the tabletop for a moment.

"Ada…judging by the information we've been given…could our cutting phasers cut through the hardened shell part of the Vendoth's shields?"

She considered the question for a moment, then nodded her head. "I believe so," she replied. "I don't have enough information to be sure…but I'd say that'd be our best bet."

"We've got schematics of the very class of vessel that's in orbit of the Venshai world," Chris started. "What we'll do is hit the shields above their shield generator with a full spread of torpedoes. Once their shields are weakened and all they have left is the shell…we'll target it with our cutting phasers and take out their shield generator…and then go from there."

Ada nodded her head. "I agree with that tactic…that definitely is the only way I can see to get around their shields."

"Now we don't want to enter their system at a speed faster than warp nine point eight," Chris continued. "They can't go any faster than that…and we want them to think that we can't out run them if we do run. So that if we do have to run, we can have them chase us…leaving the planet to be liberated. Any other suggestions or comments?"

No one spoke…they all thought it was a good, solid plan.

Chris smiled and nodded. "Then prepare for battle. Ada, I'll need your best security officer to accompany our Britar insurgency force, but I'll need you at tactical."

Ada shrugged her shoulders. "My best man is a Britar."

Chris stood and nodded his head. "Then dismissed."

Everyone quickly left the briefing room, their time short. They didn't have long before the battle would ensue…

When everyone left, Chris moved to the large windows in the briefing room and stared out into space. It was something he did almost every time before a battle. And every time, the stars did not seem like a vast, peaceful ocean of stars…instead, they seemed ominous…deadly…

Many people might die in this battle…many people…but it was worth it.

He turned around and headed out to the bridge. They only had a few hours left…



"We've dropped out of warp," James confirmed. "Approaching the Vendoth vessel fast."

"We're being hailed," Vendar added.

"On screen," Chris ordered.

With that, the face Chris had seen on the communications recording appeared. "I am VenQa' Po'Telch of the Vendoth," he stated. "You have the gall to approach our planet again?"

Chris was unfazed. "I'm Captain Chris Harriman of the Federation starship Dragon," he stated. "You are holding people captive on the planet below…we have come to rescue them."

Po'Telch let an evil laugh rock through the bridge of the Dragon. "You dare defy the Vendoth? How shameful of you. You will surrender now…or feel your punishment before your death."

Chris shrugged innocently. "I've never been known to surrender. It's not in my nature. So…prepare to lose your first conflict against the Federation."

Once again another laugh echoed from Po'Telch. "We have encountered your Federation before." This confused Chris. How could they know about the Federation? As far as he knew, the three Vendoth vessels that had encountered the Excalibur were never returned to the Kalium galaxy…

Po'Telch smirked at Chris's look of confusion. "Your people keep so much information from you, it is no wonder you are inferior and hated by the Kiklar. A device of yours…the Guardian of Forever, allowed VenQa' Ja'Omoq to travel to our past…and he gave us information regarding your technology. We shall defeat you without a problem."

Chris wondered if that was during the one time the Excalibur encountered the Vendoth…or possibly some other time, an unrecorded encounter, perhaps. If it was, though, it had to be from the past…or they were dead. If the Vendoth had information from the future…the Dragon was surely out of its league…

"Listen, Po'Telch," he stated angrily. "You can bully others around…but you are talking to Captain Harriman of the United Federation of Planets. We will not surrender, and we will walk away from this battle." It wasn't arrogance…it was what he hoped would be the outcome.

"You will address me as VenQa'!"

"Not today, I won't," Chris stated defiantly. He signaled for the channel to be closed. By now, they had provided enough of a distraction that the cloaked Captain's Yacht and runabouts were entering orbit. Hopefully, the Vendoth did not detect them.

He adjusted his posture in the command chair. "Ada, target their shield generator, full torpedo spread. Fire on my command."

Suddenly, a very familiar sensor alarm sounded on Vendar's console, breaking the tension on the bridge. It was the same one Chris had heard a month ago.

"Captain, the Vendoth have tapped into our main computer using some sort of…signal," Vendar stated in an alarmed voice. "They piggybacked it on our comm signal, I never noticed it!"

"Try to block them out!" Chris stated quickly, very alarmed. "Hurry!"

She started working furiously at her console, trying to do what ever she could. Every time she did something, she simply got an error tone.

After a few moments, she shook her head in defeat. "I couldn't do anything…they got our database. And it looks like they're already relaying it and their situation to the Vendoth home world."

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended.