Ulun broadcasts fleetwide: "Refugee fleet and your Starfleet minders – know that as this message reaches you, two antimatter explosives equal to 200 isotons of destructive force each have been hidden aboard ships within the fleet. I will detonate these explosives if the following demands are not met:
- The commander of the Klingon contingent and the chief engineer of the Odyssey use the Tiro to dock with the Alanel and join me aboard to discuss the terms of my surrender. A Starfleet representative may join, but if more than three beings enter the airlock, or if any of the three are armed, I will detonate the explosives.
- The Raider and the Odyssey keep their engines unpowered, and remain at least 100,000 KM from the Alanel while our negotiation takes place. If either ship comes closer than that, or any ship gets within 60,000 KM, I will detonate the explosives.
- The shuttle that is targeting the Alanel with a torpedo retreats to 60,000 KM before the Tiro docks. If the shuttle remains when the Tiro docks, I will detonate the explosives.
“You have 30 minutes to comply.”
With limited time, the captain selects her negotiators – Kalen will lead, as a Romulan and as a commissioned Starfleet officer. She looks to Sebastian as well, who readily agrees, though he tells Kalen that the engineer will be the lead here – Sebastian will assist. With the team chosen, Sebastian works to prepare the launch while Kalen focuses on counter-intelligence. At his spurring, the captain invokes the prefix codes of the Alanel, remotely disabling all functions beyond life support. With the Alanel now unable to fully observe the movements of the crew, Kalen uses the sensors to seek any sign of the missing torpedos, the explosives that the Romulans are using to hold the fleet hostage. After some analysis, along with information from the internal scans of the Bio lab explosion, Kalen is able to determine with relative confidence that the Romulans used one torpedo to erase their evidence in the bio lab, and the other is with them on the bridge of the Alanel, behind a scattering field. Thinking ahead, Kalen creates a shutoff switch for the torpedo activated by his tricorder – however, the signal needs to be sent within a few feet to be effective.
Knowing that the Romulans do not threaten the entire fleet, the captain authorizes a risky plan put forward by Kalen – using the approaching Tiro and the retreating John Stewart as a transporter relay to beam a security team aboard the Alanel ahead of the negotiators. As the two support craft proceed with their parts of the instructions given them, Lt. Mackenzie and two other security officers are beamed quietly into a passenger cabin, where they must immediately contend with quieting the hostage Sikarians within.
Separately, Kalen, Plogh, and Sebastian board the Alanel and are greeted by Rossik, the technician of the conspirators, holding two disruptors on them. He leads them to the Alanel’s mess hall, where Ulun has made a farcical attempt at a meal to negotiate over. They sit, and it becomes clear early on that Ulun is not negotiating in good faith – he spends much of his time questioning the negotiators’ motives and philosophies, centering on Kalen in particular but Plogh as well. They do learn some information, though – Ulun and his fellows feel as though the fleet’s trek home is doomed thanks to the unknowns of the quadrant and the Starfleet tendency to prod the unknown, and see the trajector as a means to escape a situation where they have no other means to save themselves.
After the pair make clear their disinterest in Ulun’s opinion, Rossik gets angry and attempts to strike Plogh. The Klingon throws Rossik to his back on the deck without getting up from his chair and proceeds to ignore him. In response (and perhaps realizing his delay tactics are wearing thin), Ulun signals for Nalira to activate the trajector and go before surrendering to the negotiators.
Kalen disarms Rossik and discovers their disruptors have no power cells. They race to join Mackenzie and his team at the door to the bridge, where the controls have been slagged and the door sealed. They’ll have to cut through. Kalen looks to Lt. Mackenzie, who recalls a service conduit nearby. The pair hurry through the back route and corner Kumir and Nalira in the bridge as the trajector is spinning up – along with the overload of the photon torpedo, which they are using as a power source for their jury-rigged trajector. Kumir’s disruptor is not unpowered, and his initial salvo forces the pair behind cover. Trusting in Mackenzie, Kalen leaps forward out of cover as the trajector begins its cycle and dives for the torpedo, activating the shutoff signal from his tricorder as he slides close. Kumir, seeing an opportunity, rushes forward to attack Kalen – and is immediate stunned down by Mackenzie and his rifle.
The torpedo’s overload abates and the weapon shuts off. However, Nalira has disappeared, indicating that the trajector worked and sent her… somewhere. The danger passed, Kalen signals the all-clear to Sebastian, who reports in to the captain. With everything relatively in hand, Kalen hands off command of the negotiation team to Sebastian, who smiles and suggests they all head home.
Once the fleet is back underway, the council of captains calls an emergency session to understand the events that unfolded. Carela Tann calls for the Romulans to lose their seat on the council in light of the situation, but Tchang stands firm – they may be a small contingent, but the Romulans who broke did so as a means of trying to exert control on a situation in which they felt they had none. Taking away their sole voice in their fate only enforces what the conspirators feared. Cowed for now, the call fails, though who sits in the seat is in question for now – Selveth’s health is in question after the neurotoxin, and Kalen sees his serving on the council as a conflict of interest.
With many unknowns still to ponder, three Romulans in custody, and serious repairs to make to the Odyssey, the fleet finally escapes Cravic space and seeks a place to affect repairs.