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Hobus System: Devron Sector, Romulan Star Empire

Rellas and Valaa's small shuttle dropped out of warp.

"Our cloak is holding," the Orion reported checking the instruments in the cramped cockpit. "We haven't been detected. By the ancestors," she added sharply, "you think next time you can steal a shuttle that can do better than Warp 2?"

"Sorry, I gave the good one to the Trallians," he said with a shrug. "Besides, I don't think they'll be a next time, Valaa."

"Right," she sighed before making a passive scan of the system.

Rellas looked out the window at the ancient star in front of them.

"No habitable planets, no star bases, absolutely nothing. Why would Shinzon be so interested in this system?" he asked with a tone somewhere between curiosity and genuine concern.

Suddenly, the instrument panel came to life. Valaa made a few adjustments to verify her readings.

"I think I know the answer to that question now," she said sucking in a sharp breath. "Set course 372 Mark 037."

"That takes us right into the star," Rellas asked confused.

"Yeah…it does," she muttered.

Rellas brought the shuttle around and throttled up to full impulse. Two minutes later, Valaa announced they were now within visual range.

"Visual range of what?" Rellas said shielding his eyes against the increasing glare of Hobus' corona. "I can't see anything."

"Look again," Valaa said reaching forward and activating the window's polarization controls. Instantly, the glare disappeared. Rellas' eyes grew wide.

"What is that thing?"

A giant tritanium cylinder hovered less than two hundred kilometers above the glowing solar atmosphere. The object was well over four thousand meters long and almost a kilometer in diameter. A strange blue beam shot out of one end and punched straight into Hobus' surface. Inside the tube of energy, a glowing stream of green and white particles rose from inside the star back towards the cylinder like liquid running through a pipe.

"It's some kind of particle drill," Valaa said trying to get a better read with her sensors. "They've tapped into the stellar core. For what reason, I have no idea. But they're mining a lot of plasma. I'm detecting millions of liters in holding tanks inside that thing."

"I think we found where Trallian's missing materials were going," Rellas muttered.

Another alarm echoed through the cockpit.

"A ship is decloaking," Valaa shouted, "Bearing 274 Mark 052. It's absolutely huge!"

"Is it a Romulan warbird?" Rellas asked concerned.

"No…it's a lot bigger. Apparently, this particle drill wasn't the only illicit project on the Reman's books."

The silhouette of the Scimitar shimmered into the visible less than a thousand kilometers away.

"By Kahless!" Rellas shouted as he laid eyes on the gargantuan ship. It was so large the hull eclipsed most of Hobus' light by itself.

The Scimitar slowed to one half impulse as it approached the cylinder.

"Shinzon's on that thing, isn't he?" Valaa asked quietly.

"No doubt about it," Rellas answered. "Do you have a good idea of what the inside of that mining rig looks like?"

"Yeah," Valaa said with a deep breath. "I got good readings." She didn't have to think very hard to guess what he was planning.

"Do you have any cigarettes left?" Rellas asked next.

"I'm down to my last two," she said forcing a smile.

"That's enough…"

"You're going after him, aren't you?" she said reaching into her jacket pocket.

"I want to look that Reman in the eye before I end him," Rellas answered.

"And you want me to try to rig that giant-ass thing out there to blow, don't you?" she added before handing him a cigarette. She took the final one for herself.

"If it's not too much trouble," Rellas answered. "We can't make things easy for them."

Valaa chuckled as she lit both smokes.

"You know," she said after a long inhale, "There's always better when you think it's the last one you'll ever have." Then, she looked back to her leader.

"It's been an honor, Sir," Valaa said reaching out her hand.

"May Kahless guide us," he replied shaking it. "Qapla'."

"What's that thing that Klingons always say trying to sound all badass?" She took another drag on her cigarette. "Dying today would be good?"

"Today is a good day to die," Rellas smiled. Valaa grinned back.

"Why the hell not?"


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