Naruto: Infinity Divide

The Gambit

Blanket Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Star Trek

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

This chapter covers a lot of territory between Earth, Bajor and the Klingon Empire. Here is Chapter 93, Enjoy!

Port = Left

Starboard = Right

[ ] Signifies a foreign language

{ } Signifies hand signs

Last time:

Stardate 2286.195, 40 Eridani A System, Planet Vulcan Orbit, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

Three days later, a huge feast was held aboard the Wolverine to celebrate recent promotions and to congratulate Captain Jaqueline Nodaway's new command, the NCC-1606 U.S.S. Manta Ray. Jackie's best friend Captain Ozumi Otome greeted them from the NCC-1511 Prinz Eugene via subspace and shared some of the anecdotes of their early careers together.

"…And then there was a wild-eyed bunch of kids that we met called the Think Tank." laughed Otome. "Jackie and I were thrown in a ship-to-ship combat simulation with them and found out they chose who was Captain by drawing straws! We were supposed to show them how it was done but they showed us instead!"

Speeches were given by many, and Jackie had a great time surrounded by friends both old and new before promising to make the U.S.S. Manta Ray a premier vessel in the fleet like her fast cruiser sisterships.

Stardate 2286.200, Sol System, Utopia Planitia Shipyards, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

Lieutenant Heidi Gaul made sure all was set to beam Captain Jaqueline Nodaway over to her new home, the NCC-1606 U.S.S Manta Ray. Jackie came into the transporter room in her dress uniform and looked around fondly before she said, "I'm going to miss this ship and everyone on it. It's been a pleasure serving with you Chief Gaul. You and the rest of the Think Tank stay crazy for me, okay?"

Heidi saluted. "No worries there, Captain Nodaway. Good luck. You will be missed."

Jackie returned her salute. "Until we meet again Heidi. Energize."

…Seconds later, the Transporter Chief received confirmation from the U.S.S. Manta Ray that their new Captain was safely aboard. "Lieutenant Gaul to bridge, Captain Nodaway is safely away."

"Understood Heidi." came Samui's voice from the bridge. "I wonder who we'll get to replace her. She was a damn good Executive Officer."

"I don't know Commander Schrodinger." replied the Transporter Chief. "They'll have some mighty big shoes to fill."

"That's the truth." said the blonde bombshell. "I'm sure our Fleet Captain is going through dossiers as we speak."

"Poor bastard…" thought Heidi aloud. "Oops! Strike that from the record!"

Samui laughed. "I'm sure he feels the same way. Record deleted…"

Chapter 93

Stardate 2286.200, Sol System, Starbase 1, Spacedock, Berth 4, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

The crew of the NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine watched as the NCC-1701-A U.S.S. Enterprise returned from a hijacking and a trip to the center of the galaxy*① and docked next to them in Berth 3.

Naruto was soon speaking to Admiral Kirk on a private channel in his ready room. Kirk was regaling the Fleet Captain about meeting 'God' and the trials and tribulations the bridge crew of the Enterprise had been through. "You wouldn't believe the troubles I've seen Naruto." said the Admiral tiredly.

"Actually, I might Admiral." replied Naruto. "I received a glimpse of a possible future war with the Cardassian Union and two future daughters among other things. It's been a long month and now I must pick a new Executive Officer."

"War is hell Fleet Captain Naruto." laughed Jim. "The interview process is terrible."

Within hours of submitting a formal request for a new XO aboard the Wolverine, Naruto had fifty-three 'promising candidates' from the Starfleet Department of Personnel from across the Fleet. All the whiskered blonde could think was, 'If I wasn't a Vulcan, I would be screaming my head off by now.'

Naruto wasn't suffering alone though. All his department heads were stuck doing performance reviews of their personnel to submit to him as well while they were in port. For once, the normally underused Yeoman Emery Cutler was swamped with work.

…And the 'Kill Board' was updated once again with the addition of two Cardassian cruiser silhouettes by the shuttle bay maintenance crew.

Stardate 2286.201, Cardassian Union Space, I.K.V. Dawnstalker

After a harrowing trip of avoiding minefields, Kzinti listening stations and destroying a hidden pirate base that spotted them deep in the devasted zone between the Klingon Empire and Kzinti Hegemony, the I.K.V. Dawnstalker slipped across the border of the Cardassian Union and into their territory.

Kiba had specifically requested a team of decryption experts from Deep Sace Fleet Command to break the Cardassian ciphers. Now he was glad he did. He said to Tamaki, "Monac IV has an orbital shipyard facility on par with the one we have at Qo'noS."

They saw hundreds of Cardassian vessels lined up in the system and just as many under construction. Tamaki said grimly, "They are gearing up for a total war. The question is, who are they going after?"

"The Cardassian Union could be after us, the Kzintis or the Federation." replied Kiba. "These shipyards have been churning out warships for years. This isn't some sort of defensive measure. It's an invasion fleet."

He turned to his communications tech and asked, "What have you and those codebreakers come up with?"

The communications tech replied, "Captain Warrigul, they seem to be planning to capture the Bajor System in the badlands near the Federation Border and the Gallip System that we have a claim on our border. They are moving up their schedule because they fear the Federation has already discovered their plans."

"What about the Kzinti Border?" asked Commander Kozak.

"There is no subspace traffic regarding the Kzintis." answered one of the decryption personnel.

Kiba growled, "Get me a strategic map." He and Tamaki were carefully examining the Kzint-Cardassian Border and the Captain said, "The Kzinti's have nothing worth taking nearby."

Tamaki agreed. "The Cardassians could easily maintain a defensive posture with the Kzintis given the furballs are already committed so heavily to fighting us and the Lyrans."

"…And as far as we know the Bajor System is neutral even though they border the Federation." added Kiba.

"That means the Klingon Empire is the only one that these cowards are openly attacking!" hissed Tamaki through clenched teeth.

Zeroing the map in on the Gallip System Captain Warrigul said, "The Gallip System is isolated and at the end of our supply chain. Strategically speaking, if the Cardassians took the Bajor System and Gallip then they could easily set up a defense that would be difficult to breach with the Cardassian Union fleet we are looking at."

"We have to report back to Deep Space Fleet Command, sir." said Tamaki.

Kiba really wanted to attack these Cardassian cowards but knew better. "We've gathered enough information to keep the Empire's intelligence units busy for now. Maintain silent running. Navigation, plot a reverse course back to the Empire. Helm, full impulse power until we reach the border of the Monac System, after that, accelerate to warp factor two. Execute!"

Sol III, San Francisco, Starfleet Headquarters, Fleet Admiral Nogura's Staff Room

Meanwhile, Nogura and his staff were watching the recording of Captain Aurora M'Fau's message to Naruto:

"The U.S.S. Columbia was lost with all hands in 2286 on an exploration mission into what later was found to be Cardassian Space and the U.S.S. Wolverine was not involved in our future. The Bajorans were occupied by the Cardassians in 2319 and their population was decimated. Proper Federation contact wasn't made with either race until decades later."

The redhead continued. "Something happened in the past that caused this to change, and the U.S.S. Wolverine-D was sent to assure things proceeded according to this new timeline. We do not know if this was for better or worse, but we will see you in the future when we are born. This is Captain Aurora M'Fau signing off."

Admiral Morrow said, "If the Cardassian Union is planning to conquer the Bajor System then that will put them right on our border. We need to open talks with the Bajoran Republic about the possibility of an invasion as soon as possible."

Admiral Fitzpatrick said, "What are we going to tell them? Saying we learned from a future source that the Cardassians are going to invade eventually sounds like an excuse for us to occupy Bajor."

Nogura stroked his chin. "We have the logs showing what exactly occurred. All we can do is share the information with the Bajoran Republic and hope for the best. We can't force a neutral system to join the United Federation of Planets though -and we certainly can't just annex them."

"What ships do we have out in the Bajor System?" asked Admiral Cartwright.

"There are three science ships but the galactic survey cruiser NCC-1802 U.S.S. Darwin under Commodore Mei Terumi is by far the largest Federation vessel in Bajor." said Fitzpatrick as he looked at his data screen.

Nogura nodded. "Contact Commodore Terumi immediately."

Bajoran System, Planet Bajor Orbit, NCC-1802 U.S.S. Darwin

Mei Terumi was aboard the Darwin while her crew was enjoying shore leave on beautiful Bajor. That was when she received a triple encrypted Priority One transmission from Starfleet Command. The Commodore went to her Ready Room and said, "Computer, this is Commodore Mei Terumi, Commanding Officer of NCC-1802 U.S.S. Darwin. I am ready to receive the Priority One Message from Starfleet Command."

The ship's computer replied, "Identification acknowledged Commodore. Please stand by for retina scan." Mei sighed and placed her eye in front of the scanner and the computer said, "Identity confirmed. Please stand by for message."

Mei leaned back and saw Fleet Admiral Nogura's face appear on the screen. She was surprised but didn't show it. Mei saluted and said, "To what do I owe the pleasure Fleet Admiral?"

Nogura smirked. "Nothing ever ruffles you, does it Commodore?"

Terumi smiled in her usual way and said, "I do try, sir."

"I wish this was a social call Mei, but unfortunately we've stumbled across information that the Cardassian Union may be planning to invade the Bajoran System sometime in the future." said the Fleet Admiral.

Mei digested the information for a moment before she said, "When?"

"We don't exactly know." admitted Nogura.

"That's a bit vague sir." said the Commodore dubiously. "What do you want me to do with this information?"

The Fleet Admiral said, "I have the log entries from the U.S.S. Wolverine regarding the matter. I want you to share them with our new Bajoran friends. I believe Minister Toya Letan of Bajor is our chief contact?"

Mei said, "Yes, that's correct Fleet Admiral."

"You are an excellent diplomat, Mei." said Nogura. "I want you to watch the data before showing it to the Minister. Don't alter it in any way. I want you to reassure the Bajorans this is not an attempt to coerce them into joining the Federation. We simply want to warn them."

Bajoran System, Planet Bajor, City of Ashalla, Minister Toya Letan's Offices

Two hours later, Mei was sitting in the company of Minister Toya and the pair were watching the battle between the two U.S.S. Wolverines and the Cardassians.

The Minister seemed to be skeptical about the whole message until she heard Captain Aurora M'Fau say, "Our sensors show the Federation fast cruiser Wolverine only has minor shield damage. It seems you and the Pah-wraiths gambit failed."

Toya Letan whispered to herself. "…The Pah-wraiths…?"

Mei raised her eyebrows. "Excuse me Minister?"

"It's nothing." said Toya. They watched the rest of the transmission including Aurora's message to her Father, Naruto. After a few moments of silence, the Minister said, "I would like a copy of this message. I believe the proper authorities must be informed…just in case."

"Of course." said Mei.

"Does anyone else know about this message?" asked Letan.

The Commodore shook her head. "This information is considered classified in the Federation. No one else knows even aboard my ship."

The Minister said, "I ask that you keep it that way until further notice."

Mei replied, "You have my word, Minister Toya."

Stardate 2286.202, Devastated Zone, I.K.V. Dawnstalker, Captain's Cabin

Kiba was on an encrypted channel with Deep Space Fleet Command. Klingon Admiral Krell was addressing Kiba from Starbase K-11. Krell said, "This is grave news Captain Warrigul. You have done well in discovering this Cardassian treachery against the Empire. I will report this directly to Emperor Khavek IV."

"Do you have orders for us sir?" asked Kiba.

"Return to Starbase K-11 at best speed." said Admiral Krell. "Our decryption specialists will be able to glean further information on the many transmissions you intercepted. What is your estimated time of arrival?"

The Captain answered, "Tracing our course to avoid minefields throughout the devastated zone it will take four days at war factor four."

"I will see you on Stardate 2286.206 then Captain Warrigul." said the Admiral. "Starbase K-11 out."

"Dawnstalker out." replied Kiba.

Captain Warrigul came out onto the bridge and sat down on the command throne. He was in deep thought.

"Is all well Captain?" asked Tamaki.

"It is as well as can be expected given what we've discovered, Commander Kozak." said Kiba. "The Empire has been forewarned and that means we will be forearmed." He thought for a moment and said, "Helm, maintain course and speed. Starbase K-11 awaits us."

Bajoran System, Planet Bajor, City of Ashalla, Shikina Monastery

Minister Toya Letan travelled to the Shikina Monastery to meet with the Kai*② and show her the transmissions from the Federation. Toya said, "Your Eminence, I believed this was a fabrication at first…but now I believe otherwise. I ask that you pass judgement on whether this is truth or falsehood as ludicrous as it may seem."

Kai Renla*③ was puzzled by the Minister's grave attitude but agreed to watch the foreign transmissions as much out of curiosity as anything else. The mention of the Prophets by a Cardassian Gul caused the Kai to raise her eyebrows, but they were publicly well known and shared with outsiders. The Pah-wraiths were not.

The Kai said, "Now I understand your concern, Minister. You have done well to bring this to my attention. I will convene the Vedek Assembly*④ on this matter immediately."

"Thank you, your Eminence." said Toya Letan. "I fear there may be grave consequences if we do not act quickly."

Stardate 2286.203, Sol System, Starbase 1, Spacedock, Berth 4, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

Blissfully unaware that another potential war was on the rise, Fleet Captain Naruto M'Fau was going through applicants for the position of Executive Officer while his shadow clones went through the crew's fitness reports.

'I'm beginning to have a much greater comprehension of the Terran concept of hell that Admiral Kirk and others have referred to.' thought the blonde Vulcan. 'Saying the interview process is terrible is a galactic scale understatement.'

That was when his lovely wife Alison came in with a fatigued smile on her face and handed him a data pad. "There are the last of the fitness reports for Sciences Division." Seeing her husband visibly deflate, the redhead laughed and kissed his nose. "Hang in there, sailor." she said with a smile. Then she left with a soft sway in her hips…

Stardate 2286.204, Bajoran System, Planet Bajor, City of Ashalla

Both the Vedek Assembly and the Chamber of Ministers met to discuss 'The Cardassian Issue' behind closed doors individually before the Kai addressed both governing bodies with her views.

The Vedek Assembly was convinced the data was genuine and the reveal of the Pah-wraiths alone quickly made them come to the consensus that asking the Federation for help was in the best interests of the Bajoran people. Apart from one Vedek, the vote was unanimous.

The Chamber of Ministers wasn't so easily convinced. The debate was fierce that the Federation might take over the Bajoran System themselves despite their (apparently) friendly nature. There was also the fact that the Cardassians, while not friendly, had never shown expansionist tendencies towards Bajor.

There were still others that argued the mere mention of the Pah-wraiths made the warning too dire to ignore and something had to be done about it. Becoming trusted friends of the Federation would be enough without joining them. The debate would rage for some time…

Stardate 2286.206, Kangor System, Klingon Starbase K-11, Berth 6, I.K.V. Dawnstalker

The I.K.V. Dawnstalker pulled into her assigned berth and security teams soon came aboard to make sure all the communications data they had acquired was safely copied and transferred over to Starbase K-11. For the time being the ship was locked down to prevent any information leaks. It was all routine but most of the crew was a bit nervous about having so many Empire Security Service officers aboard.

The decryption specialists transferred off the Dawnstalker and Admiral Krell himself came aboard to do an inspection. Kiba and Tamaki both saluted the Admiral as he came aboard via the gangplank. After a thorough inspection of the ship, the Admiral said to Tamaki, "I will speak with Captain Warrigul alone."

She glanced at Kiba for a split second before saluting and leaving. Admiral Krell motioned for Kiba to sit with him and said, "Captain Kiba, you have a fine ship and crew. You have some blood wine packed away somewhere, don't you?"

Kiba relaxed a bit and slid open a hidden compartment that had some very high-quality blood wine in it as well as Romulan ale. The Admiral chuckled and said, "So you like the Romulan stuff too, eh? Poor us each a glass." Krell said, "To the Dawnstalker, may she be ever victorious."

Captain Warrigul smiled wolfishly and clinked glasses with the Admiral before Krell said, "I'm telling you this in confidence Kiba. The Empire is stretched thin. We're already fighting the Kzintis, the Hydrans and the Federation. We may have to sow minefields and sacrifice Gallip to the Cardassians, especially if they take the Bajor System as well where we can't flank them."

The younger Klingon growled before saying, "What if we sent a peace mission to Bajor? We know the Federation already has ships there and won't fire on us in a neutral port. If we negotiate with the Federation, it might make the Cardassians think twice before attacking Gallip or Bajor."

Krell looked thoughtful. "You want to do an information exchange with the Federation about the Cardassians? That's quite a bold move Captain Warrigul. It's an unusual plan, but I like it. If we had a ceasefire with the Federation, we could stop the Cardassians dead in their tracks."

Then the Admiral said, "There is no time to waste with the diplomats. That could take weeks or even months. Do you think you can pull it off Captain?"

Kiba's eyes widened slightly before they narrowed predatorially. "You bet I can." said Kiba with a smirk.

Stardate 2286.207, Kangor System, Klingon Starbase K-11, Admiral Krell's Office

The next day, Admiral Krell was speaking to the Emperor of the Klingon Empire, Khavek IV. "My Emperor." greeted Krell.

Khavek nodded. "What do you want?"

"As you know, the situation with the Federation has been dire." said the Admiral.

"Yes, our Chief Diplomat Thad Vak Kaleen wants a ceasefire, but we need leverage to not look weak." said the Emperor.

Krell's eyes brightened. "…And leverage we now have!"

"Explain, Krell." commanded Khavek IV.

"The data on the Cardassian Union is being deciphered as we speak." stated the Admiral. "They are intending to attack us directly and the Federation indirectly by taking the Gallip and Bajor Systems. If they take those systems, it will put the Cardassian Union right against the United Federation of Planets and in direct conflict with us."

"…And the Federation has already clashed with them." the Emperor said.

"Yes, Sire." agreed Krell.

Khavek looked thoughtful and said, "Tell me what you are thinking, Admiral."

Admiral Krell smiled. "One of my Captains, Kiba of the House of Warrigul came up with a cunning plan…"

Stardate 2286.210, Bajoran System, Planet Bajor Orbit, NCC-1802 U.S.S. Darwin

Three days later, Commodore Terumi Mei was both surprised and alarmed when the Darwin's special sensors picked up a Klingon D7W skirting the edge of the Bajoran System. "They came roaring up at warp factor eight and then dropped out of warp, Commodore." said Mei's science officer, Jamie Beam.

"The Klingons are hailing us on a private channel!" exclaimed the communications officer.

Mei smiled, leaned forward, and said, "How unusual. On screen."

The viewscreen showed a youngish Klingon Captain who said, "Federation Starship, this is Captain Kiba Warrigul of the Imperial Klingon Vessel Dawnstalker. We've travelled a long way to discuss something of mutual concern, the Cardassian Union. To whom am I talking to?"

Mei eased back slightly and replied, "This is Commodore Mei Terumi of the U.S.S. Darwin, Captain Warrigul. Why would the Cardassian Union concern us?"

Kiba smiled showing his canines. "Because my old friend Naruto of Vulcan was in their territory. He was in battle with them. You know as well as we do that they are gearing up for a war… Admiral Krell permitted me to do an information exchange with you. They are planning to start with the Gallip and Bajor Systems."

"Do you have proof?" asked the Commodore.

"I have all the proof the Federation needs." replied Captain Warrigul.

Terumi smiled again. "…And what do you want in return for this information?"

"A ceasefire between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets." said Kiba.

Mei's eyebrows raised. "Assuming I had the power to broker a ceasefire (which I don't), why should I trust you, Captain?"

Kiba looked thoughtful for a moment and said, "I can't think of any reason you should trust me. I do have the recon data on the Monac System of the Cardassian Union though. Consider it a gift from the Klingon Empire."

The redhead nodded. "Very well Captain Kiba, I'll accept your gift. If it's the real deal, I'll even pass it on to Starfleet Command."

Stardate 2286.211, Sol III, San Francisco, Starfleet Headquarters, Fleet Admiral Nogura's Staff Room

The Fleet Admiral and his staff had received two shocks since 06:00. In the morning, Commodore Mei Terumi had forwarded the data from the I.K.V. Dawnstalker for their review along with the log data of Captain Kiba Warrigul asking for a ceasefire.

At 13:00, the Federation Diplomatic Corps received a message from Klingon High Command on Qo'noS that a formal ceasefire had been proposed and that all Klingon vessels were going to be recalled back into Klingon Territory as of 12:00 tomorrow if the Federation agreed to do the same.

"The Klingons can't fight both us and the Cardassian Union at once, so they want a ceasefire!" said Admiral Cartwright in disgust.

"Or maybe they actually want peace after this endless attrition war." said Admiral Morrow.

Admiral Fitzpatrick interjected, "Either way, it will give the Federation time to rebuild our forces."

Fleet Admiral Nogura walked into the staff room and said, "The powers that be want us to stand down so that's what we'll do. Send out the orders to recall all Federation ships in Klingon space back into our territory. A tentative ceasefire with the Klingon Empire has been reached."

Sol System, Starbase 1, Spacedock, Berth 4, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

Naruto was reading the bulletin he had received from Starfleet Command on the Wolverine's overhead, "A provisional ceasefire with the Klingon Empire has been declared. All Federation vessels in the Klingon Theater of Operations are to return to our territory and stand by. We will remain vigilant. That is all."

The entire crew was in high spirits, but everyone was reminded by Starfleet Command later that day that this was just a ceasefire, and the war wasn't quite over yet.

Stardate 2286.214, Sol III, San Francisco, Starfleet Headquarters, Office of Starfleet Personnel, Admiral Dennis Sloan's Office

Three days later, Fleet Captain Naruto M'Fau made an appointment with Admiral Dennis 'Denny' Sloan who was the head of Starfleet Personnel. Admiral Sloan was thrilled to meet the famous Naruto of Vulcan and to find out what lucky candidate had been chosen to be the Executive Officer of the famous U.S.S. Wolverine.

Naruto came in his full dress uniform complete with the (rarely worn) cloak. His eyes were blazing like stars and people were running to get out of his way. Sloan's secretary saw Naruto stalk into the office and wanted to hide under the desk. She said, "M-m-may I help you s-sir?"

"Inform Admiral Sloan that Fleet Captain Naruto of Vulcan is here to see him." said the blonde as he leaked a mass of killing intent off his person.

"Right away sir!" said the secretary as she scampered off.

Sloan was surprised to see his hyperventilating secretary come in and announce, "Fleet Captain Naruto of Vulcan is here to see you sir!"

Sloan smiled. "Well show him in Lieutenant…are you all right Sherrie?"

"No sir!" said the quivering secretary.

The Admiral said, "Take a break after you show him in Sherrie."

The Lieutenant squeaked, "Yes sir! Thank you, sir!"

Naruto was shown in seconds later and Sloan suddenly understood why his secretary was frightened… he was too.

The blonde Vulcan glided in silently with a datapad in hand and sat down. He said, "I was sent fifty-three candidates to be my Executive Officer and I have wasted two valuable weeks researching each one of them. None of them meet my criteria. Not one."

Sloan felt like he was staring down the emitter of the biggest phaser rifle in history. "B-but they are the best of the best Fleet Captain! They-"

"They are rejected." said Naruto in a voice cold as death. Sloan gulped as Naruto stood up and loomed over him. "You sent me a list of officers that might be excellent on a conventional heavy cruiser or even a dreadnought, but not on a commerce raider! I need an officer who is unconventional, can think on the fly and can act without me telling them how to do it."

Sloan sputtered, "I-I-"

"Do you know what happens when a typical, by the book officer commands a fast warship, Admiral Sloan?" asked the Vulcan. "No? Let me give you an example. Captain Lawrence Styles took the NCC-1605 U.S.S. Gryphon into combat using standard tactics and the ship was in repair for three months after that. Three months, Admiral *⑥. We were very fortunate not to have lost the Gryphon that day as the only thing he did right was run away."

The blonde said, "Commerce raiding in a fast cruiser or destroyer takes unique tactics due to unique situations. By the book disciplinarians won't cut it. Find me candidates that are not by the book, Admiral. Find me someone who can think for themselves. If you can't then I'll talk to Fleet Admiral Nogura. I'm sure he can find someone who can."

After that, Naruto stalked out like an angry Le-matya on the prowl…

Fleet Admiral Nogura's Office

Admiral Sloan came in to Fleet Admiral Nogura's Office and Heihachiro motioned him to sit down. "What's going on Denny?" asked the Fleet Admiral. "You're white as a sheet."

Sloan said, "I met Fleet Captain Naruto about his new XO candidates today…"

Nogura smirked. "What was your impression of him?"

"He told me that all of the candidates I sent him were rejected." Dennis shuddered. "…And then he told me why. That young man is a monster."

"I think the Romulan Emperor Tal would agree with you." said the Fleet Admiral. "He's like a force of nature when he's riled. So, what happened?"

Sloan looked pale. "He told me what he wanted in an XO and said if I couldn't find him who he needed that you would find someone who could."

Nogura burst into laughter. "I'll see that boy as a Flag Officer yet!"

Denny's face fell. "This really isn't a laughing matter sir. With his reputation he could-"

"Just get him what he wants Sloan." said Nogura. "The commerce raiders are an odd lot, but they are damn good at their jobs."

"I'll start digging sir." said the Admiral over Personnel. "I feel like I'm going on a hunt for rejects and oddballs."

"Just make sure that they are smart, competent rejects and oddballs." said Nogura. "The Think Tank are an eccentric lot."

"Aye, sir." said Dennis sullenly…

Stardate 2286.215, Kangor System, Klingon Starbase K-11, Berth 6, I.K.V. Dawnstalker

The Dawnstalker returned to Klingon Starbase K-11 after the Bajor Mission and much to Kiba and Tamaki's surprise they were given a hero's welcome. The officers and crew were given a Formal Commendation by Admiral Krell for a job well done.

Klingon Empire Medallion*⑧ was awarded to every member of the crew of the Dawnstalker and the Klingon Courage Medal*⑨ was granted to the officers for the discovery of the Cardassian threat in the Monac System. Kiba himself was awarded with the General Korrd Medal of Honor*⑩.

The crew of the Dawnstalker celebrated with an authorized day of drunken revelry and Kiba declared, "It is a good day to be a Klingon!"

Stardate 2286.221, Sol System, Starbase 1, Spacedock, Berth 4, NCC-1602 U.S.S. Wolverine

A week after his visit with Admiral Sloan, Naruto was looking over a new list of applicants to be his Executive Officer. It was a much more tolerable eighteen candidates to choose from. He had Yeoman Cutler working on reference checks while he looked over the dossiers and saw a brown haired, blue eyed human named Konohamaru Sarutobi.

Doing a quick cross reference Naruto found out he was Captain Asuma Sarutobi's nephew and was a twenty-five-year-old Lieutenant Commander who was serving as a watch officer aboard the fast cruiser NCC-1604 U.S.S. Eagle under Captain Shanna Williams. After verifying that the Eagle was safely docked at Starbase 20 given the ceasefire was in effect, Naruto decided to give Captain Williams a call.

Starbase 20, Spacedock, Berth 7, NCC-1604 U.S.S. Eagle

Shanna was in her ready room catching up on reports with the ceasefire going on. That was when she received a priority message from Fleet Captain Naruto M'Fau. She grinned as she answered the transmission, "Fleet Captain Naruto of Vulcan! It has been ages since we talked. How are things aboard the Wolverine? I saw the new speed records you set. You have the rest of the fast cruisers to tune up now, don't you?"

Naruto replied, "It is good to speak with you Captain Williams. I'm looking for an Executive Officer for the U.S.S. Wolverine and I'm hoping you can help me."

She said, "Well, you can't have my First Officer, he's a work in progress if you know what I mean."

"I do understand Captain." said the blonde. "The person I'm interested in is your Senior Watch Officer Konohamaru Sarutobi."

Captain William's eyes widened. "Really? I sponsored him and the Office of Personnel sent a form letter saying he was passed over. Konohamaru was devastated."

The Fleet Captain said, "I had a talk with Admiral Sloan down in Starfleet Personnel and he had a change of heart to use a Terran phrase."

Shanna smiled. "Hmmm. It must have been some talk. Dennis Sloan's a pompous ass from my experience."

"I rejected the Admiral's candidates and told him to get me what I need." said Naruto. "After that Sarutobi and a few others of interest popped up."

"Well, Konohomaru would be thrilled to get an interview." she said.

The Fleet Captain asked, "Can you tell me about him?"

"Certainly." replied Shanna. "He's a good, hardworking young officer that has a lot to prove. His Grandfather is a full Admiral and his Uncle is a full Captain but he wants to shine on his own."

"I served under his Uncle." said Naruto. "Asuma Sarutobi was both a solid First Officer and Captain. He is a little too regimented for commerce raiding though."

"Well, Konohamaru is anything but regimented." Then she added. "His tactics are chaotic as they are effective. I think you'll like him."

"I'll be sending out orders to interview him soon then." stated the blonde. "Thank you for your time, Shanna."

"My pleasure Naruto." replied Williams.

Naruto spoke to several others and narrowed it down to eight that seemed to have real potential. He would have to interview all eighteen, but several were just a matter of professional courtesy. After that he started putting out invitations for meetings.

Stardate 2286.228, Bajoran System, Planet Bajor, City of Ashalla

After two weeks of solid debate, the Chamber of Ministers was deadlocked. The First Minister and half of the Chamber was in favor of a cultural exchange with the Federation and signing some sort of treaty of friendship whereas the other half feared they would incur the wrath of the Cardassian Union and be drawn into a conflict by signing such a treaty with the United Federation of Planets.

The deep-seated fear of the Pah-wraiths permeated the entire Chamber of Ministers, and the Vedek Assembly was urging them to decide in favor of gaining the Federation's support. Finally, the Kai herself took a hardline stance.

Kai Renla stated in an impassioned speech, "…I have spent the last few days consulting with the Orb of Prophesy and Change*⑦. The Pah-wraith and Cardassian threats are too great to ignore, and both the Vedek Assembly and the Chamber of Ministers should act as one body to do what was best to protect the Bajoran people."

"…It is my belief that signing a treaty of friendship with the United Federation of Planets is the best way to do this. We will remain independent, trusted friends of the Federation but will allow them safe haven in our system. The fact that they brought us this warning is proof enough to me that a threat truly exists, and they have the power to help us."

"…Let us end this debate and vote now for the future of Bajor."

The Vedek Assembly voted unanimously in favor of the Kai's views this time and the Chamber of Ministers voted three-fourths in support of the Kai as well.

Stardate 2286.229, Bajoran System, Planet Bajor Orbit, NCC-1802 U.S.S. Darwin

Commodore Mei Terumi was a bit baffled. Minister Toya Letan was on the main screen and said, "The Bajoran Republic would like to formally invite the United Federation of Planets to join in a Treaty of Friendship with us. In this spirit, the people of Bajor look forward to visits from Federation vessels seeking safe harbors."

Mei wondered 'Just what the hell happened in the past two weeks down there on Bajor? They go from being (rightly) suspicious about us to wanting a Treaty of Friendship? I'd better not look a gift horse in the mouth.'

The Commodore smiled and said, "You do not know how delighted I am to hear this news from you Minister Toya. I will contact the Federation's Diplomatic Corps to send a team so we can write a mutually beneficial treaty. I'm sure this will be the first of many great things for both of our peoples in the future."

POSTSCRIPT:

*①: See Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

*②: The Kai is the religious leader of the Bajorans, elected for a life term. A Kai also holds a great deal of political influence in the Bajoran Government.

*③: Kai Renla is an OC character.

*④: The Vedek Assembly is the governing body of Bajoran Religion. It is headed by the Kai.

*⑤: The Chamber of Ministers is the governing body of Bajor. Headed by the First Minister, they work in concert with the Vedek Assembly to govern Bajor as a whole.

*⑥: The Battle the U.S.S. Gryphon was in is referenced in Chapter 64.

*⑦: Orb of Prophesy and Change -This is one of the Orbs of the Prophets, Bajoran Religious Artifacts. See Memory Alpha.

*⑧: The Klingon Empire Medallion is a minor commendation provided to warriors of the Klingon Empire.

*⑨: The Klingon Courage Medal is an award given by the Klingon Empire.

*⑩: The General Korrd Medal of Honor is an award given by the Klingon Deep Space Fleet for honorable military achievement.

And done! This chapter was a bit harder to write given (as previously mentioned) I'm not an expert on Deep Space 9 and Bajoran Culture. Anyway, battle lines are being drawn and Bajor is stuck right in the middle of it. See you next time. Blue out. 5/18/24