Aftermath

She turned the question on him. "And what of you, Commander? What will you do when Starfleet is no more? Your surviving frigates will be much needed in the months to come, but I don't imagine the Dominion will tolerate the Federation reconstituting itself within their own borders or sphere of control. As I see it, Starfleet as an official organization is in its last gasping breaths. You were worthy foes," she said, not unkindly. "But all great things eventually reach their end, is that not so? Having recently experienced the fall of my own civilization, I am not without sympathy."

Saren slowly nodded as he pondered her words. "I don't know. I fear most will drift to the far corners of the quadrant. I, however, will remain and try to salvage what remains of Starfleet. No doubt the Dominion will jump at the opportunity to strike us at our weakest. We need to be prepared for the obstacles ahead. Yes, all great things must come to an end, but only so that a new age can dawn." He went over to a nearby window and gazed out at the stars. "Surely the Romulans share a similar desire to endure? After all, despite our long standing hostility we were more than willing to offer aid to your people after the fall of Romulus. An act which took us to war with the Klingons. Has that not curried favor with your people?"

---

The Titan finally arrived at Deep Space 9, and docked at one of the last free pylons. There were hundreds of ships buzzing around the station. Once docked Cam made a bee line for the nearest bar, Quark's.

"What do you got?" Cam asked the Ferengi bartender, whom he assumed was the owner.

"Given the rise in attendance, hundreds of lost souls looking to drown their sorrows and mourn their lost worlds, we're pretty much dry at the moment." Quark said with a needle-toothed grin. However the sympathy in his voice sounded genuine. "I do have a private stash though, but it'll cost you quite a bit of latinum."

Cam withdrew some bars from his pocket and tossed them at the Ferengi, who eagerly caught them with such quick reflexes that they were almost imperceptible. Quark smirked and pocketed the latinum and went over to retrieve an ornate and woefully elaborate looking bottle from a secret compartment behind the bar.

"Best stuff in the house."Quark said.

"My guess is that I only get a few shots?" Cam said.

"Unless you can pa--" Cam cut him off by slapping a few more bars of latinum down onto the bar.

"Leave the bottle." Cam said.

Quark snatched up the latinum and bowed, leaving Cam with the entire bottle. Cam took the liberty of reaching behind the bar for a glass and began to pour himself a drink.

He was four glasses in when R'ana showed up. "Captain? What're you doing here? I figured you'd be meeting with Admiral Sisko for debriefing."

"Didn't see much of a point... Stafleet essentially doesn't exist anymore..." Cam downed another slug of what he was certain was Gorn brandy. It kicked like a shotgun.

"Sir?" R'ana frowned.

"We're done, R'ana. No need to call me 'sir.' Consider me resigned."

R'ana began to look worried. "Gunner... don't do this."

"Do what?" Cam wasn't even looking at her. He continued to pour himself drinks and downing them in one gulp.

"Give up. I know things don't look hopeful, but we're gonna need you."

"I'm a washed out screw-up, R'ana. The only reason I'm wearing this uniform is because Starfleet needed an ass in the captain's seat. They didn't want me, they needed me because there was nobody else they could ask. And look where it got us."

"This wasn't your fault! You did everything right."

"And we lost everything." Cam said.

"You know damn well this fight is far from over. Starfleet will need captains, because beyond that wormhole is a whole new mess of problems. And if we're ever gonna have a chance at overcoming it and coming back to take on the Borg we'll need people with your skills."

"I'm no captain, R'ana. Never was. I never had what it takes."

"I don't believe that." R'ana said. "You don't see what I see in you."

"This the part where you tell me I'm a diamond in the rough? That I have the potential to be a great captain? Spare me the sanctimonious nonsense. I am really not in the mood." He grabbed the bottle and prepared to pour another glass.

R'ana snatched it out of his hands however. "So you're just gonna drink yourself into oblivion?"

"That was the plan, yes." He reached for the bottle.

R'ana held it away from him. "Not an option."

"Stop this."

"Stop what?" R'ana feigned ignorance.

"Give me the bottle. I paid a hefty fee for it."

"Not until you straighten up."

"Do I have to pull rank?" Cam asked.

"Last time I heard you weren't an actual captain. Or was I mistaken?" Cam tried to reach for the bottle again. R'ana kept it just out of reach. "Are you done?"

Cam sighed and slumped in his bar stool. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because we can't have you like this, not now. Your crew needs you."

Cam shot up out of his seat and got right in R'ana's face. "To hell with the crew!"

"I've been doing this the human way, would you prefer the klingon way?" R'ana said, her tone cold as ice.

"muqIp nIvbogh bach petaQ" Cam said in perfect Klingon.

R'ana sent the bottle crashing into Cam's face. He fell onto the ground, but before he could get to his feet R'ana was already on top of him, kicking him in the gut while the surrounding crowd gathered and cheered. R'ana pummeled Cam, and not once was Cam able to get a shot in. It was very much one sided. After a while, R'ana grabbed him by the collar and pulled him to his feet.

"Are you done?" R'ana asked.

"Yeah... I think so..." Cam nodded, blood oozed out of his nose and mouth.

"Come on, let's get you to the infirmary," R'ana supported Cam with her shoulder and the two left the bar as the patrons began to groan disdainfully at the end of the fight.

"I'm sorry." Cam said, wiping some of his blood on his sleeve.

"I know. It's been a bad day." R'ana said. After a brief pause she followed up with: "I'm not sorry about this though."

"I know." Cam smirked, his teeth red. "Thanks for kicking my ass."

"Anytime," R'ana chuckled.

---

Admiral Benjamin Sisko stood on the second floor railing and looked over the promenade as hundreds of refugees wandered about in a mild panic. Not since the Dominion War had things felt so hopeless. The loss of Earth, and much of Federation space, and now the madness occurring on the station. He turned and made his way back to his office.

Once there he reached for the baseball he always kept on his desk and held it in his hands, pondering the situation.

He was so engrossed in thought that he didn't notice when Janeway entered the room.

"Sorry, my mind was miles away." Sisko said with a smile.

"Understandable, all of this is still sinking in for me." Janeway said. "How have you been Benjamin."

"I've been better," he admitted. "It's not every day you see the end of a civilization, let alone your own."

"It's not the end, not if I have anything to say about it." Janeway said.

"Planning on breaking the Temporal Prime Directive again?" Sisko joked. Well, it was half-joke, half-worry that she may actually do it.

"I fear I used up all my time travel tokens getting home. But I am not willing to call it quits just yet."

"Is retreating to the Gamma Quadrant the best course of action? The Dominion won't appreciate us showing up at their doorstep."

"The immediate future will be interesting, that's for sure. I was hoping your presence would help when we eventually have to speak to the Founders about negotiating for living space."

"Do you think that's wise?"

"It's necessary."

"In the mean time, what will become of my station?" Sisko asked.

"We'll tractor it through the wormhole with us. It'll be the first step to establishing a presence in the quadrant. Plus we'll need to keep an eye on the wormhole in case the Borg follow us."

"Wouldn't it be safer to just close the wormhole?" Sisko asked. Despite his not truly wishing this to be the outcome, the option had to be discussed.

"General consensus is that closing the wormhole will crush what little morale we have left. At the moment the idea that we will one day return to take back Earth and the rest of Federation space is all that's keeping us together. Take that away... and we're finished."

"Still, we must prepare for the very likely event that the Borg will attempt to follow us."

"I have people discussing options. However what do the Bajorans think of all this?"

"Some don't wish to leave Bajor, after fighting for freedom for so long to reclaim their home, the idea of abandoning it doesn't seem like a valid option. They believe The Prophets will protect them."

"Will they?"

"I couldn't say." Sisko shrugged.

"I suppose it would be too much to ask." Janeway sighed. "Look, I've got a million fires to put out, as do you. We'll continue this discussion when things have calmed down."

Sisko nodded. "Good day, Admiral."

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