Bridge, RIS Imperial Truth

        "Nuclear space mine detonated, Commander. The blast hit their nose, where the shield was down. Enemy vessel has dropped out of warp. Debris everywhere."
        "Deactivate our cloak. Locate enemy vessel and scan."
        The Kingbird became visible. The viewscreen came to life, then focused on the crushed, burned hulk of the Federation vessel, hanging in space.
        "Life signs?"
        "None, Sir. Should we search for survival pods or shuttles?"
        Clavius considered his options. Prisoners might be useful, but he didn't want to get bogged down searching for them. Other Federation ships were certainly on the way. They had most likely received reports from this one and would be alert to his tactics. Although it was dead now, this Federation cruiser destroyed Warrior's Blood with a single salvo, clear evidence of Star Fleet's combat capability. With no guarantee that other enemy ships could be surprised with the cloak as this one had been, Clavius didn't like the odds of further success. He decided that this was victory enough.
        "No. It is time to go home. Target the ship with our torpedo. Let's not leave them a wreck to study."
        "Sir, the other ships request permission to fire the final blow."
        "Very well," Clavius said. "All ships uncloak and launch torpedoes simultaneously at the enemy cruiser. Let's vaporize it!"
        "What of the outpost?"
        "Use our own torpedo for that," Clavius shrugged, "but wait to be sure that the cruiser is destroyed. I don't want to take the time to rearm the weapons for a third shot."

Federation Listening Post Eight

        "How many beamed off?" Makarov asked the Marine.
        "We count 37. Nineteen of them are wounded."
        "Thirty-seven." Makarov replied matter-of-factly. "Nice crowd considering the small amount of atmosphere and pressure we have left. Who is the senior survivor from the ship?"
        "I am," said Kaktu, making his way out of the crowd of evacuees. His arm was in a sling and Tellarite blood leaked from a bandaged gash in his forehead. "Status report."
        "Along with the six members of the landing party and the two left from the outpost, we have 45 survivors, Sir. We have enough rations and water to survive for several days, but the environmental systems are barely functioning. Adding this many people will stress the system further, how much I don't know."
        "Fortunately you have an engineer to tell you, Lieutenant. The Roosevelt should arrive soon, but let's find out who and what we have to work with. Follow me."
        Kaktu and Makarov moved back to where the casualties were being treated by Nurse Tyson and the combat medic from the landing party. Kaktu allowed himself a moment of pride: Alfred's computers had calculated that the mine explosion would destroy the ship, and had done it quickly enough to beam some of the crew off. It was always a throw of the dice who got beamed off in an emergency evacuation and who didn't. In this case, crewmen in and near Transporter Room Two, medical staff and wounded from the first aid station in the chapel, plus some engineering personnel including himself, had been the lucky ones. Kaktu saw Castro and Mirungi among the wounded. Castro had facial lacerations and a broken wrist but was ambulatory. He stood and nodded when Kaktu approached. Mirungi was unconscious and being tended by Tyson. The human looked in a bad way.
        "How is he, Nurse?"
        "Second degree burns and shock, but he'll survive. He's stable now." She moved on to the next patient. For a split-second, she cast a wistful glance back at Dante.
        None of them realized the moment they died.

Imperial Senate Chamber, 20 January, Y155

        Brellus Urbanus Antreidies watched as the new Praetor stepped to the podium. Crellus Antonius had resigned in disgrace, his war policy against the Federation judged a failure. The new leader was Maxillius. Maxillius was both a skilled politician and a dedicated reformer. The Emperor had finally put all of his support behind the necessary changes.
        Although the propagandists declared the "border incident" a great victory, Brellus had studied the detailed reports and knew the truth. The Northern Force had destroyed an outpost and a cruiser, but had lost a Warbird in the process. The Northern commander reported that his success was due as much to luck as skill, and that he had only won the battle by virtue of surprise and concentration of force. The commander of the Southern Force, Brellus' brother-in-law, had adopted a different tactic, splitting his forces to hit more than one base. By so doing he annihilated three outposts, but another Federation ship hunted the flagship down and destroyed it. His wife was disconsolate over the death of her brother, while Brellus mourned quietly.
        Despite the successful destruction of the enemy bases, these engagements made it glaringly obvious that, without tactical warp drive and better technology in general, it was impossible for a war against the Federation to succeed. Maxillius understood that and had enough political muscle to do something about it.
        Despite the pain of personal loss, Brellus was optimistic, for once, about the direction of the Empire. It was an unusual feeling for him, and he decided to savor it while he could. The future was opaque and the sands of galactic politics shift quickly.

Star Fleet Intelligence Report, 17 March, Y155

        EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Reports from Enterprise have confirmed new Romulan technology, and this new technology has been evaluated by the Foreign Weapons Analysis Branch of Star Fleet Intelligence.
The cloaking device is and seeking plasma torpedoes are new, but have limits, can now that they are understood, can be dealt with. The "space mine" which the Enterprise (and, apparently, Alfred the Great) struck appears to have been a leftover old-style nuclear missile warhead rigged for proximity detonation and left in place without an active drive unit.
        Based on debris analysis (no log buoy having been found), it appears that the Alfred the Great was destroyed by a combination of plasma weapons and nuclear warheads, and that the superior performance of the Constitution-class ships allowed Enterprise to survive and triumph where Alfred the Great did not. The available information indicates that the Romulans were conducting a limited series of attacks for reasons unknown, but most likely to test new weapons and gain data on Federation capabilities. (There is some possibility that the operation may have been intended to facilitate the infiltration of Federation defenses by smuggling ships delivering espionage agents.) The Romulans have been confirmed to be biologically similar to Vulcans, although the precise relationship is unclear at this time.
        CONCLUSION: Based on the information available, it appears that the attacks on the border outposts during December of Y154 were conducted by one or perhaps two Romulan ships of cruiser size, each armed with a single large plasma torpedo launcher. As the element of surprise is no longer a factor, and the torpedo weapon has a low rate of fire, the Romulans are considered to be a "containable threat" which Star Fleet is more than capable of dealing with using existing ships as currently deployed.
        All starship captains have been provided the detailed report file for study, and units of the Sixth Fleet will use currently scheduled resources to train using the appropriate tactics. (Ships are to scan for, but not fire upon, cloaked units and engage them at the moment they uncloak. Distraction shuttles should be held ready. Phasers can reduce the effect of plasma torpedoes.) Star Fleet Headquarters will continue to conduct simulation drills on the new Romulan threat and the results of those tests will be made available to all fleet commanders for distribution through normal channels.