The hostage crisis in 2376 was the first major Fragile Peace storyline in 2006. In the continuing war between the civilized galaxy and the forces of insane warlord Artimus Devaneaux, several noted Starfleet and Reydovan officers, most notably Kiran Joshmaul, Alexander Britanov and Ian Taylor, were captured by Artimus himself or by agents in his employ.
After his defeat at the Battle of Shadowgarde on December 13, 2375, Artimus Devaneaux decided to change tactics in order to facilitate his victory over the allied forces. Artimus knew that his forces outnumbered Starfleet and the Imperial Navy, but both had more experienced commanders. Thus, he intended to kidnap several officers on either side and hold them for ransom. His terms were simple; surrender, or they die.
About 220 hostages were held in Artimus' custody. They included:
- Admiral Kiran Joshmaul, Chief of Starfleet Operations, and Artimus' chief nemesis
- Charity Lazarus, daughter of UFP Vice-President Meriah Broussard
- The three Reydovan officers involved in deposing Artimus from the Emperor's throne:
- Marshal of the Reydovan Empire Alexander Britanov (executed while imprisoned)
- General David Highland (escaped second week of January 2376)
- Captain Ian Taylor
They are presently being held at Artimus' last remaining citadel, the crumbling fortress-tower of Castle Devaneaux. Realizing that the whole war effort would destabilize if Joshmaul and the Reydovan officers were killed, the current leadership in the UFP realized that a response was in order...
Plagued by health problems due to being overworked, President Mikhail Britanov was forced to turn over some of the day-to-day running of the government to his vice-president, Dr. Meriah Broussard. Broussard was deeply concerned for her daughter Charity, but she tried to keep the emotionalism to a minimum. She was also greatly concerned for Joshmaul himself, who had aided her in a fatal "Imzadi link" to her presumed-dead husband, Dr. Bryan Lazarus, and had opened his estate for her while she recuperated from brain injuries of that fatal link.
Realizing she needed expert help, Broussard contacted Chancellor Joshua Underwood on Reydovan Prime, informing him of her intention to send her new husband, Romulan Underambassador Stevil T'or, to Reydovan Prime to rescue Joshmaul and the other hostages. She also asked him for any advice he might have on a move against Artimus. Underwood and his minister of state, Admiral Charles Tomwood, gave Broussard potential locations where Artimus could be hiding. Underwood believed that Artimus may be hiding on Reydovan Prime itself. The Chancellor also stated that he would take charge of the situation personally. Once the plan was discussed, Broussard contacted Britanov at his dacha outside of Moscow, and appraised him of the situation....
Britanov agreed with Underwood's assessment that the Defiler may be hiding on Prime itself, and said that Joshmaul mentioned something about Castle Devaneaux. It was unknown to the Federation and most Reydovans where it was, but Britanov pointed out that Underwood had access to Joshmaul's Imperial files now that the Emperor's position was abolished. Taking the facts into account, and realizing that Joshmaul's death would destabilze Starfleet Operations as there was no one effective enough to succeed him, Britanov gave Broussard the order to proceed.
Stevil T'or left for Reydovan Prime in the second week of January 2376. However, he never arrived; his shuttle disappeared en route, and he is believed to be dead. Alexander Britanov had died days earlier, killed by Artimus himself, and the manic general was already threatening to kill more prisoners. Action needed to be taken, and quickly.
President Britanov met with Chancellor Underwood on Earth with the polls looking very badly in Britanov's favor. "I want at least one triumph in my all-too-short presidency," Britanov explained. "I don't want Joshmaul's death to happen while I am in this office." Underwood agreed wholeheartedly, and inquired what should be done. Britanov replied that the move should be made, and it should be made now. With Britanov about to be defeated in the elections, Underwood knew the chances of finding Joshmaul, Charity and the other prisoners alive would be close to impossible by the time the new President, Scott Matson, took office. He gave instructions to his informant, acting as Artimus' chief of security at Castle Devaneaux. It was the most fateful order he had ever given, and it consisted of only one word: "Proceed."
On January 16, 2376, the security leader went to Joshmaul's cell and explained that the Chancellor had given orders to get them out of there, and that the Federation would provide the rescue effort. Joshmaul's flagship, the Admiral Graf Spee, waited in the Korolev Expanse for the one order that would have to come from Joshmaul himself: the order for retrieval. Freeing Captain Taylor and Charity Lazarus next, Joshmaul gave explicit instructions to Taylor to defend the girl long enough for help to arrive. Taylor vowed to do his best, and set to work.
Led by the security chief and four of his loyal troops, Joshmaul was taken to the comm room in Castle Devaneaux when the alarms began ringing: Taylor had been spotted, and every Artimus-loyal guard in the castle would bear down on them. With his two expert-crafted disruptor pistols, crafted for him at Underwood's request, Joshmaul led the way as the Separatist and Imperial guards began opening fire on each other. By the time the confrontation ended, the security chief and all four of the guards were dead and Joshmaul himself seriously wounded, hit in the right arm. Before dying, the chief pleaded for the venerable Admiral to kill Artimus and end the civil war that threatened to tear the Empire apart. Joshmaul vowed that he would, even if it meant his own death. Making his way into the comm room, Joshmaul managed to make the connection to the Graf Spee. Captain T.J. Underwood, Joshmaul's chief of staff (and the un-augmented son of the Imperial Chancellor), immediately received the news and ordered an emergency warp jump to Reydovan Prime. But Artimus had found out too, and with his flagship, the Hand of Artimus, he attempted to intercept the Graf Spee before it could escape from Reydovan Prime. But Artimus made the mistake of underestimating the speed of the Graf Spee; it was based on the Sovereign class, the fastest ships in Starfleet after Starfleet One. The vessel escaped just as Artimus entered orbit.
The Graf Spee managed to retrieve all 218 prisoners, 35 of them already dead, the remainder ranging from badly shaken to seriously wounded. The wound in Admiral Joshmaul's right shoulder was carefully repaired, and he returned to duty upon his arrival on Earth. Captain Taylor's right kneecap had been completely torn open, and the leg itself was taken off in surgery shortly thereafter; he was given a cybernetic implant in Joshmaul's laboratory in Scotland before returning to Reydovan Prime. Upon arriving on Reydovan Prime, Taylor was given a hero's welcome, and promoted to Admiral by Chancellor Underwood. He also received an Order of Reydovan, an Imperial Iron Cross, and a Starfleet Cross - the first non-Federation officer to receive that honor.
Marshal Britanov, in accordance with his wishes, was buried with full honors at the Britanov family plot in St. Petersburg, Russia, next to his wife Anastasia, the namesake of his granddaughter Anastasia Devaneaux, and his father Peter. A plaque was placed in Imperial Square in Montagne Noire. It reads, in English and Russian, "He was the son of two worlds, and he served both with honor until the day he died."
The security chief, who was never named, was given a posthumous Order of Reydovan and buried with full military honors. The plaque on his gravesite at Mt. Carmel Military Cemetery in Montagne Noire bears a statement from Chancellor Underwood: "Great were his deeds, pure was his heart, heroic was his death. His like has never existed before, and may never again."