The memorial service began at 10 am Earth Standard Time and finished at 4 pm, most of the people including President Larenka and Fleet Admiral Veloru were gone before that.
It was almost six in the evening and Russell Burton was still there, he had stood by himself now as he had through most of the memorial.
All that time spent thinking about those who died, not just his son.
Remembering hours earlier, the moment he stood at the podium on the stage outside the remains of Starfleet headquarters. His now former wife by his side the two of them holding hands.
The first time in a long time they'd done that. As they said his name together before making way for the next grieving family member to say the name of their lost loved one.
Now his ex, it still felt weird calling her that even as little time as they had spent together in recent years. The knowledge that their son had probably been the only reason they stayed married so long.
He knew that as much as he still cared about her, as much as he wished he could ease her pain. They didn't love each other anymore. They hadn't done that for a long time either.
She left shortly after they came off stage, so he was alone again and all he could think of was the dead and the hope that if he succeeded in gaining leadership of the Federation he would do his level best to make sure there were no more wars.
Certainly not as devastating as the Dominion war anyway.
His solitude got interrupted when he heard his aide Jeffrey Tolliver approach before he saw him from out of the corner of his eye.
He was ready to leave and get back to work so he wasn't annoyed with Jeffrey for showing up. Russell knew his oldest friend had a knack for showing up when he needed him most.
"Hey Russ, don't worry I'm not here for you, I know better than to interrupt your grief for my nephew."
"It's ok Jeff, I'm finished now, I know no amount of standing here wallowing in memories will change anything that's happened."
"Well good, we can leave shortly, but first I'm here to pay my respects for all those we lost, to my brother and everyone else."
"Oh, I hope you know I hadn't forgotten about Aaron, the only reason I don't talk about him with you is that I've been waiting for you to tell me you're ready."
"I know and I thank you for giving me that space, but I am here to get you elected to the Presidency."
"Not just because you are or rather was my brother-in-law because I believe in you."
"That you, with me along side you in some capacity will be a great leader, and we can do what you hope and keep the peace."
"You can extend the Federation mandate to explore the Galaxy and be the light and the protector for all the member worlds and all the non-member species against aggression from all those who see violence and power as the right way."
"I know as you do, that barely anyone in Starfleet wasn't touched by death because of the war and none of them want to see anything like it ever again."
"If there has been a divide between The Federation and Starfleet over purpose and execution of our charters, I believe you are the one who can heal that rift."
"Well all that has to happen is I get the nomination, win the race and when I am President influence the command structure of Starfleet."
"I cannot see a way of working with them while Fleet Admiral Veloru is the one in control. I will try of course, but he is too close to his fellow Bolian, the two of them thick as thieves making bad decisions that cost people their lives."
"Still the ideal situation would be a clean slate at the top of both organizations."
"Funny thing, you don't have to worry about Veloru as if what I heard is true he isn't Fleet Admiral anymore, well not after tomorrow."
"I saw Admiral Veloru in deep conversation with your predecessor."
"Larenka's not my predecessor yet."
"True, but one can hope."
"Anyway, I saw the two of them talking and what I saw didn't look like the friendly chit-chat you'd expect from such close allies."
"Given what I was seeing I decided to get as close as I could."
"I couldn't hear every word being said, so I'll just share the big news with you."
"That Veloru is stepping down." Burton raised his eyebrows and his mouth dropping open slightly in complete surprise.
"Yeah that was pretty much my reaction, Jeffrey said seeing the look on Russell's face."
"The Fleet Admiral it seems has lost the taste for command and is resigning from Starfleet altogether."
"Not only that, I got some clue to something that could force Larenka to step aside as well."
"If that isn't a sign from the universe that you're meant to lead from now on I don't know what is."
"You know I don't believe in that fate or signs stuff, didn't think you did either Jeff, that sounds like your Husband talking."
"Yeah, that probably is him talking. Still it is lucky for us the biggest supporter Larenka has is no longer in his corner. That he will no longer be head of Starfleet either could be an incredible fortune for us."
"Any word on who could replace him."
"Well, I gathered at one point that Veloru and Larenka were talking about his successor, unfortunately I wasn't close enough to hear him say the name."
"However I could tell it was a choice Larenka was unhappy with."
"I’ll speak to Veloru, find out his plans and if he's ready to give us the full story of what caused his fall out with Larenka."
"I will do my best to get him to meet you and tell you all about it and anything else that might be beneficial to us."
"Do that Jeffrey, tonight if possible. I want to know who it is, I need to know if it will be someone I can work with."
"We wasted too much time in the past with The Federation and Starfleet acting almost as if they had separate agendas."
"Whether I am the next Federation President or someone else is and whoever the next Fleet Admiral is, they need to work together to make both organizations stand strong."
"Don't worry Russell; you can count on me to find out who Veloru has chosen."
"I may not believe fate, luck or signs are why I was close enough to President Larenka at the time, that I was in the right place at the right time because I wanted to talk to him. I hoped I could once again offer him the chance to stand down and take up any place he wanted on any Federation world."
"I hoped that in less adversarial circumstances he would listen to reason, but after the conversation I between him and Veloru I saw, I decided it definitely wasn't the right time."
"Just as well really, because now we might have a back up to use if he doesn't go for that option."
"You're right if this were any other place I would say you had good fortune being in the right place to overhear some of that conversation. It's just that it is here and using words like fortune stick in my throat."
"There is nothing good here only the memories of death, memories of lost children," Burton said his voice trailing off at the end, as tears began to fill his eyes.
Seeing his friend in pain, feeling it himself at the memories of his sisters little boy, the young man he became and the unfulfilled potential his future held. He started talking about him as a child hoping to get Russell away from thoughts of his death.
Russell blinked back those tears as Jeff talking about him brought back memories of a happier times with his son most from when he was still a child, still his little boy.
"Let's get out of here Jeff, it's time to leave the past behind and move forward. We have a big task ahead."
"No less than saving the Alpha Quadrant, if not the entire galaxy," Russell said as he turned around and began walking towards exit.
Jeff caught up to Russell and they continued to talk about their plans as they walked away from the memorial heading for the shuttle port to take hem back to Paris.