Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Since I let this story sit for over a year without yet having written an ending, a few inconsistencies inevitably popped in one as long as this. Hopefully, I managed to weed them out with a recent read-through.
A century before the Dominion War, the Ku'Vok-leth (The Honor Brigade) was a prominent military faction within the Klingon Empire. When the Empire and the Federation made peace, the Ku'Vok-leth became far less influential. Following the Dominion War, the Klingon High Council began turning a blind eye to the actions of the Ku'Vok-leth. Now, this anti-Federation group plans on using one of the biggest scientific discoveries, a single particle capable of destroying subspace, as a weapon.
Retired Starfleet captain Benjamin Sisko must reunite with his former colleagues to stop these Klingon radicals before they can cut off a strategically important star system from the Federation forever.
But this conspiracy turns out to be more than just a simple act of terrorism, as Section 31, the Romulan Star Empire, and the Dominion have a vested interest in the events of the next few days. And as the crew of Deep Space Nine come to learn, such a conspiracy reaches all the way up to the President of the Federation.
This poster was made by Trelane back on August 22, 2011.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
For those not too familiar with the Pockets Books DS9-relaunch novels and other media, here is a listing of pivotal events alluded to “Omega” that provide a backstory for various characters.
The Left Hand of Destiny
Following the end of the Dominion War, Martok’s position as chancellor is threatened. In the ensuing coup d’etat, the Imperial Hall is destroyed claiming the lives of many on the Council. The coup fails, but comes at the cost of Martok’s wife and his four children.
During an attack on Deep Space Nine by renegade Jem’Hadar, Commander Tiris Jast is killed on the bridge of the Defiant. Lieutenant Ezri Dax assumes command, drawing on the knowledge and experience of previous hosts. Afterwards, she transfers from the medical to the command division. This major life change is among the factors leading to difficulties in her relationship with Julian Bashir.
Ro Laren, having returned to Bajor after two years operating behind the lines during the Dominion War, is named Deep Space Nine’s chief of security with a Bajoran Militia commission of lieutenant.
Commander Elias Vaughn of Starfleet Special Ops accompanies the Enterprise-E as it is patrolling the Badlands when the ship discovers a derelict Cardassian freighter. An away team discovers the missing Orb of Memory. Vaughn, having contemplated retirement at 101 years of age, finds a new purpose in life. He requests and receives a posting as Deep Space Nine’s executive officer and commander of the USS Defiant.
Julian Bashir is recruited by Section 31 agent Cole to confront Ethan Loecken, a human augment who had recently broken away from the bureau and now leads a legion of Jem’Hadar loyal to him. Ezri Dax, Ro Laren, and First Taran’atar accompany Bashir to Sindorin to derail Loecken’s plans. The mission is a success, but Bashir is unable to accumulate any evidence that might expose 31. Upon his return to the station, Bashir learns that Vaughn has been tracking the activities of Section 31 for at least the last year (referencing the events of Star Trek: Insurrection)
Divided We Fall
In this four-part comic book mini-series, Verad Kalon leads a terrorist crusade against what is perceived to be the oppression by joined Trills of the non-joined majority. With the help of the Defiant and the Enterprise-E, Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax are able to combat a virus being unleashed against Trill symbionts. Verad takes his own life to avoid being captured by the authorities.
Mission Gamma tetralogy
The USS Defiant embarks on an historic three-month journey of exploration in Gamma Quadrant.
During this long-term mission, Elias Vaughn encounters his ex-wife, Ruriko Tenmei having been assimilated by the Borg. He is forced to kill her to save their daughter and Defiant flight controller, Prynn Tenmei. Ruriko's disappearance during a mission authorized by Vaughn and Starfleet Special Ops led to a gulf between father and daughter. Elias and Prynn were attempting to reconcile, but this incident puts even more strain on their relationship.
Benjamin Sisko returns from the timeless realm of the Celestial Temple in time for the birth of his daughter, named Rebecca Jae after Benjamin’s stepmother and Kasidy’s mother.
Bajor is admitted into the United Federation of Planets. Kira Nerys and Ro Laren are among Bajoran Militia personnel granted Starfleet commissions. Kira offers command back to Sisko, but he refuses. Instead, he goes on an extended leave of absence to be with his family in his new house on Bajor.
Quark, fearing that his business won’t fair as well under the Federation economy, had considered leaving the station and returning to Ferenginar. Instead, he elects to stay, becoming the Ferengi ambassador to Bajor and his establishment on Deep Space Nine becomes the Ferengi embassy. In effect, Quark’s Bar, Restaurant and Casino becomes sovereign Ferengi territory.
After they confront a crisis on Trillius Prime, Julian Bashir and Ezri Dax dissolve their romance.
Other Pockets Books novels:
Vulcan’s Soul trilogy
General Hiren (Romulan praetor at the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis) arranges the assassination of Praetor Neral by sending poisonous birds to Neral’s home. Hiren is then anointed the new praetor.
Rihansu novel series
"Omega" stablishes Donatra’s relationship to Ael t'Rllaillieu and Liviana Charvanek, the Romulan commander in “The Enterprise Incident”.
A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal
The non-aligned world Tezwa seemingly declares war on the Klingon Empire through the use of nadion pulse cannons. The Enterprise-E is dispatched to defuse hostilities. Away teams from the Enterprise discover the cannons to be of Federation origin. UFP President Min Zife placed those weapons there, in violation of the Khitomer Accords, as part of a fallback strategy in the Dominion War. Now, Prime Minister Kinchawn has gone made and is using the nadion cannons to advance his ambitions. Should the Klingon High Council learn of this illegal weapons deal, war would break out between the Empire and the Federation and leave the two powers highly vulnerable to the Romulan Star Empire and the Tholian Assembly.
A coup d’etat ousts Kinchawn from power while Starfleet flag officers pressure Zife to quietly resign. To prevent any further political fallout, Section 31 arranges the assassinations of Zife, his chief of staff Koll Azernal, and other members of the administration.
Note: Because I could not find a way to work Thirishar ch’Tane and Taran’atar into “The True Way”, these two characters are not part of this fanon series. Not all character backstories and other major events from the Relaunch are followed exactly, especially from 2378 and beyond.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
PrologueThe Narendra System: Near the Klingon-Romulan border
An explosion sent blinding shockwaves through space. It had the appearance of a celestial body ripping apart as when Praxis was destroyed as a result of over-mining. The ripple effect caught the attention of a passing vessel.
Leskit, the grizzly gray-haired helmsman of the IKS Gorkon, was at his station on the bridge when an alarm sounded on the navigation monitor. “Commander,” he called to the young first officer Toq. “I’m picking up subspace shockwaves from the Narendra system.”
Toq, who was rather short by Klingon standards, marched to the station on the starboard side of the bridge. He knew what those readings meant from his Defense Force training. The destruction of Praxis nearly a century ago sent shockwaves all the way to Federation border. “Subspace shockwaves,” he observed aloud.
“Yes, sir,” Leskit replied. “I’m attempting to localize the source on long range sensors.”
“Set a course once you get a fix,” Toq commanded. “Captain Klag to the bridge.”
The captain of the Gorkon stepped onto the bridge from the large double door aft within a minute of the summons. He joined Toq and Leskit at the helm. “Report,” Klag called out in his gruff voice.
“Unusual subspace shockwaves have been detected somewhere in the Narendra system,” Toq replied.
“We’re on course now,” Leskit added. “Estimated arrival time, fifteen minutes.”
“That heading takes us dangerously close to the Romulan border,” Klag thought aloud. “Weapons officer, ready all tactical systems.”
“Yes, sir,” weapons officer Rodek answered. His raspy voice sounded eerily familiar to Klag. Perhaps Rodek was a member of the House of Martok. Klag just wasn’t entirely sure.
The Gorkon streaked through space at high warp towards the Narendra system. Almost without warning, the large attack cruiser fell out of warp. The bridge rocked violently as the transition from warp to impulse was almost instantaneous. All the officers and crew fell out of their seats and were thrown across the bridge. Klag gathered himself and walked back to his chair once the shaking stopped. “What in the name of Grethor just happened?” he demanded.
Leskit paced quickly back to his station. “We have dropped out of warp, sir,” he replied.
“Bridge to engineering,” Klag shouted over the comm. “Why have we fallen out of warp?”
“Something just collapsed the warp field,” Kurak, a middle-aged female chief engineer replied. “I can’t explain it.”
Klag had an idea why his ship suddenly fell out of warp. That reason he could not reveal to his crew, however. “Leskit,” he said. “Open a secure channel to Chancellor Martok. In my private chambers.”
USS Excalibur, Sector 221-G: Near the Romulan Neutral Zone
For nearly five years, the Galaxy-class USS Excalibur and her Ambassador-class predecessor had been assigned to the former location of the reclusive Thallonian Empire. Ever since that empire fell, the entire sector had been in disarray.
The Excalibur had just been outfitted with new astrometric sensor technology that the USS Voyager brought home after that ship’s seven-year exile in the Delta Quadrant. The Voyager, itself, had been stripped of all alien technology it had acquired. The Excalibur was the beneficiary of that technology, on the other hand, while exploring a relatively uncharted area of space. Lieutenants Robin Lefler and Soleta were assigned to test the new sensor technology in the stellar cartography lab. The two officers were perched atop the end of a balcony overlooking a holographic star field that filled two decks.
“Conventional long-range sensors don’t give us this much detail,” Lefler observed of the various astronomical phenomena taking place in adjacent sectors. “We can even sneak a peek at the Neutral Zone.”
“This is a test run, Lieutenant,” Soleta replied with her Vulcan stoicism. “We are not supposed to be spying on the Romulans.”
Robin grinned, while also rolling her eyes. “If the Romulans aren’t scheming against us, they have nothing to worry about,” she quipped.
The star map display suddenly went blank. Lefler attempted to restore the image. All that appeared on her console’s readout was the Greek letter omega. “Strange,” she said. “This is all that’s coming up.”
“Which one of your ‘laws’ can solve this conundrum?” Soleta asked, in reference to the famous Lefler’s Laws that Robin’s crewmates on both Excaliburs and the Enterprise-D became familiar with.
“I’ve got nothing,” Lefler retorted. She then tapped her combadge to hail the bridge. “Lefler to bridge, we’re having a problem in stellar cartography.”
“We’re also locked out of all systems up here,” replied first officer Burgoyne 172, a member of the hermaphroditic Hermat species. S/he was looking over readouts of the tactical station manned by the Brikar Zak Kebron. “Bridge to Captain Calhoun.”
“I’m way ahead of you, Commander,” Mackenzie Calhoun, the Xenexian Starfleet captain replied, stepping off the aft port turbolift. He entered a few commands into the Mission Ops station, restoring all bridge functions. “Transfer all sensor data for the last ten minutes to the ready room,” he continued. “Helm, and take us to a full stop and disengage engines. You are not to discuss with the rest of the crew.”
The officer at conn carried out the captain’s order. The rest of the bridge crew looked up from their stations shooting befuddled stares at one another. “You heard him,” Burgoyne announced to all of them. “We keep whatever this is about quiet.”
Calhoun entered the ready room and ordered the doors sealed. “No entry without my authorization,” he added. Sitting behind the desk, he then told the computer, “Access secure data file Omega-one.”
“Voice print confirmed,” the computer replied. “State clearance code.”
His purple eyes, a distinguishing feature of Xenexians, gleaned at the monitor. “Calhoun alpha six seven, Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. Clearance-level ten.”
“Sensors have detected the Omega phenomenon five light years from this vessel,” the computer reported. “Please implement the Omega Directive. All other priorities are rescinded.”
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Part One: Laying the First Stone
Federation Starbase Deep Space Nine, Bajoran Sector
Commander Elias Vaughn stood at the main console of the operations center overseeing routine daily activities. All day long, he had been getting updates from all departments on the security arrangements in preparation for the arrivals of Chancellor Martok and Ambassador Worf. Visiting heads of state and major diplomats usually required special arrangements. Vaughn knew that from his more than eighty years in Starfleet. But now he was actually missing something as mundane as departing freighters’ cargo manifests.
Vaughn was hoping Lieutenant Ro Laren was stepping off the portside turbolift to tell him that Quark was attempting to smuggle in contraband. “Commander,” the Bajoran chief of security called, “we’re still having some trouble with the surveillance monitors in level four, section seven of the habitat ring.”
“I’ll get someone on it, Lieutenant,” Nog offered from the primary engineering station.
“I thought we had new motion sensors put in last month,” said Ezri Dax, who was at a side panel of the main console.
“We did place an order last month,” Prynn Tenmei explained from the science station. It was an odd sight to everyone in Ops since her specialties were engineering and ship piloting. Of course, no permanent science officer had been found after recent personnel changes.
“But the sector quartermaster decided that the Free Haven colony was a higher priority,” Ro finished.
“Lieutenants Ro and Nog,” Vaughn replied, “do what you can.”
Ro headed back to the turbolift. Vaughn sighed and rolled his eyes. He looked to his daughter Prynn muttering, “If I’m still doing this a year from now, shoot me.”
Tenmei briefly entertained that thought. Their relationship had been less than cordial in the last decade after a series of events that culminated in the death of Prynn’s mother.
Vaughn, on the other hand, had become increasingly bored with the more menial duties of a first officer. On the cusp of retiring two years earlier, Vaughn felt reborn after an Orb experience. His assignment to Deep Space 9 at that time included commanding the Defiant on a long exploratory mission to the Gamma Quadrant. That post-captaincy was short-lived when Bajor was admitted into Federation, giving Kira Nerys a permanent Starfleet commission. Those missions were now divided between Vaughn and the newly minted Captain Kira. His requests for a transfer to one of the new explorer ships had not yet come through. For now, all he could do was muddle through the boredom.
One thing Benjamin Sisko did not miss about Jake’s early childhood was having to chase him down to make sure he did not wander somewhere dangerous. He was now twenty years older and having to keep his two-year old daughter Rebecca out of harm’s way.
Little Rebecca ran towards the stove where two pots filled with boiling liquid were perched. She was reaching towards the edge of the stove with her little hands when Ben whisked her off the floor.
“No, no, no,” Ben murmured gently. “What have I told you about staying out of the kitchen when Daddy’s cooking?”
The elder Sisko carried his daughter into the living room. “Jake,” he called to his son in the study. “If you’re still having writer’s block, you mind keeping an eye on your sister?”
Jake threw the padd he was staring at blankly onto the desk and walked over to his father. Benjamin handed Rebecca off to Jake. “I hope I’m not getting too old for this,” he mused.
“You still have a few good years left,” Jake retorted.
That his firstborn was now an adult certainly reminded Benjamin of how old he was getting. Looking at Jake was like looking at a younger mirror image of himself, now that his son also had a shaved head and a goatee.
The chirp of the desk monitor caught Benjamin’s attention. He walked into the study to see “Message for Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine” blinking in read letters on the screen. For nearly two years, he had been on an indefinite leave of absence to devote time to his new family. Now his former colleagues were summoning him back, and he was not sure how to react.
Sisko then pushed a button deleting the incoming message. “Who was that, Dad?” Jake asked from the living room.
“No one important,” Benjamin lied.
Nimbus III: The Tri-Border Region
Once designated the Planet of Galactic Peace, Nimbus Three quickly descended into anarchy. The basic premise behind the colony was sound when it was founded over a century ago, but humans, Klingons, and Romulans residing on the same planet proved to be a disaster waiting to happen. And even after the colony was disbanded, the planet still remained a center for various interstellar smuggling operations.
One such smuggling operation was about to take place at a loading dock where a freight shuttle was landing. Kur’Tok, a Klingon civilian engineer, stormed towards the shuttle’s side entrance where a Romulan soldier stepped off. “What took you so long?” the hulking Klingon demanded.
“You’d best watch your tone, Klingon,” replied Lurnak, who was a full head shorter than Kur’Tok. “I couldn’t just hand the cargo off to anyone. And my superiors are starting to become suspicious.”
“That does not concern me, pe’taq,” Kur’Tok hissed with a murderous rage in his eyes.
“It should. My delays are your delays. Nevertheless, I have the boronite in the cargo hold.”
“If you are lying…”
“I know better than to cross a veruul such as you. You’d do both of us a favor by learning patience, especially when dealing with the Omega molecule. Just one unstable Omega molecule can destroy subspace across an entire solar system.”
Kur’Tok growled, looking the Romulan in both eyes before storming into the shuttle.
Inside the shuttle’s cockpit, Lurnak’s co-pilot Murot was anxiously awaiting a response to a hailing message he sent. He was constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure Lurnak did not walk in during his communiqué.
Murot became startled when Commander Donatra appeared. “Yes, Murot?” she asked with her charming smile.
“The cargo is being off-loaded as we speak, Commander,” Murot whispered.
“Excellent,” the youthful Donatra responded. “I have another assignment for you once you return to the Valdore.”
Murot looked over his shoulder again to see that no one was watching. “I’m listening,” he said.
“I need you to continue keeping a close eye on Commander Suran,” Donatra instructed, referring to her one time mentor. Since the end of the Dominion War, Donatra began to see Suran as an overly ambitious soldier whose aspirations could have destructive ramifications across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Captain Kira Nerys sat behind the desk sipping a raktajino. She could not get used to the absence of the baseball. For seven years, Sisko had a baseball perched on the desk during his tenure as Deep Space Nine’s commanding officer. Whenever he was off the station for extended periods, the baseball indicated that he would eventually return. While Kira had come to fully embrace her role as CO in the last two years, not seeing the baseball on the desk made her wonder if Sisko would ever return to Starfleet.
Kira turned her attention back to reports of her senior officers on the desk monitor when the comm chimed. “Ops to Captain Kira,” Dax called. “Incoming message from Starfleet Command on a Code 47 frequency.”
“I’ll take it in here,” Kira replied.
The United Federation of Planets logo appeared on the monitor screen. “This is a Code 47 transmission,” the computer stated. “It is not to be discussed with fellow officers unless deemed absolutely necessary. There will be no record of said transmission.”
“Understood. On the monitor.”
Vice-Admiral William Ross appeared on the screen with his usual calm, but stern demeanor. “Captain, how long before Chancellor Martok and Ambassador Worf arrive?”
“Twelve hours, sir,” Kira replied.
“What about Captain Sisko?”
“No word from him. You mind my asking why he’s being called back into service after two years?”
“The chancellor and the ambassador specifically requested to meet with him regarding a very sensitive issue that’s on a need-to-know basis with your senior staff. As far as they’re concerned, those two are at the station to exchange diplomats with Bajor.”
Kira took another sip of coffee before setting the mug far aside. “I’m listening,” she said to Ross.
“Three weeks ago,” Ross replied, “the IKS Gorkon and the USS Excalibur encountered destabilizations of the Omega molecule in two different regions near the Romulan border. Warp travel is now impossible in those star systems. Both our intelligence agencies believe these instances are a harbinger to a greater Omega detonation.”
“But if the Romulans are hoping to wage war using Omega, wouldn’t that hurt them as much as it would hurt us?”
“That’s why Martok believes some rogue organization is largely involved. He has a lead, which he believes Sisko is the best candidate to follow up on.”
“Then I’ll try again to get in touch with the captain.”
“Good luck with that. Starfleet out.”
Once Ross’s face was replaced by the UFP seal, Kira then prepared another transmission. “Computer, open a priority one communiqué to Benjamin Sisko on Bajor.”
Kasidy Yates Sisko arrived at her family’s residence after a week of running freight throughout the sector. She got that urge to lie down on the sofa and go to sleep for several hours. Her maternal instincts kicked in when she heard little footsteps stomping on the floor.
“Ma-ma!!!” Rebecca called out, running towards the door.
Kasidy whisked her daughter off the floor. “Hi, sweetie,” she replied. “Mommy’s home.”
Benjamin and Jake were close behind the excited little girl. Benjamin offered to take his wife’s duffel bag off her left shoulder. “Don’t worry about getting this child off me,” Kasidy quipped. To Rebecca, she said, “You’re sure getting heavy.”
“I’ve got a surprise for dinner,” Ben told her after they shared a kiss.
“That can wait,” Kasidy shot back, handing off their daughter. “I can’t think about food right now.”
Kasidy trudged into the study, as she was too tired to walk all the way up the stairs. She sat down on the sofa when she quickly saw the desk monitor blinking. In big red letters, the words, “Incoming message from Deep Space 9 for Benjamin Sisko” flashed on the screen.
“Ben, have you seen this message yet?” she asked.
Benjamin walked into the study to see the same thing his wife saw. “Can’t blame Kira for her persistence,” he mused “But I should let her know I’m finished with Starfleet.”
Those words caught Jake by surprise, so he joined the rest of the family in the study. “Dad, you’re on extended leave of absence,” he said. “You didn’t resign.”
Benjamin sighed. He sat down next to Kasidy with Rebecca in tow. “I knew this day would come eventually,” he said. “I never realized that part of my life was behind me until they were summoning me back.”
“But why, Ben?” Kasidy demanded. “Whenever you left on a mission, I would worry that I was seeing you alive for the last time. But that was your career and your life. What’s happened in the last two years?”
“The Dominion War happened,” Benjamin replied. “And I constantly had to choose between my role as a Starfleet officer and that of the Emissary.
“When I was with the Prophets, I saw how much of a role I had to play in Bajor’s destiny. And maybe Admiral Ross was right that I couldn’t be both. Jadzia died because I ignored the Prophets’ warning not to walk a different path.”
“That’s not fair Dad,” Jake interjected. “You could’ve been on the station and it still would have happened.”
Like everyone serving in Starfleet at the time of the war, he lost many friends. Jadzia’s death still haunted Benjamin. He had returned the Prophets to Bajor, and the Dax symbiont lived on in Ezri, yet he still felt that one death could have been averted.
He welcomed Ezri’s presence, as he did Jadzia’s, as they were reincarnations of his friend and mentor Curzon. He had even gotten used to his old mentor being a young woman rather than an old man when the symbiont went from Curzon to Jadzia. Even so, he found he had trouble taking advice from someone who was relatively child-like. While Jake had just made a cogent argument, Benjamin knew not to take the Prophets’ warnings lightly. He ignored their warning not to accompany the mission to invade Chin’toka, and Jadzia’s death may have been a tragic consequence.
“You’ve made a difference to Bajor in both roles, Ben,” Kasidy contended. “If you hadn’t convinced the Prophets to stop the Dominion reinforcements, things would be a lot different.”
“And didn’t Gul Dukat say the Pah-Wraiths would overrun the whole Alpha Quadrant?” Jake added. “Not just Bajor.”
“Whatever is being asked of you,” said Kasidy, “You can make difference again.”
“All right,” Benjamin relented. “You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
This was not the first time Benjamin Sisko was at this kind of crossroads in his life. He had considered resigning after his first wife, Jake’s mother, lost her life in the destructive Battle of Wolf 359 against the Borg. The beings inside the Bajoran wormhole gave him a new sense of purpose. Perhaps they had done so again since his last visit to their realm. Despite those considerations, he still got a lingering sense that this time was different. This time, maybe he truly was finished with Starfleet.
Some hours after Quark’s had closed, the proprietor had a special guest in the establishment to conduct a black market transaction. An Yridian trader provided Quark with a case full of Angosian liquid crystals. The crystals were suspended in rectangular glass containers, to which the Ferengi barkeep had applied a hand scanner.
“Looks like the merchandise is completely authentic,” Quark declared.
“Glad you approve,” his Yridian business partner replied. “And in exchange for your services, four hundred bars of gold-pressed latinum have been forwarded to your account.”
“Better put it on my account in the Bank of Bolius. You promised me a cut of the merchandise, but I still have to ask. Why did you need me to help you circumvent station security?”
“These crystals are illegal in the Federation. Smuggling has become increasingly difficult now that Bajor is a Federation member.”
“Of course. You came to the right place. This establishment is now sovereign Ferengi territory. But Angosian liquid crystals aren’t as lucrative as they used to be.”
“We have a deal, Quark. We would exchange our services, very few questions asked.”
“Right you are.”
The Yridian nodded gracefully and quietly left the establishment. Outside, on the Promenade, a male Trill crewperson was staring at the Yridian form the second level as if he was waiting for him.
Somewhere in the central core, the Trill man stepped into a dark storage bay. He slowly increased the light level, so not to alarm the room’s other occupant, Quark’s Yridian business partner.
“Are the explosives on board?” the Trill asked.
“Yes,” the Yridian answered. “The Ferengi was able to help get them in without raising any alarms. You’ll find them in Cargo Bay Twelve.”
“They’d better do the job, or my employer will see that you have an unfortunate accident.”
“You will not be disappointed.”
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
The new Klingon flagship, the IKS Sword of Kahless approached Deep Space Nine. Because this class of ship was too large to dock at the station, a shuttle ferried the chancellor and the ambassador to one of the ports along the docking ring.
Aboard the station, several senior officers were waiting at the airlock. Doctor Julian Bashir fidgeted with the collar of his dress uniform. Ezri offered to help adjust the collar having noticed his constant tugging while walking to the airlock.
“You either need a new uniform or a new neck,” Dax remarked.
“My neck is the same size as it was when I was in med school,” Bashir replied.
“Any word from Captain Sisko yet?” Kira asked Vaughn.
“He hasn’t contacted the station,” Vaughn replied.
The inner airlock hatch rolled open. Two Klingon guards stepped through the entryway. Kira gave an approving nod. Chancellor Martok then stepped through the egress, with Ambassador Worf close behind.
Kira nodded to both VIP guests feeling that her welcome would be awkward since both Martok and Worf had regularly been aboard the station through the end of the Dominion War. “Chancellor, Ambassador,” she stated plainly. “Welcome to Deep Space Nine.”
“We are honored to be here, Captain,” the one-eyed Klingon chancellor replied.
“The two of you know Lieutenant Dax and Doctor Bashir,” Kira continued. “And this Commander Elias Vaughn, first officer.”
“An honor to meet you, Commander,” Worf said to Vaughn. “I have heard a lot about your major accomplishments.”
“I am honored to meet you as well, Ambassador,” Vaughn replied. “I knew your paternal grandfather.”
“While Klingons are not known for their intellectual prowess,” Worf stated, “Colonel Worf was one of our best legal minds.” In fact, the older Worf was the defense for James Kirk and Leonard McCoy when they were on trial for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon during the first efforts towards peace between the Federation and the Empire.
Martok looked around to see that Sisko was not part of the welcoming committee. “Is Captain Sisko aboard your station?” he then asked Kira.
“We’ve tried to contact him with no success,” Kira replied.
“He’s been inactive for almost two years,” Dax added. “I guess coaxing him back wouldn’t be easy.”
“Well, that is a problem,” said the chancellor.
“Hopefully, I’m not too late to solve it.”
Everyone heard a familiar voice down the corridor. Kira, Dax, and Bashir smiled at the sight of their former CO, Benjamin Sisko back in uniform. After his confrontation with Dukat in the Bajoran Fire Caves, Sisko was pulled into the timeless realm of the Prophets. He returned the day Bajor was admitted into the Federation. Kira offered to relinquish command back to Sisko, but he declined.
The welcoming committee and the two guests sauntered down the corridor. Bashir shot Sisko a grin and raised his eyebrows. Julian was now remembering when Sisko dressed him down for not wearing the proper uniform as part of a welcoming committee for an alien delegation.
The group that welcomed Martok and Worf aboard the station later convened with the two Klingons in the station’s wardroom. Their visit was mainly for routine diplomatic reasons. However, Vaughn could immediately deduce that they had other reasons for having specifically requested to meet with Sisko.
Martok began the briefing with what the Gorkon encountered in the Narendra system. Only he claimed the Gorkon encountered the detonation of subspace weapons banned by the Khitomer Accords. “Intelligence reports indicated the Ku-Vok-leth are involved,” Martok added. “A century ago, they were considered the elites of the warrior class. They have a much more literal interpretation of the teachings of Kahless.”
“Like religious fundamentalists on Earth three-hundred years ago,” Sisko offered.
Worf nodded. “They are opposed to the alliance between the Federation and the Empire,” he added. “Ever since the first Khitomer Accord was signed, they have attempted to destabilize the Empire. And the Romulans could attempt to manipulate the circumstances in their favor.”
“And now with these subspace weapons,” Kira replied, “they could conceivably shift the balance of power.”
Vaughn’s eyebrow twitched when he heard a slight hesitation in Kira’s voice when using the words subspace weapons. As a long-time intelligence agent, he had other means of obtaining classified information. Clearly, the damage to subspace in those two star systems was the result of the Omega molecule. Of course, Kira had to keep her crew in the dark as long as possible.
“And if we attempt to stop these rogue Klingons,” Vaughn stated, to show that he was still focused on the discussion, “that could give the Romulans an excuse to strike.”
“Are the Romulans in any shape to wage war?” Dax curiously asked.
“The Romulans entered the Dominion War much later,” Sisko explained. “Plus the use of Reman soldiers as cannon fodder minimized their own casualties.”
“Even then,” Worf grumbled, “they lacked the courage to face their enemies on the battlefield.”
“Sloan told me that the Federation and the Romulans would be the major competitors after the war,” Bashir recalled of the Section 31 agent who tried to recruit him three years earlier. “We’re not conceding that war is inevitable, are we?”
“As Kahless once said,” Martok replied, “’Ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat.’ We have a lead that may allow us to find out where the Ku-Vok-leth plans to strike next.”
“That is where you come in, Captain,” Worf said to Sisko.
Sisko squinted his eyes curiously. Finally, he thought, he would learn why Martok and Worf requested his presence.
“A month ago, an intelligence agent tracked one of the terrorists to Torman Five,” Martok began. He attached a data chip to the side of the wall monitor behind his end of the meeting table. A black and white photograph of a crowed tavern appeared on the screen.
“This suspected Ku-Vok-leth operative designated a person of interest,” Martok continued, “met with someone with whom most of you are familiar. Computer, magnify grid one-six gamma and enhance.”
The image magnified to show a Klingon and a Trill male. The brown haired, pale-skinned Trill caught the attention of Sisko, Dax, Kira, and Bashir.
“Verad Kalon,” Sisko confirmed aloud.
“But Verad’s dead,” Ezri insisted. “Julian and I saw him take his own life to avoid capture.”
“We theorize that he faked his death to keep the authorities off his trail,” Worf replied. “I was able to cross reference this image with Starfleet and Klingon databases. This man is, without question, Verad Kalon.”
The name certainly brought back unpleasant memories. Eight years earlier, while a skeleton crew was running the station during a dangerous plasma storm, Verad and two Klingon mercenaries seized DS9. Verad then demanded the Dax symbiont. He then became a temporary host, almost at the expense of Jadzia’s life.
Verad resurfaced six years later when he unleashed a virus in the hope of eradicating the Trill symbionts. Bashir and Ezri Dax foiled his plan with the help of Worf’s former crewmates on the Enterprise-E. Verad then martyred himself. Now, this photograph showed that Verad was very much alive.
“Your job, Captain,” Worf declared, “will be to infiltrate the neo-Purists, learn their connections to the Ku-Vok-leth, and, if possible, find out the Ku-Vok-leth’s next target.”
“That’s a bit of a long shot, Ambassador,” protested Sisko. “We can’t be certain that these two organizations have very strong ties to begin with. And wouldn’t Ezri be a better choice for this job?”
“I represent what they hate,” Ezri replied. “I’d be shot on sight.”
“Besides, you’ve been out of Starfleet two years,” Kira added. “That would make a desire to join a terrorist organization more plausible.”
“I suppose,” Sisko sighed. “If this is the best course of action…”
“We would not make this request if we had a better plan,” Martok assured.
“When do I leave?” Sisko inquired, showing no hint of enthusiasm.
During the briefing, Nog was in charge of Ops. He remained at his station, however, to oversee the day’s routine system diagnostics. Most of the diagnostics revealed no problems. He was slowly nodding off when a flashing readout caught his eye.
“That can’t be right,” the petite Ferengi mumbled. The flashing words indicated a problem with one of the circuits in the reactor core’s plasma coolant system. He remembered that Crewman Doran had repaired that circuitry the day before.
“Doran,” he called to the Trill engineer at one of the aft auxiliary stations. “You repaired the plasma coolant system?”
“Yes,” Doran nervously replied, as if he were hiding something.
“Did you notice this misalignment?”
“Then it may be a new problem. You have Ops, Tenmei.”
Nog grabbed his engineering toolkit and headed for the port turbolift. Doran surreptitiously picked up a plasma torch, lit it to see that it worked, and tucked it underneath his uniform tunic.
The two engineers crawled through one of the access tunnels on a lower level to get a closer look. Nog opened the hatch to the malfunctioning circuit and flipped open a tricorder. Doran anxiously looked back and forth down the crawl space to make sure no one else was working in this section. He then became jumpy when his CO closed his tricorder.
“This looks like our malfunctioning circuit,” Nog confirmed aloud. “Hand me a coil spanner.”
Instead of obliging, Doran reached around Nog’s head, covering the Ferengi’s mouth with a cloth from his gold under-tunic. Nog quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Doran then threw aside his own combadge and Nog’s before hastily crawling off.
Ki Baratan, Capital City of Romulus
Suran stood in a dark alley. He could hear the quiet rumbling of thunder in the distance, and he tightened his hood. This was the part of being an agent of the Tal Shiar that he hated. He looked at the timepiece on a ring on his left middle finger wondering how much longer he would have to wait for the agent he arranged to meet.
The Romulan commander stood still when he heard footsteps walking towards him. Suran shined his wrist beacon on the humanoid figure approaching. “It’s all right, Commander,” he said.
He was an elderly human male whose hair had gone completely gray. He removed his hood to show that he was the person Suran was waiting for. “The operation is underway,” he declared.
“Then Kur’Tok received the boronite?” Suran inquired.
“Yes. Enough to form a single Omega molecule.”
The human agent then removed an isolinear data chip from his left front pocket. “This contains all the relevant data,” he continued, “as well as specifications for the harmonic resonance chamber.”
“You should deliver that technology yourself,” Suran insisted.
“We wish to minimize activities that could be traced back to us.”
“Of course. The ‘morally superior Federation’ does not engage in these kinds of underground operations. What is to guarantee I won’t forward this information to the Klingon High Council as well? Not even Martok would be happy to learn Starfleet agents are consorting with the Tal Shiar or sources of dissent within their Empire.”
“I’ve programmed the chip’s data to self-destruct if you forward it to anyone other than your clients on Nimbus Three.”
“Well, this agency of yours hasn’t survived this long by being sloppy. I will pass this along.”
The human agent nodded, then placed his hood back on his head. Both the human and the Romulan walked away slowly in opposite directions.
Suran stopped, once he turned a corner. He had a sense he had met this man before, though he was not certain. Suran began to think back to a strange associate of the late Senator Vreenak. But that person was a Romulan. Then again, anything was possible with Section 31.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Interlude: Flashback One
Stardate 49039 (Earth year 2372): Two weeks after the First Battle of Deep Space 9
Six years earlier, Suran was the military liaison to the Senate. Shortly after the Klingon invasion of the Cardassian Union, Vreenak hired a new chief of staff, of whom Suran was suspicious. Tirak had been suggesting using the renewed hostilities between the Federation and the Klingon Empire as an opportunity to annex territory along the border between the Klingon and Romulan Empires. Suran and his Tal Shiar cohorts, on the other hand, believed that the time was not right after the failed Romulan-Cardassian attack on the Founders’ home planet.
As chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee, Vreenak was a staunch supporter of Tal Shiar policy. However, the Tal Shiar had very limited information on Tirak. He had apparently just appeared on Romulus one day as an advisor to one of the most influential voices in the Senate.
The senator took a sip of his beverage when his comm-link chimed. “What is it, now?” he irately asked his receptionist.
“Senator, Tirak and Suran are waiting to see you,” a young woman replied.
“Send them in.”
Tirak and Suran tried to enter at the same time. Both of them bumped into the sides of the door. Tirak then slipped by. Suran rolled his eyes at the idea of having to work alongside this man. Suran had served Vreenak and other Senate veterans for nearly two decades. Tirak seemingly came from nowhere, although he was of advanced middle age like Suran.
“What do you have gentlemen?” the Senator asked.
Tirak placed a small briefcase on the desk and removed a padd. He used it to activate a holographic star map. It showed fleet deployments of both Romulan and Klingon forces symbolized by multiple logos of the two empires. Tirak pointed to a smaller Klingon Empire symbol at a sector on the border.
“The Tranome Sar sector remains highly vulnerable,” Tirak explained. “For years, the Klingons have kept it heavily fortified since our last engagement with them. Now it’s reduced to a few small squadrons with a large force now in Cardassian territory.”
“As I have reminded the Senate,” Suran countered, “any effort to annex even the outer star systems would still take a rather large fleet. Our supply lines would be spread rather thinly in the core systems.”
“I understand your skepticism, Commander,” Vreenak replied. “I agree that now is not the time for a major strike. I would suggest a few offensives: hit-and-run strikes to rattle the Klingons.”
The two officers exchanged silent gazes at one another. Tirak and Suran then looked to Vreenak nodding in agreement. Suran did not expect Tirak to relent so quickly after Tirak’s suggestion of being overly aggressive.
“I’ve had a long day,” said the senator begrudgingly. “If you don’t mind, I’ll take my leave of you now.”
“Of course, Senator,” Tirak replied.
Tirak quickly stepped out. Suran took small steps out of the office until Tirak was out of sight. “Senator, one other thing,” he then requested of Vreenak.
“What is it?” Vreenak impatiently demanded.
“With all due respect, sir, the Tal Shiar has little on this new chief-of-staff of yours. As you are on the Intelligence Committee, your detractors may see hiring this man to be… should I say, questionable judgment on your part.”
“I’m keeping a close eye on him.”
“That may not be enough. According to recent bulletins, the Federation starship equipped with one of our cloaking devices was seen uncloaking deep in Tzenkethi space before returning to its own territory.”
“What relevance does this incident have?”
“Our operatives in Tzenkethi space believe a Dominion spy was on that ship.”
Vreenak’s eyebrows twitched upward. The presence of Changeling infiltrators in the Romulan Star Empire was a definite possibility. After all, a Changeling derailed the attack on their homeworld by a combined Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order fleet.
“Watch his every move then,” Vreenak commanded. “Any hint of treachery on his part, eliminate him.”
“Yes, sir,” Suran eagerly replied.
Chancellor Gowron lay back in a chair in his private chamber, passed out from all the blood-wine he drank earlier that night. Despite having halted the invasion of the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Empire had achieved a major victory. Upon his return to Qo’Nos, Gowron had declared victory to protect his precarious position.
His snoring drowned out the sound of the doorbell. After the third ring, the chancellor blinked his eyes open. “Enter,” he called out sitting up straight.
Martok entered the chamber, once the large metallic doors parted. Unknown at the time, Gowron’s top military advisor had been replaced by a Changeling. The general’s doppelganger had pushed for an invasion of Cardassia based on false intelligence that the Dominion had clandestinely seized power there. The real Martok had not yet lost his right eye, so his replacement had accurately simulated both eyes.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you, Chancellor,” the general apologetically stated.
“Of course not,” Gowron replied, straightening his ceremonial robe. “Come in.”
“Our reconnaissance probes picked up growing Romulan activity along the border,” Martok reported, setting a padd down on the desk. “Tranome Sar is the most vulnerable.”
Gowron took a quick glance at the padd and scoffed. “They wish us to think they will attack Tranome Sar,” he mused. “Let the Romulans do what they wish for the time being.”
“Is that wise?” Martok inquired, gritting his teeth as best he could in order to emulate a Klingon.
“We expended a great deal of our forces to our last major victory. We cannot be too hasty with rumors of a Romulan threat.”
“Chancellor, with due deference, we cannot show our enemies weakness, especially the Romulans. Your declaration of victory against the Cardassians was political maneuvering, meaning you are still vulnerable. Your allies and enemies are waiting to see if you can handle the Federation and the Romulans.”
Gowron gave a wry grin. “How very true,” he replied. “Dispatch a squadron to launch a pre-emptive strike on their side of the border. Let the Romulans know we can threaten them like they can threaten us.”
Both men laughed. Of course, the Martok Changeling had achieved a completely separate objective. In retaliation for the aborted attack on his homeworld, he had hoped for the slaughter of as many Romulans as possible.
A Romulan trading post was nearly devoid of activity. A few freighters entered the station’s outer docking ports. The station and the ships were civilian owned, so their passengers and crews were not expecting any military activity. With no warning, two Klingon Birds-of-Prey decloaked. The two ships began firing disruptors at the station. The trading post had minimal defenses, so the Birds-of-Prey made quick work of it. The station quickly erupted in a large fireball.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Nog woke up in the main exam room of the Infirmary. Doctor Bashir held the hand sensor of a medical tricorder to Nog’s head to check for possible brain damage. Ro stood in the entryway waiting on the doctor to report and get a statement from the Ferengi.
“Looks like you’ll live,” Bashir jovially stated. “No sign of any damage resulting from oxygen deprivation.”
“Looking to Ro, Nog asked, “Any luck finding Doran?”
“None,” Ro answered, “He knows the internal sensors well.”
“So he’ll be tougher to track,” Nog retorted, ascending from the reclining exam chair. “I can imagine.”
“How are you coming with the surveillance system?”
“We have it running okay for now in the VIP section. We’ve had to draw power from other areas of the habitat ring.”
“Then he’s most likely in one of those sections,” said Ro with a half grin.
The runabout Delphi streaked through space at high warp towards the Torman star system. The Delphi belonged to a new class of short-range transport vessels. Unlike the Danube-class predecessors, the Indiana Jones-class ships had better atmospheric maneuvering capabilities.
Inside the cockpit, which was a modification of the Danube-class cockpit, Sisko and Dax barely spoke to each other for almost twelve hours. Ezri had attempted to make small talk asking about both his children and living on Bajor. He would just give quick answers to avoid any conversation.
“We’ll reach Torman Five in two hours,” Ezri stated in another attempt to make conversation.
“That’s nice,” Benjamin deadpanned.
“Morn would be a less boring traveling companion right now,” Dax remarked with a frustrated sigh.
“Morn?” Sisko asked, needing a second to remember the name of Quark’s most frequent customer.
“Quark will tell you he’s quite the chatterbox, but I don’t recall when he said very much.”
“Don’t take it personally, old man. I never expected to be summoned back as an undercover operative.”
“I was just as surprised to hear that Verad is still alive. We should probably use this time to go over your cover story. Why did you leave the station when you went to confront Dukat in the Fire Caves?”
Sisko sensed some uneasiness in Dax’s voice at the mention of Skrain Dukat, who killed Jadzia almost four years earlier. “I decided I had enough of Starfleet.”
“Good,” Ezri replied with a nod. “And what made you want to join the Neo-Purists?”
“I have information that could be of use to them.”
“But what’s your vested interest in their cause?”
“The oppression of the citizens on a member world the Federation is turning a blind eye to. And the promise I made to a friend on her deathbed.”
That last statement again evoked unpleasant memories for both of them. Of course, the promise Sisko made upon Jadzia’s death was to undo the damage Dukat had caused when he placed a malevolent Pah-Wraith in the Bajoran Wormhole. Sisko had fulfilled that promise. Yet, in order to win over Verad, he would have to rewrite his own personal history. He would have to convince Verad that the promise to Jadzia was to help right the perceived wrongs of Trill society.
Sisko and Dax entered a nightclub that was a major hub of black market activity on Torman Five. Bright lights flashed and pulsating music played throughout the establishment. Patrons of various alien races were either drinking or admiring the two Orion women dancing on the stage.
Ezri wore a jacket over her uniform that had a hood over her head. She walked directly behind Benjamin in case they would immediately enter Verad’s field of vision upon entry into the building. That was not the case fortunately. The two of them slowly walked over to a corner table. Dax set a computer module that was hanging from her right shoulder on the table.
“You know what to do,” Sisko whispered.
Dax answered with a slow nod.
Sisko then sauntered over to the bar, where a Bolian was scrubbing empty glasses. “I’m looking for Verad Kalon, a Trill male,” he said. “Is he here?”
The bartender pointed to his right. Sisko looked in that general direction and immediately recognized Verad, sharing a laugh with portly Ferengi.
“I know what you mean, Pelk,” Verad was saying as Sisko walked towards them. “You don’t have to make bad business decisions. The FCA can choke you with new taxes.”
“I know a Ferengi who has mastered a few tricks,” Sisko retorted.
Verad immediately recognized the deep voice behind him, especially since he carried the Dax symbiont, albeit very briefly. He was half expecting Sisko to place him under arrest. But his old nemesis was dressed in civilian clothing and had a more jovial tone.
From afar, Dax could see Verad, as she prepared her equipment to listen in on Sisko. She had to look away to shake an uncomfortable sensation. The sensation was not quite an out-of-body experience. It was more like seeing a part of her own psyche in another person. After all, she had all of Verad’s memories up to the point where the symbiont was removed and put back into Jadzia.
“Dax to Defiant,” she whispered, tapping an earplug in her left ear, “are you hearing me?”
The USS Defiant took a position on the far side of a gas giant in the system. That ship’s job was to stand ready in case Sisko was in any danger during the operation. The engineering crews there were conducting modifications to the communications arrays. On the bridge, Lieutenant Sam Bowers monitored pirate ship activity at the starboard tactical station. On his right, Lieutenant, junior grade, Jonas Escobar monitored communications traffic. One of the displayed graphics spiked when Ezri hailed.
“You’re coming in loud and clear, Lieutenant,” Escobar replied.
“What about Sisko?”
Static quickly filled the speakers again. After it slowly waned, it was replaced by Verad’s voice in mid-sentence. “… that you’ve completely given up Starfleet this time, Benjamin,” he was saying.
“If you’ve seen my service record,” Sisko replied, “you’d know I haven’t been in Starfleet for nearly three years.”
“He’s coming in clearly, too,” said Bowers.
“Now that that’s done,” Ezri retorted, “the sooner I leave here, the better.”
“The Chaffee will be on its way shortly,” Bowers answered.
“You may as well have been out of Starfleet after Wolf 359,” Verad said of Sisko’s claim. “I wouldn’t want to be toiling away in some shipyard on Mars for three years.”
“Of course, the Dominion War inflicted far more loss of life than a single Borg cube.”
“That’s a good reason to quit the service entirely. But why would you wish to betray Starfleet?”
“I wouldn’t call it betraying Starfleet. Sometimes, extreme measures need to be taken to get the big guys to listen. I am hoping to take up a worthy cause. I can make it worth your while.”
Verad squinted, not certain what kind of an offer Benjamin was making. “What did you have in mind?” he skeptically asked.
“I know where you can find Tander Narik,” Sisko answered. “I understand he’s agreed to testify against you in the abductions of the Vos and Roa symbionts.”
“Still can’t prove that I murdered their previous hosts, eh?” Verad retorted. “Or am I being charged with murder two for their deaths?”
“Do we have a deal or not?”
Verad again stared at the padd Sisko handed him. “I’ll give you a one-hundred thousand credit stipend,” the Trill offered, “after my informants in the security ministry verify this and once they have the witness protection program pass codes.”
“No, you get that after I’ve been paid in full.”
“To assure I don’t report you to Starfleet Security. I’d do the same in your shoes, Ben.”
“Do we have a deal then?”
Verad replied with a scheming grin.
Sisko would later accompany Verad to his makeshift residence. The titanium walls were the remains of a downed freighter. The enclosure was the size of a runabout cockpit. It was only one room with a few small alcoves with a bed and a shower. It wasn’t much, but Verad felt that, even if he traveled under an alias, he would still attract attention living in one of the housing units.
While they traveled to Verad’s residence, Sisko further explained the events that led to his present situation, according to his cover story. He reiterated the effect the Dominion War had on his psyche. He then made vague references to a promise he made to Jadzia when she was on her deathbed, which was to address grave injustices in Trill society.
“So you feel that your duty now is to address wrongs within the Federation,” Verad commented as they entered the housing area.
“Especially wrongs the Federation and member governments have ignored,” Sisko added. “Not just the crimes of the Symbiosis Commission, but the abandonment of our colonies in the former Demilitarized Zone.”
Verad scoffed as he threw down a green duffel bag. “You were famous for condemning the Maquis,” he countered, “especially when Cal Hudson and Michael Eddington left Starfleet.”
“They betrayed Starfleet,” Sisko explained. “Yet they believed strongly in the Maquis and their goals. They could be admired for the same reason as the Bajorans while their planet was under Cardassian rule.”
Verad smiled and nodded, as if having been reminded of the person he once knew, or rather Curzon and Jadzia Dax once knew. “I always thought you Starfleet types were a bunch of Herberts.”
“A Tiburon slang term for someone who is rigid and inflexible.”
Sisko remembered that a Tiburon officer was part of the mission to salvage a crashed Jem’Hadar fighter on Torga Four. Ensign T’Lor was one of five crewpersons killed during that operation. And they were only a very small fraction of those who died during the war.
“Sorry to disappoint,” Sisko sarcastically remarked.
Someone began banging on the door. Verad moved towards the door to open it. “Hey, Verad,” a male voice called out. “You in there?”
The door opened and a short, but portly, Trill man quickly entered. He pulled the door shut as soon as he was inside. He frantically ran towards the replicator without even noticing Sisko. His hurriedness indicated he was running from something.
“What’s wrong, Runold?” Verad asked.
Runold’s accent sounded like an Earth Brooklyn accent. That should not have been possible for a non-Terran, though Sisko had heard of one particular municipality on Trill where a similar accent was prevalent. “I heard the authorities are gonna be swarming this area,” Runold said, taking a gulp of cold water he replicated. “They got some tip about a bogus address.”
“We’d better pack it up, just to be safe,” Verad stated calmly. “Make sure we get the explosives out.”
“Mind if I help?” Sisko inquired, wondering if the two Trill forgot he was there.
Runold saw Sisko and winced. “Who’s this guy, Verad?” he demanded. He stared at Sisko for a long moment.
With each passing moment, Sisko worried that this Trill would eventually recognize him.
“This is Benjamin Russell, “Verad answered nervously. “He has information on a key witness.”
Benjamin Russell. That name was not at all familiar, but Runold still thought he had seen Sisko’s face. He just wasn’t sure where, though Sisko came up with the false surname from his 20th century alternate persona during a Prophet-induced vision.
“Have we met before?” Runold asked Sisko with still a hint of suspicion.
“Can’t say that we have,” Sisko candidly replied.
“Why don’t the two of you get acquainted,” Verad chimed in. He slowly walked out to the back of the house hoping neither of them would be caught in a lie.
“You know what,” said Runold after Verad was gone, “why don’t I just find out if any security bulletins are out on you.”
Sisko started to speak, but was at a loss for words. He began to wonder if anyone got around to changing his biography. He just came up with his alias on the fly. Hopefully, the Defiant was still listening in.
Sam Bowers sat in the command chair on the Defiant’s bridge. He looked up from the chair’s right side control panel when hearing Runold’s plan to look up a profile on a possibly non-existent Benjamin Russell.
“How are you coming with Sisko’s false profile, Escobar?” he asked the smooth-headed man at communications.
“I’m having a little trouble with the SI feed,” Escobar replied.
“See if you can speed it up, if possible.”
A photograph of Sisko appeared on the padd Runold was operating. Instead of a Starfleet uniform, the former officer now wore a dark leather jacket over a thin gray shirt in the picture. The name on the top of the padd’s screen read Benjamin Russell. Underneath was a list of his “crimes”: smuggling, burglary, illegal weapons sales, breaking into classified files and possession of controlled medicinal substances.
“It checks out,” the stocky Trill proclaimed.
Sisko just stood quietly, showing no hint of nervousness or fear of being exposed as a spy. “Satisfied?” he asked.
“For now,” Runold replied softly. He shot a quick glance at Sisko. He still had that gut feeling. As of now, though, he didn’t believe this human was a spy.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Miette Donatra gently caressed the arms of her chair on the bridge of the IRW Valdore. She never understood why her ship was called that. Two centuries ago, Admiral Valdore had conceived of a remote controlled starship that could disguise itself as any other ship for the purpose of inciting conflict among the eventual founding members of the Federation. In fact, the entire Earth-Romulan War was fought with remote controlled ships. Truly courageous warriors faced their enemies on the battlefield, Donatra believed. For now, she would serve the Star Empire she loved in her own way.
A youthful male officer walked away from a starboard auxiliary station and strode over to the center seat. “Commander,” he said sharply, “the Tiralihaan has left orbit of ch’Rihan.”
“Thank you, Subcommander,” Donatra replied while lost in a thought. “Pilot, lay in a parallel pursuit course. Keep us on the edge of their sensor range and engage the cloak.”
The lights dimmed as the cloaking device hummed to life. Donatra arched her head to her right to see the subcommander still standing next to her. “Something else, Murot?” she snapped suspiciously.
“May I ask why we are shadowing your former mentor?”
Donatra sensed more than just curiosity in Murot’s voice. Just five years ago, Murot was a lowly uhlaan in the Romulan Guard. She could never corroborate his claim that he earned a battlefield commission during the Dominion War. He could have easily assassinated his way up the ranks, yet no one could definitively prove it. Donatra appointed Murot as her second-in-command in accordance with the Terran expression, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
“You only need to know that I am acting on direct orders from the khre’Riov himself,” Donatra lied. She could say no more, even to her executive officer. If he were working for Suran, or worse, Senator Tal’Aura, Donatra was as good as dead.
Murot half-nodded in acknowledgement. Donatra took a momentary glance at Murot as he returned to his station, hoping he wouldn’t push his inquiries any further. Thankfully, he knew that to do so would only further confirm her suspicions.
Prynn Tenmei stepped out onto the Promenade from the main entrance to Quark’s. She saw Doctor Bashir saunter towards the bar from the opposite direction, and she slowly turned the other way. From the tuxedo he was wearing, Prynn deduced that he had a holosuite reservation. She had hoped to avoid being asked to accompany him, but he had already spotted her.
“Prynn,” Julian called. “Fancy seeing you here.”
She grinned to act as though she was not trying to avoid him. “Which program is this?” she asked, feigning interest. “Julian Bashir, secret agent or Jack Bauer, sociopath?”
“The former. Care to join me? Nog cancelled at the last minute.”
“In what role? Someone with a degrading name like Mona Luvsit? I’ll pass.”
Bashir chuckled. He had the program for six years, yet no one mentioned that aspect of it. While they continued exchanging laughs regarding the absurdities of the program.
Worf descended down a nearby spiral staircase. That woman is clearly not Ezri Dax, the ambassador thought. Yet, Julian was very friendly towards Prynn. He and Ezri became romantically involved shortly before Worf left DS9 to become Federation ambassador to Qo’Nos. Both Julian and Ezri put off pursuing such a relationship for a month before then. Worf even encouraged Ezri even though she carried the memories of his deceased wife Jadzia. Worf became sort of a protective older brother to Ezri.
Worf was not sure whether to be annoyed or elated at what he was witnessing. He was not one to listen in on the latest gossip, so he had not learned Julian and Ezri had dissolved their relationship after Ezri’s switch from counseling to the command track caused various problems. He was envisioning saying, “I told you so.” The way Julian was now dressed once again confirmed to Worf that Bashir was an overgrown child.
The Klingon sighed, and then continued on his way. He nodded as he passed Tenmei with a look saying, “I am afraid for you.” She nodded back, and then gave a perturbed wince wondering why he gave that look after he had passed.
Nog and a Bajoran male security officer walked stealthily through a corridor in the habitat ring. For some reason, Nog felt like he had to re-learn the names of the deputies who had served under former station security chief Odo for seven years. He couldn’t really understand why since they were the same individuals wearing Starfleet uniforms rather than Bajoran militia uniforms. The uniform fit snugly on Yndar Pol, a middle aged Bajoran man with graying dark hair, who had been one of Odo’s most trusted officers—and of course, now Ro’s—during his nine year tenure.
Nog took small steps to a door to empty crew quarters, scanning with a tricorder. When the readout indicated no life-signs inside the cabin, he nodded to Yndar. The Bajoran petty officer placed himself at the left of the door, phaser rifle at the ready. Nog removed the panel on the door’s right to access the manual release. The lock became unlatched and Yndar slid the door open the rest of the way.
Nog and Yndar entered the vacant room, ready to fire their rifles. As the tricorder indicated, no one was inside. Nog stood watch in the living area while Yndar made a quick survey of the bedroom and the head. After a few minutes, Yndar returned saying, “This cabin’s secure. Let’s move onto the next one.”
The two-person team followed the same routine in the vacant quarters across the corridor. Again, no one was hiding there.
Ro and an Andorian male officer made another searching a section of the habitat ring. Ensign th’Helek’s quadroscopic vision was certainly an asset for this operation in case someone tried to sneak into vacant quarters after the cabin had been declared secure. They followed the same routine as Nog and Yndar. After seeing no one in the living area, th’Helek would stand watch while Ro would scout the bedroom and the head. While waiting on Ro, th’Helek’s antennae stiffened. Someone was sneaking towards him.
Th’Helek quickly turned around to see a Nausicaan lunging towards him with a knife. The Andorian was able to deflect the swing of the Nausicaan’s right arm, but in the process, his attacker was able to clip off a piece of his left antenna. Th’Helek fell backwards as the Nausicaan was lunging towards him. Th’Helek slugged the Nausicaan with the back of his fist twice to no avail. When he was on his back, the Nausicaan then threw him to the deck. The Nausicaan stood up and swung his knife towards th’Helek. Then in a split second, he fell to the deck after a blast from Ro’s phaser rifle.
“Ro to all security teams,” she said, tapping her combadge. “We’ve apprehended a ‘person of interest.’ Keep looking for Mister Doran while we try to get something out of our Nausicaan friend.”
Verad and Runold began filling up brown travel bags with essential items. Sisko lent a hand gathering up field rations, while keeping a close watch on the two Trills in the hope they would reveal critical information. Runold glanced at Sisko from the corner of one eye to see the newcomer gazing intently. When Runold headed for the sleeping area, he shot Sisko a suspicious glare. When he returned a few seconds later, Runold bumped his shoulder against Sisko’s to nudge him aside.
“I almost forgot about those,” Verad said of the three cylindrical rods Runold was carrying. “We should definitely take those with us.”
“You packed those charges too tightly,” Sisko remarked.
Runold stuffed the explosive devices into the travel bag and then wagged his finger at Sisko. “Look, pal, I know what I’m doing,” he sneered.
“Does he?” Sisko asked Verad. “Whatever it is you’re planning, I’m not sure you can rely on him.”
“I’ve been working with explosives probably a lot longer than you have, pal,” Runold shot back.
“Gentleman,” Verad interjected. “This is not the time or the place.”
Runold scoffed trying to calm a strong urge to deck Sisko. He took a deep breath and turned to Verad. “He may be a notorious criminal, Verad,” he said, “but my gut says not to trust him. I don’t see how you can.”
“He’s offering to help us out of a jam,” Verad plainly replied. “That’s reason enough for me.”
“Whatever,” Runold muttered, zipping his travel bag and hanging it off his right shoulder.
Verad put a much larger travel bag on his back and gestured towards the back entrance by the replicator. “Let’s roll,” he proclaimed.
The three of them headed for the back entrance at the same time someone was banging on the front door. “Police, open up!” a loud masculine voice boomed through the metal wall. The three occupants of the makeshift house quickly filed out of the back entrance without stopping. Almost as soon as they were gone, two officers in blue jumpsuits pried open the front door. They would find no one inside. The police officer on the left was the first to see the back door open. He motioned his partner to follow him through the other entrance.
Sisko, Verad, and Runold made their way to an alleyway. Verad brought up the rear to make sure other police officers were not following them. Sisko shined a flashlight to allow the group to see in front of them. Sisko would also occasionally glance up at both rooftops to check for police snipers. The police probably wouldn’t know to look for them specifically, but he could not be too careful. Though he was almost clipped by phaser fire from right behind him.
Sisko threw himself against a brick wall while drawing a phaser. He began firing back. The two helmeted officers dove for cover as Verad and Runold also began firing their phasers at the pursuers. They continued moving while continuing to lay down cover fire. Runold unknowingly kicked down a cargo container with the word flammable written on it. As the pursuing officers continued giving chase, not noticing the wayward container, Runold fired his phaser at the container.
A fireball erupted. The police officers were close enough that the fireball completely charred their bodies. Sisko’s eyes widened in horror seeing them meet a gruesome death. “Was that really necessary?!” he bellowed at Runold.
Runold was just as befuddled. “We’ll just add cop killer to the list of charges,” he quipped.
“This guy’s a joke, Verad,” Sisko hissed. “He’s too reckless. He’ll botch up your whole operation.”
“That’s it,” Runold shot back taking a swing at Sisko, punching him in the left jaw. When he moved to take another swing, Sisko grabbed Runold’s arm with both hands and pulled.
Runold screamed out in pain. “He dislocated my shoulder!” he cried. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“We have to get you to a doctor,” said Verad, feeling around the other Trill’s injured shoulder.
“Ditch this psycho first,” Runold spat still wincing in pain. “Leave me. That freighter’s leaving any time now.”
“I’ll be down a man,” Verad replied. “You up for coming instead, Benjamin?”
“Sure,” Sisko replied.
“Just be careful not to piss him off,” Runold retorted.
Sisko and Verad continued running down the alley, leaving Runold behind. They slowed down once they turned a corner. For now, they were satisfied that no one else was following them. “So where is this freighter of ours headed?” Sisko asked.
“Let’s just say it involves that space station you once commanded,” Verad answered.
Sisko’s eyebrows twitched, but not so much so that Verad would sense worry. Of course, if Verad had any doubts about Sisko’s desire to help, he would not have let him in on the plan to attack Deep Space Nine. Sisko could only hope that Ezri and the Defiant’s crew were still listening in.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
“Mister Escobar, try and get a message to the station.”
Ezri Dax leaned forward in the Defiant bridge’s command chair upon hearing that Verad’s terrorist cell was planning an attack on Deep Space Nine. It was an instinctive reaction, even if she had lived eight other lifetimes. The Defiant’s function was merely to listen in and come to Sisko’s rescue if he was in any danger. Sisko was only one person assigned to deliver covert intelligence, but now the whole station was in danger. None of Dax’s hosts, past or present, could fathom putting so many civilian lives in jeopardy, even if Ezri risked blowing Sisko’s cover.
“That’s going to be a little difficult,” Escobar replied, while attempting to comply with the younger officer’s orders. “The surrounding plasma storms are interfering with long range communications.”
Ezri detected a hint of sarcasm in his voice. She rolled her eyes, biting her lower lip to keep herself from uttering one of Curzon or Jadzia’s witty retorts. She had learned from similar exchanges that such responses would only egg him on. “We have to try, Lieutenant,” she just said calmly. To the youthful blond male ensign at conn, she said, “Helm, move us out of the plasma field, but slowly.”
From the tactical station, Sam Bowers grinned at Escobar, regarding his latest efforts to get under Ezri’s skin. Both middle-aged men were Starfleet veterans who received battlefield commissions during the Dominion War. The difference between them was that Escobar was in the Maquis prior to the war, while Bowers had been a noncom for fifteen years. Bowers had known of Escobar’s penchant for seeing how easily he could annoy superior officers, especially those of lesser age, throughout his brief Starfleet career.
Doctor Bashir had been called to the station’s holding cell after the arrest of the Nausicaan. Lieutenant Ro reported that the Nausicaan, upon being incarcerated behind a forcefield, had lost consciousness. He was not dead since he still had a pulse. Bashir had confirmed this while running tricorder scans of the prisoner. “He looks to be in a kind of self-induced hibernation,” he said with a puzzled look. He could not deduce from his tricorder readings whether this was a natural trait in Nausicaans or the result of some artificial implants.
“Can you bring him out of it?” Ro asked from outside the cell.
“I wouldn’t recommend it,” the doctor replied. “Any kind of stimulants could cause severe brain damage. Then he wouldn’t be able to reveal any information of interest.”
“Thank you anyway, Doctor,” Ro said with a frustrated sigh.
Bashir then stepped through the forcefield with the help of a sensor that was tuned to his combadge.
As the doctor was leaving, Th’Helek stepped into the cellblock to hand Ro a padd. She read several lines of data on the display, and her eyes widened. Her expression of surprise soon became a devious grin.
Outside the security office on the Promenade, Ro explained her department’s latest breakthrough to Kira. “Surveillance logs indicate a sixteen minute blackout in Cargo Bay Twelve,” she said. “According to Nog, it’s in no way related to the sensor glitches in the sections of the habitat ring adjacent to the VIP quarters. After looking over the cargo manifests, we found merchandise being delivered to Quark.”
Kira scoffed. That Quark was involved in illegal business practices throughout his time on the station was no surprise. More recently, though, Quark’s establishment became the Ferengi embassy, so that he could continue his business in the Federation’s moneyless economy. “Has he been arrested yet?” Kira asked eagerly.
“He’s in the security office,” Ro replied with a smile. “We’re waiting to see how much he’ll reveal.”
Kira and Ro entered the office where Quark sat in a guest chair chatting with a male Bajoran deputy. “Ah, it’s about time you got here, Captain,” the Ferengi said upon seeing Kira. “I hope you told the lieutenant here that I was dealing in legitimate merchandise.”
“Save it,” Kira snapped, leaning against the front of the desk. “The sensor blackout happened at the same time an Yridian trader came to the bar after it was closed.”
“I meet with many business partners after hours,” Quark innocently insisted. “Everyone knows that. Besides, I have diplomatic immunity.”
“Which is revocable if you are suspected of compromising station security,” Kira added.
“If I was arrested every time I ‘compromised station security”, I’d have spent most of the last fourteen years in jail, or worse…”
Those last words caught both Kira’s and Ro’s attention. The station had been under Cardassian control for the first five years Quark resided there. The Cardassians were a race that valued order and security above anything else. And they had lower tolerance for illegal business practices than the Federation. “He’s got us there,” Ro remarked to Kira.
Quark grinned triumphantly and headed for the door. “I guess I’ll be going now,” he proclaimed.
“Hold on,” Ro said firmly.
Quark stopped in his tracks, realizing this release had strings attached.
“We’d consider not pressing charges,” Ro continued, “if you give some information that might help in an investigation.”
Before either Bajoran could speak, the comm chimed. “Ops to Captain Kira,” said a feminine voice over the speakers.
“Go ahead,” Kira replied.
“Message from: Lieutenant Dax on the Defiant.”
“I’ll take it in my office.”
Verad and his group who had stowed away on a Kobheerian freighter bound for Deep Space Nine in the primary cargo hold. In addition to Verad and Sisko, a younger blond male Trill and a male Orion were tying together and fidgeting with sets of three metallic rods. The group set up a hideout using stacked together cargo containers; almost like a makeshift fort a child would assemble using empty boxes.
Sisko gave each rod he had he used to assemble an explosive a thorough visual inspection. He did not see any mechanical circuit boards that made up the interior of a typical explosive device. When he observed that Runold was packing them too tightly, they were missing one very important ingredient: some kind of explosive substance to pack into the rods. “I’ve noticed you have the casings,” he observed aloud, “but not the actual explosives.”
“We have the ultritium waiting for us at the station,” Verad explained. “An Yridian trader smuggled them aboard with an insider getting it past station security.”
“Isn’t ultritium virtually undetectable by conventional sensors and transporter filters?” Sisko replied. He knew that not to be the case with recent improvements in sensor technology. He was feigning ignorance of that fact, mostly for the benefit of Verad’s other henchmen.
“You’d have been able to say that ten years ago. Sensor technology is improving everyday.”
And methods of circumventing sensors with them. Sisko knew immediately who the “insider” to which Verad referring was. Quark had once crashed key security sensors in order arrange a meeting with a Klingon smuggler. As it turned out, the smuggler in question was working for Verad, and that group was able to take hostages without alerting the crew in Ops. Sisko began to envision turning Quark over to Starfleet authorities for allowing yet another one of Verad’s schemes to be carried out. But that could wait. At least Quark was acting out of selfish desire to make a huge profit rather than out of malice, and Sisko’s family was not in any danger.
The other Trill and the Orion slowly crept away in order to stand watch at the cargo hold entrance. Verad waited until they were out of earshot before turning to address Sisko. “So what was this promise you made to Jadzia while she was on her death bed?” he asked.
Luckily, Sisko had already rehearsed his answer on the trip to Torman Five. “I said I would help right wrongs of Trill society,” Sisko replied, while continuing to assemble explosive charges. “During a visit to Trill, we learned that Dax had a host between Torias and Curzon for six months. And the Symbiosis Commission was prepared to sacrifice Jadzia to cover it up.”
“Only one in ten Trill are eligible to be joined,” Verad said, recalling the Commission’s claim. “The Neo-Purists believed it was more, but that was just dismissed as conspiracy theory.”
And hopefully that would continue, Sisko mused silently. When Sisko learned that the mentally unstable Joran Belar had been a host to the Dax symbiont, Doctor Renhol at the Symbiosis Commission warned him of the disastrous ramifications of revealing a secret this damning to the general populace. “Practiced by the government of a Federation member planet,” Sisko added. While such a thought was genuinely disturbing to him, he could do nothing more than file a protest with the Federation Council. Everything from that point was just political maneuvering.
Captain Kira stepped into her office from a side door that allowed her to avoid having to go through Ops. She could never get used to thinking of this office as her office. Benjamin Sisko made it his own for nearly seven years, while she was only station CO for just two and a half years.
A Starfleet insignia was on the desk monitor’s screen. Below were instructions to enter an authorization code. Kira did just that, and Ezri then appeared on the screen. “Ah, Captain,” the youthful Trill said. “Good. I’m calling to warn that Kalon’s terrorist cell is planning an attack on DS9. I know that Sisko’s mission is to learn the Neo-Purist’s connection to the Ku-Vok-leth. I still felt that I had to speak up.“
Ezri spoke confidently, but Kira could still detect some uneasiness in her voice. “You were right to contact me,” Kira replied. “How long before they get here?”
“They’re en route on a Kobheerian freighter, which is a lot slower than the Defiant. Our ETA is six hours. Benjamin’s gone dark since then.”
“All right,” Kira sighed, dreading the decision she had to make. “I’ll see you when you get back. Kira out.”
Six hours. Six hours to decide how to proceed with an evacuation of the station. However, a complete evacuation would alert the Neo-Purists that someone in their organization tipped off the station. “Kira to Commander Vaughn and Lieutenant Ro,” Kira said, tapping her combadge. “Report to my office right away.”
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Crewman Doran and his Yridian partner were in the process of loading the ultritium explosives onto Cargo Bay Twelve’s transporter pad. The process was an arduous one since neither one of them had great physical strength to carry the heavy containers onto the pad. Ordinarily, Doran would use an anti-gravity harness, but the cargo bay had been sealed off by order of security. Finding an alternative route inside with forcefields closing off additional access points and his authorization codes having been rescinded was hard enough. Doran didn’t dare attract attention by using any electro-magnetic devices.
The Yridian, meanwhile, grumbled in annoyance as he was sliding a cargo container up the ramp to the transporter pad. “I don’t understand why you need my help with this,” he huffed. “I was just paid to bring the explosives aboard.”
“All ships are being detained while security is looking for me,” Doran replied. “You could at least make yourself useful.”
The Yridian scoffed while slowly walking back towards the cargo containers they were having transported to the reactor core. He was planning on being on his next freight run rather than moving containers in a cargo bay declared off-limits.
“He just told me he needed someone to circumvent the security sensors,”
Quark recalled his dealings with the Yridian trader as part of his deal with station security in order to avoid criminal charges. “It was because of the increased difficulty of his smuggling operations with Bajor under Federation jurisdiction.”
“And that’s all he said to you?’ Ro asked skeptically from behind the desk. “Smugglers usually need to cover their tracks by falsifying their cargo manifests.”
“Then I guess security isn’t thoroughly doing its job,” the Ferengi quipped.
“Quark,” Ro snapped. He was clearly being less than truthful about something despite his plea agreement, since Quark was not usually this insolent with his interrogators. He had to have been smuggling in weapons or explosives as well.”
“He didn’t tell me,” Quark insisted. “You know how these deals go. We try to ask as few questions as possible.”
Ro sighed, not wanting to be reminded of her time in the Maquis. True, she believed in their cause, but the part of the job she was not always proud of was the theft and smuggling. And now she was here in Deep Space Nine’s security office grilling a Ferengi bartender about a smuggling operation. “You’re sure about that?” she asked. “I need you to be completely truthful if this deal is going to work. What were you getting in return?”
Before Quark could answer, the comm chimed. “Kira to Commander Vaughn and Lieutenant Ro. Report to my office right away.”
Ro tapped her combadge in acknowledgment. “On my way,” she replied. She ascended from her chair and motioned the Andorian officer also present to take her seat. “Ensign th’Helek will finish taking your statement,” she told Quark before exiting the office.
Lieutenant Ro entered Ops through the starboard entryway by the pit and saw Commander Vaughn stepping off the nearby turbolift. She had hoped maybe the first officer knew something about this urgent summons. Maybe it was related to the transmission Kira received from the Defiant. Hopefully, it wasn’t anything too serious. “Any idea what this is about?” she asked.
“No idea,” Vaughn replied with a shake of his head.
Once they were inside the office, Kira got straight to the point before the doors finished closing. “We have a problem,” the captain stated. “Captain Sisko’s undercover mission revealed a plan to attack this station.”
“I’ll have security teams begin evacuations,” Ro plainly answered.
“There in lies the problem,” Kira said raising a hand. “If we do evacuate, then the Neo-Purists will likely realize someone on the inside tipped us off.”
Ro winced in confusion, then shot Vaughn a glance to see he did not appear as surprised. “You’re not actually suggesting doing nothing and allowing the attack to go forward?” she asked.
“In these kinds of undercover missions,” Vaughn replied, “Agents are faced with these kinds of decisions. They’re never easy…”
“Thank you, Commander,” Kira cut in. Once again addressing Ro, Kira continued. “At the very least get the chancellor, the ambassador, and the bulk of the civilian population out of harm’s way. But try not to make it look like an actual evacuation.”
“That’ll be difficult but doable,” Ro answered somberly. “How long before the attack happens?”
“From what Dax tells me,” Kira replied, “Sisko’s group is on a freighter much slower than the Defiant’s maximum cruising speed. I’d say eight or nine hours.”
“Commander,” Kira continued, addressing Vaughn. “Surely, Starfleet special ops use some sort of automated transponders to send out false life readings.”
“I might be able to pull some strings with a few former colleagues,” Vaughn answered. “Of course, I’m not exactly on the best of footing with some of those guys after I left.”
“Do whatever you can,” Kira retorted. She noticed Ro in the corner of her eye, suggesting the lieutenant wanted a word with her in private. “You’re dismissed, Commander,” she said plainly, eager to hear what her friend had to say.
“Permission to speak freely, sir,” Ro said, after Vaughn exited and doors closed behind him.
“How can you even have any doubts about how to deal with this pending crisis?” Ro snapped, leaning forward to look Kira in the face.
Normally this was no way for an officer to address her captain. Kira tolerated it, knowing this level of assertiveness was a common trait among Bajorans. Ro’s willingness to speak her mind was something her Starfleet colleagues both admired and disparaged. Kira made a point of not responding to Ro’s confrontational approach knowing that she herself had gotten off on the wrong foot with Sisko nine years ago.
“Sit down, Lieutenant,” Kira said calmly.
Ro obliged, knowing Kira was about to recall a story about the Bajoran Resistance.
“Late in the Occupation,” Kira continued, “my resistance cell intercepted coded transmissions regarding plans to wipe out a heavily populated city in order to weed out suspected underground operatives.
“If we had warned the population about the attack, the Cardassians would have known we had broken their code.”
“So the attack went forward even knowing what you knew,” Ro stated, anticipating the upshot of this story.
“It’s not something I was particularly proud of. I tried to tell myself we had a tremendous tactical advantage over the Cardassians in the long term.”
“Those in the Resistance knew they would have to lay down their lives for the cause of freedom. Starfleet officers are prepared for the same thing. But we have hundreds of civilians on this station, Captain.”
“You’re point is well taken. But I am not going to ask so many people to voluntarily put their lives in danger, so that Captain Sisko can maintain his cover in order to learn of a connection between two terrorist groups that’s tenuous at best. I promised myself that when the Occupation ended that I was finished making those kinds of decisions.”
“I won’t tell any Starfleet admirals if you don’t,” Ro innocently remarked.
Kira returned that statement with a wink.
Ro was already on her way out of the office the comm chimed. “Security to Lieutenant Ro,” th’Helek called. “There’s another sensor blackout in Cargo Bay Twelve.”
“Meet me there,” Ro replied.
Kira leaned forward to listen in on the call. Once Ro headed out, Kira followed.
Th’Helek and Yndar joined Ro and Kira at the cargo bay entrance. The four them entered the hold, phasers in hand, to find the whole place completely empty. The two security deputies panned out in opposite directions to check for anyone hiding in any access hatches. Kira and Ro slowly walked towards the transporter platform.
Ro entered a command on the control console to access the transport logs. Sure enough, the logs had been erased. Ro was actually sort of pleased that the log had been erased. Otherwise, Doran and any possible co-conspirators had been sloppy. That or it was another misdirection tactic as when the Nausicaan ambushed th’Helek.
“Nothing here,” Ro commented aloud.
“And they were smart to beam away the entire contents of the hold,” Kira added. “They leave behind less potential evidence of having been here.”
“Looks all clear,” th’Helek called to Ro.
“We have to piece together something,” Kira said with a sigh of frustration, as she tapped her combadge. “Kira to Lieutenants Nog and Tenmei. Report to Cargo Bay Twelve.”
Within five minutes, Nog and Tenmei arrived as ordered. Tenmei and security deputies scanned every square millimeter of the bay for evidence of people having previously been there. Nog was tasked with trying to reassemble the deleted log. It was a long shot, but old Cardassian files were often retrievable, which often led to deadly consequences. And the Cardassians had a reputation for being thorough; especially to assure that absolutely no residual evidence remained of deleted computer records.
“Whoever erased the log did a thorough job,” said Nog. “They programmed a cascade algorithm to erase anything that could help reassemble the file.”
Tenmei then walked over to deliver her report. “From her straight face, Kira wasn’t sure Prynn had good news. From our scans,” the lieutenant reported, “we found traces of dolamide, polyferranide, tri-nitrogen chloride, tetracyanate 622, ultritium…“
“Ultritium,” Ro repeated. “That’s an explosive.”
“And I have a good idea where it might be going,” Kira added. She gave Ro a glance, indicating both of them had a good idea where the Neo-Purists planned to strike.
With the Kobheerian freighter two hours away from the station, Verad presented a schematic of Deep Space 9 to the rest of the group. The screen on the large padd focused on the fusion reactors in the station’s central core. Sisko, the other Trill, and the Orion stood at attention as Verad began to explain the plan. The Orion eyed Sisko suspiciously during the entire journey, and was continuing to do so during this briefing.
“We’re going to plant the explosives at these points,” Verad stated, indicating three red circles on the screen.
“That won’t inflict any considerable damage to the station,” Sisko replied with a hint of uneasiness in his voice. The idea of any of his former colleagues being injured or killed was certainly a disturbing idea. But he had to go along with this plan in order to make his interest in the Neo-Purists appear genuine.
Verad, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have the stomach for his sort of operation, Sisko contemplated to himself. The Klingon mercenaries by his side when he hijacked the station comprised most of the muscle. And not even being briefly joined to three different symbionts gave him the mental toughness of a terrorist leader. Sure, Verad created a virus deadly to Trill symbionts. Yet he still lacked the courage to kill other humanoids.
“If you were closer to the main reactor,” Sisko started to say.
The Orion grunted in displeasure, sensing a lack of sincerity in Sisko’s words.
“We just plan to knock out key circuits,” Verad interrupted, “in order to impede normal station operation.”
Sisko tried to stifle a sigh of relief, but the two others could hear him slowly inhale through his nose. His slow and measured inhaling did not suggest anger or disappointment, but shortness of breath, meaning he was nervous about something.
“This used to be your station after all,” Verad added with a hint of sarcasm. “Now, Lek, you and I will…”
“Pair me with the human,” the Orion insisted. “I cannot trust someone who was once the Starfleet commander of our target.”
“You seemed unusually quick to take him into your confidence,” the second Trill added. “How do you know he is not a Starfleet spy?”
“I can’t say for sure that he isn’t, Abbit,” Verad answered. “But Benjamin has shown a willingness to help, first by impeding a Starfleet investigation.”
“Even so,” Lek began, “I want to make sure this human doesn’t try anything.”
“Abbit, you and I will take section 23,” said Verad. “Lek, you and Benjamin will take 28. And our insider has 39. Let’s go.”
The two Trill’s headed for the cargo hold’s exit, but Lek grabbed Sisko by the arm. “At the first sign of treachery,” the burly Orion growled, “you die.”
Lek gave a conspiratorial smile while pointing a phaser pistol at Sisko’s chest, almost suggesting he would kill him either way.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
“I don’t understand why you now want access to classified Special Ops technology.”
Elias Vaughn was on a comm-line with a former colleague from Starfleet Special Operations in the security office. Ro stood off to one side keeping as quiet as possible to let the middle-aged man with a shaved head on the other end think no one else was listening. Marcus Hilliard had served alongside Vaughn as a field operative. Vaughn thought Hilliard’s completely bald head was appropriate in that line of work, but not in the various desk jobs Hilliard had been in since late in the Dominion War.
“I understand your reservations, Marcus,” Elias calmly replied. “I can assure you, I will personally oversee the deployment of the transponders.”
“It’s too big a risk.”
Vaughn was dumbfounded at both at being denied this routine request and that this usually normal Special Ops task was labeled “too big a risk.” “How?” he asked.
“If these terrorists were to realize the deception,” Hilliard said sternly, “then the whole operation will be for nothing. Or worse, if they get their hands on this technology…”
“That’s always the risk; it’s never stopped us before.”
“Sorry to have to turn down an old friend, but the answer is no.”
Hilliard quickly signed off, his image replaced by the Starfleet delta.
“He’s up to something,” Vaughn mused. “It’s not like him to be so dismissive.”
“Maybe he’s been behind that desk too long,” Ro suggested.
Vaughn grabbed a padd on the desk and entered a set of letters and numbers. “Here is the authorization code to access the industrial replicator file,” he said, handing Ro the padd.
Ro’s eyes widened in confusion to resist the urge blurt out, “Are you kidding me?” She grabbed the padd at a loss for any other words. After looking over the contents of the padd, she asked, “Why did you even bother asking permission if you were going to go through with it anyway?”
Vaughn shrugged, not exactly sure how to answer. “It seemed the polite thing to do,” he said with a grin.
Once Vaughn exited the office, Ro fell into her chair rolling her eyes. Was this how the James Kirks or, more recently the Jean-Luc Picards and the Benjamin Siskos, of Starfleet got away with insubordination? Ask for permission, but do it anyway regardless? Her insubordination got her court-martailed and imprisoned, and she probably would have met the same fate after the end of the Dominion War. Yet these guys got slaps on the wrist. How could I have missed that? she wondered.
Kira entered Ops from her office, just as Ezri entered through the port turbolift, Vaughn had just returned from his conference with Ro in the security office. They had between two and three hours before Verad’s group arrived to set off an explosion that would damage or even destroy the station. Since the Defiant’s return, it now served as one of the evacuation ships. The rest of the crew stayed aboard while Dax came to Ops to give a status report.
Ezri considered the irony that they were allowing a terrorist attack on the station to go forward. She knew, or rather she and Curzon knew, that Vaughn’s former specialty involved this kind of subterfuge. But what if Verad was planning to destroy the station, and was the goal of Sisko’s operation worth sacrificing the station? She didn’t have any specifics after Sisko had gone dark. Was Kira prepared for such a possibility?
“Any other news from Captain Sisko?” Kira asked her.
No, Ezri deduced in answer to question she had asked herself. “None,” she replied in response to the captain’s query.
Looking over to the science station, Kira asked Tenmei, “What has your analysis of the ultritium beamed out of the cargo bay turned up?”
“Forensic scans indicate enough ultritium to knock out power to half the station,” Tenmei replied. “Worst case scenario, if the explosion originates in the reactor core, the whole station could explode.”
“Any luck finding out where the ultritium may have gone?” Vaughn chimed in.
“We’re still running sensor sweeps,” Tenmei answered with a frown.
“How are the transponders coming?” Kira asked Vaughn.
“Ro and Nog are working on their deployment,” said Vaughn. “They should be up and running in the next two hours. And Ro has security teams standing by in case of any new leads.”
“Good,” Kira answered with a nod. “Everyone, stay sharp. But if the worst happens, I want you all to know, it’s been an honor serving with you.”
Everyone else in Ops exchanged curious glances. As far as some of the more junior officers were concerned, this evacuation was just a drill. Only the most senior officers knew exactly what was going on.
As the rest of the group dispersed, Vaughn had an additional request for his daughter. “I want you on the Defiant, too, Prynn,” he said calmly but sternly.
“I’m not leaving you behind,” Tenmei insisted.
“I don’t know how many times we’ve had this discussion. You still have a lot of good years left. I don’t want to have to make this an order.”
“You don’t have to, sir,” Prynn relented. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling at this moment. Maybe it was apathy since they were not always on the best of terms. Or maybe it was regret at having shut her father out of her life ever since the assimilation and later death of her mother. Elias had felt responsible, as those were unfortunate consequences of his own missions, but Prynn was just starting to get over the resentment. She ascended from her station and followed Ezri to the port turbolift without another word.
Using an uplink to the station’s transporter system, Verad’s group beamed into their designated areas. Sisko and Lek materialized in a dark and musty hallway. Somehow, engineers preferred parts of the station in proximity to the fusion reactors to be that way. Lek kept his weapon trained on Sisko as they walked towards a door to the fusion reactor they were targeting. “Open it,” the glowering Orion directed Sisko.
Sisko did as directed, pushing the button on the right side to open the double doors. They stepped inside just as Lek’s wrist communicator chirped. “Go ahead,” he said tapping it.
“We’re in position,” Verad replied on the other end. “What about you?”
“So are we,” said Lek. “The human hasn’t tried anything yet.”
Lek tapped his communicator to sign off, and then arched his pistol closer to Sisko’s head. “Start assembling the explosives,” he demanded, looking down at the floor at the power cells that had been transported there earlier.
Sisko set down the travel bag on his back and slowly kneeled down on the deck. He didn’t dare try anything surreptitious with a phaser pointed at him. Why he was thinking about not forcing Kasidy to raise their daughter without him now more so than when he confronted Dukat in the Fire Caves, he could not say. In both instances, a lot depended on Sisko’s actions in a very small time span. Lek then set down his travel bag and began emptying the metal rods with his free left hand.
Sisko shot quick glances at the Orion as he began placing packs of black powder into the metal rods. By itself, this powder was completely harmless. But at the right temperature, it and everything within a hundred meters of it would explode. Right now, he could see no opportunity to reveal his ace in the hole.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Sisko handed Lek the last of the explosives, which looked like metallic dynamite sticks. Lek placed the devices on a small ledge in the construction of the fusion reactor while continuing to train a phaser on Sisko. The Orion placed a clamp on the explosives that would heat up the ultritium.
Lek had taken his eyes off Sisko during this final task. Benjamin removed a metallic cylindrical device, from his right pocket, which flashed a small red light.
Nog’s station in Ops chirped. “Sir,” he called out to Kira. “Signal from a command transponder. Reads as Captain Sisko.”
Kira turned to look at Nog, as did Vaughn, who was manning the science station to monitor the evacuations. “Can you locate it?” Kira asked.
“Central core,” Nog replied as the readout was slowly appearing on his monitor. “Level thirty-four, section twenty-eight.”
“Security to L-34, S-28 of the central core,” Vaughn commanded, tapping a comm panel.
Sisko and Lek ran down a corridor to a safe distance from the center of the explosion. They turned a corner and leaned up against a wall, closing their eyes to shield them from the explosion. When the timer had elapsed, no such explosion happened. The two of them slowly opened their eyes, curious as why they didn’t hear an explosion.
Lek jammed his phaser pistol against Sisko’s chest. “You did this,” he growled.
“That’s not all,” Sisko replied, slugging Lek in the left jaw. He then grabbed the Orion’s phaser and kneed him in the wrist to loosen his grip. Sisko grabbed the phaser hoping that would deter Lek from making any other threatening moves. For a second that seemed the case, but then Lek whipped out a second pistol from a back holster. Before he could fire, Sisko fired his pistol, sending the Orion to the deck.
Sisko reached over to the comm panel on the opposite wall. “Sisko to security,” he called. “I need teams to level thirty-four of the central core, sections twenty-eight, thirty-three, and thirty-nine. I’m headed for thirty-three.”
Verad and Abbit were just as perturbed that they heard no explosion. The two Trills slowly walked back towards the venue where the detonation should have taken place. They stepped inside the chamber housing the fusion reactor to find clumps of black gel on the walls. They both looked at each other in confusion as to what went wrong.
“Stay right there,” a voice called from behind.
Sisko was in the corridor, phaser in hand. They turned around to face their possible captor.
“I knew you were behind this,”” Abbit snarled. Then to Verad, “And you let it happen.”
Abbit trained his weapon on Verad. Sisko was then able to get off a shot, stunning Abbit.
“Benjamin,” said Verad with a grin. “You still saved my life. I’m flattered.”
“Don’t read too much into it,” Sisko hissed.
Two gray-haired Bajoran security officers arrived at the scene. The man on Sisko’s right grabbed Verad by the arm and escorted him down the corridor, while the other man helped up Abbit. Sisko, meanwhile, stared in disbelief, both relieved and confused at what had just transpired.
The Sword of Kahless was now en route to Bajor. In the event that Deep Space Nine was compromised, Martok’s conferences with Bajoran and Federation officials were relocated to the planet.
The chancellor sat in his chambers, sorting through padds and contemplating the irony of the situation. Deep Space Nine had been one of the most secure facilities in the sector. Now it would most likely fall to a faceless enemy. He found he could not concentrate on personnel reports and schedule council debates with these possible upcoming meetings. He was hoping to postpone them in order to address possible threats back home. He threw one padd on the desk in frustration.
The doorbell woke him out of his trance. “Enter,” he snapped.
Martok sighed, relieved to see Worf enter. “You wish to see me, Chancellor?” the ambassador deferently asked.
“Ah, yes. Worf,” Martok stuttered. “Have you been able to contact the other ambassadors?”
Worf let out a slow sigh, not sure how to deliver the bad news. “Ambassador Krim will be leaving for Earth in two days for an emergency session of the Federation Council and won’t be returning for another month. Ambassador Hawkins will not postpone these meetings either.”
“This is what I hate the most about being chancellor: dealing with this diplomatic posturing.
“Our borders are vulnerable, Worf. You and I should be addressing these external and internal threats, not dealing with menial tasks.”
“Those ‘menial tasks’ are still part of our duties to the Empire.”
That suddenly made sense to the chancellor. He was thirsting for a chance to face enemies on the battlefield. But duty had many other meanings for a politician. “Worf,” he began to say with a chuckle, “you have an interesting way of… ”
Martok rose from his chair to listen for a pulsating noise in the ceiling. Worf slowly stepped over towards the sound, which was getting louder. The pulsating was then replaced by a high-pitched whine.
An explosion sent shrapnel across the room. Both Klingons were knocked unconscious. Worf had only a gash on his left cheekbone, while the body of Martok was covered in cuts and bruises.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Stardate 50564 (Earth year 2373)
Interlude: Flashback Two
“You might ask, should we fear joining the Dominion? And I answer you, not in the least.”
Skrain Dukat gave his inaugural address once a Jem’Hadar fleet reached Cardassia Prime, signaling the Cardassian Union’s new alliance with the Dominion. The Tal Shiar had intercepted the Union-wide transmission within a solar day of the actual address. Senator Vreenak and Commander Suran presented Dukat’s address to Proconsul Neral in the proconsul’s chamber.
“Intelligence operatives outside of Cardassian space picked up this Union-wide communiqué this morning,” Suran stated, before entering a command to pause the recording. He gave a hard look at the image of Dukat, seeing a resemblance to a Romulan Imperial Army general whose name he could not remember.
“The question now is how we respond,” Vreenak added. “In all likelihood, the Federation and the Klingon Empire will reinstate the Khitomer Accords.”
Suran immediately knew what Tirak would suggest: use this opportunity to annex the border systems without regard how such a move would stretch military supply lines too far. Immediate direct action was rarely ever a Romulan strategy. Yet with the Dominion now ever closer to their doorstep, passive observation was not an option either.
“And those two powers will be concentrating their forces on the Dominion,” Suran offered, recalling his people’s recent history of attempting to derail alliances between the Federation and the Klingons from the Khitomer conspiracy to the last Klingon civil war.
“We have an opportunity like no other,” Vreenak continued. “War will come eventually. I’m not suggesting something as grandiose as an alliance.”
“You would suggest lending assistance,” Neral replied, “as a gesture of good will.”
Suran quietly scoffed at the very idea of any form of cooperation with the Dominion. While he was not too fond of the Federation, he was even more disdainful of the empire from the Gamma Quadrant. The Founders would likely seek retaliation against the Cardassians and the Romulans after the failed attack on the Founders’ home planet.
“Feel free to suggest it at the next Senate session,” Neral said pensively. “Dismissed.”
Suran and Vreenak headed for the entrance. After Vreenak walked out, Neral called to Suran. “Commander Suran, a moment in private.”
The commander gave a wry smile in Vreenak’s direction. He slowly turned around to face the proconsul. He seemed relieved that Neral did not completely trust Vreenak. “I have to admit,” Neral began, “I’ve had my suspicions about Vreenak.”
“As I have had suspicions of his chief-of-staff,” Suran replied. “Yet I have found nothing to use against him.”
“His suggestion does have merit. As soon as war does break out, the first battle will be at Deep Space Nine. I want you to dispatch a fleet there for simple reconnaissance. We need to know the Dominion’s short term plans.”
As Vreenak had expected, the Federation and the Klingon Empire did reinstate their alliance. A combined fleet of Starfleet and Klingon Defense Force vessels converged at Deep Space Nine in preparation for a Dominion attack. Dukat indicated that it would be soon when he vowed to take back the former Cardassian space station.
“Sir, I’m picking up a tachyon buildup,” Miles O’Brien reported to Sisko. “Multiple vectors. Ships decloaking.”
Nearly two-dozen D’Deridix-class warbirds appeared alongside the station. Several Romulan Star Empire insignias began appearing on Sisko’s readout screen.
“Romulans,” he gasped.
“They’re requesting permission to join the fleet.”
“I’ll be damned. Permission granted.”
Any trained Starfleet officer knew Romulans had some kind of ulterior motive. But no one on Deep Space Nine knew what exactly that motive was. The impending battle would not happen for another five months. The crew was led to believe an attack was imminent at this particular time in order to cause a supernova in the Bajoran sun. The USS Defiant stopped a Changeling from carrying out that plan. Though war still remained on the horizon.
“Senators, we have a momentous opportunity before us.”
As the prospects grew stronger at the end of the Earth year 2373, the Romulan Imperial Senate continued debating the Empire’s role in a possible conflict between the Dominion and the restored Federation-Klingon alliance. Vreenak made his case for a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. Though he had plenty of dissenters in the Senate of whom he had to persuade.
Senator Irrawik was the first to speak. “Senator Vreenak,” he began, “I have reviewed your projections indicating that the Empire will be in a far better position to annex Federation and Klingon territories after an extended conflict with the Dominion. Yet we have no guarantee such a war is winnable. The Federation has taken little action while the Dominion continues to fortify its foothold in the Alpha Quadrant.”
Vreenak could immediately deduce what Irrawik was implying: that such long-term planning was only favorable if the Federation prevailed. Vreenak shot a quick glance at one of his most vocal dissenters over the last decade. “You perceive a problem in the event of a Dominion victory?” he asked while looking towards Neral.
“Because we cannot guarantee that the Dominion will leave us alone if they should be victorious,” Irrawik replied.
“Yet by not becoming openly involved in a war with the Federation, we demonstrate our good intentions.”
The Senate chamber filled with raucous jeering. How could the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, of all people, make such a naïve statement? Neral pounded a stone sphere on the right arm of his throne-sized chair, quieting the crowd.
“Then why do you not endorse a full military alliance?” Cretak forcefully demanded.
“What Skrain Dukat is unable or unwilling to realize,” Vreenak humbly stated, “Is that the Founders could seek to avenge the aborted attack on their homeworld. By allowing soldiers free reign in our territory, they will be at a significant advantage should they decide to carry out the extermination of our race.”
The crowd erupted in outrage again. Through the uproar, one junior Senator’s words became distinguishable. “How do we know you are not part of such a plan?” he hissed.
Outside the Senate chamber, Tirak snuck a peek through the metal double doors. A shadow emerged over him. Tirak turned to his right to see Gelnon, the Vorta representative in the treaty negotiations. They both exchanged devious grins.
Vreenak later met with Gelnon in an alleyway after nightfall. Normally, they would meet officially during the next session of the treaty negotiations. However, Gelnon had requested an urgent meeting off-the-record. Vreenak did not know what to make of the request, so he had two of his personal guards accompany him.
“I’ll let you know if I need you,” Vreenak told the guards when he turned a corner and saw the Vorta.
“Your dissenters could cause problems,” Gelnon said plainly. “I can them eliminated if you wish.”
“No,” Vreenak shot back. “Their deaths would arouse too much suspicions.”
“It was just a suggestion,” Gelnon replied, holding in a giggle at Vreenak’s short-tempered response. “This treaty will be your crowning achievement. You cannot let a few unruly junior senators impede your road to becoming the next praetor.”
Just several meters away, one of the senator’s guards removed a holo-imager from his belt and began recording.
Re: Star Trek: War Aftermath Episode 2 (updated version)
Part Two: Wheels Within Wheels
The comm in Ops chimed, and everyone was surprised to hear Sisko’s voice. “I need teams to level thirty-four of the central core,” his voice boomed over the speakers, “sections twenty-eight, thirty-three, and thirty-nine. I’m heading for thirty-nine.”
“You heard him,” Kira barked, nodding to Vaughn. Then to Nog, “Concentrate internal scans on those sections.”
“Right,” Nog nervously replied, “Sections twenty-eight, thirty-three, and… and…”
“Thirty-nine,” Vaughn snapped. “Where Sisko is headed. “What about those scans of twenty-eight of thirty-three, you were already running?”
“Sorry, sir,” Nog answered calmly. “Something should have happened by now.”
“Maybe so, but we have no real way of knowing without…” The communications board chimed, catching Vaughn’s attention. “I’m picking up a general distress call from the Sword of Kahless.”
Coincidence? Kira asked herself. “On screen,” she ordered.
A garbled view of the interior of a Klingon vessel appeared with the face of Worf barely distinguishable. “This is Ambassador Worf on the IKS Sword of Kahless. An explosion has occurred in Chancellor Martok’s private chamber. I am unable to contact the bridge and the chancellor requires…”
The transmission abruptly ended, but Kira was ready to snap into action. “The Defiant is in interception range. Send them in to assist.”
“We received the distress call as well,” Ezri answered over the speakers. “We’re on it, Captain.”
Sisko entered the security office with Yndar, who was escorting Verad. Ro entered from the main cellblock after having incarcerated Lek. She instructed Yndar to lock up Verad, as well as Abbit, who was being escorted by a Bajoran female deputy. “I want them in separate cells,” Ro added, “and interrogated separately. Let them choke on who sells out whom.”
“You sold us out,” Abbit sneered at Verad, while arching his head in Sisko’s direction, “when you let him into our operation.”
Abbit lunged at Verad, but the escorting officer held him back. Once the prisoners and the deputies had left the office, Sisko looked to Ro.
“What about this ‘insider’ assigned to section thirty-three?” he inquired.
“Crewman Doran was dead when a security team got there,” Ro answered.
Dead end. Sisko’s “colleagues” were either surprised that no explosion took place or certain that Sisko had impeded their efforts. Doran could have explained what went wrong and identified the real target. “Damn,” he mumbled.
Doctor Simon Tarses scanned Worf with a medical tricorder while applying a dermal regenerator to scars on the Klingon’s face.
Worf remembered Tarses from the Enterprise-D, especially after having judged Simon guilty of treason during an espionage investigation. Tarses’s only crime was falsifying his Starfleet application, hiding his Romulan ancestry. The un-retired admiral in charge of the investigation pushed it beyond catching a Klingon exchange officer colluding with the Romulans. Worf was pleased that Tarses had redeemed himself in the last decade, now becoming a fully licensed medical doctor.
“Good as new,” Tarses remarked.
Worf gave a slight scowl, not in the mood for the charming, but also patronizing, bedside manner of human doctors.
“Right,” Tarses apologetically added, as he saw Bashir, dressed in surgical scrubs, enter the main exam room.
Julian nodded to the other doctor as he was leaving before turning to Worf. “Still as sociable as ever,” he remarked. Of course, knowing full well Worf seemed rarely in the mood for jokes, he got straight to the point. “The chancellor is in bad shape. I’m very optimistic he’ll pull through, but I’ll have to monitor him closely.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Worf replied, ascending from the reclining examination chair. “You have done your job, now I must do mine.”
Worf headed for the waiting area where he saw Sisko, Kira, and Vaughn enter from the Promenade. He looked back at Bashir, who was headed back to the primary intensive care unit. “And I wish you the best with Lieutenant Tenmei.”
Bashir had a perturbed reaction. Worf did not usually get caught up in his crewmates’ love lives. And what exactly made the ambassador think he and Prynn were dating?
“What’s the word?” Sisko inquired.
“Doctor Bashir believes the chancellor will recover,” Worf plainly stated. “Meanwhile, I will be returning to Qo’Nos to continue my investigation.”
“What do you hope to find out there?” Kira wondered.
“Martok may still have enemies at the highest levels of the Empire,” Worf explained. “I will have the Federation Embassy at my disposal to conduct an impartial investigation.
“It stands to reason someone used the Neo-Purists to cover his or her tracks,” Vaughn added.
“Yes, someone in the High Council must have tipped off the Ku-Vok-leth since only they knew Martok’s travel itinerary,” said Worf. “And someone on the Sword of Kahless allowed those explosives into Martok’s chambers. The cowards who planned this attack are just as accountable as those who carried it out, and must be brought to justice.”
“Best of luck to you then,” Kira replied.
“Thank you, Captain,” Worf answered with a nod. Then to Sisko and Vaughn, “Captain. Commander.”
After his visit to the Infirmary, Sisko stopped by the holding room adjacent to the cells where Ro was in the process of interrogating Verad. To that point, he had refused to give any names of Ku-Vok-leth operatives. “He’s not talking,” she warned Sisko.
Sisko slammed his hands down on the table and looked Verad straight in the eyes. “You’re a hunted man now, Verad,” he stated plainly. “If you tell us what you know about the Ku-Vok-leth, Starfleet may be able to cut a deal.”
“And if I don’t, you throw me back to the wolves?” Verad retorted.
Sisko stood back upright while scoffing in frustration. “You know damn well how this stuff works,” he shot back. “You give us information and the JAG office reduces your sentence.”
“Less time in a Federation rehabilitation center? Not very persuasive. And even if my cohorts want to kill me, I won’t betray the Neo-Purists and they’re cause. You know that, Benjamin. Besides, I was only paid to do this job. Their other activities are no concern of mine.”
Sisko sighed, and then paced across the room to consider his next line of questioning. Ro gave a pensive squint as he walked back towards Verad. “Your group could have attacked DS9 on its own,” he continued, “a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. So why now? Doran had to have known you lacked the stomach to carry out the real plan. You were given a lucrative offer you couldn’t refuse while carrying out an attempt to assassinate Chancellor Martok.”
“This was all to get Martok,” Verad replied, still trying to avoid answering any serious questions. He disingenuously added, “I hope the attempt on his life didn’t succeed.”
“The Klingon Empire is not involved in the oppression of Trill society. What would the Neo-Purists gain from assassinating the Klingon chancellor?”
Verad raised an eyebrow. That certainly got his attention. “Like I said, I don’t know any of the details. But I can tell you who sold me the station’s schematics, if I can access my personal database on Torman Five.”
An hour later, after Ro got clearance from the police force on Torman Five, Verad was given a padd linked into his personal database. Sisko and Ro looked over him as he sorted through sets of photographs. “There,” he said as he set the padd down. To Ro, he added, “Someone with whom you’re familiar.”
Ro certainly did recognize a blond curly-haired Bajoran male pictured on the padd. He was Zeyner Antis, a doctor on Bashir’s staff two years earlier. He was disbarred when he was caught having poisoned a suspect involved in a terrorist plot on the station. He claimed to be an undercover intelligence operative, but Ro had a hard time believing such an operative would willingly go that far. “You’re certain?” she asked Verad.
Aboard the Sword of Kahless, a Klingon officer was in communication with Kur’Tok on Nimbus Three. The officer used a communications scrambler both to prevent his transmission from being traced and to hide his face. Of course, that meant he could not see Kur’Tok on his monitor, not that he needed to since they were only communicating verbally without transmitting any computer data.
“You will have to move up your timetable, Kur’Tok,” the officer informed his contact. “The Federation ambassador is on his way back to Qo’Nos to find our informant in the High Council.”
“That could be a problem,” Kur’Tok answered. “We have not received the specifications for the resonance chamber that will stabilize Omega. It is very delicate work.”
“Let me make myself clear. If Worf locates the mastermind behind the assassination attempt, you will most likely be implicated.
“You will find a way to expedite matters, or I will turn you in to the authorities.”
Kur’Tok started to speak, but the officer cut the transmission, replacing the distorted image on the screen with the logo of the Klingon Empire.
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