The Badlands: 2373
Jem’Hadar fighters were in hot pursuit of a convoy of recycled old Federation transport ships at the outermost edge of the Badlands. Though these transport ships were equipped with outdated engines, the Maquis had added more updated weapons systems to these old and battered ships to mount a defense against the Cardassians in the Demilitarized Zone. Though the Maquis outnumbered the Jem’Hadar eight to one in ships, the three Jem’Hadar fighters were armed enough to destroy a single ship with one shot.
Limis Vircona, long removed from her days in the Bajoran resistance and a woman of close to early middle age, piloted one of the ships that was still standing. The convoy of just over two-dozen ships was one of the last remaining of the Maquis, ferrying survivors of a mass slaughter the Cardassian Union allied itself with the powerful empire from the Gamma Quadrant, the Dominion.
Her copilot was the slightly younger Rebecca Sullivan. The apprehension was made clear by the deadpan expression on her face. “We won’t make it at this rate,” she said.
“Don’t say that,” Limis implored. “How’s Tarlazzi coming with that cloaking device?”
“He’s still having trouble making head or tails of it.”
“The Klingons just gave us the cloaking devices and didn’t tell us how the hell to use them. That doesn’t sound very honorable.”
The cockpit of the shuttle continued to take a pounding. Other smaller ships were being destroyed all around them. But Limis’s ship continued to hold its own with experimental multiphasic shields recently stolen from a Federation supply depot. The smaller shuttles were unmanned piloted by computers similar to those of Cardassian dreadnaughts. They were nothing more than target practice for the Jem’Hadar.
“These multiphasic shields are holding,” Rebecca reported, “but they won’t hold for long.”
Limis opened a communication channel to another section. “Tarlazzi, how is that cloaking device coming?”
Erhlich Tarlazzi was on the lower deck applying various instruments to a small, but complicated, piece of technology designed to cloak a ship. The dark-haired Rigellian had figured out how to connect the cloak to one of the power conduits. Each tool he poked at it caused an electric shock. “I’m still working out some of the bugs,” he said over the com. “I may be able to cloak part of the ship.”
“That will have to do,” Limis responded.
Sullivan gave Limis a skeptical look. What good would partially cloaking the ship do? “What are you planning, Vira?” she inquired.
“You’ll see,” was the Limis’s only answer.
The ship appeared to be disintegrating into the nothingness. It still remained partially visible. The Jem’Hadar took that as a sign the Maquis were futility attempting to cloak the ship as a final desperate act. The three fighters moved in for the kill. “Drop the cloak and lock quantum torpedoes on the dorsal of their warp nacelles,” Limis commanded.
The ship became fully visible once again. Three quantum torpedoes struck the lead Jem’Hadar fighter at point blank range destroying it. The shockwave of its destruction enveloped the other two ships in very close proximity. The remaining fifteen ships reached the plasma storms unfettered. Limis and her crew were forced to abandon when they reached their fallback position.
Athos Four was one of the few Maquis colony worlds to survive the Dominion massacres. They knew the Jem’Hadar would not give up easily. The Maquis did not refer to this planetoid by name, only by code, which Limis and her compatriots would buy them some time while waiting for a rescue. Sullivan and Tarlazzi used their emergency communications unit to send a coded signal to Rebecca imprisoned husband Michael Eddington to alert him of their arrival at their primary fallback position.
“Michael, I hope you get this message,” Rebecca declared. “We’ve launched the missiles. They should reach Cardassia in thirteen days. It may not bring back our dead, but they will have a lot of company.”
Limis stood ten feet away from Sullivan until she completed the message. “Are you sure that will get a Starfleet rescue team here?” she asked. “He’s in jail now thanks to his former CO.”
“He still believes in certain Starfleet’s principles,” Sullivan replied. “He would not allow mass destruction to hit any planet, even one inhabited by the enemy.”
“I hope you’re right, Becca. Because if the Dominion traces that transmission, we’re all dead, and all of this was for nothing.”
The Jem’Hadar did find their way to Athos in the next three days. Many of the fleeing Maquis were slaughtered. They knew they were asked to sacrifice themselves so that key leaders could survive. Vircona and Rebecca were grateful, but still mourned their deaths. One death that really hit Rebecca hard was Michael Eddington’s. He gave his life when he accompanied Captain Benjamin Sisko to rescue the few surviving soldiers of the noble cause.
Rebecca silently mourned her husband’s death while seated as Sisko’s right at the secondary piloting station. When the runabout cleared the plasma storms, she spoke to the captain. “I hope you’re happy now,” she said. “You pursued him relentlessly for almost a year. But having in jail wasn’t enough.”
Sisko had always stood by his reasoning. Eddington betrayed his oath to Starfleet. Sisko said that over and over again, but he could not bring himself to say that this time. His only response was, “I’m terribly sorry for your loss.”
“Even when you say that,” Rebecca answered, fighting back tears, “you are glad he is dead. And you killed him.”
Limis entered the cockpit as Sullivan was ranting. She tried to restrain her hearing the murderous rage in her voice. “You killed him, you son-of-a-bitch!” Sullivan continued.
Limis grabbed Sullivan by both arms and led her into the aft compartment. Once they were outside of the cockpit, Sullivan embraced Limis and began sobbing. “It’s okay, Rebecca,” Limis whispered. “Just let it all out.”
Sisko did not hear what the two women had said, but he reflected for a minute over the last few days. While he did not entirely agree with what the Maquis stood for, one thing was undeniable. Eddington and most of the other Maquis who died were human beings like him. Sisko was remorseful of their deaths.