Historians Note: The main events of this story take place three months after the events of “Blaze of Glory” and one month after the Second Battle of Deep Space 9 as seen in “Call to Arms.”
A garbled visual transmission filled the display screen of a Starfleet briefing room. The quality of both the visual and audio feeds was poor. Communication technicians had done their best to filter out the imperfections, so that the Starfleet officers watching the transmission could comprehend the words of the sender.
The man sending the transmission looked human when his face was discernible, even the left side of his face was in darkness. An earring on his right ear indicated his Bajoran heritage. “This could be a gold mine,” he said. “A huge gold mine! We’ve heard rumblings of some kind of Jem’Hadar breeding facility on this planet. Knocking it off before it goes online would huge with them cut off from the… “
The transmission ended mid-sentence. The three admirals and one captain were certain this anonymous source would say Gamma Quadrant. Ever since Starfleet mined the entrance to the wormhole, the Dominion was forced to concentrate on shipbuilding and troop breeding in the Alpha Quadrant. “That message was intercepted at 0800 hours this morning,” Admiral William Ross stated to a more senior admiral seated across from the meeting table.
“Any clue as to the transmission’s origin?” Fleet Admiral Alynna Nechayev inquired.
“A communications scrambler is making that difficult,” said Edward Jellico, now a lower-half rear admiral, who was seated at Nechayev’s left.
Captain Benjamin Sisko was seated opposite Jellico and to Ross’s right. “The Dominion knows better than to put all of its eggs in one basket,” he offered. “Even destroying one of those facilities would turn things in our favor. The Dominion is preparing for the possibility that dismantling that minefield may take months, or even years.”
“We still have to find out if this transmission is genuine,” Ross added. “Technicians at Intelligence are analyzing it now, as well as narrowing the source of that transmission to a few sectors.”
“If that is all, we’ll move to the next item,” Nechayev declared. She looked directly at Sisko stating, “Normally, starship command assignments are reserved to the admiralty. As former commander of Deep Space 9, you have great expertise on the Dominion, Benjamin. So your insights on the most qualified candidates can be helpful.”
Sisko perceived emphasis on the word “former,” being forced to give up the station situated at the mouth of the Bajoran wormhole. Deploying the mines provoked an attack on the station. Given the difficulty in dismantling the minefield and the tactical situation, Sisko saw no other alternative than to evacuate all Starfleet personnel.
He ignored this perception and could only say, “I feel honored.”
“The Federation Council has officially pardoned all Maquis in custody last month,” Ross announced. “They would be useful assets as intelligence operatives and to remedy troop shortages.”
“There’s also the matter of assigning qualified officers to command ships launched in the last month,” Jellico added. He opened a carrying case on the table and removed a padd, which he handed to Nechayev. “Here’s a list of ships needing capable commanders.
“I’ve already recommended Ronald Kozar for the Lambda Paz
. He can think on his feet; something that helped at the Battle of Sector 21505 seven and a half years ago.”
“With all respect to Kozar’s abilities as a tactician,” Sisko replied, “we’ll need out-of-the-box thinkers to beat a formidable opponent. Limis Vircona is one of them.”
Jellico gave Sisko a stern look at the mention of an ex-Maquis. “You can’t be serious,” he said.
“Pardoning the Maquis survivors was a very controversial decision,” Ross added. “Giving one of them starship command is out of the question.”
“Hear me out, sirs,” Sisko answered calmly. “She’s a capable leader who can inspire loyalty of those under her command. And we’re going to need scrappy players out on the field.”
“Quite frankly,” Nechayev said, “I’m surprised, Benjamin. Your obsession with bringing Michael Eddington to justice is legendary.”
After the former Starfleet security officer defected to the Maquis, Sisko was determined to see Eddington pay for his treachery. Eddington even compared himself to the protagonist in a once-famous Earth novel, and Sisko to the villain.
“He betrayed Starfleet and got what was coming to him,” Sisko explained. “But I also saw in him unadulterated loyalty to as cause he passionately believed in. No one deserves the kind of tragedy these people have endured in the last six months.”
“We’ll consider your suggestion,” said Nechayev. “That will be all, gentlemen.”
Worf sat in the command chair on the bridge of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey IKS Rotarran
. Since the evacuation of Deep Space 9, the only Klingon in Starfleet was now Starfleet’s liaison to the Klingon Defense Forces and the Rotarran
’s first officer. He glanced at the other officers and crew on the bridge and he felt out of place. They were all Klingons; only Worf wore a Starfleet uniform.
He was lost in the thought of how he had always walked a fine line between the Klingon Empire and Starfleet when an alarm chimed. The grizzly old helmsman reported. “Incoming message from Starbase 275,” said Leskit.
Worf rose from the center and walked towards the starboard monitor station on the bridge. “On this monitor,” he said.
The face of Captain Sisko appeared on the monitor screen. “I have a new assignment for you, Commander,” he said. “We’ve received a transmission from an unknown source about a Jem’Hadar breeding facility.”
“Can you determine if this message is genuine?” Worf inquired.
“That is what we’re trying to find out. The message wasn’t broadcast on any Starfleet Intelligence frequency. We’ve narrowed the source to three sectors. The Rotarran
is one of those sectors. I’m sending you and General Martok all the specifications.”
Hassin Arnit sat in a dark room. He could barely see two centimeters beyond the computer panel in front of them. He didn’t mind. He spent long hours in poorly lit rooms from his days in the Bajoran resistance and as a member of the Maquis. He had all he needed with this outdated, but sophisticated computer.
With this computer, he had hacked into a number of monitoring stations and communications relays in order to track ship movements across many sectors. A blip indicating a Klingon Bird-of-Prey was moving toward sector 21607. “They’re taking the bait,” he thought aloud. “Now send an anonymous message to Terok Nor.”
“Establishing link with Relay Station 3-9-7,” a robotic sounding masculine voice responded.