Yelgrun was furious. Two of his soldiers had disobeyed his and the First’s orders to monitor only. Their defiance could have completely derailed their plan. After all, part of that plan was for the Starfleet vessel to bring the information accumulated back to its home base. The Second and the Third stepped onto the bridge ready to face the music.
“Why were my orders not obeyed?!” the angry Vorta demanded.
“The plan had no guarantee of success,” Ulin’talag calmly stated.
“That is not your decision to make, Second
,” Teron’tokal growled, grudgingly reminding the second-in-command of his title.
“With respect, First,” Otan’irix began, “I attempted to remind the Second of your orders.”
“But you still defied those orders,” Yelgrun replied.
“And you are both aware of the consequences of your defiance,” Teron’tokal added. He unholstered his hand phaser and quickly vaporized both soldiers. Now that the biggest liabilities in his unit eliminated, Teron’tokal could continue to the next phase of the Founders’ plan.
The Lambda Paz
EMH applied a dermal regenerator to Doctor Markalis’s wounded shoulder. She had removed her uniform jacket and blue tunic to allow easier access to the wound, which left a large stain of blood on the back of her sleeveless tank top.
Markalis had her own patient though, monitoring Lieutenant Carson’s vital signs at the main biobed. She grabbed a hypospray to administer a dose of innoprovaline to stabilize the patient. The holographic doctor rolled his eyes in annoyance of his patient’s refusal to hold still. He grabbed her left arm to finish his treatment.
Limis and Morrison entered to see medical attendees treating the injuries that Davis and Logan had suffered. Both their cases were less urgent, so the two doctors could attend to more critical cases. Markalis had stabilized Nowitzki before she could attend to her own injury. An alarm sounded at the MACO sergeant’s biobed. Markalis raced towards the second biobed in the surgical bay.
“I haven’t finished treating your injury,” the EMH huffed.
“I am in far less danger of dying than she is,” Markalis replied. “Attend to Lieutenant Carson before I decompile your program.”
The EMH gasped in horror. That was a death threat directed at him from a fellow medical practitioner sworn to do no harm. He knew the rules of triage as well as she did, so he complied with the chief medical officer’s order without another word.
Nowitzki’s vitals were failing. Markalis asked the nearest attendee for a cortical stimulator. An electrical pulse from the stimulator traveled into the patient’s cerebral cortex. No change. “Again,” Markalis ordered.
Another pulse shot through Nowitzki’s brain, but nothing happened.
The EKG readouts flat lined, but the doctor pressed on. The cortical stimulator sent one pulse after another to no avail. “Make a note in the log,” Markalis stated. “Death occurred at 1157 hours.”
Everyone else present in sickbay stood silently for almost a minute. Limis then turned her gaze to Morrison. “If it’s convenient,” she said, “I need to see you in private.”
Limis and Morrison stepped off the bridge port turbolift and headed straight for the briefing room. Kozar looked up from a padd he was reviewing. He handed it back to the young female ensign who gave it to him and followed the captain and security chief. “Captain, a moment of your time,” he said.
Limis had already anticipated that Kozar would criticize her decision to lead an away mission to the planetoid. “I’m not in the mood right now,” she said without taking a look at her XO.
“Tough,” Kozar snapped.
“The doors closed behind Kozar after he was the last to enter. Limis then turned around to both subordinates a stern look. She then pointed to Kozar saying, “Before I get a dressing down from my first officer, you should be dressing down your second officer for failing to follow orders.”
“With all due respect, ma’am,” Morrison replied, “your decision to lead an away team was a risky one. Then you were going to let Carson die down there.”
“I decided we had to cut our losses. The Jem’Hadar kept coming at us. We all could have been incinerated.”
“Easy for you to say. You sent a lot of your colleagues to their deaths.”
Limis soon remembered the brutal beating Yanith suffered at the hands of the Cardassians. He died the next day even knowing he made a major sacrifice to set back their oppressors’ ship production efforts.
“You are out of line, mister,” she snarled. “You are on report. Dismissed.”
Morrison exhaled in exasperation, turned, and left the room. Limis sighed as well before sitting down at the head of the meeting table. She had dealt with insolence all her life, especially from Cardassians. But Starfleet officers, she knew, set better standards.
Kozar was still standing on the captain’s left. Seeing him in the corner of her eye, she asked, “Something else, Kozar?” She picked up a padd from her last time there to indicate her disinterest in what the first officer had to say.
“Only that you took a huge risk leading that away mission,” Kozar answered. “You could have been killed yourself. One crewmember died as a result.”
Limis quickly remembered that Kozar had been passed up for command in favor of her. Although humans had overcome wishing ill on those who were obstacles to career advancement, she felt Kozar had to be mildly disappointed with his current position.
She slammed the padd on the table, stood up and glared straight at her second-in-command. “And you would just love that,” she snapped. “I die, and you get the command you feel you’re entitled to.”
“That is not fair,” Kozar calmly replied. “All I’m saying, ma’am, is that you have made a few poor choices already, perhaps to assert your position.”
“I don’t need to assert anything, Commander. I have the rank and the position. And if I remember Starfleet protocol, even female superiors are to be addressed as ‘sir’.”
She picked an interesting time to point that out. But he and Morrison had been calling Limis “ma’am” in protest of Command’s decision. “Yes… sir,” he said. “That is the protocol.” This he didn’t want to fight her on, and without being dismissed, Kozar exited the room.
Mandel Morrison went back to sickbay after his dressing down from the captain. He had expected Doctor Markalis to be off duty following her ordeal planetside. She was frantically entering commands into the diagnostic console overlooking the surgical bay where Carson was asleep on the main biobed.
“How is she, Doc?” Morrison asked.
“She will recover,” Markalis replied without looking up from the console. “I am keeping her for observation overnight in accordance with… “
Morrison raised a hand knowing Markalis’s tendencies to quote regulations and protocols word for word as if she was at least half-Vulcan (although she clearly wasn’t by the shape of her human ears). “You needn’t quote the regulation,“ he said. “Shouldn’t you be off duty as well?”
“The hologram was pissing me off,” she said, “and the captain needs that postmortem report on Sergeant Nowitzki by 0700 tomorrow. I encrypted the program and not even your security authorization can break it.”
Markalis gave Morrison the kind of triumphant sneer children would give when they thought they had outsmarted the adults. The doctor stormed off into her office. Morrison knew from her file that she was socially awkward. Her excellent academic record and credentials as a medical practitioner outweighed her obvious social deficiencies. Her work on Ajilon Prime
as a trauma surgeon after the Klingons invaded that world less than a year earlier had nearly a dozen Starfleet captains demanding Markalis as their chief medical officer.
Mandel tiptoed to Sara’s bedside and stroked her forehead. She opened her eyes and smiled at the sight of a familiar face. “I feel like a shuttlepod was dropped on my head,” she groaned.
“The doctor says you’ll make a full recovery,” Morrison whispered. “I wasn’t about to let the captain leave you there.”
Her eyes widened at the implication that Morrison went against orders. “Are you in trouble?” she asked.
“I’ll get a reprimand in my file, meaning I won’t be eligible for promotion for three years. I can live with that.”
Carson exhaled slowly and placed her left hand on her forehead, feeling a rush of pain there. “I could sleep for days,” she sighed, “but I’d like to get out of this sickbay.”
“I can arrange that,” Morrison said with a wink.
He walked over to the diagnostic console to tap into transporter control. He and Carson dematerialized. Markalis heard the transporter beam from her office and raced out to the surgical bay.
Markalis raised her right hand to tap her combadge. She stopped herself thinking that calling in an all-points bulletin on them would also be admitting to disobeying orders to take it easy while recuperating from her injury. Wherever they went, they’d be back if any further problems arose.
Weyoun received a transmission from Yelgrun regarding the reconnaissance of the Starfleet ship Lambda Paz
. Once the Lambda Paz
crew confirmed that the planetoid deep inside the Tong-Beak Nebula did, in fact, house a Jem’Hadar breeding facility, Yelgrun would then report back to Weyoun.
Dukat’s Dominion advisor spoke to the fellow Vorta through the wall-mounted monitor in the station commander’s office. “The Starfleet vessel got what it came for,” Yelgrun stated. “We offered the kind of resistance they’d expect. As far they’re concerned, the planet has minimal defenses.”
“Excellent,” said Weyoun in his usual self-assured manner. “However many they send back, we’ll mobilize twice
“Of course. I will begin redeploying our forces in that sector.”
Weyoun did not turn around to see Dukat come in through the main doorway until Yelgrun signed off. He then smiled upon seeing the Cardassian. “Ah, Dukat,” he said with a wry grin. “I was just about to summon you. I need you to contact the fleet commanders in Sector 21607 and have them re-deploy to the Tong-Beak Nebula.”
Dukat nodded in acknowledgement. He remembered his conversation with Weyoun about a Jem’Hadar breeding facility he knew nothing of. Such a clandestine encroachment on Cardassian territory was a small price to pay for eventually becoming rulers of the Alpha Quadrant. “Is this is any way related to the fleet deployments Damar reported?” he asked innocently, as if he heard none of Weyoun’s communiqué with Yelgrun.
Weyoun chuckled at Dukat’s feigned ignorance. “I told you about the breeding facility there,” he said. “The Federation is willing to do whatever it can to achieve a quick end to this war. We’re taking advantage by evening the odds after Toros Three.”