Captain Limis sat in the officer’s lounge sipping raktajino
while staring at a desk monitor screen. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for while looking at the sensor data picked up from their last mission. Maybe if she looked at the numbers enough times, she could put her mind at ease. One thing was for sure. She would not be getting any sleep for the next two nights. Perhaps that was because she had trouble falling asleep before a major battle or because she didn’t want her subconscious telling her something she didn’t want to hear.
Arnit then entered the dark and empty lounge. Limis was too focused on the monitor to look away and see who entered. Arnit ordered a glass of Bajoran synthale from the replicator. Once it had materialized, he took a sip, winced, and remembered why he hadn’t drunk the stuff in a while. His time in the Maquis meant not always having the luxury of fully functioning replicators.
He walked over to his ex-wife and sat on the sofa facing her. “You never could get any sleep before a big battle,” he commented.
“Some things never change,” she quipped. “Everything the sensor data tells us is that is a Jem’Hadar breeding facility. But my gut tells me this is a death march.”
“Even if many lives are lost,” Arnit replied, “a greater good will be served, Vira.”
“We kept reminding ourselves of that even after our friend Yanith was beaten to death in that mining facility. “Of course, we don’t put a dent in that planetoid and whole fleet is wiped out, then lives are wasted needlessly.”
“We had our victories and our defeats against the spoonheads. But if the Prophets showed us all of the future, then life would be without challenges.”
Vircona cringed at hearing the word Prophets. She could never fathom why caring gods would allow such suffering despite Arnit’s statement. Did the fact that the Occupation did not end sooner than it did mean that those who prayed for deliverance were not praying enough?
“You have a point there,” she said. “We’re taking various precautions: coding our transmissions, sending probes out ahead of our fleets.
“We launch in the morning. All we can do is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”
The two of them exchanged smirks. For a second, they both wondered if old feelings would be rekindled. That was never the case during their Maquis days. At least they could have a civil conversation. That was a minor victory. If only making peace with the Dominion was a simple.
Vircona yawned saying, “I actually am a little tired now.”
“Walk you to your door?” Arnit jokingly asked.
“That will not be necessary.” She placed her half-full coffee mug back in the replicator and walked out without dematerializing it.
At 0700 hours on the starbase’s clock, the Fifth and Seventh Fleets departed Starbase 375. The Lambda Paz
was part of the Seventh Fleet under the general command of Admiral Jellico. The admiral had described Captain Limis as a “loose cannon” to Commander Kozar. He didn’t see that in her at the meeting though. Maybe he based that assertion on certain preconceptions he had about the Maquis.
Commander Logan had similar preconceptions, which were seemingly validated by his interactions with Erhlich Tarlazzi. His seemingly cavalier attitude epitomized the notion that the Maquis were undisciplined. Logan had come to see that Tarlazzi was often pulling his leg, and entrusted him to assisting Lieutenant sh’Aqba in running diagnostics on the probes they would soon be launching. Tarlazzi had experience building makeshift reconnaissance buoys for more covert missions.
“This is one sophisticated piece of machinery,” he commented, while entering commands for running self-diagnostics. “It’s a shame we can’t send a whole bunch of these into Dominion-held territory.”
“They would be shot down in a heartbeat,” sh’Aqba said, looking up from her tricorder scan of the nose of the probe. “Besides spying on the Cardassians would have given the Dominion an excuse to attack anyway.”
Tarlazzi smirked at the Andorian’s statement. A war broke out despite the usual diplomatic platitudes he had heard to no end. “War was going to happen one way or another,” he countered, “even if missiles heading for Cardassia was really code for ‘We’ve reached our primary fallback position.’ The idealistic Federation’s attempt at diplomacy was only delaying the inevitable.”
“My people once believed that about the Vulcans,” sh’Aqba replied, closing her tricorder. “Two-hundred years ago, Vulcan had a puppet government, where the Romulans were pulling the strings.
“Many believed that Andor would not be safe until every Vulcan was dead. But we resolved our differences and became two of the founding members of this ‘idealistic Federation.’ “
“Our current enemy, though, is unlike any other,” Tarlazzi responded. “The Founders will not rest until they’ve achieved complete subjugation of ‘solids.’”
“Believing an enemy to be different from any other has been a justification of atrocities on many worlds.”
She had a point there. Rigel’s history was known for its subjugation of the Neanderthal-like Kaylar
. Tarlazzi’s ancestors were ancient Vulcans who colonized what was now Rigel Seven
. Generations of crossbreeding with the primitive natives created a whole new species. Two millennia later, the full-blooded Rigel natives maintained rather primitive ways of life. Human anthropologists compared the Kaylar to the prehistoric Neanderthals. Later analysis found the Kaylar to be more accurately compared to Earth’s ancient Nordic tribes.
On the subject of the Dominion, Tarlazzi felt that he and sh’Aqba should agree to disagree, so decided not to push the matter further. The result of the diagnostic he was running appeared on a readout screen. Blinking in red letters were the words Unknown component interfering with normal sensor functioning.
The Rigellian picked up his tricorder and scanned. An alarm sounded indicating this component was in a forward sensor cluster. He opened an access panel. What looked like tentacles were burrowing out of the mechanical wiring. An electrical surge quickly filled the component shorting everything out. It was a bio-synthetic device the Dominion once used to sabotage a Federation starship in order to instigate a war. Something told Tarlazzi that this sabotage was the mole’s handiwork.
Tarlazzi set down the tricorder and tapped his combadge. “Tarlazzi to Commander Logan. We have a problem.”
Captain Limis was still awake well into the gamma shift to read personnel reports from the department heads. She could only muster three hours of sleep the night before, yet a cup raktajino
was not allowing her to have full concentration on the reports. In fact, she failed to acknowledge the first door chime. “Come in,” she mumbled after the second chime.
Morrison entered carrying a larger sized padd. “We may have had a breakthrough in our investigation,” he said, setting the padd down on the desk. “A room-by-room search seems to have revealed who our mole might be.”
Limis picked up the padd. Her eyes widened at the name of her likely culprit. She stared at the screen trying to absorb this turn of events when the door chime sounded again.
“Yes, come in?” she snapped.
Logan and Tarlazzi both entered. Tarlazzi showed the now fried bio-synthetic device he found in the probes. “We found this while conducting diagnostics on the probe sensors,” he said. “It may have been in there to create false sensor readings.”
“Acting on a hunch,” Logan added, “we found similar devices in the shuttles dispatched to the planetoid.”
“How could they have eluded the security sensors?” Morrison inquired.
“They were beamed in,” Tarlazzi replied, “and once inside, they latched on like a virus.”
“In all likelihood,” Logan offered, “we saw what we wanted to see. And we know where these devices were beamed from.”
Limis glanced at the padd and then back at the engineers. She knew exactly whom they were referring to before they said another word.