Hasin Arnit stood before two prayer candles perched on the nightstand. He had both forearms pointed upwards in accordance with the Bajoran prayer ritual. The silent meditation was interrupted by the door chime.
He opened his eyes and inhaled slowly through his nose. He then walked over to the candles to blow them out. “Enter,” he said.
The double doors leading to the main living area of his quarters parted. He grinned at the sight of Limis at the door. She walked in without an invitation accompanied by Kozar, Morrison, and two human security guards, all armed with Type-2 phasers.
“Vira,” Arnit said with a sound of feigned surprise. “Is this a party for me?”
Limis held up a padd containing information Arnit had provided when he first came aboard along with a new set of findings. “That Jem’Hadar breeding facility,” she said, “it’s no breeding facility, is it? It’s just an unmanned monitoring station.”
Arnit looked at the telemetry from the probe launched from one of the other ships in the fleet. His stone-cold expression did not change. If he was misleading the crew, his face didn’t show any sign of guilt. “I’m just as surprised as you,” he offered.
“Then how do you explain the unauthorized transmissions originating from your quarters?” Morrison asked.
“This was not my place,” Arnit began. “I believe Commander Kozar is your mole. He countermanded your order to search this ship for a Changeling infiltrator. You’ll find those bio-synthetic devices were beamed from the replicator in his quarters.”
“Nice try,” Kozar calmly replied. “If I was a spy, I’d cover my tracks a lot better. And we never mentioned any bio-synthetic devices.”
“That’s evidence you undoubtedly planted in case you got caught,” Limis added.
“I defended you despite everyone else’s suspicions,” the captain lamented. “I didn’t want to believe you to be a Dominion collaborator even when the evidence was staring me in the face because you got sloppy.”
Limis then looked behind her to the two junior security officers. “Throw him in the brig,” she ordered.
The two guards walked towards Arnit. Just as they were about to grab him, Arnit threw down his earring. A flash of light momentarily blinded everyone else in the room.
When they all regained their sight, Arnit was gone. Limis tapped her combadge to hail the bridge. “Limis to the bridge: Intruder alert.”
Lieutenant Selek, a middle aged Vulcan male and the night-watch commander sat in the first officer’s chair on the bridge when he acknowledged the order. He then accessed the power consumption logs on the console on his left.
“Captain, he transported away just before you sounded the alert,” he reported in the usual dispassionate tone of a Vulcan.
An alarm sounded from the Ops console, occupied by the Kobliad male Tor Makassa. “Sir,” he shouted, “unauthorized shuttle launch in Bay 3.”
“Can you block it?” Selek asked.
“No such luck,” Makassa replied.
“Rebecca,” Limis called over the comm to Sullivan at conn, “break formation and lay in a pursuit course.”
Limis, Kozar, and Morrison entered the bridge from the port turbolift. Selek quickly vacated the center seat and stepped onto the open turbolift. “Message from Admiral Jellico,” Ensign Makassa reported from Ops. “He wants to know why we’ve broken formation.”
“Tell him to piss off,” Limis replied. “We’re just one ship.”
Makassa knew not to respond to the hail in those exact words and immediately cut the transmission. Limis seated herself in the captain’s chair and looked to Morrison. “Hail the shuttle,” she commanded.
“Captain,” Kozar whispered, leaning over from his chair, “you probably should have informed the admiral before
ordering the course change.”
“If you have a problem with my orders,” Limis stated calmly,
“you can file a formal protest… and shove it up your ass!”
“Channel open,” Morrison reported, completely oblivious to the exchange between captain and first officer. “He’s not answering though.”
“Arnit,” Limis called over the comm. “It’s Vira. Why are you doing this?”
“Why is obvious,” Arnit replied from the one-seat cockpit of compact shuttle pod. “These people signed a treaty with the spoonheads leaving us at their mercy. Their spineless desire for peace blinded them to our suffering. And they our colleagues be slaughtered by the Jem’Hadar.”
“You are ware that you are helping these murderers.”
“You don’t think I know that?!” he shouted, his voice breaking. “They killed our friends and destroyed everything we cared about. But the Federation stood by and allowed it to happen. I want them to see what being mercilessly slaughtered is like!”
“I understand your hostility towards the Federation, Arnit. "This is not the answer, though. We can talk this out… “
The comm channel suddenly shorted out. Alarms sounded throughout the bridge. “Perimeter alert,” Morrison called. “Looks like the Jem’Hadar are coming to us.”
“Message from fleet command,” Makassa added. “Sixteen hundred twenty-three Dominion ships closing fast.”
“Battle stations!” the captain called.
“How many ships?” Yelgrun asked Fourth Romat’ison, who was manning the primary tactical and communications monitor on the Dominion flagship’s bridge. Romat’ison was now second-in-command, although Yelgrun had chosen not to elevate the young and inexperienced soldier to the title of Second. The Vorta decided he would have to earn that title once this battle was won.
“Six-hundred fifty,” the Fourth answered. “In weapons range in one minute.”
Teron’tokal addressed the rest of the Jem’Hadar. “Our motto, ‘Victory is life’ has literal meaning,” he announced. “Today we fight to protect our unborn brethren. Victory is life!”
“Victory is life!” the other Jem’Hadar on the bridge echoed.
Romat’ison’s console blinked, indicating the large armada had reached weapons range. “In weapons range,” he reported.
“Attack wings one through five,” Yelgrun stated over the comm channel, “break formation and cut try to cut off the enemy fleet from aft. Remaining ships, attack all lead ships.”
Jem’Hadar fighters laid down cover fire with a methodical spread of disruptor fire. The larger battleships fired plasma torpedoes, taking out a large number of Federation frigates and Klingon Birds-of-Prey. The Federation-Klingon fleet returned fire quickly to counteract the Dominion strategy of cutting off an enemy’s possible escape routes.
The Lambda Paz
had fallen behind the rest of the two fleets, and so was the last of the ships to be hit by enemy weapons fire. The Starfleet vessel laid down phaser fire. The shields absorbed disruptor fire. A swath of torpedo fire had a larger impact.
The bridge rocked hard. An auxiliary engineering station exploded, and a wall panel fell on the technician manning the station. Another torpedo hit inflicted heavy damage to the starboard nacelle.
“We’re venting plasma from the starboard nacelle,” Makassa reported.
“Divert repair crews to that area,” Limis shouted over all the commotion. “Route power to the good one.”
“Shields at sixty-four percent!” Morrison called out after another hit.
Both Limis and Kozar monitored the battle from the tactical display on their side consoles. “Fire aft torpedoes at the battleship’s ventral,” Limis commanded.
Silver bolts erupted from the aft of the ship, inflicting damage to the unprotected ventral of a Jem’Hadar battleship. The battleship got off a shot that barely grazed the Lambda Paz
’s unprotected hull.
“Two fighters closing from port and starboard,” Sullivan reported. The ship took two hits from the two enemy ships firing in a single file attack pattern.
“Forward torpedoes,” Kozar commanded. “Dispersal pattern echo.”
A swarm of quantum torpedoes zeroed in on the two attacking fighters. One erupted in a fireball while the other quickly moved out of the line of fire.
The Lambda Paz
arched to starboard, but a larger battle cruiser had just finished off two Vorcha
-class Klingon attack cruisers and moved in for its next kill. Two plasma torpedoes struck the forward saucer.
Explosions were all over the engineering section. “Two anti-matter tanks just ruptured,” Logan shouted over the sound of falling girders. No response came from the bridge. “Bridge! Bridge!” he called out futilely.
“Internal communications are offline,” Makassa reported.
The situation was grim. For each Dominion ship taken out, they took out three alliance ships according to Morrison’s displays. “We’re losing ships at a faster rate,” he said reluctantly.
A ceiling fixture came loose and landed hard over the helm station. Sullivan dove out of the way in the nick of time.
“Rebecca!” Limis cried out.
Rebecca quickly stood up and raised a hand. “I’m okay,” she said lunging toward the end of her station not covered by the fallen fixture. “Inertial dampeners are losing power,” she noted grimly.
“Any chance of getting out while we still have minimal warp power?” Limis asked.
“Well, we can’t take too much more of this,” Morrison responded.
Aboard the Dominion flagship, the bridge rocked from numerous torpedo impacts. But the acting-Second’s attention was on another matter. Romat’ison kept a close eye on his tactical display to see that no enemy ships slipped by and headed for the nebula. That had not happened yet. He kept a comm-channel open just in case that did happen. “First” he whispered to Teron’tokal. “I’ve lost contact with the facility on the planet.”
“Can you reestablish contact?” the First inquired.
“There is nothing to reestablish contact with.”
Yelgrun was equally perturbed. He began thinking of a lie that would not get himself killed by his own troops. But he had gotten obedience out of these soldiers. And once he was dead, his clone would come to life anyway. “Since we are winning the battle,” he relented, “I can probably tell you.”
“Tell us what?” Teron’tokal growled.
“There was no breeding facility on the planetoid. It was a ruse to lure the Federation into an ambush.”
Both Teron’tokal and Romat’ison looked at the deceitful Vorta straight in the eyes. Yelgrun backed up slowly until he was up against a wall. He was almost hoping the two Jem’Hadar would strangle him to death right here and right now. “You had us believing we were protecting unborn Jem’Hadar!” the First growled. “I executed two of my subordinates over something that never existed.”
Teron’tokal and Romat’ison pointed their rifles at the Vorta. The other Jem’Hadar on the bridge also aimed their rifles. They fired a flurry of plasma charges at the defenseless Vorta until his charred body fell to the deck.
Romat’ison then returned to his console to notice another Starfleet delta enter the display. “I can’t identify it,” he said. “It’s throwing up a scattering field. Plus, our communications dampening field is also interfering with our sensors.”
“No matter,” Teron’tokal replied. “One ship will not turn the battle in their favor.”
The same blip appeared on Morrison’s display. “Sir, Arnit’s shuttle,” he called to the captain.
“Can you raise him?” Limis asked with an equally bewildered look. What was he hoping to accomplish with this defenseless shuttle pod. Maybe he had come to his senses. Either way, he’d be facing certain death.
“No, sir,” Morrison growled in frustration.
The pod was on a fast collision course for the lead battleship at the center of the battle. All the other ships were too focused on the larger Federation and Klingon ships to notice it. The pod exploded taking the battleship and at least six surrounding support ships.
“No!” Limis screamed, seeing the large explosion on the viewscreen. She had denied being in love with him after the divorce. Whatever positive feelings she still had for him rushed to Vircona’s conscious mind. She stood in shock with Rebecca, who had also lost a spouse, holding her back. All Vircona could do was watch the viewscreen in horror. All she had left of him was the memories of each other even though they had long before ceased to be husband and wife.
“Can you get us the hell out of here, Miss Sullivan?” Kozar asked.
Rebecca gently let go of her friend’s shoulders and slowly walked to the helm. “Getting the hell out of here maneuver confirmed,” she said.