In the Infirmary’s main exam room, Doctor Bashir held a dermal regenerator to left side of Garak’s mouth where one of the masked men punched him. Odo, Limis, and Morrison gathered around discussing the latest incident. Limis had heard of her security chief’s latest heroics.
She was even more curious as to why a group of extremists opposed to Bajor’s entry into the Federation was again wreaking havoc on Deep Space Nine. For years, she did not care for the Federation very much. She and fellow colonists on Volan Three were left to fend for themselves after the Federation signed a treaty with the Cardassian Union ceding that planet to the Cardassians. Then that same Federation condemned the actions of the Maquis, fearing that the anti-Cardassian terrorist group would jeopardize the peace.
Opposition to the Federation was fairly common amongst her fellow Bajorans shortly after the end of the Cardassian occupation. In fact, one such group opposed to Bajor’s membership in the Federation nearly succeeded in overthrowing the government and driving off the Starfleet presence on the station. The Circle, as it was called in those days, quickly lost credibility once evidence was uncovered that the Cardassians had provided its members with weapons through a third party.
The benefits of Federation membership became much clearer to the people in subsequent years. Bajor would have become a Federation member a year earlier if not for Captain Benjamin Sisko’s cryptic warning that Bajor would be destroyed unless it stood alone. In spite of a non-aggression pact Bajor signed with the Dominion to assure the planet’s safety during the Dominion War, a very large majority of the Bajoran people knew that eventual Federation membership was still preferable the oppressive rule of the Dominion and its Cardassian allies.
“I’m just as curious as well,” Garak stated. “If these xenophobic Bajorans wanted to send a message by attacking a Cardassian, surely they’d have gone after Gul Dukat when they had the chance.”
Odo scoffed. When Garak was first exiled to the station, very little was known of him outside of his seeming cover profession as a tailor. His contributions to Starfleet since the beginning of the Dominion War disabused many of the station’s residents of the notion that he was a spy. This was not Garak’s signature insistence of being a “simple tailor.” “For once, you’re right, Garak,” the constable stated.
“Besides that,” Limis added, “the Circle has not taken these kinds of actions in four years. Their numbers have declined since their coup failed. And Federation membership will just be a formality.”
“Assuming the Federation wins the war,” Odo replied. “In the meantime, Bajor’s non-aggression pact with the Dominion only guarantees the planet’s safety during
the war. Perhaps some of your countrymen are dissatisfied with the Federation, especially now that it has taken back control of DS9.”
Bashir, meanwhile, had successfully removed the tattooed insignia of the Circle from Garak’s forehead. “There,” the doctor declared. “Good as new.”
Garak stood up from the reclining examination chair. “How do I look, Captain?” he jovially asked Limis.
“Like a credit to your race, Mister Garak,” Limis half-heartedly responded. She nodded to Morrison for him to accompany her as sauntered out of the infirmary.
Garak instinctively felt his forehead at the former location of the tattoo. He looked at Bashir, then at Odo. “Now that was uncalled for,” he said.
Ronnie Kozar sat in his office preparing crew evaluation reports. The executive officer had the responsibility of preparing these reports every three months, but larger responsibilities on the front lines in the last four months got in the way of that. The layover at DS9 meant he had a lot of catching up to do. So much for shore leave.
He took a sip of green tea when the door chimed. “Come in,” he said, keeping his gaze on the desk monitor.
Logan stormed into the office with sh’Aqba close behind. “Ronnie,” Logan huffed, “this is the last straw.”
“You said that the last time Tarlazzi drove one of your prized antiques off a cliff,” Kozar retorted.
“All I did,” Tarlazzi stated, walking into the office, “was suggest that we could use the plasma regulators more efficiently if we routed power through the EPS conduits on Deck 17. But once again, that goes against almighty Starfleet rules.”
“Safety protocols call for no more than 15 giga-watts,” sh’Aqba fired back. “Any more than that, and you risk an overload that would knock power on three decks.”
Kozar stood up and raised both hands to ask that the three engineers calm themselves. “I’ve got too much on my plate to comprehend engineer techno-babble right now,” he said. “I heard about the incident this morning. No harm done. But this is war, and this ship will be needed back on the front lines in a week. We don’t always have the luxury of following every minor safety protocol. Just keep a close eye on the power flow of that tech thing. Use your own good judgment, Mister Logan and Miss sh’Aqba.”
“Understood, sir,” Logan and sh’Aqba both answered.
“And try to work out squabbles within your department yourselves,” Kozar added. “You don’t need me to keep playing referee. You’re both chief engineers. Act like it. Dismissed.”
The engineers then quietly filed out of the office. Kozar sat back down looking back at the crew reports, which were only distraction from the wars on and off the ship.
For the first time since being called into Starfleet service, Captain Limis was able to get a full night of sleep. Of course, night and day were fluid concepts in interstellar space, so eight consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep was good enough for her. She set her alarm for 0500. The computer chimed at the set time. “The time is 0500 hours,” the computer’s feminine voice stated.
Limis immediately got out of bed and headed for the shower. After five minutes, she dried herself and got into uniform. Just as she was about a order raktajino
from the replicator, the computer chimed once again.
“Captain Limis. Incoming message. High priority.
“Put it on the monitor,” Limis replied.
The large monitor screen behind her desk lit up. The symbol of the Republic of Bajor filled the screen. Ancient Bajoran script appeared across the screen. Limis immediately recognized it as This is a holy time
A raspy male voice was then heard in the transmission. “Focus on the task at hand,” it said. “Pagh’tem’far b’tanay
The Bajoran insignia was then replaced by a set of fractal images. Limis had the foresight to close her eyes and raise one hand to shield her eyes. She then unshielded her eyes when the transmission ended.
Limis suddenly felt a chill, as if she had seen a ghost from her past. “Computer, place a Level 9 encryption on that last transmission,” she said. She then tapped her combadge to call sickbay. “Limis to sickbay.”
“This is Doctor Markalis,” a dispassionate and almost robotic sounding voice on the other end replied.
“Can you come to my quarters, Doctor?” she requested.
“Okay,” Markalis reluctantly replied with a sigh.
Limis was busy trying to trace the transmission at her desk using tricks she had learned from her time in Starfleet Intelligence when the doctor entered. Limis smiled even knowing Markalis rarely ever smiled. “Hope I didn’t interrupt your beauty sleep,” Limis joked.
“I was already on duty, Captain,” Markalis replied quietly. “ I would be neglecting my duties had I been sleeping.”
“Of course,” Limis relented, feeling for a minute that she wanted to explain the joke. But then she remembered that Markalis did not always know when someone was making a joke. “I know you prefer not to make house calls,” the captain continued, standing up and walking towards the sofa. “But I just need you to take a few scans.”
Markalis set down her med-kit on the glass coffee table. She then sat down at the captain’s left and pulled a medical tricorder out of the kit. “That is what is so different from being just a surgeon,” she remarked.
“Why did you decide to become a doctor?” Limis curiously asked. Since taking command of the Lambda Paz
, she found the chief medical officer to be the most curious of crewmembers. Markalis’s service record indicated she gravitated towards assignments requiring minimal interactions with colleagues outside the medical department.
“Combat situations are very chaotic,” Markalis explained. “My job is to clean up the mess in an orderly manner. I bring order to chaos.” She opened her medical tricorder and began scanning, while training the hand sensor over the captain’s head.
“How very Borg-like,” Limis quipped.
“Only I don’t rob people of their individuality,” the doctor replied.
“Was that a joke?”
“I was merely pointing out the flaw in your metaphor.” Markalis closed the tricorder and tucked it away in the med-kit. “I can tell you I found nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Nothing to indicate hypnosis?” Limis asked with a hint of disappointment.
“I would’ve detected elevated neurotransmitter levels in your cerebral cortex. I’d have to do a more detailed workup in sickbay.”
“That’s quite all right, Doctor. I’d be more worried if he had left evidence behind. He’s not that careless.”
“Who is not that careless?”
“An old colleague in the Maquis.”
Fifteen minutes later, Limis had changed into civilian clothes. She summoned Kozar to her quarters who arrived while Limis was packing up a duffel bag. “Are you coming to your senses and resigning?” he half-jokingly asked.
“Very funny, Kozar,” Limis replied curtly. She could not believe her first officer had the gall to make a joke like that a month after an incident that prompted Kozar to relieve her of command. Limis had used torture to obtain crucial information. She, furthermore, caused the death of a civilian. Both would ordinarily have her booted out of the service. However, the Judge Advocate General’s office elected not to take any disciplinary actions, and she was quickly reinstated.
“I’m letting you know I received special orders from Starfleet,” the captain continued. “You’re in command while I’m on Bajor.”
“Bajor?” Kozar repeated. “What is the nature of this mission?”
“I’ve said all I can,” Limis answered, zipping the bag shut. She then hung the duffel bag on her right shoulder. “Just hold down the fort until I get back.”
Limis quickly made her way to the runabout Allegheny
, docked in the main shuttlebay. To her surprise, Morrison was already occupying the primary pilot seat. Like his captain, he was also out of uniform as if volunteering to accompany her. He swiveled his seat around to face Limis, phaser in hand.
“Do you know how many regs you’re violating pointing a phaser at your captain?” Limis sternly asked.
“I have a good idea,” Morrison retorted. “Commander Kozar asked me to do some checking. You never received any encrypted messages, no Code 47 transmissions. In fact, you deleted a message from Bajor this morning.”
“Do the words ‘captain’s eyes only’ mean anything to you? I’ll add that to the list of charges.”
Morrison picked up a padd balanced at the end of the console. “Not if Commander Kozar gets this first,” he warned.
“Blackmail?” Limis aghastly asked. “You’re trying to blackmail me now?”
“Unless you allow me to accompany me on this so-called mission of yours.”
“If it assures you I have nothing to hide,” Limis grumbled, throwing her duffel bag aside and sitting down in the secondary pilot seat, “but only if you delete the contents of that padd immediately.”
Morrison entered a command into the padd, deleting the information on the screen. He smiled and showed the blank screen to Limis.
“The let’s get underway.”
After both pilots ran through all the pre-flight checks, the outer shuttle door opened. The runabout then slipped through the protective forcefield and veered downwards on a course for Bajor.