In Captain Limis’s absence, Commander Kozar had the responsibility of chairing staff meetings among other command responsibilities. He was accustomed to these more mundane aspects of command, as he expected to become captain of the Lambda Paz
. The assignment of Limis as CO and relegation of Kozar was a proverbial slap in the face. Hopefully, Morrison would learn something incriminating on Limis during this mission on alleged special orders from Starfleet.
Since the ship docked at DS9, the senior staff held daily briefings regarding the latest repair needs and how to prioritize them. The repairs were proceeding smoothly, but finding replacement personnel was more difficult. The ship had suffered heavy casualties during a counter-attack at the Betreka Nebula that coincided with Operation Return with enemy forces largely diverted towards holding onto the station.
Chief engineers Logan and sh’Aqba were seated on one side of the table at Kozar’s right. Doctor Markalis was seated at the acting captain’s left. Representing the security department in Morrison’s absence was the Triexian deputy chief, Lieutenant Tirun Ra Hoth, who was next to the doctor. Relief tactical officer, Bolian ensign Jovis Ren was seated next to Ra Hoth.
“First item is the status of the engines,” Kozar stated, looking at a padd in front of him. “Mister Logan?”
“Impulse engines are at peak efficiency,” Logan answered. “Dilithium realignment still requires a few more days of work.”
“Very good,” said Kozar. “Sh’Aqba, how are you coming with those ODN relays?”
“Some of the gel packs on Deck 10 blew out,” the Andorian lieutenant answered. “Replacements are hard to come by, so we’re converting to isolinear circuitry.”
“What about weapons?” Kozar asked, looking over to Ren.
“We now have a full compliment of quantum torpedoes,” Ren answered. “We’re still having trouble with the phaser emitter crystals.”
“Make that a top priority then,” Kozar replied. “Regarding replacement personnel, we lost a lot of our security officers when the Jem’Hadar boarded during the last engagement.”
“Commander Morrison has been searching for replacement MACO commander,” Ra Hoth added. “None of our current troops have enough leadership experience.”
“I think he has Lisa Neeley in mind,” Kozar offered. “She was the Defiant
’s weapons officer, but that position is likely going back to Commander Worf.” He then looked to Doctor Markalis. “What about sickbay?”
“Two of the stasis units are still off-line,” the doctor replied.
“I can get someone to take a look, Doctor,” sh’Aqba offered. “And I believe the EMH is experiencing some kind of optronic error.”
“Good,” Markalis shot back. “Keep him that way.”
“Look into the problem with the EMH, Lieutenant,” Kozar chimed in, ignoring Markalis’s comment. “Dismissed.”
Each of the other officers filed out either through the bridge entrance or the side entryway behind the monitor screen. “Doctor Markalis, please stay,” the first officer called out.
When all the other officers in the briefing were gone, he motioned with his hand for the doctor to sit. He decided to give it to her straight, even though Markalis complied with Kozar’s directive with a child-like look of repentance on her face.
“You were responsible for that optronic error,” Kozar stated.
“Yes,” Markalis remorsefully answered. “But he’s a jerk. I don’t care for some trick of light arguing every little medical diagnosis.”
“This is war, Doctor. We need all the officers and crew we can spare. Hell, an ex-Maquis outranks me. That ‘trick of light’ is a walking talking medical database. At least try to get along with him.”
“Yes, sir,” Markalis deferently replied.
“At ease, Doctor,” Kozar said calmly and with a smile. “It’s human nature to think of doctors as larger than life, but they’re not indestructible. And we have to make do with our EMH. I’m just asking that you try to accept him as a member of this crew.”
“I will try,” Markalis replied. “Am I dismissed, sir?”
“Of course,” Kozar answered. He looked out the viewport as Markalis departed and mumbled, “And I should start to practice what I just preached.”
Jaro Essa sat in a cell at Kran-Tobal Prison on Bajor, writing on a sheet of paper. Nearly a dozen sheets of paper filled the floor of the cell. He spent the last four years at this prison since leading a failed coup d’etat
against the Bajoran government. After the coup failed, Jaro confessed to his role and immediately resigned from the Council of Ministers in disgrace. As a private citizen, he was then tried and convicted of treason and conspiracy to overthrow the government. Writing was one way to pass the time. At first, the wardens had his controversial philosophical and religious treatises. That was until Jaro reminded them the Bajoran people fought for a century to end that kind of tyranny.
Two male Bajoran militia guards escorted Limis and Morrison to Jaro’s cell. They both sat down in front of transparent screen. Jaro slowly walked to the screen smiling as he sat down to face his former Resistance colleague. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Vira?” he pleasantly asked.
“You’ve put on weight, Essa,” Limis observed.
“Being in prison does that you. Surely, you didn’t come to reminisce about old times.”
Limis shot a candid glance at Morrison. “Will you excuse us, Morrison?” she said.
Morrison obliged with a nod and walked away. Limis then looked back at Jaro. “Earlier today, I received a transmission from Teero Anaydis trying to get me to join his little group. Thankfully, I shielded my eyes. And yesterday, members of the Circle attacked Deep Space Nine’s resident Cardassian. They may also be responsible for sabotage that injured three of my officers.”
“And so you came to me,” Jaro replied. “What do you expect of me, Vira? Am I supposed to tell these radicals acting in my name that Teero has it all wrong?”
“Nothing so grandiose. You know how Teero thinks. You can take him into confidence and find out what his next plans are.”
“I may not agree with his methods, but I support his position.”
Jaro sighed and stood up slowly. He paced back and forth in the cell. “I am a changed man, though,” he continued. “I have to come to know the love of the Prophets. I and much of my former supporters have come to see we were led astray by the trappings of power. Federation membership will not cause us to lose our cultural identity, which is more than we can say regarding fifty years of Cardassian rule.
“For right now, the Federation is playing a dangerous game with Bajor. How can we truly stand alone if Starfleet is now back in control of Deep Space Nine?”
“The Council of Ministers is debating abdicating the non-aggression pact,” Limis offered.
“While politicians are doing that, our people are in a very precarious position.”
“You’ll give my request some thought, at least?”
“Even if I knew where Teero was hiding, why would I share that with you and your Federation colleagues?”
“The Federation has reminded us that words can sometimes be more effective that guns, because peace at the point of a gun is no peace at all.”
Jaro raised an eyebrow at hearing his own words quoted. “’By taking up arms against our brothers and sisters,” he said finishing the passage of one of his published works, “we became the enemy we sought to defeat!’”
“First Minister Shakaar is considering my request for a furlough,” Limis stated. “He should have his answer tomorrow.”
She left the visitor section of the cell block leaving her old mentor to contemplate his choices.
The following morning, Limis used the prison warden’s office monitor to communicate with First Minister Shakaar Edon. She remembered he had longer hair from photographs of Bajoran Resistance leaders. The shorter hair and clean-shaven face was more appropriate even for a soldier-turned-politician.
“You understand if I’m still a bit skeptical, Captain,” the First Minister stated. “Plenty can go wrong when dealing with Teero Anaydis. If anything did wrong as a result of granting your request. I would have to answer for it in the next election.”
“I can appreciate your position on this, Minister,” Limis replied. “Jaro knows how Teero thinks. They were close colleagues during the Occupation. He can find out what his next move might be.”
“Even so, the plan you are suggesting is too dangerous. I regret to inform you the request for a furlough is denied.”
That was hardly much of an obstacle for Limis. She later returned to the main lobby asking to visit Jaro again. “You’ll have to surrender your weapon,” the male guard told her. “You know the drill.”
Limis slowly removed her phaser from her holster. She then quickly fired the phaser, stunning the guard. A second guard at the cellblock drew his phaser. Limis turned and stunned him.
Limis then used the stunned guard’s own fingers to tap his combadge. She grabbed the badge, opened the casing and removed the transtator. She placed it inside the door control to get inside the cellblock.
She reached Jaro’s cell without further resistance,. Jaro was speechless as he noticed Limis with a phaser in hand. “Stand back,” she commanded him. She fired her phaser at the cell door opening it.
“Why are you doing this?” Jaro curiously inquired, slowly walking out of the cell.
“My request for a furlough was denied,” Limis replied.
“I see your time in Starfleet—however short it’s been—hasn’t softened you.”
“Limis to the Allegheny
,” the captain said, tapping her combadge. “Two to beam up.”
The two of them dematerialized.