Mandel Morrison sat at the primary pilot seat when the doors to the aft compartment opened. Limis and Jaro stepped into the cockpit. “Take us to the planet’s magnetic pole, Commander,” Limis ordered. “I’ll explain later.”
“Whom exactly are we hiding from?” Morrison asked.
“Just set the damned course, or I can do it myself.” Limis stormed towards the secondary pilot seat at Morrison’s right and entered the course change. “You remember former Minister Jaro,” she said, more calmly.
Morrison swung his chair around to greet their runabout’s newest passenger. “Minister,” he said with a blank nod.
Jaro sensed that the human officer would mention his role in the attempted coup four years earlier. That was the one and only thing that he had been for in the interim. That one disgrace erased years of heroic accomplishments during the Occupation.
“Despite what history might say about me, Commander,” he said, “I was a victim of circumstance, as many of my followers were.”
“So why are you here, sir?” Morrison inquired.
“Because Teero is a fanatic. His use of mind control is too dangerous. I’m still not fond of the Federation now that Bajor is caught up in a destructive war. We still depend on them to protect us from the Dominion.”
“We can debate this later gentlemen,” Limis chimed in. “Right now, we need to find Teero Anaydis.”
“That’s where I come in,” said Jaro. “We were part of the same resistance cell. We often hid in the mountains of Ilvya Province.”
“That could be the first place the Bajoran government looks,” Morrison suggested. “In fact, we have no way of knowing if he is still in Bajor.”
Limis began entering commands to open a communications channel. “Yesterday morning,” she explained. “I received a transmission from Bajor. Teero tried to recruit me. I’m going to let him think he succeeded.”
She sent a printout message to the Ilvya mountains saying she had stolen a Starfleet runabout and was wanting to meet with Teero. Jaro then entered a random set of words that was then translated and transliterated into ancient Bajoran. “We used a set of codes to assure our colleagues the Cardassians were not tricking them into giving away their positions,” he explained to Morrison.
“An Underground Railroad,” Morrison commented.
Both Jaro and Limis glanced at Morrison, not understanding the term.
“Five hundred years ago on Earth,” Morrison explained, “escaped slaves communicated meeting locations through song.” Turning his console, he said, “I’m now piggy-backing the transmission to Bajoran carrier frequencies.”
“Now, we wait,” Limis quietly remarked.
Almost immediately, the communications panel at Limis’s console chirped. Teero sent a printout message instructing Limis to beam down to a set of coordinates included in the message. “That was a little too easy,” she murmured.
Limis left her seat and walked over to the cockpit’s aft consoles. Once there, she pulled out an emergency med-kit from the bottom hatch. “Before we beam down,” she said, “we need to be prepared.”
She removed a hypospray from the kit and injected herself on the side of her neck. “First a neural inhibitor in case Teero tries to brainwash us.” She then injected Jaro with the same drug. “And sub-dermal communicators.” For those, she took a rectangular device and injected hers and Jaro’s left wrist.
“Meanwhile, I’ll be up here eavesdropping,” Morrison sarcastically remarked.
“But I want you to land the ship in a secluded area of the planet,” Limis added. “Make it look like it crash-landed with ships chasing it from here to DS9.”
“Understood,” Morrison sighed. He was now wishing he hadn’t undertaken this fool’s errand. He was only here to help Kozar dig up dirt, but now he was embarking on a possible mission of no return.
Limis and Jaro materialized in a dark subterranean cavern. It was just like all the other caverns where she and her resistance colleagues convened to plan strikes against the Cardassians. The soft breeze created an eerie howl. It was an ominous reminder to Limis that she was here to undermine a terrorist group rather than support one.
She trained her wrist beacon ahead of her to see in front of herself, and felt a sudden chill. “Something doesn’t feel right,” she mused.
“Are you suggesting we abandon the mission?” Jaro inquired.
“Not at all.”
Limis was ready to pull her phaser, when heard footsteps that were not her own or Jaro’s. A gray-haired Bajoran man slowly walked over to them. He was still a few decades younger than Jaro, and he kept his hair slightly long as a reminder of his greatest achievements. He stared at Jaro to make sure his eyes were not deceiving him. His old friend had been incarcerated, and he was thinner when they last crossed paths.
“Essa?” he gasped.
“It’s me, Anaydis,” Jaro confirmed. “Of course, your newest recruit had to break me out of prison.”
Teero smiled and walked over to Limis. “Captain, you’ll make a valuable addition,” he said. “A Bajoran former Maquis now in Starfleet. You have information that can be helpful.”
“Thank you, sir,” Limis replied. “I’ll do my best to serve you.”
“Come to my chambers,” Teero declared. “Let’s have a drink.”
The living area Teero led them to reminded Limis of the one-room tenement housing on Volan Three. The walls were made of rusted metal. The furniture was run down and worn out. Anyone not knowing any better would think this room was a crashed freighter. “I’m sorry if the accommodations are not to your liking,” Teero stated. “We all had to settle for this throughout our lives.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way now,” Limis offered. “The Occupation has been over for six years.”
“True. But I have gotten used to being a hunted man. I never really fit in anywhere. Even the Maquis rejected me.”
Teero sauntered over to a counter and picked up a pitcher containing a blue liquid. He poured it into three glasses. He handed two of them over to Jaro and Limis. He picked up the third and raised it in a toast. “To fight lost causes.”
The three Bajorans tapped their glasses together. Limis then took a sip and winced. “Is this Romulan ale?” she asked.
“I have connections with smugglers,” Teero explained. Then to Jaro, he said, “Essa, you understand my position of all people.”
Jaro nodded in confirmation.
“We have a non-aggression pact with the Dominion,” Teero continued, “despite the actions of a few malcontents. But Starfleet once again controls the space station.”
“Yes,” Jaro agreed. “It is a volatile conflict of interest. The Federation presence makes this star system a tempting target everyday. That is why we must stand alone per the Emissary’s warning.”
“I met him a few times,” said Limis. “He cited my leadership skills and creative thinking in combat when recommending me to command the Lambda Paz
. Now I see, I don’t owe the Federation a damn thing.”
Jaro took a sip of ale and inhaled slowly. “I feel I must inform you, Teero,” he said, “that Captain Limis was not affected by your hypnosis. She’s selling us out to Starfleet.”
Limis was about to deny the statement, but the look of surprise in her eyes gave her away.
“I know,” Teero replied. “Which is why I dispatched a Bajoran interceptor to shoot down her shuttle.”
Teero snapped his fingers. A door in an alcove off in a corner of the room opened. Two unkempt, disheveled Bajorans shoved Mandel Morrison inside. Blood down the left side of his lips. He and Limis gazed at each other in horror.