Part Two: Dangerous Alliances
Six Months Later
Yelgrun stood in front of a large star-map on a wall-mounted monitor. The map detailed Dominion and Federation Alliance fleet deployments in the Kalandra sector and surrounding sectors. On the Vorta’s right was Tor Vot, a representative of the devious Sindareen. This particular Sindareen was an information dealer providing important nuggets of information to the Dominion on enemy activities.
“As you can see,” said Tor Vot, “The Federation continues to ignore the fleets massing in the Kalandra sector.”
“The Kalandra sector is ten light years from the nearest supply line,” Yelgrun added. “It’s part of a strategy of massing ships in one region to catch the enemy off guard. The Federation is still not taking the bait at Kalandra.”
“Additionally,” Tor Vot hissed through nictitating membranes on his neck, a distinctive trait among Sindareen, “the Tenth Fleet is normally charged with defending the Beta Veldonna star system. Half of their ships are running training maneuvers near Wolf 359.”
Yelgrun nodded and grinned viciously, training his gaze on the Starfleet insignias around the star system labeled “Beta Veldonna.” “This gives us an opportunity to hit Betazed and put us in striking distance of the Federation’s core systems,” the Vorta mused.
“We were lucky to have stumbled across this strategic weakness,” Tor Vot replied. “We do not care for telepaths. Most Sindareen can block telepathy, but they can still be a major nuisance.”
“Your people have become a valuable asset, Tor Vot,” Yelgrun stated, pacing across the meeting room. “Once we have won the war, the Sindareen can take their place as valued members of the Dominion.”
Of course, any race regularly practicing piracy was trouble
, he thought to himself. The preceding incarnation had fallen victim to Ferengi trickery a few months ago. Nevertheless, dealing with such deceitful beings was a small price of winning this war.
“We do owe much to the Federation. They saved us from complete ruin. But they only do enough so that we are less of a threat.”
“They were doing the same with the Cardassians after the last war. Any enemy of the Federation is a friend of the Dominion’s.”
If gullible enough, that is.
After Yelgrun left, Tor Vot retired to his private chamber. A red indicator light blinked on a console on the right of the door, which produced a loud thud when it closed. The indicator light was a covert way to communicate an incoming message from a very important contact.
He pushed a button next to that indicator to respond the message. A holographic generator hummed to life, and a black silhouette of a humanoid appeared on the far side of the chamber. “Your report?” the humanoid figure asked in an ominous baritone voice.
“I forwarded the fleet deployments to the Vorta,” Tor Vot replied. “The Dominion invasion of Betazed is now underway.”
“Good. Expect to be greatly rewarded. I have another assignment for you. Have your forces bring me the captain of a Federation starship.”
“The Lambda Paz
“That will be difficult. Your ships could do it without a problem.”
“Our ships can exist in your time for but a brief period. You will
find a way if you want access to the cormaline deposits on Makar Six.”
Months after the incident that led to the death of Major Davis, Mandel Morrison was in counseling. For a few weeks, he tried to purge what happened from his memory. He tried to rationalize it as one more casualty of war. Bust as time went on, he found himself unable to look Davis’s successor, Lisa Neeley, in the eye.
The Emergency Medical Hologram suggested a group of holographic counselors in the absence of a full-time counselor. Morrison was referred to one such counselor after numerous instances of dereliction of duty. During three different encounters with the Jem’Hadar, Morrison prematurely ordered his unit to retreat to avoid putting himself in a position to order a soldier to his or her death.
Unlike holographic doctors, the holographic counselors were not facsimiles of Starfleet officers. The EMH contended that creating civilian counselors would create a less intimidating atmosphere for those needing counseling.
The counselor Morrison visited had the appearance of a blonde human woman of approximately forty Earth years of age. She was dressed in a short-sleeved pink turtleneck and a black knee-length skirt.
“You have a distinguished record,” the hologram said in the compact junior officer quarters reserved for these counseling sessions. “You’ve led soldiers into battle with a strong determination to accomplish the mission, while minimizing casualties.”
“But now I have gotten gun shy,” Morrison added with a sigh. “I am too afraid to take risks necessary in war time.”
“It goes back to the incident six months ago. You did everything possible to make sure your people were out of harm’s way.”
Morrison arched his head backwards and growled. He then stood up and paced towards the door, then back to his chair. “I doubt that is any consolation to Davis’s family.”
“Everyone who enlisted knows the risks of serving in Starfleet,” the counselor replied. “Their families know of those risks.”
“Those risks don’t include a superior officer’s incompetence,” Morrison shot back.
“A board of inquiry cleared you of any wrongdoing. Everyone who has ever fought in a war has done something they are not proud of. We can discuss this at our next session.”
The comm chimed before Morrison could respond. Kozar spoke over the audio channel. “Senior officers to the observation lounge,” he said. “Mission briefing.”
“Same time next week, Mister Morrison,” the counselor said, Morrison headed for the door.
“Of course,” Morrison replied. “Computer deactivate holographic therapist.”
Commander Kozar stood in front in the main display screen in the briefing room. The star map on display was of an area where the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire converged. Insignias representing those three powers indicating recent skirmishes with the Dominion filled the screen.
“It seems the Romulans’ entry into the war caught the Dominion off guard,” Kozar explained to the rest of the senior staff. “Since stardate 51721, the Romulans have liberated H’atoria, Lambda Hydrae and the Careya system.”
“I guess the Dominion had the same projections Starfleet tactical analysts had,” Doctor Aurellan Markalis mused.
The captain shot Markalis a curious glance, not expecting the doctor to make such an observation. The officers on Limis’s right, Morrison, Triexian Lieutenant Tirren Ra Hoth, and Commander Chaz Logan, had similar reactions. “The Romulan Senate would vote to abandon their non-aggression pact at next year’s plenary sessions,” Markalis explained. “I read those reports during my off-duty hours.”
“Perhaps the Senate felt it could no longer sit and watch after Dominion victories at Beta Thoridor and Adelphous,” Morrison suggested.
“Hardly like the Romulans to do the Klingons any favors,” Limis added.
“As the doctor pointed out,” Kozar stated, “the Dominion didn’t see it coming as they had to call in reinforcements from their holdings in the Donatu system.”
“Now that the Romulans have opened a new front,” Limis declared, “the Seventh Fleet is being redeployed back to the Betreka Nebula.”
“It won’t be the Inchon-inspired strategy it was six months ago,” Morrison offered.
“True,” Kozar replied, sauntering to his seat on Limis’s left, “but that’s the main staging area for attacks into Klingon territory. The Fourth and Fifth Fleets will be backing us up this time. And now that we have a new ally, we can launch some major counter-offensives.”
“We’ll be arriving at the nebula in three days,” Limis announced. “We have till then to prepare the ship.”
“Lieutenant Neeley and I have scheduled battle drills for each shift,” Ra Hoth reported. The deputy chief of security was now chief after Morrison was temporarily relieved of that responsibility. Morrison was still second officer and senior tactical officer. Though he understood the reasoning, he still felt left out.
“Mind if I lend a hand?” Morrison asked.
“I still need you to review the tactical systems,” Limis answered. To the engineer she said, “Mister Logan?”
“I’ll begin overseeing diagnostics on all major systems,” Logan replied, “with emphasis on maneuvering jets and impulse drive.”
Limis then shot a glance at Markalis. “Doctor, you know the drill,” she said.
“Of course,” Markalis quietly replied. “Have sickbay ready for the casualties I will be sent.”
“What about the Jem’Hadar corpses?” the captain added.
“I’m getting close to finding a means of detecting shrouded Jem’Hadar.”
Limis was about to dismiss the group when the comm chimed. Second lieutenant Sara Carson called from the bridge. “Sorry to interrupt, Captain,” she said. “I’m picking up a probe on an intercept course.”
Limis, Kozar, and Morrison stepped onto the bridge from the observation lounge’s port egress. Carson was already manning the conn when she delivered an additional report while reminding herself not to look in Morrison’s direction. While she had dissolved their romantic affiliation six months earlier, a level of awkwardness still existed between them.
“Probe bearing two-four-six, mark two-four,” she reported. “In visual range.”
“On screen,” Limis replied.
The bridge crew quickly recognized the probe as Cardassian by the bright copper hull. Ensign Willis Huckaby at Ops still reported its origins. “Energy signatures indicate it is Cardassian.”
“Has it made any threatening moves?” Kozar asked Morrison.
“Not that I can tell,” Morrison replied.
“Put the shields up just in case,” the captain ordered.
Huckaby’s communications channel chimed. “Captain, you are being hailed,” he reported, “by name.”
That report raised the eyebrows of both the captain and first officer. “Let’s see what it wants,” said Limis. “Open a channel.”
A blue scanning beam then erupted from the front of the probe. “It’s trying to transfer a holographic data stream,” Huckaby explained.
“Let it through the shields.”
A portly Cardassian in a military uniform appeared in front of the viewscreen. From the streaks of gray in his otherwise black hair, he was of early middle age. “Hello, Vircona,” the hologram declared. “You do not recognize me, but you have met my brother. In fact, you caused his death. He was a non-combatant who was subjected to torture. I can think of no more fitting reprisal than to end the life of one of your family.
“Your son, Limis Vircona, is as good as dead.”