Two Months Later
“We’ve made considerable progress in the last eight weeks,” Morrison’s counselor told him.
“Have we?” Morrison asked with very little enthusiasm.
“Yes. We reached the conclusion that your perceived negligence is one incident among many that you regret. And you try to punish yourself for them, all the way back to Setlik Three.”
“When you put it that way… “
Morrison and the holographic therapist exchanged blank stares for a few seconds. Sensing that this session would be his last, he began to see an attractive woman rather than a therapist. The more rational part of his mind then began to remind him this “woman” was just a holographic representation of a human female.
“It looks like my work you is finished.”
“Then, I thank you for your services.”
The door then chimed just as another awkward silence was about to set in. “Enter,” the therapist commanded.
To the surprise of both of them, Limis walked into the office. In the eleven months she had been aboard, man of the crew began to suspect Limis was one person who prided herself on not requiring the services of a professional psychologist.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” the captain said.
“We were just finishing, Captain,” Morrison replied.
“Good. I need to speak to this counselor. That is, if you are free.”
“Of course,” the counselor answered.
“Am I fit to resume my duties as chief of security,” Morrison rhetorically asked.
“It’s more personal than that, Morrison.”
Morrison nodded and stepped out.
“This is a surprise, Captain,” the counselor stated. “According to your service record, you consider counselors to be ‘overrated'. Can I assume this is not something Ensign Sullivan can help you with?”
Limis nodded and sat in the chair that Morrison had previously occupied. “Ever since the search for my son reached a dead end, I’ve had trouble sleeping. The EMH suggested I talk to a counselor before he prescribed any sleep aides.”
“That is a problem,” the counselor quipped. “I cannot prescribe any medication, but we can discuss the problem in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational environment. First, tell me how you lost touch.”
Limis then explained the massacre at Tevlik’s moonbase, how the Bajoran who set up a colony there later betrayed the Maquis to the Dominion, and how she wanted to kill Arak Katal with her bare hands. The only thing that stopped her from going on such a manhunt was the fact that many others would be waiting in line.
“Why did you not decide to look for your son then?”
“I felt more was at stake. I had to make sure some of the Maquis survived after my cell leader was captured. So I ignored one of the most instincts in any living being: a mother’s need to protect her offspring.”
“And you want to make up for that. What changed?”
“A Cardassian threatened to kill him. And I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, or if Hadar can make good on his threat.”
“You feel you abandoned your child.”
“No, of course not.”
“But you feel you need to do what you should have done a long time ago.”
“Okay, yes. Because only because Yanith is innocent in all this. Hadar just wants revenge because I killed his brother.”
“That is a heavy burden for anyone to carry. As a starship captain, you have to weigh the good of the many with the good of the one. A single life is significant, though. I cannot tell you exactly what to do. All I can do is tell you that whether or not you forsake your duties to look for your son, you need to let yourself be content with your decision.”
Limis silently considered the hologram’s words. The silence was interrupted by the chiming of the comm. “Red alert,” Kozar called. “Captain to the bridge.”
Limis got out of the chair and bolted out the door.
Limis entered the bridge from the starboard turbolift. Kozar and M’Rev both stood at the operations station analyzing a set of sensor readings. Limis felt a little disappointed the ship was not under attack, as she expected when the alert was sounded.
“Where’s the fire?” she jovially asked.
“Mister M’Rev was able to create an early warning system for those ‘death stars’ we’ve had a few encounters with.”
“’Death stars’?” Limis dumfoundedly repeated.
“Twenty-first century Earth science fiction,” Kozar explained.
“In the instance eight months ago and then again two months ago,” the Tellarite ensign stated, “the lateral sensors detected instabilities in the space-time continuum.”
The time-traveling ships, Limis recalled to herself. She remembered Grabowski had requested that she keep those ships’ origins and the tactical updates on a need-to-know basis. This situation now certainly gave the bridge crew a need to know.
Limis glanced over at the Bolian ensign manning the tactical station. “Mister Ren, you’ll find a program in the tactical systems that will modify the shields and weapons.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jovis Ren answered.
Kozar’s eyebrows perked up. Normally, a captain had the privilege of keeping some secrets. In Limis’s case, Kozar flet any secrecy on her part was cause for alarm. “What’s going on, Captain?” he inquired.
“These ships are from the future,” Limis explained. “They belong to a faction intending to tamper with the timeline.”
“Who told you this?”
“Killed eight months ago during the first Betreka Nebula engagement.”
“Or so we thought.” He’s part of a watchdog organization from seven-hundred years in the future.”
“Two ships on approach,” M’Rev reported. “Configuration: spherical.”
Two spherical ships appeared alongside the Lambda Paz
, which was traveling at low warp. The two spheres fired torpedoes at the port and starboard nacelles. The update shields absorbed those hits.
“Minor damage to port and starboard deflectors,” Ren reported.
“Let’s show them they’re not as tough as they think,” Limis proclaimed. “Fire phasers.”
The port and starboard dorsal emitters shot two beams at the attacking vessels. Within a few seconds, the spheres disappeared back to their native time frame.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Ren reported. “Two Cardassian warships off the port bow.”
“Looks like the strategy is swoop in, slow us down to buy the Dominion time to catch us,” Kozar observed walking towards Limis.
“Conn, take us out of warp near those ships,” Limis ordered. “Looks like Hadar is doing his own dirty work.”
The Lambda Paz
dropped out of warp just in front of two Galor-class Cardassian warships. The two hostile vessels then fired phasers at the forward saucer.
“Forward shields are down ten percent,” M’Rev reported.
“Mister Ren,” Limis called, “target engines and weapons. Fire quantum torpedoes. Dispersal pattern sierra.”
Four torpedoes spread out form the Lambda Paz
and tore into the forward phaser emitters. The Lambda Paz
then streaked into warp and resumed its previous heading.
The Lambda Paz
continued on its course to Starbase G-6 for a brief layover. In the meantime, Goris M’Rev presented information on the time-traveling ships compiled form the volumes of sensor data. He presented these findings at the afternoon staff meeting.
“From what we can tell,” M’Rev said to Limis, Kozar, and Morrison in the observation lounge, “these ships use the principle of folded space transport.”
The Tellarite, seated at the captain’s left, handed Limis a padd containing the relevant data. “The L-way theorem?” Limis asked. “Starfleet Intelligence experimented with such a transporter device.”
M’Rev nodded. “Only these aliens fold time rather than space. After brief intervals, though, these ships seem to phase shift into their native period.”
“I’ve forwarded the phaser and shield updated to the ships in the Second and Ninth Fleets heading for the Chin’toka system,” Morrison reported. “For whoever is trying to alter history, the coming battle will be pivotal to the outcome of the war.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” Limis answered. She then looked to Kozar on her right. “Have you found anything in the database on the Temporal Cold War?”
“Not much,” Kozar stated. “Any details are likely events in a potentially infinite number of alternate timelines. All that is available is that the NX-01, under the command of Jonathan Archer two-hundred years ago encountered various factions trying to alter history in their favor.”
“Now that I think of it,” Limis mused, “it’s hard enough keeping track of events in this
“Thank you, everyone.”
Just as the other officers headed for the exit onto the bridge, Limis asked Morrison to stay for a few minutes. “I read your counselor’s report,” she continued. “She’s satisfied she’s gotten to the root of your problem and found a remedy.”
“That and some coaxing from Commander Kozar,” Morrison replied.
“Then you’ll be happy to know I am reinstating you as chief of security.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Morrison was at a loss for further words. He knew he would eventually regain his position as chief of security. But with the stresses of war, he had gotten used to reduced responsibilities. He was about to speak when the comm chimed.
“Captain to the bridge,” said Kozar.
Kozar and M’Rev stood at Ops when Limis and Morrison entered the bridge. “Captain,” Kozar continued, “we’ve received a distress call from the freighter T’Planahath
“The message said the freighter was under attack by Sindareen raiders in the Briar Patch,” M’Rev added. “We’ve been unable to reestablish communication.”
“Mister Morrison,” Limis called to Morrison at tactical, “send a message to the nearest ship. We’re not in the best shape to mount a rescue.”
“We’re the only ship in range,” Morrison replied.
“Helm, track the source of the distress call and set a course at maximum warp,” Limis commanded. She turned to Kozar and M’Rev. “We’ve been dealing with the Sindareen quite a bit even though the haven’t been in much of a position to threaten anyone in recent years,” she said. “Something is not adding up. Mister M’Rev, see if that ship’s transponder matches that of that of the T’Planahath
in our library computer.”
“Yes, ma’am,” M’Rev answered. “This will take a few minutes.”
“Take your time,” said Kozar. “We won’t get there for another hour.”
Captain’s log, stardate 51925.6: We’ve confirmed that the distress call came from a Federation freighter. That the Sindareen are involved and that wer are heading into the Briar Patch seem suspicious. To that end, I’ve requested that Starbase G-6 send a few ships as backup.
Limis sat in the command chair quietly contemplating the coming battle. Kozar sat at Limis’s left analyzing sensor data on his side console. An eerie quiet filled the bridge even with various stations buzzing with activity.
“In visual range, Captain,” M’Rev reported.
“Put it up,” Limis replied.
The viewscreen hummed to life with the image of two Sindareen battle cruisers attacking an Antares-class freighter. “Hail the Sindareen,” Limis ordered. “This is the Federation starship Lambda Paz
. Break off your attack or we will take retaliatory action.”
After a few seconds, Morrison shook his head when seeing no acknowledgement on his display. “No response,” he said.
“Can you raise the freighter?” Kozar asked.
“Trying, sir,” M’Rev replied. He entered commands into his console. He winced when the display showed readings he was not expecting. “This is weird. The transceiver is missing.”
“Then how the hell did they send a distress call?” Limis wondered.
“Unknown,” M’Rev stated.
Acting on a hunch, Limis requested, “Scan for lifesigns.”
“None, captain,” M’Rev reported. “The Sindareen have also broken off their attack.”
At that moment, a perimeter alert chimed on Morrison’s console. “Ships emerging from the metreon clouds,” he said.
A Jem’Hadar heavy cruiser emerged flanked by two battleships and two Galor-class Cardassian warships.