Ronnie Kozar took another punch in the jaw from one of Gul Hadar’s Cardassian henchmen. He was hanging from the ceiling of the ready room stripped down to a sleeveless tank and thigh length shorts. A second Cardassian injected him with another dose of truth serum into his carotid artery on the side of his neck. Hadar then grabbed Kozar’s chin and looked into the commander’s eyes.
“I will ask again,” Hadar growled. “Where are you hiding your captain?”
“You have this ship,” Kozar replied calmly. “Why do you want the captain?”
“Do not play games with me, human. I know you do not particularly care for Limis. I can end this now if you tell me where she is.”
“Why don’t you just stick me in an airlock and decompress it? You people love to follow that expression that turnabout is fair play.”
Kozar hit a nerve. Hadar let go of him and paced towards the door. “If I wasn’t depending on you for information, I would kill you for making light of my brother’s death. I want her to watch someone she cares for suffer. You are not such a person.”
Kozar let out a chuckle through his wheezing and coughing. “How flattering,” he retorted. “Your brother betrayed your people by supplying classified technology to the Romulans. What’s that Cardie expression? ‘Never let sentiment get in the way of your work.’”
Hadar’s face reddened. He then removed his phaser pistol and fired it just above Kozar’s knee. Kozar clenched his teeth to muffle his screaming from the pain of bleeding out. “It’s a shame these walls are soundproof,” Hadar mused. “So your crewmates can’t hear your screams echo through this ship. My people believe that family is everything. Because Limis robbed me of a member of my family, I want her to witness the death of a member of her
“Hasn’t she lost enough of her family? Her parents? Her colleagues in the Bajoran resistance? Most of the Maquis? Hasn’t she experienced enough deaths in her family?”
“This is justice!” Hadar thundered. “Now, where are you hiding her?”
“An eye for an eye, eh?” Kozar replied with a wry grin. “That’s one of Earth’s oldest legal precedents, and it has been a justification for unending cycles of violence that spanned generations. But we haven’t taken it to those kinds of extremes in centuries. Where does that brand of justice end, Hadar?!”
Hadar tapped the communicator on his left wrist. A female Cardassian technician wheeled in a cart from a side entrance. She activated a padd that allowed an electrical cable to hum to life. Hadar grabbed the cable and asked Kozar one more where Limis was being hidden.
“Blow it out your ass,” Kozar answered spitting in Hadar’s face.
Hadar placed the end of the cable against Kozar’s chest, sending an electrical current throughout his body. This time, he could muffle his own screams that were so loud, they could have been heard through the vacuum of space.
“The Orb of Time is on Bajor?” Grabowski asked Limis. “How can you be sure?”
“I just had a vision from the Prophets,” Limis answered. “They said I have a destiny to fulfill in my own time period. And I could do that by finding that which transcends linear time.”
Grabowski was astounded by the grandiose claim Limis made after she momentarily fell into a catatonic state. Despite being one-quarter Bajoran, he did not believe in the Prophets. From what he knew from Limis’s biographical file, Limis did not believe in the Prophets either. Hence, she would not take their cryptic messages seriously. “From what I know of the Prophets,” Grabowski mused, “they aren’t very straightforward. How can you be sure they were referring to the Orb of Time?”
“Without your time portals,” Limis explained, “I have no way of getting back to my own time. And that seems to be the only way to restore your history. We have a bit of chicken and the egg dilemma.”
“Okay, then where on Bajor would it be?”
Limis raised her right index finger while trying to gather her thoughts. “I’m trying to remember a set of coordinates,” she said. “Latitude north twenty-four point three-six degrees by longitude east fifty-eight point one-nine degrees.”
Limis paced over to a shelf containing a set of rolled up maps. She unrolled a map of the province in which she was located. She quickly approximated the coordinates on the map. Grabowski also took a glance at the map, his eyes squinting at the idea of having to travel a long distance. “That’s over twenty kilometers from here. And we’d have to cross the Golar Desert.”
“We don’t appear to have any other choice,” Limis insisted.
“We still can’t be certain we’ll even find the Orb once we get there.”
“I guess we have to take a leap of faith. And since you were responsible for bringing me here, we’ll go look for it together.”
To assure that none of the captured crewmembers attempted to replicate a tool or a weapon, the replicators were taken offline. The internal comm system was also taken offline. The Cardassians and the Jem’Hadar could still use their own personal communication devices. Those obstacles did not stop senior chief engineer Chaz Logan from attempting to find a way around those problems. Various circuit components lay on the floor of his quarters as he attempted to coax the replicator back on.
The computer above the replicator slot came to life for a brief moment. He gasped in anticipation hoping he had finally overcome the command lockouts. Then the panel again went dark. He sighed in frustration just as he could hear static coming from the doorbell speaker. He wondered if someone was trying to send a message through the doorbell.
Logan could hear a faint voice through the static. “Hello?” he called out. “I’m having trouble understanding you. Please repeat.”
The voice repeated, but was still incoherent.
“Try again,” Logan replied. “Try modulating the wave guides.”
Erhlich Tarlazzi’s was now coming in clearly. “To quote an old Earth advertising promotion,” he said, “Can you hear me now?”
“I can hear you loud and clear, Tarlazzi,” Logan answered half-sarcastically. He never thought he’d be glad to hear the voice of the assistant chief engineer, who had been pulling his leg since coming aboard. “How are you contacting me with the comm down?”
“I read about a little trick by a twenty-second century engineer
,” Tarlazzi explained. “I’m routing audio transmissions through the EPS conduits. I’m also trying to rig up a tricorder to send printout messages to the personal desk monitors.”
“Well, our captors will be kicking themselves for not turning off the library computers,” Logan quipped. “Any luck contacting any of our other crewmates.”
“I can’t reach Commander Kozar. And I’m still trying to reach senior officers on other decks.”
“Well, keep at it. We need to have a game plan for retaking the ship.”
Limis and Grabowski trudged through the desert for several hours. They both lost track of how much time had passed. All they did know was that today was the same day as when they left the library to begin looking for supplies necessary for a long walk through the desert. Sunset was just a matter of a few hours with the glare of the sun right in their faces.
Limis kneeled down when she began to tire. She had removed her black and gray uniform jacket and red tunic and wrapped them around her waist. She was risking severe sunburn on her arms, but she felt she her skin needed to breathe more easily without so many layers of clothing. Grabowski was still in his full uniform. She hadn’t felt this worn out crossing the Golar Desert while on the run from Cardassian pursuers. Maybe getting older was taking a toll on her. “At least the sun will be going down in a few hours,” she observed while taking a large gulp of water from her leather canteen, “and it won’t be so damned hot.”
“I’m sure you know how ridiculously cold this place gets at night,” Grabowski replied.
“Oh, yes. I remember Arnit was the only one of my resistance colleagues I felt comfortable huddling up for warmth with.”
Grabowski sighed at hearing a reference to her late former husband. He then continued walking at a faster pace. Limis was still trying to catch her breath, but then she got up and started walking again.
Shortly after sunset, the two travelers built a fire for light more than warmth. Limis held her hands above the flames and rubbed her hands together. Grabowski threw what little extra kindling he could find onto the fire. “At first, I thought the Federation was just a bunch of utopian societies overly dependent on technology,” she commented. “But I’m glad to see Starfleet trainees are still taught basic survival.”
Grabowski grinned. “I read about the Occupation in high school,” he said. “Very tragic time, even though it was seven hundred years ago from my perspective. I came to admire you when I was briefed on your missions.”
“I’m flattered that one day, I will become required reading for your organization,” Limis retorted. “Can you become joined?”
“Joined?” he asked, kneeling down next to her.
“To a symbiont.”
“I never gave it a lot of thought. Only a small percentage of full-blood Trills can be joined. I suppose I could in an emergency situation, probably with different physiological effects. I know a human who was temporarily joined
had his persona completely submerged.”
“But you’d probably remember my century as if you had lived it.”
They both exchanged a long, silent gaze. Limis then kissed Grabowski on the lips. That was followed by a longer, open lip kiss. Grabowski slowly nudged Limis down on her back while they continued their amorous embrace.