A team from the Semmelweis
came aboard the Lambda Paz
to assist in triage. Naturally, Markalis was among the doctors tending to the most critical cases in sickbay. One such patient was a human male on the main biobed with nasty plasma burns on his face and chest. He wore an oxygen mask because of damage to the heart and lungs. A nurse injected the patient with an antibiotic cocktail to stave off existing infection. Markalis then rolled a layer of an artificial skin graft onto the patient’s chest.
She flinched when the monitor began beeping. One of the readouts on the built-in bio-scanner began flat lining. “He’s in cardiac arrest!” she called out. “Cardio-stimulator!”
A female nurse brought over a cylindrical device and placed it on the man’s chest. It sent electrical pulses into his heart to keep it beating. The readout then indicated normal cardiac activity. Markalis let out a sigh of relief. “All right,” she said. “Make sure his heart rate is stable. And continue with treating the plasma burns."
Aurellan nearly jumped out of her own skin when she heard the comm chime. “Limis to Markalis,” the captain called. “When you get a chance, please report to the observation lounge.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Markalis replied, tapping her comm-badge.
Much of the senior staff gathered in a darkened observation to discuss how to combat the Dominion’s latest bag of tricks. Limis sat at the head of the table glancing at reports on several different padds. Every other officer present had a padd in hand, prepared to present his or her findings. Carson added a padd to the captain’s already thick stack. “I sorted through the helm logs,” she added. “We passed through that area thirty-six times. We didn’t snag anything then… “
“Until lucky thirty-seven,” Limis finished. “Anything we could use as an early warning system, Morrison?”
“I’ve looked through the logs of our passive scans,” Morrison replied, while visually scanning a padd. “I get no indication of subspace transceivers other than those of the ships in the battle. No tachyon readings, residual anti-protons, or anything else that indicate any cloaked mines.”
“Maybe it’s hidden the same way as that Dyson Sphere we encountered last year,” Kozar offered.
“Sensor logs did indicate spikes in subspace throughout the area,” Huckaby recalled aloud. “Those could be just anything we encountered only one of those Houdinis.”
“Unfortunately,” sh’Aqba added, “we need to trigger more of them in order to design any kind of countermeasure.”
“Do whatever you can,” said Limis, half-yawning. “The sooner, the better.”
“Sooner may not be possible,” Huckaby began.
“It’s only impossible until it’s not, Mr. Huckaby,” Limis snapped. “Get on it. Dismissed, everyone.”
Morrison sh’Aqba, and Carson headed for the side entrance behind the monitor, while Huckaby headed for the bridge entrance. Limis threw a padd down on the table yawning. She was shaken awake by the sound of the comm chime. “Bridge to the captain,” said Sullivan, “Doctor Markalis is waiting to see you.”
“Send her in,” Limis replied, ascending from her chair.
She offered Kozar a cup of coffee while heading for the replicator, which he accepted. Limis had replicated two cups of coffee, which she was setting down on the table, when Markalis walked in.
“Aurellan Markalis reporting as ordered,” the doctor stated nervously, thinking she had been summoned to the principal’s office.
“At ease, doctor,” Limis replied. “Have you gotten this nervous around all your CO’s?”
“Only since I joined Starfleet.”
“Care for a beverage?”
“No thank you,” the doctor calmly replied, taking a seat on Limis’s left.
“After reading your report,” Limis candidly stated, sitting back in her chair, “I figured I should let you know that I’m placing Mister Darcen and his associates under arrest.”
Markalis shot a glance at Kozar, thinking of the reportedly less than cordial relationship between captain and first officer. She was half-expecting Kozar to countermand Limis’s order to effectively derail Section 31’s operation. “Why?” Aurellan demurely asked.
“You seem to have a fondness for these people, Doctor,” Limis replied. “I hope you remember they caused the deaths of Federation citizens on Epsilon Trianguli.”
“Absolutely. But Mister Cole was hoping to learn what Epsilon Trianguli was a proving ground for. We can’t do that if we arrest these people. Others could carry out that plan, whatever it is.”
“I’m aware of Section 31’s stake in this. But I don’t buy that Section 31 simply wants to stop the use of a biological weapon. This is an organization that doesn’t give a damn about the conventions of war. My decision stands.”
“If you have a problem with this,” Kozar offered, “you can ask to be temporarily relieved of duty.”
“No, that’s not necessary,” said Markalis.
“You’re dismissed then,” Limis replied.
The doctor stepped out of the observation lounge through the side entrance. She stopped once in the corridor. She felt as if another consciousness was in her mind. This consciousness told her not to allow Limis to carry out her plan.
Mandel Morrison lunged towards the deck and speared a blue rubber ball, hitting the floor of a cargo bay. While the ship had no holodecks according to the schematics, the crew would often make use of empty cargo bays as a makeshift gymnasium. And even though the entire ship had holographic emitters to accommodate the EMH, other holographic images were not nearly as good as those on a holodeck. On several occasions, Morrison’s holographic spring-ball opponent fizzled in and out.
“Final set to Morrison,”
the computer announced. “Winner: Morrison.”
Neeley stood outside the entrance to the cargo bay wearing the same thick royal blue jumpsuit Morrison wore. Once the match was over, she slowly walked toward him and put out her right hand to help him up. “You could probably use a real opponent,” she offered.
Morrison threw down the ball he was still clasping, pushed up the facemask on his helmet, and took Neeley’s hand to help himself upright. “You play spring-ball?” he innocently asked, getting back on his feet.
“Being a Starfleet brat like I was,” Lisa quipped, “you pick up a few things. But I played the kind that’s like tennis. This looks a little more intense.”
“Think of this as extreme
spring-ball,” Mandel explained, pushing down the facemask. “The captain says it became increasingly popular in the early years of the Occupation. Computer, begin new game.”
Neeley put on her helmet and flipped down the facemask. Morrison let go of the ball and hurled his racket at it. The ball bounced off the wall opposite the entrance. Neeley hit the ball with her racket, which streaked far to Morrison’s right. “You seem awfully friendly with our captain,” Neeley remarked.
“What’s so bad about that?” Morrison asked, running towards the ball and giving it another whack.
“You seem to have a way with women,” Neeley replied. “Whatever happened with you and Sara Carson?” She was then able to lunge towards Morrison sending him to the deck. With him out of the way, she grabbed the ball before it took a second bounce.
A chime sounded and the computer announced the score. “Fifteen-null, Neeley.”
“That wasn’t fair,” Morrison groaned.
“If I was a Jem’Hadar, I wouldn’t give a shit.”
“Good thing there are no Jem’Hadar women.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Neeley asked, hitting the ball to resume the game.
“Only that they’d be as sneaky as you,” Morrison said, angrily swatting the ball after it took a bounce.
“Would you describe Sara that way?” Neeley curiously asked swatting the ball and knocking over her opponent in one move.
said the computer.
“She’s in the past,” Mandel stated, removing his helmet. He walked towards the entrance instructing the computer to pause the match. He pushed a button on the left of the entrance and the doors latched shut.
“What are you doing?” Lisa wondered aloud, removing her helmet.
“Enough pretense, Lisa,” Mandel snapped, unzipping his jumpsuit. “You’re attracted to me, I’m attracted to you. This is only logical.”
Lisa just stood in shock as Mandel removed his undershirt and then his underpants. She did nothing but watch him in his state of undress. As Mandel walked towards her, she hurriedly unzipped her jumpsuit.
Captain Limis sat in the command chair reading a padd containing the engineering departments latest repair updates. For now, the warp drive was good enough to get the ship to the Tagra system within a day. Her focus on all the complicated techno-babble was diverted when a security alarm sounded.
“Unauthorized shuttle launch,” reported Huckaby, who was normally the gamma shift duty officer, but was manning the tactical station tonight.
Limis quickly stood up and looked over to ops, where the Kobliad Tor Makassa was stationed. “Override,” she snapped.
“Too late,” Makassa replied futilely tapping his controls.
“Tractor beam?” Limis asked Huckaby.
“Offline,” the ensign replied. He looked at another readout on his right. “The shuttle has gone to warp.”
“Rebecca,” Limis called to Sullivan at conn, “pursuit course.”
Rebecca entered a course change, but the computer would not comply. “No can do,” she replied. “Engines are in working order, but the commands from the helm aren’t reaching them.”
“Computer, who authorized the launch?” Limis asked in a cold rage, almost expecting to know how the computer would respond.
“Command authorization two-three-six echo. Aurellan Markalis.”
Limis stood silently, considering how she would respond to this betrayal. She stormed off the bridge without another word. Sullivan vacated her station, asking a blonde human woman at the starboard mission ops station to take over. She recalled that Limis reacted in a similarly upon learning the true identity of Arak Katal, the Bajoran man who set up a safe house for the families of the Maquis, which was later attacked by the Dominion. Kozar also followed Limis off the bridge.
“What are you going to do if you find her, Captain?” Rebecca asked when she caught up to her friend in a corridor.
“I’m mostly angry with myself for not seeing that she was Section 31 all along,” Limis replied. “Her doe-eyed innocent look should have been the first clue.”
“You can’t blame yourself, Limis,” Kozar replied. “How do you propose to find Markalis on your own when this whole expanse is swarming with enemy ships?”
“Tagra Four will be the first place to look. I want to help her. According to her medical records, she takes a tranquilizer that leaves one extremely susceptible to suggestion if taken in high doses.”
“You accessed classified records?” Kozar cut in.
“Say it’s against regulations,” Limis shot back, “and so help me, Number One, you’ll be in sickbay for a week.”
“I suggest you go in the captain’s yacht,” Kozar said calmly. “It’s the fastest support ship we have. And take a team of MACO’s.”
“I’d like to go along too,” Sullivan offered.
“She’s all yours, Kozar,” Limis demurely declared. “And sorry about threatening you.”
“Quite all right,” Kozar replied, sauntering off towards the turbolift.
“Might I also suggest Garak accompany us as well?” Rebecca asked Limis once Kozar was gone. “He’s here for his expertise in covert communications.”
“Fine,” Limis reluctantly huffed. “I never thought I’d trust a Cardassian more than one of my own crew.”
The captain’s yacht detached from the ventral saucer section. After moving a few hundred meters downward, the support vessel sped off. Limis sat in the cockpit’s central piloting station. Sullivan occupied a secondary piloting console on the captain’s left while conversing with Neeley. The MACO commander monitored enemy ship activity on a starboard auxiliary console while recalling her latest encounter with Morrison.
“So he started taking his clothes off just like that?” Rebecca asked, holding in a giggle.
“Suffice to say,” Neeley replied, “I was quite impressed.”
Limis sighed in annoyance. Garak, while occupying a port auxiliary station was equally perturbed by the topic of conversation. He held his tongue, assuming this was a Terran cultural idiosyncrasy of which he was not aware.
“So what’s his… equipment like?” Sullivan curiously asked Neeley.
“Ladies,” Limis snapped. “Neeley, consider yourself and Mister Morrison on report when we get back.”
“Under different circumstances,” Garak added, “it would be a fascinating lesson in comparative anatomy. But it is now, as you Terrans would say, too much information.”
A chirping noise quickly refocused Garak’s attention. A Cardassian Union logo appeared on his screen, indicating communications activity in the immediate vicinity. “Captain,” he called out, “I’m reading one… no two Hideki
-class patrol vessels within two-billion kilometers.”
“Move us out of their sensor range,” Limis ordered Sullivan.
“Too late,” said Neeley. “They’re heading right for us.”
The two Cardassian ships moved swiftly in on the yacht firing gold phaser beams. “Return fire,” Limis commanded.
The yacht’s phasers slowed down the starboard vessel. The port ship then arched back towards the yacht and fired two torpedoes. The blast tore off the port nacelle. The occupants of the cockpit were thrown out of their seats. The whole vessel began spiraling towards a large asteroid.