Normally, welcoming an officer in the Exchange Program aboard qualified as diplomatic function. So that meant the welcoming committee would be in full dress. Various circumstances on DS9, however, had the top ranking officers too occupied to observe a relatively minor protocol to the letter. Dax was to be supervising Verad’s transfer to a prison ship arriving within the hour. Kira was taking communiqués from her superiors and assuring Klingon diplomats that the comatose Chancellor Martok was in good hands. Of course, Bashir had to keep a close eye on Martok in case any unexpected problems took place.
The three of them were still able to take time out of their busy schedules to welcome a scientist from Martosia Prime. Prynn Tenmei was also present as the station’s incumbent science officer. The airlock was already open for a docked transport, but the guest of honor had not yet disembarked. The welcoming officers exchanged awkward glances amongst each other.
“Relax,” Kira told the others. “He’ll be here. And the prison ship doesn’t arrive for another hour.”
“Plenty of time to carry out all the security arrangements,” Bashir added, noting Dax’s look of anxiousness in her eyes. “Otherwise Lieutenant Escobar will understand.”
Ezri rolled her eyes and snorted derisively. “What are you talking about, Julian?” she snapped.
“What are you talking about?” Julian teased. He gave a wry grin, then looked away form his ex after seeing she was not amused.
A tall man who dwarfed all four of the welcoming officers by nearly a foot stepped through the airlock. He had to arch his head downward and crouch down slightly to get through the doorways. His head was completely hairless except for free flowing ponytail down to his waist. Elliptical ridges were on his cheekbones to his ears. By his own choice, he was dressed in a Starfleet uniform with a blue science department collar. His forehead was adorned with a blue trapezoidal tattoo separated into four pieces similar to a coat of arms with varying family crests.
Kira arched her head upward, trying to hide her intimidation at the man’s large stature, mirroring that of a Capellan. “Welcome to Deep Space 9, Doctor Muren’Thol,” she said calmly. “I’m Captain… ”
“Kira Nerys,” the tall man interrupted, with a thunderous deep voice. “I am Lieutenant Ardolis Muren’Thol of the Martosian Astrophysics Consortium.”
The group exchanged grins to hide their annoyance at his lack of social graces. Kira then introduced the rest of her officers. “Lieutenant Dax. Doctor Bashir. And Lieutenant Tenmei, who is relinquishing the science officer position to you.”
Ardolis looked down at Prynn, oblivious to her forced smile. “You are relieved,” he said dismissively.
“Would you like to be shown to your quarters, sir?” Tenmei asked.
“I am here for my expertise in subspace technologies,” Ardolis replied. “I am ready to begin work with you and your chief of operations.”
He strutted down the corridor, leaving the other four officers exchanging eye rolls and quiet sights. This was one of those times they had to remind themselves of differences in social conventions among various races.
“Not very chatty,” Bashir muttered.
Ardolis later held a briefing on new detection methods for tracking down subspace explosives. Kira, Nog, and Tenmei were in attendance in the ward room. Ardolis explained a sensor schematic of a freighter containing contraband subspace weaponry that had been recently seized displayed on the monitor screen across from the head of the meeting table.
“Martosian sensors are equipped with high frequency magnetic wave-guide pallets,” he explained. “That way the patrol vessels were able detect minute inertial displacement patterns in subspace. We were easily able to track down the vessel’s course, as well as determine how many subspace warheads were in the Son’a cargo holds.”
“How long should modifying our own sensors take?” Kira asked Nog.
“Twelve hours, sir,” the petite Ferengi engineer answered nervously. He had learned to overcome his general fear of saying the wrong thing to a superior officer. Everyone in the room could tell he was stuttering, perhaps because of his small stature compared to that of Ardolis’s. “That’s including additional modifications to the Defiant and the remaining runabouts.”
“You’ll also be interested to know,” Ardolis added, “that the gravimetric specifications to your torpedoes are most effective in neutralizing the particle shockwaves and minimizing the damage to subspace. However, noticeable residue is still evident.”
He shot Kira a long and sharp glance, suggesting to her he knew more than he was letting on. “With enough of these residual particles, one could, in theory, new subspace particle warheads.”
“We should look at increasing the yield of the gravimetric torpedoes,” Tenmei offered. “A seventy to eighty isoton yield should do the trick.”
“Get on it,” Kira said. “And forward these specifications to Vaughn and Ro. Any other word from them yet?”
“At last report, they should be at Nimbus Three in two hours,” Nog answered.
“Very good. The three of you will oversee the modification to the sensors and the torpedoes. Dismissed.”
Nog and Tenmei slowly saunterd out of the meeting room, keeping light grins directed at their newest colleague. Ardolis just maintained a blank expression on his face. He waited until the other officers had left and turned to face Kira.
“This ‘subspace weapon’ you are tracking is Omega,” he said with an accusatory stare. “Is it not?”
Kira sighed and took a few moments to consider her next words. “Computer, disengage all recording and surveillance devices in this room,” she instructed. “And set up a level two acoustic dampening field. Priority authorization Kira two-six-seven alpha.”
After the computer chirped, Kira looked straight ahead at Ardolis. “What do you know about Omega?” she curtly inquired. She had a brief hunch that the Martosians had acquired Omega through the methods Ardolis had described in the briefing.
“My people have conducted our own research on what you call Omega,” Ardolis candidly replied. “We have yet to achieve the creation a single Omega molecule. It would go a long way towards helping my people heal the wounds of the last five years.”
Kira gave a light nod, knowing the Martosians, like the Bajorans, were a former subject race of the Cardassians. Of course, history had not been as kind to Martosia as it had to Bajor. During the Klingon invasion, the Martosian liberation movement had gained momentum eventually resulting in achieving political independence. A year later, when Cardassia became a member of the Dominion, one of Dukat’s first official acts as the new Cardassian head of state was to request that the Jem’Hadar laid waste to Martosia Prime. The Founders then agreed with Dukat’s reasoning not to annihilate the entire population in order to “teach them the price of disloyalty.”
“I’m sure your people are aware of the destructive side effects of even one Omega molecule,” Kira said, still finding the man’s rumbling voice intimidating.
“That is why our research has not proceeded very far. I am well aware that your Omega Directive supersedes even the Prime Directive. But understand that there are those in my government who would still refuse accept any interference on your part.”
“Is that a threat?” Kira retorted, finding the irony of a subordinate resorting to diplomatic posturing mildly amusing. “If you know of the Omega Directive, surely you know Starfleet rules of conduct.”
“I say that only because such interference could potentially undermine our efforts towards Federation membership.”
“Of course,” Kira said with a light grin, hoping to elicit a similar expression from Ardolis. He still maintained his cold, but collected, stare that reminded her of a Jem’Hadar.