Limis sorted through various wires from an open circuit housing. She applied a quantum flux regulator to each of the wires before placing them back in the housing. She ran an ODN decoupler through numerous different circuits. During these modifications to the communications circuit, Moset impatiently paced back and forth, trying to loosen his restraints and wondering if he should try to make a run for it. With the door locked and his wrists in restraints, he probably would not get very far before getting his captor’s attention. Instead, the best he could do was to find exactly what Limis was hoping to accomplish.
“Do you really hope to get a distress signal out?” he asked calmly. “Security will find you in a heartbeat.”
“I’m not looking to send out a distress signal,” Limis said while keeping her focus on her modifications. “I’m trying to get in touch with the rest of my team.”
“Using the station’s internal comm-system? Again, you won’t get very far with twelve levels of encryptions to break through.”
Limis turned around and grabbed a knife-like brace coil perched on a cargo container. She gently slid the blade end against Moset’s right cheek. “You ask a lot of questions for someone in handcuffs,” she observed.
“What can I say?” Moset retorted. “I’m trying to distract myself from wondering what you eventually plan to do with me.”
“As I’ve said,” Limis snapped, yanking the tool away from Moset and slamming it back on the cargo container, “when all is said and done, you will come back with as a prisoner of war.”
Moset smirked when he heard the demands Limis had made of him when she first took him hostage. “But what why me?” he asked, raising his hands in a habitual gesture, forgetting he was still wearing restraints. “Gul Lemec would be a much more valuable prisoner.”
have Yanith,” Limis said concentrating on her work. She attached one of the wires to her tricorder. “He is more important to me than any mission Starfleet sends me on.”
“That didn’t seem to be the case when the mass slaughter of the Maquis started,” Moset replied, maintaining a conversational tone. “You plan on contacting what’s left of your team and use me as a hostage to rescue your son. How very predictable. And how do you plan to get off this station. I doubt Thalek will just beam you back from wherever you came.”
Limis set the tricorder down on the cargo container. She then removed a tiny access panel on the tricorder to alter the device’s communications circuitry. Hearing the name of the Cardassian informant then diverted her attention. “All right, shut up,” she snarled, grabbing Moset by the throat and flinging him against a wall. She then stomped towards him, grasped his throat, and swung his head against the wall. “I’m still curious about how exactly you plan to use my son to bring in reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant?”
“The Orb of Souls,” Moset struggled to say between breaths.
“What about it?” Limis demanded, letting go of his throat. She then placed the tip of the coil brace below his left eye.
She had hoped to continue to provoke fear in him. Moset knew Limis would not deliberately try to kill him here and now if he was more valuable to him alive. She could still make a nervous twitch and kill him anyway. His fear was an instinctive reaction built into the genetic makeup of all sentient beings. But his higher reasoning skills also hoped he would be killed, removing himself from whatever Limis was planning in order to free her son.
“Kai Dava, and many of the spiritual leaders after him, used that Orb to seek guidance from the souls of the dead. This Orb is said to be a doorway into alternate realities, which is why it has been studies more exhaustively by our scientists than any other Orb.”
“Alternate realities?” Limis repeated, lowering the coil brace. “As in parallel universes?”
“Parallel universes,” Moset said with a nod. “Alternate quantum realities, where all the possibilities that can happen do happen. In at least one of them, Sisko never acted on a daring plan to take on almost three thousand Dominion warships with one ship.
“And what does that all have to do with my son’s ancestry? My
“Again, you prematurely assume that Dava is your ancestor and not your former spouse’s. But contained within Yanith’s genome is a genetic turn-key passed down from each generation that could allow us to harness the Orb’s powers.”
“’Could’?” Limis acerbically repeated. “You’re gambling a whole hell of a lot on ‘could’
“You were a terrorist once, Limis,” Moset retorted. “You know that even the slimmest chance of defeating a difficult enemy is worth the risks.”
Limis looked away from Moset gritting her teeth. “Oh, yes,” she breathed. “I understand that, all right.” She then punched Moset in the jaw and in the abdomen. “But your little freak show is over,” she added. “You release my son, and I will let the legal system decide what to do with you rather than present you to every Bajoran who wants a piece of you.”
“You think I care about my own well-being?” Moset shot back. “If I die by your hand or the hand of any other Bajoran, I will die serving Cardassia, just as many of your people died serving Bajor.”
“So be it.”
A chirp in her jury-rigged communication device caught Limis’s attention. She did not even time to consider Moset meant by “difficult enemy”. The Dominion had been the superior power since the war began. Even with the recent entry of the Romulan Star Empire into the war, the Dominion was still resolved to make the Federation Alliance fight hard for every cubic millimeter of their territory. But by Moset’s implication, something had the Founders more on edge. Something that had them grasping at proverbial straws. But what?
Limis applied a quantum flux regulator to tricorder to try and boost the signal. She then applied a miniature tool to her combadge’s power cell. Once she had detached from the tricorder’s front imaging diodes, she placed the casing back on the badge. “Limis to M’Rev,” she said, tapping the device.
“Limis to Amaros.”
Again, no answer.
“Bowers, do you read?”
Sergeant Samaritan Bowers was crawling through one of the access tunnels while his partner, Sergeant Mik Tannin was falling further behind. Standard Cardassian crawlspaces were not much bigger than the average size of most humanoid species. The more statuesque Tannin would have a hard time squeezing through the raised rim that would appear every so often. “Just a few more meters,” Bowers assured him while scanning the area ahead with a tricorder.
“How many times have you said that while we were in one of these cramped spaces?” Tannin grumbled.
“They’re usually designed for Cardassians and similarly-sized humanoids,” Bowers explained, slinking out the open hatch and into a standing room work area. “With a few accommodations for the Jem’Hadar, of course.”
“I’d still hate to be a Jem’Hadar on his last drop of white trapped in one of these things,” Tannin retorted, trying to squeeze his way through the hatch. Bowers took the Brikar’s right hand and helped him slip out of the hatch. Sam then flipped open his tricorder and scanned a nearby circuit cluster. It was similar to the various circuits he and Mik had been sabotaging to make locating them with the internal sensors more difficult. Now that they had been sold out by Thalek, station security was monitoring them and the rest of the strike team. Staying one step ahead of the enemy was now more important than carrying out the original mission to cause a controlled implosion in the station’s reactor core.
“Bowers, do you read?”
Bowers looked in Tannin’s direction even knowing the feminine voice clearly did not belong to him. “Bowers here,” he said as he tapped his combadge trying not to get his hopes up that he was actually hearing Limis’s voice. “Is that you, Captain?”
“Good to hear your voice, too, Bowers,” Limis scoffed. “I’m encoding this signal in the station’s incoming and outgoing comm traffic. I have captured Moset. What is your current position?”
“Sergeant Tannin and I are just outside service junction L-twenty-two on level thirty-seven of the central core,” Bowers answered while applying a miniature laser cutter to one of the circuits.
“Any sign you are being pursued?”
“We’re doing everything to stay two steps ahead of them,” Bowers said while consulting his tricorder for technical schematics stored there. He entered a set of commands into the scanning device to check for evidence of enemy pursuers in that section of the station. He then applied the circuit cutting device to another wire.
“M’Rev and Amaros have most likely been captured or killed. I will try to contact Ortega and Patal and get to back you, Bowers. You are to carry out your original plan to smash the wicked queen’s magic mirror. But do not proceed until I give the official go-ahead. Do you understand?”
“Very clever,” Moset remarked of Limis’s clandestine effort to contact her colleagues. “How exactly did you break through all those encryptions so quickly?”
Limis checked her tricorder again to make sure the communications signal was optimum intensity before contacting Corporals Paolo Ortega and Rata Patal, who had been assigned to scout the docking ring. “You don’t expect me to answer, do you?” she asked, rolling her eyes.
“No more than you should expect me to surrender to the authorities,” Moset retorted.
Gul Lemec entered the science lab where M’Rev and Amaros were being held. He instructed the two lab technicians to wake the prisoners. Once they had done so, Lemec let his right hand hover over one of the control consoles. “All right, let’s try this again,” he said. “Your team leader has taken Doctor Moset hostage.”
“What a damn shame,” M’Rev scoffed. “Too bad that scum wasn’t captured sooner.”
Lemec keyed a command sequence sending an electrical shock through M’Rev’s body. “What does she plan to do with him?” he demanded, increasing the voltage on both M’Rev’s and Amaros’s electrocution implant.”
“How the hell would we know?” Amaros replied. “That wasn’t in the mission itinerary. Don’t waste your time asking us.”
“Does that mean you are willing to tell me what was
on the mission itinerary?” Lemec asked, strutting up to Manuel with a taunting stare.
fly,” Amaros spat.
Lemec walked over to M’Rev and tugged at the Tellarite’s scraggly beard. “Thalek has been willing to disclose the names of all his Cardassian informants in exchange for amnesty,” he said with gritted teeth. “I would be willing to extend the same generosity to the two of you.”
“Not on your life,” M’Rev shot back.
Lemec released his grasp on M’Rev facial hair with a grunt. “I was seriously hoping for your cooperation. Of course, your fate is still your choice.”
He headed back to console controlling the electrocution implants when Lemec’s attention was suddenly diverted by the sound of static originating from the two communications monitors in the lab. The garbled image appearing on the two screens slowly resolved into the face of Limis on both monitors. “This is Captain Limis Vircona to the commander of Sentok Nor.”
“Shut that off,” Lemec demanded of the technician at a console in front of one of the monitors.
“It’s coming in on all frequencies,” the technician replied, futilely trying to shut off the transmission.
“As you already know, I have taken Doctor Crell Moset as a hostage,”
Limis continued as the image on the screen zoomed outward to include Moset standing on her right with the tip of a knife being pointed at his chin.
Both M’Rev and Amaros could see the transmission from their team leader from where they were hanging from the ceiling. They grinned triumphantly even though none of the Cardassians in the room were looking in their direction. It was all they could do to keep their spirits up amid rigorous torture.
“My terms are simple. You will release my son, Hasin Yanith, and any other live subjects in your custody. Or Moset will die.”
The transmission abruptly ended with the logo of the Cardassian Union appearing on the otherwise blank screen. “Trace the call,” Lemec instructed the technician. “And don’t tell me she’s using a communications scrambler. I have a counter-proposal to make.”
Lemec made his way to another science lab down the hallway where Yanith was being held. He waved the medical technician at the biobed away. She and the three other technicians took that as a cue for all of them to vacate the lab.
The Gul then loaded a hypospray and used it to wake the young blond-haired Bajoran man. Lemec removed his disruptor pistol from its holster and placed its tip against Yanith’s left temple. “Captain Limis,” he said, tapping his wrist communicator. Afterwards he used his left hand to squeeze Yanith’s chin. “This is Gul Taolor Lemec. Do not presume to make such demands when we still have your boy and two of your officers in our custody. You will release Moset, or I
will kill my
hostages—starting with your child.”
“You’re bluffing, Lemec,”
Limis confidently replied. “My son is more valuable to you alive than dead.”
“For a means of obtaining Dominion reinforcements that has a very slim chance at succeeding,” Lemec countered. “You were lucky that he was really a shape-shifter in disguise the last time you saw his life threatened. Do you want to take that chance again?”
Lemec raised his left wrist above Yanith’s face so that he could speak into the communicator. “Mother, please do as he says,” he implored, terrified that Lemec could end his life at any second. “Whatever this quest you’re on now, it’s not worth my life. You chose the Maquis over me. Don’t make that kind of mistake.”
“I suggest you head his suggestion, Captain,” Lemec taunted. “Release Moset and come to science lab four to surrender yourself. You have five minutes to decide.
All Lemec got was static. He tapped the communicator three more times but lost the transmission. He stuffed the pistol in the holster and shot Yanith a cold stare. “Let’s hope for your sake, she gives herself up,” he warned.