Day 22, 1400 hours
On the Defiant's bridge, Megan had been constantly monitoring the flight path of the Jem'Hadar/Tren fleet. Ever since leaving Federation territory, the fleet's course had become steadily more erratic, going through nebulas and other spacial features. It was like the Jem'Hadar and the Tren wanted to shake the Defiant off there tail. Megan was convinced that very soon the Jem'Hadar/Tren fleet would reach their destination. Despite this she could feel the tension coming from everybody, even the captain seemed to be wavering from continuing to pursue the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet.
“Why do they keep running away from us?” said Max, in a sudden frustrated outburst.
“Patience lieutenant,” said Ezri in a soothing voice. “They will stop, just give it time.”
“Looks like they're luring us into a trap in my opinion,” replied Max.
Megan thought that Max was almost retorting against the captain.
Odo spoke up before Ezri could have a chance to respond to Max’s comment. “Captain, Max may have a point; the behaviour of these rogue Jem'Hadar baffles me. Wherever they're heading it must be to rendezvous with other Tren ships! We should call off the pursuit.”
“Perhaps your right,” said Ezri. “The Defiant is hundreds of light years away from Federation territory, and we don't know this area, we should-”
Megan thought it was time to voice her opinion, for she deeply disagreed with what Ezri had said. “If we retreat now we lose track of where these rogue Jem'Hadar are heading!”
Ezri looked somewhat exasperated by Megan’s outburst. “They're heading somewhere well away from Federation territory! It's to risky to venture further out into an unknown region of space!”
“Then you are a coward, who is not prepared to take a risk!” said Megan heatedly.
“I beg your pardon?” said Ezri in an ominous tone.
Inwardly Megan groaned, perhaps the tension was getting to her more than she realised. She shouldn’t have made that clumsy remark, perhaps all of this pursuing the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet had gone to her head.
Even so, Megan thought that she had to argue her point over to Ezri. “Just because the stakes are higher, the gains are greater. To me it is tactically inconceivable that we just let a huge and dangerous enemy fleet simply vanish from our sights! We are closing in on their destination! Their course has become more erratic, they are trying to shake us off, so we can't quit now not when we are so close!”
For a few seconds, Ezri considered both Odo's and Megan's arguments.
Max broke the silence. “I hate to interrupt captain, but a hundred Jem'Hadar ships have broken formation, they're heading straight for us!”
“Battle stations!” said Ezri.
This sudden attack, made Megan convinced that her hunch was right. “This is a distraction captain! We have to break through and follow the rest of the fleet!”
Ezri seemed swayed by Megan’s argument. “Agreed; Mr Weatherby set a course through the incoming Jem'Hadar ships, dodge enemy fire at your own discretion, and head for the rest of the Jem'Hadar/Tren fleet!”
There was a small pause. “Oh and Ms Felpes?”
Here comes the reprimand
thought Megan. “Yes captain?” she said politely.
Ezri looked menacingly at Megan. “Don't you ever publicly insult me again, you were out of order. Understood?”
“Yes... captain,” said Megan, and she now felt somewhat ashamed by her nasty remark towards Ezri.
The rocking of the Defiant from enemy fire brought Megan back to her senses. She glanced at the view screen and saw six waves of Jem’Hadar ships approaching the Defiant. For two minutes, the Defiant twisted and turned as it battled it's way through the Jem’Hadar ships. Finally after two minutes, the view screen was clear of Jem’Hadar ships and the Defiant went to warp. Megan was relieved that the Defiant had broken through, now the pursuit of the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet could resume…
Day 22, 1430 hours
After the battle, Ezri was becoming more and more convinced that the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet was finally reaching its destination. Even the shapeshifter leader had come up onto the bridge, like Ezri he seemed to feel that the chase was coming to an end…
There was one more pressing concern for Ezri. “Ms Felpes, are they any Starfleet ships following us?”
“Negative, they're all engaging the Jem'Hadar ships behind us.”
“Damn,” said Ezri quietly, and to herself.
Ezri noticed Max hunching his shoulders slightly, and she realised something was irking Max.
“Captain,” said Max a few moments later. “The Jem'Hadar and Tren ships are disappearing!”
That description sounded to vague for Ezri's liking. “Are they decloaking?” asked Ezri, seeking clarification.
Max frowned at the readings he was getting from his console. “I can't tell, in fact I'm not even sure if the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet are in this space-time continuum!”
“What!” exclaimed Ezri. “But that's impossible, they can't have just literally disappeared! Maintain course Mr Weatherby!”
A moment later, and Max still seemed bothered. “That's odd...”
“Yes?” said Ezri rather tensely; she wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Max elaborated on his brief comment. “This ship's speedometer tells me I've maintained the ship's velocity and direction. But according to sensors, this ship is travelling in the opposite direction.”
Ezri wasn’t the only one to look completely puzzled, even the shapeshifter looked mildly confused. Despite her previous host’s knowledge on subspace and particle physics, Ezri could not understand what was going on here. “That is...”
“Impossible captain?” inquired Megan, she turned around in her chair to face Ezri. “Perhaps not so. I'm detecting unusual distortions in sub-space, it's as if we've ran straight into a taut net and bounced off.”
“Bounced?” said Ezri in a hollow voice.
“In a manner of speaking,” said Megan, she seemed to be carefully considering her words. “Somehow these Tren ships know how to navigate this phenomenon, and by the looks of it this phenomenon extends for many dozens of light years in front of us, and to our left and right.”
“Is this subspace phenomenon natural or artificial?”
“Natural, it isn't artificially possible to bend sub-space, or distort it to a degree like this.”
There was conviction in Megan’s voice, but Ezri wasn’t so sure, perhaps the Tren knew how to bend sub-space… Disappointment filled Ezri’s heart, it seemed the Tren had finally thrown the Defiant off their tail. In a matter of hours, the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet could be anywhere.
Recognising defeat, Ezri realised that it was now time to return home. “There's nothing more we can do here, Mr Weatherby return this ship back to the Starfleet ships.”
Ezri suddenly understand the strange behaviour of the Jem’Hadar/Tren fleet. The Tren knew that they could shake off the pursuing Starfleet ships, this was why the Jem’Hadar ships didn’t turn around days earlier to attack the Defiant and the fifty other Starfleet ships. Ezri had to admire the cleverness of the Tren, for they had acquired a seven thousand strong Jem’Hadar fleet, and took it through Federation territory with minor losses. While at the same time, the Tren had nothing done to directly attack the Federation.
She strongly suspected that the Federation hadn’t seen the last of the Tren, it seemed the Tren were acquiring military resources, she wasn’t sure for what reason, but she feared it could be for the conquest of the Federation. In any case the Tren were turning into an adversary just as intelligent as the Dominion. If this was so, then Ezri shuddered to think what the true military capability of the Tren really was…