Chapter 5, part 1
Day 5, 2300 hours
After closing the premises, Quark stood by the bar going over on his padd the profits for today, the expenditures and so forth. Any Ferengi could do accountancy but the real skill was using it to find ways to cut costs and increase profits. So far he had not find any cost-cutting measures.
He was distracted from his padd, when he heard a faint beeping sound coming from a console to the left of where the vintage drinks were stored. Walking over he analysed the computer message and realised it was a subspace transmission, but a very disguised one, blending in with the background radiation of the universe. So disguised Quark doubted that the station’s sensors would pick it up.
Fortunately he had his own subspace communicator that picked up such frequencies, due to his frequent contact with criminals and other people on the run from the law. He tapped a few commands and he realised this was not a transmission but a simple message.
“A message?” he said to himself.
He then activated the message.
On a small screen was displayed Max, where he was Quark had no idea but he was deeply surprised to see Max.
“To anyone receiving this I'm a Starfleet officer, called Max Weatherby, who has been captured by a gladiatorial organisation called Apocalypse. My serial number is DH dash zero eight four dash two seven three dash nine three six. I've managed to access Apocalypse's tactical database and I've discovered that the station I'm on is in the Pushui star system, 200 light years from Earth. Please to anyone receiving this message, Apocalypse must be attacked and destroyed. I've discovered that Apocalypse has about 1100 Jem'Hadar ships and 500 of its own warships at its disposal. A massive fleet will be required to capture Apocalypse, but as long as Apocalypse is still active it poses a serious threat to the security of the Alpha Quadrant!”
The message ended, and Quark was left standing there deeply surprised by what he had heard. “You don't say,” he said, before taking out a data rod in his chest pocket and inserting into the console to get a copy of the message’s contents.
If Max were alive perhaps his nephew was as well. It still angered him what Apocalypse had done, and he hoped with this message it could persuade Starfleet to do something about Apocalypse and perhaps launch a rescue operation to find Nog, his friend Jake, Ezri and all the other Starfleet officers being forced by Apocalypse to fight as gladiators.
Day 6, 0900 hours
Kira looked up from her laptop when Quark entered into her office. “Quark? Don't tell me it's another one of those matches?”
Quark laughed, he had the look of someone about to sell something very valuable. “I received this transmission, a transmission from a very surprising source.”
“Really Quark I don't have time for one of your guessing games, who contacted you?”
“It was more like a message,” said Quark, and he showed to Kira a data rod lying in the palm of his hand. “I got it all recorded in this data rod.”
For all of Quark’s mystery Kira knew that it had to be something to do with Apocalypse, and she was not going to play along this bargaining game of his. “Give me that data rod please.”
She extended her hand out, and impatiently beckoned Quark with her fingers.
Quark though did not seem to be in the mood of being generous, he cocked his head slightly to one side and his hand clenched over the data rod. “And what do I get in return?”
Kira did not really want to do this, but she knew it was the only way. She had once seen Jadzia Dax employ this trick, to persuade an unwilling Ferengi. So Kira moved around the table, and she approached Quark, with what she hoped to be a charming smile.
Already Quark seemed curious by what she was doing, and Kira moved behind Quark, carefully running a finger along the top of Quark’s lobe. “You’ll have my gratitude,” she said in a warm voice.
She could feel Quark relax, and she noticed his right hand, the one carrying the data rod, had relaxed. With a little extra stroking of Quark’s ear, she lightly grabbed his hand, opened it and removed the data rod.
Having got what she wanted, she immediately removed her finger from Quark’s ear and walked away from him.
Quark was rapidly regaining his senses, and he looked a little perplexed by Kira’s behaviour. “What do you mean by gratitude?” he asked, sounding annoyed. “That doesn’t-”
Suddenly Quark fidgeted with his right hand, and a look of surprise came upon his face. “The data rod! You took it from me!”
Kira smiled at Quark, it felt good to beat Quark at his own game. “Just goes to show you shouldn't be distracted by oo-mox.”
Quark though shook his head in disbelieve. “I continue to underestimate you colonel, with each passing year you seem to grow more cunning and shrewd!”
“Thanks for the compliment,” said Kira, while she headed to the exit. “But your still not getting anything from that data rod.”
As she walked outside of her office and into Ops, Quark followed just a bit behind her. “I didn't realise Quark you had your own personal sub-space communications relay.”
“It's an absolute necessity, it means my contacts can contact me without Starfleet or anyone else monitoring the transmission.”
“Astronomy lab,” said Kira to the computer, when she was inside the turbo lift.
The turbo lift doors closed, and with a slight jolt the turbo lift moved downwards. “Do you mean your criminal contacts Quark?”
Quark looked a little wounded to hear this. “You disappoint me colonel, you make it sound like I’m committing a crime, sometimes a man just wants privacy when he is contacting someone.”
It was so typical of Quark to make such convincing excuses, but Kira at the moment did not really care. Quark had already done her one favour by providing a record of Team UFP’s match, and now he had done her another favour, again free of charge. For that Kira was slightly in his debt and no doubt at some future point Quark may just collect up on that debt.
Kira sat down on the metal rim, at the edge of holographic projector. She was waiting for the computer to complete an analysis of the recording, having set the analysis parameters herself. The recording was of Max, presumably he was had transmitted this somewhere on the Apocalypse station.
She should have been pleased to see Max alive and well, but she could not get her hopes up for fear that this message was a forgery. For the last two hours she had been working with Megan trying to determine the legitimacy of the message. They both agreed on one thing which was Apocalypse would not have faked it because Max had given tactical information about Apocalypse.
So Kira and Megan were forced to check the authenticity of the actual image and video. The computer had gone through frame by frame looking for visual anomalies, while also checking the composition of Max’s voice. If the recording had been faked then there would have been disfiguration, something that was not visible to the naked eye. Or Max’s voice could have been broken down into a sequence of verbal recordings.
The computer had not detected any of this, and with each analysis, Kira grew more confident that this recording was genuine.
“Analysis complete,” said the computer. “There was no detectable disfiguration, no detectable splicing or image manipulation. Audio tests confirm the voice as lieutenant commander Max Weatherby.”
For the dozenth time Kira had heard this, and she rubbed a hand through her hair, as she thought about what other ways to analyse the recording. Right now she had ran out of ideas and she could not see what else the computer could check. “We've checked this transmission for the dozenth time, to check for a forgery or any evidence that Max was forced to send this transmission. I'd say it seems authentic.”
“It's hard to tell,” said Megan sceptically, while she studied the data on the console. “I've scanned the actual signal and the content of the message, it adds up, but it could be a really good forgery.”
“Listen we could run a hundred more tests and not get any closer to finding out how genuine the recording is. You humans have your gut instinct, so what does your gut instinct tell you?”
Megan frowned considerably, her arms were folded, and she seemed to be giving the matter a great deal of thought. “I think it is genuine and that Max sent it, and besides, why would Apocalypse draw attention to themselves?”
That was Kira’s reasoning all along, and she was glad to see that Megan seemed finally convinced of the recording’s authenticity. “Let's assume it is genuine for argument’s sake… If there really are 1600 ships it would take a colossal fleet to take on Apocalypse!”
“I'd like to see Apocalypse attacked more than anyone,” said Megan firmly, a cold rage burning in her eyes. “But to send such a massive fleet into unchartered and dangerous territory could be potentially throwing it away!”
“I know the risks,” said Kira a little irately. “But left unchecked Apocalypse is only going to expend its operations!”
She jabbed her finger downwards against the rim to reinforce her point. “It hast to be stopped and stopped now!”
Moving off the rim, she took a few paces away the holographic projector, before turning around to address Megan. “I'll talk to admiral Ross about the message… but I think it is unlikely he'll approve of a direct attack against Apocalypse.”
“It is still worth a try,” said Megan, nodding in approval.
Kira nodded once. “It’s the best option we have,” she said, before walking off and leaving the room.
The message changed everything, because now Starfleet would know Apocalypse’s military capability. Surely with this information, the biggest obstacle in terms of persuading Starfleet to attack Apocalypse, had been removed. Kira was certain that Admiral Ross would be far more partial to her suggestion of attacking Apocalypse, now she was armed with this information.