Chapter 1, part 2
Day 1, 1100 hours
Finally with admiral Ross on board Kira’s whole mood had lifted. The chances of Starfleet attacking Apocalypse were now considerably higher, but still Kira feared Ross may not be able to convince Starfleet Command. Furthermore Ross had agreed to Bashir and Megan going along with the mission Section 31 had assigned to them.
Despite all of this, Kira knew that Starfleet Command could still object to launching a first strike against Apocalypse. What she needed was more evidence of the threat Apocalypse posed to the Federation...
She knew of one person on the station who could give her that evidence and that was Quark. Walking into his bar, which as usual was bustling with customers, she spotted Quark making drinks behind the counter.
When Quark had passed what appeared to be a Klingon blood martini to Morn, he glanced around and spotted Kira coming towards him. “Talk about lightening up my day, what can I do for you colonel?”
“I'd like some information...” she said, sounding intentionally a little vague.
“Then I'm your man,” said Quark confidently. “What kind of information might I add?”
“I think the Ferengi Alliance is funding Apocalypse.”
Quark’s face fell slightly, and momentarily Kira wondered if Quark had no information or was bluffing.
“I wouldn't know about that...” said Quark.
“But your brother does,” said Kira, getting crafty, “and you've always been on good terms with him. Besides if the Ferengi Alliance are funding Apocalypse, then you could persuade your brother to reconsider his government's stance regarding Apocalypse.”
“Even if my brother has some sort of dealings with Apocalypse then it is still going to be tough to persuade to stop this supposed funding of Apocalypse. Personally it isn't worth the effort.”
“Perhaps,” mused Kira, and she gave Quark a penetrating stare. “Though maybe it might be worth your effort...”
Quark leaned over the table looking very interested. “I'm listening.”
“You have not paid Federation taxes in 26 years, and it is a lot of taxes you've dodged.”
Kira gave Quark a very serious foreboding stare, though she was bluffing she maintained her expression without it faltering. “I could order you to legally pay that tax, no doubt such a repayment would bankrupt you at the very least.”
All the interest had vanished from Quark, and he looked horrified, so horrified that his breathing had become ragged and erratic. “That's blackmail!” he protested.
“I'm just enforcing the law...” said Kira, giving Quark a small wicked smile.
“Alright!” said Quark angrily, baring his teeth. “I’ll talk to Rom...”
“Thank you Quark,” said Kira in a somewhat sweet voice.
She turned away and walked out of the bar. Threatening Quark like that gave her no pleasure, and she felt a little guilty seeing how hurt Quark looked. But it was the only way to make Quark do something for her without paying in latinum, concessions or downright seduction…
However she had used some considerable leverage against Quark, and she knew she could not use that threat again. With many Ferengi the only way to get one over them was leverage, and Kira was rapidly coming to the point where she was running out of favours and leverage. Still she hoped Quark would provide her with some useful information, maybe some of it would be damning evidence of Apocalypse’s intentions regarding the Federation…
Day 2, 0500 hours
She was running away but still the Jem’Hadar came nearer. Death was coming to her and yet she could not go any faster, fear urged her to run faster but something seemed to be slowing her down.
Turning around a corner in a corridor, she saw that the corridor came to a dead end. Fear totally overwhelmed her, she had no weapons and now her escape route had lead her into a trap. The Jem’Hadar came around the corner, and Ezri staggered backwards like some frightened, cornered animal trying to avoid the predator’s jaws for as long as possible.
Finally there was no more corridor left and she bumped into the wall. The Jem’Hadar were advancing upon her carrying standard issue Apocalypse melee knives.
“Please don’t kill me!” she screamed.
Still the Jem’Hadar advanced and Ezri felt so frightened she wished she would die right now without pain, without even realising what had happened…
Before she realised it, a Jem’Hadar knife was buried into her chest, penetrating her left lung, and it was the most painful experience Ezri had ever felt. She screamed out aloud, screaming from the very depths of her guts as all her fear and terror manifested itself. In and out the knives went and Ezri thrashed around, against the wall, trying to avoid the Jem’Hadar knives. All the time she was screaming both in pain and fear, blood was pouring out of her body, and agonising pain erupted all over her wounds.
The Jem’Hadar threw her to the floor and became more frenzied in their attack. Desperately Ezri tried to shield herself with her arms, but they became so slashed, bloodied and wounded that Ezri could not even move her arms anymore.
All the time in her head the same words repeated over and over again. 'Let it end! Let it end! Oh please let it end!'
Now the Jem’Hadar were not just using their knives, some of them were pummeling Ezri’s torso and head with their fists.
Ezri felt her nose break, her lips burst, her teeth being punched out, and every bone in her face breaking. There was so much blood it clouded her vision, and still she screamed as the Jem’Hadar took their time killing her.
Finally she saw a Jem’Hadar take out a rozstokra, he swung it high and brought it down aiming for Ezri’s face. Somehow the pain seemed to fade away as she saw the axe, death itself, come to her face. This would be the final blow and then she would be dead, the axe was inches to Ezri and it-
Ezri suddenly sat bolt upright on the mattress, breathing deeply. For a moment she felt totally terrified but then slowly she caught up with her senses. She had not been stabbed and battered to death by the Jem’Hadar, her body was whole and totally unharmed. Still she felt considerably rattled and realising how much of a cold sweat she was in, she got out of the mattress and headed to the bathroom to clean herself up.
She was sweating rather profusely around her chest, and her white T-shirt felt slightly damp. Checking her chronometer it was 0500 hours and she knew that going back to sleep would be out of the question giving her nightmare. So she may as well start her day a few hours early.
Once inside she locked the door, she headed over to the sonic shower. She activated the shower head from the command panel on the outside of the sonic shower unit. There was the hiss of water from behind the transparent glass doors. Just as Ezri was reconfiguring the temperature of the water, she heard the faint sound of a roaring crowd and the sounds of the arena…
She froze, maybe it was just some sort of remnant from the nightmare and she had just imagined those sounds. Even so she felt another bout of fear, and for some peculiar reason she could not attribute this to the nightmare. No this came from within…
The sounds of the crowd and the arena got a little louder, the volume was that of someone talking right next to her. She heard explosions, cries of pain, of fury, and all these sounds made her feel frightened. This did not make any sense, the sounds got a bit louder and her fear correspondingly increased.
There had to be a way to stop these sounds, maybe if she could not hear them they would go away… Looking around, her eyes came to the shower. Yes that could be loud enough, once inside the shower unit, to drown out the sounds. She opened the shower door, ignoring the fact that she was wearing her night clothes, and stepped inside.
She was standing a few centimetres away from the foot-wide fountain of water pouring from the shower head, her socks were already wet from the pool of water that had formed at the floor. Still she could hear those sounds, though they had dimmed somewhat, she realised her hearing would be further impaired if the water was gushing into both her ears.
Taking a step forwards, she moved beneath the shower head. She felt the warm water trickling down her hair and wetting her arms. Soon her hair was soaked in water, and the water clogged up her ears and the loudness of the sounds steadily diminished.
“Go away,” she breathed. “It’s not real Ezri, go away!”
The fear started fading away and now she started to relax, the water ran down her T-shirt and lingerie, before moving through her trousers, until the garments clung to her body. It was a pleasant sensation and she breathed out deeply, with each breathe her fear and the imaginary sounds were swept away with the water.
Finally she opened her eyes, and though she was soaked to the skin, she finally felt calm. The nightmare and the experience of hearing those voices did not feel so fresh and raw. Now though she was beginning to feel sick with worry. What just happened was an indication of something far worse; she was starting to lose her mind and her sanity. Hearing voices was a bad sign and she realised all the fighting in the arena matches had affected her more deeply than she realised.
If she heard more voices, and the problem deteriorated, it would considerably affect her abilities as a gladiator. If this was not just a one-off occurrence, how long could she pretend that nothing was wrong with her before someone noticed? In the worse case scenario she would be deemed medically unfit to be a gladiator, and that would mean the end of her short-lived career, the end of her life…
She suddenly realised that she was crying, as her eyes felt puffy and there was a burning sensation. Why was she crying? It did not make any sense to her, she did not feel that upset and yet there was this strange feeling of insecurity. Out of some strange instinct Ezri sat down on the floor, her knees were huddled against her chest, and she fought for some considerable moments to regain control…
“Come on!” she said in a tortured voice. “Pull yourself together, keep your wits about you because the team needs you!”
Speaking out aloud felt like the best way to confront the strange feelings inside of her. Finally some sort of common sense hit her, and she realised she had gone to the shower to clean herself up. Now that she had something to do, she got to her feet, and took off her soaking wet clothes and lingerie. Feeling more sure of what she was doing, she proceeded to clean herself…