Day 14, 0600 hours
Mia lay back on her bunk bed, staring upwards at the cargo bay's ceiling. For some hours now, the cargo bay steadily filled up with people, to such an extent that Mia had to move the third mattress against the wall, to give some space to a Bolian family of four. Though it was crowded, the atmosphere remained civilised, and there were a few quarrels about space, but the Bajoran and Starfleet security guards watching over the cargo bay were quick to break up any disputes.
There was a low murmur of people talking, while the rest were asleep, or just laying still upon their mattresses. To Mia's surprise, she found that Deru had gone to sleep, and she wished she could also. However her eyes refused to close as she replayed the events in Quark's bar, over and over again in her mind. She had fired directly at several Romulans, and she was certain that two or three were killed by her actions.
Again and again, Mia kept telling herself that she was justified in defending herself. But she felt a horrible guilt and it wouldn't go away. Deru had seen her defend the bar, but what he didn't know was how many Romulans Mia had injured and killed. Mia's parents didn't know either, and this was something Mia could not bring herself to do; to tell her parents just what exactly she had done and her experience of it.
She knew that both Kira and Odo would want to talk about it, but Mia couldn't. She kept telling herself that what was done, was done. Yet at the same time she had the desperate urge to talk to her parents about what had happened... It felt so surreal, she had taken another person's life...
His shift was finally over, and in some ways Max dreaded this. For a few brief moments he had grieved over Tanya's death, but it was a only a few seconds. A terrible sense of duty and responsibility forced him to compose himself, and to keep calm and detached until his work was done. Even walking along the corridors he kept a rigid grip on the seal that contained all of his emotions.
Tanya was dead, and so far all he could feel was emptiness. He had hoped that Tanya would have survived, preferably unharmed or at worst a bit injured but nothing serious. Megan had come in half way through his shift to tell him what had happened, how Tanya got injured in the first place, and it took all of Max's control not to shed a tear or completely shut down and prematurely leave his shift. His feet were taking him to his quarters, and Max wasn't even thinking about the direction.
When at last he did make it inside his quarters, and when the doors closed, Max realised he now had privacy. The emotional seal began straining, but he was scared of opening it, even with his privacy. Finally the seal burst open and his emotions rushed out: grief, despair, loss and sheer anger. He screamed out aloud as his despair consumed him, screaming with all his force, as the loss hit heavily against his heart.
Once he stopped, he felt his eyes burn like mad, and soon hot tears poured from his eyes. He started sobbing, his mouth hung loosely open, while he sounded his despair. With conscious effort, he was again walking this time to the bedroom. When he went inside, his eyes strayed to the bed, a bed that was empty and would never again accommodate Tanya.
Seeing the bed compounded Max's loss, and he then slumped over the bed, his knees banging against the floor, while his torso was strewn over the sheets. He buried his head in the duvet, and his sobbing intensified. Why did Tanya have to die? How could she be taken? Now raw anger intermingled with his grief, and for the first time he knew what it meant to really hate a race.
He knew that Kira once had a hatred of the Cardassians, and he could understand why she once hated them for what they did to Bajor and her family, but he could never grasp the actual hate. Now he did, and all of it was directed at the Romulans. The animal instincts inside of them wanted to see every Romulan die for what they had done today; for killing his beloved Tanya.
It was a hatred more powerful than what he had for Coplin, this was anger, whether righteous or not, that made his head spin and created a massive desire for him to do something, other than grieve while slumped over a bed. What he wanted was revenge, but his stomach then squirmed out of self-disgust; revenge? That was the basest and most destructive of all human emotions, and however much he now hated the Romulans, killing them in cold blood would bring him no comfort.
He would not descend to their level, and no sooner did he come to this conclusion, he felt a brief respite to his grief. Pushing himself upright, he got off the bed and headed over to the wardrobe. Once opening it, he stared numbly at Tanya's clothing so neatly hung up. This just reminded him of Tanya's death, so he quickly closed the wardrobe, breathing out deeply from his intense emotions.
With his back to the wardrobe, he slowly slumped downwards against it, as a new wave of grief crashed over him. He lost his sense of time as he sat there crying away, as tear after tear poured from his eyes. Eventually he stopped crying as he had ran out of tears to shed, and all he felt was a terrible ache inside his heart from Tanya's death. The heart ache was the worst feeling of all, made all the worse as he thought back to all the happy times he had with Tanya...
It had been hard for Odo to complete his shift while not seeing his children. More than anything he wanted to see them with his own eyes, rather than just accept Kira’s words that Mia and Deru were alive and unharmed. But Odo always had a powerful sense of duty, and his shift’s work of helping to rescue people, search for missing people, was highly important.
He had seen a lot of relief and joy, of colleagues finding friends, fellow officers or members of family. Likewise Odo had also seen the grief, pain and despair of people losing loved ones, friends and family members. Everyone had been affected by the Romulan attack, and as the night hours progressed, the casualty report grew, as did the deaths… So far the number of dead reached 132, however Odo knew that toll would increase some more.
Only by tomorrow would all the missing people be accounted for. He worked multiple shifts, however he managed to allocate some time between shifts, so that he could finally reunite with his children. Along the way to cargo bay three, he was joined by Kira, and she told him all about what had happened to their children.
Upon hearing the information, Odo started worrying for both Mia and Deru. Odo always suspected that Deru was more sensitive than he appeared to be, and he hurt far harder than Mia did to emotional pain. However he was more concerned for Mia. She had done something which even he wouldn't have expected from her.
Inside the cargo bay, Kira guided Odo over to where their children were staying. The cargo bay was full of mattresses, but it didn't seem too cramped. Finally Odo spotted his daughter’s face, and his mood soared, she was alive, she was well…
“Father!” cried out Mia, and when Odo came close to her, she rushed towards him and hugged him tightly.
Odo returned the hug, and inside him he was overcome with emotion. Of everything he accomplished in life this was the most important; the bond between father and daughter. “Am I glad to see your faces,” he told Mia.
He let go of Mia, and decided that he would broach the matter of what she had done in private. For one thing Mia looked calm, as if nothing had happened. Looking around to his right, Odo saw the familiar sight of the back of Deru’s head. Deru it seemed was sulking way on the mattress, pretending to sleep, though this didn’t fool Odo for one second. “Is your brother okay?”
Mia looked at her brother sadly. “He's just shocked, I've tried to comfort him and tell him everything is going to be fine, but nothing has worked...”
“You did your best...” said Kira gently.
“I'll go and talk to him...” said Odo.
He came over to Deru, sitting down on the empty mattress next to his son. Leaning over, Odo gave his son a gentle shake in the shoulders to wake him, to make him respond. “Deru...” he said gently. “It's your father...”
“Go away...” whispered Deru, and he pulled the duvet over his head.
“I hear from your sister you've been a bit upset. You want to talk about it?”
“It's so embarrassing...” said Deru quietly.
“What is?” asked Odo.
“I'm a coward!” answered Deru, raising his voice, and sounding angry with himself.
“No you're not,” said Odo firmly.
Deru then pulled back the duvet off his head, he rolled onto his back while giving his father an ugly look. “I am! I was so scared when the Romulans came, I thought they were going to kill me and Mia. I mean Mia was calm, she even defended the bar! So why wasn't I calm?”
“Deru even the bravest can get frightened sometimes.”
Deru though shook his head as his eyes stared up at the ceiling. “I haven't seen you or mum get afraid. I'm twelve, and mum was in the Bajoran resistance at that age, but I just sat there crying into Mia!”
At that point Odo realised just how little Deru really knew about his parents. “You think Nerys and I don't get scared?”
With a nod, Deru then looked into his father's eyes.
Odo decided to give Deru a little fatherly advice. “Well let me tell you something, when we arrived at this station we were worried. We may not have shown it to anyone, even ourselves, but we were scared sick that something had happened to you and your sister. It is every parent's worst nightmare, wondering whether your children are alive or not.”
For one moment Deru acted with some surprised to hear this, but then his mood and surliness returned. “But you didn't act afraid, you kept strong!”
It was Odo’s turn to shake his head, as his son was so wrong. “Feeling fear does not make you a coward, it is how you deal with that fear that counts...”
Watching Deru’s face carefully, Odo felt glad to see Deru beginning to understand the gist of his advice. “Now why don't you greet your mother?”
“Okay...” said Deru eventually.
While Deru got out of his mattress, and stood up, Odo gestured to Mia and Kira to come over.
When the four were together, Deru looked a little embarrassingly into his mother’s eyes. “Hi mum.”
Kira’s eyes twinkled as she gazed down at her son, and she acknowledged him with a small nod.
“How about a family hug?” suggested Odo.
Without further ado, the four moved closer, with Kira hugging Odo, and Mia and Deru in the middle. All four arms were wrapped around each other, and now Odo looked at Kira and smiled at her. Kira’s eyes continued to twinkle for Odo knew nothing had to be said, the family was together again and it was such a beautiful thing. Despite everything that had happened to them, they would get through this...
Ezri received news of the Tau Ceti agreement from admiral Ross some hours ago, but she had to watch the Federation president's speech to make sure she was not dreaming. How the Federation had conceded to the Breen and Romulan demands shocked her, as it was such a weak move on the Federation's part. As much as she recoiled from the prospect of war, Ezri knew that the Breen and Romulans would only become more invigorated due to the Federation setting down a dangerous standard of compromise.
President Najor Eren was a thin, if almost gaunt, middle-aged man of Trill origin. Ezri thought that Eren had aged some more since the flare up of hostilities with the Breen and Romulans. The man's hair contained more grey streaks, his face possessed more of that lived-in quality, and despite his composure, Ezri could just tell how worried Eren really was.
My dear citizens. As I'm sure you are aware, there have been very disturbing events which have happened to the Federation. The Romulan attack on the station Deep Space Nine was one of them, and there have been conflicting media reports about the Breen and Romulans preparing to invade the Federation.
I can tell you with full confidence that there will be no war with the Breen Confederacy and the Romulan Star Empire. The Federation Council successfully pressed for peace, and war was averted between all parties concerned. However as part of the Tau Ceti agreement, the Federation had to accept certain terms in exchange for peace.
Do be aware that the Council carefully considered these demands, and weighed them up against the prospect of all-out war with the Breen and Romulans. As part of the terms of the Tau Ceti agreement, the Federation is to hand over sectors 1334 to 1341, and sectors 1232 to 1245. This accounts for over 258 inhabited worlds, 19 sectors, 49 space stations and 450 outposts.
Over twenty million people will have to be evacuated in just less than two months. This is no small task, and for the people who are going to lose their homes, the Federation will be quick to resettle you and find you new homes. I know that this is no consolation or fair deal for having to leave the homes and worlds you live on and cherish. But this is for the greater good. The evacuation is not mandatory, but for the safety of your lives and your families it would be best to leave.
Had the Federation not agreed to the Tau Ceti agreement there would be war, a war potentially as deadly and as devastating as the Dominion war. Starfleet would be able to repel the Breen and Romulans, but at a terrible cost. Hundreds of millions of Federation citizens would die, and worlds like Bajor, Andoria, Vulcan, Bolarus, Risa, Betazed, Earth, Tellar and dozens of other important worlds would come under attack.
The Council and Starfleet has a responsibility to protect your lives, and by signing the agreement, I personally believe this is the best option for all concerned. But know this; the Federation will only compromise once with the Breen and Romulans. If these two races press the Federation on more unfair demands and concessions, the Federation will not relent, regardless of the consequences.
To the Breen and Romulans, I say to-
Ezri had heard enough and in a weary way she tapped a command to turn her laptop off. She felt so sorry for the millions of people who had to relocate, but of course not all of those people would leave. This presented a rather disturbing parallel to Ezri, that of the Maquis. Would the people staying in their homes resist the Breen and Romulans?
There was an obvious answer to that, and in some ways it would be a complication to the Tau Ceti agreement. Former Federation citizens attacking Breen and Romulans was a very ugly prospect. Even though the Tau Ceti agreement had come in the nick of time for Ezri, her crew and the station, it felt so bittersweet... War it seemed looked inevitable...