Chapter 9, part 1
Day 15, 0900 hours
On the top level of the Promenade, Ezri was gazing out of one of the oval-shaped windows that gave the best view to the wormhole. For some minutes she had been standing there, and Ezri’s face was curiously blank, seemingly lost in her own thoughts…
Some metres behind Ezri, Kira walked towards her from one of the upper level walkways with a padd in her hand. Kira came to a stop by Ezri’s left side and offered the padd to her commanding officer. “Here is the casualty report captain.”
Ezri tore her gaze from the wormhole to take the padd off Kira’s hands. After quickly looking at the contents, Ezri lowered it in a grim way. “241 people…”
Ezri shook her head, trying to comprehend the loss of life. “Those Romulans must feel pretty smug; I mean they got away with a serious breach of the peace. The Federation decided to sever all diplomatic ties with the Romulan Star Empire, rather than declare war, and to add insult to injury, the Federation agreed to the Breen/Romulan demands just to prevent a war.”
“But the Federation is more powerful than the Romulan Star Empire!” burst out Kira, who looked angered by the news.
“But the Breen are far more dangerous,” replied Ezri, and her anger faded as her concern returned. “I guess Starfleet doesn't want a repeat of the Corneria war. It also appears that the Romulans and the Breen have taken control of the Badlands.”
“Which the Cardassians claim is their territory,” said Kira matter-of-factly.
“The Cardassians don't want war either with the Romulans and the Breen, they'll quietly back off.”
For a while Kira thought about this in silence, and the two women were now both staring out of the window. Finally Kira spoke again. “But if the Romulans and Breen keep on making aggressive moves, a war is inevitable.”
Ezri nodded in a weary way to Kira’s observation. “The Romulans and Breen are the biggest bullies in the Alpha Quadrant, they're relying on the fact that the Federation, Klingon Empire and Cardassian Union will go to great lengths to keep the peace.”
There was another thoughtful silence, Kira’s eyes were focused on exactly where the wormhole burst open. “I wouldn't hear myself say this, but we need the Cardassians as our allies, to strengthen not only this sector but the rest of the Federation.”
“The Cardassians...” murmured Ezri, her brow frowning as she thought about it. “They are the wild card in all of this, I don't know what their government's intentions are or what is going through president Garak's head at this moment. Garak is in such a comfortable position, where he can watch the two sides slug it out, and then pick the winning side.”
“That's what I'd do if I were Garak...” said Kira, before she turned around to face Ezri. “It's unbelievable... We came so close to a full scale war in the Alpha Quadrant because of one officer's actions.”
“It was very close, but the peace held.”
“Is it peace Ezri?” Kira said, sounding very doubtful. “After the Dominion war, everyone thought there would never be a massive war in the Alpha Quadrant for a long time. Then three years later there was the Corneria war, but it was considered a minor blip in the greater scheme of things...”
Now Ezri turned around and looked at Kira slightly impatiently. “Your point being...”
“The Breen want a war, and they'll probably ask of further concessions from the Federation. But once the Federation digs its heals the war begins. What I'm trying to say is that a full scale war is inevitable...”
“Perhaps,” said Ezri, she briefly avoided Kira’s gaze, before returning it with more steadiness. “But the peace will hold because both sides are evenly matched. We have nothing to gain in war, and everything to lose... There will be tensions, possibly a cold war, but not a hot war.”
While Ezri sounded somewhat optimistic, Kira didn’t look anything but. “I just hope your right about that...” she told Ezri.
Kira left, leaving Ezri to continue staring out of the window.
Ezri stepped inside the astronomy lab, she briskly walked over to the station where Megan was working from. “What have you found Ms Felpes?”
“Something very disturbing,” Megan said whilst working her console to bring up a 3-D interstellar map in the room’s holographic projector. “Five minutes after the Defiant destroyed the biogenics factory on Breen, the Breen contacted the Romulans. About 22 hours later the Romulan fleet that surrounded DS9 attacked. At the same time another Romulan fleet and Breen fleet made a pincer movement into the Badlands.
“Once the two fleets entered the Badlands, I couldn't track them any further. But it clearly indicates that the Romulans and Breen are coordinating their fleets and military assets together, and with great efficiency.”
Ezri reminded silent as she observed the Romulan and Breen fleet movements, the animations repeated every twenty seconds.
“It's basically retaliation,” said Ezri after a while. “A Starfleet ship destroys a Breen biogenics factory, the Romulans attack Deep Space Nine. Starfleet bolsters up its defences in the neutral zone and at the Breen Confederacy’s borders. The Breen and Romulans take over the Badlands, and all this happened because some Starfleet officer decided to open fire on the Breen homeworld.”
“Nice work commander,” said Ezri appreciatively and after that she left the astronomy lab.
Once outside in the corridor, Ezri tapped her combadge. “This is Dax to Odo.”
“Constable, I want you to formally charge Talor Voran.”
There was a brief pause on Odo’s part. “What charges do I present him with?
” he asked rather gruffly.
“Breaking orders, reckless conduct and dereliction of duty,” replied Ezri in a somewhat angry mantra.
” said Odo.
With another tap of the combadge, Ezri then proceeded down the corridor. Her face looked taut almost restrained, but her eyes were burning with an unrelenting fury…
Ezri waited inside the security office, she sat down on a chair in front of Odo’s desk. Her eyes were staring at a small screen which displayed a camera view into the detention area. She saw the back of Odo, while Voran occupied the top right corner of the screen. The fact that Voran’s mouth had barely moved was a bad sign to Ezri, clearly Odo was having no luck getting information from him.
When Odo arrived, so did his impatience and frustration, it sort of wafted into the room.
“How is Mr Voran?” asked Ezri.
“Quiet,” said Odo bitterly, he walked behind his desk before turning around to face Ezri. “He didn't say one word as I was arresting him, and he seemed ever so calm and composed.”
What Odo said brought a sense of déjà vu to Ezri, she searched for the memory of an instance of something similar… “Remember Jack Smith, that Section 31 agent?”
“What about him?”
“He was just as calm as our friend here.”
Odo folded his arms giving Ezri that typically inquisitive stare of his. “Are you implying that he's a Section 31 agent?”
“He could be one,” replied Ezri calmly, and she held her gaze with Odo. “There are too many similarities between Voran and Jack Smith.”
At that point Megan arrived into the office. “Sorry for interrupting captain but I'd like to question Voran myself.”
Ezri swivelled around in the chair to look at Megan. “For what reason?”
“Well I’ve thinking it over, and I believe Voran could be a Section 31 agent, and I once knew a Section 31 agent, Jack Smith.”
The expression on Megan’s face was unreadable, it impressed Ezri by how Megan had reached the same conclusion as she. Still Ezri thought it unwise letting Megan question Voran giving the woman's bitterness towards Section 31. Besides if Odo couldn’t make any headway, what chance did Megan have? Finally Ezri decided there wasn’t anything ventured or gained in granting Megan her request.
“Alright commander, I'll give you three hours, after then if you don't make any progress, constable Odo will take over the questioning. Understood?”
“Sure,” said Megan, again her face stayed unreadable. “Can I start the interrogation now constable?”
Odo nodded, once Megan went inside the detention area, he sat down on the chair by his desk. “Good luck to her, I could think of better use of three hours of my time...”
Megan didn't know why she was doing this, perhaps it had to do with this twisted sense of obligation to question Voran. She couldn't think of any other explanation for Voran’s behaviour, he had to be a Section 31 agent. From quickly skimming over the medical reports Megan knew that Voran was one hundred percent human, he was in perfect health, he wasn’t possessed or ill in any way during the time of the incident. So why would a Starfleet officer, with a perfectly clean record, carry out an act of war against the Breen?
The answer came to Megan’s head immediately; Section 31. Voran must have been given a mission by Section 31 to destroy the Breen biogenics factory. So far Voran hadn’t said anything to Odo, except his name. However Megan thought Voran would become more responsive if she told him that she knew Jack Smith. Megan hoped that Voran would have heard of Smith, even so she was grasping at straws; there was no hard evidence to indicate Voran being a Section 31 agent.
When she went inside the detention cell area, she saw Voran very casually sitting on the bunk in his cell. If anything, Voran appeared even more composed than Smith. She had her list of questions to ask for Voran in the padd she carried in her left hand, though somehow she just knew those questions would do nothing to get Voran to talk.
“Talor Voran?” she asked.
At this Voran looked up, very quickly his eyes seemed to be taking in everything about Megan’s face.
“I am commander Megan Felpes, head of astronomy on this station.”
The expression on Voran’s face brightened slightly, he even smiled a little at Megan. “I've heard of you before from Jack, you know Jack Smith, he thinks quite highly of you.”
Those words confirmed to Megan that Voran was definitely a Section 31 agent, but unfortunately that was no hard evidence. “Does he now?” she said rather contemptuously.
“Oh yes,” said Voran seriously, “Jack and I have worked together before. The group I work with is a tightly knit one, small but efficient.”
At that point, Voran seemed to feel that he had given away to much, and he quickly changed the topic. “But to spare you your ego and your patience you should know that I won't answer any questions about whom I work with.”
“I know that,” said Megan, with that in mind she decided to ignore her padd, now that she had somehow gained Voran’s scant trust for him to talk to her. “But could you tell me why that Breen biogenics factory had to be destroyed?”
“I suppose I could,” said Voran slowly, and he appeared to give the matter a great deal of thought.
Voran got to his feet coming as close to Megan as the force field would permit him. He clapped his hands together and looked all business. “Well think carefully commander, what would the Breen use a biogenics factory for?”
“To make retroviruses and deadly biological agents?” suggested Megan.
“Precisely,” said Voran with great emphasis. “They would be the only major Alpha Quadrant power to be building large stockpiles of biological weapons of mass destruction, and with a large enough stockpile they could unleash it upon the Federation, crippling it in a matter of months.”
“We don't know that for certain.”
“Don't be so naive commander,” chided Voran, looking at Megan as if she were totally ignorant. “This is the Breen we're talking about, they're more ruthless and cunning than the Romulans. Destroying the biogenics factory sent, in my opinion, a clear message to the Breen that building biological WMD's will not be tolerated by the Federation.”
Megan though shook her head, it went against everything she believed in about the Federation and its role. “But what right does the Federation have in telling other races what they should and shouldn't do?”
“Because the Federation is the only thing that stops this quadrant going up in flames,” replied Voran sounding deeply exasperated. “We're the main force that spreads peace and order to a very fractious part of the galaxy. Without the Federation it would be Klingon versus Romulan, Romulan versus Cardassians, Breen versus Romulans, all four are warlike races who would love nothing more than to kill each other.”
“And what about the Dominion war?” pointed out Megan. “The Klingons and Romulans worked together with the Federation to fight against the Dominion! They put aside their mutual hatred of each other to defend themselves against a common foe!”
Voran disregarded this with an impatient wave of his hand. “The Klingons and Romulans joined forces purely out of practicality, nothing more.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that Section 31 is only making matters worse? If the Federation is seen sneaking around and sticking a knife in the backs of its enemies then the Federation is no better than the Romulans or the Breen! The Federation should be a force of justice and righteousness!”
There was silence, punctuated when Voran began clapping his hands slowly to mock Megan. “Bravo, that is what every self-righteous Starfleet officers tells his or herself.”
The air of mockery disappeared from Voran’s face, and he now looked deadly serious. “Unfortunately we live in a universe where quite a few races don't care about Federation virtues and would laugh you to scorn for doing so. You can spout all the virtuous bile you want to, in the end these aggressive races see this as a weakness and will be unrelenting in their attempts to vanquish you and the Federation.”
Finally Megan had enough, Voran could not be reasoned with, and continuing to question him would just be pointless. She looked at Voran with both pity and disgust. “You are completely paranoid! Seriously, you need psychological help.”
Voran simply shrugged Megan’s comment off, and with that Megan headed back to the security office.
When she arrived, Megan realised Ezri had left the office while Odo remained seated in his desk chair reading from a padd.
“Any luck?” he asked, turning around in the chair to face Megan.
“I give up,” answered Megan plainly.
“At least you got him talking, something I didn’t manage to do.”
Odo’s compliment was much appreciated, but Megan had decided that she was through with questioning Voran. “It amounted to the same thing; Voran didn’t say who he worked for, and he didn’t give us any hard evidence that he was a Section 31 agent.”
Odo lowered the padd as he stared at Megan in a mindful way. “He did imply that he worked with Jack Smith, who did admit to working for Section 31.”
“And all Starfleet Command will say is that Section 31 doesn’t officially exist!”
“Never mind,” said Megan, and she walked out of Odo’s office feeling a bit dejected.
In all honesty she expected this outcome, but what made her think was Voran’s attitude, or more precisely beliefs. Was the universe really as nasty as he imagined it to be? But then try telling that to the 241 people who had lost their lives in the Romulan attack of this station. Maybe Voran was right in his own paranoid way… And this both depressed and worried Megan.