Rubble was still being cleared, and bodies were still being unearthed even almost a year after the Dominion War's ending. Glinn Thrax Sa'kat stood by as the Starfleet Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician bellowed, "Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"
A loud bang echoed as the EOD technician triggered the counter-charge, blowing up the unexploded plasma torpedo, a dud that had failed to explode in the Dominion leveling of Lakarian City.
"All clear." the technician shouted.
Thrax tapped his wrist communicator and relayed the similar report to his own chain of command. Explosions of unexploded munitions were still a fairly common sound, though thankfully less common than they were in the weeks after the Dominion War.
Senior Chief Petty Officer John Albert Faapele, a massive Samoan, lumbered over to Thrax and said, "Explosive hazards are clear, you can send your search teams in."
Thrax nodded wordlessly. For the last eight months he had worked with the Starfleet Senior Chief in the grim business of moving into Lakarian City.
Best not think about it.
Thrax thought as he surveyed the twisted remains of Lakarian City.
For eight months now the Cardassian Provisional Militia working alongside Starfleet Corps of Engineers had been at the grim business of reclaiming the wreckage.
He found himself impressed by the professionalism of the men and women of the Starfleet 188th Area Clearance Company. A reinforced platoon of the 188th remained with at Cardassia City, taking care of responding to explosive hazard calls and mentoring members of the Cardassian Munition Disposal Units as well. The bulk of the 188th worked with the Lakarian City.
Thrax quietly spoke a command into his comm link as several members of a search and rescue unit and a salvage crew began working on the remains of the wrecked building that the unexploded plasma torpedo had been found in.
He counted six body bags as the team worked to clear the area and two Starfleet EOD techs respectfully looked the other way, mindful of Cardassian funerary rites.
The Ra'akal family used to work here at the power plant. Their eldest sons were undergoing their apprenticeships when Lakarian city was leveled. Best not think of that...
Thrax thought. His two eldest nephews were among the 200 million souls forever silenced by the Dominion.
"Send them in." Senior Chief John Albert Faapele said into his own commbadge.
Thrax remembered two Federation plasma specialists, the Leflers, were on Cardassia to help with the Lakarian City Power Plant project, working with the Cardassian Infrastructure Service.
He noticed the two civilian humans with three Cardassian civilians from the Infrastructure Service being escorted by a joint detail of Cardassian soldiers and a sapper squad from the 188th.
"Thank you for your help, Senior Chief." the woman said.
"That's just our job, Mrs. Lefler." John Albert said as he raised a massive hand to wipe sweat from his brow as he followed the group into the remains of the main building.
John Albert noticed Thrax fell into step beside the party. He also noticed Singh and DeSoto, the two EOD techs on the team were following the Leflers as they made their assessment of the machinery of the plant.
"You Cardassians definitely know how to build something to last." Charles Lefler remarked as he looked at the roof of the structure. It had caved in, but most of the main load bearing members remained standing.
"Confirmed no signs of any explosive hazards." DeSoto remarked as Morgan Lefler crawled into a crawlspace to assess a plasma manifold.
"Looks like a total replacement is going to be needed." Morgan said as she crawled out of the wreckage, "The manifolds are completely destroyed. I'll need the schematics for deuterium matrix and injectors as well."
"I'll get started on looking at the containment system." Charles replied.
John Albert nodded to DeSoto and a couple of the sappers to keep an eye on the scientist. I always imagined Lieutenant Draper's father in law to be the forgetful professor type. I never knew just how right I was till he accompanied us on this mission.
"Something wrong?" Thrax asked.
"Just a personal observation. The Leflers are the in-laws of an old friend of mine." John Albert replied.
Thrax nodded and said, "Say no more. We Cardassians are a very family minded culture after all."
"When were you going to tell me about going to Cardassia?" Robin asked her mother over the comm line.
"Robin, your father and I are grown adults." Morgan Lefler replied.
"I know that, Mom, but you might have let me know about this oh...before you guys landed on Cardassia." Robin replied.
Goliath instinctively trotted up to Robin, climbing onto the couch and laying his head in her lap, eyebrows moving up and down alternately. Robin recognized that as Goliath's 'What's wrong Mommy?' look.
Robin sighed and reached down to scratch Goliath behind the ears.
"Look, sweetheart, we didn't want to burden you. I mean you and Carl were moving onto your new place." Morgan said.
"I understand, Mom, I'm just a tad perturbed, after all it was rather sudden." Robin replied.
"We did talk about the Cardassia assignment." Morgan replied.
"You and Dad mentioned you might be interested in going to Cardassia nine months ago." Robin replied, "But you didn't have anything finalized."
"Well your father was more interested in the mission than I was." Morgan replied, "And you know how he can get sometimes."
Robin chuckled lightly despite herself, "I know he can get that 'forgetful university professor' air about him."
"Now you see why I tagged along." Morgan replied, "And besides academia was getting a tad bit boring."
"Why am I not surprised?" Robin said, "You two are basically going through a mid-life crisis."
The sound of the door opening could be heard and Carl walked in. He lightly kissed Robin on the lips and took a seat beside his wife.
"Oh, hello Carl, how is everything going on Deep Space Nine?" Morgan replied.
"Rather well, minus the vole infestation." Carl replied.
"Robin just told me Goliath's added a fifteenth vole to the list." Morgan replied, "And count your blessings. At least you're not dealing with the center of a vole nest. Which coincidentally what Lakarian City's Central Power Plant has become. After all you could send Goliath over..."
"Not a chance. Malamutes aren't terribly fond of arid climates." Carl replied.
"Charles, dear, are you going to spend all night trying to take that Cardassian portable computer apart?" Morgan said towards the off screen direction.
"In a moment dear." Charles said.
"Charles, it's our daughter's anniversary..." Morgan replied.
Charles moved towards the screen and said, "Hi sweetheart, how's DS9?"
"Not too bad, minus voles and my insane First Officer." Robin replied.
"Oh, Strickland? His bark is bigger than his bite." Morgan said, "I was a guest professor at Starfleet Academy."
"Try working for him, Mom, and you'll see." Robin replied.
"Just wait, you'll see he's a big teddy bear under that hard-nosed visage." Morgan replied, "Anyway, dear, we just wanted to call to wish you both a happy anniversary."
"Thanks Mom, I'm sorry I was a little short earlier. I've had a crazy few days." Robin replied.
"We understand dear." Charles replied, "And we'll keep you posted on how everything's going on Cardassia."
"And do be sure we get to be grandparents sooner rather than later." Morgan replied.
"Mom..." Robin remarked.
"Just kidding, dearie, sort of." Morgan said, "Have a happy anniversary you two."
"We will." Carl said, "And give my regards to Senior Chief Faapele as well."
"Of course. Good night." Morgan said before she turned off the comm.
Robin rested her head against Carl's shoulder. Carl said, "Rough day?"
"You have no idea. This station seems to be falling apart at times. And what isn't falling apart is being actively destroyed by voles." Robin replied.
"Well this is certainly grounds for a home cooked meal that starts an evening where my dear wife isn't going to raise a finger." Carl said to his wife.
"Hmm, I'd appreciate it." Robin replied, "But I'm not hungry just yet, I think just snuggling on the couch would hit the spot."
Carl held his wife closer to him, lightly kissing Robin on the lips, looking into her eyes and saying, "Your wish is my command..."
To Be Continued...