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Old August 11 2011, 09:55 PM   #1
Enterprise1981
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"Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

The teaser to a story I had first thought of for one of AdAstra's weekly free writes.

The premise: Mirror Bashir is recruited into a secret organization with a plan for dealing the Alliance a crippling blow.

Note: MU Sarina is loosely based on Faith Salie's character on "Unhappily Ever After".



**************************************************

Captain Julian Bashir entered the living area of his quarters to find an uninvited guest quietly sitting on his sofa. Almost instinctively, he lunged at the middle-aged blond-haired man with a knife. The intruder was just as quick, deflecting Bashir's wrist and shoving him to the floor with both hands. He grabbed the knife and held it to Bashir's chin. "I can't explain why I'm here if I'm dead, now can I?" he joked.

"It's not exactly a good idea to barge into someone else's quarter uninvited," Bashir retorted.

"Ideally," this strange man replied. He raised the knife away from Bashir's chin and helped him up. He then dangled the knife as if taunting him with it saying, "Now, do you wish to hear my proposal or are you going to try to kill me again?"

"Depends on the nature of this proposal, Mister...?"

"Sloan. Let's just say I've been keeping my eye on you these last few years. I know you're not always satisfied with Smiley's handling of the Terran Rebellion."

"That's putting it mildly," Bashir huffed. At times he often felt that Miles "Smiley" O'Brien was not willing to make the hard choices. Bashir's counterpart from the "other side" had once told Smiley of how things were in that other universe. Of course, that Julian Bashir was too much of an idealist. This universe's Bashir often had to coax Smiley into taking more aggressive action against the Alliance, while Smiley kept Bashir from acting too hastily. Other than that, they did not trust each other and kept each other at arms' length. "We've kept the Alliance at bay the past three years, but we haven't dealt them a decisive blow after seizing this station."

"That can all change, Captain," Sloan replied. "How do you think the rebels were able to seize Terok Nor so easily?"

Bashir was at a loss for words.

"I belong to a special group that's been operating behind the scenes ever since humanity ventured out into the stars," Sloan added, "It's specified under Article 14, Section 31 of the original Starfleet charter."

"In other words," Bashir said suspiciously, "This group could have stopped Spock from presiding over the demise of the Terran Empire?"

"It's not quite that simple, Captain. The other James Kirk was right when he said the Empire would collapse in another four hundred years if it continued on its destructive course. But I'm not here to debate history. I am here to present a plan that will deal the Alliance a crippling blow. That is, if you will meet me in Conference Room A at 1500 hours."

"I can hardly wait," Bashir sarcastically grumbled. This was not the first time he heard of grandiose solutions to defeat the Alliance once and for all. But it couldn't hurt to hear Sloan out.
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Old August 16 2011, 08:17 PM   #2
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

ok-keep going. A MU story is always in order.
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Old August 22 2011, 09:01 PM   #3
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Notes: In this universe, Jack, Patrick, Lauren, and Sarina are genetically-enhanced humans, but did not suffer the same unintended side effects as their prime universe counterparts. Jack has more normal speech patterns. Patrick has a more adult-like persona. Lauren does not speak as if flirting with every male in sight. And Sarina is the flirty bimbo.

As for MU Sloan being the same person as his prime universe counterpart, just remember the "Mirror Universe" is not "opposite land".


Chapter One


“Do you think he’s coming?”

Jack Bennett sauntered up to Luther Sloan from his left, who sat at the head of the meeting table in Conference Room A. In contrast to the men of the Terran Rebellion, Jack was clean-shaven with well-groomed dark hair and dressed in medium gray trousers and a dark gray blazer over a turquoise shirt. Sloan continued reviewing status reports on two different padds, and so did not acknowledge Jack at first. After marking a few notes on the padd’s display screen with a stylus, Sloan set both items down to answer Jack’s question. “I made a convincing case for him to listen to our proposal,” he said. “Now it’s up to him whether or not he comes to this briefing.”

A portly older man walked over to the head of the table from Sloan’s right. Patrick Kaplan was bald and his hair had gone completely white. Like Jack, he was dressed semi-formally with a pair of dark gray trousers and matching blazer over a thin burgundy shirt. “Do you think we should start without him?” Patrick asked Sloan.

“We’ll give him a few more minutes,” Sloan said plainly.

Starting their mission briefing a few minutes later than scheduled did not sit well with Jack and Patrick. Jack rolled his eyes, skeptical that this Bashir person would wish to contribute, but he maintained his calm and took a seat. Patrick simply gave a deferent grin and seated himself.

A few meters away, two similarly dressed women sat next to each other on a sofa. Sarina Douglas was a relatively petite raven-haired woman dressed in form-fitting black nylon trousers and a dark-gray sleeveless tank top that was more translucent around her shoulders and midriff. She stared at a padd containing Bashir’s biography, endlessly admiring the picture on the screen much to the annoyance of her companion Lauren Tyler. Lauren was also dark-haired and dressed in the same outfit as Sarina, though it was more modest looking and less revealing.

“I like a little facial hair on my men,” Sarina remarked, tracing her right forefinger along the display screen where the contours of Bashir’s cheeks were, while completely oblivious to Lauren rolling her eyes. “And his long hair makes him look more bad-ass, don’t you think?” she added, setting the padd down in Lauren’s leg-crossed lap.

“Everybody’s your type,” Lauren retorted, nudging the padd away.

“You’re just jealous ‘cause Jack’s the only man you’ve ever been with.”

“Like I’d want anything to do with any of the men… or women you’ve slept with.”

Lauren’s jab then had Sarina wondering if her last partner was actually female, suddenly remembering rumors that people of his or her race were hermaphrodites. Before she could respond, the doorbell chimed. She stared eagerly at the door while adjusting her shirt to show more cleavage. “That might be him,” she rasped.

Lauren simply scoffed and walked away towards the meeting table.

“Come in,” Sloan called.

The double doors parted, and as Sarina had hoped, Julian Bashir had stepped through the doorway. She just stared lustily in Julian’s direction, liking what she saw so far, while the others in the room walked towards him. “Come on in, Captain,” Sloan said, gesturing towards the meeting table. Then indicating his cohorts, Sloan introduced Jack, then Patrick and Lauren, and finally to Sarina.

Sarina was leaning on her right side in a sitting position on the sofa. “I am honored,” she said, putting out her right hand.

Julian just softly clutched her fingers and gave a gentle handshake. “The pleasure is all mine, miss,” he said, quickly releasing her hand and headed for the table. Sarina scoffed, annoyed that Bashir was not reeled in by her seductive charm, before following him over to the meeting. Julian took a seat at the other end of the table taking a brief glance at Sarina, indicating to her that he did find her intriguing, if even to a small degree.

“Captain,” Sloan began, taking a seat at the head of the table. “You remember that I asked you if it was even possible that the rebels could so easily seize the station.”

“It took nearly a year of careful planning,” Bashir offered, remembering the great many lives lost in the cause of seizing one of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance’s most strategically important outposts. It was not just the first major victory for the Terran Rebellion. More than anything, the rebel takeover of Terok Nor three years earlier spurred an anti-Alliance rebellion on Bajor, which further factionalized the planet. “It sent the Alliance scurrying away like they never had before and left Bajor once again at the mercy of their former overseers.”

“But you had to believe you had help from the inside?” Jack chimed in.

“Of course,” Bashir said with a nod. “Victory came a bit too easily, I thought. The rumor is that the Intendant sold out the Alliance, but only because the tyrannical wench has an agenda of her own.” Having once been a slave on Terok Nor during Kira Nerys’s tenure as supreme leader of the Bajoran sector, Bashir knew better than anyone not to trust the Intendant. She was motivated by nothing more than a thirst for power, as her attempted theft of an Orb from the other side clearly indicated.

“Would it interest you to know,” Patrick added, “our organization had a role in disabling a number of key systems?”

“Of course,” Bashir sarcastically answered. “The ‘secret organization’ detailed in the original charter of a Starfleet that hasn’t existed for nearly a century.”

“Our official designation is ‘Section 31’,” Sloan explained. “To say that we were in a position to prevent Spock from allowing the fall of the Terran Empire is an inaccurate over-generalization. Our leaders became too overzealous. We needed someone who was willing divert us from our self-destructive path, to be a little more gentle towards our subject races.”

“Unfortunately,” Jack said, “others of my progeny were not able to anticipate the historic formation of an alliance between the Klingon and Cardassian Empires.”

“Your progeny,” Bashir repeated. “I don’t understand.”

“Augments, Captain,” Lauren explained. “Genetically engineered super-humans. Of course, three hundred years ago, some poor fools decided genetic engineering on Terrans led to the Eugenics Wars, and had it outlawed.”

“Section 31 has been biding its time over the last seventy years,” Sarina added, “looking for weaknesses in the Alliance’s defenses, engaging in random acts of sabotage.”

“This is all very fascinating,” Bashir said, growing increasingly impatient. “But what does any of this have to do with-- as you, Mister Sloan, said—‘dealing the Alliance a crippling blow’?”

“All in good time, Captain,” Sloan said, rising from his chair and strutting towards Bashir’s end of the table. “We have ships equipped with phasing cloaks. Not only can a ship be made invisible, but matter is altered at a molecular level.”

“It can pass through matter,” Jack said, “and matter can pass through it.”

“We have explosives that are similarly equipped,” Patrick added. “And as far as the Alliance is concerned, we don’t possess that level of technology, so they suspect each other.”

“Turning our enemies against each other, eh?” Bashir retorted. “And soon you’ll be ready to set off the big boom. Is that it?”

“As I’ve said before,” Sloan continued, seating himself on the edge of the table in front of Bashir, “you haven’t always been satisfied with Smiley’s leadership. I’m sure you’ll be willing to join our mission in launching a final strike against the Alliance.”

“I’ve heard promises like this before,” Bashir huffed while standing up. “And they were nothing more than pipe dreams. No thank you.” And with that, Julian stormed out of the conference room.

“Told you he wouldn’t do it,” Lauren whispered to Sarina.

“Shut up,” Sarina sneered with a roll of her eyes.
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Old August 25 2011, 08:11 PM   #4
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Why did he storm out? Further discussion, some offer of proof-seems in order.
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Old August 26 2011, 06:22 AM   #5
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"




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Old August 26 2011, 09:28 AM   #6
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

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Old August 26 2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Thanks. I think I prefer the second one.
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Old September 18 2011, 11:52 AM   #8
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Could you not tweak the title just a little to make it a touch less cumbersome?

Somehow "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" doesn't 'sound' right and doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. It's a bit unwieldy to my ear at least.

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Old September 19 2011, 06:54 PM   #9
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

^ Just like "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" or "Looking for Par'mach in the All the Wrong Places"? It's a line from ST:Nemesis, which Picard quoted from a passage in the Bible. And it certainly applies to what is my first MU story with illustrations early on how a lot of the characters are from their prime universe counterparts.
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Old September 19 2011, 11:01 PM   #10
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Enterprise1981 wrote: View Post
^ Just like "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" or "Looking for Par'mach in the All the Wrong Places"? It's a line from ST:Nemesis, which Picard quoted from a passage in the Bible. And it certainly applies to what is my first MU story with illustrations early on how a lot of the characters are from their prime universe counterparts.
Doubtless there are many lines that one could quote from the Bible, but it doesn't follow that they make good titles for stories.

Also there are certainly Star Trek episodes with clunky, cumbersome titles in the vein of "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly", but I've merely offered a little constructive criticism that a more punchy title would be more suitable.

No offence meant.
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Old September 20 2011, 08:05 PM   #11
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Sandoval wrote: View Post
No offence meant.
None taken. Hypothetically speaking, would "Through A Glass Darkly" be less cumbersome or does that too closely resemble "In A Mirror Darkly"?
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Old September 20 2011, 09:36 PM   #12
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

I'd say "Through a Glass Darkly" is much better. Far less cumbersome while still conveying the same message.

"Through a Glass Darkly - a Mirror Universe Tale"

Doesn't that sound better? I think so.

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Old December 15 2011, 09:19 PM   #13
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

(Minor edit to the last few paragraphs of Chapter 1)

“As I’ve said before,” Sloan continued, seating himself on the edge of the table in front of Bashir, “you haven’t always been satisfied with Smiley’s leadership. I’m sure you’ll be willing to join our efforts in launching a final strike against the Alliance.”

“I’ve heard promises like this before,” Bashir huffed while standing up. It all seemed very convenient that a group of Terrans had presented a plan to unleash superior weaponry against the dominant power in the quadrant. And for all he knew, this was anything between a cruel practical joke or cleverly laid Alliance trap. “And they were nothing more than pipe dreams. No thank you.” And with that, Julian stormed out of the conference room.

Lauren gave Sarina a gloating stare. From the second Sarina saw Julian’s biographical profile, Lauren knew that Sarina was more interested in getting in his pants. “Told you he wouldn’t do it,” she whispered to Sarina.

“Shut up,” Sarina sneered with a roll of her eyes.
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Old December 15 2011, 09:29 PM   #14
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Chapter Two



Alliance Headquarters, deep inside the Betreka Nebula

Skrain Dukat had a tough road ahead as leader of the Cardassian Union. The Terran Rebellion struck a huge blow against the Alliance with the capture of Regent Worf and the Klingon flagship IKS Negh’Var. While the Klingon High Council was very quick to name Martok the new Regent, his leadership was being challenged nearly every day. And with Rebellion continuing to press on, Dukat had the responsibility leading both empires through the ongoing crisis that the Alliance faced.

Dukat sorted through several padds while seated at one end of an oval shaped meeting table in the central conference room of Alliance headquarters. It was a spacious circular room. While haphazardly decorated with various weapons of both Klingon and Cardassian design and model ships commemorating the historic Betreka Nebula Campaign, the dark-gray wall was mostly bare and Spartan.

Also present in the conference room, discussing recent skirmishes with rebel forces, were Regent Martok and Dukat’s top military leader, Legate Corat Damar. In addition to serving as a prominent military general, Damar was also the Cardassian observer on the Klingon High Council, which largely consisted of spying on the Klingon Empire to assure balance of power within the Alliance.

“As you can see,” Damar said, indicating a star chart on the primary monitor dotted with the logos of the Alliance and the Rebellion, “rebel forces continue hammering away at the Chin’toka system.”

“Our forces were able to repel the last attack even though one squadron did punch through our lines and headed for the Monac shipyards,” Martok added. He entered commands into a padd and the display on the monitor zoomed in a star system displayed in the top right corner of the screen. A single Rebellion logo represented a single squad of ships. “Fortunately, we managed to destroy every ship before it could even enter the system. You’ll also be pleased to know the new unmanned orbital weapon platforms have helped in stopping additional hit-and-run attacks.”

Dukat gave a disinterested nod. Ever since the Terran Rebellion seized Terok Nor, the Central Command was waging nothing more than a defensive war against the Terran Rebellion. No matter how much Dukat tried to drive home the importance of crushing the Rebellion, the legates were under his leadership were more concerned with their own political standing than the welfare of the Union. And while Dukat could make decisions unilaterally, implementing those decisions was becoming more and more difficult with dwindling support. In recent months, Damar seemed like his only true ally.

“I’m more concerned with a growing number of ships massing in the Badlands,” Dukat remarked to Damar. “Redouble your efforts to improve hull resiliency.”

“It’s slow going,” Damar replied. “But even with the rebels using the plasma storms as their base of operations, we still outnumber them twenty to one in the Marva system.”

“How much longer?” Dukat asked, trying to hold in his frustration.

“The shipyard engineers will be starting field tests within two days,” Damar answered, somewhat reluctantly.

Dukat held his jaw open slightly, as Damar was holding something back. He was about to ask if Damar had anything else to add, but he chose not to broach the subject after catching a glance of Martok in the corner of his eye.

“On another matter,” Martok said to fill awkward silence, “the Romulans are massing near the Narendra system in the hope of taking advantage of the redeployment our ships to protect the Empire’s core system.”

“I will look into that matter,” Dukat said half-heartedly with a light nod. “If there are no other matters, we’ll adjourn.”

Damar quickly sauntered out of the conference room as if he had more pressing matters. Dukat eyed him suspiciously, but then dismissed his suspicion as unfounded, but still justified, paranoia. Martok, on the other hand, rose from his chair, but remained standing in front of the table to further address his own concern about the Narendra situation with Dukat.

“Something else, Regent?” Dukat asked with a raised eyebrow.

“It concerns Cardassian reinforcements in the Narendra system,” Martok pointedly replied. “Only twelve ships?”
Dukat sighed, as if they both had this conversation before. “It’s all we can spare at the moment,” he insisted. “Besides, we have more important matters to attend to than a hostile neighbor.”

“We are allies, Legate,” Martok growled. “The Romulans are as much of an external threat as the Terran rebels.”

“True, but they do not represent the same threat to the continuation of both our empires. Do you seriously believe that the Terrans will just leave us in peace once they are an independent power? They will want to conquer us like we conquered them. In the meantime, the Romulans will be wasting resources on a strategically worthless planet.”

“Strategically worthless to you perhaps,” Martok huffed, resisting the urge to want to deck his Cardassian counterpart. “We’ve been able to keep the Romulan Star Empire at bay from Narendra Three. Now they wish to take advantage of our internal conflicts.”

“Some sacrifices have to made,” Dukat calmly assured the regent. “We have to prioritize with finite resources. Once the Rebellion is crushed, we will have more than enough resources to compensate for the loss of a few minor planets within the Alliance.”

Martok let out a light muffled growl to restrain his cold rage. He simply shook his head in disbelief. Dukat’s mind was clearly made up if he continued to downplay the strategic importance of an outpost along the Romulan border.

Dukat, meanwhile, held in his amusement at his Klingon counterpart’s primitive anger. This latest confrontation along with the many differences in Klingon and Cardassian culture and government had him wondering how the two empires lasted this long as allies.

***

Martok entered his private chamber on the base still grumbling in frustration over his confrontation with Dukat. He trudged over to a wall-mounted shelf and popped open a bottle of blood wine. “What kind of an ally stabs you in the back?” he muttered while taking sip straight out of the bottle, unaware of the shadow of a lithe humanoid body being cast on the wall in front of him.

“Just be glad I don’t fit in that category,” a familiar feminine voice rasped.

Martok turned around to see Kira Nerys, the former Intendant of Bajor, perched on the drab metal desk while lying on her side. They exchanged wicked grins, accompanied by a lengthy silence. “After all,” Kira added, “I helped you become the Regent.”

“At great risk to yourself,” Martok offered, staying put in hope of keeping his distance while Kira took slow and seductive steps towards him.

Just a few weeks earlier, the former Intendant had been a prisoner of Regent Worf, who held her responsible for the loss of Terok Nor to the rebels three years ago. Kira even helped the Terran Rebellion turn away an Alliance fleet dispatched to retake the station. She had managed to save herself from execution when she masterminded a plan for the Alliance to acquire cloaking technology. By holding Grand Nagus Zek from the other universe Worf was able to coerce Quark and Rom from that universe into shipping over a cloaking device. Kira had all the while been planning her escape by planting a cascading virus into the Negh’Var’s computer system.

“Which means you owe me a huge favor,” Kira said, now eye-to-eye with Martok. Her fingers crawled up the burly Klingon’s chest and then stroked his beard. “You hope to restore honor to the Empire; a very tall order considering how precarious your position is. Even if you don’t know how many of your generals you can trust, turning over unilateral control of your forces to Dukat is highly unwise.”

“What exactly did you have mind?” Martok stuttered nervously, watching Kira stroke strands of his graying hair.

“Temporarily turning over control of a few of your fleets is still a good idea. I’m sure you could be persuaded to give me control of one of those fleets in exchange for…” Kira then whispered something in Martok’s ear that had him chuckling fiendishly.

“I still expect something bigger in exchange for making you the new Regent,” she added.

Martok walked over to the desk and scooped off a padd. He entered a set of commands, and then handed it to Kira. “The Ninth Fleet is now under your command,” he said, “but not until we’ve completed this transaction.”

“I’d expect nothing less,” Kira said with a sly smile. She then walked slowly and seductively towards the door, leaving Martok in awe of what she had planned for him.

###

Damar nervously paced back and forth in his quarters while glancing at the haphazard arrangement of blue, violet, and red that formed the nebula gleaning through the oval shaped viewport. Damar would almost call the arrangement of colors chaotic, a far cry from the orderliness of Cardassian society.

He kept a cool head when the doorbell chimed, not wanting to show any visible signs of anxiousness should Dukat be paying him a visit. “Enter,” he called calmly.

To his relief, Gul Rusot entered once the heavy copper-colored doors parted. Rusot had been one of his most trusted battalion commanders who had seen the Alliance through a number of skirmishes with the Terran Rebellion. Damar gestured with his fingers for Rusot to step inside the cabin so that the doors would close. Given the delicacy of what they would be discussing, they could not afford for anyone passing by to overhear them. “You have the plans I requested?” he asked his subordinate.

“The full details are here for your review,” Rusot replied, presenting a padd.

Damar took the padd and browsed through the various reports contained within it.

“One thing concerns me,” Rusot added. “Is it really a good idea to go after Dukat at a time like this? With the Klingon Empire in chaos, we need political stability within our own ranks.”

Damar then set the padd down next to two others on a metallic coffee table. “Maybe so,” he conceded. “Dukat speaks of placing the greater good of Cardassia over personal glory and fame. But he is no different than his subordinate legates. He hopes to use the internal strife within the Klingon Empire for his own gain. If Cardassia is truly to become the dominant power within the Alliance, we need to be more discreet. Setting our own allies at each other’s throats is not the way to go. I need to know if I have your support on this or not.

“What are your plans for Dukat?” Rusot asked without a second of hesitation.

“I won’t go into complete detail. When the time comes, I will contact you again and we will deal with Dukat… quietly.”

Before either was able to say anything further, the room shook and alarms sounded. The two of them then marched out of the cabin to learn what caused the temporary loss of inertial stability.

###

A mining substation erupted in a fireball. It was part of a network of mining substations as part of a central complex, which extracted a number of different compounds that composed the many different nebular gases.

Dukat stormed into the station’s operations center from the main entrance where a number of officers and technicians were scrambling to various auxiliary stations on all sides of the compartment. Martok entered from a turbolift on the port side, eliciting an awkward glance from Dukat.

“What just happened?” Dukat demanded of the gul commanding the station.

“One of the mining plants was destroyed,” the gul replied while he was taking a report from a dalin at the main engineering station. “There was no warning.”

“Any survivors?” Martok inquired.

“Too early to tell from this range,” said the gul while took a padd a glinn had given him. “Rescue ships are being dispatched.

“How could this have happened?” Dukat snarled. “Each of the plants has seven redundant safety interlocks to prevent igniting too much of the gases at once. And their central computers are backed up by a routing system from the central complex in the event of total systems failure.”

“It’s a near impossibility, sir,” the gul assured him.

“Of course it is,” both Dukat and Martok said in unison. Based on the information presently at hand, they both knew this had be an inside job and they exchanged accusatory stares.
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Old February 1 2012, 11:43 PM   #15
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Re: "Now We See Through a Glass Darkly" A Mirror Universe Tale"

Chapter Three

The leaders of the Terran Rebellion were gathered for the weekly briefing.

Captain Miles “Smiley” O’Brien was the most prominent of the cell leaders in the Bajoran sector, taking over for the late Benjamin Sisko after one of his failed missions. Among the other cell leaders seated on Smiley’s right were Bashir and Captain Tuvok, one of the top cell leaders on the Vulcan front. Although, she was a Bajoran, Leeta, seated at his right, was Smiley’s senior liaison to the other cell leaders. She had strongly opposed Bajor’s affiliation with the Alliance and chose to side with the Terran Rebellion over her family’s objections.

Much to Bashir’s dismay, Ezri Tigan was part of the meeting, seated behind Leeta. Ezri had an apparent moral epiphany during the time she spent with Quark and Rom from the other universe. Their willingness to save their Grand Nagus from the Alliance had instilled in her a sense of loyalty she had never known before. Now that she began providing details about Alliance ship deployments, the Terran Rebellion had escalated into full-scale war against the Alliance. The rebel leaders still had very little reason to trust her, as she was well known for doing paid jobs for both the Alliance and the Rebellion.

“These are latest reports from our forces in the Chin’toka system,” Leeta said to rest of the group while sliding a padd over to Smiley. “They remain bottled up there. One squad of ships did punch through to the Monac system. Not that those ships did any good.”

“Could have the Cardies running around in circles a while,” Smiley quipped as he skimmed through the various reports. “Any luck deciphering the new orbital weapon platforms?”

“We’d need to study them in more detail,” Leeta half-sarcastically suggested. She craned her head off to one side, staring at Ezri lustily.

Ezri returned Leeta’s stares with a devilish smile. She then looked over at Smiley and then at the other cell leaders who were eyeing her suspiciously throughout the briefing. “Well, don’t look at me,” she said with a shrug. “I was just a simple mercenary for them. It’s not like I would know about any top-secret military projects.”

“No, of course not,” Bashir said with a roll of his eyes while staring at Ezri with loathing and contempt.

Tuvok, calm and collected as any Vulcan would be, was willing to ignore the petty bickering while still sending disapproving stares in the directions of Bashir, Ezri, and Leeta. “I will see what my forces are able to spare in the Chin’toka system,” he offered. “It won’t be much considering we are barely holding the line at Kalandra.”

“We could also try hitting them from other angles,” Bashir offered. “Perhaps a target the enemy would least expect.” He then consulted a data padd to search feasible alternative attack plans. “The Avenal Seven starbase for instance,” he suggested. “It’s deep in their territory and it would confuse the hell out of the Cardies.”

“Even when employing the element of surprise, one should still take a logical course of action,” Tuvok insisted calmly. But anyone in the room who knew well suspected that he was often annoyed at being in the presence of Terrans and other “emotionally-handicapped” races, especially those who wanted to act far too hastily. “Avenal Seven is one of the most heavily fortified installations in the Cardassian Empire. Our reconnaissance probes indicate that you would need to bypass at least six different patrols. Furthermore, the system’s Oort cloud and asteroid belt is lined with gravitic sensor nets. You would highly unlikely to destroy the base, much less get anywhere near the system.”

“Who said anything about destroying the base?” Bashir scoffed. “I’d just want to damage it a little bit. And a few recent forays into enemy territory revealed a few holes in the sensor net.”

“I still don’t think you’ll get within a parsec of the system,” Smiley offered.

“Your hyperbole notwithstanding,” Tuvok retorted, “that is an accurate assessment. An attack of any magnitude is a near impossibility.”

Didn’t I just say that? Smiley simply snorted and rolled his eyes.

Bashir was just as incensed, feeling that convincing Tuvok of anything today was futile. “I suppose you prefer an easier target,” he sniped.

“It is not a question of degree of difficulty,” Tuvok insisted, “but of what is most practical. Trelka Five would be a more prudent target.”

“That starbase has as much armaments as Avenal,” Bashir shot back.

“But not as heavily fortified by warships.”

Bashir scoffed and took a few paces towards the conference room monitor displaying a star map and then sauntered back. “So we just continue to impede their ability to consolidate their forces against us. They do the same. We destroy their ships. They destroy ours.

“Julian,” Smiley cut in.

Bashir gave Smiley a glance as if requesting to be allowed to finish his diatribe. "For the past three months,” he ranted, “ever since we started taking the fight to the enemy thanks to the help from our new ‘friend’…” Bashir indicated Ezri with his left hand trying to put as much sarcasm as he could into the word friend. “…we’ve just wasted our time in the Chin’toka system.”

“Julian!” Smiley snapped more forcefully, while at the same time stared at Tuvok as if indicating that nothing the Vulcan would say would be helpful.

Bashir was also looking in Tuvok’s direction looking visibly annoyed. “And our resident Vulcan here rejects my suggestion right out of hand,” he continued. “The Rebellion has been a war of attrition we cannot win, but now in the enemy’s territory.”

“You’ve made your point,” Smiley snarled. He stood up to stare Bashir in the face while still resisting the urge to deck him. “Now shut the hell up and sit down.”

Bashir threw his hands up in surrender and took a seat at the table. “We’ll take any suggestions into consideration,” Smiley added calmly as he sat back down. “Moving on to the next item of business…”

***

After the briefing had been dismissed, most of the other cell leaders exited the conference room. But Bashir stayed. He sighed impatiently while glaring at Smiley. “Can I have a word with you, Smiley?” he asked with a huff.

“Sure,” Smiley said, sitting back in his chair at the head of the meeting table.

“Why was she here again?” Bashir demanded, crossing his arms across his chest.

“Miss Tigan has a wealth of valuable information on the Alliance,” Smiley explained with a hint of frustration in his voice suggesting he had explained this before. “That’s information that could give us an advantage we didn’t have before.”

“Oh, bollocks, Smiley! You yourself said she’s on no one’s side but her own. She has no loyalties to anyone. So why is she helping us now? I don’t trust her and neither should you.”

Smiley rose from his chair again and looked Bashir in the eye. “I’m not asking you to trust her,” he said. “I’m keeping her on a very tight leash. And at the next sign of treachery, she’s out of the loop.”

“‘Out of the loop’?” Bashir repeated. He pulled a knife from a sheath in his belt. “Why don’t I just slit the bitch’s throat now and save us both any unnecessary problems?”

“You’ll do nothing of the sort. Not yet anyway.”

“What’s happened to you, Smiley? What happened to the man who was prepared to kill Sisko’s wife if we couldn’t turn her to our side? You may sound like a pragmatist, but you still need to see the good in people.”

Smiley didn’t answer. But Bashir’s remarks did hit a nerve. He was the mastermind behind bringing Benjamin Sisko from the other universe in the guise of his dead counterpart so that he could convince his wife to defect from the Alliance. It was a plan Bashir emphatically argued against after this universe’s Captain Sisko tried and failed at the cost of his own life. Smiley wondered if he was too quick to trust Ezri while Bashir walked out of the room in disgust.

As Bashir trudged down the hall, Sarina poked her head out of a doorway. She entered a set of commands into a small rectangular padd, stowed it in her belt, and slowly tiptoed behind him.

###

Bashir stared out the viewport of the living area of his quarters. The last meeting with the Rebellion’s cell leaders had him reconsidering Sloan’s and his group’s proposition. Even so, the idea of phasing cloaks still seemed absurd. The more technologically advanced Alliance had only mastered the use of cloaking devices that made ships invisible to the naked eye, but not to enemy sensors. The Romulan Star Empire refused to share its cloaking technology and the Terran Empire had never mastered it on its own. Yet this organization that had operated behind the scenes for two centuries had access to even more advanced methods of cloaking.

He walked over to the desk and was ready to activate the comm-panel when he saw a rippling in the wall in front of him. Sarina emerged through the wall flashing a devilish smile. She removed the control padd in her belt and showed it to Bashir. “Personal phasing device,” she explained. “Comes in handy in my line of work.”

“I’m sure it does,” Bashir stuttered, staring at her petite figure. As Sarina took slow steps towards him, he wondered if she was wearing any kind of undergarments under her form fitting outfit of black leather trousers and a black blouse cut across her chest down to her upper abdomen.

“I was just about to arrange another meeting with Mister Sloan,” he continued. “But since you’re here…”

“I’m told I’m good on the eyes,” Sarina quipped with a scheming smirk. She ran her right hand up her chest along the edge of her blouse.

Bashir was momentarily expecting Sarina to disrobe. But then she gave him a teasing wink and clasped both his hands with her own. She coaxed him back towards the sofa right in front of the living area’s central viewport. “I looked in on your last meeting with the other cell leaders,” she said plainly while descending onto the sofa. “It was just more of the same softball maneuvering. Ask yourself one question, Julian. Why do you think Terok Nor is not under constant attack by Alliance forces? This station’s in orbit of Bajor after all. They could take it back in their sleep.”

“I hadn’t really thought of it,” Bashir mused, taking a seat on Sarina’s right. “It was just one less thing we had to worry about.”

“We can explain that and everything else you’d want to know,” Sarina replied while twirling a lock of her black hair. “Even the questions you don’t think of.”

Sarina then stood up while flashing a wide smile and leaving Bashir in a lusting trance. He just stared at her as she sauntered towards the door. “You do this a lot with men?” he rhetorically asked.

“That’s not even the half of it,” Sarina rasped, still twirling her hair. “So do we have a deal? 1600 hours in Conference Room A.”

“I’ll be there,” Bashir said, momentarily regaining his composure.

The two exchanged smiles as Sarina activated her personal phasing device and stepped through the wall as if it wasn’t there, as she had done before.
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