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Old June 24 2012, 07:01 PM   #226
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 1

Day 13, 2100 hours

With each passing hour, Megan grew more confident that the threat from the Romulans would blow over. Once the fifty Starfleet ships arrived, the Romulans would be outgunned and have no choice but to retreat should they attack. Megan couldn't see what would trigger the Romulans to attack between now and the time when the reinforcements arrived...

“Commander, the Romulans are charging their disruptor banks!” said Paulson.

Megan didn’t even have time to feel nervous, she looked up at the viewscreen and saw the warbirds begin to swoop inwards. “Dawson hail the Romulan flagship, request to Keelin to stand down-”

///

The warbirds on the outer formation broke off and began firing at the docking pylons, while the battleship fired its plasma torpedoes at the habitat ring and upper central core. Semi-transparent shields flared up around the habitat ring, while protecting the central core from the green phaser bursts and plasma torpedoes. The armour plating around the station pylons held despite the Romulan armaments being concentrated there.

///

“Shields are holding,” said Paulson, and when the station shook, he leaned in a little, bracing his hands against the console to steady himself.

“Is there any response from the Romulan flagship?” asked Megan, while she focused on her console.

“It's no good sir!” exclaimed Tanya. “The Romulan ships are jamming my hails!”

Paulson looked up from his console, and glared in an impatient manner at Megan. “Sir do we fight back?”

“What choice do we have?” said Megan rhetorically. “Mr Paulson, activate the weapons array and launch a spread of torpedoes from the upper docking pylon launchers, pattern eta. Fire!”

///

The weapon port hatches opened up on both the upper and lower docking pylons, and cylindrical pods moved sideways from their respective pylons. When the weapon ports on the upper docking pylons were fully deployed, the top part of the pods rotated around, discharging torpedoes in groups of threes.

Racing forwards, the torpedoes hit some of the Romulan ships, who were now taking evasive action, and a few torpedoes breached the shields of D’Deredex warbirds, and smashed into their hulls generating a small explosion, but nothing serious to cripple the warbirds.

Now some of the warbirds were regrouping, and preparing to make another pass at the station. The Kresh’Torek, the battleship which was twice the length of a galaxy-class starship and shaped in a chassis resembling a Vor'cha-class Klingon ship, maintained its position laying down quantum torpedoes aimed straight at the central core of the station.

///

Megan studied the tactical display on her console with immense focus, as she tried to anticipate the Romulan ship’s next moves and attack patterns. “Fire phasers and torpedoes from all three weapon sails, pattern Lambda!” she ordered to Paulson.

///

Ten Romulan warbirds headed for the central core, and their disruptor banks were charging up again. Likewise so were phasers in the weapon sails, attached to the habitat ring. Both ships and weapon sails fired at the same time. Orange phaser fire struck the warbirds, weakening their shields, as did most of the torpedoes launched from the station.

Most of the disruptor fire was absorbed by the station’s shields, however half a dozen bursts slipped through momentary holes in the shields, making big dents to the armour plating protecting one of the weapon sails and the surrounding decks between the sails. There were holes, all burnt and black looking, in the armour, however the disruptor fire had not managed to penetrate beyond the armour.

Again the warbirds moved away from the station, to avoid further phaser fire and torpedoes.

///

Now Megan was ordering Paulson to fire at will, though she continued to watch the tactical display, she came up with fewer orders which she thought would be more useful in destroying the Romulan ships.

Two consoles had already blown out, and the station’s shaking seemed to get worse for Megan. She grew more and more frustrated as the Romulan ships were coming in waves, attacking the station, quickly retreating and avoiding most of the station’s armaments. Try as she might, Megan could not work out a strategy of increasing the accuracy of the photon torpedoes or phasers.

Her only hope was for the station somehow fighting on -- holding out against attack after attack -- for over two hours until the Starfleet reinforcements arrived. She already ordered Tanya to send out another distress call, and maybe that would force the fifty ships to take up an even higher warp and cut down the two hours journey...


***


Again the station shook, causing Mia and Deru to be thrown against the floor. Mia quickly got up and hurried over to Deru who looked really shaken. She helped her brother onto his feet, all the while clutching his hand to comfort him.

“Don't worry, I'm here...” she told Deru.

“We're going to die!” said Deru in a panicked voice.

The station shook again, but not so violently, though Mia had enough. No longer content with waiting in this living room while a battle took place, she decided a better option would be to leave their quarters, and ask someone where the civilians were sheltering for evacuation.

“No we're not,” Mia then firmly said, with her mind made up she headed to the door, taking Deru with her. “We're going to survive this-”

The front door opened, one second later a tall but thin Bajoran security guard entered. “I'm here to escort you out of these quarters,” he said to Mia and Deru.

“You see,” said Mia as she followed the guard out. “We're going to be safe.”

Deru didn’t appear convinced and Mia stayed silent as she ran out of ideas to reassure her brother.

As the two followed the guard, Mia noticed the other civilians both in front and behind her. “Were are we going?” she asked to the guard.

“To the Promenade,” he explained. “You two are going to Quark's bar where the other children are being sheltered.”

The journey to the Promenade was eventful with the station shaking at infrequent times. Each time though Mia tightly gripped onto Deru’s hand. All that mattered now was protecting her brother, her parents were gone, presumably captured by the Breen. Despite the pain of losing her mother and father, Mia had a duty to fulfil and that was to Deru.

It allowed Mia to ignore her fears for everything happening around her and focus on the essentials. When they arrived on the Promenade, Mia felt a little relieved but she knew the danger and risk remained as high as ever.

“We're nearly there...” she muttered to Deru.

“It's still not safe...” said Deru numbly.

Mia couldn’t help but agree with her brother’s simple assessment of the situation. Before she could respond they arrived at the entrance to Quark’s bar.

Quark was standing at the entrance, his grim expression said it all to Mia, in particular she noticed a phaser pistol clutched in his right hand. Things must have been bad if Quark had armed himself Mia thought.

The guard escorting Mia and Deru, took notice of this, he glanced disapprovingly at the Ferengi. “Quark do you really think you’re going to need that Ferengi phaser?”

Quark took great umbrage at the guard’s stance. “My bar is my life, without it I'm nothing but destitute!”

Ignoring Quark, the guard headed deeper into the bar, coming to a stop by one of the dabo tables. “You'll be safe in here,” he told Mia and Deru.

“Even if the Romulans board this station?” asked Mia.

Something seemed to harden in the guard’s face; like a cold hatred gradually manifesting itself transforming his features. “We won't let the Romulans come anywhere near here to harm you or the rest of the children. Especially not you two...”

The last thing the guard said struck Mia as rather odd. “You know my mother personally?”

The guard nodded. “She got me out of a tight situation in the Cardassian occupation, I owe her my life.”

Mia nodded a little distractedly in acknowledgement of this. Some moments later, she and Deru sat down on a small flight of steps, close to the dabo table.

“My name is Raris,” added the guard, “if you need anything just ask me or Quark.”

“Yeah thanks...” muttered Mia.

Raris smiled briefly at Mia, before returning to the entrance.

“You see Deru,” said Mia, “we're going to be safe here.”

“I hope so-”

The station shook again, as did Deru's composure. Tears were silently running down his cheeks. Turning a little to her side, Mia pulled her brother in close against her chest, holding on to one of his hands.

She felt just as scared as Deru. Yet somehow she could cope with the fear and keep a clear head. Looking around, she saw the frightened faces of other children. Some of them were far younger than she, while others were about her age. Clearly they had never experienced anything like this before.

The silence became almost palpable, as everyone in the room waited, and waited, for whatever was in store for them.


***


When Ezri had received a comm call from Holo, she left her office and entered the bridge. “Report!” she demanded of Holo.

“Captain we're receiving a distress call from DS9!” Holo said, sounding a little worried. “The Romulans are attacking!”

“When will we arrive at DS9?” asked Ezri.

“In about ten hours captain,” said Holo.

Ezri turned her gaze to the viewscreen while horrible scenarios played out in her mind. “Helm increase speed to warp 9.9.”

“Aye sir,” said Max, gently tapping in the relevant commands to his console.

“That will cut at least eight hours off our journey,” pointed out Holo, “but that's if the Defiant will hold itself together for two hours of very high warp.”

“This ship will manage,” said Ezri with absolute conviction. “It has always been resilient.”

While Holo’s attention returned to his station, Ezri sat down in the commander’s chair. Her mind became plagued with worry as she thought about the action the Romulans had taken. Clearly this was a consequence of the Defiant destroying the Breen biogenics factory; either DS9 would be destroyed or captured by those pointy eared scoundrels. Neither outcome was acceptable to Ezri, she only hoped when the Defiant arrived at the station there would be something left to defend…

She forced herself to look detached as she thought about all the colleagues and friends in danger… Quark, Nog, Bashir… At the very thought of Bashir, Ezri’s mood further darkened. If DS9 was destroyed, then she was going to kill Talor Voran with her own bare hands. Despite such a reckless and murderous impulse, never had Ezri despised one man so much. Because of Voran’s terrible deed, the Federation was slipping irrevocably into war.


***


Each time the dermal regenerator went over a particularly tender bit on Kira’s face, she winced in pain. She didn’t appreciate just how badly the Breen had damaged her face, but after taking one look in a mirror, she then knew. The doctor healing her, doctor Taylor, had assured Kira that her face would be fully restored without any scars or deformities.

It felt so good to see friendly people again, once the doctor had mended her, Kira’s mind became dead set on returning to the quarters she and Odo had been allocated. Odo was waiting for her, and right now she fancied nothing more than just resting against Odo’s body, letting the weariness, tiredness and fatigue slowly drift out of her…

The sickbay door’s opened when another officer came in, and Kira heard another doctor speak to the recently arrived person.

“Jacobs you looked very worried about something, what is it?”

“I was on the bridge,” said Jacobs, “and I heard that the Romulans had attacked DS9, and-”

At this Kira turned around to look at Jacobs. “Did you say Romulans?” she asked him.

Jacobs returned Kira’s question with a puzzled stare. “Don’t you know colonel? The Romulans have surrounded DS9 for a few days, and now they've attacked with no warning.”

All thought of resting and taking it easy was quashed from Kira’s mind. “I have to go to the bridge-”

“Hold still colonel!” warned Taylor, who pushed Kira back on her rump against the biobed.

“Well hurry up then!” she snapped. “Because I'm gone the moment you're done!”

Taylor though looked unfazed by his senior officer’s impatience. “With all due respect sir, you need rest after your ordeal on-”

“You can't order me around!” snarled Kira. “Only the chief medical officer can relieve me of duty, and in case you haven't realised he is on DS9!”

“If you insist...” replied Taylor wearily, removing the dermal regenerator away from Kira’s face.

At once Kira sprung to her feet and marched out of sickbay. She was desperate to get to the bridge to find out more about what had happened to DS9, she would tell Odo later where she had gone. Some of the officers who past by Kira gave her the occasional surprised expression, and to Kira’s mild embarrassment, she realised she was still wearing her dirty and somewhat tattered uniform.

Unfortunately she had no spare change of uniform or any other clothes to wear, all of those clothes were still in the Imperial Palace on Breen. However a messy and dirty appearance aside, Kira didn’t give much of a damn…
__________________
Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 24 2012, 07:03 PM   #227
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 2

Ezri sat on the commander’s chair, concentrating upon writing up a report on a padd, she didn’t pay any attention when she heard the door to the bridge swish open. However some moments later she lowered the padd when she sensed that someone was standing in front of her. It was Kira, the sight of that dirtied uniform really caught Ezri’s attention.

“Colonel, I thought doctor Taylor told you to rest,” said Ezri rather sternly.

Kira looked anything but willing to rest, her face was drawn and very tense. “I couldn't rest knowing that DS9 was being attacked, and wondering whether my children were safe. Just what has happened to DS9, and what are the Romulans doing there?”

Briefly Ezri held Kira’s gaze, and she knew if anyone deserved an explanation for what was going on, Kira certainly did. “I'll explain to you in my ready room.”

Ezri removed herself from the chair, and with Kira at her side, they left the bridge, coming to a stop only when they were inside the ready room.

While Kira stood close to the door, Ezri moved a few more steps forward before turning around to face Kira.

“To answer your questions colonel, the Romulans came to DS9 four days ago with a fleet of thirty ships. Initially they ignored our hails, but then the fleet's commander, general Keelin, explained to me that he was here to give to me a set of demands from both his government and the Breen Confederacy.”

“Demands?” asked Kira a little shrilly.

“Changes to the Treaty of Devron, and the peace treaty between the Breen and Federation. I told him that I would need time to consider all of this, and that the final say would come from Starfleet Command and the Federation High Council itself. Anyway Keelin was simply a messenger, and once the Federation entered into formal negotiations with both the Breen and Romulan governments, I told Keelin that his fleet needn't stay at DS9.”

Kira averted her gaze from Ezri, she seemed to be having a hard time coming to terms with all this news. “Don't tell me,” she said, gazing at Ezri again. “Keelin kept his fleet right at our back door to pressurise you?”

“Precisely,” said Ezri, smiling rather bitterly at Kira. “The Defiant had to leave the station cloaked to carry out the rescue mission to free the surviving members of the Federation delegation on Breen. All of this as part of a mission given to me by admiral Ross.”

“Which explains how you arrived...” murmured Kira, her eyes unfocused while she processed all this information. “Do you know why the Romulans attacked?” she added rather sharply.

“I don't know the precise reason but...”

“Yes?” said Kira slowly, who was hanging onto Ezri’s every word.

Briefly Ezri readjusted the back of her jacket’s collar in a distracted manner, what she was going to say next would not be to Kira’s liking. “The officer at this bridge's tactical station, Talor Voran, opened fired on the Breen homeworld.”

The reaction was instant; Kira’s mouth fell open in horror, and she stared at Ezri with bewilderment mad. “What? Did you order him to-”

“Of course not!” said Ezri angrily. “For reasons I cannot explain, he fired five flux torpedoes directly at the Breen's biogenics factory.”

Kira’s confusion grew. “The Breen have a biogenics' factory?”

“They do,” said Ezri, nodding once at Kira.

“I still don't get it, what's the connection between the destroyed biogenics' factory and the Romulans attacking DS9?”

Ezri sighed when she realised just how behind Kira was on the current situation. “The Breen and Romulans have recently signed a defensive pact. If one is attacked, the other gets involved to protect its ally.”

“By the Prophets...” breathed Kira, and only now did she seem to be comprehending what had transpired. “So much has happened... Are we at war with both the Breen and Romulans?”

“I don't know,” replied Ezri honestly. “To my knowledge there has only been two incidents; the destruction of the biogenics factory and the Romulans attacking DS9.”

“But surely this is only the beginning...” said Kira in rather hushed tones.

“Let's hope not...”

There was a small pause…

“Captain, request permission to work at my station.”

“Request denied,” said Ezri, “you need to rest and recuperate.”

Now Kira became even more strained, she was bordering on desperation. “Captain let me work at the tactical station, I have to do this. I have to do something to protect DS9, to do something to protect my children.”

Her voice began to rise with each word, and each syllable was laced with desperation. “The thought of doing nothing and sitting in some quarters, waiting for the outcome of a battle-”

Kira stopped to compose herself. Having found some strength, she looked at Ezri seriously in the eye. “I'm the best tactical officer you've got, so please Dax, let me man my station.”

Ezri considered this, and she fully understood why Kira was desperate to do something. For a woman like Kira to do nothing while her friends and loved ones were in danger must have been inconceivable to her. Simply put, Ezri could not do that to Kira, to her first officer, and closest friend.

“Very well,” said Ezri.

With a small nod, Kira silently thanked Ezri before leaving the office.


***


For over thirty minutes the battle had raged, and try every tactic she could, Megan could not believe how unrelenting the Romulan ships were. She had experience in tactical situations, but up against Keelin she felt like an amateur. Instead of directly attacking the station, Keelin’s ships were doing constant hit and run attacks. Megan still couldn’t work out the attack pattern, for it changed so randomly, and only half the photon torpedoes and phaser bursts were hitting the Romulan ships.

“What's the status of the primary shields?” she asked, clinging onto her console when the station shook ferociously.

“They're down commander...” said Nog, who was working overdrive at his engineering station. “I'm detecting multiple transport signatures in the Promenade, the docking bays, habitat section, Promenade...”

“Mr Paulson get down to the Promenade,” said Megan, while she approached Paulson’s station. “Defend the station by any means necessary! I'll take over tactical.”

Paulson simply nodded and headed for the turbolift.

In some ways taking over the station was a little easier, as Megan could directly apprise herself of where the Romulan ships were. But on the other hand the task became harder, because half her mind was at tactical, and the other half was thinking about the fast moving situation. “Chief, can you restore primary shields around the station core?”

“The damage to the shield generators is too extensive,” reported Nog, “it will take hours for the repair teams to sort it all out! Commander, incoming transporter signatures in Ops!”

“Take cover!” shouted Megan, instinctively she ducked down when she heard multiple sounds of Romulan transporter beams.

Phaser fire burst forth in two directions, and quickly looking up, Megan saw two batches of Romulans, six soldiers each. One batch positioned next to the commander’s office, and the other by the left side of the viewscreen.

The Romulans by the commander’s office were easy targets, and with two well aimed bursts of Megan’s phaser, set to kill, she struck down two of the Romulans. But it was the Romulans next to the engineering pit that were causing most of the trouble. They had the superior cover, already they incapacitated three of the crew in Ops.

Megan lost track of the time, she became solely focused on her survival. However she jerked her head around rightwards towards the sound of a console exploding. To Megan’s horror, she saw Tanya blasted backwards taking the brunt of the sparks and shrapnel from the console.

Before Megan had time to really comprehend this, the lights in Ops completely faded, and all the consoles deactivated, plunging everyone into darkness. Some seconds later though the emergency lighting kicked in, the luminosity reverting to half of what it was before.

Someone bumped into Megan, and quickly turning around -- her finger close to the trigger -- she saw Nog. “Don’t do that! I nearly shot you!” she angrily told Nog.

“I've locked down Ops,” said Nog, who now had his back to the console, while one hand carried a phaser.

“There's too many of them!” said Megan, when she yet again took cover after six more Romulans beamed some metres away close to the commander’s office.

Without even thinking, she removed the site-to-site transporter from a pocket in her trousers and thrust the device into Nog’s empty hand. “Get yourself out of here!”

Nog took the device and began fumbling around with the controls. “Great you could have set a better destination...”

Megan took one wild shot at a Romulan soldier, before dipping back into cover. “Can you reroute station controls in the security office?”

“It is possible... But I would need my toolkit.”

Toolkit… Megan cudgelled her brain as she sought to improvise. She knew a toolkit was always stashed away beneath the engineering station in Ops, but how could she reach it? Carefully poking her head upwards, she spotted a Starfleet officer, taking cover by Nog’s former station.

Once back in cover, Megan recognised the short brown hair, blue eyes, and Nordic appearance of ensign Bergfrid. Megan tapped her combadge, hoping that Bergfrid would respond. “This is commander Felpes to ensign Bergfrid.”

Bergfrid here.

“Do you see a compartment under the main operations console?” asked Megan.

There was a pause, and Megan waited on tenterhooks for Bergfrid's reply.

I do,” said Bergfrid.

“Open it up,” instructed Megan, “and you'll find the chief of operation's toolbox.”

Opening...” muttered Bergfrid. “You better cover me.

Each time Megan lifted herself partially from cover, she pressed the trigger to her phaser more rapidly, laying down suppression fire on the Romulans.

“Have you got it?” she asked, after half a minute of manic shooting.

I have,” said Bergfrid, there was a small pause. “Do you need it?

“I do!” exclaimed Megan, exasperated by Bergfrid's slowness. “Throw it over behind the science station, that's where I'm taking cover. Felpes out.”

Some moments later there was a clunk as the toolbox landed two feet away from Nog behind the tactical console. Next Megan heard a scream from Bergfrid, and in that instance she knew that Bergfrid was down.

“Nice aim...” murmured Nog, once he had scooped up the toolbox.

“Is that all you need?” asked Megan.

“Yes it is,” said Nog, after he quickly opened the toolbox to rifle through its contents. “Almost sorted out the site-to-site transporter.”

“Hurry up!” hissed Megan. “I can't hold them off much longer!”

“Got it!” said Nog a little triumphantly, he then dematerialised along with the toolbox he carried.

There was the sound of rapid footfalls approaching. Turning around, Megan saw three Romulan soldiers pointing their disruptor rifles straight at her.

“Lower your weapons! Now!” shouted the female Romulan soldier.

Megan dropped her phaser, and she heard two further clunks of phasers dropping to the floor. It was over, the Romulans had captured Ops, the nerve centre of DS9. Megan’s only hope rested with Nog being able to set up a temporary command centre and continue the fight against the Romulan ships.

“Stand up, slowly!” said the female Romulan, who bore the insignia on her grey tunic of a centurion. “Hands behind your heads!”

When Megan straightened up, the two other Romulans grabbed her roughly by the arms and pushed her forwards. “Can we at least take care of the wounded?” asked Megan.

“Silence!” hissed the centurion, she appeared to be commanding the soldiers responsible for capturing Ops. “Gather the enemy crew down by that viewscreen.”

As Megan walked, she spotted Tanya slumped against a bulkhead, feebly stirring. “Come on Dawson,” Megan told Tanya, while she helped Tanya to her feet.

“My head...” Tanya moaned, gently she rested one hand against a very bloody wound to the left side of her head.

“Don't worry a medkit will patch things up,” said Megan.

“No talking!” barked the centurion, before she then tapped a communicator device embedded on her tunic’s left sleeve. “Commander Feldrek, we have captured the station's command centre.”

I'm beaming over,” said Feldrek’s voice from the communicator.

A moment later, Feldrek materialised just in front of the doors to the commander’s office. His gaze first surveyed the whole situation, then he walked forwards to where the centurion was stationed. “Where is the commander of this station?” asked Feldrek.

“Down there below the viewscreen,” said the centurion, her eyes constantly on her commander.

“Soldiers, bring Ms Felpes to me,” ordered Feldrek.

Of her own accord Megan left the engineering pit, climbing up the small ladder. Two Romulan soldiers than took her arms, pushed her forwards. When Megan reached Feldrek, she silently glared into that grizzled and twisted looking face.

“Ms Felpes I am commander Feldrek of the warship Nora'enemt,” introduced Feldrek, who seemed welcoming, but his eyes manifested a cold hatred towards Megan.

“Commander,” said Megan, “I have ten wounded, two of them seriously wounded, if you could just-”

Feldrek stepped forwards and cusped Megan hard against her mouth with the back of his hand. “Be quiet,” he said rather softly. “You can treat your wounded if you provide me with the access codes to your systems.”

“I can't do that,” replied Megan calmly.

For one moment Feldrek appeared ready to hit Megan again, he must have thought better of it as he then changed tack. “Centurion Retal, try to hack into this station's computer.”

“You and you, with me,” said Retal, pointing to the respective soldiers she ordered.

While the three Romulans headed to the engineering pit, Megan looked back at Feldrek, and tried again to ask of his assistance. “Please commander, I ask of you to show some mercy and-”

Another blow struck Megan’s mouth, this time she felt blood trickle inside her mouth from Feldrek’s slightly harder attack.

“My, my!” he exclaimed. “You are impertinent!”

Megan though stood her ground, she wasn’t going to be bullied by Feldrek. “A crew member is going to die if her head injuries aren't treated, as will the other one from the wounds to her chest!”

“That is of no consequence,” said Feldrek in an uncaring voice. “However if you provide me with the complete command and access codes, you can treat this crewmen.”

“I'm not giving to you the command codes!” retorted Megan. “Not when Starfleet vessels are coming! Besides you've only captured a few areas of the station, by the time you figure out how to break the computer firewalls, it'll be too late.”

A very sour expression twisted Feldrek’s face as he gazed at Megan with disgust. “You will help us one way or another...”
__________________
Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 25 2012, 10:17 PM   #228
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 1

Nog had his eyes shut as he remained in limbo. He had used the transporter hundreds of times, but the site-to-site transporter was different, his molecules felt a lot more in limbo than usual. This strange tingling sensation crackled all over his skin. Finally his feet found ground, and feeling that his body was in one piece, Nog opened his eyes.

“Chief how did you get here?” said Paulson in surprise.

Nog quickly looked around, he had made it to the security office. “Beamed over.”

He glanced at the limited view of the Promenade from the office doors and saw phaser fire coming from both sides. “How bad is it on the Promenade?”

Paulson looked at Nog very grimly. “We've got them pinned down for the time being, and this office and the Infirmary are out of the firing line so far.”

“Good,” said Nog, while he placed the toolbox upon the office’s desk. “Because I've got work to do here.”

“What sort of work?” asked Paulson as he vacated the chair to let Nog work from behind the desk.

“Ops is in lock down mode after the Romulans captured it,” explained Nog, “and I need to reroute the main systems to this office. Once I've done that, you can open fire on the Romulan ships. Hopefully their shields will be down because they presume the command centre is theirs. The ships will take serious damage, so much damage that they will have to raise their shields.”

“Meaning the Romulans are stuck on this station,” said Paulson, who didn’t sound pleased at the prospect.

“Not necessarily,” Nog countered, pushing the chair away and crouching down. “They may be promptly beamed off because their ships would have to resume their attack this station. If they inflict too much damage they risk the lives of their soldiers...”

“That's if they don't simply sacrifice their soldiers...” said Paulson rather morosely.

“Well I hope not...” said Nog.

Getting to work, Nog removed all three panels to access the interior of every console on the desk. Next he opened his toolbox and quickly thought out how to reroute the command and weapons functions to the consoles before him.

“How long will this take?” said Paulson impatiently, while he stood behind a bulkhead, embedded into the wall, and glanced nervously at what was happening outside.

“An hour, perhaps a little longer...”

“One hour?” exclaimed Paulson, his voice laced with a little fear. “How on earth are we going to hold out for one hour?”

“Well that's your problem,” said Nog impatiently. “You are the chief of security, so defend the key areas of this station!”

“Easy for you to say!” retorted Paulson. “Can't you complete your task any quicker?”

“Any quicker and I risk crashing the entire station's computer! Now please no more distractions! I have to concentrate! Just keep the Romulans out of this office, that's all I ask for!”

The office doors opened and Nog assumed that Paulson had left to direct the defence of the Promenade. Soon all the external sounds of phaser fire were blotted out from Nog’s attention as he focused on the problem at hand. Now which access relay should he pick without causing a cascade failure in the console’s processing systems?


***


“ETA to DS9?” asked Ezri.

“Just less than one hour,” said Max, “about 59 minutes.”

“The station will never last that long...” Kira commented, staring transfixedly at a screen on her console.

“It might do,” said Ezri a little optimistically. “I have every confidence in commander Felpes ability to defend the station.”

The bridge lapsed into silence as everyone focused on their tasks. Despite Ezri’s reassurances, the mood remained downcast, and a certain amount of worry lingered in the air, gradually lowering morale as the minutes past by.

“Captain, we may have a problem...” said the female Vulcan lieutenant at the science station.

“Would care to elaborate?” asked Ezri a touch impatiently.

“I am detecting subspace disturbances in sector 2745, about two light years from DS9,” the officer reported, staring at the readings in a dispassionate manner. “These disturbances aren't stationary, they are heading towards DS9.”

“What is the nature of these disturbances in subspace?”

The Vulcan quickly inputted some more commands to the console she was working on as she studied the results. “They are altering the higher frequency subspacial harmonics, there is only one cause for this.”

“Cloaked Romulan ships...” muttered Ezri, and her brow further wrinkled in concern. “Can you detect how many Romulan ships there are?”

“Checking...” said the Vulcan. “I would say about 175, but it is hard to get an accurate reading because the subspace disturbances are closely grouped together.”

While the Vulcan may have sounded rather calm about the number of Romulan ships, everyone else was not. The unease intensified, even Ezri looked a little unsettled.

“175 ships...” repeated Ezri. “They must be Romulan reinforcements. Mr Holo, send a message out to all starbases in this sector, plus the ones surrounding this sector, tell them that the Romulans have 175 cloaked ships heading towards DS9, and additional Starfleet ships are urgently needed to prevent the Romulans capturing DS9.”

Kira cricked her neck around to glance at Ezri very seriously. “Do we continue our course and approach towards DS9?”

“We do,” said Ezri firmly.

Kira’s pivoted her chair a quarter of the way around as she regarded Ezri dubiously. “Even with the Starfleet reinforcements, we will still be outnumbered four to one!”

This did nothing to deter Ezri, she simply glanced back at Kira with a very steady expression. “We stand a better chance of winning if we can force the Romulans to retreat from DS9, and then prepare both the Starfleet ships and the station for the next wave of Romulan ships.”


***


Conditions in Quark’s bar had deteriorated substantially, a fire fight was raging outside of the bar, and occasionally a phaser beam penetrated the bar, though fortunately it didn’t hit any of the children. Now many of the children were crying, and some openly sobbing with the battle raging outside on the Promenade.

Mia though remained tight lipped hugging her brother with all her willpower. Deru was shaking from fear but Mia remained calm. She had to be strong for Deru, and she glanced outwards, over the dabo table she and Deru were hiding behind.

Five security guards were close to the interior part of the entrance, valiantly holding off the Romulans. Even Quark fought with them using his Ferengi phaser pistol to repel the enemy.

As long as the guards could hold the position then Mia felt somewhat certain that the Romulans wouldn’t be able to set foot in the bar. With her own eyes she saw a green disruptor beam hit a Bajoran guard squarely in the chest. The man fell to the floor, moaning in agony.

She didn’t know what she was doing, or what prompted her to do it, but Mia got to her feet. “Stay there,” she said in a clear, almost harsh, voice to her brother.

Keeping low, Mia raced over to where Raris was positioned, by the right side of the entrance. Once next to Raris, she crouched down behind him, and then carefully leaned over grabbing the injured guard’s Bajoran phaser pistol.

The guard didn’t seem to notice, ignoring the fallen man, Mia kept herself behind Raris. One part of her was scared senseless, however she felt this powerful urge to do something to protect not only Deru but the rest of the children. She was not going to stand by and let the Romulans take the bar.

Briefly she looked down at the phaser held in her hand, it was obviously set to kill, and Mia knew she only had to do two things: aim, and pull the trigger.

At that moment, Raris looked behind him, his eyes widening in surprise upon seeing Mia. “What are you doing here Mia?”

“Helping you to defend this bar.”

“Are you out of your mind, do you even know how-”

A phaser beam narrowly missed Raris’ left arm, Mia though spotted the Romulan who fired that shot, and standing up, she raised her disruptor. Through the small sights, she could see the upper half of the Romulan’s body. Without even thinking, Mia pulled the trigger, and to her surprise the dull-yellow phaser beam hit the Romulan’s right arm.

Instinctively, Mia moved some paces away, hiding behind a bulkhead, all the while trying to focus on the situation. She had just injured a sentient being, really injured one, but she tried to ignore the guilt.

“Like mother, like daughter,” said Raris, sounding somewhat impressed.

“Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,” replied Mia calmly.

She was surprised by the seriousness and maturity of her voice; no longer did she feel like a child anymore.

“Cover my position,” said Raris.

At once Raris ran over to behind the bar’s counter, before diving beneath it.

Mia crouched down. Moving a few steps, she took up Raris’ position. She fired some more shots, all of which missed. Concentrate! she sternly told herself. Right then she spotted a Romulan moving just out of the cover provided by a bulkhead. Mia aimed and fired, the beam hit the Romulan against the side of his head, causing the head to partially explode releasing green goo and bodily matter.

It was a horrible sight, instantly Mia knew she had killed that man. Her hands trembled a little, when a green disruptor beam flew over her head she came to her senses. Once back in cover Mia focused on the task at hand, feeling more determined than ever. She wasn’t going to let emotions get in her way, she wanted to defend the bar not only for the children, but to make sure she didn’t let Raris or any of the other guards down…


***


Megan stood in front of the engineering console with her back turned against it. She calmly watched Retal and two Romulan technicians futilely attempt to take over computer control of Ops. She could wait all day like this, and by then the Starfleet reinforcements would have arrived. However Megan wondered what the Romulans might do if they had to beam back off the station. Would the Romulans shoot her and every crew member in Ops dead?

There was still some hope for the station, the Romulans still hadn’t managed to control the central core, and they encountered heavy resistance on the Promenade. Megan heard this from reports given to Feldrek. One thing Megan didn’t understand was why the Romulans continued their attempts to capture the station when Starfleet reinforcements would be arriving shortly. Surely the Romulans were outnumbered…

But then a sickening feel came to Megan’s gut; unless the Romulans had reinforcements of their own coming... Then all the resistance on DS9, the incoming Starfleet vessels, this whole struggle would be in vain…

“Centurion Retal, have you made any progress with overriding the lockdown?” asked Feldrek for what must have been the nth time.

“None sir,” replied Retal from the engineering pit. “This job is going to take serious time, if I had the command codes, it would considerably shorten the time...”

Upon hearing this Feldrek turned his gaze to Megan, and walked towards her. “I ask you again commander, give me the command codes...”

“No,” said Megan simply, staring right back into those ice cold eyes of Feldrek’s.

Feldrek then nodded to two soldiers who were next to him. Without delay, the two Romulans grabbed hold of Megan.

“Give her a good beating,” ordered Feldrek, “perhaps afterwards she will talk.”

While one Romulan soldier tightly wrapped his hands around Megan’s bust, restraining her arms, the second Romulan soldier advanced forwards.

Megan started struggling against the soldier restraining her, trying to kick him in the shins. However her own shins were kicked by the second soldier’s boots, a gasp of pain escaped from her mouth and her defences lowered. It was a big mistake because she then felt one powerful blow against her left cheek.

Some minutes later, the blows caused Megan’s cheeks and jaw to swell, while one of her eyes puffed up. Blood trickled from her left eye, mouth and nose, while her chest had seized up from pain.

The Romulan attacking her then desisted, as his companion restraining her let go. For one moment Megan felt so dazed she almost fell over, but she slowly got her bearings.

“Do you feel like talking now?” asked Feldrek.

Megan glared right back at Feldrek, and into his arrogant, twisted little face. “You won't get anything from me.”

“No, you're right,” said Feldrek rather thoughtfully. “It is clear you have become accustomed to brutality and torture...”

Feldrek casually strolled over, coming to a stop by the railing next to the engineering pit. He then pointed at one of the crew members. “Him,” said Feldrek.

One of Retal’s technicians dragged the young black-haired ensign away. Upon reaching the ladder, two Romulan soldiers literally lifted the ensign right up, grabbing onto his hands.

Megan recognised the ensign, he was Robert Swelder, early twenties, pale skin, a bit handsome and fresh from the Starfleet Academy.

Swelder started to struggle, pretty quickly one of the soldiers carrying Swelder gunbutted him. All of Swelder's squirming ceased as the blow winded him.

“Are you going to beat him senseless or torture him?” asked Megan rather coldly to Feldrek.

Feldrek looked outraged by that question. “My people could never descend to the level of the Cardassians and inflict such barbarous cruelty!”

He then addressed the Romulan soldiers holding Swelder. “Kill him.”

“Wait!” said Megan desperately, she attempted to move forwards but was restrained by a Romulan soldier.

In a horrified manner, Megan was forced to watch as one Romulan kicked Swelder to the ground.

Lying on his back, Swelder looked up at the two Romulans in terror. Seconds later, the Romulans fired several rounds each at Swelder, directly at his torso.

“Nooo!” screamed Megan.

She watched as Swelder -- who was still alive -- placed a shaking hand against one of the dozen or so wounds to his chest and abdomen. His grey tunic became soaked in blood, the worst part for Megan though was seeing those shocked eyes turn in her direction.

Megan felt even more terrible as she watched the life ebb from Swelder, and his blood slowly ooze out from behind his back. “Damn you Feldrek!” she raged, sounding wild and pained. “You killed that officer, and I won't cooperate with you if you're going to kill my crew!”

Feldrek seemed to take a little satisfaction seeing Megan so distressed. “No you killed that ensign by your refusal to cooperate with me.”

“I will not betray Starfleet and the defenders of this station!” shouted Megan, as she was torn between protecting the crew members in Ops and protecting the entire station. “If you want to get at that information, then go ahead torture me. But you will not kill anyone else in Ops!”

“You will comply...” said Feldrek through clenched teeth.

“No I won't!” retorted Megan. “You can kill everyone on this station, because I am not giving to you the access codes. Don't you get it? You'll never have this station!”

At that moment Retal stuck her head above the engineering pit and addressed her commander. “Commander Feldrek, the computer stations in this room have been completely locked down. It is going to take me at least two days just to get even limited access!”

“We do not have that sort of time!” hissed Feldrek.

Retal though remained unfazed by Feldrek’s impatience. “It is the best estimate I can give you sir.”

The anger grew on Feldrek’s face, making it all the more twisted. “Tell me the access codes or everyone of your crew members dies!” he said to Megan.

“Burn in hell!” said Megan seethingly.


***


“Nog hurry up!” said Paulson, who sounded very pressurised. “The Romulans are getting closer to our position!”

“I'm nearly there...” Nog said, he lay down on his back, his head staring into the interior of the console’s components. “Come on computer, you can accept this. You will accept these codes!”

He worked at a feverish rate, as he felt the pressure and responsibility thrust upon his shoulders, though he was accustomed to this sort of pressure. It had been like this every time in Apocalypse, and in some ways Apocalypse had improved certain aspects of him as a person. For one thing he coped far better with the situation, whereas he could tell Paulson was struggling to keep calm.

No matter how composed Nog kept himself, time was definitely running out fast. Nog configured some more relay ports, hoping that the ports would activate and accept the newly rerouted command and operation functions.

“Finally!” exclaimed Nog, when he heard the faint hum of the relay ports taking in micro amounts of plasma energy.

Nog got back up to his feet, careful to not bang his head against the bottom of the console. “Check your console Paulson, is it now reconfigured to fire this station's armaments?”

Paulson dashed over behind the desk to cautiously input some commands. “It is!” he said eagerly.

“Then give those point-eared villains hell!” said Nog loudly.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 25 2012, 10:20 PM   #229
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 2

“If you will not be persuaded then so be it,” said Feldrek silkily. “Soldiers, line up every enemy officer against the wall below the viewscreen.”

Megan was about to move when Feldrek addressed her again. “Oh no, not you commander. You are going to watch them die.”

“You murdering bastards!” raged Megan, she shook from a terrible fury, loathing every bit of Feldrek.

“Their blood is on your hands for being so stubborn,” replied Feldrek.

“You’re the one who is going to kill them!” shouted Megan.

A minute later, the Ops crew were transferred out of the engineering pit. They all stood there, their backs to the wall, facing half a dozen Romulan soldiers.

Megan could not believe it was ending like this, violence had blighted two years of her life, and now finally she would die under the most horrendous of circumstances. First watching her crew die, then it would be her facing those cold-blooded killers.

Feldrek stood a few feet behind the soldiers, gazing dispassionately at the Ops crewmen, both Bajoran and Starfleet officers. “Soldiers, take aim-”

“Commander!” exclaimed Retal.

Megan’s heart skipped a beat, was there some hope after all?

“Halt!” said Feldrek, at once the six Romulans lowered their phaser rifles. “Do not fire until I give the order to do so!”

Retal had climbed out of the engineering pit, approaching Feldrek with a great urgency. “Commander, if these readings are correct, this station has discharged both its phasers and photon torpedoes at our ships!”

“That can't be right...” muttered Feldrek.

“Commander we need to leave immediately,” said Retal urgently, “this station has not been captured, and our ship's shields have to come back up otherwise they will be blown to bits by this station's weaponry! Our reinforcements are arriving shortly, we can capture the station then-”

“No!” stormed Feldrek. “We are so close to capturing this station! They must have moved the command centre, and we have to find-”

At that moment Keelin’s voice blared out of Feldrek’s wrist-mounted communicator. “Commander Feldrek, get yourself and your boarding parties off the station immediately without delay!

Megan couldn’t believe it, were the Romulans really about to retreat?

Feldrek gnashed his teeth in an angry manner before responding. “Sir we are so close to victory!”

By which time fourteen of our ships will be destroyed!” said a very impatient Keelin.

“Leave us here, and tell the commander's of those ships to raise shields!”

I can't do that either,” replied Keelin. “Starfleet vessels are coming to this station in less than twenty minutes! I will not have over two hundred Romulan soldiers be captured by the Federation!

“But our reinforcements will arrive, and defeat the Starfleet vessels,” protested Feldrek, who was almost howling in rage.

I have just received government orders, from Praetor Toshen himself, to retreat from Deep Space Nine when the bulk of the Starfleet ships arrive.

With those words, all the fight seemed to vanish from Feldrek, now he just looked bitter and almost defeated. “Understood sir, I will signal to all units to beam back to their respective ships...”

A beat later, Feldrek tapped his communicator twice, one to end the audio channel to Keelin’s ship, and the other tap to address the Romulan soldiers still on board DS9. “This is commander Feldrek to all boarding parties, prepare to be beamed back to your respective ships!”

Megan remained very silent, she was careful not to provoke the Romulans in any way. She then noticed Feldrek approach her, and for one horrible moment, she felt convinced that Feldrek would kill her right there and then.

Feldrek stopped until he came offensively close to Megan’s face. “I swear to you Ms Felpes,” he hissed, “one day the Romulan Empire will conquer your puny Federation and when it does I hope you are captured and put to a slow, agonising death!”

Ignoring the insult, Megan stared placidly back at Feldrek. He could curse and provoke her all he liked, but she refused to let Feldrek bait her.

Finally the Romulans started transporting back to their ships, and Feldrek was the last one to leave, he continued to glare at Megan, even as he dematerialised.

The moment Feldrek had gone, Megan picked up a Starfleet issued combadge from a pile of combadges around the science station. “This is Felpes to Nog, come in...”

Nog here...

“You can unlock the computer systems in Ops, the Romulans are all gone, they beamed back over to their ships...”

I know,” said Nog sounding rather upbeat, “the Romulans on the Promenade have been beamed out about half a minute ago.

“Where are you?” asked Megan.

I'm in the security office.

The station shook again, and Megan realised the fight was not over yet. “Return to Ops immediately!”

Understood,” said Nog.

Megan returned to the situations table, when she saw the consoles light up again and all the command functions activate, she felt just a little bitter about the situation. “Felpes out,” she said.

She tapped her combadge once to close the audio link with Nog, and then she tapped her combadge again. “This is Felpes to Bashir.”

Bashir here.

“Doctor send medical teams immediately over to Ops,” she said, while a security officer took over the tactical station she vacated. “Lock onto my combadge and carry out an emergency medical transport to the Infirmary.”

I'm sorry commander but the transporters are down.

“Well hurry!” Megan said, as she approached Tanya and the other wounded officer slumped next to Tanya. “Dawson and another officer have serious injuries, Dawson has sustained severe head injuries, while the other officer has multiple phaser wounds!”

Medical teams are already on their way commander,” came Bashir’s quick reply.

“Good! Felpes out.”

Tapping her combadge, Megan stopped when she was close to Tanya. “Don't worry Dawson, help is on the way.”

“I know...” said Tanya weakly, suddenly her legs gave out, and Megan gently lowered Tanya until she was sitting on the floor.

Tanya grimaced away in pain, her left hand was cupped against the head wound. “Don't worry about me, just protect the station and everyone on it!”

Megan simply nodded and returned back to the tactical station. She was worried not only for Tanya, a friend of hers, but for hundreds of other officers and civilians on the station. When would the Romulans cease in their attack, and just how many people had died? Died as she lead the defence of DS9…


***


With her own eyes, Mia watched as the Romulans were beamed away, and she lowered her phaser.

“I don't believe it,” exclaimed Raris, “those Romulan bastards have gone!”

The station then shook, and Mia’s heart plummeted once more, the Romulans had not gone, far from it...

“They’ve gone back to their ships,” said Quark angrily, glaring at Raris. “And now they're even more intent upon obliterating this station!”

Raris turned around, giving Quark a frown. “Quark stop moaning...”

“Moaning...” repeated Quark with some sarcasm. “We're fighting for our lives here, and he says I'm moaning...”

Quark walked off moving deeper into his bar still muttering to himself.

Mia watched this without comprehending, she felt numb; the phaser slipped from her loose fingers and hit the floor with a clunk.

Her eyes moved downwards until they took in the orange-coloured Bajoran phaser lying on its side by the metal floor.

Two hands picked it up. The man who picked up the phaser straightened and looked at Mia with some concern. Mia simply stared back at Raris’ face with wide eyes for she felt so horrible.

“How are you holding up?” asked Raris. “You aren't injured?”

“No,” said Mia in a trembling voice.

Raris gave Mia a reassuring smile, indeed he was looking at her with pride. “You did good you know for someone with no combat experience.”

Mia gazed upwards into Raris’ eyes, as she tried to appear strong. “I didn't want to let you or the other guards down...”

“You did great,” he replied softly, “you would have made a good member of the Bajoran resistance all those years ago.”

Some of what Mia was feeling finally broke through the numbness, it was sheer anger and self-loathing. “I don't want to be talented at killing people,” she retorted angrily.

“I didn't say that,” replied Raris calmly, “but you did a very brave thing...”

After that Raris walked off to talk to some of the other guards in the bar, taking with him the phaser Mia had used.

At that point Mia swore to herself never to use such weapons again, to her it felt like there was blood on her hands, Romulan blood. She had definitely killed one Romulan and that deed began to tear at her emotionally… In a slow manner, Mia walked back to Deru who simply reflected her shock and horror at recent events

No matter how terrified or horrified Deru felt, Mia knew that her brother would never suffer the pain she currently endured. He did not have to contend with the knowledge of killing somebody in cold blood.


***


“ETA until the Starfleet reinforcements get here?” asked Ezri.

“About ten minutes captain,” said Holo, “and then the first wave of twenty ships will arrive.”

Ezri stared intensely at the viewscreen as she mulled this over. “So it's just this ship and the station against the Romulans for the next ten minutes...”

“Battle stations,” she added after a pause. “What is the status of the cloak Mr Holo?”

“The cloak is fully functional,” reported Holo while he tapped in with his fingers more commands to bring up the cloak's readings on his console. “The Romulans can't detect us.”

“Good...” said Ezri calmly, she now glanced at the console to her right, which showed the tactical display. “Mr Weatherby, go to course two-one-six mark three-seven-zero,” she said, studying the display’s readings. “Move us within three-hundred metres of the cruiser. Mr. Holo, at those coordinates drop the cloak. Colonel open fire, full spread of quantum torpedoes.”

“At those coordinates the Romulans will be right on top of us,” Kira commented, turning her neck around to give Ezri a meaningful stare. “We'll get pretty shaken up!”

“Not as shaken up as the Romulan flagship,” said Ezri firmly, her eyes back to looking at the viewscreen.

“Arriving at the coordinates,” reported Max, whose hands imperceptibly shook from nerves.

“Lower the cloak,” said Ezri, “raise shields, and open fire!”

From the viewscreen, a dozen quantum torpedoes homed in onto the Kresh’Torek. Half of the torpedoes were absorbed by the shields, while the rest slipped through, making sizeable dents to parts of the ship.

Kira immediately reported the results. “Direct hits to the Romulan flagship's aft torpedo launchers, primary impulse drives and ventral disruptor banks.”

Ezri though returned her attention to the tactical screen. “Helm, set a new course of eight-two-zero mark one-six-seven. Bring us around for another assault.”

///

Megan’s hands went back and forth over the tactile pad of the primary tactical station. Half of the station’s weapon pods were disabled as had one of the defence sails, making her job of defending the station all the more harder.

The whole of Ops shook very powerfully, the force of which caused some of the wall plating around the front door of the commander’s officer to dislodge as three bulkheads came loose. The beams swung outwards before crashing to the floor.

Shields dropped to a minimum level, Megan knew the Romulans were now starting to really tear into DS9 and the station seemed unable to endure for any longer. Just where were those damned reinforcements?

“Commander, I don't believe it!” exclaimed Nog. “The Defiant is here!”

“On screen!” said Megan.

Briefly Megan looked up and saw a grainy image, lined with static, but there was no mistaking that distinctive ship with its torpedo launchers blazing... She then focused on her console, maybe there was some hope after all.

“What is the ETA on the Federation reinforcements?” Megan asked Nog.

“Less than ten minutes...” said Nog.

“Then chief just keep the station together for those ten minutes...”

“Aye sir...” said Nog distractedly, while his hands worked at a manic pace on the various engineering consoles, hands spurred on by the recent swing in fortunes.

///

The Romulans ships were no longer carrying out their hit-and-run attacks on DS9, now they were diverting most of their firepower around the docking rings, the habitat ring and the central core. Small explosions erupted from the station from where Romulan plasma torpedoes hit. Many parts of the docking ring were heavily damaged, with twisted duranium plating, caved in decks, and twisted metal beams bending outwards from where a torpedo or phaser burst struck.

The Defiant was giving the Romulan ships grief, like a nimble fly, it flew around the Romulan warbirds, firing phasers and torpedoes, while the Romulan ships could only manage a few accurate shots. Arching above the station, the Defiant came down again heading for one of the Romulan warbirds. With a volley of quantum torpedoes from the Defiant, they hit the warbird’s right warp nacelle ripping it to pieces in a fiery explosion of yellow and green.

Secondary explosions came from other parts of the warbird, until the warp core in the aft of the ship exploded, and a huge fireball torn through the back of the ship ripping the green metal plating away. The explosion continued annihilating the left warp nacelle, before blowing to pieces, deck by deck, in quick succession, the front of the ship.

The Defiant though continued its course away from the battle, slowing arcing around to prepare for another swoop into the fray. DS9 was still valiantly firing torpedoes and phasers, but the warbirds maintained their attack regardless.

///

The bridge shook, and behind Ezri’s chair some of the consoles gave off a few sparks as plasma conduits overloaded. Ezri though gripped onto the chair all the more tightly, through all this she switched her gaze back and forth between the viewscreen and the tactical screen to her right.

“Colonel target the nearest Romulan warbird, fire phasers,” said Ezri, punching in some commands to the tactical screen to reconfigure the display. “How many Romulan warbirds are there colonel?”

“About twenty captain,” said Kira. “Ten have been destroyed by DS9 and this ship...”

“The Starfleet vessels have arrived,” said Holo sounding upbeat. “They'll be engaging the Romulans in less than a minute.”

Kira convulsed backwards in her chair, as a look of surprise came to her face. “I don't believe it! The Romulan ships are retreating to the Badlands, they've incurred critical amounts of damage.”

She paused, cocking her head a little to the left to garner her captain’s attention. “Should we pursue them?”

“No let them retreat,” answered Ezri, while she frowned at the readings from the tactical display. “What about the Romulan reinforcements?”

The feeling of victory on the bridge subdued considerably as it seemed everyone, in their gladness that the Romulans had retreated, forgot about the additional Romulan ships.

“They are reversing course and heading back to the Badlands,” said Kira, sounding once more relieved.

Again the mood considerably lifted on the bridge, victory was indeed sweet. However it was tempered by what the viewscreen revealed of DS9. The station looked utterly battered, with blown out decks, serious structural damage to the outer docking ring, and large chunks taken out from one of the docking pylons.

“Contact DS9,” said Ezri, “tell them we'll be docking.”

“DS9's communication array is down,” reported Kira, any jubilation or relief she once had was now gone.

Ezri sighed slightly to herself as continued to gaze at the viewscreen. “Then we'll have to do a manual docking,” she said.

Turning to her left somewhat, she checked the sensor readings from a console, looking for a docking bay or port that hadn’t been damaged by the Romulans. “Helm proceed to docking bay 5,” she finally said.

“Yes captain,” said Max.

Sitting back in her chair, Ezri allowed herself to partially switch off from the situation. By some small miracle DS9 survived the onslaught, what the station’s occupants endured was something Ezri could barely contemplate; she expected horrendous casualties. One thing that still vexed her was why the Romulans retreated.

Ezri took this as a hopeful sign that perhaps the Romulans were not keen to escalate the conflict, but she would know the outcome of today’s events by tomorrow. Peace it seemed looked very unlikely…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 28 2012, 12:15 AM   #230
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7, part 1

The Romulan ships were gone, the danger had passed, but Megan felt obliged to leave Ops to check on Tanya. What happened to Tanya had occurred on Megan’s watch, and she needed to know if Tanya was alright, if she was recovering… Megan didn’t want Tanya to die, because she knew what that would to do Max, it would utterly devastate him. She didn’t want to see her best friend suffer from such a loss.

When Megan walked into the Infirmary, she was approached by several doctors in turn. No doubt they wanted to heal her facial injuries, though to Megan they were trivial, inconsequential little wounds.

In the patient’s ward, Megan found Bashir and she called out to him. “Doctor Bashir!”

Bashir turned around, when Megan was next to him she continued. “Doctor is Tanya Dawson recovering?”

Bashir though shook his head in a grim manner. “I’m afraid not…”

The thing that Megan feared most had come to pass, and she felt so horrible for it. “Isn't there anything you can do?” she asked a little desperately.

“I'm afraid not, most of her wounds are more or less superficial, but the damage to her brain where the metal shard penetrated through Dawson's skull can't be repaired. There's too much internal bleeding. I tried to repair the blood vessels, however the tissue trauma was so great that other blood vessels ruptured. Perhaps if she came to me sooner I could have done something. I'm really sorry but the only thing I can do is ease Tanya's pain.”

With a small sorry smile, Bashir then left Megan. Clearly he didn’t understand why she was so concerned, but now that didn’t matter to Megan. She had to talk to Tanya, she had to apologise to her, and to somehow make things right…

Megan then spotted Tanya, some metres in front of her, resting on a biobed. Hurrying over, Megan happened to glance at the other patients, they were sporting far worse injuries than what Tanya appeared to have. Reaching Tanya’s bed, Megan looked down and was surprised to the calmness on Tanya’s face.

Tanya moved her head slightly to the right, in doing so revealing the bloody wound on the left side of her head to Megan. “You look like hell,” commented Tanya, as her eyes registered Megan's visage.

Megan took a few steps closer to Tanya, until she was directly above the woman. Raising her fist against her mouth, Megan was momentarily lost for words as she fought against so many conflicting emotions. “This is my fault,” she finally said, while lowering her hand.

“What are you talking about?” asked Tanya in a weak voice.

“I should have done more to protect you!” burst out Megan, closing her eyes in pain as her guilt grew.

However Tanya gazed back at Megan in an understanding way, somehow she seemed to know a little of what Megan was feeling. “We were fighting for our lives, you can't blame yourself!”

Megan though shook her head, as the guilt grew too strong. “You can't die,” she moaned, “you can't...”

“You heard doctor Bashir, he can't stop the bleeding in my brain, I've only got a few hours left.”

In a somewhat sad way, Tanya gave Megan a small smile. “Besides I'm going to hold out until Max arrives, then it will be my time to die.”

“That's not funny,” said Megan sharply. “Max doesn't know about your condition, he'll be devastated.”

“I know,” said Tanya wearily, and the smile vanished. “But at least I get to see him for one last time.”

“You can't die...” said Megan, saying it as if the words would do something to help Tanya.

A confused look appeared on Tanya’s face, and her eyes were searching Megan in a rather peculiar way. “You keep saying that, listen why are you so concerned about me dying?”

“Because...” said Megan, then she stopped as she wondered how much she could reveal to Tanya. “Because it would hurt Max horribly, and me to.”

“What do you mean by that?” Tanya asked, the confused expression deepening on her face. “I know you consider Max to be your best friend, but I still don't get why you are fretting over me.”

Closing her eyes, Megan dreaded telling Tanya the truth. “Don't make me spell it out to you...”

It took a moment, finally Tanya’s eyes widened in both understanding and surprise. “I don't believe it...” she said, before letting out a brief breathe of laughter. “I knew it, all this time I thought so!”

“You did?” said Megan in a hollow voice, and her eyes flew open.

Tanya nodded. “All those months ago when you accidentally walked in on me kissing Max, I looked at your face and I suspected something was amiss... Now what you've just said confirms it. I just have one question, why didn't you tell me the truth?”

“How could I?” said Megan miserably, before she crouched down and then whispered into Tanya’s face. “I was in love with Max, but you were in a relationship with him. I had to hide my true feelings because that was the only honourable thing to do. I couldn't tell Max or you because it would totally ruin my friendship with Max!”

Megan expected Tanya to be angry or disgusted at the confession, but instead there was understanding and a great empathy on Tanya’s face.

“It must have been really difficult being in my presence,” observed Tanya, “because you also loved Max but couldn't say or do anything.”

In a sad way Megan nodded. “Now I just feel so guilty, because when you're dead, the only person Max will really care about is me!”

“Don't feel guilty,” whispered Tanya softly. “I didn't realise how hard all of this was for you. I just want Max to be happy and he's going to turn to you for support, I know that.”

Despite Tanya accepting Megan’s true feelings for Max, Megan remained as guilty, and as conflicted, as ever. “Even so, to do that would be using him, or stealing him from you.”

“I disagree,” said Tanya firmly, she locked onto Megan's gaze with a great seriousness. “Whatever happens between you and Max after I'm gone doesn't perturb me, because that will be between him and you.”

The expression then softened on Tanya’s face. “But if you do find true love and happiness, then hold onto it, because nine years ago I did the exact opposite and I still regret that decision.”

“Listen,” said Megan, “promise me you won't tell Max any of this, it would only make him more confused and hurt!”

“Are you sure?” asked Tanya.

“He can't know,” said Megan, and she looked very tortured. “So please promise you won't tell him!”

“I promise,” said Tanya solemnly.

Megan stood up, and the two women looked at each other. In that moment they both seemed to silently accept what they now knew.

“One more thing commander...”

“Yes?” asked Megan.

“I don't blame you for what has happened to me, and I personally think you did an exemplary job defending this station against the Romulans.”

Hearing Tanya’s vote of confidence finally eased some of Megan’s guilt. “Thank you,” she said very quietly.

With one last look at Tanya, Megan walked out of the patient’s ward. But close to the entrance, a doctor finally cornered her, and this time with nothing really urgent to do, Megan consented and allowed the doctor to fix her face.

What Tanya said had given Megan a huge amount to think about. In effect Tanya had given her blessing to Megan having a relationship with Max, but it also caused Megan to think more carefully about how exactly she felt for Max. She was still going to be his friend, and she decided that if any romance, or relationship, were to happen, then it would be Max who initiated it and not her.


***


Day 14, 0020 hours

With the Defiant now docked, Kira had nearly finished powering down the phaser banks and torpedo bays. After completing this, she then locked down her station. “We did it...” she said out aloud.

“It was close...” responded Ezri.

Intrigued by Ezri's weary tones, Kira turned around to see her captain stand up. Kira left her station and followed Ezri out of the bridge. She became very conscious of her pounding heart and the anxiety built up inside of her. Somewhere in that station were her two children, they were either alive or dead, it was that simple.

“Who knows what has happened on DS9...” she murmured, as she felt the need to voice her worries.

“It's not going to be pretty...” said Ezri grimly.

“This could only be the beginning...” said Kira ominously. “The Romulans have just carried out an act of war against the Federation. Do the Breen now attack us?”

“I don't know,” replied Ezri in a strangely quiet voice. “In these next 24 hours anything is possible...”

Ezri went suddenly silent when Odo appeared on the corridor, he walked towards Ezri at a quick pace. “Captain, I'm ready to take Talor Voran off this ship, and into the station's holding cells.”

“Do it,” said Ezri simply, as a powerful anger appeared on her face at the mention of Talor Voran.

“Just one moment!” cut in Kira. “I would like to speak to the constable, alone...”

Odo looked from Kira and then to Ezri. “This shouldn't take long,” he told Ezri.

Kira let Ezri get some distance in front of them before she gestured to Odo to walk with her. When they entered the transporter room, Kira found it deserted and immediately she burst into speech. “Odo our children-”

“I know...” said Odo, looking just as distressed as Kira. “They could be... dead. However I will search for them.”

“No, let me!” replied Kira, she had to say this, to tell her husband what she so badly wanted to do. “You've got a prisoner to tend to.”

“And you've got a station to repair!” retorted Odo, his mouth contorting in an incensed fashion.

Kira didn’t know what it would take to convince Odo, so she bound her forearms and hands together, while mustering her most beseeching expression. “Please Odo, the thought of being in Ops wondering whether you have found our children or not... It's too much. I have to find out for myself, with my own eyes! The moment I find them... in whatever condition, I'll contact you immediately...”

Odo remained silent, he looked moved by his wife’s impassioned plea, yet still there was something in his eyes that seemed to say ‘no’ to Kira.

“Please!” said Kira tenderly. “I'm begging you; let me do this!”

“Okay Nerys...”

It was a simple answer, and before Kira realised it, Odo was gone, presumably to escort Voran to a holding cell. Kira forced herself to stay sharp and emotionally together. She left the transporter room, walking as quickly as possible through the various corridors heading for the ship’s airlock.


***


Kira followed Ezri from behind in airlock five. In front of both them was Odo who singlehandedly pushed Talor Voran forwards, the two men's destination DS9's detainment area.

“Captain!” said Kira, the moment she came outside of the docking bay doors.

“Yes colonel?”

“Before I go to Ops, I need to find my children,” said Kira, she then held her breathe, would Ezri consent to such a request?

For a few nail-biting moments, Ezri remained silent as she considered Kira’s request, until-

“I understand,” said Ezri, and she nodded a little to Kira, in effect giving Kira permission.

Without further ado, Kira strode down the corridor in the opposite direction to Ezri. “Computer, locate Kira Mia and Kira Deru.”

Unable to process, damage to internal sensors.

Kira came to a stop and she panicked a little. How was she going to find her children? Think! she told herself, surely all the civilians were evacuated to safer locations on the station when the Romulans attacked… So where would the children whose parents were on duty go to?

“Computer, was there a designated evacuation point for the children of this station?”

Affirmative.

“Where is that evacuation point?” she asked, getting annoyed by having to spell it out to the computer.

Promenade, Quark’s bar.

So that was a place to start. At once Kira walked as quickly as she could to the Promenade. Her fear mounted, until her stomach was rife with queasiness. She kept telling herself that Mia and Deru were alive and that she would find them…

Upon coming to the Promenade, Kira saw a flurry of activity from various people: security guards, technicians, civilians and people supporting wounded. It was so busy, and when Kira came closer to Quark’s bar, she stopped at the sight of rows of mattresses, full of injured people. This brought home to Kira the sheer scale of the Romulan attack, and she became more aware of the lingering scars of it.

Scars, for instance, such as the scorch marks on the walls, on the carpeted floor, broken chairs and benches. Some of the lighting strips which had been damaged, and the infrequent flickering of damaged light diodes. One smell that came to Kira’s attention was that of death. It was an accumulation of smells, but Kira could tell a few of the wounded had died, simply from the occasional sound of sobbing from the dead person’s colleague, friend or family member.

She pulled herself together and entered Quark’s bar. If she couldn’t find her children here, her next place would be to check their quarters, if that failed then she would search the whole station until she found Mia and Deru, dead or alive. Inside the bar, she looked around amongst the grim faces of security guards and medics, to the nervous and frightened faces of some of the children.

And then Kira’s eyes found the two faces which she longed for. She hurried forwards, and as she came closer, she noticed Mia hugging Deru plus the lack of injuries upon the two.

“Mia, Deru!” she called out to them.

At once Mia and Deru glanced up in a shocked manner, but a smile then came to Mia’s face, and the teenager girl rushed over to greet Kira.

The two embraced in a tight hug. Upon feeling the life in her daughter, Kira closed her eyes shut as she felt her worry drift away. “Oh thank the Prophets, you're alive!”

Mia was the one to break off the hug, she started staring at Kira as if she hadn’t seen her mother for ages. “Mum? How did you make it here in one piece? I thought you and father were captured on Breen?”

“I'm fine, as is your father.”

“Where is father?” asked Mia, glancing behind Kira seemingly expecting her father to be there.

“He's in his office, but he's busy,” explained Kira, giving to Mia the subtle hint that Odo was not to be disturbed.

“What happened to your uniform?” Mia said, her eyes widening at the sight. “Is that blood?”

Kira looked down, her tunic and trousers were covered with patches of black muck, to such an extent that the red in her uniform was barely showing in places. Elsewhere a few tears occurred around the tunic sleeves and the trousers, while some parts of the uniform were a bit shiny; stained with a little of Kira's blood. She looked an absolute mess, plus she only then realised how strongly she smelled.

“It's just a few cuts and bruises,” she told Mia, as she tried to gloss it all over. “The doctors on the Defiant patched them up in no time.”

“Thank the Prophets,” breathed Mia, “I was expecting something far worse.”

Mia then again hugged Kira. “Oh it's so good to see you again!”

Kira only halfheartedly returned the hug, and now she focused on Deru, who was still sitting on a step, looking down at his feet. “How's Deru?”

The joyousness on Mia’s face faded. “He's... quite upset by what happened...”

Moving away from Mia, Kira came over to Deru, and she crouched down so that her face was level with her son's. “Deru?” she gently asked. “I'm here now, everything is going to be alright.”

“Mum?” mumbled Deru.

In a slow tremulous way, Deru raised his head and he appeared totally shell-shocked.

The look in Deru’s eyes greatly disturbed Kira, it was a look she encountered so many times before during the Bajoran occupation; helplessness. Deru seemed ready to cry, and before Kira knew it Deru suddenly lurched forwards, hugging Kira as if his life depended upon it.

Kira was almost knocked over by her son's action. However she managed to stand up while Deru just clung on, now he began sobbing into her chest profusely.

“Sssh...” whispered Kira, and she carefully planted a kiss on Deru’s forehead. “It's alright... Everything is going to be okay, you're safe now...”

“No it's not!” said Deru in a weak tearful voice. “Those evil pointy eared people are going to come back and kill us!”

“Those 'evil pointy eared people' fled like rats when the Defiant and fifty other Starfleet vessels arrived.”

“But this station isn't safe!” wailed Deru.

Kira hugged her son more firmly, wondering how to reassure Deru and encourage him. “I can't say to you with absolute certainty that this station won't be threatened again. But I can tell you that it will be far more protected than it was previously after this attack.”

Deru then lifted his head off Kira’s chest, looking up to his mother with a hopeful expression. “Really?”

“Trust me...” said Kira, while she smiled down at her son.

Mia had silently walked over to the two, she acted with a little trepidation towards her mother and brother. “I'll erm... take Deru back to our quarters.”

“I'll accompany you,” said Kira, “but first I'll tell your father that you two are okay, just stay there...”

When she moved a few paces away from her children, Kira tapped her combadge. “Kira to Odo.”

Odo here... Have you found them?

“I have,” said Kira, “Mia and Deru are alive and uninjured.”

At that moment, Kira could have sworn her husband had let out a sigh of relief. “They're really happy to see me, but Deru is a little shaken up.”

I understand, Odo out.

Kira felt a little shocked by the abrupt end to the conversation, but she quickly understood that Odo was maintaining a remarkable level of professional detachment. Such discipline amazed her, and it was a quality she really liked about Odo.

Turning around, Kira returned to her children, and there she escorted them out of the bar. However she was then approached by one of the Bajoran security guards whom she recognised as Raris Gotal.

“Colonel...”

“Yes?” asked Kira a little impatiently.

“I just wanted to say that your daughter was exemplary, she helped me and the other guards to defend this bar from the Romulans without being asked. She just came and picked up a fallen guard's phaser pistol and defended this place.”

While Raris looked at Kira with some pride, Kira couldn't help but feel very shocked. “Is this true Mia?” she asked in somewhat hushed tones.

Mia didn't say anything, she simply nodded once.

Words failed Kira as she would never have believed it of Mia to perform such brave deeds.

“You should be proud of your daughter colonel, she did a very brave thing today.”

Pulling herself together, Kira forced a smile onto her face. “Yes she did, now if you don't mind I really need to take my children home.”

Raris nodded and left Kira.

Kira walked briskly out of the bar, still holding onto Mia's and Deru's hands. The corridors were remarkably empty, and the only time Kira did see anybody, was the occasional time when a pair of technicians or security guards dashed by. Right now Kira didn't know what to make of her daughter's deed, she would talk to Mia later about this when she found the time. For now Kira was glad to return home, however briefly.

Outside the front door to her quarters, Kira pressed a command on the panel by the door, to open it. There was no response, a somewhat ominous sign, so she manually overrode the door’s magnetic locks. Finally the door opened, and when both she and her children were inside, they all came to a dead stop.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 28 2012, 12:15 AM   #231
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7, part 2

The living room was wrecked, two bulkheads had fallen down, dragging many of the ceiling panels with it. Debris were strewn all over the floor, most of the furniture was either toppled over or broken, and a huge amount of dust covered all the surfaces.

“Oh no!” Mia said in a horrified voice.

Kira didn’t even bother checking the remainder of the rooms as her mind came to an instant conclusion. “We can't stay here, it isn't safe.”

“Where are we going to go?” asked Deru despairingly.

Deru’s despair only made Kira calmer, she thought about the situation with even more clarity. “Mia do you know of any areas which have been converted into temporary accommodation?”

Mia frowned deeply as she thought about the question. “I heard Quark say something about cargo bays three, eight and eleven, and the Bajoran temple were being used as temporary accommodation.”

“We'll go to cargo bay three, it's quicker,” said Kira, immediately she placed a hand on the back of each child’s neck, and chivied Mia and Deru to turn around.

Now the three were back in the corridor, with Kira leading the way.

“Why not the Bajoran temple?” asked Mia after a while. “It would be nicer...”

Kira shook her head once. “That's where all the Bajorans will stay, and I don't feel comfortable leaving you two in there.”

“I can look after myself!” said Mia angrily, glaring at Kira for mollycoddling her. “I'm sixteen, according to Bajoran culture I've reached the age of maturity!”

“It will be better in one of the cargo bays,” reiterated Kira, in an impatient tone of voice.

“Why, do you think some Bajoran is going to attack me?”

“In times like this, especially concerning you two, my people could do anything... We're going to the cargo bays and my decision is final.”

Mia and Deru didn’t utter another word, which gave Kira some much needed time to hear herself think. Finally the three arrived at cargo bay three, manning the entrance was a Starfleet ensign standing watch outside of the cargo bay doors.

“Ensign, is there any room for a family of four?” asked Kira. “It would be me, my husband, and my two children?”

“There's plenty of room colonel,” replied the ensign. “You're some of the first people to come here, so you can get the best spots... I'll show you inside...”

Kira, Mia and Deru followed the ensign through the opened cargo bay doors before they came to a stop by several piles of stacked-up white mattresses.

“Take your pick of where to bunk down,” advised the ensign, “there are plenty of spare mattresses...”

Mia looked around the spacious and reasonably empty cargo bay. “How will we change?” she asked in a somewhat petulant tone of voice.

“There are some make-shift changing rooms over there,” said the ensign, pointing over to an enclosed area, with opaque creamy-orange sheets supported by poles. “They'll give you the privacy you need to change ones clothes.”

“And what about toilets?” asked Mia.

“They're down in corridor 213 section seven,” explained the ensign, and he glanced back at Mia. “Anymore questions you would like to ask?”

“No,” replied Mia politely.

The ensign left the cargo bay while Kira helped Mia and Deru to carry a mattress. They placed it in the top left corner of the room, next to the changing area. There were only a dozen people inside, some of whom standing while others rested on the mattresses. Bags bulging with material possessions lined many of the occupied mattresses.

This made Kira conscious of how Mia and Deru didn’t have anything, but she would worry about that later. The three set the mattress down, before going back to the pile of mattresses to retrieve two more.

Finally when the accommodation matters were sorted out, both Mia and Deru were sitting down on a respective mattress each. Kira became uncomfortably aware of how little her children had to occupy themselves, and she made a mental note that when she next checked up on her children, she would give them some padds and games which were stored in their trashed quarters.

“What about Odo?” said Mia suddenly. “How could he regenerate here?”

“He'll have to regenerate somewhere else for two hours, and then come back here in the night time.”

For one small moment, Kira felt compelled to ask her daughter why she defended Quark's bar, however Kira had a shift to complete, and she could ask that question later. Kira then turned to leave, she never even moved one step forwards for her daughter asked another question.

“Where are you going?”

Turning around, Kira faced Mia. “To Ops, and to provide what help I can. I don't know when I'll be back, but it should be some time in the morning, and hopefully your father will be there as well with me. When I get back I’ll bring you some padds and games from our quarters. Try to get some sleep and look after your younger brother.”

It was the best Kira could offer and she expected Mia or Deru to complain, but they just seemed to accept the situation.

“I will mother,” said Mia.

Finally Kira turned to leave, as she walked out of the cargo bay, she thought about how crummy this would be for her children, living in a cargo bay for some days. Still Mia and Deru were holding up reasonably well, and her children were not spoilt, so Kira knew they would try to make the best of a situation, just the way she would…


***


Holo was chatting with Max as they walked out of the airlock, but they immediately broke off when they noticed Megan standing outside.

Megan appeared harried and nervous about something. “Max thank God you've arrived, its Tanya, she's...”

Just like that Max’s face crumpled, the poor chap looked sick from worry. “Not dead surely?”

“She hasn't got much time left,” said Megan.

Without a word Max dashed off to the Infirmary, the last look on his face was unreadable to Holo, and for one moment he considered following Max, but something stopped him.

“Holo, you go with Max,” Megan said, regarding Holo rather somberly. “This is going to be a terrible time for him, and he needs his best friend by his side...”

“I understand...” said Holo simply.

He headed to the Infirmary, though unlike Max he walked there.

///

Everything had shut down inside of Max, he didn’t care about the shift he needed to complete, he barely noticed the sights, sounds and smells around him. All that mattered was arriving in the Infirmary and talking to Tanya. His worst fears had come true, and the fear grew as he thought about Megan’s words. She made it sound as if Tanya was gravely wounded and beyond treatment…

Max walked so quickly it felt almost like jogging or running, and when he entered the Infirmary, only then did he slow his pace. Finally he found the other person he was desperate to see. “Doctor Bashir, where is Tanya?”

Bashir looked the grimmest Max had ever seen him. “She's in the patient ward,” said Bashir, before he launched into an explanation. “By the time she arrived it was late to repair the damage to her brain, the blood vessels were still haemorrhaging. If she arrived sooner there may have been a chance to save her, but-”

“You did your best doctor...” said Max quickly, and without saying another word, he headed to the patient ward.

Once inside the ward, he found Tanya in a matter of seconds for she was the only one looking towards him, the only one waiting for him to arrive…

The ward was very cramped, and the space between the biobeds seemed barely enough for one person to stand in. Max stopped when he arrived at Tanya’s left side, gently he grasped her left hand, attempting his best to smile at her.

“You came at last...” said Tanya weakly, as she returned Max’s smile. “I thought you weren't going to arrive in time.”

“I'm here...” said Max simply, his smile fading as he examined the wound on Tanya’s head.

It just looked bloody to Max, he could almost convince himself it was just a very nasty cut, or Tanya cracking her skull open… He then stopped worrying about Tanya dying and a lot more about her comfort. “Does it hurt?”

“Mildly,” replied Tanya. “Bashir and the rest of the surgeons have been great, I can barely feel the pain...”

“What happened?”

“I was in Ops when the Romulans boarded it, one of their disruptor blasts hit a console, the plasma conduits overloaded it, and it exploded. A piece of duranium shrapnel about three centimetres long, a centimetre thick, embedded itself into my skull...”

“Ow!” exclaimed Max, grimacing as he did so. “Did it hurt?”

Tanya’s eyes glazed over a little as she recalled the experience. “Initially no... I was so shocked and confused, and then it started to really hurt...”

“I wish there was something I could do to help you,” said Max miserably.

Tanya returned her to gaze to Max, and smiled at him once more. “You've already done so by arriving...”

“Don't go, please...” she added nervously.

Max though raised Tanya’s hand, kissing it softly before letting go. “I'm not going anywhere...”

“Good...” Tanya said, looking relieved as if she expected Max to leave her.

She then changed the subject, lowering her voice as she did so. “You remember our first kiss?”

“How could I forget?” whispered Max, this was not the ideal place to say such things, for there remained an inadequate amount of privacy even when he whispered to Tanya. “I was eighteen and so nervous... We had known each other for two years, but...”

“You were uncomfortable expressing your affection to me...” finished Tanya. “I didn't have much experience either...”

“But aside from that hiccup it was one amazing night,” agreed Max.

“Oh yeah...” said Tanya, and her eyes lit up.

“You were the only one...” murmured Max.

“I know...” said Tanya lovingly, she paused, before glancing at Max with both more seriousness and yet affection. “I haven't told you this, but I was thinking about marrying you.”

Just at that moment, it hit Max by what was happening. His eyes burned due to all the painful feelings being dredged up. “Don't say that!” he moaned.

“I'm sorry,” said Tanya. “But I love you so much,” she whispered.

“As do I...” said Max.

Suddenly he let go of Tanya’s hand, for his own one clamped over his mouth, as he tried to control his feelings. In a shaky manner he lowered the hand, but his emotional turmoil stayed. “Oh God, you can't go Tanya...”

“I don't want to leave you either... Just promise me one thing?”

“Name it.”

“Don't blame Megan for what has happened,” implored Tanya.

“Megan?” said Max disbelievingly, how was she to blame? “She did her best to keep the station out of Romulan hands, without her effort you would probably be dead.”

“Good...” replied Tanya, who looked a little better after getting that particular demon off her back.

Tanya let out a soft groan, complimented by her face screwing up in pain. “It's getting difficult to think...”

“Just rest, and conserve yourself...” said Max.

“One more thing...” said Tanya.

“Yeah?”

“How about a farewell kiss?”

A faint smile came to Max’s lips, before he moved closer, resting one hand on the shoulder of Tanya’s uniform jacket, and the other against the edge of the bed. Just briefly Max and Tanya’s lips locked, they would have done more, but they had no privacy, so Max contented with just a simple small kiss.

“Is that better?” he asked Tanya.

“Yeah,” breathed Tanya, “I just want to-”

Tanya’s eyes widened in horror, never before had Max seen Tanya look so frightened. “Tanya? Tanya? Can you hear me?”

“I don't remember...” said Tanya in a scared voice, and she stopped gazing at Max, for she seemed trapped in her own disturbed little world. “My childhood, my years in Starfleet Academy, all gone...”

“Tanya look at me,” said Max desperately, “I'm here...”

Finally Tanya’s eyes moved to Max’s face, and she looked a shell of the woman she formerly was. “Help me Max, where am I, what's happened to me? So painful...”

“You are on DS9, in the Infirmary...” said Max, he then stopped. “I need a doctor, she's dying!” he yelled out aloud.

Quickly Bashir, who worked nearby, came over with his medical tricorder at the ready.

“Doctor you've got to do something...” implored Max, staring at Bashir as if the doctor were his only hope.

Bashir ran the tricorder’s scanning device over Tanya’s head, his face mildly sagged with even more grimness. “The haemorrhaging is spreading, I can sedate her...”

“Don't!” exclaimed Tanya, in a voice twisted with pain. “I want to be with Max.”

“You are in great pain Ms Dawson, are you sure you don't want a sedative to ease it?”

“Please...” murmured Tanya, as her speech started to fail, and her gaze found Max. “Max... want to... be with... him.”

“What's happening to her?” asked Max, feeling very frightened by Tanya’s childish language and slurred speech.

“Her brain is dying, that's what!” said Bashir, looking annoyed by the fact he couldn’t do anything to help Tanya. “By these tricorder scans her brain damage has increased ten fold!”

“Max...” Tanya called out, raised one shaking hand trying to grab onto one part of her lover.

“Yes Tanya?” said Max, while he grabbed onto her hand.

“Not... scared... With you... better...”

Despite how retarded Tanya sounded, Max could tell from Tanya’s eyes that she still loved him, and that through her confusion, he was the only thing that mattered to her. It was terribly distressing watching the woman he once loved, be taken away from Max, piece by piece. “Don't worry, I'll be here,” he told her, giving Tanya’s hand a squeeze.

A few minutes passed by, interspersed with Tanya occasional mumbling. “Max...” she said.

Max looked into Tanya’s eyes, but there was hardly any of Tanya in them. He detected love, but also a chilling deadness in Tanya’s stare, and Max realised that Tanya no longer grasped the nature of the bond they shared.

“I... love you,” whispered Tanya.

“And I love you...” said Max, such words which brought him to the verge of tears.

Tanya then closed her eyes. Seconds later, the biobed monitor emitted various beeping sounds as Tanya’s life signs further decreased.

“Doctor...” said Max.

“It's no good,” replied Bashir, who continued to scan Tanya with his tricorder. “She is now completely brain dead.”

“Tanya...” breathed Max, now even the hope of Tanya surviving was no hope at all, for Tanya herself, her personality was gone, it was dead.

Some seconds later, Bashir closed the tricorder, and his lips were pressed very tightly together. He seemed to be having difficulty controlling his emotions, or maybe it was the fact that Tanya’s death had been the most distressing to him. “Time of death, 0046 hours,” he said in a voice devoid of emotion. “Cause of death; massive arterial haemorrhaging of the brain.”

“No...” moaned Max, he didn’t cry, however his body shook from the emotional pain.

“Max...” said a voice, Holo’s voice.

Holo grabbed onto Max’s shoulders in an attempt to pull Max back, but it was a very halfhearted attempt.

However Max moved forwards, lowering himself as he did so, before planting a wet kiss to the top of Tanya's forehead. How long he stayed in that position he didn't know, eventually something made Max stand up, that something being the terrible responsibility of duty. No longer could he continue to grieve because he had shifts to complete, a science department to run, and a chemistry lab to check over.

“Max...” said Holo softly, his voice shaking a little.

Max though addressed Bashir, after removing his gaze from Tanya. “From what Tanya told me, she had no will or anything, but she did say that if she were to die she would want to be buried in space.”

“Don't worry, the arrangements will be made...” said Bashir.

“Thank you,” replied Max in deeply muffled pained tones.

When Bashir left, Holo spoke up. “Erm... Max I am really sorry... If you need to go to your quarters to... reflect on what has happened, I can cover your shift for you.”

“Thank you for the offer, but I'll grieve in my spare time,” Max answered with great restraint and calmness.

He swallowed, as he took one last look at Tanya’s face. All to soon he turned around to face the ward's exit. “Right now I have duties to complete and a science department to check over.”

And burying his emotions further, Max left the ward. He would grieve, but not now, right now he was going to put on a brave face, and he would be damned if his eyes got watery or he shed even one tear…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old July 5 2012, 10:17 PM   #232
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8

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...
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old July 22 2012, 07:14 PM   #233
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Re: DS9: A continuation

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.”

Odo here.

“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.

Understood,” said Odo.

“Dax out.”

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.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old July 22 2012, 07:15 PM   #234
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 9, part 2

Ezri looked up from her desk when Megan entered the commander’s office. “Did you and Odo get anything meaningful out of Voran?” asked Ezri.

“Not really...” said Megan, who seemed a bit disappointed.

“Don't waste your time commander,” said Ezri reassuringly, “Mr Voran will never tell us who he works with or for.”

“Perhaps not...” said Megan.

The commander appeared troubled as if she was trying to work herself up into saying something which Ezri would not like. “But maybe that is because we are not using stronger measures...”

“What do you mean by that?” said Ezri tensely.

Very slightly, Megan appeared to flinch in discomfort. “I'm saying that if we torture Mr Voran-”

Ezri slammed the padd she was holding against her desk, in one angry move she bolted upright looking very enraged. “Absolutely not!” she shouted.

Gesturing to Megan, Ezri bade the commander to follow her to the other side of the office, next to the sofa. There out of sight from most of Ops, Ezri rounded on Megan. “Torture is expressly forbidden in the Federation charter of human rights!”

Ezri’s anger was quickly matched by Megan’s. “And yet Section 31 tramples on everything we hold dear about the Prime Directive and the Federation charter!”

“I know it does!” hissed Ezri, while her teeth were bared. “But what can we do about it? Mouth off to the admirals and hope they'll listen?”

“We expose Section 31, to hell with it if they go underground, then they won't carry out their missions. To expose Section 31, all we have to do is torture Voran and-”

“Torture is very unreliable means of extracting information from a person.”

“Then attach a cortical chip and extract his memories!” burst out Megan, staring at Ezri in a completely exasperated manner. “Would we be torturing him then?”

“We would abusing his human rights!” said Ezri hotly.

The anger grew on Megan’s face and she snarled back at Ezri. “Are you telling me that scum like Voran have human rights? He almost started a second war between the Breen and the Federation!”

“I know that!” said Ezri, who was starting to get very defensive. “But everyone has rights, and suspects are innocent until proven guilty before a court of law!”

Ezri’s voice rose, as her anger boiled over. “The moment we start taking these laws -- which are the fundamental basis of functional civilization -- into our own hands, then anarchy and mass witch-hunts will begin! Laws are laws for a reason to prevent men going beyond the boundaries of what is proper and conducive for society!”

“And if we do nothing Section 31 will destroy the very laws that prevent the things you are talking about!” shouted Megan back. “We are letting the moral essence of the Federation be destroyed by Section 31, and when we lose that we become no different to the Romulans, the Cardassians or the Breen!”

“And just how do you get rid of Section 31?” countered Ezri, cocking her head to one side in a challenging manner to Megan. “The only way forwards I believe, is to formally include it as a Federation organisation, or department.”

Megan looked aghast, nay beside herself with rage. “Are you saying we welcome Section 31 with open arms?” she whispered venomously.

The venom in Megan’s voice was matched only by the ferocity in Ezri’s. “If we do that then Section 31 will finally be publicly revealed and finally bound by the rule of law.”

Megan though quickly shook her head. “You're making a mistake captain letting Voran slip through your fingers, it is an opportunity to publicly reveal Section 31 and bound it to the rule of law!”

The anger from both women began receding, but the tension remained as high as ever, still Ezri didn’t seem too convinced by Megan’s arguments. “Two Starfleet officers are not enough to bring about such a change,” said Ezri bluntly. “Until the admirals in Starfleet finally decide that Section 31 must be revealed, and until everyone who knows about Section 31 has spoken out about it, only then can we resolve this issue.”

“We should destroy Section 31!” reiterated Megan.

Ezri though regarded Megan with some curiosity, as if she were seeing Megan for the first time. “Is that the opinion of a Starfleet commander or the opinion of a woman who was betrayed by her lover?”

“Jack being a Section 31 agent has nothing to do with this!” replied Megan spitefully, though she fixed her gaze at a point just above Ezri’s head.

“But it has!” said Ezri with emphasis. “If it weren't for Section 31, you would have still been on the Liberty, and Jack would still have been your lover!”

The expression on Megan’s face wavered as she reluctantly accepted Ezri’s observation. “So maybe I am a little biassed towards Section 31!”

“But that is because I am one of its victims!” exclaimed Megan angrily. “A mere pawn in their twisted schemes and plots to keep the Federation safe from its 'enemies'.”

It was Ezri’s turn to shake her head. “Gul Bordak was the one who almost destroyed you, not Section 31. Bordak is proof that there are times when applying Federation principles doesn't work-”

“Are you condoning what Section 31-”

“I'm not condoning anything,” said Ezri hastily to stop Megan from raging again. “But Section 31 is right when it says there are races out there who won't play by our rules...”

The anger had vanished from Ezri’s face, she looked at Megan in a thoughtful but also intellectual manner. “Even you will admit that we have to fight to preserve the core values of the Federation? I mean what is Starfleet for?”

For one moment Megan considered this, and at any rate she seemed to be backing down. “Yes we do have to protect Federation values by force, but it is the way we protect those values that threatens the integrity of the Federation. Earth is utopia, but is utopia really feasible in the long-run when you have races like the Breen or Romulans or the Founders?”

“I know this isn't black and white,” admitted Ezri, “just running this station is a powerful reminder of that fundamental truth. But there are varying degrees to which we must sacrifice our principles to protect the common and greater good, and torture is something I'm not prepared to stoop to.”

“Your first officer, Kira Nerys, did it,” said Megan matter-of-factly.

“And regretted it,” countered Ezri, before a brief weary smile came to her face. “But Kira is like you, she will take matters into her own hands. However on that occasion she crossed the line, and she told me that herself. The final word rests with me so I'll say it again; we do not torture Voran or abuse his rights in any way.”

Ezri stared into Megan’s eyes, searching them very carefully. “Is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” said Megan stiffly.

Megan turned around to leave.

“One more thing commander,” added Ezri.

Slowly Megan revolved on the spot eyeing Ezri up a little wearily.

“We become like Section 31 the moment we are flexible with unquestionable and universal laws and liberties...”

Briefly Megan considered this, but she passed up Ezri’s remark with no comment, and then left the office.

The moment Megan had gone, Ezri’s face crumpled into doubt and misgivings. She was clearly shaken by the argument she had with Megan, undoubtedly Ezri must have been deeply questioning her own core beliefs…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 12 2012, 12:32 AM   #235
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 10, part 1

Day 16, 1220 hours

Walking together, Kira and Odo slowly made their way down the corridor where their quarters were situated. They didn’t talk, their quietness was matched only by the station's. The corridors now seemed empty all the time, even the Promenade only had a fraction of the people who once went there.

Kira didn’t want to go back to their wrecked quarters, but Odo insisted they do so to collect what valuables they could. So they both carried wide and bulky duffel bags for the task. Seeing the quarters again was going to be horrible for Kira, she wasn’t sure how Odo would react to the sight as he had not visited them yet.

Another reason for their silence was the argument they recently had about what to do for Mia. Odo insisted that they should let Mia just get on with her life and not ask her to disclose what she did defending Quark's bar. Kira though believed in the exact opposite for really she worried about Mia's emotional state. In Kira's eyes Mia was still a child, a child who had now taken another life.

What disturbed Kira was that she swore to herself that her children would never witness or perpetrate the violence that happened in Kira's childhood. Now this lay in tatters, no longer could Kira regard Mia as that innocent child before the battle. She felt protective towards Mia, even compelled to talk to Mia, to try to help her daughter understand the significance of taking another life in self-defence.

But since Odo was against this, Kira resigned herself to Odo's judgement. The two came to a stop by the front door and when they opened it Kira walked inside first. Her boots crunched against the debris and shrapnel upon the floor. The quarters looked exactly like they did two days ago when she first visited them.

“It's not too bad,” said Odo a little cautiously while he glanced around the living room. “I thought the windows had been blown out.”

Kira thought the damage appeared horrendous, she stared somberly at the damaged and scratched furniture. “It will take at least a week before this is repaired,” she said quietly as her eyes rested upon a battered console where a bulkhead had crashed against it.

“Low priority you see,” she added bitterly.

Odo turned around with his arms folded. “I don’t know, you are the station's first officer, surely that counts for something!”

“Odo I have never been one for using my rank for personal advantage at the expense of others. We wait for these quarters to be repaired just like everyone else.”

With that matter settled, the two proceeded to the bedroom. Kira hadn’t really looked at the kitchen, which was somewhat portioned off from the living room. But at least there appeared to be no damage just a lot of dust. The dining table looked similar, however Kira then trained her eyes on the door leading to her and Odo’s bedroom. She pressed the panel next to the doorway, it took a while but the door eventually opened sideways.

Odo was the first to enter, when Kira saw his shoulders visibly fall her mood blackened.

Once inside, she saw the remains of the wall that bordered between their quarters and their neighbour's quarters. The wall was blown out, while another fallen bulkhead partially obscured the view to next door’s quarters. The bed had collapsed under the weight of the bulkhead which explained the white feathers strewn all over the room from the torn pillows.

She looked to her left and she saw the golden altar, which she prayed to, fallen against the floor. The delicate ornament had shattered into many pieces. Kira took a few steps closer to the golden debris before crouching down, her hand picked up a shard of metal from the totaled altar. “Ruined,” she said blandly before chucking the piece away.

Odo looked at Kira very gently, he seemed to recognise the significance of the ruined altar. “We can always buy you a new one,” he gently suggested.

“We can, but they don’t come cheap,” said Kira, she then sighed and straightened up, still looking downwards at the pieces. “The damage to our home was worse than I thought.”

“I'm just glad our children made it through unharmed...” said Odo, he came over to Kira and stood by her side. “We could have so easily lost them.”

“It doesn't bare thinking about...” breathed Kira in pained tones. “Many on this station have lost colleagues, family members, loved ones...”

“Tanya Dawson for instance...” Odo said sounding very heavy.

Now Kira turned around to face her husband. “My whole heart goes out to Max,” she replied softly. “I know what is it like losing loved ones in brutal acts by the enemy. I didn't really have much of an opinion on the Romulans, but now...”

Odo gave her a questioning stare. “You hate them just as much as you once did with the Cardassians?”

“Almost...” answered Kira, but as she said that she blinked furiously against the dampness in her eyes. “This station is my home and to see it so brutally attacked...”

“I know...” said Odo heavily.

In a tender motion Odo hugged her, Kira placed her arms tightly around Odo’s back. She didn’t feel like crying anymore though she squeezed onto Odo even more tightly as right now she needed him. She felt so emotionally hurt yet hugging Odo gave her some solace…

The two broke off the hug and they stared at each other in silence.

“You know what you need?” said Odo all of a sudden.

“What?”

“A vacation...” answered Odo with earnest.

Kira instantly averted her gaze away from Odo, instead turning in the direction of the bed. “I can't...” she replied sounding a little stressed. “This station needs me, many people need me...”

“Listen,” said Odo softly and carefully, “I'm not saying to pack our bags right now and go down to Bajor. But sometime in the next week, or later, when things have settled, maybe then consider taking a vacation?”

A big frown curved Kira’s mouth as she toyed with the idea of a vacation, of going to Bajor… “Perhaps...”

“You need a break...” said Odo firmly, he gently placed a hand on Kira’s shoulder which made her obligingly turn around to face him. “For two years you have worked here constantly, but in the last few months you seemed a little stressed...”

Kira didn’t know how to respond to that observation. Maybe she was stressed and overworked, she had a tendency of doing so over the years only to realise this to late... Was this one of those times? But the worker inside her raged at the idea of a vacation, she sought to come up with an excuse, a reason to work…

“It's just things have become more complicated,” she said at last, “and DS9 seems to be right in the centre of it all...”

Odo glanced at Kira in a mischievous way. “I'm sure Ops can manage without you for a week or so...”

“It can once most of the station's systems have been repaired...” reminded Kira, as she finally gave in to temptation and the lure of taking it easy. “Okay you win, and I have accumulated a lot of shore leave... I suppose two weeks would be a decent break...”

Looking a bit triumphant, Odo nodded his head in an encouraging manner. “It will be so nice going to Bajor with the family...”

“Yeah...” said Kira, suddenly brightening up, and for the first time a smile came to her face. “I mean Mia is more comfortable around her own people, so I think she will enjoy visiting Bajor this time around...”

One part of her felt relieved that a vacation was coming shortly, but her happiness was short lived when she realised why they had to come their quarters. “Let’s see what valuables we can take,” she told Odo as she opened up her bag and laid it down on the floor.

Without further comment, Odo walked past the bulkhead and over to the side of the room close to the windows. He started rummaging around some knocked over furniture.

Kira began checking the cupboard where her golden altar once stood, she started searching around for the religious knick-knacks and items she used for when she prayed. Surely there was something that had not been tarnished...


***


Slowly, Megan and Holo walked deeper into the interior cargo bay. In there, mounted on stands, were 35 torpedo casings containing a dead Starfleet officer each. The cargo bay appeared virtually empty except for Max who had found himself a container to sit on so as to stand vigil over Tanya’s coffin.

When she came within a few metres of Max, Megan gently cleared her throat to get Max’s attention. “We just wanted to pay our respects... If that is alright with you?”

Though Max didn’t show it, Megan could tell her friend was in pain.

“Yeah sure,” said Max sadly.

Megan and Holo stood to Max’s right side, it all felt so awkward to Megan because she detected rather acutely Holo's discomfort.

“We're sorry for your loss,” said Holo gently, “she was a great colleague to work with.”

“Thanks...” said Max quietly.

Megan piped up. “Also if there's anything you need just ask me or Holo...”

“I don't need anything,” answered Max in a slow and sad voice. “What I wish for was for this to never have happened.”

“There is nothing to bring back Tanya Max,” said Holo very gently.

This though was the wrong thing to say because Max puffed his face up in anger and shot an angry glance at Holo. “Is that the words of a computer program speaking?” he asked, his temper fraying.

“No-”

Max though cut short Holo’s explanation. “This is all just some interesting experience for you isn't it? Watching me fall to pieces and come face to face with my mortality!”

Holo looked bewildered by Max’s reaction. “I just want to be there for you in a time of need, I'm your friend!”

“Well if you're my friend then may you kindly leave this room!” said Max, he said it with such venom that Holo winced.

“If that is what you want...” said Holo haughtily.

Without saying another word, Holo left the room and Megan could just tell how wounded he was. Another awkward pause sprung up, a pause which felt unbearable to Megan. Once Holo left the room Megan couldn’t stand it any longer. “I'll leave as well-”

“No don't!” said Max angrily.

Closing his eyes, Max then calmed down, upon opening his eyes he looked very remorseful. “I'm sorry about that, it's just my temper, I sometimes get really angry you know...”

“And Holo just got in the way of your anger?”

“Something like that...” muttered Max, before he shook his head in self-chastisement. “God I feel so stupid... I just got annoyed because Holo was telling me the unquestionable truth; Tanya is gone and there's nothing to change that.”

“He could have said it more sensitively,” pointed out Megan.

“He was being sensitive,” said Max, grimacing as he did so. “Usually Holo is rather direct, but I could tell he was being sensitive...”

Another pause transpired thought at least it wasn’t so awkward.

“Do you know where Tanya will be buried?” asked Megan.

“In space... This is what Tanya decreed... Her parents are coming here in a week's time. I'll be taking a runabout and then we'll conduct the ceremony somewhere outside of the Bajoran star system...”

Now that Megan thought about it she had never heard Max, or Tanya, say anything about Tanya’s parents. “Have you met Tanya's parents?”

Max nodded. “Many a time back when I was dating Tanya during our Starfleet Academy days...”

Megan paused for a bit as she built up the courage to ask a very personal request of Max. “Listen can I go with you? It's just I need to explain myself to Tanya's parents, I am somewhat to blame for Tanya's death...”

“Huh!” exclaimed Max, and he laughed a little. “Tanya told me you would say something like that.”

“She did?” said Megan in surprise, she began to panic; had Tanya revealed to Max that she was in love with him?

“She doesn't blame you and neither do I for what you had to do to protect the station,” explained Max. “You couldn't have given the access codes to the Romulans because you would have endangered all our lives...”

There was a quick silence as Megan inwardly thanked herself that Tanya had kept Megan’s most personal secret to her grave. “But Tanya might not have died if she received prompt medical attention... It is my fault in a-”

“Don't blame yourself for events that were out of your control!” burst out Max angrily. “It is those bloody Romulans who are to blame!”

Max's outburst almost made Megan flinch.

“I'm sorry,” said Max as he simmered down. “But right now I really hate these Romulans... They took my Tanya, my girlfriend...”

Max’s voice faltered for he began crying silently. He then placed his hands to his face and his shoulders started shaking from silent sobs.

This was too much for Megan, she didn’t want to see Max like this, she couldn’t see something so private… “I'll... I'll give you some peace...”

A hand grabbed her forearm. “Don't go!” pleaded Max, looking at Megan with big puppy dog eyes. “I just feel all alone without Tanya, you and Holo are the only two people I really care about.”

“Alright...” said Megan gently.

So she sat down, and when Max sat next to her he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. It felt very strange for Megan, it seemed Max still didn’t know that she secretly loved him. Tanya was gone, leaving Megan with deeply bitter and disgusted feelings due to her unrequited love. She was Max’s friend, but she knew that Max would be turning to her as he sought comfort. Max must have been doing this out of friendship and Megan had always sensed that he possessed no interest in her.

But what if through his grieving process and over the coming months, her friendship with Max grew? What if they became so close that Max developed feelings for her? However Megan decided she couldn’t pursue those feelings, she would tell Max nothing because she knew it would only hurt Max and confuse him terribly.

If she told Max that she loved him, then Max would be forever wondering what would have happened if he had dated Megan and not Tanya. Megan did not have the heart to give her friend that kind of pain, so she would always be Max’s friend, anything else and she would be exploiting him and staining Tanya’s memory.

However Megan realised she still had not really answered the question of what to do if Max told her, many months from now, that he loved her. The analytical part of Megan’s mind told her that this appeared to be an inevitability, unless Max fell in love with another woman, but that seemed unlikely. It was all so shockingly logical to her, that she being Max’s closest friend and a woman, Max would inevitably develop feelings for her.

It would be Max trying to fill the void created by Tanya’s absence… So what would Megan do? However guilty she would feel, she would probably allow a relationship to form if Max told her that he loved her. It all felt so confusing to Megan… Despite such a terrible event, would she eventually have a relationship with Max?
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 12 2012, 12:33 AM   #236
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 10, part 2

During mid-afternoon -- and it came as a little surprise to Ezri -- when Kira contacted her from Ops that admiral Nechayav was on a comm line, waiting to talk to Ezri.

After rerouting the transmission through to the console on her desk, in her office, Ezri sat back wondering what urgent business Nechayav needed to discuss.

“Admiral Nechayav, what is the nature of this call?” she asked the moment the console screen showed the live feed from Nechayav’s office.

Nechayav, a woman in her sixties, with grey hair, and a as-thin-as-a-rake appearance, bestowed Ezri a quick perfunctory smile before getting down to business. “Am I correct in assuming you have a Starfleet officer named Talor Voran in your custody.”

“That is correct...” said Ezri slowly.

“Have you issued charges against him?” asked Nechayav in those sharp tones of hers.

“Yes,” replied Ezri, she started to have an inkling of where this conversation may be heading…

“That's good...” said Nechayav, for a moment she looked uncharacteristically hesitant. “However Talor Voran is going to be taken back to Earth for a court martial hearing to take place...”

“Would it not be more convenient to do so on this station?” Ezri asked while trying to keep her disappointment to a minimum.

“It's a matter of interplanetary security,” said Nechayav almost monotonously. “It would be safer to have the hearing conducted on Earth.”

Something was not right here, indeed Ezri felt more uncomfortable by the minute. “Are you saying admiral that this station's security is not adequate enough?”

“Not at all,” said Nechayav automatically, smiling at Ezri as if to gloss things over.

The smile faded and was replaced with a hard and resolute look. “However the order stands. At 0900 hours tomorrow, the starship USS Crescent will arrive, and Mr Voran will be transported over to the ship.”

“I understand...” said Ezri wearily, and she paused as she considered pressing Nechayav about these unusual orders.

“Admiral, what is going on here? Why does Mr Voran have to be escorted away at such short notice?”

“I am afraid captain that I'm not at liberty to disclose this, Nechayav out.”

The transmission ended leaving Ezri to sit there fuming away. ‘A matter of interplanetary security’ those words reverberated around Ezri’s head. To often had words of those sort being repeated by all manners of government, and state figures, to censor and hush up all the things, and people, who threatened the status quo. Nechayav’s words smacked to Ezri of Section 31 interference, more worryingly this wasn’t the first time she had a conversation which felt so similar to the one with Nechayav.

Ezri cast her mind back to when she first arrived at the station, when Ross had given her virtually the same order to release Jack Smith into the custody of another Starfleet vessel. No wonder Voran showed such confidence, because he knew he was going to be getting away with this. Ezri remembered her former hosts feelings about the Federation and Starfleet, in particular she remembered the pride Jadzia had serving as a Starfleet officer.

If only Jadzia knew of the true colours of the Federation because at this moment Ezri felt very disillusioned. Rather darkly, she wondered if Section 31 was somehow moulding Starfleet into some sort of oppressive and tyrannical organisation. One rule for Starfleet and those that supported it, and another rule for all those who were enemies or undesirables of the Federation…


***


It was the end of her shift, by some fortune Ezri had managed to complete a substantial part of her paperwork for the time being, so she took this opportunity to try to rest in her quarters. She sat down in her favourite armchair, taking comfort in its softness and how it supported her body position without causing discomfort to her back.

Ezri had been reading a book, displayed on a padd, but she had given up when she realised her brain needed to rest and to process today's events. Having disregarded the red turtle-necked shirt and jacket in her bedroom, she was dressed only in her uniform's trousers and dull blue t-shirt.

Her rest was cut short when the front door chime went off. “Come in!” said Ezri.

Megan entered carrying with her a padd in one hand as she approached Ezri. “Sorry to disturb you captain, but I just wanted to give you the joint report from myself and constable Odo concerning the interrogation of Talor Voran.”

“That won't be necessary commander,” said Ezri dryly.

“I don't understand,” said Megan who looked her confusion.

Ezri shifted herself more upright on the chair. “Sit down please,” she said gesturing to Megan to do so with her hand.

When Megan sat down on the boxy-like grey sofa, two metres in front of Ezri, did Ezri continue. “Yet again I've underestimated the influence Section 31 has over Starfleet. I was contacted by admiral Nechayav who wants to send Talor back to Earth. She assured me that Talor would be questioned by Starfleet security on Earth, but I knew in that instant that Talor was a free man.”

“That's crazy!” Megan exclaimed looking at Ezri as if she could not believe her eyes. “He nearly caused a war!”

This was the spark that lit up Ezri’s anger, she chucked away her padd and sat up more upright. “What gets me is how Section 31 is undermining everything that Starfleet protects. It seems everyday Section 31 grows bolder with their legal autonomy, and Starfleet hast to clean up the mess!”

“It is just not right!” she added loudly.

“I understand your frustration captain but there's nothing we can do,” said Megan who sounded very tired and wearied by this topic.

Ezri glanced at Megan with some surprise, two days ago Megan had passionately argued with her about stopping Section 31.

Megan appeared to sense her captain’s surprise for she continued on, “Section 31 is going to be around for a very long time, so long as it has the Starfleet admiral's backing, then Section 31 is above the law and impervious to any attempt to bring it down.”

“It is the legacy of the Dominion War,” said Ezri very sadly, while she thought back to the events. “It severely shook Starfleet to its very core; many good officers were killed and the Federation nearly collapsed. It is only natural that Starfleet admirals, out of fear, used more desperate measures to win the war, so they turned to Section 31.”

The anger returned to Ezri. “And now it seems that with any problem which can't be solved diplomatically the admirals let Section 31 sort out the mess.”

Megan though did not look sympathetic. “As I told you captain some days ago, this is a lost opportunity to expose Section 31 to the entire Federation!”

“No it wasn't...” murmured Ezri.

“I don't understand...” said Megan again, whose confusion became all the more apparent.

Looking Megan straight in the eye, Ezri elaborated upon what she meant. “The last thing the Federation needs is some sort of witch-hunt trying to find Section 31, how can we defend ourselves against the Romulans and the Breen when we're disunited ourselves? We roughly know what goes on behind the scenes concerning Starfleet, and it may not look pretty the means in which Section 31 preserves the peace. But together with Starfleet the two organisations have given the Federation almost thirteen years of peace, since the Corneria war, and that can only be a good thing...”

“Even if we sacrifice our principles?” asked Megan rather blandly.

“Whatever Section 31 has done, the consequences of a war with the Breen and Romulans could be just as bad or worse than the Dominion war. The peace must hold in this region of space, because otherwise it will only embolden Section 31 in their methods for protecting the Federation.”

For the first time, Ezri thought that she had convinced Megan, just a little bit, on her views of Section 31.

Megan stood up and slid the padd she held across the low glass-top table, the padd came to a stop close to Ezri. “Good night captain,” said Megan politely, before she turned around and left the room.

When Megan had left, Ezri’s eyes strayed over to the padd on the table. Would there be any point in reading it? Would Starfleet ever file its contents in the Federation database? The answer to Ezri was a resounding no, though she took the padd anyway to read it. She felt obliged to do so out of respect for the work both Megan and Odo put in to finish it.


***


Day 17, 1100 hours

Ezri was so busy completing reports that she only heard the door chime in her office after the third time it went off. She lowered a padd, dumping it upon a dozen other padds scattered on her desk and pressed a command on her console to open the door.

Kira entered, carrying with her a rather wide padd, upon arriving at the desk she stood to attention in a rather rigid fashion. “Here is the latest report on Breen/Romulan ship movements in the Badlands, there has been minimal activity despite the Romulan attack of four days ago.”

“That may be a good sign,” said Ezri while she briefly read the report’s contents. “However knowing the Breen they're probably trying to lure us into a false sense of security.”

“How can you be so sure?” asked Kira.

In an angry motion, Ezri tossed the padd onto her desk. “Because I saw it all the time in the Corneria war!” she exclaimed.

Breathing out deeply, Ezri managed to calm herself. “That's what we could all be facing, another Corneria style war, except on a much larger scale.”

“And DS9 and Bajor would be on the front lines,” said Kira, catching Ezri’s drift.

“That would be very likely, if the Breen crossed through the Badlands...”

There was a pause, and Kira waited for Ezri to address her, until finally she couldn’t wait any longer. “Is there anything else captain?”

“There is actually...” said Ezri, she gestured to Kira to take a seat which Kira promptly did. “I want you to assess DS9's defences, our security measures and intrusion detection methods. I want a full proper assessment listing our strengths, vulnerabilities and any improvements that can be made. I want the complete report on my desk four days from now at 0900 hours.”

“Yes captain,” said Kira solemnly.

Kira was about to get off the chair but Ezri had one more matter to discuss with Kira. “And Kira?”

“Yes?”

“I know it is a lot of work to pile on you so soon after your Breen captivity, but I don't have the time to do it as my hands are tied down compiling reports to various admirals and Starfleet institutions.”

An understanding look crossed Kira’s face, she didn’t look annoyed or aggrieved in the slightest by Ezri’s orders. “You don't have to explain yourself Dax...”

Another pause, this time though Ezri sensed it was Kira holding back from something. For one thing, Kira appeared unusually unsure of herself whilst almost seeming distracted.

“Is there something you want to ask me?” asked Ezri.

A sheepish look appeared on Kira’s face; Ezri could almost see Kira’s embarrassment. “Well Odo and I were planning a vacation in a week or so's time, but it's a stupid idea giving recent events.”

“I've checked your service record, you haven't taken any shore leave for two years now?”

“I know that,” said Kira impatiently, she looked all the more earnest as if eager to utterly dispel her idea. “However with the Breen and Romulans threatening this station, you need your first officer to-”

“Take your vacation when you feel it is necessary,” said Ezri leisurely.

“Captain?” said Kira a little weakly.

“We're not at war with the Breen or Romulans, if we were then a vacation would be out of the question... But I've seen you pushing yourself for some months now, I can always tell when someone is fatigued...”

“It has not affected my duties captain.”

Now Ezri smiled pleasantly at Kira because she knew how her friend seemed allergic to holidays and rests. “Well I'll give you some informal advice; a captain relies upon a first officer who is well-rested and alert. I mean just how long are you going away for?”

“Two weeks on Bajor in Dahkur province,” said Kira tentatively.

“Well as long as the situation does not deteriorate, I could manage without you for that time.”

For just a brief moment Kira looked convinced by a vacation, but then all her doubts came flooding back to her face. “Who will take over my post?” she asked matter-of-factly.

“Commander Felpes can take your place,” said Ezri, “she has shown herself rather capable of commanding this station.”

“That would work...” said Kira slowly.

“I'm glad the matter is settled...” said Ezri with a tone of finality. “One more thing Kira.”

Kira remained silent, waiting for Ezri to continue.

“I heard about Mia defending Quark's bar, what she did was remarkably brave and you should be proud of her actions.”

A very forced smile came upon Kira's face, it seemed Kira thought Ezri was patronising her. “I appreciate your sentiment Dax, but my daughter did what she felt was necessary. There is nothing to take pride in for taking another person's life, whether they are your enemy or not.”

Ezri felt somewhat taken aback and chastened by Kira's words, she didn't expect Kira to take her compliment that way. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-”

Kira stood up continuing to view Ezri in a weary way. “I know you didn't mean to offend me, though I would think having Dax inside you, you would understand how I feel about my daughter's actions.”

A strained silence followed, after looking rather awkward, Kira then walked out of the office.

Looking on, Ezri couldn’t believe how much of a cliched thing she had said to Kira. The more Ezri thought about, the more she realised how seriously Kira considered killing and its consequences. Kira herself had told Ezri how the killing and violence she carried out during the Cardassian occupation (of Bajor) almost destroyed her as a person. Now Ezri could understand Kira's reaction; Kira didn't want her daughter to go through the same process.

Ezri really hoped Kira would have a great two weeks and would manage to sort things out with her daughter. Whereas for Ezri she had no such luck. There was an unbelievable amount of reports and administrative work to complete, she felt certain that she was overworking herself to death much like her first officer. Unfortunately Starfleet captains did not have the luxury of spare time or the option of taking a vacation when they felt like it…

Especially now after the escalation of Breen and Romulan hostilities. War had been averted, but the price to avert it was to Ezri too high. She didn’t know how long this uneasy peace would last, the thought of war lingered in her mind almost repressing her in its nature. It truly wearied her, each day with zero hostilities brought a little more hope to her. With all her heart she yearned for the day when there was true peace with the Breen and the Romulans.

Alas the very prospect would take years, if not dozens of years...

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Well that is the end of Cloak and Dagger, our next story is a vacation on Bajor and a close look at Kira's family.

Here are links to the rest of my stories (which are listed in chronological order in terms of my series plot):

Season 1:

Secrets and Lies

Shallow Rights


Vacation

Bad Blood

Outlier

Devolution

Gold Rush

Medical Pariah

Commitment

Ménage à Trois

Tip of the Iceberg


Season 2:

Survival

High Stakes

Running the Gauntlet

The Price of Sanity

Cloak and Dagger, part 1

Cloak and Dagger, part 2

To be Over

Knowing Oneself

Reunion


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Order of Things


Qualms

Help Thine Neighbour

Missing Link, part 1


Missing Link, part 2

Taboo

First Disciples

Celebration

Nothing Lasts Forever
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 12 2012, 07:31 PM   #237
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Re: DS9: A continuation

A summary of To Be Over:

Season 2, 18th story
After her ordeal with the Breen, and overworking, Kira feels the stress and strain of her job, to the point where she decides to go on a two week holiday on Bajor with her family.

On Bajor she reacquaints with not only the planet, but the people, while her daughter makes a new best friend...

Warnings: occasional adult situations, one scene of strong swearing, mild violence.

//////////////////////////////////////////


To Be Over, chapter 1 part 1

Stardate: 71733.4

Day 1, 1700 hours

After the end of a gruelling shift, Kira was glad to return back to the cargo bay. Being the first officer of DS9 meant she had to coordinate the duty roster, made more difficult by the fact that DS9 was being repaired and nearly every crew member working overtime. To top it off, the number of reports seemed to have doubled which consumed much of Kira’s spare time and some much needed hours of sleep.

Since the Breen and Romulan hostilities, Starfleet was on high alert fearful that the Breen and Romulans should attack. The Badlands were a key strategic area for should any war break out, DS9 would be right on the front lines.

Walking along a corridor, Kira could not stifle a yawn as her tiredness caught up with her. Being older did not help, she had lost a little of the energy she possessed in her twenties and thirties. The one good thing was that her workload would decrease somewhat when most of DS9 had been repaired. Odo however did not seem overworked and Kira felt a little envious that Odo only needed a minimum of two hours of regeneration.

When she arrived in cargo bay three, the first thing that caught her attention was the emptiness. Over the last week the number of civilians on the station had decreased considerably. Many were scared of the Romulan attack and of the knowledge that DS9 was at the forefront of all the troubles. With the cargo bay now only at a quarter of capacity, Kira felt most grateful for this because it made things more comfortable for herself and her children.

In the far corner of the bay sat Mia and Deru on their respective mattresses eating a replicated meal. They looked somewhat subdued but Kira knew their spirits were still up…

“Hi Mia, Deru,” she said to them, once she was close to her children. “It’s good to be back.”

Both Mia and Deru put down their ceramic plates; Mia was the first to hug Kira.

“You look exhausted,” said Mia after hugging Kira and studying her mother’s face. “Are you sure they're not working you to death in Ops?”

Kira just grinned a little, before quickly hugging Deru. “How's my favourite son doing?” she said fondly.

Deru, who was already nearly as tall as Kira, quickly put on a smile. “I had an alright day, got a bit boring, but I'll manage.”

Not for one instance was Kira fooled by Deru’s upbeat tones. “We'll back in our quarters in six days time, just be patient, I know living here is not that pleasant or fun, but you're holding up really well, and I'm proud of you.”

Deru didn't seem to respond to this at all, he just stared blankly back at Kira. “When is dad coming back?”

“About an hour from now,” replied Kira. “He and his security team busted a Yrridian narcotics smuggling ring, I hear Quark could be implicated as well...”

“Sounds like fun...” said Deru a little longingly. “Catching the bad guys, throwing them in jail.”

Kira did not appreciate her son’s simplified idea of his father’s job. “Your father takes his responsibilities very seriously,” she said sternly, “and I can tell you that there is no 'fun' in arresting petty and devious criminals.”

“Beats school...” said Deru with a little shrug.

Kira wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so she sat down on her mattress with her feet upon the floor and her thighs bent upwards a little. This position gave her a small degree of comfort, though as she relaxed she noticed the strained look on Mia’s face. Mia who had also sat down on her own mattress, resumed her meal albeit appearing strangely tense.

“Mia, is something wrong?” asked Kira in a quiet voice.

“Huh?” said Mia, tearing her gaze off the floor. “Wrong? No no, I just feel tired...”

“If you want to talk about it.”

Something hardened on Mia’s face; a kind of anger. “No I don't thank you very much.”

“There's no need to take that tone of voice with me,” chided Kira, raising her eyebrows in an apprising manner.

“I'm sorry,” mumbled Mia, and she averted her eyes from Kira's gaze. “Next time I will endeavour to be more polite.”

Kira let the matter drop when a strong rumbling sensation came from her stomach, so she stood up again and headed for the cargo bay's replicator. Something was very wrong with her daughter, Kira attributed this to the time when Mia defended Quark’s bar from the Romulans. Such consternation and thoughtfulness on Mia’s part made Kira wonder just what had happened to her daughter.

The only answer that came to Kira’s head was that Mia must have killed a Romulan, possibly more than one, when defending the bar. Perhaps all of Mia’s unusual behaviour could be explained by her trying to comprehend what it felt like to kill someone...


***


Max walked along the Promenade taking his time as he travelled to the Replimat. Sometimes he felt the need to rush, other times he wanted to go ever so slow. All of this because of how he felt and it was starting to drive him crazy.

“Hello Max,” said Holo.

With a quick jerk of neck, Max spotted Holo. “Yeah hello...”

“Had a good day?”

“Decent,” was about all Max could say, he then forced himself to elaborate a little. “I completed a few reports, so I'm on top of my paperwork.”

“Can I join you for tea?” asked Holo.

Before Max had made up his mind, the Replimat came to view and it looked busy. “If you can find me a seat you can...”

Max waited in the queue while Holo left to find a vacant table. Slowly the queue moved forwards and about five minutes later Max had ordered his tea from the replicator. He walked back, carrying a tray in both hands, where he soon quickly spotted Holo waiting there for him to join.

Once he sat down by the table with Holo, Max got stuck in to his meal eating it with a speed that almost seemed indecent.

Holo watched this with some mild fascination. “I was thinking Max about if you would like to use our skateboarding holo-program; you and me?”

Max quickly swallowed a large mouthful of sandwich. “Which one?”

“The one with the bowl...” said Holo, giving Max a rather knowing look.

For the tiniest space of time Max was interested, but then the interest just fizzled out. “Sorry... I can't.”

“You're not interested?” asked Holo, trying to sound upbeat.

Max looked up from his tray to stare at Holo slightly disappointed face. “It's not because of you but because I just find my hobbies don't grab me anymore.”

“Perhaps after a little break you'll regain your interest?” suggested Holo.

“That could be a long break.”

Holo shook his head in a sad way. “Cheer up Max, things aren't all that bad!”

In a quick motion, Max prematurely swallowed the food in his mouth and almost choked because he was so desperate to retort back to Holo. “You know I'm getting a little sick of your insensitivity.”

All the understanding and sympathy vanished from Holo’s face, coldness became etched upon it as the mood plummeted. “And I'm getting a little sick of you acting like it is the end of the world with Tanya gone. You can't shut yourself away from the world-”

“How I grieve is none of your concern!” said Max hotly, ignoring his dinner just to glare at Holo.

The coldness thawed on Holo’s expression as he sought to pacify the situation. “I'm just saying there is a difference between grieving and being self-destructive. It's been nearly two weeks since Tanya's death and you only seemed to have become gloomier!”

“If I want to be gloomy then that's my right,” said Max moodily and he picked up his fork whilst staring at in a distracted way. “Now if you don't mind I want to eat alone.”

“Max...” started Holo, sounding rather wounded.

Max switched his gaze to Holo. “Alone please, before I do something stupid,” he said in a very forced and controlled manner.

Holo stood up, briefly he held his hands out in a pacifying gesture, staring at Max through disbelieving eyes.

Despite the hurt look on Holo’s face, Max focused on the table and continued to do so until he sensed that Holo was leaving the table. There was all this anger inside of Max, and now with Holo gone, Max did not think anything of it and continued his tea.

It was only after he left the Replimat did he start to feel the first pangs of guilt for his atrocious behaviour towards his friend.


***


Once inside Odo’s office, Kira took a chair in front of the desk and slumped into it. Leaning over, she rested her elbows upon the desk while her hands cradled her heavy head.

Odo, who took up his usual position by the desk, looked at Kira with concern and empathy. “You look wasted...”

“It's been this week,” mumbled Kira, “repairing the station, additional reports... But I've got everything finished that I wanted to finish on this station...”

“And then you are ready for a vacation?” asked Odo.

Kira straightened her back to let it rest against the chair, likewise her arms lay against the side-supports as vented the tension out of her body. Tilting her head to the left she met Odo's gaze through tired eyes. “I am...”

Odo’s eyes were twinkling, it seemed he also was looking forward to a break as much as Kira was. “We've talked quite a bit about the vacation, but where do we stay?”

“We'll use Shakaar's holiday home,” replied Kira. “I'll ask Shakaar if he is using it, I'm certain he's not, and he will be more than happy to lease his home to us.”

“I've always liked these trips to Bajor, Dahkur province has such beautiful scenery.”

“It's where I grew up,” murmured Kira, and her head rested squarely against the headrest of the chair as she stared reminiscently at a point above her husband. “The memories I have of Dahkur province -- when I was younger -- still move me, despite the occupation.”

“When do you want to depart?” asked Odo.

“The day after tomorrow, it will give me time to arrange a call to Shakaar, a call to the ministry of defence, and to tell Ezri about our plans.”


***


Day 2, 1000 hours

The door chimed in the commander's office which Ezri took as an opportunity to disregard her work, she pressed a command on her console to open the double doors. “Enter,” she said and looked over towards her visitors.

Both Kira and Odo entered at the same time, while Odo looked calm in contrast Kira seemed a little tense.

“Colonel, constable, to what do I owe this surprise?” asked Ezri warmly.

Kira was the first to explain herself. “Remember captain our private discussion about my vacation plans?”

“I do...”

Odo looked at Kira before continuing on with her explanation. “Well both Nerys and I have decided that we're starting our two week vacation tomorrow. The Bajoran ministry of defence has given us shore-leave permission...”

“But we also want your permission to take a leave of absence from our posts,” added Kira.

“How thoughtful...” said Ezri. “I've already made contingency plans for your absence, so enjoy yourselves.”

“Captain?” Kira asked, appearing both confused and surprised.

Amusement made the corner's of Ezri's mouth curl upwards. “I give you permission for your vacation!”

“Oh right...” said Kira blandly. “Well thank you captain.”

“Same here,” said Odo appreciatively.

Ezri gave the two a small smile and her eyes twinkled in genuine affection. “You two have earned this for all the hard work you have given running this station.”

“I still feeling a bit guilty about taking this break...” muttered Kira.

Odo looked at his wife with exasperation. “Nerys please don't change your mind!”

Just as Kira was about to respond, Ezri chipped in. “Listen Kira, I could order doctor Bashir to give you a leave of absence on medical grounds.”

Seeing Ezri’s resolute face, Kira looked down at the floor briefly. “Alright!” she burst out. “You all want me off the station!”

“Something like that,” said Ezri, grinning a little.

With a small nod to dismiss Kira and Odo, Ezri watched the couple leave her office, while her grin faded. When the doors closed, Ezri picked up the padd and resumed reading it.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 12 2012, 07:32 PM   #238
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 1, part 2

Mia returned to the cargo bay and when she crashed out on the mattress, she noticed Deru staring at her in a dour way.

“You're back late...” he said in a voice that matched his dourness.

“I've got a lot of work in the astronomy lab,” explained Mia, “plus I was taking some engineering lessons.”

“I wish I could do what you're doing,” said Deru rather longingly

“You will eventually...” said Mia, giving her brother an encouraging look. “Oh yes, I met mum at lunch, she told me we're having a vacation starting from tomorrow down on Bajor! Two weeks! Can you believe it?”

“Yay...” said Deru with zero conviction.

Mia ignored this because she was still abuzz by the prospect of the forthcoming break. “I thought we were going to have a vacation, I mean after our parents were released by the Breen, I just thought-”

Deru who had resumed reading his padd then tossed it to the floor in disgust. “Do you ever shut up?”

“Sorry?”

“When you talk it's always me, me, me!” said Deru bitterly. “It's like you like the sound of your voice!”

“Deru, spit it out, you're riled up by something.”

“I'm not telling you anything,” said Deru silkily.

“I'm not telling you anything,” mocked Mia in a passable imitation of her brother's voice.

She dropped the act for she really worried about her brother. “Honestly, what is up with you?”

“It's being couped up in this cargo bay!” hissed Deru. “I have to stay in it a lot longer than you do!”

“Which is why you should be looking forward to this two-week break!” explained Mia sounding disbelieving. “No more cargo bay, going to Bajor... It will be fun!”

“Bajor...” intoned Deru, and he considered this for a while.

“Why can't we go somewhere interesting?” he asked, looking sulky once more. “Like Earth, Rigel five or even Risa?”

Mia let out a snort of laughter. “The day our mother lets us go to Risa is the day she stops believing in the Prophets!”

“So what's wrong with Risa?” said Deru a little heatedly. “It's a really nice planet!”

Now Mia grinned deviously at Deru for she knew exactly why Deru fancied Risa. “Oh come on Deru, you mean to say really nice, cute-looking women.”

“So?” said Deru sounding defiant though an embarrassed flush came to his cheeks. “They are cute...”

“Wait until I tell our parents you've got a crush on the Risian women!”

“You wouldn't...” breathed Deru, looking mortified by the prospect.

Laughing out loud, Mia grinned cheekily at Deru. “Just kidding!”


***


It was late in the evening and some hours after Megan had tea. The shift she formerly worked had been unusually hard and challenging, resting in her quarters helped her let off a lot of steam. She was out of her uniform and instead wearing some casual clothes; red trousers, a white tank-top and a pinkish violet turtleneck jumper. For the last hour she had been cycling through the Federation datebase searching for relaxing and ambient music.

By some good fortune she had found the music of a late 20th century artist called Brian Eno. She was listening to this one piece of music called ‘An Ending’, over and over again as it managed to really calm her down. Maybe it was the simple atmospheric nature of the music or it how seemed to be more like a background sound, at the very least it felt very soothing for her nerves and fatigued body…

When the door chimed, Megan was brought back to her senses with a bump. She told the computer to end the music and slowly walked over to the front door. She pressed a command on a panel to the right side of the doorway causing the door to part open, revealing…

“Max?”

Max who was still in his uniform, stared at Megan hopefully. “Can I come in?”

Such politeness won Megan over, she stepped back a bit to let Max inside. “Yes yes...” she muttered distractedly.

“Can I get you anything?” she asked to Max when he was inside. “Tea or water?”

“Nothing for me please.”

Megan moved back to the chair she had vacated, though from the corner of her eye she noticed Max standing still rather awkwardly. “Sit down!” she told him.

Picking up the metal-framed chair, Megan walked back to Max and she placed the chair so she faced Max to his right. “Is there a reason for this visit?”

Flicking his eyes to Megan and then back to the carpet, Max leaned over forwards, resting his forearms on his thighs, with his head bowed down slightly. “I just want to... want to talk to you...”

Megan remained silent and she waited for Max to continue. As she waited she folded one leg over the other to make herself more comfortable.

“I feel like such an idiot,” moaned Max, sounding angry with himself, “arguing with Holo in the Replimat.”

“What happened?”

In a restless motion, Max sat up straight and leaned back into his chair. “I don't know what we were initially talking about, but somehow the topic strayed to Tanya. I lost my cool, and in the process hurt my best friend.”

“You didn't hit Holo?” said Megan suddenly, sounding alarmed.

“No nothing like that,” responded Max, shaking his head vehemently. “But I was very rude to him.”

“All because of an angry outburst?”

“Yeah,” said Max sheepishly. “Looking back it's so embarrassing.”

“Are you going to apologise to Holo?”

“I'll do so tomorrow,” replied Max.

He shifted back in his chair leaning further backwards in an attempt to relax. Something internal to Max was really agitating him. “I can't stop thinking about Tanya! I can't seem to get over the loss!”

Megan just stared somberly at Max and his outburst. “It's been nearly two weeks since her death, you can't expect the pain to vanish over night.”

“I wish it would,” said Max softly, with those very words his right hand clutched against his chest. “In my heart I have this horrible aching sensation, this numbness... Have you ever had that sensation?”

“Too many times,” murmured Megan, “but it does go away eventually...”

For the first time since arriving in Megan’s quarters, Max seemed marginally more upbeat. “Thanks for saying that, I needed to hear that.”

Megan briefly smiled, before looking at Max with intent. “You will feel a bit better when you apologise to Holo, and try -- if you can -- not to jump down our throats. Holo and I are here to help you.”

“I know...” said Max guiltily.

“Well thanks for that,” he added when he got to his feet. “I don't know why but I feel better after I talk to you.”

“I'll see you tomorrow,” said Megan and she watched Max leave her quarters.

When Max had left, the whole conversation brought back to her memories of Jack; she knew what it meant to lose someone. Megan did not know what was worse: to lose the one you had loved through death, or through insurmountable differences or betrayal…


***


Day 3, 1400 hours

The quarters on the transport ship were small for a family of four, but Mia did not mind. She really looked forward to arriving on Bajor and leaving DS9 behind. It almost felt to Mia that her personal demons solely existed on that station…

She had spent a good portion of her time reading, occasionally she looked up from her padd to see how the various chess matches between Kira and Deru were coming on. As expected Deru beat Kira every time, but it was fun for Mia to see her mother try her best at what was really a hopeless battle…

“You look cheerful,” said Kira, coming over to Mia after finishing another chess game.

Mia once more lowered her padd and smiled at her mother. “I'm just glad we're going to Bajor...”

“And glad you left the station?” said Kira a little shrewdly.

“I am I suppose...” considered Mia.

She then changed the topic to make sure her mother did not pry into a matter Mia constantly thought about. “Which house are we staying in?”

“It's a bungalow a kilometre away from Felliq village in Dahkur province. The fields surrounding it aren't cultivated, but it just adds to the scenic beauty.”

Kira pulled out a thin padd from her trouser pocket and entered a few commands upon it. “Here's a picture of where we are going to.”

Taking the padd Kira was offering to her, Mia studied the picture of the home on the screen. Perhaps the screen was to small to give the house some justice, however the house appeared rather small when set against the trees that lined the dirt track which petered off by the residence

“Looks nice,” Mia finally said, “a bit pokey...”

Kira’s eyes twinkled at Mia’s observation. “You've been living in DS9's quarters for too long, the bungalow is just a bit bigger than our own quarters.”

Returning the padd to Kira, Mia decided to give her mother the benefit of the doubt...
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 28 2012, 10:32 AM   #239
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 1

The journey to Bajor was an uneventful one for Kira, only when the transport ship docked in Dahkur provincial city, Van’tana, at the spaceport did the journey become interesting for Kira.

The spaceport was a bustling transport hub of Van’tana, and one of the many new buildings that had sprung up in the city centre since the end of the occupation. Kira felt glad to leave the crowded spaceport as she and her family were standing outside on one of the major roads, next to a bus booth. They had to wait for some time as Kira waited for the bus that went past the village of Filleq on its route.

Kira knew Dahkur province like the back of her hand, and it was to her relief that a bus destined for Filleq arrived. The bus was moderately crowded, and Kira, her husband and children sat at the back. There were a few stares from the Bajoran commuters primary directed at Odo, which failed to surprise Kira for her husband always stood out because of his face…

Taking a seat to the right of the bus, Kira stared out of the window to the reasonably busy four-lane avenue they travelled upon. Cars and other buses past by, and such vehicles were far more common place after the occupation. These were automobiles of the Terran sort, and they ran on electric engines.

Many Bajorans though did not have cars, mainly because they were a urban luxury for those who travelled a lot in and around provinces. The bus started moving again after a traffic jam eased up, Kira spent the next half an hour staring out of the window or occasionally talking to her children.

When the bus was outside of the city centre, Kira found the sight much more pleasant. With the smaller buildings and green spaces, it just felt more… Bajoran. She did not have anything against cities but she was born and raised in the countryside, well sort of she had to remind herself. The refuge camp she grew up in was located out in the countryside. But even that knowledge did not dampen her spirits when the bus finally left Van'tana.

It went past fields, villages, woodland and a few rivers. This was the Dahkur province Kira remembered, the countryside had barely changed from all those years ago when Kira lived there. One thing that had changed were the roads. They had been renovated, instead of dirt tracks the roads were paved with hitant; a substance that closely resembled tarmac. There were also cat eyes on the sides and centre of the roads. This was a necessary safety feature as more and more people began to use cars, and other automobiles, and drove out in the night.

Kira was brought out of her thoughts when the bus came to a stop outside of a bungalow to the left of the road. This was not a designated bus stop, however Kira quickly realised that Odo must have tipped the driver with litas to stop here. As Kira walked along the bus, at the back of her family, she noticed there were only a couple of passengers remaining.

Once she was outside of the bus, the doors to it closed and the bus then drove off. Kira and her family were staring at the bungalow some distance in front of them. They moved forwards with Kira in the lead, she opened up a mid-height wooden gate which lead to small dirt track lined by trees on both sides which winded its way slightly to the bungalow. As they walked, Kira noticed the overgrown fields surrounding the bungalow.

She doubted anybody in this district knew this, but this was Shakaar’s holiday home, and for a man who was once a farmer, Kira took great amusement by the fact that the fields were so wild and overrun with weeds.

The row of trees ended bringing the bungalow more clearly into sight. It was rectangular in shape, with a two-sided sloped roof, and thin red coloured wooden panels lined the walls. The front door resided at the centre with two windows on either end.

Coming to a stop outside the door, Kira tapped in some commands on the panel to the right of the door. This was a locking mechanism, which could only be overridden with Shakaar’s personal code to open it. With a little click, Kira heard the door’s locking mechanism open, so she pulled down on the handle and opened the door.

She found herself inside an entrance hall, with a wall to her right, and a wall of half height to her left running partially into the living room. Upon seeing that the floor was carpeted she took off her boots and told her children to do so.

Staring around the living room, she noticed the comfy looking chairs, sofas, and the fireplace. This place felt like home already…


***


Day 4, 1100 hours

Kira rested against the sofa putting her feet up on a small glass stand as she read from a padd. She had not felt this relaxed in a long time, there wasn’t anything to worry about plus an absence of anything to think about.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Mia and Deru carrying a rucksack each which piqued her curiosity. “Where are you two scampering off to?”

Mia came to a stop. “We're going out walking... We just want to explore this area.”

Standing up, Kira briefly glanced at Mia before lowering her padd and walking over to a bookshelf. “Fine explore away,” she said, removing a combadge and a padd from one of the shelves as she did so. “But take by combadge and this padd.”

Once Mia pocketed both items in her rucksack, Kira looked with admiration at both Mia and Deru, to see these two become so independent made her feel so proud. “The padd has a map of this area, and if you run into any difficulties or somehow get lost, contact me and Odo.”

Odo arrived, he first looked at Kira and then to his children. “Where are they going?” he asked of Kira.

Kira turned a bit on the spot to address her husband. “Going out walking by themselves.”

“Shouldn't we accompany-”

“Odo, Mia is sixteen, a mature adult by Bajor tradition. She is old enough to be responsible for not only herself but for Deru as well. I've given Mia a map and a combadge, but I'll doubt they will run into any trouble.”

Mia nodded to all of this. “Don't worry father I know how to read a map!”

Taking one quick apprising look at Mia, Odo then relented. “Okay, okay, but it's just last time we were on Bajor we did family walks together.”

“And we will have some family walks out...” pointed out Kira.

She then addressed Mia. “What time are you coming back?”

“1400 hours,” answered Mia, “I've made lunch for both myself and Deru.”

“Well see you then, and have a good walk...”

Kira remained stationary as she watched her children walk out of the front door, when it closed she slowly turned to face Odo, smiling at him.

“It's amazing...” murmured Odo.

The smile on Kira’s face faded. “What is?”

“Remember when we took Mia to Bajor when she was little?” asked Odo, his eyes glazing over a little as he recalled the memory. “Now here she is walking with her brother without us... It’s just different if you know what I mean.”

Kira knew exactly what Odo meant. “Mia's turned out alright,” she said quietly, “even if she worried us for so many years...”

Something came to Kira’s mind, upon remembering this she stared a little expectantly at Odo. “And talking about remembering things, I seem to recall you making a promise in that Breen residence about the vacation, something about just you and me alone in the house.”

Odo’s mouth made a silent ‘o’, but there was an interest in his eyes of a romantic sort. “I had nearly forgotten about that.”

Disregarding what Odo said, Kira moved closer to Odo while she savoured the pretence. “Well I think it is time I reminded you of our promise.”

The two kissed and Kira remembered it had been a while since she had last kissed Odo. Wrapping her arms around Odo’s back, she pulled her husband closer…


***


Walking along the dirt track, Mia took the lead slightly ahead of Deru as they explored Fenrone forest. Well Mia was more like taking the initiative as her eyes could not get enough of the tall trees, the rather green forest canopy whilst the undergrowth was rather sparse with a mixture of stubby green grass and various ferns. Looking above, Mia loved how the light made the thin leaves glow.

A rather strong wooden and grassy smell entered Mia’s nostrils, she inhaled more deeply, enamoured by the experience. “Smell that...”

Deru sniffed for a bit, but seemed nonplussed. “A very woody smell.”

Mia clucked her tongue in impatience, Deru was missing the point of this walk. “You just don't get that back on DS9...”

Her brother's silence did not dampen Mia’s enthusiasm. “Isn't great we're out here?”

“Why are you so enthusiastic?” said Deru a little sourly. “I mean last time we came here, you only showed a fraction of the interest you are showing now.”

“I just appreciate nature more,” said Mia, while she looked around at her surroundings. “I think it's something you acquire as you mature.”

“It's just trees, leaves and dirt...” responded Deru disparagingly.

“There's more to it, there's-”

Mia stopped talking when she heard rustling coming from the leaves of some thick bushes to her left. “Did you hear that?” she whispered.

“I did,” said Deru looking mildly curious. “Could be some sort of animal.”

“Or a person...” said Mia, noticing the pair of feet behind the bushes.

Sure enough a teenage Bajoran popped out from where the bushes were ending, he seemed to be walking on a far smaller track. When he came to the wider track he looked around to see Mia and Deru.

Mia thought he looked rather handsome with his short black crew cut hair, blue eyes, broad face and thin nose.

“Hi there...” he called out in a friendly way.

“Yeah hi,” said Mia, smiling back a little.

“Hi,” said Deru, with a small nod.

The boy moved forwards and Mia reckoned he was at least sixteen years of age. “I haven't seen you two before...” he said, glancing at them quizzically. “You look new to this area.”

Mia was the first to explain herself. “Oh my family are on vacation in this province for two weeks, we live on Deep Space Nine.”

“Really?” said the boy, his eyes widening in interest. “Next to the Celestial Temple?”

“Yes.”

“May the Prophets help you,” he said rather somberly. “I heard the Romulan attack was particularly brutal on that station and 241 people were killed.”

“It was terrible...” Mia agreed, it made her stomach churn just talking about it. “What is your name?”

“I'm Yanu Estel,” said the boy, “and you are?”

“Kira Mia,” said Mia, and with a hand she gestured to Deru. “And this is my brother Kira Deru.”

Estel seemed to regard Mia and Deru, though in particular Mia, with more interest. “You wouldn't be the children of Kira Nerys by any chance?”

“We are,” said Mia and she wondered where this conversation would go.

“Then you must know we're part Bajoran part shapeshifter?” said Deru, giving Estel a look of scant trust.

“So?” shrugged Estel.

“Some Bajorans seem to have a problem with that, especially when Mia was younger.”

“I couldn't care what race you are,” said Estel, matching Deru’s rough tones, “just as long as you are friendly, and preferably not Cardassian.”

Mia grinned at this. “Don't worry we don't have a drop of Cardassian blood in us.”

“Well that's good to know,” replied Estel, sounding warm again. “Where are you two heading?”

“To Nensteg hill,” answered Mia, and she showed to Estel the padd. “I've got a map, and I'm certain there are only five kilometres to go.”

Estel came over to Mia, standing by her side he stared at the padd taking in the map. “I assume you're following this path to Nensteg?”

“I am,” said Mia.

“The path winds around the hills too much,” replied Estel, giving the map another glance. “I know a quicker way to Nensteg from here...”

He looked at Mia as if he were giving her the offer of a lifetime. “If you are interested?”

“What do you think Deru?” said Mia, as she gauged her brother’s reaction.

Deru just shrugged. “I wouldn't mind cutting some minutes off this walk.”

Estel grinned, and held his hand out to Mia and Deru. “Follow me.”

Some moments later and they were already off the main track following a route of Estel’s taking. Mia sure hoped that Estel knew where he was going, but somehow she just instinctively trusted him.

Though the slope had become steeper, Mia jogged a few paces so that she was by Estel’s side, while Deru followed from behind.

“Are you local to this area?” Mia asked Estel.

“Born and raised in the Cinstati district of Dahkur province,” answered Estel with a hint of pride in his voice. “A few times I left the district, one such time I went to the Bajoran capital, but that was for a private matter.”

He glanced at Mia, and gave her an attentive look. “Where were you born Mia?”

“Oh, on Deep Space Nine. I've lived most of my life on that station.”

“Don't you wish you were living on Bajor?”

This question, though obvious, still made Mia think about it. She had never really considered living on Bajor. “Deep Space Nine is very interesting, it's what I grew up with so I guess I don't know any different.”

“I see both you and your brother wear the earrings,” said Estel, pointing to the earring on his right ear. “You believe in the Prophets?”

“I always have,” said Deru, trying to get in on the conversation. “Though my sister didn't for a long time.”

A mild look of surprise came across Estel’s face. “How come?”

“I didn't have the faith...” said Mia simply.

“It's not a crime to not believe in the Prophets,” said Estel calmly. “My mother always tells me that is for the Prophets to judge the faithless, not ourselves.”

“That's funny,” said Mia, suppressing a snort of laughter. “My mother says the same thing.”

She then put on her best imitation of Kira’s voice. “Never question other people's faith or lack of Mia, without questioning your own faith first and foremost.

Estel laughed out loud, and his eyes twinkled. “Your mother sounds like a wise woman.”

“She is in a way...” Mia said cocking her head a little to the side as she considered Estel’s statement.

The two continued talking with Deru all but forgotten as he walked from behind…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old August 28 2012, 10:32 AM   #240
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 2

After many minutes of passion, Kira and Odo laid down on the bed silently contemplating what had happened. They rested their naked, with a bed sheet covering most of their bodies.

Kira then leaned to her left side, and stared at Odo, with a hand resting on his chest. “That was good,” she purred.

Odo tucked his chin in a little, in the form of a nod. “Even better after a period of time.”

Stroking her hand softly against Odo’s chest, Kira just stared at Odo in a loving way, everything felt so tranquil… “I can so clearly recall sitting in that pool with you... I really thought we weren't going to make it.”

Tilting his head to the right, Odo’s eyes locked with Kira’s. “We were lucky, you could have been killed when the Breen stormed the Imperial Palace.”

Kira stopped stroking Odo’s chest, just thinking about the Breen gave her the shivers despite it being such a warm day. “Or we could have been rescued but been at war with the Breen and Romulans, trying to retake DS9.”

“The whole family could have been killed...” said Odo very softly, sounding as if there was a lump in his throat.

He then shot Kira an inquisitive glance. “Do you think a war is likely?”

“I don't know,” responded Kira, she settled back on the bed while her left hand found Odo’s right one and she grasped onto it. “Tensions seemed to have eased, and the Breen and Romulans are skulking away in their territories. But it seems one incident could trigger a war, perhaps tomorrow, next week, month or year.”

“You are worried for Bajor,” said Odo plainly.

“Yes I am,” Kira replied as she contemplated the ceiling, imagining the space above her head. “The Breen could send their fleets through the Badlands and annex Bajor without much trouble. Once again Bajor would be occupied... A Breen occupation could be far more worse than the Cardassian occupation, the Breen are so incredibly xenophobic.”

“And they will have no problem killing millions of Bajorans...” said Odo grimly.

Kira didn’t want to confirm Odo’s statement, because it was such an horrible thought. “The Prophets have a plan for Bajor,” she replied with conviction, “and I refuse to believe that the darks day of being occupied by an alien race will return to Bajor.”

“That's if the Prophets will stop Bajor being occupied again.”

Such a remark Kira did not take kindly to, she wrenched her hand from Odo’s grasp, and rolled to her right side taking much of the bed sheet with her, which uncovered Odo nakedness.

“I'm sorry,” said Odo humbly, staring at Kira’s back with wide beseeching eyes. “I didn't mean to offend your beliefs.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” growled Kira, her back still turned to Odo. “Whatever happens the Prophets will guide us and continue to give the Bajorans hope for the future, no matter how bleak things get.”

There was silence, broken when Odo changed the topic. “Talking about the future, have you given any more thought about when you retire?”

Feeling that Odo had returned to her good graces, Kira rolled back to her original position silently permitting Odo to hold her left hand again.

“It's still years from now,” she said, “however I have been thinking about it quite a bit more recently. When I do retire I want to return to Bajor and to Dahkur province. We've saved up a lot of money, plus with both of our pensions we could afford to not only buy a property -- much like this one -- but comfortably live off the proceeds.”

“You taking it easy?” said Odo, the amusement building in his voice. “I couldn't imagine that!”

Kira turned to her left side again, gazing at Odo with incredulity. “What makes you think I'm going to laze around? No, I want to farm, to be one with the land and engage in some hobbies.”

“Like becoming an artist?” suggested Odo.

“Yeah, that will be a big laugh!” snorted Kira. “Kira Nerys of the Ih'valla D'jarra tries to master art!”

Odo then smiled at Kira’s comment. “We have a good future ahead of us.”

“We should do,” said Kira cautiously, “but if there is war, nothing will be certain.”

Feeling a bit restless, Kira sat up pulling the bed sheet off her body. Moving her legs off the bed, she got to her feet and began searching for her clothes which were strewn over the base of the bed and the floor.

“Where are you going?” asked Odo, looking at Kira a little longingly.

“Getting myself out for a walk,” said Kira, while she crouched down to pick up her bra. “There's nothing like breathing in fresh air.”

Now Odo vacated the bed, unlike Kira he shapeshifted himself some clothes. “I'll come with you.”

Kira, who was halfway through getting into her red long-sleeve shirt, nodded though Odo probably didn’t see it because her facial features were hidden by the shirt. “That will be nice,” she added.


***


Talking nonstop with Estel made Mia lose track of the time. Finally when she did check her chronometer, her eyes widened when it told her it was 1330 hours. “Oh Prophets! I'm going to be late!”

Estel quickly checked his chronometer. “Same here, I should have been back home one hour ago!”

He came to a stop, looking amazed by how the time had flown by so quickly. “Wow... It was great talking to you... Where are you staying?”

“Next to the main road that leads to Zamthden town,” answered Mia. “I'm not sure what the house is called, but it's a bungalow, surrounded by disused fields.”

Taking out a padd from her rucksack, she showed it to Estel. “I'll show you on the map.”

Estel came to her side, and looked at the map closely “This house is about here on the map,” said Mia, pointing to the location.

“Oh yeah now I remember...” said Estel. “I've been past that house, nearly always deserted for some strange reason.”

“Where do you live?” asked Mia, as she put away her padd.

“In Felliq village, about half an hour's walk from your home I reckon.”

For a moment Estel paused, he seemed to be thinking about something with some concentration. “Tell you what, would it be alright with your parents, if I came over to the house so I could pick you up and show to you my house, and meet my parents?”

“That would be great!” said Mia happily. “My parents should agree to that.”

“Good!” responded Estel, looking relieved. “I'll come round tomorrow at 0930 hours?”

“Sure,” replied Mia.

She stood on the dirt track, feeling a bit awkward and she didn’t know why. “Well see you Estel, I can't believe how fast time went talking to you!”

“See you tomorrow,” said Estel, grinning from ear to ear.

Estel continued along the track in the same direction, while Mia remained rooted to the spot.

“He seemed very interested in you...” said Deru eventually when Estel was out of earshot.

“He's just friendly...” Mia fondly said, she still felt ridiculously happy from her conversations with Estel.

“Yeah right...” Deru sneered looking at his sister like she was an idiot.

“What's that supposed to mean?” demanded Mia, getting defensive.

“Nothing,” said Deru innocently.

“Okay Deru I'm sorry I talked too long but-”

Anger flared on Deru’s face, when he interrupted Mia. “I don't have any problems with you talking to your boyfriend, but next time don't waste my time!”

With a huff, Deru walked along the path at a brisk pace, leaving Mia motionless as she absorbed Deru’s insult.

“Boyfriend?” she said.

She jogged over to Deru, to catch up with him, eager to clear up Deru’s gross misperception. “He's not my boyfriend,” she told Deru when she was at his side.

“He couldn't get enough of you, I saw it in his eyes!”

“And what do you know about dating and courting girls?” inquired Mia.

“Erm... not much,” mumbled Deru, and he now had his tail between his legs.

An embarrassed silence followed as the two walked back home. Mia could not understand why Deru did not like Estel. Perhaps he was annoyed that he had been left out of the conversation, and Mia felt a twinge of guilt about that. But that was not the only reason for Deru’s anger, and Mia spent the remainder of her walk evaluating the nature of the relationship she had with her brother.

She loved Deru in a sisterly way, at times she felt protective of him, and Mia was certain that Deru used to feel the same about her. However something had changed in that bond, Deru was really angry at her, and Mia couldn’t for the life of her work out why…
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