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Old November 12 2011, 10:07 PM   #76
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2, part 3

Day 2, 0900 hours

As they walked towards the wardroom, Bashir and Nog were arguing about a missing figure from their scale model of the battle of Thermopylae. The part of the battle they had built was the part where king Leonidas the 1st had made his heroic stand with his outnumbered units against ten’s of thousands of Persians.

Both Bashir and Nog had repeatedly played the holosuite program of the battle of Thermopylae, and it was one of those battles that the two had started to become obsessed with. It had become so serious that the two decided to build the model.

Bashir though was mightily upset by Nog’s faux pas of losing the figure of king Leonidas. “How could you lose the figure of king Leonidas the first?”

“It's not my fault there are over 10000 figures, besides the model got so big we had to move it to a deserted cargo bay. Perhaps someone took one of the figures?”

Bashir though was still fuming about the missing king. “That's your excuse, without Leonidas the battle of Thermopylae just isn't the same!”

Nog shook his head in disbelieve. “Huh, you only say that because you take Leonidas's role! Why can't I play Leonidas for a change?”

Suddenly Bashir came more defensive, it seemed Nog had come close to destroying one of Bashir’s fantasies. “Because I look the part,” said Bashir in a smug and egotistic manner. “Leonidas was the dashing, tall and brave figure portrayed in history...”

Rolled his eyes in exasperation, Nog looked tired of Bashir’s ego. “This whole model is excessive and indulgent, why did we even bother to build it?”

“Because you are endlessly trying to find a way to win the battle, or maximise the number of casualties the Persians take!”

Nog shot back with a cutting remark. “And why are you so obsessed with a battle that can't be won, it's feels better to win!”

Bashir had become so frustrated that he gesticulated forcibly with his hands. “That's not the point, it's about fighting to the very last man, and fighting for your country!”

Unnoticed, Odo had been quietly walking behind the two. It was apparent that he had overheard the conversation because when he slipped between the two he gave a grunt of laughter.

However Odo’s amusement had made Nog become even more irritable. “Do you find something funny constable?”

Odo slowed down and walked along with the two. “Well I do find it amusing that two grown men like to play with toys, but there's nothing wrong with that.”

“This is a model, not a toy,” reminded Bashir. “Myself and Nog only build them to maximise the experience in the holosuite.”

The look on Odo’s face was full of amused curiosity. “If it really were a model then why are you complaining to Nog about your missing figure? You remind me of Mia and Deru when they were younger, sometimes they whined to each other about missing toys.”

This seemed to be the last straw for Nog, he gritted his teeth in an infuriated manner. “It is not a toy, this is something far more serious.”

There was silence between the three as they walked, and when they entered the wardroom the three split. Bashir and Nog sat together on one end, while Odo sat next to Kira.

With the arrival of Bashir, Nog and Odo, the entire senior staff was in, they waited for Ezri to address them.

After a small moment of silence Ezri started talking. “Admiral Ross has given us a relatively simple assignment. The Defiant will be travelling to Furillia, an inhabited M-class planet deep in the Badlands, we will be arriving at an orbital extraction facility at Furillia. This facility is managed by a Federation company called RH Mining. Suffice to say RH Mining is one of the most important Federation companies around as it produces twenty percent of the duranium, tritanium and dilithium which the Federation extracts.

“On Furillia there have been a few security issues around their strip mines, including some acts of sabotage. The Defiant will be carrying five hundred class five sensors to the orbital extraction facility. When this is completed, the next part of the assignment is a two day patrol of the Furillian star system. Starfleet believes that we may find Cardassian and even Ferengi ships lurking around. However we are merely observing as this is a recon mission.

“There is a remote possibility that the Defiant could be ambushed by a Cardassian vessel, in any case I want you colonel to join the mission, just in case we are ambushed or attacked. We will be leaving at 0800 tomorrow. Any questions?”

There was another silence, Megan though then spoke up. “The last time we went on the Defiant the mission dragged on for almost a month and we had a few brushes with oblivion. Are you sure the same won't happen to us with this mission?”

Some of the staff members laughed out loud, while others exchanged smirks, for the last mission on the Defiant had been very eventful if not down right dangerous.

Ezri smiled confidently at Megan, and there was some bravado in Ezri’s composure. “Don't worry that's not going happen this time around.”

“When we finish the patrol are we going to pay a brief visit to Furillia?” Max asked Ezri, he looked very eager to travel to Furillia.

“Unfortunately no,” said Ezri. “Admiral Ross's orders are quite clear that after the patrol the Defiant immediately returns to DS9. Of course if you are interested in Furillia, you can check it up on the Starfleet database...”

Max looked somewhat disappointed, and he wasn’t the only one, Bashir and Nog seemed to be almost sulking, they both had frowns on their mouths. Another silence enveloped the room.

“Dismissed,” said Ezri, she stood up and left the room in a rather brisk manner.

No one was surprised by Ezri's haste to leave the room, they all knew that Bashir and Ezri tried to avoid each other whenever possible. One by one the remaining staff members filed out and left the room.


***


Day 2, 0755 hours

Max walked with Holo to the Defiant’s bridge, there wasn’t anything really exciting about this mission, other than the fact they would be entering the Badlands. Max really liked the orange and red colours of the plasma storms that continually battered the Badlands. When Max had entered the bridge and sat down at his station, something that was bothering him slightly came to mind.

When Holo came over to check some of the diagnostics on Max’s console, Max find the opportunity to talk to Holo. “Why didn't you tell me after the staff meeting about Furillia, I thought you had heard of Furillia?”

Holo was bent over Max’s console and was busy with the diagnostics and he didn’t turn to look at Max. “No I haven't actually.”

This really surprised Max, though of course being friends with a hologram would generate a few surprises. “But I thought your program contains the entire Federation database on science, races, alien worlds and so forth?”

Holo looked away from the console and stood up to face Max. “It does, and it's all in a file, I do have a photographic memory but my memory is divided into three classes: short term, permanent and compressed. I only use the compressed memory when absolutely necessary. So contrary to popular opinion I don't know everything that there is to know...”

Once more Holo continued with the checking of the diagnostics. “Anyway it seems your console is functioning properly.”

Just as Holo was returning to his station, Ezri arrived onto the bridge. Under Ezri’s command whenever she entered the bridge there were no shouts of ‘captain on the bridge’, and Max rather liked that.

Ezri sat down on the captain’s chair, and stared at Max’s back. “Take her out Mr Weatherby.”

As Max guided the Defiant, he finished off his conversation with Holo. “Well I'll be damned, but it is a nice touch, it brings you to the realm of us mere mortals...”

Holo declined to comment but he did give Max a brief smile. When the Defiant was clear of DS9, Max set the course and brought the ship into warp. He really liked working on this ship, and with knowing the senior staff reasonably well, it made his job more pleasurable…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 13 2011, 09:30 PM   #77
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 1

Day 3, 1000 hours

For the most part Ezri had been in her ready room as the Defiant travelled to the Furillian star system. She used all this spare time to catch up on some reports. As a captain she was smart enough to know when she was actually needed on the bridge, not only was this good for crew morale but it was also good for her work schedule.

Inside her quarters, she checked her chronometer and realised it was about five minutes before the Defiant arrived at the Furillian star system. She disregarded her padd containing a report and proceeded to the bridge. On the bridge, she sat down in her chair, and patiently counting off the minutes until the Defiant arrived.

“We're coming to the outer edge of the Furillian star system,” reported Max. “Dropping to full impulse.”

There was a brief look of surprise on Max’s face, as he first read the sensor readings and then looked at the image on the view screen. “God that's the smallest star system I've ever seen... One star, two planets and only an asteroid field?”

This was no surprise to Ezri, but she waited for Megan to calmly explain to everyone why this was. Even without prior knowledge, Megan had a knack for explaining all sorts of undiscovered phenomenon.

Megan was busy studying the sensor readings displayed on her console. “I'm not surprised by that, it seems this star is emitting some kind of powerful EM field, it's literally shielding this system from all the plasma storms. The outer most extent of the asteroid field traces the boundary of the ellipsoid shaped EM field.”

That was about right to Ezri, though from her brief study of the three reports on Furillia, she seemed to skimmed over the fact about the shape of the EM field. Despite being a captain, traces of scientific curiosity still lingered inside Ezri, and she leaned forwards in her chair studying the image on the view screen. “Is there a part running along the pole's axis that is devoid of the EM field?”

The question was vaguely directed, but Megan was astute enough to know who it was directed to. “There is captain, I'd imagine any plasma storms that do hit this star system would funnel there way down to the star. It would produce an aura borealis similar to that on Earth, but on a far greater scale.”

Excitement shone from Ezri’s eyes. “Incredible an aura borealis inside a star system!”

Over nine lifetimes she had seen many incredible things, this was one of them. It reminded her of Starfleet’s principle objective of exploring new worlds and life. Of course after the Dominion war, scientific exploration had been scaled back somewhat. Though Ezri was sure that feeling of excitement about discovering new things still resided in every Starfleet officer, even for the Vulcans…

Max reported from his console. “We're about ten minutes away from the orbital extraction facility at full impulse captain.”

The feeling of scientific excitement faded from Ezri. “Maintain course, and while your at it Ms Felpes be on the look out for any Cardassian or Ferengi ships, we might get lucky and bump into them by accident...”

After ten minutes nothing eventful happened, though Ezri wasn’t really expecting anything to happen.

“Slowing to a quarter impulse,” said Max, his fingers tenderly tapped on the consoles’s controls. “We’re about a hundred kilometres from the orbital extraction facility... Coming to a stop now, we’re two kilometres away from the facility.”

The screen showed a massive station which slowly rotated around it’s vertical axis. It looked roughly diamond in shape, with long spokes which could only be docking bays protruding out from it's centre. There were a few lights on certain vertices of the station, though the lights did nothing to enhance the dull grey colour of the station.

There were windows concentrated on the top half of the station. It seemed that was where the worker’s quarters were, while the lower half had to contain all the facilities, equipment and machinery necessary for ore processing.

“Captain we're being hailed from the orbital extraction plant!” said Max.

Ezri stood up and walked a few steps closer to the view screen. “On screen then.”

The screen showed a middle aged human man, standing inside his office. At first glance Ezri thought the man looked tired and strained.

“Captain I'm Ron Harding the chief executive of RH Mining. I'm a busy man so I'll keep this brief; you are here captain to deliver the sensors, but before you do so why not take a quick tour around this orbital extraction plant, and then get down to the matter of the sensors?”

Such forthrightness surprised Ezri, though she kept her surprise contained save for raising her eyebrows slightly. “To be equally brief Mr Harding, I agree to your terms.”

Harding gave Ezri a brief smile, though his eyes barely twinkled. “Wonderful. I'll give you the coordinates of the beam down point, which is one of the station's transporter bays. As soon as you are ready captain, beam over and I'll show around the facility.”

The transmission ended, and the image reverted to the orbital facility.

“Pleasant kind of guy,” Max commented dryly.

Ezri admired Max’s sense of humour. “Don't let first impressions fool you Mr Weatherby. Mr Holo you're with me, I'm certain your technical expertise will come in handy somewhere in this tour...”

Holo seemed just a little surprised by Ezri’s order, but he followed it without question. For some reason Ezri felt that this whole situation wasn’t quite right, for an orbital extraction facility this station was remarkably big, and there was only so much valuable ore that could be extracted from the asteroid belt.

As Ezri walked closer to the transporter room, her sense of foreboding grew, she couldn't explain why but she was convinced that Harding was hiding something from her. Mind you she was by her very nature a somewhat questioning person, after nine lifetimes of experience she presumed her suspicious nature stemmed from the fact that she had seen so many deceptions and lies before. She was almost certain that Harding was hiding something…


***


Day 3, 1010 hours

Ezri and Holo materialized on a transporter pad, the first thing Ezri noticed was Ron Harding standing in front of them.

Harding walked towards them and extended his hand to Ezri. “Captain… welcome.”
Ezri was surprised by the strength of his grip, but she returned the handshake none the less.

After letting go of Ezri’s hand, Harding moved over to Holo. “And you are...?”

“Just call me Holo.”

“That’s a funny name, you are human right?”

Something imperceptibly changed in Holo’s face, like some kind of dark shadow. “I'm a hologram.”

Harding’s outstretched hand was quickly withdrawn, he seemed to have lost complete interest in Holo, as if Holo was simply a prop. “Right,” he said distractedly.

Recognising the impoliteness shown by Harding to Holo, Ezri stepped forward and was determined to remedy this situation. “Mr Harding, Holo is as sentient as you and me, see that you address him properly.”

The sharpness and warning in her voice made Harding wince slightly, no doubt he was regretting the faux pas he had made. “Alright then,” he said somewhat shakily. “First take a pair of ear seals... if you would follow me.”

Walking out of the transporter room, the three then came out onto a raised up platform. It was raised above the floor by at least five metres, on both ends of the platform there were sturdy rails, while the platform’s floor was made of segmented/trussed metal strips. There were dozens of platform’s running across the level Ezri and Holo were standing on.

Holo took out a tricorder and started scanning, Harding heard the tricorder’s sound and turned around. “Do you really need to bring along a tricorder with you?”

Looking as casual as possible Holo simply shrugged. “It just adds to the tour you know, I only appreciate things when I understand how they work…”

Harding nodded once in an understanding manner, he seemed keen to avoid any kind of argument or confrontation with Holo. He then explained to Ezri and Holo just what exactly they were seeing. “This part of the station is the storage bay, well it’s actually a collection of storage bays. The main thing to notice is the circuit system you see on the floor.”

While Harding walked on at a slow pace, Ezri glanced to her left and saw numerous railed tracks for the hoppers, she traced out the path the hoppers followed and realised it was one elaborately shaped oval-like circuit.

Ezri noticed a few workers on the ground floor, they seemed to be inspecting the tracks, and their grey uniforms blended in remarkably well with the dull greys, browns and stone colours of this section of the station.

Coming to a stop, Harding pointed to the slowly moving hoppers. “Note all the hoppers, if you look to your left you can see four large grey-coloured overhead containers. Each container carries one type of ore, which is either duranium, dilithium, tritanium or strontium. Notice one of the hoppers directly below the duranium container, any moment now the duranium ore will come crashing into the hopper.”

Sure enough a few seconds later, the container’s hatches opened and the grey-coloured ore came crashing down onto the bottom of the hopper. The noise produced was staggering as tonnes of ore banged against metal and rock.

“Following the hoppers around the circuit and you will notice four conveyor belts midway around the track. Each conveyor belt carries only one type of ore, the whole circuit is controlled by this station’s computer, and via brakes and the magnetic propulsion units running along the tracks. When a hopper has stopped adjacent towards the correct conveyor belt, an overhead crane lifts up the hopper before tipping it to empty the contents onto the respective conveyor belt.”

Ezri watched as one such crane lowered its arm with four magnetic clamps at the ends. The magnetic clamps latched onto the sides of the hopper in a symmetrical pattern, and then in an almost effortless manner the entire hopper was lifted up. Upon reaching a height just above the conveyor belt, the wires holding two of the magnetic clamps retracted backwards. The hopper gained an angle bending towards the conveyor belt, until at the critical angle all the ore came tumbling onto the conveyor belt.

This produced another loud crash, and Ezri was indeed impressed by such an intricate setup. “A remarkably efficient transport line if I may so.”

Harding returned the comment with a hearty grin, before walking on again and taking platforms that ran parallel to the conveyor belts.

At the end of the conveyor belts Ezri saw some elaborate looking machinery and it was causing an ear-splitting din. The machinery whirred, ground, span and vibrated, producing a sound which resembled an orchestra of jackhammers.

Harding came to a stop close to the machinery and he had to shout to be heard. “All conveyor belts lead to the crushers, which are the walled platforms with the metal hand crushing the ore. After that there is the pulverising equipment, the ore travels into specially shaped pans and from beneath sonic frequencies shatter the rock further into finely ground particles no bigger than little pebbles.

“Just below these pans are powerful sonic frequency generators, thankfully all the sound energy is directed at the ore. Otherwise the very vibrations themselves would shake your organs and insides causing extensive internal bleeding. When the rock is sufficiently broken down, then at the centre of the pans, a hatch opens and the ore goes through a chute which leads to specially shaped sieves and a series of chemical pools to separate the ore from the impurities.

“Unfortunately you can’t see the chemical pools and sieves because they are in a contained structure. In there are some very dangerous chemicals, that just about sums up the storage bays, next we’ll move onto the smelting unit. While you are at it captain, you make like to put on your ear seals.”

While Harding moved at a more quicker pace, Ezri and Holo lingered behind him slightly to have a private conversation.

Holo didn’t appear to happy. “Why are we wasting time and been given a tour?” he said loudly over the roar of machinery.

“Basic diplomacy commander,” Ezri shouted back. “By going on this tour we might gain Mr Harding's trust. Perhaps then he will become more talkative...”

“Or it could be a delaying tactic on his part.”

However true this was, Ezri wasn’t dissuaded from continuing on with the tour. “We still play along, Mr Harding is hiding something and we have to find out what that is. Keep scanning with the tricorder, I want to know just how much ore really goes through all these conveyor belts and machinery. Besides along the way we’ll see a few impressive sights.”

Holo looked nonplussed, though Ezri suspected this was because Holo was wondering what he was doing here. The truth was she needed Holo to scan everything to look for anything out of place, what she was looking for she wasn’t sure. She jabbed in her ear seals when the sound became to unbearably loud.

The platform the three were walking on then turned to the left and hugged a brown metal wall. Walking next to it Ezri could feel the heat coming off it, and she wondered just how hot things were inside the smelting unit.

Harding came to a stop and opened a door, he let Ezri and Holo walk in first. It was a small enclosed room with no windows, on the other side was another door, and to the left were about a dozen heavy duty black-looking protection suits. Stepping inside Harding closed the door and walked over to where the suits were being hung up, while he pulled out the ear seals. “Before we go inside, you will need a protection suit since it is about fifty degrees centigrade in there.”

Ezri looked at Holo and she wondered just how much heat he could actually tolerate. “I’ll be needing the protection suit but I doubt Holo will be needing one.”

Holo looked suddenly smug. “That’s one of the advantages of being a hologram, you can survive in virtually any climate.”

Walking over, Ezri put on the protection suit, it took at least five minutes, as everything had to be sealed up and shut tight. Once inside the suit, Ezri was surprised by how much mobility it offered, and she did some walking back and forth testing out the flexibility of the suit.

When Harding had kitted up and sorted out his suit, he then opened the door and walked out onto a platform similar to the ones in the storage bay. Ezri followed him and she heard the clunking of her boots as she walked upon the metal platform.

The smelting unit was far more impressive to Ezri, in a row to her left were four big furnaces, with big slits in the middle. In there she could see the inferno that raged inside, there were flames coloured white, red and orange and it was a truly mighty sight. Looking upwards she noticed massive lights hung from the ceiling, they projected a sodium orange glow though they barely illumined the platform Ezri was walking on.

Most of the light came from the furnaces and it flickered in varying intensity, lighting up the black metal wall to Ezri's right. About ten metres below the platform there was pipes of all sizes running across the floor. The pipes were somewhat featureless because they were shrouded in darkness since the light from the furnaces didn’t reach that far down.

Holo walked on in front of her, and Ezri marvelled at the sight of him. There he was in his Starfleet uniform with no protection, and there wasn’t a drop of sweat on him. Harding came to a stop and gestured to Ezri and Holo to do the same. When Harding spoke, she heard his voice through a communicator in her suit.

“There is another series of chutes which leads to four individual furnaces to chemically smelt the ore and remove nearly all impurities from it. The chutes leading to the furnaces have a special two way hatch. The first hatch separates the ore from the furnace, while the second hatch blocks in the next batch of ore to be smelted.
After smelting the molten ore drops to the bottom, while the impurities go to the top, once all of the ore has been purified.

“A side hatch in the furnace then opens, and the molten ore goes through a series of cooling pipes, after some minutes the ore cools down and solidifies. It is then sent into specially shaped, and self-sealed, containers through the final series of pipes/hatches. Once inside the containers the refined ore is then sent to freighter ships, and that just about sums up the tour! We’ll head to the other side of this room, there’s a door that leads to the second protection suit storage room.”

The three walked along the platform until they reached the other room. Once inside Ezri and Harding removed their protection suits, while Holo waited for the two to finish. When Ezri and Harding were done, Harding opened the other door and this revealed a bland and nearly featureless corridor…
__________________
Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 13 2011, 09:30 PM   #78
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 2

Upon arriving at Deck one, Ezri was astounded by how luxurious and pleasant it looked. There were bushes and plants contained in pots that lined the corridors. Ezri had no doubt that on this deck the workers with the most important company jobs lived here.

The three came to Harding's office and went inside, Harding introduced his secretary. “This is Celicia my secretary.”

Celicia gave both Ezri and Holo a wide smile, and for a secretary she looked surprisingly beautiful. Ezri thought it was highly likely that Harding had a secretary for personal reasons… Looking around the room, it seemed to have numerous personal touches. Like the soft-padded chairs, or the paintings and other aesthetic features.

There was a walled off compartment and this must been Harding’s actual office. Harding showed Ezri and Holo inside this room. Inside there was a desk, behind which was a window looking out into space. While Harding sat down behind his desk in a very comfortable looking armchair, Ezri and Holo were sitting on rigid metal chairs.

Ezri decided to cut to the chase and get to the bottom of RH Mining’s request for sensors. “So Mr Harding why exactly do you need five hundred class five sensors? These sensors are normally used by Starfleet, rarely are they used by civilian institutions. Which brings up another question, why do you need such tight security?”

A brief look of annoyance flashed across Harding’s face, before he regained his composure. “The mining operations on Furillia produce the vast bulk of minerals my company extracts. They're strategically very valuable, as such they need protecting from... hostile elements.”

“Like the Furillian locals?” inquired Ezri.

“Yes,” said Harding with a nod of his head.

Still Harding had not explained to Ezri what was the cause of the local’s discontent. “But unless I'm mistaken,” she said sounding mock-puzzled, “the Furillians and their government benefit greatly from your mining operations, because you give them a significant proportion of your profits to them. Assuming the Furillian government is sharing out this wealth correctly, then the Furillians should be happy to have these mining operations on their planet…”

Unless Ezri’s eyes were deceiving her, she thought Harding look slightly uncomfortable, and in that instance Ezri realised that Harding was definitely concealing something from her. Now it was time to bait Harding and witness his reaction… “Perhaps if I were to send down an away team to one of the settlements next to the mines, to gauge local sentiment, we might discover the cause of these attacks?”

“That isn't necessary captain,” said Harding firmly. “You shouldn't trouble yourself with the Furillians, let my company deal with any of their concerns regarding the mining operations.”

Harding wanted this matter to drop, and that’s what Ezri did to make Harding lower his guard. “If you don't mind, myself and Holo will return to the Defiant, to check over the sensors and make sure they are all properly functioning. I know from personal experience that there is nothing worse than faulty equipment...”

Harding rose from his desk, in a gesture to indicate that he wanted the meeting to end. “Of course by all means.”

Likewise Ezri and Holo stood and walked a few paces away from the desk. Ezri tapped her comm badge. “Dax to the Defiant, beam myself and Holo back to the Defiant.”

As Ezri dematerialized she felt like she got one over Harding, for he had unwittingly fallen for her delaying measure. This would give her the time she needed to find out from the Furillians themselves why they were so aggrieved by RH Mining.


***


Day 3, 1300 hours

Having returned to the Defiant, Holo and Ezri walked back to the bridge. After the meeting it seemed all to apparent to Ezri that Harding was glossing over the situation concerning the Furillian attacks on the strip mines. Thankfully Ezri had managed to buy some time and she decided to use this time to do some investigating of her own…

While walking along a corridor, Holo spoke up. “Harding is definitely hiding something. He positively rebuffed your offer of sending an away team down to Furillia.”

“I know,” said Ezri with a sigh. “And unfortunately because of background radiation the Defiant's sensors are of no use when it comes to scanning the planet. I want you Holo to find out which mining operation was recently attacked, and then find the closest settlement next to that particular mining operation.”

“I'll get onto it straight away; this shouldn't take long.”

The two walked onto the bridge, while Holo walked over to his station, Ezri sat down on the commander's chair.

Kira who was at her station, turned around to face Ezri. “Was it a boring tour captain?”

Ezri jerked her head leftwards. “Far from it, I'm almost certain that Harding is concealing something massive from the Federation concerning the mining operations on Furillia. Which is why I'm sending an away team to Furillia, to find out just what RH Mining does on Furillia.”

Holo glanced up from his console. “Captain! I've determined that the mining operation that was recently attacked was the 6-c strip mine. The closest settlement to it is a village called Viyara.”

“Then that is where we'll start,” said Ezri. “Colonel has the Furillian government contacted this ship?”

“No,” said Kira looking slightly surprised. “And that is strange, they must know we're orbiting their planet.”

This was another small mystery, but Ezri cast that aside, right now she needed accurate information of the local situation regarding the strip mines. “I want you Kira to prepare a small away team and take the shuttle down to Viyara. Talk with the Furillians and find out what they dislike about these strip mines...”

Kira nodded once, and rose from her station. “Max you're with me.”

When Kira and Max left the bridge, Ezri decided to do the same and return to her ready room. “Mr Nog you have the bridge.”

“Aye captain.”

Nog left his console and sat down on the commander's chair. Briefly Ezri looked at Nog, she was studying his posture and she thought Nog fitted into the commander's chair quite well. If only Nog wasn’t so interested in maintaining DS9, for he had great potential as a commanding officer...

As she walked back to her ready room, Ezri decided to study the Starfleet reports on Furillia again. This time she was going to comb through every word of those reports, looking for any detail that she might have missed.


***


Day 3, 1340 hours

Kira stepped out of the shuttle which was in a small forest clearing. From the open hatch, Max and two security personnel walked out. Kira had decided to land here two kilometres away from Viyara so as to not surprise the locals. Taking out her tricorder, Kira determined the way to go, and headed out in the north east direction, the away team followed her.

As she walked through the forest, Kira thought it looked remarkably similar to the forests on Bajor. It was clearly a type of coniferous forest, the trees had very straight trunks, and sub trunks branched out in an upwards direction. The tree's leaves blocked most of the sunlight, and kept the forest floor quite cool. The grass grew to a metre high, and it was a pleasant sensation for Kira feeling the grass brush against her uniform.

After a kilometre of walking, Kira could see a forest clearing, as she walked closer to the edge of the forest there was a mild but weird burning kind of smell. When she was clear of the trees, the smell suddenly intensified, and it was an awful combination of burning rubber and excrement.

Max looked distinctly unsettled by the smell. “What is that smell?”

Kira wrinkled her nose as the smell was starting to make her nostrils itchy. “It smells like industrial waste to me. Let's keep moving, we're going down this track, that will lead us to Viyara.”

The away team proceeded down the dusty and sloping track, it was made of compacted rock. Kira felt herself warm up considerably as the sunlight shone upon her, and she could almost feel the track giving off warmth. She ignored the heat, and looked around at the spectacular scenery. To her left was a small steeply sloping valley with a stream gushing down, it was connected with another stream that came from a gorge that ran halfway up the mountain range. While to her right was the forest she had just walked out of.

Coming around a bend in the track, Kira spotted a small village, this must have been Viyara. It was built on a flood plain next to a river that flowed along a truly massive valley, the mountains became steadily lower as Kira followed them leftwards and downstream from the river. On the other side of the river was a forest that clung to the edges of the river banks and climbed halfway up the mountainside.

About half a kilometre away from Viyara, Kira passed by numerous fields, which were placed on the upper reaches of the flood plain. Kira noticed the irrigation channels and they were stepped against the gradual slope. All sorts of crops and flowers were being grown on these fields, but they looked stunted and weedy.

Some of the Furillians working the fields looked up, and Kira saw some of them pointing at the away team, and a few Furillians dashed off the fields to go to the village. No doubt there would be some sort of welcoming party at the entrance to the village.

The smell seemed to worsen, and Kira was beginning to realise that the smell was coming from the water itself. This didn’t bode to well for Kira, water should not smell like that, not unless it was contaminated with impurities and toxins…

When the away team were close to the outer boundary of the village, Kira noticed five Furillians armed with Cardassian phaser rifles. The look on the Furillian’s faces told Kira that she and the away team were not welcome here. The V-shaped ridge that run up from the top of the Furillian’s noses, to the tip of their forehead, emphasised their angry looks.

Ten metres from the village, the Furillians raised their firearms and trained them on the away team. The two security guard's hands flew to their phasers, but Kira stopped them. “Don’t take out your weapons,” she warned. “We don’t want to inflame this situation any further.”

One of the Furillians stepped forwards, he appeared to be in command of the four other Furillians. “Company people aren't welcome here!” he said loudly and nastily.

Kira held up her hands, and cautiously moved forwards. “We are not from RH Mining, we're Starfleet officers!”

Two of the Furillians spat on the ground upon hearing the name of the company. If anything the Furillian talking to Kira looked even angrier. “What do you want? Make it quick, we have little patience for outsiders!”

“We're here to find out why some of your people attack the companies mining operations.”

The Furillian seemed even more insulted. “Are you totally blind?” he said furiously. “Can’t you see what the company has done to us? Isn't the smell reason enough?”

For a moment, the Furillian eyed up Kira and the away team, he seemed to be determining whether they could be trusted. Apparently he could trust them, for he gestured to the away team to follow him. “Come with me, our administrator Sotron can fill you in on the finer details...”

Kira followed the Furillian, while the four other armed Furillians walked behind the away team. Inside the village Kira looked at the buildings, they were small and no more than three stories high. The walls were made of some sort of grey stone, though occasionally it was yellow, while the roofs were flat.

Indeed the village reminded Kira of Bajoran settlements, the dirt tracks, the rows of trees on the streets and the layout of the buildings, were deeply similar to a tradition Bajoran village. Many of the people were dressed in very dull attire, though Kira noticed that some of the young woman were wearing pretty silk dresses, or blouses, while some of the men wore more fanciful attire. It seemed there was a class system on Furillia, as most of the villagers must have been farmers, while some of the more well-off villagers would be running the shops at the centre of the village.

One feature that was shared amongst all of the villagers was that they looked ill, there complexion was pale and pasty. Kira thought the villagers were a group of people trying to live a normal life as possible against adverse circumstances. One thing that did puzzle her was the reason for the foul smelling water, as it seemed to be the cause of the villager’s poor health.

The armed Furillians came to a stop outside a prismatic shaped building, the sides were curved around in a circular arc, and sloped upwards, coming to a stop at the flat roof. Kira wondered if this building was some sort of government building. The Furillian who had talked to Kira before, turned around and came a step closer to her. “Wait here, I'll fetch Sotron for you.”

Kira presumed Sotron was the village’s leader or mayor. A minute later two Furillians came out of the building, the first one Kira recognised, while the second one must have been Sotron.

He was a short but thin man, and there was a welcoming look on his face. “Welcome strangers!” Moving forwards Sotron briefly grasped Kira’s hands with his own, Kira presumed this was the Furillian way of greeting someone.

Sotron glanced around at the armed Furillians. “Forgive the village's guards,” he told Kira. “So I suppose you want to know why we hate the company so much? Follow me.”

Finally glad that she was going to get some answers, Kira addressed the away team. “Max you're with me. Avery, Brooks, you stay here.”

Sotron was heading to a small river which came down from the mountains, and it ran close to the village. “In case you haven't noticed many of the villagers are ill from drinking contaminated water from the river.”

“Why is the river so contaminated?” asked Kira, while from the corner of her eye she saw Max take out his tricorder.

The friendly look on Sotron’s face was replaced with a gloomy and somewhat resentful expression. “Unfortunately the waste material that the mining operation produces, a particulate form of toxic slag, seeps to the water table. The strip mine is on the other side of the mountain ridge.”

He pointed briefly to the mountain ridge. “And all the water that comes down the slopes and through the base rock hits the level of the water table and becomes contaminated which feeds into the river. Unfortunately relative to our position the water table's average level is five hundred metres above this village. Scan for yourself the contaminants in the river.”

At this point the three had left the village, and were walking up another track that ran through the fields. Max was busy scanning with the tricorder. “My God!” he said in a stunned voice. “There's more than slag flowing into this river, there is all sorts of diluted toxins, irritants even acidic compounds!”

“We try to filter the water to the best of our ability, but it's not enough,” explained Sotron. “Worse still we have to use it to grow our crops.”

Kira found it hard to believe Sotron’s explanation that the strip mine was contaminating the water. “But the strip mine would have to be massive, at least a kilometre square in area to produce such vast quantities of toxic waste!”

Sotron stopped walking and turned around to face Kira and Max. “If you like we could climb up to the top of Fraginar's Point, and you can see for yourselves the scale of the strip mine. It will only take three hours to climb up.”

Glancing upwards Kira thought it was a considerable distance to climb up, it had to be 1500 metres of vertical height at least, but she wasn’t put off. “Let's do it,” she told Sotron.

At once Sotron walked at a brisk pace up the track, for such a small man he could walk very quickly, while Kira and Max trailed behind him. Sotron came to a stop outside of a small structure, containing all sorts of equipment. He rummaged around, before coming out and carrying three metal bottles. “You'll need these to fill up on water. Once we're above the water table, the water from the streams that come down from the mountains will be safe to drink.”

Kira grasped the thin bottle, and for a metal it was surprisingly light. Sotron continued walking, and at the end of the track, he went upon a rocky path that continued on from the track. The path wound it’s way up to the top of Fraginar's Point. It was steeply sloping, and disappeared behind a forest before emerging again halfway up the mountain. Kira knew that after the walk, her legs would be wasted.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 13 2011, 09:31 PM   #79
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 3

Day 3, 1500 hours

It was considerably hard-going walking up the path, the slope was about 45 degrees throughout the walk, though in some cases it was steeper. After an hour of walking, Kira was sweating profusely, the back of her hair was dripping in sweat, and her entire back was covered in sweat.

Kira hoped for a breeze or a gust of wind to cool her down, but that wasn’t going to happen in such a sheltered forest. She had already taken off her upper tunic, and tied it around her waist, while her white shirt clung to her body, it was stained slightly grey from all of her sweat.

She looked at Max, he seemed to be finding the walk more difficult, as his face was red and he was even more sweatier than Kira. He had removed his jacket, and his entire shirt was wet with sweat. With all the sweat he stunk to high heaven. One of the things that Kira had noticed with humans was that their sweat was scented and it tended to smell revolting. Whereas Bajorans didn’t smell when they got sweaty.

Kira was more suited to walking up mountains due to her time as a Bajoran resistance fighter, though the temperature was never as hot as this. This must have 25 degrees centigrade, and Kira yearned for a big gulp of water to cool her down.

Unfortunately they was another hundred metres to go, before the water in the streams became safe. Kira was surprised by how easily Sotron walked along, he was barely sweating, clearly Sotron had acclimatised to this heat and was used to constantly walking around such mountainous terrain.

A bit further along the walk Max took out his tricorder. “We’re above the water table, and at this point the water in this stream is now clean!” he told Sotron.

Sotron though shook his head. “Let’s climb a bit further, I can still smell the stench of the contaminated water downstream.”

After another fifty metres, the smell vanished entirely, and Kira suddenly realised just how fresh the air was. She could smell the grass, and the flowers and the plants, in doing so it made her appreciate just how beautiful the forest and the surrounding scenery really was.

Sotron came to a stop and walked over to a stream. “We’ll take a break here.”

Kira walked over to the stream and laid down on her front by the bank, squashing some of the little white and yellow flowers on the ground. She dipped the bottle into the stream to fill it up with water. When the bottle was full, she put the neck of it to her lips and greedily gulped down the water.

It was so satisfying, afterwards she poured the remainder of the water of down her back, it was refreshingly cold. After some more water, Kira poured a bottle full down her front and then another bottle on her head. Finally she was starting to cool down, though she noticed Max was pouring bottle after bottle over his body to cool himself down.

Sitting on a rock Sotron looked deeply amused by the amount of water Kira and Max were drinking and using. “Your not used to this heat are you?”

The amusement on Sotron’s face really irritated Kira. “We’ve been walking non-stop up a mountain,” she said irately. “Nearly all humanoids would get very hot and sweaty after that.”

“I guess we Furillians are made of tougher stuff,” said Sotron is a somewhat superior voice. “Are you done drinking water?”

Kira looked at Max, he gave her a nod. “Yeah we’re done,” she said.

As they continued walking, in the back of Kira’s mind were her concerns for Max. He seemed to be flagging out, and he was drinking more water than Kira was. However once they reached the end of the forest, a powerful breeze started up, and this started to really cool Kira down. Though there was another 700 metres to go, she found it more easier to walk. She glanced at Max and was relieved to see that the flushed look on his face had disappeared. After fifteen minutes walking in the powerful breeze, Kira was virtually bone dry.

After walking up through a gorge, the final bit of the climb was a grassy slope. The grass was short and yellowish/green, and there were numerous bushes dotted all around, while similar looking small white and yellow flowers mingled with the grass. Finally the slope lessened, and Sotron who was ahead of them, got to the top of Fraginar's Point. “As you will see this is one giant strip mine.”

When Kira reached the top she could see the entire valley, and there in the valley was a strip mine of gigantic proportions. It was like a huge grey gash on the landscape, there were scree slopes, rock faces and gorges everywhere. To the left, going upstream along the valley, Kira saw the biggest dam she had ever seen in her life, and on the other side were numerous industrial buildings. While looking to her right, beyond the strip mine was an empty river, it meandered downwards and all the plants and grass around it looked parched and yellow.

There was a clear divide between the strip mine and nature, it was literally a line between forest and rock. Looking downwards Kira saw that the grass slope came to an end next to a battered metal fence that ran along the perimeter of the strip mine. On the other end of the valley the perimeter was not as high against the slope, and there was a vast forest running along the length of the perimeter.

Kira’s mouth hung open in shock. “By the Prophets!”

She had never seen such a monstrous sight in her life, it was an abomination to the landscape. Even during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, the strips mines were one tenth of the size of this monster.

Max was scanning with his tricorder. “This strip mine traverses nearly the entire width of the whole valley, about ten kilometres, and extends downwards by forty kilometres, and it has an average depth of about two thousand metres.” He looked up from his tricorder, to stare aghast at Kira. “Kira there is no way that a Federation mining company can legally excavate mines of this scale, not when there are people living in close proximity to this mine!”

Sotron had turned his back to the valley, he seemed too disgusted to look any more at the strip mine. “There are hundreds of sites across Furillia where there are massive quarries and strip mines. It is decimating this planet's ecology, worst still if you look to your left, going upstream, there is a massive dam to keep back the water. This means everything going upstream from it, up to about 150 kilometres, is flooded up to the water level. While downstream the water supply is drastically reduced, to the point where the soil turns to dust. No one lives there anymore...”

Kira looked at Sotron in a numb manner, she was totally aghast that the Furillians had simply let this happen. “How do you let them get away with this?”

A terrible sadness filled Sotron’s face. “We were deceived, we signed the mining rights and at the time we believed that the money generated from taxes would be beneficial to Furillia's flagging economy. Then came the Ferengi ships, they threatened to attack Furillia if we didn't allow the company to expand their mining operations. That was ten years ago, and this mine back then was tiny, it was hidden by the forests that once existed. Now it's to late, no one gives a damn about us. The worst part is that we receive a meagre amount from the company to 'compensate' us.”

Pure anger filled Kira, she sympathised absolutely with what Sotron was going through, as it was utter exploitation on RH Mining's part. From what little she knew about the Furillians, she did know that they adored nature and protected their habitats at all costs. What RH Mining had done was defile everything that the Furillians believed in.

She had a tendency to sympathise with the underdogs and the downtrodden and this situation was no different. “I've seen enough,” she said harshly, her voice was rife with anger. “Let's return to the village.”

Looking at Sotron, Kira gazed at him intensely because she felt so angered by what had happened to him and so many other Furillians. “Sotron I promise to you that I am not leaving this planet until that company stops all of its mining operations.”

Sotron gave Kira a small sad smile. “I know you are sincere in your promise, but there is virtually nothing you can do...”

The three walked back down the path and back to Viyara. As Kira walked she couldn’t get out of her head the strip mine and the faces of the villagers, upon further thought she realised there was a sense of hopelessness amongst the villagers.

Her anger worsened when the smell of the fouled water came back, once halfway through the forest. What RH Mining were doing was so wrong, ruining the livelihoods of millions of Furillians, and Kira felt a similar rage for RH Mining as she once did with the Cardassians during the Bajoran occupation…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 12:05 AM   #80
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 1

Day 3, 1600 hours

Inside his office, Harding was studying pictures taken by some of his Furillian informants. There was one such informant in Viyara and this person had taken these four pictures of a Starfleet away team. Three of the officers were human while the fourth one, in the lead was a Bajoran. She had the look of one who wasn't to be crossed.

The presence of Starfleet officers on Furillia was very bad news for Harding. He now assumed those officers had found out about the strip mines, and had returned to their ship to report back. There was nothing for it, Harding had to inform Strart about this latest and troublesome development.

Some minutes later and Harding was in contact with Strart via a comm link. Strart though didn’t look to pleased at seeing Harding so soon.

“You again!” snarled Strart. “I had to leave an important business meeting because of you!”

“I am sorry,” said Harding briefly bowing his head. “But you should know that my sources on Furillia have managed to take a few snapshots of a Starfleet away team who were in the village of Viyara. I’m sending you the pictures right now.”

A moment later Strart was looking at the pictures, the anger on his face was growing with each passing second and Harding waited for the harsh words to come flying out of Strart’s mouth.

Finally Strart had finished looking at the pictures, and he gave Harding an almighty glare. “You told me that Starfleet wouldn't travel down to Furillia!” shouted Strart.

Harding did his best to deflect blame. “I thought the captain of the Defiant, Ezri Dax, had no inclination to investigate on the Furillian surface. At the time she seemed very friendly, clearly she has deceived me!”

Strart looked at Harding as if he were someone exceptionally stupid. “Of course she did you fool,” said Strart harshly. “You have forgotten the 48th rule of acquisition: the bigger the smile, the sharper the knife! She must have realised that something was wrong, this whole idea of yours to ask Starfleet to provide sensors was a mistake! Now they know about the Furillian mining operations!”

Despite the dire straits Harding was in, he did have one trump card which Strart didn’t know about. That was the Starfleet admirals who had looked the other way when it came to his company. “I don't think Starfleet would send in more ships to close down the mining operations! The Federation needs the ore I provide to them, they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they closed the mining operations!”

“You don't understand these Federation types, they have a morality and no business sense!” said Strart bitterly. “Do you now realise that I have to call in a fleet of Ferengi ships to destroy the Defiant?”

The colour drained from Harding’s face, he may be greedy, dishonest and negligent, but he not was prepared to directly kill anyone. If Strart carried out his threat, then Harding would have become an accessory to murder. He had to talk some sense into Strart… “Destroying the Defiant will only cause Starfleet to send in more ships!” he protested.

Strart though grinned deviously, in a very Ferengi like way. “All Starfleet will discover was that the Defiant was caught out in a particularly vicious plasma storm. When the Ferengi fleet enters, the ships will block all sub-space communication. The Defiant will be surrounded and it won't be able to call in any reinforcements, and then the Ferengi ships will destroy the Defiant! Now that the matter of the Defiant has been resolved, I have a business deal to wrap up!”

Strart’s company logo appeared on the laptop screen, Harding jabbed at a key to turn the laptop off. Pure panic was building up inside Harding, this whole situation was spinning out of his control. A Ferengi fleet, Cardassian ships lurking in the background, a vigilant Starfleet vessel and finally an angry local populace all added to his woes.

Madness briefly consumed him and he thought of simply leaving, gathering up as much possessions and money as possible. Then getting out of this star system in his personal shuttle, he could probably persuade Celicia to come along…

Harding then felt a modicum of calm; all was not lost. The strip mines were still open and fully functional (for the most part) on Furillia, captain Dax hadn’t made any moves yet and the Ferengi would protect the mining operations from any Cardassian attack.

Harding then turned on his laptop and checked his schedule for today, all he had to do was file up some reports, but they could wait later. Right now Harding needed stress relief, perhaps Celicia could give him a massage, or perhaps she could come to his quarters… Harding decided upon the latter option, a bit of sex with Celicia always cheered him up…


***


Day 3, 2000 hours

When Kira had returned to the Defiant, and left the room containing the shuttle, she spotted Ezri waiting for her.

“What did you find on Viyara?” said Ezri, the moment Kira had walked through the doors.

Kira looked at Ezri grimly. “It’s not good, I don’t even know where to begin…”

“Save your report for the staff meeting, right now the senior staff are waiting for us in the Mess Hall.”

At that point Kira was ready to fire away to Ezri everything that she had found out down in Viyara, but she restrained herself. One thing that Kira did feel was a sort of restlessness, she so badly wanted to do something for the villagers of Viyara…

Arriving at the Mess Hall, Ezri sat down on a table where the staff had gathered around. Max passed to Kira his tricorder, and she uploaded all the sensor information contained inside the tricorder and transferred it to the Defiant’s computer. She quickly organised the information, which included chemical analysis and maps, into a simple presentation which would be displayed on the console she was working on.

When she was ready, she addressed everyone. It took about twenty minutes to present the whole report, and as the presentation progressed, Kira noticed that the senior staff looked more and more troubled and horrified by what they heard. When Kira had finally finished, there was a hushed silence in the room. She sat down, and waited for the flurry of questions to come.

Ezri who had had her hand resting against one side of her face, sat up a bit more straighter after the report was over. She was the first one to speak. “And RH Mining wonder why the locals attack their operations?” she said incredulously. “This is a major problem...”

“That's an understatement,” said Kira quietly, her voice was rife with suppressed anger.

Ezri looked very stony faced, it seemed she was just as angry as Kira by what was going on. “This is a Federation company,” hissed Ezri. “Which is not only grossly violating the Prime Directive, but actually slowly destroying the planet!”

There was a certain irate element to Ezri’s tone of voice, and her normally calm appearance was gone. “And it seems Starfleet has no idea of the illegality of RH Mining's operations...”

“Or maybe Starfleet hasn’t bothered to check on RH Mining?” suggested Bashir.

“The Furillian mining operations account for twenty percent of the primary minerals which the Federation extracts,” said Ezri bitterly. “Giving the strategic importance I don't think to many questions will be asked about how these mining operations are conducted.”

It was starting to dawn on Kira, that Starfleet admirals probably knew about the situation on Furillia, but they chose to ignore it and she now understood why the Ferengi were protecting RH Mining. “Sotron mentioned that the Ferengi are protecting this company, that explains why RH Mining doesn’t need Starfleet and why Starfleet admirals don’t send in ships to this star system!”

Ezri’s eyes were burning with anger, it seemed she was taking it very personally about the apparent negligence of certain Starfleet admirals concerning Furillia. “So in short it's just another way for Starfleet to hide the blatant abuse RH Mining has wrought on the environment and the people of Furillia!”

“Then we have to shut down RH Mining operations!” said Max automatically, he looked deadly serious.

However Ezri looked deeply uneasy. “That’s out of the question,” she said firmly. “We were supposed to be helping RH Mining, not to destroy it!”

Kira’s anger came to bursting point, her last hope had been Ezri to do something for the Furillians, but if Ezri wasn’t going to do anything then who would? “So we're just going to leave these people to the mercy of RH Mining and the Ferengi?” she shouted.

Ezri responded in an equally passionate manner. “I know it's terrible what's going on in Furillia, but I don't see what we can do to remedy this situation!”

There was a pause and Ezri calmed down. “However I want you Kira to return to Viyara along with Bashir, and give them medical supplies, bring with you any crew members that you need. At that the very least the medical supplies will remedy the waterborne illnesses that the villagers are suffering from. I’ll also come down to Viyara and see for myself the extent of the village’s problems… meeting adjourned.”

With the staff meeting over, Kira walked out of the mess hall. The result wasn’t exactly what she hoped for but at least Ezri was going to help the villagers, and go down there to assess the situation. Perhaps once in Viyara, Ezri would be persuaded to do more, like closing down the strip mines...

As she walked back to her quarters, Kira realised just how tired, dirty and achy she was. She decided to have a sonic shower instead, and headed to the Defiant’s sanitation room. Inside a sonic shower room, which was an enclosed cubical. Kira locked the door, and stripped off. She opened up a drawer, which had a lit up platform and placed her clothes inside. When she closed the door, she tapped a few controls on the panel on the wall, to wash her dirty clothes.

She then stepped onto the platform containing the sonic shower unit, and pressed a button on the wall to activate the shower. The water rushed from the top and wrapped around her body, cleansing every pore and fleck of skin. It felt deeply relaxing, though all Kira could think about were the villagers. Their faces haunted her, because they reminded her of the Bajorans in the occupation.

She knew she would have difficulty sleeping tonight, especially when their were people suffering down on Furillia trying to make ends meet. Kira thought she would only sleep soundly when the strip mines were closed down and RH Mining had been kicked out of this star system.


***


Day 4, 0900 hours

From out of the sky the Starfleet shuttle descended downwards and it landed at the centre of the wide square in Viyara. Around the perimeter of the square, people were gathered around, many of them had never seen a shuttle before in their lives, and as such there was a great amount of interest watching the shuttle land.

When the shuttle had landed, and the engines were cut off, inside Ezri opened the landing bay hatch. Having seen from the cockpit the number of people in the square, Ezri expected a whole crowd of them to be bunched around the shuttle.

Sure enough, when the hatch was resting on the floor, the people flocked even closer. Almost immediately a horrible stench assaulted Ezri’s nostrils, Kira had warned her about this, but it was still unpleasant nonetheless. Ezri walked down the ramp, and she wondered how she was going to address this crowd. Behind her were Kira, Max, Holo and two medical officers.

Just when Ezri was about to say something to the crowd, a Furillian stepped forwards. Out of the corner of her eye, Ezri saw Kira approach the Furillian.

The Furillian grasped Kira’s hands in what seemed to be a sort of greeting. “Back again?” he said in a warm manner.

Kira held out her hand to indicate Ezri. “This is Ezri Dax, she's the captain of the Defiant.” Kira turned around to face Ezri. “This is Sotron the administrator of Viyara.”

Cautiously Ezri moved forwards, and she allowed Sotron to shake her hand.

“Welcome,” he said. “Are these the medical supplies?”

Ezri looked behind her, and saw Bashir and Holo carry on anti-grav pads, containers full of medical supplies. “Yes. I heard from Kira about the atrocious quality of the water you were drinking and using. Aside from medical supplies, we've also given you water purification units, so you will have clean drinking water. Also our doctor will be helping you treat any injured or sick people you may have in your village.”

Sotron bowed his head slightly, in what seemed to be his way of expressing his gratitude. “How thoughtful captain. But these are only temporary measures, what must be done is to close every single mining operation on Furillia.”

“Unfortunately even if I wanted to I can't,” said Ezri, and she noticed a look of disappointment on Sotron’s face. “The organisation I work for, Starfleet, assigned me to deliver sensors to RH Mining. Though now that I know what RH Mining are doing they will not be receiving those sensors.”

This did nothing to satisfy Sotron, but it seemed he was going to ignore this for the time being. “I'll let this matter drop, feel free captain to walk around and see for yourself the suffering the company has brought to us.”

The crowd that had gathered around dispersed, and that gave Bashir and Holo the room needed to offload the supplies. Sotron and some of the villagers started carrying some the medical supplies, and they headed to the hospital which was adjacent to the square.

Ezri looked around at the square, and she thought this village was quite beautiful and idyllic, it was just a pity about the horrendous smell. Looking beyond the village she could see the mountains and forests, and Ezri thought the scenery put many other terrestrial planets to shame.

Holo and Max passed by her, and Ezri was struck by a sudden idea. “Holo, Max!”

The two approached her. “What is it captain?” asked Max.

“I want you two to scout the strip mine, and check out what kind of defences the strip mine has. I'd say take a guide with you, there must be a Furillian in this village that knows the layout of the mine.”

“Aye captain,” said Max.

While Ezri watched Max and Holo walk off, she realised the implications of her order. Technically she shouldn’t even be on this world, and she was breaking Starfleet orders, but the thought of simply leaving these people was impossible for Ezri to stomach. She had to help them, and she knew the more she stayed, the more tempted she would be to disregard orders completely and use the Defiant to force the RH Mining workers off the planet.

If she did that it would mean the end of her career. Absconding with the Defiant and destroying a vital Federation strategic interest would probably mean a few dozen years in a penal colony. Such consequences dampened her desire to simply go renegade and break every Starfleet rule just to help the Furillians.

Right now she wasn’t ready to do that, and the conflicting interests of helping these people and protecting her career only served to give Ezri even more doubts. Ultimately she had a choice, of either leaving Furillia or staying there to help the Furillians.

The first choice was morally questionable in Ezri’s eyes, for taken that course of action would mean asking Starfleet to sort out the Furillian situation. Though she doubted Starfleet would do anything, and she would have backed out of the opportunity to help the Furillians. She would probably never return to Furillia with the Defiant, and because of that she would have condemned a people to more misery and hardship.

But helping the Furillians would mean the end of her career and a lifetime in prison, not only that every officer who would follow her would face the same thing. But what was throwing away her career and her life compared to helping the lives of millions of Furillians? She knew morally it was the right thing to do, and to do otherwise was simply being selfish and negligent on her part.

Though one thing Ezri could do before she came to that decision, was walk around the village and the surrounding countryside, and see for herself what the conditions were like for these people. Perhaps doing that would make her come to a decision about what to do next.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 12:05 AM   #81
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 2

Day 4, 1130 hours

By some luck Holo and Max had managed to find a marauder who was in the village. The marauder’s name was Nofron, he had a rough and grizzled face, he had agreed to help Holo and Max scout the mine. Nofron was carrying all sorts of equipment: sensors, probes and other gadgets. He was also wearing a backpack and Max wondered what other items Nofron was carrying. The very fact that Nofron was holding a Cardassian phaser rifle and had numerous armaments all over his body, told Max that Nofron was a veteran at scouting the mines.

Nofron was remarkably quite and didn’t seem the talkative type of person. He didn’t appear surprised by the fact that Holo was a hologram, indeed Max thought that very little could surprise Nofron.

As such the journey up to Fraginar's Point was very dull. Even Holo wasn’t talking that much, the only good thing about the journey was that Max didn’t feel so wasted afterwards. Perhaps he was getting used to walking up mountains or maybe he was acclimatising to the Furillian weather.

At the top of Fraginar's Point, Nofron came to a stop and turned around to address Max and Holo. “From this point on there is no going back. Once we trespass in the strip mine and if we're detected, the guards will shoot us on sight.”

Max felt suddenly nervous, the thought of being killed wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t enough to make him bottle out of the scouting trip. “We're not likely to be detected are we?” he asked in a somewhat anxious tone of voice.

Nofron grinned wickedly, the very possibility of danger seemed to invigorate him. “Not with this,” he said.

He pulled from his pocket a small device. “This is a Cardassian bio-dampening field generator. It fools the sensors that line the perimeter of the strip mine. So stay close, this thing has a twenty metre range.”

Nofron lead the way, while Max and Holo followed from behind. At first the slope was simply grassy with plenty of bushes, Max noticed Nofron was careful to take a route that kept him out of the LOS of the strip mine. As carefully as possible Max followed Nofron’s exact route.

When Nofron came to a battered looking duranium fence, he crouched down behind it and gestured to Max and Holo to do the same. He then removed from his bag three transparent looking cloaks. “Here put these on, they’re camo cloaks, they’ll keep you hidden from the naked eye.”

Max put on the camo cloak, it was difficult at first because it was transparent, eventually he got his body into it. He looked down but he saw not his body just the ground. It was very strange sensation, as he stood up he felt something flapping around the back of his neck.

He groped upwards and felt what seemed to be a hood, he pulled the hood over and it covered everything except his face. Looking around he couldn’t see Nofron, but he did catch a sliver of Holo’s face.

Nofron addressed the two. “Good, follow me and stay close.”

It was hard for Max to follow Nofron, for all he could see were the ripples in the air generated by the movement of Nofron’s camo suite. Once past the duranium barrier, the walk down became incredibly treacherous. They were walking on scree slopes, boulder fields and sometimes even narrow ledges where on the other side was a hundred metre drop.

The most tricky part was navigating down a gorge, even Nofron took it slow through there. Max was certain that they had descended at least five hundred metres, and even though nobody was talking, the climb down kept things interesting.

Once the three had navigated through the gorge, Holo suddenly spoke. “I've never walked on terrain like this before...”

“You Starfleet people are to used to you starships and their comforts,” said Nofron.

Suddenly he came to a stop. “Hold it!” he said urgently.

Max instinctively crouched down. “Have we been detected?”

“Quiet!” Nofron whispered. “There’s someone moving next to us, you can hear them.”

Holo had taken out his tricorder. “I don't detect anyone.”

“Well maybe they're invisible?” said Nofron. “Come-”

Yellow phaser fire came out of nowhere and it struck Nofron and Holo. There suits instantly shimmered before losing all transparency. Nofron fell to the ground, while Holo simply distorted before solidifying again.

Max dropped to the ground. “Holo are you alright?”

Bursts of phaser fire came suddenly in his direction, though thankfully they came to low and were hitting the rocks, causing puffs of dust were the beams struck.

“I'm fine,” said Holo who was behind a rock. “Are you alright Nofron?”

Nofron was also behind cover and he was glancing at the phaser wound to his upper left arm. “Stay low and follow me, those guards are above us.”

“We can't go down further into the mine!” exclaimed Max, “this would only mean getting cut off.”

Nofron though was looking to his left at a scree slope that ran down a considerable stretch of the descent. A phaser beam came close to hitting his face, but it hit the rock he was hiding behind instead. “What choice do we have?” he shouted. “Come on we’re going down this scree slope!”

All of a sudden Nofron dashed out and ran down the scree slope, Holo did the same. More phaser fire came from the invisible guards, but they missed Nofron and Holo as they were running so fast.

Disregarding all sense of caution, Max followed the two, his striding legs stretched the bottom part of his camo suit to breaking point. Suddenly the suit ripped revealing his outstretched legs. Now the phaser beams were coming in his direction and Max quickened his pace, he was running at top speed and with each footfall his feet sunk into the scree.

This stabilised him and stopped himself from falling face forwards. Chunks of little pebbles and finely ground rock were rolling down and they picked up speed gathering some more material. The scree slope looked even steeper as he ran down at breakneck speed.

For a brief moment the phaser fire stopped, but it then started up again, and this time it flew over Max’s head, he looked around and saw two guards. They had dropped their cloaks and they were following him, occasionally they fired a few bursts from their phaser rifles.

One shot came so close to Max, he instinctively ducked, but he then realised to late that by ducking he had lost his balance. He fell onto the scree slope and rolled around, all the pebbles ground against the camo suit and took away strips of it’s transparency, revealing the brown material.

Max managed to steady himself and continued running down, the scree slope was coming to an end and at that end there was nothing but a sheer drop. All Max could think of was how Nofron was going to shake off these guards, for there was nowhere to go. It was either jump off the rock face and get seriously injured and more than likely killed, or turn around and confront the guards…

Upon reaching the end of the scree slope, Nofron skidded to a halt and hid behind a boulder close to the rim of the rock face. Holo had come to a stop and was making his way to cover towards Max’s right.

With only twenty metres left Max slowed down, he then saw Nofron come out of cover behind the boulder to his left. Nofron was aiming the phaser rifle at Max, and Max instinctively dived down forwards. He saw Nofron fire and Max realised that Nofron was aiming at the guards.

Two yells of pain told Max that Nofron had hit the guards. Though that was the least of Max’s concerns as he wasn’t slowing down fast enough. He was sliding on his front and it was shredding the suit, his jacket and trousers to pieces.

He had managed to turn around and he was sliding backwards with his feet first, his hands dug into the scree and excruciating pain came from his hands as all the pebbles ripped his flesh open.

At that point Max wasn’t sure how much scree slope was left, he was slowing, suddenly he felt his feet hit a rock surface, which was full of grooves, but his momentum carried him forwards. His feet then felt just the open air, and then his legs followed through. Max was desperately groping with his fingers trying to find a groove to latch onto.

His fingers caught a particularly sharp groove and he came to a stop, most of his body was over the ledge, and his legs and chest banged against the rock face. Max felt winded, and he tried to pull himself forwards with his hands but it didn’t work, for his feet had nothing to grip on to lift himself upwards.

His arms became more and more tired, and Max looked upwards and saw Nofron coming down to rescue him. Nofron was cautiously going down the scree slope and when he got to the ledge he crouched down.

“Take my hands,” said Nofron.

“Are you crazy I’ll fall!” shouted Max.

“Just use one of your hands you idiot!” snarled Nofron.

Against his better judgement Max decided there was nothing for it but to trust Nofron. He lunged forwards and his right hand was outstretched. Nofron caught it with both of his hands and started pulling with all of his might.

Slowly Max moved forwards, and his chest came onto the ledge. He flung his left hand and clung onto Nofron’s hands, finally Nofron pulled Max to safety.

Max got to his feet. “Thank’s for saving me.”

Holo had arrived at the ledge. “What do we do now?” he said.

Nofron looked upwards before glancing around at the rock face that was below him. “We can’t go up because we’ll be spotted by more guards, I hear that one of the new guards is a professionally trained sniper, I’m not taking my chances against him. No we take cover in some of the caves that are embedded into the rock face below us.”

He then looked downwards at the bio-dampener device placed on the belt around his waist, there was an odd crackling noise coming from it. “Damn it's damaged! Looks like we have no choice but to stay in the caves!”

Max walked close to the edge and looked down. “How on earth are we supposed to get down a hundred metre vertical rock face? It extends for many kilometres along the valley all the way to the dam, there’s no way around it except upwards!”

Nofron shook his head. “That’s where you are wrong, there is one section about three kilometres from here downstream that can be climbed down. We climb down that and then we find a suitable cave to hide in.”

“And then what?” Holo asked.

“Then we hide unto it becomes dusk, and attempt to make our escape going up the strip mine’s slope. Unfortunately it will get dark, and I’ve only got two night vision goggles, so you two are going to have to share a pair of goggles. Plus with the damaged bio-dampener there's a strong chance that we will be detected.”

Max though knew that Holo had inbuilt night vision so Holo didn’t need the night vision goggles. “Don’t worry Nofron, Holo has night vision built into his programming, so he doesn't need a pair of goggles. Besides Holo is a skilled technician he may be able to repair the bio-dampener device.”

Nofron looked pleased to hear this. “That's good, however there is the possibility that we have to stay around this stretch of the mine for a few days to avoid the guards. But first I'll just patch up this wound.”

Taking out what seemed like a dermal regenerator, Nofron ran it over his wound, and it quickly healed.

“Shouldn't you go to a doctor to tend to that properly?” asked Holo.

“Look around you do you see any doctors?” asked Nofron sarcastically, he then finished with the dermal regenerator and stuffed into one of his bandolier's compartments. “All right let’s get down to this cave before anybody else detects us!”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 12:07 AM   #82
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 3

Day 4, 1245 hours

Walking around the village and talking to some of the people was for Ezri informative, but in doing so she felt some sort of personal obligation to help these people. Kira was with her, and at times Kira threw in the occasional hint of shutting down the strip mines.

For Ezri the responsibility of deciding what to do came upon her as she was the captain, she was supposed to be sure of herself and decisive. Though right now Ezri felt anything but. Her ruminations were momentarily interrupted when Max’s voice chirped through her comm badge.

Captain! Come in, do you hear me?

Ezri tapped her comm badge, and wondered what was causing the static in Max’s voice. “I hear you Max, your signal is a bit garbled, what’s happened?”

We've been ambushed by two of the mine's guards captain!

Kira gaze suddenly sharpened and she jerked her head leftwards, and was now listening intently upon the conversation.

There a hint of desperation and worry in Max’s voice, and Ezri wondered just how much trouble Max was in. “What is your position?”

We've descended about two kilometres down into the mine. We think the guards are still looking for us, they had personal cloaking devices on them, so we have no idea where they are.

“Are you in a position of cover, can anybody see you?” asked Ezri urgently, if Max and Holo were for the time being safe this could buy her some time.

We're hiding in this cave; it should mask our life signs. The bio-dampening field generator the marauder used is damaged, Holo's repairing it. Once it is fixed we can try to leave this strip mine.

“Maintain communication silence... unless in an emergency. Dax out.”

With the conversation over, Kira gazed intently at Ezri’s face. “How will Max and Holo get out of the strip mine?”

Before Ezri could respond she had spotted Sotron walking in the distance. “I presume the marauder will know a way out, though right now I don't see how we could rescue them.”

She paused for a moment, and she was thinking about RH Mining, an idea came floating into her head. “Kira I want you to return to the Defiant, contact Odo and give to him all the information we've found out RH Mining's operations. The Ferengi are helping RH Mining, so ask Odo to investigate what connections there are between the Ferengi Alliance and RH Mining.”

Kira nodded and then left Ezri. Catching a brief glimpse of Kira’s face, Ezri was certain that Kira was deeply satisfied by this course of action. Investigating RH Mining was one step down the slippery path of taking matters into her own hands.

Of course Ezri was further straying from the orders that admiral Ross had given to her. At the rate at which she was going, it seemed like she was hell bent on abusing her command, and breaking orders just to protect the Furillians. She was going to have draw the line somewhere, because doing these half-hearted measures was only going to drag her deeper into the Furillian’s problems.

The other problem was the involvement of the Ferengi and the Cardassians, their presence muddied the waters and any course of action may just anger them and even cause a diplomatic incident.

Ezri quickened her strides to catch up with Sotron, she then realised that with the conversation she was going to have with him, she would probably come to a decision upon what to do.

When Ezri had caught up with Sotron, she slowed down. “Sotron we need to talk. Why are the Cardassians providing weapons to your people, what is there role in all of this?”

Sotron glanced around quickly to make sure he wasn’t being overheard. “This is not the place to talk about it,” he said quietly. “If you would come to the yansa, then I'll explain.”

At first Ezri thought her universal translator had malfunctioned. “Yansa?” she asked.

“It's an administrative building, the most important building in any Furillian settlement.”


***


Day 4, 1500 hours

Back inside the shuttle, Kira went to the cockpit and relayed a signal the Defiant, before coordinating with the Defiant’s computer to direct the signal to DS9. A moment later on a screen, there was Odo in his office, there were some lines of interference running across the image.

Kira pressed some more controls to clean up the transmission. “Odo, are you receiving this?”

“Yes, though there’s some interference on your end. What's the matter?”

Taking a steadying breathe, Kira calmed herself before responding. “I'm sending over to you all the information the Defiant has collected about RH Mining's operations on Furillia. In short RH Mining is breaking the law... Huge strip mines, massive ecological damage, the Furillians have been lied to and extorted by RH Mining. I also want you to investigate what links the Ferengi Alliance has with RH Mining.”

Odo looked deeply interested by all this. “The Ferengi are assisting RH Mining?”

“I think so, but Ezri and I haven’t found any conclusive evidence yet.”

“It's make sense,” observed Odo. “I've heard rumours from certain of my sources on Ferenginar, that there are massive shipments of dilithium, tritanium and other important minerals coming from the Badlands. But how these shipments come to be is something of a mystery to me... I'll contact you when I've found out more about the Ferengi operations in the Badlands.”

Odo reached over his console to press a command to end the comm link, but Kira had one more thing to say to him. “Odo?”

The tender nature of her voice, seemed to worry Odo. “Yes?” he asked.

What she was going to say would be grim, but she had to say it to Odo. “I think Ezri may shut down all the mining operations on Furillia, what she might do I'm not sure. But if the strips mines are going to be closed there may be dozens of Ferengi ships coming to stop the Defiant. It’s more than likely that the Defiant will be destroyed; if that is so and I die, tell the children what happened to me.”

She paused, staring at Odo rather intensely. “Promise me you will do that?” she said with more force than was necessary.

A rather solemn and serious look came from Odo’s face. “I promise, in the mean time take care... I’ll see you soon hopefully.

The transmission ended and Kira sat back against her chair, she gazed upwards and was thinking about her family. She had the nasty habit of sometimes committing herself to a mission where she had to save many lives, and yet forget about the safety of her own life. She was never one to sit by and do nothing when she could save a person, even it meant injuring herself or getting killed in the process.

That fearless side of her still remained ever since she first joined the Bajoran resistance. Though now she had two children to think about, and she couldn’t simply throw her life away just like that. However this was one of those occasions when her safety wasn’t so important, she was utterly convinced that helping the Furillians was a noble cause. If she died in the attempt then it was a small price to pay.

At least Mia and Deru were older now, they would understand what she had done and the nature of her sacrifice...


***


Walking inside the yansa, Ezri was following Sotron who was heading to his office. For an administrative building the yansa was quite small, it only had one corridor, and to the left was a tapestry that was painted onto the stone wall. On the other side were various offices which were walled off. The style of the building seemed old-fashioned to Ezri.

At the very end of the corridor, Sotron took out what looked like some kind of hand-held device with little diodes. It was obviously a key as Sotron used it to open up the door to his office.

Once inside the office, Sotron gestured to Ezri to sit down on a chair next to a cupboard. He then walked over to his desk, and opened a draw and removed from it a bottle of green liquid and two glasses.

“Care for some algaen wine?” he said, offering to Ezri a glass.

The green coloured wine looked absolutely disgusting to Ezri and she declined his offer as politely as possible. “No thank you.”

Sotron didn’t seem bothered by Ezri’s refusal to drink the wine, and he poured himself a glass full of wine. He took a sip and then pulled out a chair and sat down so that he was facing Ezri. “A pity you didn’t try for it has a very distinctive flavour. You asked me why Cardassians are on Furillia? Well they’re here to help us shut down the strip mines. They are the ones who are providing weapons and equipment to help us attack the strip mines. I don't trust them, and so far all these attacks have done is merely reduce the productivity of the strip mines. About 57 from this village decided to attack the 6-c strip mine in the other valley.

“I tried to warn them it was suicide to raid that mine, but they wouldn't listen and 51 of them were killed. Most of the 51 were young men, and very brave people. But I knew it would be a massacre. It's not good enough that the Cardassians are helping us wage a guerilla war against the company. We need them or you, for that matter, to use your ships to destroy all of the installations and equipment the company has!”

Ezri was unsure of how to proceed with Sotron, she remained silent as she thought through what to do next. After hearing what the Cardassians were doing, she felt uncomfortable with helping the Furillians. For she could be interfering with Cardassian plans and possibly trigger an angry response from them. She decided it was best to stop getting involved in Furillians affairs.

Now she wondered how best to broker her decision to Sotron, without him getting very angry. “I've discovered that the Federation has a vested interest in RH Mining. You see twenty percent of the primary minerals the Federation uses comes from your world. But unfortunately the Federation, Starfleet for that matter, had no idea that RH Mining was decimating your world.”

Sotron looked very angry. “Then your Starfleet is totally blind and incompetent!” he shouted, before lowering his voice to an angry hiss. “Or perhaps it doesn't care what happens to Furillia as long as it receives Furillia's minerals. That's why you don't want to close down the strip mines!”

Ezri felt deeply uncomfortable, clearly Sotron was not going to take her decision to do nothing lightly. “I would like to, but if I did that Starfleet would court martial me. I would go to prison for life for destruction of Federation property!”

“Pathetic!” snarled Sotron. “You would rather stay in your comfort zone and do nothing, rather than risk everything to help us! You disappoint me captain, for a people who vaunt themselves for their moral integrity, you Federation types are sadly wanting.”

There was a pause as Sotron sat there fuming. “Just get the hell out of my office...”

The cold disappointment in his voice was almost unbearable to Ezri, she wished Sotron had shouted. As she walked out she felt horribly guilty, never in all her life had she made excuses to back out of helping people. Sotron was right, she cared to much for her career and she wasn’t prepared to risk it all to do something right…

A deep sense of shame trickled through Ezri, suddenly all she felt like doing was being all alone to brood. She decided to return to the shuttle, perhaps in there she could comes to terms with what she had done.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 05:30 PM   #83
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 1

Day 4, 1550 hours

After the unpleasant meeting with Sotron, Ezri returned to the shuttle. Her spirits were very low and despite having come to a decision, doubts clouded her mind. When she entered the shuttle’s cockpit, she saw Kira sitting down working at a console.

Having heard Ezri, Kira turned around. “Is everything alright captain?” Kira asked sounding concerned.

Ezri chose not to immediately answer and instead sat down, before burying her head in her left hand. “There's nothing you can do,” she said gloomily. “What is done is done.”

Kira looked confused by Ezri’s vague statement. “What do you mean?”

What Ezri had to say was going to really incense Kira, but she had to say it, and she forced herself to lower her hand and look straight into Kira’s face. “We're leaving this planet and returning back to DS9.”

Almost immediately Kira’s expression turned very sour indeed. “You can't be serious!” she exclaimed in a shrill voice. “You've seen what it's like for these people, we can't just abandon them!” she said passionately.

“There's nothing more we can do without causing a major diplomatic incident!” said Ezri loudly. “And I'm in enough trouble as it is for breaking orders-”

Kira looked absolutely livid with rage. “How can you be worried about your career when there are millions of people suffering from the strip mining?”

The gravelly and bitter tone in Kira’s voice nearly made Ezri wince from guilt, however Ezri wasn’t going to be dissuaded from her decision. “Because it is not our place to get involved in the affairs of other races not belonging to the Federation!”

“We are already involved!” shouted Kira, her face was scrunched up in anger. “From the moment you sent an away team to this village, we became involved!”

Ezri slammed her right hand against a console, she felt so angry because she didn’t want to have to fight against Kira on this issue. “What we are doing is dangerous!” Ezri shouted at the top of her voice. “The Cardassians are supplying the Furillians with weapons to attack the strip mines! I think the only reason why the Cardassians are doing this is because they want the strip mines for themselves! If we throw ourselves into this mess, we might just upset the Cardassians!”

“And what right do the Cardassians have to be here?” said Kira loudly in a high-pitched voice.

“No more right than we do,” said Ezri while jabbing her forefinger against the console as if to prove her point. “This whole situation is too complex and dangerous, that is why we have to leave!”

There was a moment’s silence, while Kira looked towards one side, she seemed to be planning another round of attack against Ezri. Finally Kira turned to look back at Ezri, and there was a nasty but crafty expression on her face. “This is not about the Cardassians, the Furillians or even RH Mining!” said Kira slowly. “You want to leave this planet because you are afraid to disobey orders and do the morally correct course of action!”

Ezri glared at Kira, that was a blow way below the belt, and it was time she cut Kira down to size. “Don't lecture me on morals,” she hissed. “The situation on Furillia is not as black and white as you portray it to be, and the last time I checked you are not the most objective person for making a decision like the one I had to!”

For a moment there was a look of bravado on Kira’s face, as if Kira was silently challenging Ezri to prove her wrong. “If you're not going to do something then I will!” said Kira.

“And do what?” said Ezri nastily. “Are you going to join with these people and fight your own personal war against RH Mining?”

The look on Kira’s face told Ezri that Kira was absolutely serious about fighting with the Furillians.

“I'd rather do that then simply leave this planet knowing full well that we could have done something to help!” said Kira defiantly.

The argument was starting to lose all objectivity, and Ezri decided to calm things down before Kira became totally irrational about the Furillians. “I know you have a tendency to side with the under dog and you like to fight for a lost cause...”

Ezri paused, she was going to ask this of Kira not as a captain but as Kira’s friend. “But for once think with your head and not with your heart!” said Ezri imploringly. “If you stay here you will be abandoning your family! Don't make me force you to come back to the Defiant!”

Briefly Kira looked taken aback, she seemed to realise that Ezri was not bluffing here. Despite still fuming, some of the anger had disappeared from Kira’s eyes. “You want me to keep this professional?” she asked, staring into Ezri’s eyes.

After a moment of staring at Ezri, Kira backed down. “Fine!” she said bitterly. “I'll return to the Defiant, however as your friend I think you are making a serious mistake and it will be something that you will regret!”

This remark really hurt Ezri, she valued Kira’s opinion of her as she considered Kira to be a close friend. She was half tempted to argue some more to Kira, to make Kira understand the difficulty of her decision, but Ezri didn’t have the will to argue anymore. “I'll bear that in mind,” she said ruefully. “When doctor Bashir is done unpacking the medical supplies and treating the patients in the hospital, we'll head back to the Defiant.”

There was a very small nod from Kira, and she then left the cockpit, probably to get away from Ezri.

Although it didn’t show on Kira’s face, Ezri could tell that Kira was hurt by the argument. Ezri sensed that Kira felt disillusioned because her friend acted in a way completely unexpected.

Had her decision destroyed her friendship with Kira? If that was so then it would be another friend she had lost through poor personal judgement and bad decisions...
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 05:30 PM   #84
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 2

When Bashir entered the hospital the first thing he noticed was that the acrid smell had diminished. Along the walls were potted plants and there orange flowers, and they gave off a refreshingly pleasant minty smell. At least the hospital looked clean, the tan coloured walls were polished and the plastic-like matting that covered the floor wasn’t dirty.

Bashir walked down the long windowless corridor, in each hand he was holding the handle to two very wide containers which were full of medical supplies. Most of the supplies were basic drugs: analgesics, anaesthetics, cardiovascular and various neurological drugs.

The rest of the contents were medical equipment: dermal regenerators, cortical stimulators and a whole host of essential items. Somehow Bashir had a hunch that this hospital was under-supplied. When he came to the end of the corridor there were a pair of closed doors that led to one of the wards. Behind Bashir the six Furillians who were carrying the medical supplies dumped them onto the ground and left the building.

Bashir looked to his right and saw another empty corridor. He looked at the ward again and the fact that he couldn’t see any doctor or staff member present struck him as ominous. Then Bashir noticed a small buzzer on the wall next to the ward's doors, and he pressed it, no sound came but Bashir presumed it worked.

As he waited for someone to come, he looked at the patients lying there on the beds in the ward. The equipment around them was so simple, which explained why some of the patients had bandages covering what must have been wounds. Bashir couldn’t believe what he was seeing, even with the most basic Federation medical treatment, wounds and broken bones could be mended in a matter of minutes.

It seemed the Furillians didn't know about dermal regenerators or maybe they did but there wasn’t enough medical resources to go around. Despite the rudimentary medical conditions, Bashir noticed that the patients were well cared for. The beds and the patient’s clothes were spotless as were the surroundings, and Bashir was relieved to see that the Furillians were just as consciousness about hygiene as he was.

Next to the patients were small stands that came to the level of the beds. The stands contained drinks, some food and also books, paper backed books. To Bashir’s left were a series of windows, though currently, long blinds covered the windows shielding the patients on the left hand side from the sunlight.

Bashir turned around to his right when he heard the sound of someone coughing, it was a female Furillian. It seemed she was one of the staff members perhaps even a doctor. By the looks of it she had been staring at Bashir for some moments now.

“I’m doctor Julian Bashir,” said Bashir cautiously, he moved forwards toward the women holding out his hand. “I’ve come here to sort out these medical supplies.”

The women approached Bashir and shook his hand. “I’m doctor Xariya, you’re from the Federation aren’t you?”

The inquisitive stare Xariya was giving Bashir made him on edge as if he weren’t welcome here. “Look I know you don’t trust people from the Federation, but I’m not from the company, I’m just a doctor who only wants to help your patients.”

Xariya glanced over Bashir’s shoulder, and she eyed up the containers behind him. “That is a lot of medical supplies, what do I have to pay in return?”

Such a question surprised Bashir, though he could understand Xariya’s suspicious nature. “It doesn’t cost you anything, the supplies are all yours free of charge. There’s enough drugs, medicine and medical equipment to keep your hospital supplied for up to six months.”

Such generosity seemed to have finally won Xariya over, she no longer looked so suspicious and she walked past Bashir to pick up two containers. “Here, you can help me move all of these supplies to the storage room.”

Leading the way Xariya walked through the ward before coming to another long corridor. Walking along Bashir past by another ward, but this one was completely different. Catching a brief glimpse through the windowed doors, Bashir saw more medical equipment and another doctor who was standing over one of the beds presumably monitoring a patient.

Bashir followed behind her, he had many questions to ask as he was deeply intrigued by how this hospital was run.

“How many patients do you have in here?” he asked, while walking at her side which was difficult due to the containers.

“We have 45 patients. In the ward we passed by, that is where the more terminally ill patients are kept.”

Bashir was surprised by how many patients there were in relation to the size of the village's population. “Nearly all of the patients I’ve seen are either suffering from superficial wounds or poisoning from the contaminated water, surely it would be easy to treat them?”

Xariya turned around, and angrily confronted Bashir. “It's hard enough giving to them clean water let alone giving them the drugs they need!” she said heatedly, her eyes bulged with anger. “You must think of us as barbarians seeing all of this primitive medical equipment, but that is what happens after ten years of under-funding from the government!”

Bashir sought to defuse the tense situation that had sprung up. “I never said or implied that you were primitive, clearly you have had to contend with a very difficult situation.”

This seemed to calm Xariya down, and Bashir realised that on a professional level he had deeply wounded her pride. If he were in her shoes he would feel the exact same way.

Xariya smiled in a sarcastic manner towards Bashir. “You may be lavishly supplied in your hospital, but in here it is a struggle just to get the most basic supplies. Belfrin and I have had to improvise to try to treat our patients to the best of our ability. At times it is so infuriating when with the right treatment I could heal these people in a matter of hours!”

The two then moved on until finally they came to the storage room. For a storage room it was devoid of supplies and spare equipment. It was clear to Bashir that Xariya’s comment about under-funding was an understatement, it was more like there was no funding. After Bashir placed the containers on the floor, he sat down on one of them to catch his breathe, and watched Xariya open a container and inspect the supplies.

For a Furillian Xariya was surprisingly pretty, and momentarily Bashir trained his eyes on her body, noticing how leggy she was, her thin shaped hips and her rather attractive looking bust. It was a brief glance before Bashir pulled himself together, however attractive Xariya was he had a task to do.

Bending down Bashir rested onto the level of his knees and was about to open the container when Xariya spoke up.

“I saw you looking by the way,” she said testily. “And before you get any ideas I’m happily married to a man.”

Embarrassment surged through Bashir, he couldn’t believe that Xariya had noticed him staring at her, even if it was for a few seconds. Such directness surprised Bashir and he became somewhat tongue tied. “I don’t-don’t know what exactly why, I mean I don’t know what you are talking about!”

Xariya stopped what she was doing and looked wearily into Bashir’s eyes. “Don’t deny it, you were looking at me because you think I’m physically attractive, you should know that is considered indecent on Furillia for staring at a married person in a sexual way.”

Such forthrightness made Bashir cringe and he had to get some things straight with Xariya. “Where I come from on Earth, people aren’t as direct and forthright when it comes to relationships and such.”

A confused expression came upon Xariya’s face. “So how do you know when someone loves you or is attracted to you? On Furillia it is common practice to keep one’s distance both physically and emotionally from people. To express actual emotions on one’s face is to really emphasise what you are feeling to that person. There’s restraint you see and by staring at me like that you are openly revealing your attraction towards me.”

This conversation was getting more awkward by the second for Bashir. “Listen this has obviously been a case of cultural misunderstanding, whatever you think I am not attracted to you. It’s just human males and females sometimes look at the opposite sex when they see attractive members, but it’s just a brief glance, it's all part of being human to notice pretty members of the opposite sex.”

Xariya nodded once, and now she looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry about that.”

Bashir sought to change the topic at top speed. “Where do you get your supplies from?”

“From the government of course,” said Xariya while she resumed her inspection of the supplies. “But they are completely overstretched and focus most of the medical supplies and funding in the capital and other major towns. Villages like these tend to be left out, sometimes we had to deal with the black market in-”

The male doctor entered the storage room and he was positively glaring at Bashir. “Xariya you shouldn't talk about that to a complete stranger, especially one who is from the Federation!”

Standing up, Bashir kept his face as neutral as possible, remembering what Xariya had said about showing emotions on one’s face. “And what do you mean by that?”

The doctor walked up to Bashir and squared up to him. “I mean Federation citizens aren't to be trusted,” he said while his mouth was curled with loathing and contempt. “Every word from their mouth is a lie!”

“I know RH Mining betrayed you,” said Bashir calmly. “But I'm not here to harm you, I just want to help you treat your patients. I'm a doctor and my first duty above all else is to do no harm to the patient.”

This seemed to gel with the man. “We have something similar in the medical profession on Furillia... Very well, you can help me and Xariya to treat the patients, but don't expect to receive any gratitude from me!”

He then looked at Bashir menacingly, as if trying to frighten Bashir. “And if you do anything to harm the patients, the people of this village will make sure you wished that you had never come here!”

“Belfrin he's here to help us,” said Xariya sounding disapproving of her husband's attitude. “I know he's sincere in his promise to do so!”

At once Belfrin backed down, he seemed wearily of arguing with Xariya. “My wife has a tendency to trust people where such trust is misplaced, I though don't. If you need me Xariya, I'll be in the second ward.”

When Belfrin had left, Bashir remained rooted to the spot and he was in a very ugly mood. Usually when someone talked to him in such a nasty and ungrateful tone, he got in some very cutting remarks, but knowing these Furillians it would have only enraged Belfrin further.

Xariya sighed, she seemed annoyed by Belfrin’s unpleasant manner as well. “Forgive my husband he finds it very hard to trust outsiders.”

“I can understand why,” said Bashir as he remained motionless. “RH Mining sold you all out and decimated your world, that's reason enough.”

“Come on,” said Xariya briskly. “Let's sort out these supplies, afterwards we can treat the patients.”

Once the supplies had been distributed and organised, Bashir went along with Xariya to a third ward where there were fourteen patients. It took a lot longer for Bashir to treat the patients as he didn’t have the proper equipment. Even so it gave Bashir great satisfaction in healing these people; making people better was a reward in itself to him.

He moved over to the fourth person, who was a young man with numerous bandages around his head, right arm and lower torso. Most of his face was covered in a bandage, though his lower right side and right eye were visible. When the young Furillian saw Bashir’s hand move towards his head, he flinched away in a scarred manner.

“I'm not going to hurt you,” said Bashir gently. “I'm just going to treat your wounds with a dermal regenerator.”

The young man didn’t look convinced and just as Bashir was wondering what he could do to change this Furillian’s mind, Xariya came over to the other side of the bed, and crouched down.

She carefully clenched the young man’s right hand, and leaned over to whisper gently into his right ear. “Don't worry Monzo he's on our side,” she said in a reassuring tone. “He's here to help you get better!”

It was a rather motherly gesture on Xariya’s part and Bashir wondered if Monzo was a member of Xariya’s family. At least her words had given Monzo some confidence, for his right eye gazed at Bashir and he nodded once.

The first thing Bashir did was to take off the bandage around his head. With the bandage off, it revealed a huge burn mark where Monzo’s left eye had been. Turning Monzo’s head to the right, Bashir noticed another burn mark to the side of Monzo’s head. Clearly this was a phaser wound and it had penetrated one part of the brain and destroyed Monzo’s left eye.

Treating Monzo took over two hours, though Bashir managed to repair the damage to the brain, lower intestines and right arm, even reconstructing Monzo’s eye. The thing he couldn’t do was restore vision to Monzo’s left eye, what Monzo needed was a prosthetic implant. At least Monzo looked normal and he would be able to move his left eye in synch with his right eye, but that was about all the function Monzo would get from his left eye.

When he was done, Bashir walked over to Xariya. “What happened to him?” he whispered. “The marking around those wounds look like Ferengi phaser blasts.”

Xariya briefly checked on a patient’s vital readings before addressing Bashir. “Let’s talk about this outside of the ward.”

Once outside the ward and closing the doors, Xariya then answered Bashir’s question. “Monzo was involved in the raid on the strip mine nearly four days ago. He was one of the lucky ones, and he barely made it out of their alive.”

“How many died?” asked Bashir very gently.

A pained look came upon Xariya’s face. “51 people all from this village, and I knew many of them,” she said miserably, while looking through the window to the ward. “And I know Monzo personally because I live next to his family's household. Before the raid he was an energetic young lad, full of life and confidence, and now...”

There was clear distress on Xariya’s face, and Bashir felt uncomfortable once more around her. “If this is bothering you you don't have to say anymore.”

Xariya looked intensely in Bashir’s eyes, while her own had become rather bright with tears. “No you have to know what happened,” she said rather firmly. “Monzo lost his best friend Delletrin in a pumping station in the strip mine. I managed to gain Monzo's confidence and he told me what happened. Delletrin was struck several times by phaser fire, and Monzo risked his life trying to bring Delletrin behind cover. Well Monzo managed to do that but there was nothing he could have done for his friend, and Delletrin died in Monzo's arms.

“It devastated Monzo and what made it even worse was that there was no body to bury, Delletrin's body was incinerated when an explosion went off in the pumping station. He's only seventeen and to suffer such a loss at that age... well it's part of our daily life to see every year someone you care for or know die...”

There was a long silence, Xariya rubbed her eyes to brush away the tears. Finally she managed to give a small smile towards Bashir, presumably to show her gratitude for helping her heal the patients. “Let’s take a break then we can return to the patients. After that if you don’t mind staying longer you could help me and Belfrin to replicate compounds to further mitigate the effects of the water poisoning…”

Bashir nodded to Xariya, the two then walked along a corridor to the kitchen. Bashir was careful to keep just a step behind her as they walked. He remained silent as he thought about everything that Xariya had said. The loss of 51 villagers had affected her terribly, but of course for such a small village this loss of life must be extra painful because everybody knew each other.

All of this came down to RH Mining, that company had ruined so many lives, and a powerful hatred filled Bashir’s heart. He had never felt so angry about something not since arriving at the Tau Primia prison, or after his breakup with Ezri. All of this was so wrong, and was made doubly worse by the fact that RH Mining was a Federation company. It should have known better, and yet it simply acted as if the Furillians were inconsequential and simply the dirt beneath the company’s feet…

One thing was certain, Bashir was sure that Ezri was going to do something about RH Mining. He still hated her, but he knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t going to let RH Mining continue to decimate the Furillian ecosystem. It was part of who Ezri was, or more precisely Dax. For Bashir knew that Dax’s tended to act with their emotions and not with their heads in situations like this…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 05:32 PM   #85
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 3

Day 4, 2230 hours

It was late in the night, and Odo walked out of his office and along the Promenade to make the short journey to Quark’s bar. When he entered he was surprised to see it deserted, usually Morn was always there.

Quark suddenly popped up from behind the bar, he walked around to Odo. “Your up late Odo, you don't fancy a holosuite program do you?”

Ignoring the usual offer, Odo cut to the chase. “Spare me the pleasantries Quark,” Odo growled. “I want you to contact your brother, talk to him about the Furillian mining operations-”

“You know about the Furillian mining operations?” said Quark, he sounded very surprised by what Odo knew.

Odo folded his arms and glared at Quark. “How would you know about them?”

“What Ferengi doesn't?” He then grinned smugly to himself. “Well those who have good connections know...”

Taking a step forwards, Odo advanced menacingly towards Quark to show that he was being serious. “Does your brother know about the Furillian mining operations?” said Odo urgently.

“Yes, but those in charge of them have er...” Quark paused, and grimaced slightly as if embarrassed by talking to Odo. “Glossed over the finer points of what's really happening.”

Odo suddenly stopped acting all tough and menacing, he was surprised to hear this. “You knew about the environmental damage on Furillia?”

Quark lifted his hand in a distracted manner, and waved it as if batting away insects from around his ear. “Giving the scale of the mining operations, what would you expect? But no one looks into that matter too carefully and why should they? The gold pressed latinum generated is astronomical, it keeps the Ferengi economy booming...”

“At the expense of the Furillians,” Odo reminded. “If the Federation found out...”

The hint of warning in Odo’s voice made Quark suddenly more defensive, and he gave a brief strained laugh. “Constable there is a lot of corrupt business dealings which happen on Ferenginar, but they are all highly profitable…”

Odo glowered at Quark, and instantly Quark changed tack, he seemed to be desperate to avoid a real confrontation with Odo. “However I personally feel it's a risky investment mining in the Badlands because of the Cardassians. They may attack the Ferengi Alliance, just to control the Badlands and the last thing the Ferengi Alliance needs is a war with the Cardassians... Okay I'll contact Rom. But I'm only doing this as a favour...”

This was so typical of Quark, Odo knew that Quark wouldn’t do anything unless he provided Quark with an incentive… “What sort of favour?” said Odo suspiciously.

Quark pretended to think, and held his hand against his chin. “Oh I don’t know…” He then looked seriously at Odo. “How about not checking up on my business so often.”

That was one incentive Odo was not prepared to agree on. “So you can carry out some black market business deals?”

“What's the harm in a few black market dealings if an entire planet get's a chance to clean up its wrecked ecosystem?” Quark was trying to look innocent and sympathetic. “Think of the millions of lives who will benefit, from a cleaner environment Odo...”

The look of passionate concern on Quark’s face was very convincing, but Odo knew that Quark’s words were little more than excuses to make more money. “Alright,” he growled. “But I’m only letting you off the hook just this once...”

Quark looked more upbeat. “You see constable you won’t regret this.”

Odo looked away. “I already have.”


***


Day 5, 1000 hours

Inside the shuttle's storage compartment, Kira was resting on a bunk bed. There was nothing to do except to lie down and gaze moodily at the ceiling. She felt bad for arguing with Ezri, but she felt even worse knowing that she would be doing nothing to help the Furillians.

A beeping noise from a screen on a wall made Kira sit up. She walked over and tapped the flashing light. On the screen appeared Odo sitting in his office, for a brief moment she realised that she had entirely forgotten about Odo’s investigation. “What have you found out Odo?”

“It's not good,” said Odo grimly. “RH Mining not only trades with the Federation it also sells primary minerals to the Ferengi Alliance. In fact the Ferengi Alliance is its biggest costumer, 85 percent of the primary minerals RH Mining produces goes to the Ferengi Alliance. It's a complete bargain for the Ferengi Alliance, they control the company, and Ron Harding is merely the Ferengi Alliance's puppet. This is a massive money-making operation, in which the Ferengi in charge of it get obscenely rich and the Furillian people suffer terribly.”

Kira felt so angry that she could barely breathe, let alone talk. “That is so evil...” she breathed in a constricted voice.

Odo nodded wearily, though there was anger burning in his eyes. “I know, but there isn't anything we can do about it.”

“Maybe there is,” said Kira, another idea had come to her regarding how to help the Furillians. “Quark has contact with his brother, the Grand Nagus, and he must have some sort of influence with him. If he could persuade Rom to halt the Furillian mining operations...”

“That might just work,” said Odo slowly, as he spoke Kira could almost see him plot as to how he could persuade Quark to help. “I'll ask Quark and see what he can do...” said Odo.

The transmission ended, and Kira felt marginally more cheerful. If the Ferengi left, then the threat of an orbital assault on the Furillians would be gone. With the threat removed the Furillians would close the strip mines in a matter of days… She had to mention to Ezri this idea, surely Ezri would like it...

Kira stood up and entered the cockpit, she wasn’t surprised to see Ezri slumped in the same chair she was sitting on last time. Ezri looked really depressed, Kira gave a brief cough to get Ezri’s attention.

Ezri suddenly snapped out of her moodiness and looked intently upon Kira.

“Odo gave me a report on RH Mining's links to the Ferengi,” said Kira.

“And?” said Ezri expectantly.

“Most of the ore RH Mining extracts from Furillia goes to the Ferengi Alliance. That's why the Ferengi are protecting the strip mines. Just so they can get obscenely rich at the Furillian people's expense!” The disgust and anger was building in Kira’s voice. “At the same time the Federation profits handsomely from its share of the minerals RH Mining provides!”

Ezri slammed her hand against the rim of the console and she stood up. “That does it,” she said heatedly. “This whole affair has got out of hand. Starfleet hast to be informed of what is going on. I’ll contact Bashir and tell him we’re returning to the Defiant immediately!”

Ezri tapped her comm badge. “This is captain Dax to doctor Bashir.”

Yes captain?

“Pack up all your gear and return to the shuttle, we’re heading back to the Defiant!”

From the comm link came Bashir’s annoyed sigh, he seemed reluctant to go. “With your permission captain I’d like to stay here for another day to help the two doctors I’m working with!

Ezri was fuming and her cheeks were becoming red from anger. “That’s an order doctor, pack up your equipment and return here at once!”

Court martial me then captain!” said Bashir defiantly. “I'm staying here for one more day to help sick and injured people! If you are leaving then send the shuttle back down to Viyara at 2000 hours tomorrow... I’ll be done then.

Ezri sighed, she seemed to be giving in to Bashir's demand. “Understood, the shuttle will return to Viyara at 2000 hours tomorrow, and at that time I want you on that shuttle, even if I have to drag you in their kicking and screaming, is that clear?”

Perfectly clear captain, thank you for giving me more time, Bashir out.

Kira realised that she wasn’t the only one who wanted to do more to help the Furillians. If Bashir had it his way, Kira knew that he would spend weeks here working out ways to improve the health and sanitation of Viyara.

“It looks like I’m not the only one who wants to stay on Furillia…” said Kira somewhat cheekily, anything to embarrass Ezri she would say just to make Ezri change her decision.

It seemed though as if Ezri hadn’t heard her comment. “Retract the landing gear colonel, and let’s get back to the Defiant.”

“Yes sir,” said Kira wearily.


***


Day 5, 1100 hours

Back on board the Defiant, Ezri proceeded to the bridge, she wanted to know if anything had happened while she was gone.

As Ezri walked along, Kira was beside her. “Who do you intend to contact Dax?”

“Admiral Ross, I should be able to persuade him to send Starfleet ships to Furillia.”

Momentarily Ezri took a brief look at Kira’s face and was pleased to see that there was no anger or disapproval from her first officer. When Ezri entered the bridge, Megan rose from the captain’s chair.

“Report commander!” said Ezri.

“Nothing has happened since you left captain, the sensors have scanned this region of space constantly and found no sign of Ferengi or Cardassian ships in this star system.”

“I guess that’s good,” said Ezri. “I will be in my ready room to contact admiral Ross, and don’t disturb me unless it is absolutely urgent. You have the bridge colonel.”

With a brief nod, Kira took the commander's chair, she looked at ease with sitting there.

Ezri then left the bridge and proceeded to her ready room, in there she got her laptop out from a draw and sent a transmission to Starbase 74 where admiral Ross was based.

Some minutes later and there was a comm signal being received, suddenly there was admiral Ross on the screen, as usual he was sat behind his desk. “Captain, this is somewhat unexpected...”

Briefly Ezri hesitated, as she thought about everything she had discovered concerning RH Mining and what they were doing on Furillia. “Admiral I've found out some disturbing things about RH Mining's operations on Furillia-”

Ezri then proceeded to explain to Ross at length how she found out that RH Mining was damaging the Furillian ecosystem and causing suffering to millions of Furillians. She told Ross about the Cardassians arming the Furillians to try to oust RH Mining from Furillia, and how the Ferengi were protecting RH Mining. Plus her two officers who were trapped in the mine.

It was a lengthy explanation and took at least fifteen minutes. “-the worst thing about this is that the Federation benefits greatly from RH Mining, and at the price of massive suffering amongst the Furillians and the decimation of their world!”

Ezri had said all that she could and waited for Ross’s response, she could see Ross digesting all this information but she couldn’t glean from Ross any kind of emotion or reaction.

“This is a major problem...” said Ross finally, he seemed to be choosing his words carefully. “It seems RH Mining has pulled the wool over my own and many other admiral's eyes. Right now there's not much that I can do-”

This wasn’t what Ezri wanted to hear from Ross. “Forgive the interruption admiral but there is something that you can do. Send in fifty Starfleet ships and use them to close down RH Mining's operations. With the strip mines on Furillia closed, the Furillians can start to repair the massive ecological damage that has ravaged their world.”

Despite her anger she had kept her voice remarkably calm as she tried to persuade Ross, but it seemed to be in vain.

Ross looked reluctant and was clearly dragging his heels about this matter. “Sending in that number of ships in such disputed space would be tantamount to a declaration of war on the Cardassian Union!” he exclaimed. “The Badlands is a fiercely contested place territorially. I suggest captain that you leave Furillia and head back to Federation territory at once!”

What little patience Ezri had was now gone, and she couldn’t keep the anger and passion out of her voice. “So we're just going to leave these people to the mercy of RH Mining and the Ferengi?” she said fiercely. “What about my two officers who are trapped in strip mine 6-c, I'm not abandoning them!”

“That is most unfortunate captain, however rescuing them could only inflame the situation further, that's if you could rescue your officers. Besides even at close range it will be very hard to detect their life signs.”

Ezri could not believe what she had just heard from the admiral. “So I'm just supposed to leave them?”

“It's more than likely that your officers are dead, I know you care for them but-”

“If we were to work with the Furillians there is a chance that we could find Mr Weatherby and Mr Holo alive!”

Ross though shook his head and he looked immovable in his decision, and he gazed at Ezri in a steely manner. “My order is final, if you try to help the Furillians in any way you will be court martialled captain.”

At that moment Ezri was deeply glad that Bashir was in Viyara, for it gave her an excuse to delay leaving. “Very well admiral,” she said tensely, it was time to play her trump card. “But I can only leave at 2000 hours tomorrow maximum.”

This didn’t bode to well with Ross, he looked mightily aggrieved. “No delays captain,” he said firmly. “You leave from Furillia immediately!”

Ezri put on the best understanding look her face could muster. “Doctor Bashir is down on the planet, helping two doctors in a village called Viyara. He is sorting out medical supplies and will be done by 2000 hours tomorrow, I don't want to prematurely end his away mission giving the humanitarian nature of what he is doing. Once he’s on board the Defiant then I will take this ship back to DS9.”

She held her breathe, it was a good reason to delay and surely Ross would agree with her.

The angry look faded from Ross’s face, he was backing down. “Alright you can leave at 2000 hours tomorrow, but not a minute later…” He gave Ezri a warning look. “Do I make myself clear captain?” he said forcibly.

“Yes admiral,” said Ezri politely.

“Ross out.”

The Federation insignia appeared on the laptop, but Ezri didn’t really notice it. There was nothing more she could do without breaking orders, she so badly wanted to help the Furillians but she couldn’t. In a miserable gesture, Ezri put both of her hands to her face. There was a massive fight going on inside her, it was her Starfleet side fighting against her urge to do good and help people in need.

She was back to square one, Starfleet wasn’t going to do anything, and she was out of options…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 15 2011, 05:33 PM   #86
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5, part 4

Day 6, 1930 hours

Above the tree line Ezri watched the low Furillian sun descend gradually, it was some distance above the line of the mountains, and the sun was hovering above the point where the valley suddenly deviated from it’s straight course and turned off to the left.

The golden glow from the sun made everything more beautiful, Ezri had never seen such a stunning landscape in her life. It was unbelievable to think that to her left on the other valley lay strip mine 6-c.

She had arrived four hours before the deadline to have one last look at Viyara and explore the countryside. Taking Kira’s advice to walk up the distinct rocky path that went to Fraginar's Point, Ezri walked halfway going past the tree line before deciding to stop there and admire the view. She wasn’t sure she could bare to see the strip mine on the other valley…

Ezri was so absorbed with the view that she didn’t hear Kira approach her.

“It’s an amazing view from up here isn’t it?” said Kira.

Surprised Ezri turned around on the flat boulder she was sitting on, she saw Kira sit down on another similar shaped boulder. Ezri couldn’t think of anything to say to Kira and remained silent.

“You haven't told me about your conversation with admiral Ross,” said Kira, though she was staring at the sun rather than looking at Ezri. “I take it that it didn't go very well.”

Ezri sighed in frustration. “I explained to Ross the situation, and practically begged him to send in Starfleet ships to secure the system but he still refused!”

All the anger and frustration was building up inside Ezri and she couldn’t keep it in any longer. “It seems no one in Starfleet wants these strip mines closed down!” she said loudly.

“Oh they all say it's outrageous what RH Mining is doing, but not one of them has the gumption to do something about it and why not?” she asked looking at Kira. “Because the Federation gets twenty percent of its core minerals from this star system!” she said bitterly.

Kira though still did not look at Ezri, she seemed preoccupied by her own problems. “So Ross has told you to leave this system and he hasn't reprimanded you for disobeying orders?”

Ezri let out a brief snort of derision, and waved her right hand in a dismissive manner. “He in fact praised me for what I did but said there was nothing I could do...”

There was a moment's pause, Kira was being very silent, and Ezri knew that her friend was feeling exactly what she felt: sheer disappointment and frustration. Ezri looked at the sunset and scrunched up her face in an anguished expression. “What a beautiful sunset, that a world like this is allowed to be destroyed while the Federation just looks on...” she lamented.

Kira stood up and came over to Ezri and sat down next to her, she looked intensely into Ezri’s face. “There is something we can do. Take the Defiant, and use it to bring down RH Mining.”

“If I did that I would be court martialled,” Ezri protested. “It would be the end of my Starfleet career.”

Disgust lined Kira’s face. “Your career is irrelevant!” she said angrily. “These people need you, because no one else is going to stand up for them. What is your career worth compared to saving the livelihoods of millions of people?”

Ezri shook her head in a pained manner, what Kira was saying made Ezri’s insides burn with guilt. “But I would be breaking orders, and attacking RH Mining would only damage the Federation!” she said in an anguished voice.

Kira looked at Ezri in a harsh manner. “Is that the Federation's way of forgetting about these people? What about your precious Prime Directive? Well that goes out of the airlock when it doesn't suit you.”

She then grabbed Ezri’s arm, and surprised by such an act Ezri jerked her head rightwards to look at Kira.

Pure passion emanated from Kira’s eyes, she looked absolutely resolute in her desire to help the Furillians. “You may be condemned by the Federation,” said Kira fiercely. “Probably the whole Defiant crew will be, but you will be morally right in disobeying orders and closing down the Furillian strip mines!”

Kira let go of Ezri's arm, and there was another silence between the two, a much longer and deeper silence.

Ezri let her friend’s words sink through, suddenly the mad idea of absconding with the Defiant and closing down the strip mines didn’t seem so mad anymore. As Ezri considered this idea she returned her gaze back to the sun.

“Last night I couldn't sleep,” she said softly. “I was just thinking about admiral Ross's order, and I couldn't bring myself to do it.”

Ezri sat up more straightly and she gazed at Kira in a serious manner. “You are absolutely right, this planet needs protecting, as does the Federation's integrity.”

There was another pause as Ezri came to terms with the course of action she had decided upon. “We're staying here, regardless of the consequences. Inform the crew of what we're doing.”

Ezri expected to see triumph in Kira’s eyes, but all she could see was solidarity. The two were going in together to do something highly dangerous yet highly noble. In that moment Ezri realised just how much her friendship was valued by Kira, for now Kira fully supported her and would go down fighting to the very end even if it all went disastrously wrong.

“Right,” said Kira with a nod.

As Kira got up, Ezri realised there was one more piece of unfinished business left. “Oh and Kira?”

“Yes?”

“Send a message to admiral Ross from me. Tell him I'm disobeying his orders on moral grounds and that he can go to hell if he disapproves of what I'm doing.”

Kira’s eyes twinkled with much amusement. “I'll be sure to mention that to him.”

Standing up Ezri took one last glance at the sun, there was work to be done, and she forced herself to turn her back to the sun and head back down to the village. She wasn’t go to rest until the Furillians had removed from their planet the scourge of RH Mining…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 16 2011, 10:48 PM   #87
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 1

Day 7, 1100 hours

On board the Defiant’s bridge, Ezri was waiting for the Furillian president to respond to her request for a meeting. Yesterday when back in Viyara, Ezri had explained her plan to Sotron, and he agreed to contact the Furillian president and ask that Ezri could have audience with him. Ezri remembered the look on Sotron’s face when she told him that she was going to assist the Furillians in shutting down the strip mines. There was pure jubilation on Sotron’s face, as if all of his prayers had been answered.

Of course Max and Holo were still trapped in the mine, though Ezri didn’t consider taking the shuttle down to the mine because it was highly likely that the ore processing facilities had rudimentary orbital defences. The defences would have to be taken down or captured by the Furillians before Ezri even considered sending in the shuttle.

“Captain,” said Holo. “There’s an incoming transmission from Furillia, it’s the Furillian president!”

“On screen!” ordered Ezri.

There on the view screen was a middle aged Furillian man, he was inside a very plain and bare looking office, and was sitting down beside his desk. He was wearing stately clothes, however he looked very tired and strained. It seemed being president was a job that would bury one’s health six feet under.

“Mr president I am captain Ezri Dax, commander of the Starfleet ship Defiant, I presume you received the message from Sotron?”

The Furillian president glared at Dax, it seemed he wasn’t bothered with concealing his hostility to members of Starfleet or the Federation. “Captain Dax,” he said aggressively. “Make this quick for I have little patience when it comes to dealing with off-worlders.”

Ezri cut to the chase. “What if I told you that I could close down all the strip mines on Furillia?”

The hostility vanished from the president, in an instant he was interested in what Ezri had to offer. “You have my attention; but why would you go against the Federation and attack their operations?”

“What RH Mining has done is wrong,” said Ezri forcibly. “And it is a blatant abuse of your planet's environment. RH Mining is a Federation company, so the Federation is to blame for what has happened. I'm here of my own accord to clean up the mess, so to speak.”

There was a brief pause as the president considered this, at any rate he seemed to be less suspicious of Ezri. “Even if you were sincere in your promise, you only have one ship at your disposal. There are probably at least a few dozen Ferengi ships in this sector, they could be here in about a day's time!”

“This isn't just any old ship,” explained Ezri, with a small smile. “Am I correct in assuming that the only thing that stops your people from closing down the strip mines is the threat of an orbital attack by the Ferengi?”

The president nodded once. “You are correct captain.”

“Then my ship will hold off the Ferengi ships while your people close down the strip mines. How long would it take for your people to close down the strip mines?”

“I reckon at most it would take them about two days,” said the president.

He then frowned at Ezri and gave her a very penetrating stare, as if trying to work out what hidden intentions Ezri had. “But how do I know this isn’t some sort of trick?” he said rather heatedly. “My people attack the mines, and then Ferengi ships attack our settlements while your ship does nothing. How can I trust you to not betray us?”

Anger built up inside Ezri, if only the president knew how sincere she was in her offer... “Because I care for your people,” said Ezri passionately. “Sure I have visited your world on only two occasions, but I saw the suffering and breathed in the fowled air! I don’t want anything in return for helping you, all I want is to give your people a better future!”

Still the president didn’t look convinced. “Passionate words captain, but anyone can say that, I still have no reason to trust you.”

Ezri wasn’t sure how to convince this man, so she decided to take the more confrontational route. “Do you realise that you will never receive an offer like this in a long time? Starfleet doesn’t give a damn about your world, and it’s not going to do anything to close the strip mines. It wants the strip mines open, and they will be open all right! Probably for the next century as RH Mining extracts every last nanogram of minerals from your world. When they’re done Furillia will be a barren and rocky wasteland. Now do you really want that to happen? You have this one-off opportunity to avert a complete catastrophe, and I urge you to seriously consider my proposal!”

The president seemed to be wavering in his distrustful stance towards Ezri. “But if I take your offer, I would be gambling with my people’s lives!”

“You have to trust me on this one,” said Ezri in a somewhat imploring manner. “I know you can’t trust me, but please try just this once, you have the opportunity to save your people!”

There was another pause, it seemed that the Furillian president was battling with conflicting desires and emotions. Finally he looked at Ezri directly in the eyes, he stared in such a way as if resigning himself to the worst. “Very well, I will contact the administrators of all the settlements that are close to the strip mines, and I will tell them to mobilise their people and launch an all out assault on the strip mines!”

For a moment Ezri felt stupendous relief, it was now time to move on to the next phase of her plan. “When your people start attacking the strip mines, it will take the Ferengi at most a day to arrive, at best this ship could hold off twenty Ferengi ships for up to a day. Perhaps longer due to the limited sensors...”

“Any additional time you can give us will be welcome captain. When shall we commence this operation?”

“We'll start it tomorrow at 1100 hours.”

Another silence sprung up between the two, the president was looking at Ezri in a grateful manner. “Thank you captain for helping us. If you die in the attempt then maybe Furillia will have a touching moment of silence in honour of you and your crew.”

The transmission ended and Ezri wondered if the president was being humorous. It didn’t matter because now came the hard part; defending Furillia from the Ferengi ships which would be arriving at any day now.


***


Day 8, 0830 hours

When Sotron had received a message from the Furillian president ordering operation Aurora, he instantly knew that the time had come. Today strip mine 6-c would be closed down. Almost immediately Sotron left the yansa and got his staff to wake up the villagers.

Even though it was 06 00 hours, it was vital that the three hundred villagers that Nofron and Jacorda had picked for the operation were ready and prepared. Because at 11 00 hours operation Aurora would commence, and the villagers had to be at the top of Fraginar's Point.

It would be up to Sotron and his villagers to destroy the dam and all the mining buildings on the Eastern side of the Tiyona valley. Sotron was inwardly glad for the Cardassians providing his village with firearms, otherwise there would not have been enough firearms to go around.

Nofron and Jacorda had been for two years training many of the villagers in how to use Cardassian (and Furillian) phaser rifles, photon grenades, combat knives and explosives. Sotron himself had taken part in the training, as he would be travelling with the villagers who were assaulting strip mine 6-c.

Walking around the square, holding a Cardassian phaser rifle, Sotron looked at the villagers as they got armed and were sorting out their supplies. Sotron spotted Jacorda supervising two people, and Sotron walked over. “Are all the weapons distributed?” he asked.

Jacorda nodded. “Yes sir, the villagers are ready to go.”

“Good, gather the villagers around, I’ll address them.”

Jacorda gave out the orders and in a few minutes the three hundred villagers were gathered around in a circle with Sotron at the centre.

This was a moment that Sotron had long been waiting for, he summoned up the most commanding voice he could muster, commanding but at a slow pace. “For ten years that strip mine has ruined our livelihoods, our health and our crops! And we've put up with that monstrosity for too long! Today we stand up and fight back against the tyranny of RH Mining.”

Sotron lifted his phaser rifle into the air, and raised his voice even further. “Today we close down strip mine 6-c for good!”

Everyone around him roared in approval, they were lifting their phaser rifles in the air, shaking them, and the mood was one of excited optimism.

Sotron followed Nofron who was leading the band of villagers. As he walked, Sotron noticed the faces of the villagers, they were not soldiers just people with simple jobs: farmers, shopkeepers, scribes and so forth. Sotron noticed one face in particular and that was Monzo’s. Thanks to the Starfleet medical supplies Monzo was on his feet again. There was no joy or optimism showing on Monzo’s face, just grim determination and purpose.

Sotron knew that it must have been hard for Monzo to be returning to the strip mine that had cost him his best friend’s life and very nearly his own. All Sotron could feel was pride at the bravery of the people around him, though very soon they would no longer have to worry about RH Mining ever again...
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 16 2011, 10:49 PM   #88
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 2

Day 8, 1030 hours

Inside the bridge, Gul Messek was busy at a console finalising the planned deployment of the Cardassian fleet when it arrived at Furillia.

One of the Cardassian officers approached him from behind. “Sir we have just received a report from one of our contacts on Furillia. The Furillians are preparing to destroy the strip mines, and the Defiant will be protecting the planet from any orbital assault made by the Ferengi!”

Messek remained briefly silent as he analysed this latest bit of information, and he realised the Cardassian plan to control Furillia was spiralling into jeopardy. “Then the Ferengi must have a fleet of some kind coming to this star system.”

He turned around in his chair to face the officer. “Contact the fleet and tell them to carry out operation Elim23. It looks like we will have to annex Furillia a little ahead of schedule!”

“And what about the Defiant?” said the officer, he sounded very concerned. “Do we destroy it?”

“No tell the Cardassian ships to evade its sensors,” said Messek calmly. “We'll let the Ferengi fleet try to destroy the Defiant first. What's that human expression... the captain will probably go down with her ship. The Ferengi fleet will become seriously weakened, and the Defiant more than likely destroyed, and then we attack and finish off the remnants of our enemies!”

The Cardassian officer grinned wickedly, admiring the sneaky and cunning nature of Messek’s plan. “They won't know what has hit them!” he said gleefully. “After the sub-space blackout they will be totally blind to what is happening!”

Messek looked at his officer calmly in the eye, while his officer may find pleasure in killing so-called enemies of Cardassia, Messek had lost that feeling a long time ago. He was once like that officer, ready to kill for Cardassia and he once relished that opportunity. But then came the Dominion war, and Messek saw so many officers and crew members under his command die, he came to appreciate that injury, pain and death were things not to be messed with or made fun of.

Instead over the years when Messek went into battle he was fully aware of the consequences. It was highly likely that the Defiant would be destroyed, and its crew would put up a valiant and brave fight. Messek could respect that, but that did not deter him from ordering the destruction of the Defiant.

In battle there was no place for compassion or mercy; a neutral detachment from one's emotions was vital. For he knew that the core objective was to destroy the enemy as quickly and as ruthlessly as possible, while minimising casualties on his own side.


***


Day 8, 1300 hours

Max sat down on a flat surface inside the dimly lit cave. For three days himself, Holo and Nofron had been hiding in various caves much like this one. Holo had no luck with repairing the bio-dampener, and Nofron was running out of supplies. The most important thing was water, thankfully a day ago there was a massive and prolonged deluge of rain. Some of the water pooled into one of the caves which they were hiding in, and they used it to refill their bottles and other containers to carry as much water as possible.

Already they had ran out of food though in the meantime that wasn’t so important. However Max knew that if they didn’t attempt an escape in the next five days they wouldn’t have the strength to climb up the gorge and then the steep slopes to get out of the Tiyona valley.

Yesterday they had tried to make it out of the gorge at nightfall, but Nofron spotted too many guards walking along their escape route, and they had no choice but to take shelter in another cave.

Currently the cave that Max was residing in was right next to the mining platforms and buildings down in the bottom of the gorge. The cave was about a hundred metres above the bottom of the gorge. Numerous rocky ledges broke up the gorge’s rock faces and some stretches were very steep slopes. It was very difficult terrain to navigate and it took hours just to move one kilometre.

When they were in the caves there was nothing to do and Max became quickly bored. He had tried talking to Nofron but Nofron gave the very distinct impression that the only thing he wanted to talk about were ways of getting out of the strip mine. Max deduced that Nofron’s personal life was a highly sensitive topic, and that Nofron must have lost somebody: a family member, a friend or even a fellow marauder.

Talking to Holo had lost its lustre because the conversations were becoming increasingly repetitive and dull. Max sincerely hoped that he wasn’t going to die inside this strip mine. He could just imagine a mine worker finding his starved and rotten body inside one of the caves. If he was going to die then he’d rather die while attempting to escape.

Suddenly the cave shook, and a few seconds afterwards a loud echoing bang followed. Nofron instantly jumped up and trained his phaser rifle on the outside.

Max had taken out his phaser, he was ready for some action. “Was that an explosion?” he asked.

Immediately afterwards the cave shook again repeatedly, followed by more sounds of explosions.

It was hard to see in the dim light but Max thought Nofron’s face had turned very pale.

“Operation Aurora has started...” said Nofron quietly.

Holo was on his feet, and his tricorder was held out scanning the nearby surroundings. “What is Operation Aurora?”

Nofron tore his gaze away from the cave’s entrance and looked at Holo. “It's where the Furillians make a direct assault on the strip mines, destroy all the buildings and close down the mines. The bombs are just the first phase, the villagers are trying to trigger landslides to send rocks crashing down into the main gorge severely damaging the platforms and mining buildings below.

“Of course they could instead simply chuck the explosives directly into the gorge, though I'm not sure about that for they would have to get very close to the buildings and risk being shot at by the guards. In any case we need to get out of this area, we're to close to the buildings in the gorge.”

Nofron lead the way, while Max followed closely behind him. Holo took up the rear, he was holding his phaser and frequently he glanced behind to make sure no guards were approaching from behind.

Even on the flat ledges, it was hard work as everything was so rocky. “You know we've got to climb upwards about two thousand metres,” said Holo sounding somewhat ironic. “Before the night sets in, and without the strip mine's guards detecting us, which will be no small miracle.”

From the right side of the gorge Max heard a series of massive explosions, he could just see some of the explosion's fireballs rising up into the sky before disappearing. “Did you see that?” he asked Holo.

Holo took out his tricorder and was scanning at the right side of the gorge. “They're coming from the other side of the valley.” He moved his tricorder in the direction of downstream to the valley. “The Furillians, they’re attacking the buildings and equipment next to the dam, they're using the miner's explosives! I'm detecting Furillian life signs five hundred metres to our right, it's looks like they're preparing to blow up the platforms and buildings down in the gorge!”

Nofron glanced briefly at the buildings below him. “And we will be caught up in their pyrotechnics pretty soon if we don't hurry! We are too close to those pipes and the pressure valve building, if the villagers start chucking explosives at that building, we're done for.”

“Your-”

Suddenly all Max felt was sheer force slamming him against the rock face to the left. Dust and fire momentarily clouded his vision, while a huge roar deafened him. A moment later he crumpled onto a lumpy boulder, and the entire front of his torso ached with pain.

There was a cloud of dust so thick that he could barely see his own hands. Slowly he got up, and he then felt a stinging pain around his left biceps. His right hand groped around and Max felt a sticky substance, which could only have been blood. It seemed like his humerus had shattered, and if he moved the arm there was a jarring pain.

Everything sounded tinny and distant, and instinctively Max called out to Holo and Nofron. “Holo? Nofron? Are you all right?”

“I'm here,” said Holo, he looked completely pristine. “Nofron are you okay?”

Some of the dust cleared, and Nofron’s figure could be seen and he was standing. “I'm fine,” he said.

Nofron then moved closer to Max and grimaced slightly as he saw the massive wound on Max’s arm. “Ouch that looks nasty.”

“I can’t move this arm and it hurts like hell,” moaned Max.

Taking a strip of cloth from his shirt sleeve, Nofron used it and wrapped it around Max’s wound. “That should stop the bleeding, here give me your jacket.”

Reluctantly Max removed his jacket, but as he did so he received two sharp stinging pains from his arm. He then passed it to Nofron.

Nofron took the jacket, and removed a knife from his waist belt, and cut up a portion of the jacket. Then Nofron used this portion to make a rudimentary support for Max’s arm. The jacket portion was wrapped tightly around Max’s forearm and was braced around his neck. It was so tight that Max couldn’t move his left arm, but with the arm stationary he could now walk without it burning in pain every time he moved.

Taking a step backwards Nofron momentarily admired his handiwork. “There that should do it. Come on follow me, we're going upstream away from these buildings, there's a bit where we can climb up the gorge!”

“They're insane these Furillians!” said Max, as he walked along.

The explosions became less frequent, and looking back, Max could see the twisted and burning remains of the buildings at the bottom of the gorge. Most of the platforms hugging the rock faces had collapsed and were strewn across the bottom. There must have been dozens of workers in that section of the mine, and Max tried not to think about how many of them had died from the explosions.


***


Day 8, 1320 hours

So far the Defiant had not encountered any ships, Ferengi or Cardassian, as it orbited Furillia. As Ezri sat in the commander's chair she hoped it remained that way for as long as possible.

“Captain!” said Megan suddenly, her eyes were wide with surprise. “The Furillians from Viyara are destroying the strip mine's buildings and equipment. It also seems they using explosives to cause landslides to bury some of the buildings, but it's hard to tell even with the modifications I made to the sensors! Max and Holo won't stand a chance if this continues on!”

“Colonel contact the Furillian president!” ordered Ezri.

“Transmission sent,” said Kira, she then glanced around to look at Ezri. “We're being hailed captain!”

“On screen!”

On the view screen was the Furillian president, he was standing inside his office, and next to him must have been members of the Furillian government. “Captain now is the not best time to be contacting me, I'm very-”

“You've got to stop destroying strip mine 6-c,” said Ezri urgently. “Two of my crew members are down there, if the explosions don't stop they will probably be killed!”

There didn’t seem to be any concern on the president’s face upon hearing this news. “That is regrettable, but the strip mine hast to be levelled as soon as possible!”

“Levelled?” said Ezri sounding confused.

The president grimaced in apparent impatience. “I don't have time to explain captain. Now I really must get back to my work.”

The transmission ended, and Ezri was left sitting there looking disbelievingly at the view screen.

Kira turned her neck around to face Ezri, she seemed to be waiting to receive orders. “What should we do now captain?”

Right now there was nothing that Ezri could do for Max and Holo. “Keep orbiting Furillia and monitoring any Ferengi or Cardassian ships that come into this star system,” she said seriously.

Right now Ezri was doing her utmost to keep a professional detachment from the possibility of losing Max and Holo.

“Captain,” protested Megan. “Max and Holo are going to be killed by these Furillians!” Megan looked imploringly towards Ezri, as if begging Ezri to reconsider. “We've got send out the shuttle and use it to rescue them!”

“Are Max and Holo in any immediate danger?” asked Ezri.

Megan turned around to check the sensor readings from her console. “No, the Furillians have stop chucking explosives close to Max and Holo's position and moved on to another section of the mine.”

This temporarily relieved Ezri, there may be some hope for Max and Holo after all. “Then we can delay their rescue. Besides I want every tactical asset at our disposal, including the shuttle. Is that understood commander?”

Recognising there was nothing she could do, Megan backed down. “Yes sir.”

As Megan continued analysing the sensor readings, Ezri thought about Max and Holo. She would be damned if they were allowed to die, for they were good officers. But her main concern was the Ferengi and Cardassian ships lurking out there somewhere in this star system. At any time they could suddenly arrive in a big fleet, and the Defiant would have a massive battle on its hands...

“Captain,” exclaimed Megan. “I'm detecting a subspace dampening field, it's just suddenly appeared and it is covering the entire star system!”

“That's the standard tactic for preparing to invade a star system,” said Ezri wearily. “This means a Cardassian or Ferengi fleet is nearby, keep scanning for any sign of ship activity.”

Suddenly the prospect of battle became far more imminent for Ezri, perhaps in a matter of minutes the Defiant would be fighting against Cardassian or Ferengi ships. And so here came the most critical part of her plan for the closure of the strip mines; giving the Furillians orbital protection for as long as possible.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 16 2011, 10:49 PM   #89
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 3

Day 8, 1400 hours

Everything was falling apart before Harding’s very eyes, he watched from his office the recordings of the surveillance cameras planted at every strip mine. He saw the Furillians roaming all over the mines, chucking explosives, killing workers and guards, as they went on a rampage. Many of the buildings had been destroyed or were heavily damaged.

What frightened Harding was how organised the Furillians were, they were so precise and methodical that Harding realised the Furillians must have planned this for a very long time. Harding was astounded by how easily the Furillians navigated the strip mines, the only explanation was that the Furillians had been scouting these mines for years. This explained why the guards had occasionally found the lone Furillian apparently lost inside a strip mine.

Harding knew what the Furillians would do next, they would destroy the dams and totally obliterate everything below the water level of the dam. In desperation Harding had sent a comm link to Strart’s office, he was begging Strart to hurry up and answer the call.

Finally after some nerve-wrecking minutes Harding received a transmission, and was pleased to see that it was Strart on the line. Harding stood by his desk, his hands were resting against the edges of the desk. “Strart you have to hurry,” he said desperately. “The Furillians are now planting explosives on the dams in the strip mines, if the dams are destroyed then the ore processing facilities will be completely destroyed!”

Strart though was looking at Harding as if he had never seen him. “You have failed me,” said Strart in a distant voice.

This didn’t make any sense to Harding. “What? Strart those ships are coming right?” he asked urgently.

Now Strart’s face showed more emotion, but it was full of raw anger. “Of course they are you dumb hew-mon!” shouted Strart. “But when they arrive they will be taking control of Furillia and your company's mining operations!”

Pure numb shock obliterated all sense of reality for Harding. “No... we had a deal!” he said in a part angry part fearful voice.

Strart stood up, and his face was alive with malice. “The deal is off!” he said nastily, while pointing a pudgy finger at Harding. “It is your fault that the Furillians are now closing down the strip mines, if it weren't for you this would never have happened!”

“Please,” said Harding begging Strart for mercy. “Give me another chance, without your protection and assistance my company is finished!”

“No it is not finished!” said Strart, he then looked gleefully at Harding. “I will be acquiring it, and when I do I will seize all of your assets and sell them to the lowest bidder! I'll sell that Celicia woman to the slave market, and when I'm through with you, you will be utterly destitute!”

Strart started laughing out loud in a horrible manner, and the transmission then ended.

Overwhelming panic nearly made Harding faint, everything was lost. But before he came close to a nervous breakdown, Harding realised not all was lost. Immediately he started gathering his possessions and valuables and packed them in some containers. With all of those possessions he was carrying, they should have enough value to give him the money he needed to start a new life.

He walked out of the office, and to his left Celicia approached, she was looking at Harding with almighty concern. “Where are you going sir, the meeting you had-”

“Forget the meeting,” said Harding loudly. “It's all over!”

Celicia looked totally confused. “What do you mean?”

“The Ferengi are coming to acquire this company,” said Harding quickly. “When they're through I will be ruined!”

There was fear all over Celicia’s beautiful face, somehow it made her look even more beautiful to Harding.

“But how,” she stuttered. “Why are they-”

This wasn’t the time for talking, Harding moved closer to Celicia, placed one hand around her shoulders and kissed her passionately. He then let go and his arms were wrapped around Celicia’s neck, the two were resting their foreheads together.
“Please come with me,” he whispered. “We'll go to the Delta Quadrant together and start a new life!”

From what he could see of Celicia’s face, Harding thought she looked daunted and scared.

“Okay,” she eventually said. “I'll pack my possessions then.”

Harding detached his arms away from her neck, and took a step away from her. “Meet me at shuttlebay one when you are done, and hurry I reckon the Ferengi could be here in less than three hours!”

Celicia nodded and at top speed she started packing her possessions. Harding left her to it while he proceeded to shuttlebay one as quickly as possible without attracting attention to himself. Once inside a shuttle he activated the shuttle’s systems and when he was done, he waited for Celicia to arrive.

From inside the shuttle’s cockpit, Harding heard a door open and he turned around. It was Celicia and she was laden with luggage, though she was looking at Harding not with fear or doubt but with pure determination and passion. Harding rose from the chair, and simply stared back.

“Good you're all packed,” said Harding, he paused as he gathered the courage for what he had to say to Celicia. “Before you think about going with me inside this shuttle, I just want to say that there's a chance we could get caught and possibly killed.”

Celicia dropped the luggage, and dashed over to Harding, she grabbed onto both of his hands. “Wherever you go I go, because I love you and I'm not going to leave you!” she said passionately.

In that moment all that mattered to Harding was Celicia. He couldn’t care about RH Mining and what was happening to the strip mines, for he had Celicia by his side and suddenly everything didn’t seem so bad. Gently Harding lifted Celicia’s hands until they were at the level of his chest. “We have some spare time before we go, so let's make the most of it, we may be dead in the next few hours...”

Celicia simply looked affectionately into Harding’s eyes, and he realised that Celicia really loved him. “And I'd rather die thinking about you...” he said tenderly.

The sexual tension built up until finally Harding kissed Celicia full in the mouth. Of all the women he had dated and had relationships with, he had never felt like this towards a woman before…


***


Day 8, 1700 hours

Sotron and most of the villagers were gathered around a point about two hundred metres away from the dam. The assault had gone far better than expected, casualties were minimal with twenty people being injured and three deaths. Now Sotron was waiting for Jacorda and ten other villagers to finish planting the explosives, gathered from the mining facilities, at the base of the dam.

Jacorda had done some very detailed calculations and worked out that 500 tonnes of the explosives that the miners used, would be sufficient to create a crack in the base of the dam. The crack would then spread, and the weight of the water behind the dam would force its way through, shattering the dam wall.

Everyone was sitting around, the mine had been secured, the workers were either dead or captured and there was nothing more to do accept wait for the moment when the dam was destroyed. Sotron could feel in the air a sense of expectation and almost jubilation. For everyone had been waiting for this moment for a very long time.

It was nearly three hours since Jacorda had planted the explosives, and Sotron decided to contact Jacorda again to see if everything was ready. He took out a handheld communicator, and spoke into it. “Jacorda are all the explosives in position and armed?”

“They are,” responded Jacorda. “Ten tonnes of explosives have been planted at key locations around the base of the dam, while 500 tonnes have been placed inside the central most turbine room in front of the dam. My men are a safe distance from the dam and we’re on the other side of the valley. I don't detect anybody else in the immediate vicinity in front of the dam.”

This was what Sotron had wanted to hear. “Excellent. I'll be detonating the explosives, if my detonator doesn't work use yours. Do the long range sensors detect anybody downstream who will be in the flood water's path?”

“Nobody is there. They have all moved to the evacuation points...”

“Good job Jacorda,” said Sotron, he then closed the handheld communicator and put it into a trouser pocket.

He then addressed the whole crowd. “Good news everyone the explosives are in position, we can detonate them at any time!”

There were cheers from the villagers, and everyone seemed to be savouring this moment. They all looked expectantly at Sotron, and he decided to give a little speech because this was such a significant moment. “For years this mine has contaminated and defiled the land. But no more, with the destruction of this dam, the water will wash away all that is foul and impure-”


***


Day 8, 1630 hours

Gul Messek sat in the commander's chair on the bridge, his gaze was fixed on the view screen. All that could be seen was the orange background of the Badlands. His ship and the fleet it was travelling with, had encountered no enemy ships.

“Sir there's a Ferengi ship directly ahead of us!” said the female Glinn manning the helm.

Inwardly Messek was shocked, he had made a serious tactical mistake. “But that must mean the Ferengi fleet has already arrived!”

“The Ferengi ship is firing!” reported the Cardassian officer, who was chief of security, from the weapon’s station.

Momentarily the ship shook, and it seemed that the Ferengi weapon had done little damage when it had struck the ship. “Return fire,” ordered Messek, he was bracing his hands against the chair’s armrest. “Tell the fleet to start launching probes to detect other Ferengi vessels.”

“What about the Defiant?” asked the chief of security.

“That ship hast to be destroyed,” said Messek, he briefly looked at a screen on the chair’s armrest. It showed to him the current position of the fleet, he tapped the screen so it displayed a list of each ship in the fleet. He was looking at this list as he gave his chief of security orders. “Tell the captains of the 5th, 7th, 12th, 16th and 31st ships to go after the Defiant, it must be orbiting somewhere around Furillia!”

The chief of security though didn’t look to happy with his commander’s orders. “The Defiant will be cloaked! When it strikes, one ship will be heavily damaged!”

Messek was fully aware of that danger. “Then tell the captains to deploy their ships in position twelve beta. With the ships maintaining a diamond position, and the four outer ships rotating around the perimeter when the Defiant strikes, the other four ships can directly and rapidly assault the Defiant!”

“Understood!” said the chief of security, and he was busy sending messages to the five ships.

Sitting back Messek considered the situation at hand. The Cardassian ships would be more than a match against the Ferengi ships. Even if they were evenly matched in terms of weaponry, shields and armour plating, Messek’s fleet was better organised and superior tactics would even the battlefield a bit more.

The Defiant would be busy fending off the five Cardassian ships, and even if the Defiant destroyed all five Cardassian ships it would be heavily damaged. Messek smiled to himself as he knew once the Ferengi were beaten, the fleet would gang up on the Defiant. Despite this setback operation Elim23 could still be successful, Furillia would be captured and in a matter of days his ship would be assigned somewhere else…


***


Day 8, 1700 hours

Ezri grew more and more apprehensive as she waited for Ferengi or Cardassian ships to arrive. It had been over four hours since the sub-space dampening field had been detected. She could not understand what the Ferengi or Cardassians ships were waiting for.

“Captain,” said Kira, as she studied the readings from the sensors. “You won't believe this but there's a Cardassian fleet engaging a Ferengi fleet. Both sides have about fifty ships each!”

Hope lifted Ezri’s spirits, perhaps the two fleets would slug it out until both became severely weakened… “This could make our job easier. Ensign Lopez maintain our orbit around Furillia.”

“Five Cardassians warships are approaching our position!” reported Kira.

So it had come to this, the Defiant was going to have to make a last stand. “Battle stations,” said Ezri.

Megan suddenly turned around in her chair, she looked mightily worried about something. “Captain the Viyara villagers are planting explosives on the dam next to strip mine 6-c. By the looks of it, with that quantity of explosives the dam would collapse, and with the discharge of water Max and Holo would be killed!”

On the eve of battle this was the last thing Ezri needed, and she did some furious thinking. Finally she decided that she could spare her tactical officer just to save Max’s and Holo’s lives. “Kira I want you to take the shuttle to rescue Max and Holo.”

At once Kira rose from her chair.

“And make haste colonel,” advised Ezri. “We're going to be needing that shuttle to defend ourselves against the Cardassian ships.”

Briefly Kira nodded to show that she had understood what Ezri had requested from her.

With Kira gone, Ezri addressed the other members of the bridge crew. “Ensign Lopez when the shuttle has left the Defiant, set a course to intercept the Cardassian ships at half impulse. Mr Farangha you take over the tactical station.”

Ezri watched as her bridge crew worked effortlessly keeping things functioning and at a tip-top condition. She was coming to admire this ship and its crew, and though she hoped both would make it through the incoming battle with the Cardassians, she knew that was a remote possibility.

“The shuttle has left the Defiant,” reported Farangha.

“Raise the cloak,” ordered Ezri.

The lighting dimmed and blue lights activated as the Defiant went into the cloaking mode. As always the cloak was a valuable asset and gave an initial advantage to the Defiant whenever it engaged in battle. Thanks to the Devron treaty of 2380*, Starfleet ships were allowed to carry and use cloaking devices. Yet despite that provision of the treaty, the Defiant was the only Starfleet ship that had a cloak.

Ezri thought about how to attack the five Cardassian ships. The Defiant would easily take out the first one when it launched the surprise attack. However Ezri doubted that the Defiant could cloak again without taking damage, and that damage could be detected by the remaining four Cardassian ships.

It seemed the cloak could only be successfully used once, after that Ezri had to rely on the firepower, armour and manoeuvrability of the Defiant.

*Treaty of Devron is a Federation/Romulan peace treaty signed in 2380. Both sides agreed to right of passage, and full respect of each other’s borders. The Neutral Zone still remained but its role was slightly modified, and certain stretches of it were used for both side's ships to go either interplanetary state.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old November 17 2011, 11:17 PM   #90
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7, part 1

Day 8, 1730 hours

Quark had spent ages trying to contact his brother. Giving that the only time he contacted Rom was during prearranged visits, contacting his brother right now would be difficult.

Finally, long after the bar had closed, Quark received a transmission. He was busy looking for loose change on the floor, when he heard a faint beeping sound coming from his console by the bar.

Walking over to the bar, Quark tapped a command and the transmission was received. It was Rom and he was in his office.

“Rom we need to talk about the Furillian mining operations, I think their profitability is in serious doubt.”

A bemused look came upon Rom’s face. “Did I just hear you correctly?”

“Don't play clever with me Rom,” said Quark irritably, he didn’t have the time for any of Rom’s clever little jibes. “You heard me. Relations between the Ferengi Alliance and the Cardassian Union have reached an all time low, it's got to the point where one spark could trigger a potential war.”

This seemed to have no effect on Rom, indeed he probably knew this already. “The Cardassians aren't stupid enough to go to war against the Ferengi Alliance, because it would drag the Federation as well into the war, and the Cardassians don't want to fight the Federation!”

“Brother listen to me,” said Quark holding his hands in exasperation. “There is a territorial dispute between our people and the Cardassians regarding the Badlands. So far we've managed to maintain a profitable stake in the Badlands, but I fear the longer we stay in the Badlands the greater the risk of a war! If a war breaks out then it will eat up all of the profits made from the Furillian mining operations!”

Rom didn’t look too convinced by Quark’s argument, like any Ferengi it would take a lot for Rom to back out of a profitable arrangement. “But it's more than the money it's the resources the Ferengi Alliance receives from this arrangement! Besides things are stable on Furillia, according to RH Mining-”

Quark laughed out aloud, amused by the ignorance of his brother. “You've been badly mislead if you think that's the case Rom. The Furillians are raging a guerilla war against the company for the decimation of their world, and to make matters worse Starfleet now knows about the extent of the mining operations.”

Now Quark had told Rom something that would make him think twice about the Furillian mining operations. The gormless look on Rom’s face and his wide gaping mouth, told Quark that Rom was not only surprised by this, but also he was thinking out the implications.

After a while the gormless look disappeared from Rom’s face, it was replaced with a sceptical expression. “Are you telling me that RH Mining, a Federation company, has been illegally mining on Furillia?”

Rom seemed to think that Quark was joking, but when it came to business and family Quark never jested. “Yep,” said Quark simply, trying to ram the point home to Rom. “And now it's highly likely that the Federation will investigate RH Mining. Listen Rom no matter which way you look at it, this money-making operation is coming to an end. If it hast to end then the best we can hope for is to avoid an open confrontation with the Cardassians!”

Before Rom could respond, there was a flashing red light on Rom’s console. He tapped a command and was reading the text which Quark couldn’t make out as it was upside down.

It seemed the message had some very dire news, because Rom’s eyes widened in surprise and possibly horror. “The Ferengi fleet in the Badlands has been attacked by the Cardassians!”

“Let the Cardassians take the Furillian star system,” said Quark full of bravado. “We can't afford a war!”

“But-”

Quark gazed maddeningly into Rom’s eyes, what would it take to make his idiot of a brother understand? “War is only profitable when you are supplying two opposing sides, not when you are actually engaged in the war!”

Shelving his pride, Quark made the Ferengi cringe of pleading, his wrists were placed tightly together, his palms turned upwards. “Brother please,” said Quark desperately. “For the sake of the Ferengi economy, recall the Ferengi fleet.”

He had rarely pleaded in front of his own brother, but Quark was doing this for the Ferengi economy, a direct confrontation with the Cardassians would be disastrous. He was pleading on behalf of all Ferengi businessmen and entrepreneurs for peace and the protection of profits.

Rom seemed to take Quark’s pleading quite seriously, finally Rom relented. “I'm sending a message to the Ferengi fleet, but giving the plasma storms in the Badlands it will take about thirty minutes to arrive.”

There was a little pause from Rom and now he looked embarrassed even shy, it seemed Rom was in Quark’s debt. “Thanks for telling me about the situation on Furillia, otherwise I would have been dealing with an absolute mess on my hands!”

Quark shook his head out of sheer pity for Rom’s mediocre business sense. “If it weren't for me and Ishka guiding you, then you would be in the never-most depths of financial and political oblivion! You never had the lobes, but your my brother and I love you.”

This Quark actually meant, he did love his brother however eccentric is leadership and vision for Ferenginar had been, he still loved Rom. Quark placed a finger on the panel to end the transmission. He had contacted Rom just in the nick of time, and in doing so helped to prevent a war between the Cardassians and the Ferengi…


***


Day 8, 1710 hours

For the last ten minutes the Defiant had been steadily approaching the five Cardassian warships. Ezri had hoped that once the Cardassians ships arrived at Furillia they would break formation and split up. This though did not happen, and as Ezri watched the ships from her view screen, she recognised the pattern of their deployment. One ship was at the middle, while four others were circling around it.

This effectively cancelled out the advantage of the Defiant’s cloak. Once Ezri attacked one of the ships, the four others would come swooping towards the Defiant on all sides. However Ezri had to even the odds, and she would rather fight against four Cardassians warships than five.

Megan was constantly monitoring the position of the Cardassian ships relative to the Defiant. “The Cardassian warships are a kilometre away from us captain.”

Now was the time to attack. “Lieutenant Farangha,” said Ezri. “Ready all phaser banks, prepare the quantum torpedoes for launch, and when I give the order to fire, fire at the Cardassian ship closest to us!”

Ezri waited looking at the Cardassian ships on the view screen, there was no point in delaying any more, it was time to attack… “Lower the cloak now! Raise shields, fire quantum torpedoes!”

From the view screen, ten of the Defiant’s quantum torpedoes hit the Cardassian ship, halve of the torpedoes were absorbed by the shields, while the other five hit the Cardassian ship. Five explosions engulfed the Cardassian ship in flames.

The Defiant suddenly shook from weapon's fire, as the four other Cardassian ships approached the Defiant and fired their phasers and torpedoes.

“Shields are holding,” reported Farangha.

Ezri watched the position of the Cardassian ships from the screen on the chair's hand rest. “Fire the port phaser banks at the two Cardassian ships trying to flank us, and fire three quantum torpedoes towards the Cardassian ship directly in front of us!”

She glanced up to see the result from the view screen, though it seemed not much damage had been done. “Report!” she ordered.

“Moderate damage to their shields,” said Megan.

The Defiant was struck again, but this time the shaking was far more severe, several consoles on the bridge exploded as excess plasma energy surged through them. Megan herself dodged to the left to avoid the sparks from a nearby exploded console. She then immediately returned to her station. “Direct hit to the starboard warp nacelle, it’s leaking plasma!”

“Fire on all ships with phasers,” said Ezri. “Keep an even spread for all ships.”

There was more shaking, followed by a couple more exploding consoles, one of the cooling pipes burst from the ceiling and ruptured. It spewed grey fog, and hissed loudly.

“Captain,” shouted Megan above the hiss of the ruptured cooling pipe. “We can't keep getting hit by these Cardassian photon torpedoes! We should launch our flux torpedoes!”

“We've only got five flux torpedoes,” shouted Ezri. “I want to ration them, launch five quantum torpedoes at the Cardassian ship closest to us. Mr Farangha fire at will, make sure the Cardassian ships don’t come from behind!”

Farangha was glued to a screen on his console, as he aimed the torpedoes. “Firing… two of the Cardassian ships have sustained moderate damage to their port side, but their engines and weapons are still functioning, and their shields are just holding!”

This was good news for Ezri, it seemed the phaser fire was giving the Cardassians some grieve. However she decided to make the most of the phasers. “Change the modulation of our phasers, that should do some more damage to the Cardassians ships! We have got to conserve our supply of quantum torpedoes!”

Again the Defiant shook but this time it shook very violently, there was a massive explosion from just behind Ezri, as a series of consoles exploded. Suddenly one of the bulkheads collapsed, dragging with it plasma conduits. As the bulkhead fell it stretched the plasma conduits to breaking point.

The bulkhead whacked against the back of Ezri’s chair, sending Ezri flying onto the floor. She was about to get up, when the plasma conduits ruptured. This shattered the bulkhead, and dozens of pieces of shrapnel came flying towards Ezri. She had barely raised her left arm to protect herself, when the white-hot shrapnel lodged itself into her left arm, while it dug into Ezri’s upper torso. The other bits of shrapnel splattered the left side of her face.

Momentarily Ezri was in complete agony, her left arm and upper torso were painful, but the left side of her face felt like it was on fire. She gave a huge scream of pain, before the pain subsided somewhat. Despite the pain, pure detachment and clarity came to Ezri at that moment. She was getting used to the pain, and now she could divert more mental energy thinking about how to defend the ship.

As she got up from the floor, Megan turned around and looked at Ezri in a horrified manner. “Captain your face...” she said fearfully.

Briefly Ezri felt the left side of her face, she could feel blood everywhere, and suddenly there was a jolting sensation inside her mouth. It seemed one of the pieces of shrapnel had lodged itself through her jaw bone and chipped a few of her teeth. She could feel the blood pouring from the wound, but she quickly spat the blood out from her mouth, to clear it.

Now was not the time to be worried about her injuries, her crew needed her and she had to act strong to reassure them. “It's nothing,” said Ezri, she glanced around and saw that Ensign Lopez was laid on the floor next to the helm, he was obviously dead. So Ezri took over command of the helm, ignoring the ship shaking again. She was most relieved to find that her wounded arm wasn't slowing down her reflexes at the helm.

She rerouted the ship’s sensors onto the helm and she then got the ship moving again. “I think it's time we took a more aggressive approach,” she shouted. “Ms Felpes when I get the Defiant behind one of the Cardassian ships, I want to focus for a few seconds all of the phasers upon that ship, and launch a quantum torpedo.”

Megan dashed over to the weapons station, and she quickly rerouted sensors to her station, before readying the Defiant’s armaments.

As Ezri flew the ship, she felt herself become one with the ship. With each hit the Defiant took, Ezri urged the ship to endure, and she did her utmost to avoid the Cardassian photon torpedoes and phaser fire. If this was the end, then Ezri was going to go down fighting, for she wasn’t go to leave this ship…
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