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Old June 4 2012, 01:37 AM   #1
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Presenting the conclusion to Cloak and Dagger:

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

Cloak and Dagger part 2

Chapter 1, part 1

Day 9, 2000 hours

“This is captain Dax to DS9, please respond,” said Ezri, and she waited with baited breathe for a response.

A life feed finally displayed on the viewscreen, it showed Megan stationed by her console. Her eyes bore a great relief upon seeing Ezri. “Captain!” she exclaimed. “Thank God you've arrived!”

“What is the status of the Romulan ships?” asked Ezri.

Megan’s gladness about the Defiant's speedy arrival quickly faded. “They're simply surrounding the station, I've tried to contact them repeatedly but there is no response. Captain, do you know of any other Starfleet vessels that will be arriving in this system?”

“There are no ships coming,” replied Ezri. “Many ships have been deployed to either the Breen border or the Neutral Zone. I don't know what's happening with the Romulan Star Empire... Anyway briefly lower shields so that the Defiant can dock, and I'll discuss to you further these matters.”

“Lower the shields?” inquired Megan as if she had not heard her captain correctly.

“The Romulan ships could have attacked at any time but they haven't,” pointed out Ezri. “We must assume whoever is commanding them wants to talk us, well to me... So lower the shields when the Defiant approaches the station.”

Megan looked a bit dubious by this, but she then reluctantly obliged. “Very well captain, Felpes out.”

The live feed terminated, and the viewscreen reverted to the front view of the station from the Defiant.

“Take her in Mr Weatherby…” said Ezri, she hoped her assumption was correct and the Romulans wouldn’t start firing the moment DS9’s shields were lowered.

“The station has lowered its shields captain,” reported Max.

Here was the moment of truth. Ezri waited for what she most dreaded but it did not come to pass. She took this as a good sign, though the threat still remained…

“Approaching docking bay five,” said Max. “Switching to aft thrusters… The station shields have been raised by the way.”

That was one small hurdle out of the way for Ezri, now the next one was trying to contact the Romulans, who had repeatedly ignored her ship’s hails…

///

Ezri stepped onto Ops before the turbolift came to a halt, and she marched over to Megan who worked at the situation table. “Any change to the status of the Romulan ships commander?”

“No sir,” answered Megan, while she continued to input some commands into her console. “They're still just maintaining position.”

Whatever the Romulans were doing, Ezri was not sure what to make of it. “We need to warn Starfleet of the situation and update them of it, because right now we're on our own...”

Megan turned away from her console to give her captain a very sceptical look. “How do we send out a long range communication when the Romulans have a subspace dampening field enveloping half of this star system?”

For one moment Ezri considered all the technical possibilities of overcoming the subspace dampening field, but then a smarter part of her mind realised there was a much simpler way of resolving the problem…

“Send a message to the Romulans,” she told Megan. “Tell them that if they don't drop the subspace dampening field in two minutes time, they will be violating the treaty of Devron, and I will have no choice but to open fire upon them to defend this station.”

“Do you think that will work?” asked Megan, who seemed a bit alarmed by Ezri’s course of action. “I mean what they did is a violation, but an act of war?”

“It is shaky ground,” considered Ezri, recognising Megan’s point. “But I refuse to play to the Romulan's games... Ms Dawson, send out the message.”

“Message sent...” said Tanya, who appeared to have been listening carefully to Ezri and Megan’s conversation.

“One more thing commander,” said Ezri, “have you rescinded colonel Kira's and constable Odo's command codes?”

Surprise momentarily crossed Megan’s face. “I haven't... They are still evading-”

“Delete their command codes,” said Ezri at once, her saying that made Kira's and Odo's absence all the permanent. “From this moment we must consider Kira and Odo captured by the Breen.”

Megan though looked a little mutinous being faced with such orders. “But they would never betray us and tell the Breen their security and access codes!”

“I know they wouldn't do that,” said Ezri testily. “But we must assume that the Breen have extracted that information from them by force.”

Finally Megan relented and followed Ezri’s orders.

Now all Ezri could do was wait for the Romulans to respond to her ultimatum…
The minutes stretched on, and to Ezri it seemed the Romulans thought she was the one bluffing.

“The subspace dampening field is still up,” reported Megan.

With the Romulan unresponsive, Ezri though it was time to raise the stakes a little, and she knew just the thing. “Mr Paulson aim a dozen or so photon torpedoes at the Romulan flagship...”

“Captain?” asked Paulson, his eyebrows raising in alarm to hear such an order.

“Do it,” said Ezri firmly, giving Paulson a strong stare, before returning her gaze to the viewscreen which showed some of the Romulan ships.

In the background Ezri heard Paulson input the commands, it reassured her that he was following her orders, no matter how strange they seemed to him.

“The field is still up...” said Megan, whose tone implied that the field would always stay up no matter what.

Ezri was running out of options to bluff, and just when she considered to carry out a more decisive action-

“The subspace dampening field is down!” Megan quickly reported from her console.

“At last!” said Ezri, finally things were going her way. “Ms Dawson send out an emergency distress call to all Federation space stations and Starfleet ships, tell them that DS9 is surrounded by thirty Romulan ships, and that we need immediate support against the threat of a possible Romulan attack on the station.”

“Message sent captain,” replied Tanya.

“Good...” said Ezri, and the next problem came to mind. “Now if only we can contact these Romulans...”

At this point Megan spoke up. “Well we know the Romulans are listening in a manner of speaking.”

“How so?” asked Ezri as she glanced to her left at Megan.

“They lowered the subspace dampening field,” observed Megan. “If they wanted to attack us they would have kept it up, but they backed down. So you are probably right captain, the Romulans do want to talk-”

“Sir!” interjected Tanya, “there's a long-range subspace communication... It's some sort of broadcast coming from the Romulan Empire, it's repeating...”

“On screen!” said Ezri.

Appearing the viewscreen was a Romulan, who stood in what Ezri recognised as the Senate room in the government buildings on Taron. The Romulan looked plain and physically unimposing, but his face was anything but. Indeed Ezri had never seen such strong and forceful features on a person until now.

This message is to all Romulans. You will be wondering why there has been a media blackout in the empire, and this is because the current government has been removed from power by the Romulan military and the Tal Shiar. Praetor Pelak has been removed, and all troops loyal to him have now pledged their allegiance to the new government, my government.

You will be asking why I had to take such a drastic course of action. Everything that I have done has been for the greater good of the empire. No longer will you have to put up with an inefficient and corrupt government. I swear to you that my government will quickly end the famines ravaging so many Romulan worlds. However to do this we must shed a little of our pride, and seek some outside help.


The Federation is already helping us but soon they will desist because they will refuse to recognise this government, and cut food aid to the empire in a deplorable act to oust my government from power. The Federation is willing to let tens of millions of people starve to death to keep the Romulan Star Empire weak. However we have a new ally and they are the Breen.


The Breen are no longer our enemies. I have successfully concluded negotiations with them and we are to form a pact. We will trade together, and the Breen have been generous in that they will supply replicators, fusion generators, their hydroponics technology, all of that and more. This will finally bring a speedy end to the famines, and I predict in no more than a year's time, nearly all of the famines would have ended, while most of our industrial base will be restored.


Another feature of our pact with the Breen is that we will defend one another. An attack on one side is an attack on both sides, both interplanetary states. With the Breen and Romulans together we will become just as powerful as the Federation and the Klingon Empire. After some years the Romulan Star Empire will be restored as a first-rate power, and you, the people, will look back at this day with joy, knowing that your lives improved from this day and forwards.


Thank you for listening, and long live the empire!


The speech was about to repeat again, when Tanya ended the transmission.

After Toshen’s speech, a powerful silence gripped Ops and made everyone motionless. The news was extraordinary, a coup in the Romulan Star Empire, a massive change of government…

“Well this changes everything...” said Ezri rather sardonically.

“There's another subspace communication...” Tanya said, her attitude revealed a weariness of all the calls coming to and fro the station. “It's from admiral Ross...”

“Why I am not surprised...” said Ezri to herself. “Patch it through to my office, apply communication encryptions, level one.”

///

“Captain what's happening in the Bajoran sector?” asked Ross urgently. “I've tried for hours to get a transmission through but it was being blocked...”

“It's the Romulans sir,” answered Ezri, “they had deployed a subspace dampening field in the Bajoran system, but they have just recently desisted.”

“Romulans?” Ross repeated in surprise. “How on Earth did the Romulans get over to your neck of the woods undetected?”

“I'm not sure...” said Ezri slowly. “But I can tell you there are thirty Romulan ships surrounding this station, and I urgently need reinforcements before the Romulans decide to do anything stupid...”

“Dang...” muttered Ross, in his indecision he started lightly tapping the knuckles of one hand with his fingers. “That's a problem, because Starfleet has mobilised most of its inactive fleets and positioned them close to the Neutral Zone and the Breen border. In case you haven't heard there has been a coup on Romulus-”

“I know admiral,” responded Ezri in a weary mantra, “the Romulans are broadcasting on all subspace frequencies the news.”

“It caught the whole of Starfleet Intelligence by surprise...” explained Ross. “The strangest thing is that the moment there was news of the coup on Romulus, the Breen started deploying their fleets close to the Federation border... Stranger still chancellor Martok has reported to me that large numbers of Romulan ships are gathering by their side of the Klingon border...”

Upon hearing this, Ezri’s ears pricked up, such news was alarming to say the least. “It sounds to me admiral like the Breen and Romulans really are working in coordination with each other.”

“I hope not...” Ross said, though he looked distinctly unnerved by the possibility.

“Returning to a previous question admiral, just how many ships will Starfleet bring to DS9?”

“Forty ships will arrive in about seventy hours time...”

“Seventy hours?” said Ezri more loudly than she intended to.

An apologetic look came upon Ross’ face. “I'm sorry Dax, that is the best I can do. Just sit tight and hope for the best, Ross out.”

When the transmission ended, Ezri’s laptop showed the Federation insignia. Moodily, she jabbed with her finger at a command on the laptop’s touch pad, and the laptop turned off.

Ezri gaze swept over her desk, not really seeing anything, as her head was full of information and worry about the Breen and Romulans. She felt strangely powerless, as events in the Alpha Quadrant brought unprecedented problems and challenges to the tiny portion she controlled.

Her eyes strayed to Benjamin Sisko’s baseball, and for the time being she picked it up, squeezing the ball in a random way as she thought about matters. Benjamin always found a way through situations like this, and so could she. All she had to was play her cards right while not doing anything to provoke the Romulans until the Starfleet reinforcements arrived. But that was easier said than done…
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Old June 4 2012, 01:37 AM   #2
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 1, part 2

After hearing news of the Romulan coup, Ezri half expected the Romulan ships to contact the station, but they still maintained their silence…

With the wait for a Romulan response lengthening, Ezri decided to return to her office and try to catch up on some paper work. It was virtually impossible to complete any reports, even the smaller ones, when she constantly worried about the fate of her station.

Captain, report to Ops immediately,” came Max’s voice from the comm system.

Ezri left her desk, walked out of the office, and came to a stop by the steps.

“Captain,” said Max, “we're being hailed by one of the Romulan ships, it's the Kresh'Torek, a battleship.”

“On screen,” said Ezri, and she was finally relieved that the Romulans were prepared to talk.

A male Romulan in standard military uniform filled up most of the viewscreen. From the insignia around his collar, Ezri could tell this man was a general. For a Romulan the man looked rather ugly, his forehead ridges were very shallow and unpronounced, his mouth was big while it possessed a certain leering quality about it.

“Captain Dax,” said the man in a surprising gravelly voice. “I am general Keelin, commander of the Romulan 31st fleet.”

“General, why are Romulan ships surrounding DS9?” asked Ezri.

“Surrounding DS9?” said Keelin pretending to be surprised. “We are merely stopping at this station to resupply before my ships move on to the Badlands.”

Despite Keelin being all smiles, Ezri did not buy his smooth explanation. “If you want to resupply your ships then why are they deployed in a standard assault configuration?”

The smile vanished from Keelin’s mouth, what replaced it was something very ugly “Are you questioning captain the right of Romulan ships to travel in Federation territory?”

Ezri was unfazed by Keelin’s challenging manner, and she responded back as calmly as possible. “I'm asking you why so many Romulan ships have gathered next to this station, in a fleet which is deployed in an aggressive stance.”

“The Devron treaty clearly states that Romulan warships can enter Federation territory, provided that the number of Romulan warships in Federation territory doesn't exceed one hundred. As you can see there are thirty warbirds plus my vessel, so the limit has not been breached.”

Such slyness angered Ezri considerably, though she remained impassive to try to throw Keelin off balance. “I understand that this display of force is designed to grab the Federation's attention, perhaps you want to make amendments to the Devron treaty?”

“How very perceptive captain,” said Keelin, giving Ezri what was probably his first genuine smile to her, but that did not last long. “In two hours time I'll dock this ship at your station, on board I will give to you the list of demands from the Romulan Star Empire and the Breen Confederacy.”

The channel ended, and Ezri's gaze remained fixed on the viewscreen. She raised her eyebrows a little, this general Keelin clearly had some nerve…

“They want to change the Devron treaty?” Megan said some moments later, sounding as if Keelin was insane.

Ignoring the view screen, Ezri then addressed Megan. “I know it sounds pretentious but at least the Romulans want to talk.”

“Depends on the changes they're demanding...” countered Megan.

“Diplomacy is usually always preferable to war,” reminded Ezri. “If a war is to happen between the Federation and the Romulans, then it will not start on this station!”


***


“The Romulan flagship is approaching us,” reported Megan, she then glanced at Ezri a little expectantly. “Should we lower shields?”

Ezri stood close by to Megan, from the momentarily frozen look, Ezri appeared to be quickly running over the likely outcomes of lowering the station’s shields. “What is the status of all the Romulan ship's weapons?”

“They're powering down...” said Max, who had taken over Tanya’s position at the science station.

“Lower shields,” said Ezri, “but at the first sign of any Romulan weaponry activating, power up the shields!”

“They would cut through the Romulan flagship!” said Nog with much alarm.

“It is a risk I'm willing to take,” replied Ezri calmly. “The Romulans are not going to take us by surprise.”

Megan whose attention was only half on Ezri, then read the message on her console screen. “The flagship Kresh'Torek, requests clearance for docking...”

“Give them clearance...” said Ezri.

At once Megan tapped in some commands to her console to hail the Romulan ship on audio. “This is commander Megan Felpes to the Romulan flagship, you've been cleared to dock at docking port two, please cut to minimal thrusters.”

Megan then closed the comm channel, and looked back at Ezri. “They're on minimal thrusters.”

“Good,” Ezri said as she moved away from Megan’s station. “At least they are cooperating, for the time being...”

She headed up the steps that lead to the turbolift. “Mr Paulson, assemble a security contingent and escort general Keelin to the wardroom.”

“Yes sir,” answered Paulson, who followed Ezri into the turbolift.


***


Ezri made herself comfortable resting upon the seat where she faced out to the length of the table. As part of standard security protocol, a holster containing a type-2 phaser was attached to a belt on her waist. Some minutes ago she ordered Paulson to make sure that all officers, Bajoran and Starfleet, were armed just in case the Romulans attacked and tried to board the station.

As the minutes dragged on, Ezri patiently waited for the general's arrival. The two Starfleet guards who stood sentry by the door were almost deathly silent. Ezri tried to not to show it, but she felt a definite tension in the air, and she could not entirely quell her apprehension about talking to general Keelin. The initiative was in Keelin’s favour, and so far for Ezri, she felt events had almost gone out of her control.

The door opened, and Keelin was the first to march through, accompanied with two Romulan guards. Behind the three Romulans, the other station guards stopped by the door.

Ezri dutifully rose from her seat and walked over to Keelin to formerly greet him. “General Keelin, sit down please...”

Without acknowledgement, Keelin sat himself down close to one corner of the table, as Ezri took up the head chair. She noticed the padd grasped in Keelin’s hands, rather quickly Ezri realised that Keelin was not here for any pleasant formalities…

“I want to have this conversation in private,” Keelin said, his expression turned unreadable. “Remove your guards, and I shall remove mine.”

It was a fair demand, plus Ezri could handle one Romulan… “If you insist,” she said, with a nod to the two Starfleet guards, she silently dismissed them.

When all four guards vacated the room, Keelin placed his padd on the table and slid it over to Ezri’s side. “This is the list of the Romulan Star Empire's and Breen Confederacy's demands to the Federation.”

Taking the padd off the table, Ezri spent a minute skimming over these contents. She looked at one page which summarised the demands. Much to her chagrin she discovered there were hundreds of other pages, all of which fully enunciated the demands in foreboding diplomatic and legal jargon.

After getting the gist of what Keelin had given to her, Ezri lowered the padd back down on the table. “Most of these 'demands' are minor changes to the Devron peace treaty. But allowing the Breen right of passage through Federation territory? Or the Federation to hand over sectors 1334 to 1341, and sectors 1232 to 1245? That's out of the question.”

Keelin appeared to have expected this stern rebuke, for he smiled coldly back at Ezri. “That is unfortunate, since the Breen Confederacy and the Romulan Star Empire have agreed to trade rights, but the quickest route from Breen to Romulan space is through those sectors.”

The general's proposal sounded fair, though Ezri could read between the lines... “And just what are you and the Breen trading amongst each other?”

“Food, medical supplies and metals,” answered Keelin rather innocently.

“And not weapons... perhaps?”

The features on Keelin’s face hardened as the question produced a somewhat disgusted reaction from him. “You insult me captain, the Romulan government would not consider breaking the tenets of the Devron peace treaty.”

“I'll take your word for it,” said Ezri, and she struggled to keep the sarcasm from her voice. “I will report to my superiors this list of demands, and I will need to consult with them to come to a correct decision.”

“Take all the time you need captain,” said Keelin pleasantly, and he vacated the chair.

With a small nod to Ezri, he then left the wardroom.

The meeting turned out to be not half as bad as Ezri expected, though she remained stuck with a big problem, albeit a somewhat changed one. It seemed to her that the Breen and Romulans were doing the diplomatic equivalent of blackmailing the Federation. If the Federation agreed to their demands, the threat of war would be lessened and the Romulan ships would leave DS9.

However Ezri saw the bigger picture here, and gut instinct told her that the Federation would never agree to such demands. Amendments to the Devron treaty? She had studied some of humanity’s history-which gave her a profound insight regarding diplomacy-and one thing came to mind; the Munich Agreement. The great European powers of the mid 20th century caved in to demands of the country Germany in the hopes of staving off war.

But the agreement failed miserably, and the second most worst conflict in humanity’s history occurred a year later; World War II. The similarities of the situation back then and the one she now faced were striking… Upon coming to this realisation, Ezri's stomach squirmed very uncomfortably as she contemplated the likely outcomes. It would surely mean a massive war for the Federation, undoubtedly DS9 would be where the first battle took place…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

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Old June 5 2012, 01:00 AM   #3
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 2, part 1

Day 10, 0900 hours

Working on various consoles around the holographic projector, in the astronomy lab, Max and Megan continued to analyse the sensor results from the Breen homeworld.

Max looked wasted from all the time spent analysing sensor data and he came over to where Megan was working. “Any luck finding a pattern?”

“I'm close,” said Megan distractedly, while she stood there partially hunched over the console. “And if I am correct it should accurately map out up to eighty percent of the readings.”

Peering over Megan’s shoulder, Max stared dubiously at her work. “I don't see a pattern to how the sensor results were scrambled.”

Megan continued on regardless. “It's a fractal pattern of some sort,” she muttered, “I just need to apply the inverse of the fractal pattern, I think I've discovered it and...”

Some seconds later, and Megan hands froze over her console as a look of triumph appeared on her face. “Got it!”

The holographic projector then reconfigured the pixilated imagery of what lay behind the cloaking field, and the program Megan had inputted changed the image into something recognisable. What was displayed revealed a series of buildings built upon a small mesa, close to a mountain range. Despite Megan’s best efforts there were still missing or scrambled patches to some parts of the image.

Max’s eyes feasted on the telemetry, he then whistled out aloud in an impressed manner. “Nice one! We've got a series of buildings... what about the spectrographic results?”

Tapping in some more commands to the console, Megan removed the image from the projector, her concentration unwavering despite spending hours slogging away. “I'm gathering up all the elements and molecules detected. Since the sensor sweep was non-invasive, we won't be able to detect anything substantial inside the factory, but...”

The console screen displayed a series of blob-like images, with exaggerated, and false, colours to highlight the key components of the molecules. “Take a look at this,” said Megan, after she had sharpened up the resolution.

Standing back a little from her console, Megan let Max study the molecular images. “If I know my biology correct, aren't they complex artificial protein chains?” asked Max.

“I'm boosting the resolution of the results...” said Megan, a second later the molecular chains became very distinct. “There's no doubt about it, these are the remains of viruses, genetically engineered viruses. Looks like we found ourselves a biogenics factory.”

“No wonder the Breen hid this from us...” murmured Max thoughtfully.

Both observed the molecule in silence, those moments of quiet were soon punctured when Megan tapped her combadge. “This is Felpes to Dax.”

Dax here.

“Captain, Weatherby and I have made a breakthrough with unscrambling the sensor results. We discovered a collection of buildings in the cartography scans, and genetically engineered viruses in the spectrography scans, I think you better see this for yourself.”

I'm on my way, Dax out.

Two minutes past by, and Max had returned to the work station he left, while Megan continued to study the images shown on her console screen.

The doors to the astronomy lab opened, parting sideways, and Ezri strolled inside, her curiosity was paramount.

“So, just what kind of viruses did you discover?” asked Ezri as she headed for the projector.

Megan moved back from the console to allow her captain to study the images of the molecular chains.

“I'm no biologist,” said Megan, “but going through the Federation medical database, there were no matches for the viruses discovered by the sensor scans. Plus the viruses were broken apart, so that made any matches even more impossible to obtain.”

After some moments of flicking through the images Megan had compiled, Ezri moved her gaze away from the console and rested it on Megan. “And you are certain they're genetically engineered, and not natural?”

“Positive,” said Megan with conviction, “the structure is clearly artificial.”

Ezri considered this information very thoughtfully. “In relation to the buildings, where were the viruses detected?”

“The viruses seemed to be stored in some sort of pool, located outside of the buildings. My best guess is the Breen were breaking down the viruses they created, for what reason I'm not sure.”

“All evidence that suggests of a biogenics factory...” suggested Ezri slowly, her expression hardening as she shot one offhand glance at the console screen's image of the virus. “How soon do you think you can have a report on my desk?”

“About two hours captain.”

“Good,” said Ezri briskly. “Because Starfleet Command is going to be very interested to hear about this!”


***


For some moments Odo watched as Kira spent the minutes pacing around the narrow holding room, its width was such that he could have almost stretched his arms (without lengthening them) and touched both parallel walls. Despondent thoughts weighed on his mind, so seeing Kira go back and forth in the holding cell did little to help. Despite this, he recognised the pacing around as his wife’s way of venting out her tension and restlessness.

Try as he might Odo saw no way out of this situation, he was not so much worried for his safety and well-being, but far more for Kira’s. Still he continued to berated himself for deciding upon crossing through Jiliterozok ice canyon. Perhaps if he followed Kira's advice they would still be out in the Breen wilderness, avoiding capture for one more day…

This had been a hot and bitter topic between him and Kira, for hours they argued about it in angry and whispered voices. Due to their less-than-adequate privacy, Odo reckoned without it there would have been a long shouting match between the two…

Kira suddenly stopped her pacing, where she faced away from the invisible force field. “There's only one good thing about being imprisoned; the Breen keep us warm.”

Odo lifted a head a little as he was yanked from his thoughts. “It is odd,” he agreed. “You would think giving their reputation they would have made things unpleasant. Say lowering the temperature below nine degree centigrade.”

Kira though displayed something half way between amusement and disbelieve. “So are you saying the Breen have some redeeming features?”

“I'm just saying that things could be much worse,” Odo calmly replied, careful not to fire up Kira’s angry mood.

Nodding slightly to his statement, some of Kira's moodiness receded, and she then sat down beside Odo on the bunk, gazing steadily into his eyes. “As long as we are together, then we could be going to hell, and it would still be bearable.”

A brief grunt of laughter spilt from Odo’s mouth as he appreciated Kira’s commitment to him. “That's another thing, surely the Breen know we are married, so why did they place us in the same cell?”

“Compassion maybe?”

“Huh!” laughed Odo, he was not sure the Breen were capable of compassion.

Kira though pressed on with her point. “They haven't got round to interrogating us... Yet.”

“We are going to be interrogated,” said Odo firmly, he knew this to be a stone cold fact. “And it seems they're saving the most important prisoners for last. Mr Amir over there has yet to be interrogated...”

Quickly Kira darted her eyes to one of the cells by the room's other side, the one which contained Amir. From their angle he could not be seen. But when he drifted close to the force field, his very dishevelled and beaten appearance came into view. Now he was a mere shell of the man who first arrived on Breen.

Just then the cell force field lowered with a faint but brief whine. At the same time two Breen guards walked in with their helmets, and suits, donned and neural truncheons at the ready. Immediately Kira sprung to her feet, looking ready to fight, and when one of the Breen forcibly manhandled Kira by her shoulders, she lashed out, sending a well aimed punch to the Breen’s helmet.

The Breen who manhandled Kira staggered back a little, while the second one, raised the thin and lethal looking neural truncheon and zapped Kira with it hard against her abdomen.

Kira let out a gasp of pain, but retained some strength to aim another punch. This time though both Breen guards repeatedly zapped her and Kira’s whole body went limp.

Odo refused to let the Breen take Kira away without a fight. So he launched forwards, stretching his arms outwards to throttle the Breen. The liquid looking-arms were inches away from one of the guards, when the tips of upper limbs shattered in a very painful manner. He couldn’t understand it, so he rushed at the Breen, his upper arms still liquid while the rest of his body stayed solid.

But instead of knocking the Breen over, Odo's front torso felt liquefied, and he bounced off the Breen. He could barely hold his shape, as the front of his body burned as if it was on fire. In aghast he gaped at the Breen before noticing a device wrapped around both Breen’s left upper arms. Something about the device had a familiar feel to it. With a disconcerting jolt, Odo realised this was the same device which Garak had used almost 24 years ago to torture him, and to keep him in a solid form.

Except the Breen had made some extensive modifications to the quantum stasis field generators. Odo's body felt immobilised. He was stuck lying down practically glued to the floor as he watched the Breen take his wife away. The force field reactivated, some seconds later Odo could move his form, while the pain receded.

Quickly he reformed himself to his usual appearance, and hurried over to the force field, trying to catch one last glimpse of the Breen and Kira. All he saw was the back of Kira’s limp body, as the Breen carried her along, with Kira’s boots dragging across the floor.

The door to the holding cell area opened up, revealing a corridor, though it soon closed after the Breen quickly marched through.

Odo sat back down on the bunk feeling utterly low. He had heard horror stories and rumours of the Breen’s cruelty and love of torturing other humanoids senseless. Just what horrors would his wife be facing? It didn’t bare thinking about, so he told himself repeatedly that Kira was going to come back, just like the rest of the Federation delegation.

They all came back, disorientated, a little injured, but they came back… He then jumped up onto his feet, and copied the exact same pacing Kira did as he tried to work off his anger, worry and frustration. Finally even pacing was not enough, and he stopped, before banging his fist hard against the cell wall.

His frustration ebbed when he heard the door leading to the holding cells open once more. There was the brisk clunk of Breen boots striding down the metal floor, and out of the corner of his eye, Odo noticed the two Breen coming to a stop by Amir’s cell.

Now Odo turned around because he knew what was going to happen. He wished he couldn’t hear Amir’s yells of pain and fright, unfortunately shapeshifters could always hear even when regenerating. After several repeated zapping sounds coming from the neural truncheons, Amir went silent, and Odo closed his eyes trying to detach himself from the terrible situation he was in…


***


Kira felt disorientated and queasy, she possessed little control over of her body, but she was conscious of the strong grip of Breen hands around her arms, the lolling of her head and the scraping of her boots against the ground. Where the neural truncheons had struck her, there lingered a nasty aching feeling and a sore numbness.

She managed to open her eyes only to make out the blurry vision of a corridor. “Where are you taking me?” she moaned, while her speech slurred a little.

“Quiet!” hissed the Breen, and his free hand reached for his neural truncheon before he jabbed it hard against Kira’s stomach.

“Arrgghh!” screamed Kira, and her stomach recoiled inwards from the pain.

The whole shock went straight through her body, and she went into limbo again, hearing sounds, feeling distant sensations…

She finally came to again, and she thought she heard movement behind her. So turning her head stiffly she noticed two other Breen guards, dragging along an unconscious Amir. This time Kira kept her silence so as to not provoke the Breen, and this all felt like a nightmare to her. But her physical strength returned a little, and at least she could now walk of her own partial accord, even if the Breen were carrying her along.

The Breen then sharply turned left to a doorway, which promptly opened, and Kira looked at what seemed to be an office of some kind. The office's temperature felt colder than she expected, only then did she become aware of her shivering for all this time.

Looking ahead, she saw three Breen, without their heads covered, and all three were talking animatedly. Despite this, Kira could sense a certain tension in the office. With a shock, she then recognised the insignia on one of the Breen’s chests; that was Fellet Jret. He looked even uglier and more revolting than your standard Breen with his short hair which took on a shade of black more darker than a black hole.

“The prisoners; better if they were beaten,” said a Breen with longer and brown hair. “Beaten; shows their subjection to us!”

Kira couldn’t make out the expression on Jret’s face, though his mandibles were clicking away in an odd manner.

“The broadcast; its public relation's impact would be greater?”

“Absolutely,” said the brown haired Breen with a strong vehemence.

“You people are crazy!” burst out Kira, as her anger reached boiling point. “You're talking about-”

“Silence; you Bajoran cockroach!” hissed Jret, and his mandibles clicked loudly matching his anger.

“Make me go silent!” said Kira, leering at Jret in a very contemptuous manner.

“Colonel, don't tempt them...” said Amir weakly.

“What are you going to do to us?” she asked to Jret.

Jret then broke away from the conversation with his two Breen advisors. “Bajoran; do you ever shut up?”

“Answer the question,” demanded Kira.

Something like amusement appeared on Jret’s face, and he slowly approached Kira, cocking his head a little to one side perhaps out of curiosity. “Fear; this Bajoran has none...” he said almost admiringly. “Bajoran; you will assist me in my broadcast.”

“Not likely,” Kira shot back, continually glaring at Jret.

Jret though smiled, it seemed he wanted to hear that answer. “Soldiers; beat the prisoners up. Careful; do not damage their brains.”

Kira was not going to be beaten up without a fight, so she managed to yank her right arm out of the grip of the Breen soldier to her right. He didn’t seem to expect Kira to act so rash. With her right arm free she positively clobbered the Breen to her left placing an upper hook below the Breen’s chin,

That Breen gave out a grunt of pain, and Kira felt his grip slacken against her left arm. The blood pounded through her brain as her body readied itself for the fight. With both arms freed, she turned around to confront the Breen to her right, but he got to her first with a well placed jab of the neural truncheon to her chest.

Kira’s whole body seized up, and she crumpled to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut. She couldn’t move, all she could do was hear Amir’s cries of pain as the guards absolutely pummelled him. The Breen soldier who had stunned her then dragged her upright, while the Breen she previously clobbered came over to her.

He ground one of his fists against the palm of his hand in a threatening gesture. Kira could only look on trapped by both her immobilised body and the Breen pinning her shoulders tight against his chest. She felt her arms go further limp as the blood flow was restricted by the Breen's powerful grasp.

The second Breen came to a stop less than two feet away from her and then walloped Kira with one powerful punch.

The blow shattered Kira’s recently healed nose, for the second time it broke and the blood began pouring out. The next blows were just as hard, and painful, and all she could do was simply grunt in pain. She could barely breathe, and when the Breen got in a few punches to her chest, all the breath was knocked out of her.

It took all her will power to look at the Breen hitting her straight in the face. She was not afraid of pain or torture, as the crazy part of her embraced it and the chance to show the Breen that they could break her body, but not her pagh.

“Stop!” ordered Jret in a commanding voice. “The prisoners; sufficiently beaten up.”

The Breen holding Kira eased his grip a little, and Kira felt herself on the verge of collapsing. Only the Breen kept her upright as Kira's body had taken too much punishment. Her face, chest and abdomen were limp from the pain, while hot sticky blood clung to many parts of her face. She could only open one eye, at best her vision was blurry.

“Good; now they will catch the Federation's attention,” said another Breen.

What happened next Kira could not tell, she suddenly felt a sharp prickling sensation on the back of her neck before she became totally out of it… Her being descended downwards into the consuming darkness…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 5 2012, 01:01 AM   #4
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 2, part 2

Leaving her office, Ezri walked out into Ops. “You said this was urgent commander?”

Megan, who manned the situation table, nodded. “There's a subspace message broadcasting on all frequencies which is coming from Breen.”

“On screen,” Ezri said, her eyes drearily focused upon the viewscreen, which was mounted on a wall some metres above the floor, several metres in front of her .

The broadcast showed Fellet Jret standing rather imposingly in his office. A helmet covered his face and he wore a body suit similar to that of a thot's uniform, though its design appeared far more elaborate and stately looking.

To the Federation, in this message I have recorded, the language is in the style of Federation Standard for ease of your comprehension.

For too long have the Breen stood passively by while the Federation expanded and encroached upon the confederacy's territory. This will not continue for any longer, and we will not tolerate Federation interference in strictly Breen matters. Of all the entities the Breen have encountered, the Federation must be the most insidious and evil of them all. Without weapons it conquers races through their charm and values, it moulds races and twists their cultures to something conforming to Federation principles.

The Federation has attempted to do this on the Breen race however it will fail. To stand up against such a corrosive force, the Breen were in need of an ally, someone who hated the Federation just as much as we do. As of three days ago the Breen Confederacy and the Romulan Star Empire formerly signed a defensive pact, rights of passage through our respective territories, and trade rights.

Unfortunately a stretch of Federation territory, filled with a smattering of outposts and worlds, is a barrier between the Breen and Romulan territories, and for the sake of trade it would be far more convenient to go through that territory than around it. The Federation would never allow this in a devious attempt to strain the new pact between the Breen and Romulans. However I give to the Federation an ultimatum.

You are to relinquish the territory I mentioned-the exact sectors of which are given in this message-and to allow the Breen and Romulans to divide this territory fairly between ourselves. Failure to do so will result in the following consequences: firstly all 36 prisoners from the Federation delegation will be killed.


The camera turned to the right to reveal Kira and Amir, both of whom were unconscious and badly beaten. A Breen soldier each supported Kira and Amir respectively. It took all of Ezri's willpower not to grimace as the camera then focused on first Amir's face and then Kira's face, before reverting back to Jret.

The far more serious threat the Breen Confederacy will carry out is an invasion of Federation territory. Together with the Romulans, we will inflict devastating damage upon key Federation worlds: Bajor, Trill, Vulcan, Andoria, Tellerite, and even the much vaunted Earth. Tens of billions of civilians will die, and their blood will be on the Federation Council's hands for not complying with reasonable demands.

I finally address this to both the Federation and the Klingon Empire as a warning to them. With the pact between the Breen and the Romulans, both races will grow stronger, until our power is far greater than the Federation and the Klingon Empire combined. We will become the dominant power in the Alpha Quadrant, and in the long term, history will remember the glory of the Breen Confederacy, and Romulan Star Empire, long after the Federation has turned to dust!


The message ended. Ezri’s relief at knowing that Kira and some of the Federation delegation were alive became quickly replaced with more apprehension. So the Breen really were working with the Romulans, and the stakes were raised even higher for Ezri. If the Romulans attacked DS9, then the Breen would attack from their border, causing a chain of events leading to a full-scale war in the Alpha Quadrant.

Megan was the first one to speak, and end the stunned silence. “At least we know Kira and Mr Amir are still alive.”

Ezri ignored her dark thoughts and switched back to thinking about the present situation. “Commander, any change to the status of the Romulan fleet?”

“Nothing, they're staying put...” said Megan.

“Captain,” said Max, “we're being hailed from the Romulan flagship, it's general Keelin!”

This was the last thing Ezri needed, rather brutally she forced her brain to crank up into her diplomatic mode. “On screen,” she calmly ordered.

Once more Keelin was sat in the commander’s chair of his flagship. Furthermore, he brimmed with confidence as if he were in a position to boss Ezri around. “Captain, have you reached a conclusion regarding the demands I gave to you?”

“I need more time to think about it-”

“Stop delaying!” said Keelin angrily, cutting straight through Ezri. “Perhaps if I explained to you the reasoning for the demands, it may help you to reach a decision?”

Ezri half-expected Keelin to threaten her and the station, but this took her a little by surprise, and she fought to keep her composure straight. “If we're going to talk about such matters, then we are doing so in this station's wardroom...”

She stared confidently back at Keelin, daring him to protest. “Agreed?”

“Agreed,” said Keelin finally. “I'll arrive in ten minutes time.”

“Remember the shields will only lower when all of your ship's disruptor banks and phaser banks have been powered down,” warned Ezri.

“Of course...” replied Keelin, a somewhat wounded expression formed on his face, whether fake or not, Ezri couldn’t tell. “But do you really think I would stoop that low?”

“General, I have no idea what you are capable of so I wouldn't know...” answered Ezri lightly. “We follow the same procedure, any slight deviation on your part and this station's shields will be raised, regardless of whether your ship is in the shield's perimeter or not!”

The channel closed from Keelin’s end, which was Ezri's cue to head for the turbolift. “Mr Paulson, please escort general Keelin to the wardroom when he arrives at docking port two.”

Feeling a sense of déjà vu when Paulson arrived onto the turbolift with her, Ezri told the turbolift where she wanted to go… This whole situation verged on turning into something crazy. Admiral Ross recently told her that the Federation Council hadn’t managed to formerly contact the new Romulan government because of its silence. So here Ezri was, the Federation’s only informal contact with the Romulan government.

The sooner the Romulan government broke its diplomatic silence the better, because Ezri then hoped that Keelin would leave, as she assumed Keelin’s sole purpose for arriving at this station was to informally contact the Federation on behalf of his government. It smacked of a very odd arrangement, though Ezri reasoned it must have been something to do with the coup, and possibly Praetor Toshen’s way of contacting the Federation while he consolidated his new-found power.


***


Ezri stood by one end of the wardroom's briefing table waiting for Keelin to arrive. This meeting with Keelin would be interesting to say the least. However what troubled Ezri was the lack of news regarding the Romulan government formerly contacting the Federation. It seemed Keelin was a messenger, a messenger apparently under Praetor Toshen’s orders…

DS9 had now become the focal point of some kind of intrigue and power struggle between the Federation and the Romulans. Everything inside of Ezri told her all of this would inevitably end badly for her and the station.

The door to the wardroom opened, and Keelin walked in, like Ezri he was armed with a disruptor. “Captain, I am getting a little tired of your delays...”

Ezri walked towards him, keeping her face as neutral as possible. “Delays...” she muttered with some sarcasm, before continuing on. “Keelin you claim these demands are for maintaining the Devron treaty and keeping peace in the quadrant. And yet when I carefully analyse them, these demands amount to little more than extortion! You would ask the Federation to hand over sectors 1334 to 1341, and sectors 1232 to 1245.”

“Territory which is sparsely populated,” said Keelin rather arrogantly, “and there are many empty sectors in between. If you hadn't got there first, there would have been a border between the Breen and the Romulans, and a three way intersection of where the tip of the Ferengi Alliance, the Breen Confederacy and the Romulan Star Empire would have met!”

The time for pretence and hiding ones intentions was over, so Ezri decided to candidly reveal to Keelin her position on the whole matter. “Do you realise that the Federation would never agree to those demands! The number of sectors lost would amount to one tenth of the Federation's territory, gone!”

“Territory which has some relay stations, starbases and occupied worlds,” replied Keelin angrily, with each word his voice steadily rose and his hostile glare intensified. “You claimed a lot more territory than was appropriate, and simply placed Starfleet stations and outposts to stake your claim to star systems, nebulae and various expanses! You don't even conquer, you simply impede other interplanetary states ability to expand!”

“There is a clear difference between expanding territory and conquering it!” said Ezri loudly, returning Keelin's glare.

“Really?” challenged Keelin. “Your omnidirectional expansion threatens both the Breen and my people.”

“Your demands will never be agreed to!” retorted Ezri, and she was on the verge of shouting.

Now Keelin started leering at Ezri, he seemed to be enjoying every moment of the meeting. “Oh you won't agree to them, but Starfleet Command and the Federation Council will agree...”

“Otherwise it's war?” finished Ezri, though she sounded calm her insides were fuming.

“Precisely,” said Keelin, smiling one devious and wicked smile. “And in such a war, you would lose a lot more than some sparsely occupied territory. Many of your key worlds, Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, Trill, Bajor, Bolarus, Tellar, would come under attack. You think that Breen raid on Earth during the last months of the Dominion war was bad? Just wait until there are Breen or Romulan armies on your precious Earth...”

Ezri ignored Keelin’s threat and responded in like kind. “With the Klingons at our side, Starfleet could push your armies back to their borders.”

“Yes you could do that,” admitted Keelin, in that moment his bravado faded. “But the civilian deaths would mount so high, in there tens of billions, and the destruction so great, it would be a very bitter victory.”

“The Romulan Empire couldn't support such an endeavour, you can barely feed your own people!”

”But we are desperate,” said Keelin through clenched teeth, staring at Ezri with intense fervour. “And we have nothing to loose, whereas you do! Because of that you will settle for peace and a little humiliating compromise, rather than all out war.”

“You don't want peace!” Ezri spat out bitterly. “Even if the Federation agrees to such demands, where will it stop? Whatever stipulations, clauses and terms would the Federation have to further agree to, just to preserve the peace?”

“Can't you see it?” she asked Keelin a little desperately, as her anger faded. “War is inevitable if you and the Breen keep pressurising the Federation like this.”

“If any war were to happen, then it would be through your transgressions, not ours!” hissed Keelin, he went as far as to jab his finger forward against the top of Ezri’s chest in an angry way.

Though Keelin towered over Ezri, she squared up to the general, batting his hand out of the way feeling incensed by his physical posturing. “You claim the Federation has more to lose? Well it will be your people starving when the Federation inevitably cuts off the food aid we give to your state.”

Keelin then backed just a little away from Ezri, as he seemed to realise that he could not intimidate this woman. “You don't understand captain, the Breen/Romulan pact will make both sides stronger, and through it the famines in the empire will finally stop.”

Ezri sighed, and she shook her head, before moving some paces away from Keelin. “The Federation could have helped you resolve the famines, we could have given you so much more…”

She turned around returning Keelin's harshness with great somberness. “But you consistently refused to take our helping hand.”

The look on Keelin’s face turned positively obstinate. “I have nothing more to say to you captain. Tell your Federation that it has seven days to comply to these demands, otherwise there will be war.”

With a great angry aura, Keelin marched out of the room, leaving Ezri to wonder just what diplomatic means remained to prevent war. She felt adamant that the Federation wouldn’t agree to the Breen and Romulan demands, but if such an outcome occurred, then her station would be the first Federation position to be attacked should a war take place.

The most alarming thing was Keelin lack of bluffing. Ezri had studied similar Federation encounters with the Romulans, and always the Romulans were bluffing or looking for a fight but backing out at the last minute. This confrontation felt completely different. She could sense the confidence in Keelin, a confidence which stemmed from the fact that the Romulans were now allies with the Breen.

Ezri saw it as a potent union, one were even the combined powers of the Federation and the Klingon Empire might not be enough to stop it… Ezri would be reporting all of this to Starfleet, though she could almost hear admiral Ross’ answer; the price was too damn high for peace.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 9 2012, 10:31 PM   #5
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 3, part 1

Day 11, 0400 hours

Incoming call from admiral Ross, priority one,” resounded the computer's voice in Ezri’s bedroom.

At once Ezri woke up, and though tired she wasn’t really sleeping, just drifting in and out of consciousness. She left her bedroom, trying to remember the disjointed dreams of the night, but all she got were small jolts of worry and fear.

She entered the living room, dressed in her grey pyjama trousers and black T-shirt, and took up the chair behind her command console. “Transfer to this quarter's console authorization Ezri gamma four two lambda nine,” she said sleepily.

The console screen displayed the live feed from Ross’ office, and Ross himself looked almost as tired as Ezri. “Captain, sorry for disturbing you, but I have a mission for you to complete. I want you to take the Defiant back to the Breen homeworld, to free the Federation delegation. The Breen will say no, however they may change their mind if you threaten to destroy the biogenics factory we managed to locate on their homeworld. You will depart from DS9 at 0900 hours tomorrow, before departing you will cloak the Defiant, and then set a course for Breen. That way the Romulans will have no idea where the Defiant has gone to.”

Ezri’s brain had woken up, and she became more aware of what Ross was asking of her. “Getting to Breen will be no problem,” she said. “With the cloak, the Defiant should slip through the Breen border unnoticed. But bluffing with the Breen? They would know we're bluffing...”

“It's a risk I'm willing to take...” said Ross, though his eyes betrayed a little uncertainty about his decision. “For these last few days the Breen have been giving us their demands, I would say we turn it around upon them, and see just how far they're willing to raise the stakes...”

Ezri wholeheartedly agreed with Ross’ statement. “If the Breen do hand over the prisoners, the Defiant is going to have to retreat promptly. But it can outrun any Breen ship and the Breen can't detect the Defiant's cloak... It should be feasible to return to Federation space without being attacked.”

“Good...” said Ross, and any apprehension had vanished from his face. “You can also tell general Keelin, that the Federation's top diplomats are engaged in talks with Toshen's new government and high-ranking officials from the Breen Confederacy regarding the list of demands. Hopefully the general, and the ships he commands, will leave DS9 and return to wherever they came from.”

“I hope so admiral...” said Ezri a little wearily. “But somehow I get the feeling Keelin is going to stay put for as long as possible to threaten this station.”

Ross frowned to himself as he considered this. “To incentivise us to agree to the demands, otherwise he attacks the station...” he thoughtfully murmured. “I hope not captain, I really hope not. Ross out.”

Ezri got up, and left the console, rubbing her eyes as she did so. “Computer what is the time?”

0400 hours, Bajoran time.

So much for sleeping Ezri thought ruefully. Heading back to her bedroom she undressed and put on her uniform, there was work to be done, lots of it…


***


“Ms Dawson, hail the Romulan flagship,” said Ezri.

“Channel open,” said Tanya.

The Ops viewscreen showed Keelin in his usual position on the Romulan ship. “Captain, has your Federation agreed to the the Breen and Romulan demands?”

“Not yet...” replied Ezri, and she calmly locked her gaze with Keelin's. “The Federation is in contact with both the Romulan and Breen governments and is negotiating such matters. So I see no reason why you need to speak with me, or why your ships must surround this station.”

As was so typical of Keelin, his face remained blank, and he seemed to have no reaction to this bit of news. “I heard about this development some hours ago, and I would have left your little station alone, but I have received a new set of orders where I am to hold position.”

“Hold position?” quoted Ezri.

“Yes captain,” said Keelin, and the smugness returned. “A rather simple set of orders, but they come from Praetor Toshen himself.”

“That is interesting...” said Ezri musingly, she sounded calm but inside her anger was raging.

“How so?” asked Keelin politely.

“Well you would almost think that having your ships surround this station is simply to pressurise the Federation into action. In others word this is simply a political move...”

The look on Keelin’s face became very fixed. “You can guess at the motives of the orders all you want to captain... However I resent you implying that I am here to attack Deep Space Nine should these new rounds of negotiations fail.”

“Actions speak louder than words general, but do not think for an instance that your ploys and schemes will lull us into a false sense of security. Dax out.”

“He's toying with us!” snarled Megan, the moment the channel closed.

“I know that commander,” said Ezri wearily, “but like us he is just posturing... Chief is the Defiant ready for departure?”

“It is captain,” said Nog, and he left the sentence hanging open… “Are you sure you don't want me on the Defiant? I know its engines and systems better than anyone else does.”

“No Nog, the offer is much appreciated, but I need you here in Ops, in case the worst does happen and the Romulans attack.”

Nog simply nodded, and Ezri turned her back to Nog, her mind on more urgent matters. “Commander, may I have a quick word with you?”

Without comment, Megan looked up from her station, waiting for Ezri to speak.

“In private...” added Ezri.

The two women departed to the commander’s office, and inside they came to a stop by the desk.

“What's on your mind captain?”

“The Romulans...” stated Ezri, before she looked at Megan very seriously. “Whatever may happen, do not give them a reason to attack this station. Should the worst happen, then it will be the Romulans who fired the first shots, and not us.”

“Of course I wouldn't do anything to provoke the Romulans!” burst out Megan, and she looked rather insulted by Ezri’s lack of confidence in her. “I wouldn't risk this station or the people who live in it by doing something that stupid!”

“I know you won't,” said Ezri quickly. “But the next forty or so hours are going to be critical. The peace must hold between you and the Romulans until the Federation reinforcements arrive. The Romulans know this, and if they're going to try anything stupid-”

“It will be before the reinforcements have arrived,” said Megan.

“Exactly...” said Ezri. “One more thing…”

Ezri went to the back of her desk, and opening a compartment from the underside, she removed from it her site-to-site transporter. “Take the site-to-site transporter. I won't be needing it with the mission I'm completing, but you might...”

“I understand...” said Megan, who took it from Ezri’s offered hand, and examined the device.

“Good luck commander,” said Ezri.

Megan broke her stare from the device, and looked straight into Ezri’s eyes. “The same to you.”


***


The Defiant was fully operational, and the crew were waiting for her orders. Ezri sat down in the commander’s chair, and after one brief moment of hesitation, she decided to set things in motion. “Mr Holo raise the cloak.”

“Cloak activated,” said Holo, while he gazed intently on the readings coming from the engineering consoles.

“Okay, Mr Weatherby take the Defiant out, nice and slowly. Bring her around 180 degrees clockwise.”

“Aye captain,” said Max who was at the helm.

Ezri averted her gaze from the viewscreen, to address the officer at the primary tactical station. “Mr Voran, what is the status of the Romulan ships?”

“No change in their position,” reported Voran. “Their weapon systems are inactive, and they are not conducting any invasive sensor sweeps.”

“So far so good,” said Ezri, and she now looked intently at the viewscreen, where the view now showed the Romulan ships.

“The ship is in position captain,” said Max.

Ezri nodded a little to herself, and stared at the view in front of her, where several Romulan ships filled up the screen. She rested her elbows against the chair’s armrests, while she clasped her hands together, carefully considering the situation. “Set a course of two-four-three mark one-nine-three between the two Romulan ships equidistant to the line of the course. Use thrusters, keep at them low power.”

“The Romulans shouldn't be able to detect such low thruster emissions when we're under the cloak,” said Holo.

“Let's hope not...” replied Ezri, her eyes still on the viewscreen.

The Defiant moved closer to the Romulan ships, and Ezri held her breathe wondering if Ross’ ploy was going to work. The Romulan ships maintained position, and Ezri could not tell whether the Romulans were aware of the Defiant’s presence or not. Finally a minute later the view of the Romulan ships was gone, and Ezri thought the trickiest part of setting off was over.

“We're past the two Romulan ships,” reported Max, “distance one kilometre.”

“Go to half impulse, and set a course for Breen,” ordered Ezri, and her hands lowered so they rested against the sides of the chair. “Once we're out of the Bajoran star system go to warp nine.”

“Yes captain,” said Max.

“Were we detected Mr Holo?” asked Ezri.

“I don't believe so,” said Holo, turning around in his chair to address Ezri. “If we had been detected, you would think that the Romulans would have engaged us or tried to surround us.”

“Possibly...” murmured Ezri.

With the danger past, Ezri returned back to her thoughts about the situation and the Romulans. She just hoped that when the Defiant returned back, if it came back from the mission, DS9 would still be standing in one piece.


***


Megan was using a console inbuilt into the situation table, in Ops, checking over sensors and various station functions. She was doing this to take her mind off matters, and all the time she went over through her head the explanation she was going to give to general Keelin about the Defiant.

One part of her knew that however well she lied or covered up, it was going to be hard to convince Keelin.

“We're being hailed by the Romulan flagship,” said Tanya, her eyes focusing on the console readings. “It’s general Keelin.”

Tanya didn’t sound surprised and neither was Megan. She walked away from her console and up the steps that lead to the commander’s office. Reaching the top of the mini flight of stairs, Megan turned around and her eyes were about level with the centre of the viewscreen.

“This will be interesting...” she told Tanya, while breathing out deeply to get her brain whirring away. “On screen.”

Keelin was sat in the command chair of his flagship’s bridge, and this time he didn’t look happy. There was no fake smile or pretend warm looks, he was now showing his true visage. “Commander, where is captain Dax?”

“Captain Dax isn't on the station, if that is what you mean,” answered Megan, sounding convincing with a calm and pleasant voice.

The frown on Keelin’s face deepened. “Don't patronise me commander, perhaps you would care to explain why the Defiant has cloaked?”

“It's part of an maintenance job, we're testing the Defiant's cloak to see-”

“Testing?” hissed Keelin, and he looked positively livid. “You expect me to fall for that lame answer? You are lying to me commander!”

Megan though smiled back, it felt strangely good turning the tables on Keelin, and being dishonest with him. “It is the truth, don't you conduct maintenance checks on your cloaks?”

“Don't evade the question,” replied Keelin forcibly, whose teeth were almost gritted together in anger.

But at that moment Keelin calmed down, some of that Romulan superiority and smugness returned to his face. “I want to ask you something commander. If you're really conducting these 'maintenance checks' on the Defiant, how come my ship's sensors detected fifty people vanish the moment the Defiant cloaked?”

Megan had an explanation ready made, but she now knew that nothing was going to fool Keelin, no matter how well she lied. “Well it is a big job checking-”

In one angry motion, Keelin was on his feet with his fists clenched. “You are not checking the Defiant's cloak!” he shouted. “You've cloaked that ship and it has left this station! I find it a remarkable coincidence that fifty people have disappeared, which is just below the Defiant's crew compliment.”

The smile still remained on Megan’s face, it felt good seeing Keelin lose his temper. “Coincidence general.”

Now Keelin turned very sour. “You know there is a way to test whether you are telling the truth, and that would be to fire on the position where the Defiant is docked.”

That was one threat Megan would not take lying down, she dropped her pleasant appearance and looked very seriously at Keelin. “If you do that then it will be considered an act of war on your people's part, and I will be forced to defend this station and the Defiant!”

“You are leaving me no other choice!” hissed Keelin, as his eyes brimmed with rage. “You are up to something commander, your captain has left the station and I intend to find out why!”

Megan decided to change tack, and threaten Keelin in return. “General Keelin think very carefully upon what you are embarking upon. If you open fire at this station, whether a direct volley or a warning shot, you would have committed an act of war. Thus scuppering the negotiations taking place between the Federation, Breen and Romulans.”

She paused, as she let those words sink in, she could almost see Keelin thinking and determining his options. “Now would your Praetor be very happy to hear that the reason why the negotiations failed was because of your reckless actions?”

There was no response from Keelin, and he looked well and truly cornered with this conversation. “Fine, have it your way,” he said very venomously. “But as a precaution my ships will raise their shields and activate their weapon's systems, just in case the Defiant decides to attack us.”

Megan’s tactic was now starting to backfire, if anything the stakes were once more reaching dangerous highs. “Isn't that a little extreme?”

“It is a necessary precaution,” replied Keelin smoothly, “since I have no idea where the Defiant is located.”

Keelin had now found his composure after his angry outburst. “Of course you could tell me where it is, and I won't have to take such a provocative step.”

A smile returned to Megan’s face, but it was a rather fixed one as she recognised her failure to fool Keelin. “The Defiant is still docked at this station general.”

“Indeed,” said Keelin, sounding warm and a little condescending, though his eyes were very cold.

The communication ended, and Megan breathed out deeply. That had been very hard, although the outcome was almost exactly what she expected. “Mr Paulson raise shields and activate the weapon systems!”

Tanya turned around in her chair, after covertly watching the dialogue between her commander and Keelin, to give Megan a somewhat glum expression. “The general didn't seem too convinced...”

“Well I tried,” said Megan in a slightly down-beat voice. “Though at least we know the Romulans don't know where the Defiant is.”

“I'll feel a lot safer when those Starfleet reinforcements come,” responded Tanya.

Megan briefly locked her gaze with Tanya, in that moment the two women shared their unspoken understanding. “Same here.”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 9 2012, 10:31 PM   #6
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 3, part 2

In what seemed like no time at all Kira was awake again, and she became conscious of the aching pains in her face and chest. She blinked a bit to sharpen her vision, and she saw three Breen in their usual attire. Though she noted a subtle difference in their uniforms; two of them had a thin green stripe just around the upper neck of their suit/body armour while the third did not.

The two Breen with the green stripe were going through various medical equipment, and Kira realised they were doctors of some kind. So the third Breen must have been her interrogator. She tried to move forwards however her arms, legs and waist were restrained. Looking downwards she saw black cords tying her body against the wall she was standing against.

The third Breen, the interrogator, became aware that Kira was conscious and he advanced towards her before stopping three feet away. “Your options; answer our questions or we will extract the information from you.”

Kira just stared back defiantly at the interrogator trying to annoy him.

The interrogator though just cocked his head a little, whether in surprise or annoyance Kira could not tell. “Lie-detector pads; apply them,” he said to the two doctors. “Cortical stimulator; apply that to the prisoner.”

Quickly the two doctors came over and one rolled up the left sleeve of Kira’s uniform tunic, while the other placed a grey pad over her forearm. It was sticky against Kira’s skin, more than that the sensation on her skin felt very odd, almost as if her skin was coming off her.

“Get off me!” she told them but to no avail.

“Silence!” came the harsh mechanical reply from the interrogator’s translator. “Cortical stimulator; get it activated,” he ordered to the doctors.

“You won’t get anything out of me!” hissed Kira.

When the doctors finished applying the second pad to Kira’s right forearm, one of the doctors applied a small circular cortical stimulator against her forehead, and they then stood back, waiting for the interrogator to give them further instructions.

One of the doctors had a Breen style tricorder and Kira presumed this device controlled the cortical regulator.

The interrogator nodded to that doctor, suddenly intense pain flared up inside Kira’s head. It took all of her will-power not to utter anything from her mouth, but when the pain started spreading downwards from her head and into the rest of the body, she began softly moaning in pain. All of a sudden the pain stopped. Kira rested limply against the restraints, her head bowed down while her body still ached.

“First question; what are the command codes of Deep Space Nine?”

“You'll get nothing from me,” answered Kira in a defiant voice laced with pain.

“Your resistance; expected,” said the interrogator. “A warning; your lack of cooperation will result in over thirty minutes of agony.”

Kira forced herself to lift her head, to look at the interrogator straight in the face. “Well you're just going to have use your devices to extract the information from me, because I will give you nothing.”

“Very well,” said the Breen and he nodded to the doctors.

“This Bajoran; her brain structure slightly chemically different,” said one of the doctors, and he didn’t sound happy. “Recommendation; we apply the procedure for two hours.”

Despite showing no fear, inside Kira grew more and more apprehensive, just what was she facing? Would there be progressively more pain each and every time the cortical stimulator activated?

“The Bajoran; will she remember anything afterward?” asked the interrogator.

“Remember; nothing much of this experience,” said the doctor.

“Good; let us begin.”

A few seconds later and the pain returned to Kira’s head, except this time it was even worse. Whispered sounds of agony escaped from her mouth, she tried to control her mouth but it was no good. Soon she started screaming in pain and thrashing against the restraints in a desperate attempt to ease her agony. Once started she couldn't stop screaming as the pain erupted in every part of her body.

She didn’t care about her dignity anymore, she wanted the pain to stop, she wanted to pass out or die. Anything but the pain… Sights, smells and sounds were all drowned out, the only sensation was pain…


***


Never had Odo felt so restless and so helpless. Somewhere his wife was being interrogated possibly tortured, and there was nothing he could do to help her. Amir had returned back some hours ago, he appeared to be sleeping but muttering to himself. It had been like that with all the prisoners after they were interrogated, each time none of them remembered very much about the interrogation.

But this was no comfort to Odo, he always felt protective towards Kira, though she knew how to protect herself so Odo never worried too much. Not this time though, the thought of his wife being so helpless scarred Odo greatly and he did not want to know the hell that Kira was probably going through.

The force field came down. Seconds later two Breen guards pulled an unconscious Kira inside before roughly dumping her on a bunk opposite to Odo. This time Odo stayed motionless because he knew he could not touch those Breen, not when they had their quantum stasis devices activated.

Once the Breen were gone, and the force field came back up, only then did Odo move over to examine Kira. She was lying on her back moving her head a bit, occasionally she muttered at random saying words. Odo recoiled a little when he noticed how bruised and battered Kira’s face was, it seemed the Breen used her face as a punch bag. Odo then gently shook Kira trying to wake her, but she ignored him, and her muttering continued.

“Nerys, what have they done to you?” he asked softly, looking at the troubled face of his wife.

He went to the back of the cell, where the food and water dispenser was located. There were only two controls on the touch panel; one for dispensing that red, circular, chewy jelly and the other for dispensing a vial of water. He got two vials of water, removing them from a slot in the dispenser, and returned back to Kira.

With one hand he held Kira’s chin, to stop her head moving about, and with the other placed the unsealed water vial in her mouth. The water tipped inside Kira’s throat, from her lack of reaction she seemed incapable of swallowing, so Odo removed the hand from Kira’s chin, and placed it around her throat, to force her to swallow.

When he finished giving Kira water, he dumped the vials in a bin by the archway. There was nothing for it but to wait for Kira to come out of her troubled sleep…


***


With a horrified gasp Kira woke up, and she quickly sat upright, before staring around wildly at the surroundings through two very puffy black eyes.

“Easy! Easy!” Odo told her, and he placed his hands around Kira’s shoulders to restrain her a little, in case she made any more sudden movements.

“What happened?” Kira asked in a dazed voice.

“You were taken away for over six hours...” said Odo after removing his hands away from Kira’s shoulders, he then sat down beside Kira. “Are you hurt anywhere else?”

“Hurt?” Kira asked, squinting at Odo in a puzzled way.

“Your face; it's all puffy, bruised and bloody.”

“Oh that...” said Kira, gently her hands drifted upwards to touch her face. “Some Breen soldiers beat me up in Fellet Jret's office.”

“Why did they take you there?”

“I don't know,” replied Kira in a distracted way, and she then swung her legs off the bunk until her feet were resting on the floor. “I saw some sort of recording equipment, maybe Jret was making-” Kira then placed held clasped the sides of her head very tightly as her face contorted in pain. “Ooohh!” she exclaimed. “I've got such a splitting head ache!”

Odo showed even more concern towards Kira. “Did they do anything else to you?”

“No...” said Kira, she appeared a bit confused, though due to her facial injuries it was hard to tell.

Eventually Kira’s gaze sharpened up, she directed at Odo in a perturbed way. “Odo did you say six hours past by?”

“It's part of my body clock, six hours have gone by since you were taken away.”

At this Kira’s mouth opened a little in surprise. “But it feels like half an hour at most! How could so much time have gone by?”

“I don't know...” replied Odo, and he cudgelled his brain, trying to find an explanation. “Maybe you were drugged or something?”

“I remember now!” exclaimed Kira loudly, her eyes widened a little. “I was sedated and then I woke up here...”

She frowned to herself. “No that isn't right...”

With a small gasp, she then seemed to remember a bit more. “I was in some sort of interrogation room...” she slowly said, and her hands were moving of their accord as if she were trying to place imaginary things. “There were two Breen, perhaps a third one... And... And...”

“Go on...” said Odo gently.

Kira’s hands then rested on her thighs, and when she spoke, she spoke in little more than a whisper. “All I can remember is pain, like my body was set on fire. I don't know how long the experience lasted... It was all so confusing...”

Odo knew how hard this was for Kira given all of her exhaustion, fatigue and weariness. He wrapped an arm around Kira’s waist as he tried to comfort her in the only way he could. “Maybe it's better that you can't remember everything?”

“You're right...” said Kira, nodding a bit in agreement. “From what I can remember, I was probably being brutally tortured...”

“I like to see the Breen torture me!” snorted Odo, laughing a little afterwards.

“They might be able to...” murmured Kira, she glanced at Odo in a worried way. “Remember those devices attached to their arms? It stopped you from shapeshifting, you know what happened the last time you were tortured like that.”

Kira was right, and Odo’s bravado faded, subconsciously he removed the arm placed around Kira’s waist, as he contemplated the prospect of such torture. “At least Garak was going to stop, but these Breen... They may stop me shapeshifting until...”

“Until what?” asked Kira, looking at Odo with some trepidation.

“Until my morphogenic matrix breaks down...” explained Odo, it was a horrible prospect to him because he knew how painful that would be. “Which would result in my death…”

A bleak silence followed afterwards. The two continued to sit next to each other, both looking at the adjacent wall and both looking lost in thought.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

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Old June 22 2012, 09:48 PM   #7
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 4, part 1

Day 11, 2100 hours

“We're entering the Breen border captain,” reported Max.

So here was the moment of truth, and Ezri couldn’t help but shift a little uncomfortably on her chair. “What is the status of the nearby Breen ships?”

Voran who was at the primary tactical station answered that question. “The ones on patrol have maintained their course, while the ones guarding the border haven't changed their position. If they have detected this ship, they would have definitely intercepted us.”

“You are right,” said Ezri, though it did nothing to ease her nervousness. “Mr Weatherby maintain course.”

“Course maintained.”

It felt a little surreal to Ezri entering Breen space whilst slipping in apparently undetected. But she was growing a little more confident that if the Breen hadn’t detected the Defiant at the border, then they wouldn’t detect the Defiant a few dozen light years into Breen Confederacy territory to reach the Breen homeworld.


***


Day 12, 2330 hours

Reaching the Breen homeworld undetected was one thing, but now came the most dangerous and difficult part of the mission, and though Ezri had a plan, she didn’t know what the outcome would be.

She had not slept for over thirty hours, virtually everyone on the Defiant had not slept as the ship maintained a state of constant battle alertness. The fatigue gradually fastened its hold on Ezri, however she stayed alert by continually reminding herself about the dangerous situation the Defiant was placed in.

“Mr Holo drop the cloak, and contact the Breen homeworld, in a general subspace communication.”

For one moment Holo hesitated, looking deeply perturbed by the captain’s orders, but then he obliged. “Communication sent…”

“Breen ships are intercepting us captain!” said Voran, who sounded somewhat nervous. “Time of arrival, less than a minute.”

“Red alert!” said Ezri. “And raise shields.”

“Aren’t we going to activate the phaser banks, and arm quantum torpedoes?” asked Voran incredulously.

“We are here to talk Mr Voran,” said Ezri a little impatiently. “Not to attack the Breen…”

The seconds past by, and Ezri knew that if there was no response from the Breen, and the Breen ships arrived, she would have no choice but to high-tail it out of Breen territory. Everyone was tense, and the tension only grew as the Defiant simply maintained position a few thousand kilometres away from the Breen surface.

“They're responding!” said Holo.

“On screen!” said Ezri quickly.

Fellet Jret appeared on the viewscreen sat behind his desk, with his eyes initially betraying a little surprise at the Defiant’s presence. “Starfleet vessel; you are trespassing in Breen territory,” he hissed. “Consequence; to be boarded!”

Ezri though gave a Jret a very confident, brazen and aggressive look. “You even attempt to attack the Defiant and I'll open fire on your top-secret biogenics factory. It seems to be the only one you've got.”

The anger on Jret’s face ebbed and his mandibles began clicking in an uncertain way. “Biogenics factory; how do you know about it?”

Without deviation, Ezri maintained her expression, staring right into those beady eyes of Jret's. “This ship conducted sensor sweeps and encountered a rather large cloaking field, imagine my surprise when I discovered a biogenics factory on your planet. After thirteen years of peace with the Federation why would the Breen Confederacy need a biogenics factory? Unless of course you were planning an invasion where bio-weaponry will be used. I have good reason to destroy it...”

Just as Jret was about to respond, Ezri interrupted him. “Mr Voran arm phaser banks, ready the quantum torpedoes. Set coordinates at two-one-four mark nine-seven-one, and prepare to-”

“Wait!” exclaimed Jret, whose mandibles seemed to be shuddering from his apprehension and worry. “Demands; state them.”

“I want the release of all the Federation prisoners you are keeping, within the hour. Failure to do so and I will raze the biogenics factory to the ground. Furthermore your ships are to maintain a distance of one thousand kilometres from the Defiant. Any closer and I will open fire. You have thirty seconds to agree to these demands, or say goodbye to your biogenics factory.”

There was absolute silence on the bridge, and from Jret, while the seconds slipped by.

“The Breen ships are still approaching,” reported Voran.

Ezri though remained quiet, counting down the seconds until the deadline passed. She kept her face utterly rigid and poker-like, inwardly praying that Jret would fall for this bluff.

“Agreed,” said Jret, “in one hour the 25 prisoners will be beamed to your ship. My ships; will maintain one thousand kilometre distance from your vessel.”

The transmission ended, and Ezri waited for confirmation that the Breen ships were doing this.

“The Breen ships are breaking formation,” reported Voran. “They’re moving away from us!”

“They fell for it!” said Max rather gleefully.

“Let’s keep on our toes people,” warned Ezri. “Only once the 25 members of the Federation delegation are safely on board, do we promptly retreat out of here.”

“Captain what stops the Breen ships from pursuing us, when we have the delegation?” asked Max, who had turned around in his chair, to look at Ezri in a somewhat nervous manner.

“We can outrun the Breen ships,” said Ezri with confidence. “Not only that this ship is twice as nimble as any ship the Breen throw at us. We managed to escape from Breen territory once, and we can do it again.”


***


Kira sat in silence on the bunk as she let her body rest from the beating and torture she suffered from one day ago. If of course one day had passed… It was very difficult keeping track of the time, but Odo previously assured her one day had passed because his inner body clock told him so.

She felt so weary and she recognised to herself that the Breen had weakened her pagh. In the long silence she said prayers in her mind. The prayers were not only directed to herself, but also for Odo, her children, and the Federation delegation. Her faith gave hope when in all reality she saw none.

It was hard to talk to Odo because she had no privacy, and even when whispering, Kira thought the people in the corresponding cells would be able to hear her and Odo. So she couldn’t tell to Odo her worries, her feelings and all the things that she needed to say to her husband in a situation of such mortal peril.

Sometimes she tried to remember what transpired when she was tortured, but all she recollected were vague memories, screams and the feeling of pain. She knew she had been tortured but she felt like it had never happened to her, and she thought this was a good thing. Though she clearly remembered being set on by the Breen and the beating she endured.

Her face felt sore and swollen, and though Odo told her it didn’t look too bad, Kira was certain Odo had glossed things over. But she didn’t blame him for doing so, he was simply trying to keep her spirits up. When she was much younger, she would have gone mad from frustration and rage at being couped up like this. There still lingered that urge to do something, no matter how trivial or pointless.

But with maturity and age, Kira felt content with sitting here and waiting for whatever would transpire next. Maybe the Breen would interrogate or torture her again, perhaps she and Odo were going to be executed, and maybe, just maybe, there would be a way out of the situation she was trapped in.

She opened her eyes when she heard a door open. Listening carefully, she heard one set of footfalls upon the floor.

“To all prisoners; you will be freed,” said the Breen guard. “Your instructions; remain where you are. The Starfleet ship Defiant; will beam you out of here.”

Every prisoner was listening with baited breath. “Deception; there is none,” added the Breen, and he almost completely broke the optimistic atmosphere when he said ‘deception’ before it quickly returned.

The prisoners remained absolutely silent, as did Kira. She refused to believe what she had just heard and she didn’t dare voice her hope and joy. Only once the Breen guard left the detention room, only then did Kira feel that this was real. She was about to leave the Breen homeworld!

A muted reaction could be heard amongst the Federation delegation. Some of them were cheering, and thanking various deities or beings. Others were crying, some softly, while some were weeping.

“Oh thank the Prophets!” said Kira joyously, as the relief vented out of her voice.

“Thank captain Dax!” reminded Odo, though he to sounded upbeat. “I don't know how she did it...”

Kira got to her feet, taking one last glance of the small and dreary detention cell. “We're getting off this wintry and wretched planet!” she said out aloud, to convince herself this would be shortly happening.

There was the sound of transporter beams, Federation-sounding transporter beams, as one by one various prisoners dematerialised. Kira gazed at her husband, she could tell he looked just as pleased as her. Finally Kira limped a little over before she hugged Odo tightly. She didn’t want to let go, she would only let go when she was standing on the transporter pad back onboard the Defiant.

The blue lights shimmered around her, and her heart soared when she knew this ordeal was finally over. No more Breen, no more fear, no more of that bitter cold…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 22 2012, 09:48 PM   #8
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 4, part 2

Ezri was fixated to her chair, her elbows braced against the armrests and her hands resting on her chin, as she waited for the transport of the Federation delegation to finish. She waited for over five minutes before Jret told her that the shields over the Breen prison had been lowered. Those were five nerve-wracking minutes for Ezri, and she constantly wondered if the Breen would simply call her bluff.

But they didn’t, and she felt temporarily relief when the prisoners were being beamed up into the transporter room. However she was still worried that the Breen may just suddenly attack the Defiant. One calm voice in her mind told her that the Breen ships surrounding the Defiant were not within striking range, plus there were gaps in the Breen ships where the Defiant could slip through.

The whole transport operation would only take two minutes, those were however the slowest minutes of Ezri’s whole life. Finally she couldn’t sit and wait any longer, so she tapped her combadge to check on the status of the prisoners. “Holo are all the prisoners onboard?”

“The last group of them have arrived,” replied Holo.

“Good,” said Ezri, and some of the tension eased in her mind. “Helm, take us out of here and back to Federation territory.”

“Aye captain…” replied Max, he was halfway through initiating the commands when he stopped, and frowned at the operational readings from his console. “Captain, this ship's torpedo launchers are activating!”

Ezri jerked her head around to look at Voran, who was inputting in a series of commands. “Mr Voran what is going on?” she asked.

Voran though didn’t respond and he was focused entirely upon his station, inputting unknown commands.

“The targeting sensors have locked onto the biogenics factory,” reported Max, now sounding nervous.

Ezri took out the phaser stashed in a holder around her waist, set the setting at stun, and fired it at Voran.

Voran slumped forwards, but Ezri already reached his station, shoving him out of his chair and onto the floor. She gazed at the status of the weapon’s systems; the launch sequence for the flux torpedoes was being activated. Her hands flew to the console controls, desperately hoping she could stop the sequence from completing.

“I can't stop the launch sequence, he blocked all of my command codes. I'm trying to close the torpedo bay doors.”

“But that would destroy us captain!” exclaimed Max.

“And prevent war between the Breen Confederacy and the Federation!” responded Ezri, the words flying out of her mouth as she inputted in new commands. “No!” she said loudly, slamming her hand against the console. “I'm too late!”

She could not believe this was happening, and in a trance-like way, she forced herself to look at the viewscreen and watch the green flux torpedoes streak to the surface of Breen. The torpedoes went out of sight, and then a few seconds later, there was a visible explosion on the Breen surface.

From this view it appeared small, but Ezri knew that an explosion of that size would raze to the ground an entire metropolis. The flux torpedoes had been reconfigured, their armaments altered, because Ezri knew that the current yield would never have produced an explosion of that size.

The terrible truth of the whole situation then struck Ezri; the Defiant had fired on Breen and in doing so committed an act of war. Everyone on the bridge was gazing in both shock and horror by what had occurred.

“Fellet Jret is contacting us captain,” said Max, trying to sound professional and detached, but the numbness still resided in his voice.

Briefly Ezri had the back of her hand against her mouth as she tried to overcome her shock. “On screen,” she said.

Jret was in his office; his anger truly terrible to behold. His mandibles were clicking away at a ferocious pace. “The Federation; despicable treachery on its part!” he shouted.

“Fellet Jret this is a terrible mistake, but-”

“Lies; I refuse to hear them captain,” raged Jret, and through the anger he looked almost as shocked as Ezri felt. “Breen warships; are coming this way to take your ship. Once done; I will have your head captain! The Federation; will pay dearly for its treachery!”

The comm link ended, though Ezri had no time to dwell on the ramifications, right now she had to get the Defiant to safety. “Mr Weatherby take us out of Breen space maximum warp.”

Max didn’t need telling twice. His hands moved with extraordinary speed as he set a course to slip through the Breen ships.

Briefly the Defiant shook, as the Breen ships -- which the Defiant was approaching -- took pots shots, but it was nothing serious. Finally the viewscreen became clear of Breen ships and the stars then streaked as the Defiant went to warp.

Ezri returned to the commander’s chair, relieved that the Defiant was out of danger for the time being. “Thank God we can outrun Breen ships...”

She rested her gaze on the unconscious Voran. “Security, confine Mr Voran to his quarters and keep a close watch on him!”

Two security guards picked up Voran, and supported him by his arms, while they dragged him out of the bridge.

Ezri was inwardly fuming at what happened. Just what on Trill was Voran thinking? The magnitude of his actions were unbelievable to Ezri, because of Voran he might have started a second war between the Federation and the Breen Confederacy. The satisfaction of retrieving the surviving members of the Federation delegation morphed into absolute dismay by Voran’s actions.

What would Starfleet say? How was she going to explain to Starfleet what happened? Would they believe her when she told them that an officer took leave of his senses and destroyed the Breen biogenics factory? These were horrible questions, and Ezri dreaded the possibility that she would be blamed for whatever was going to happen afterwards. For surely the Breen were going to retaliate, and attack the Federation, as revenge for the destroyed biogenics factory.


***


Day 13, 1000 hours

Once again the Defiant managed to evade the Breen, with its high warp speed and cloak. However the journey was made more complicated as Max had to make a dozen course changes to avoid Breen fleets, and groups of ships, that were in the way of the Defiant’s course. This time it seemed the Breen were conducting a more methodical search for the Defiant, however to Ezri’s luck, the Defiant’s cloak seemed impervious to Breen sensor scans.

“Mr Weatherby how long until we are out of Breen territory?” asked Ezri.

“About two minutes,” said Max.

The sooner the Defiant was out of Breen territory the better Ezri would feel. Two things though were still bothering her. One, what would the Romulan response to the incident be, would the Romulan ships surrounding DS9 attack? Ezri was unable to ascertain the outcome, though she suspected something ugly might happen. The next troubling issue was how to explain herself to Starfleet about why the Defiant destroyed the biogenics factory on the Breen homeworld.

Almost two minutes later, and Max reported the Defiant’s position, detaching Ezri from her thoughts. “We've crossed the border into Federation territory.”

“Lieutenant Marley are any Breen ships pursuing us?”

“Negative,” said Marley, the male officer at the primary tactical station. “They gave up thirty minutes ago...”

“I'm receiving a high bandwidth subspace communication, priority one,” said Holo.

“On screen,” answered Ezri.

The viewscreen showed a very angry looking Ross, standing in front of his desk and he seemed ready to kill. “Captain do you mind explaining why you destroyed a Breen biogenics factory?”

“Sir, I did not destroy the factory, it was-”

“Save your excuses,” cut in Ross angrily. “You are relieved of duty and lieutenant commander Max Weatherby will be taking over the Defiant.”

Ezri got to her feet, and she couldn’t help looking wounded. “I am not to blame for what has happened,” she said, coming closer to the viewscreen. “If you would allow me-”

“Alright captain,” said Ross bitterly, “you have one minute to explain yourself, and if I'm not satisfied you will be relieved of duty.”

Quickly Ezri took in a big breathe of air, before she launched into an account of her version of events. “The incident with the biogenics factory happened after all the Federation prisoners were successfully rescued. I threatened Fellet Jret with destroying the biogenics factory if the prisoners were not handed over. However it was simply a threat, I had no intention of carrying through with it. The moment all the prisoners were on board the Defiant, Talor Voran, the officer at the primary tactical station of the bridge, initiated a launch sequence for all five flux torpedoes aiming at the biogenics factory.

“Mr Voran was acting of his own accord, and I had no idea he would carry out such a dangerous and unbelievable course of action. I did my utmost to stop the launch sequence, even trying to close the torpedo launchers doors -- which would have destroyed the Defiant -- but I was unsuccessful. Five flux torpedoes were fired, and struck the biogenics factory, destroying it in a matter of seconds. I swear to you admiral, I gave no such order to fire or even hint to my senior staff that we were to destroy the biogenics factory!”

There was a long silence from Ross as he considered Ezri’s explanation, and Ezri herself prayed she had said enough to save her career and avert a court martial.

Ross suddenly considered Ezri with less suspicion, and he had dropped his accusatory stare. “Can any one of your senior staff members corroborate your account of the events?”

Another silence. Ezri slowly looked back and forth from the senior staff present on the bridge. Kira couldn’t testify as she had not been on the bridge, but Holo or Max could, and Ezri waited for one of the two to come to her defence.

“I can sir,” said Max, sounding somewhat nervous as he addressed Ross. “Lieutenant commander Max Weatherby, chief pilot of the Defiant speaking. I was about to move the Defiant from its stationary position, when I detected the ship's torpedo launchers activating. I heard no order to fire, and Ezri clearly asked Voran, who was at primary tactical, what he was doing. Voran gave no response, and Ezri stunned him with her phaser and tried to stop the launch sequence.”

The nervousness Ezri felt reached a crescendo, surely Ross would come to realise that she was not to blame?

“It seems I jumped to the wrong conclusion...” said Ross slowly.

Ross now looked a tiny bit guilty, a moment later he turned his gaze to Ezri. “I rescind my order captain, however I want a highly detailed report explaining exactly what happened.”

“I understand...” said Ezri, trying not to sound too pleased. “Admiral what is happening with the negotiations with the Breen and Romulans?”

“They're on the verge of collapsing,” said Ross, and some of his worry became revealed in his eyes. “Both the Breen and Romulans are mobilising their fleets close to their respective borders to Federation space. If the negotiations collapse then we will have a full scale war on our hands. Deep Space Nine could be the first position to be attacked and it must not fall.”

Ross looked at Ezri very seriously. “Do whatever it takes to protect DS9 should the Romulans attack. We cannot afford to lose that station, Ross out.”

The transmission ended. Eventually nearly every crew member on the bridge returned back to work, Holo though continued to stare at Ezri with some sympathy.

“That was close captain,” commented Holo, “you almost got framed for a crime you never committed.”

Ezri then became aware she was still standing, looking out to the viewscreen. Mentally she shook herself and returned back to her chair. “That's by the by now, all that matters is DS9.”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 24 2012, 07:05 PM   #9
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 5, part 1

Day 13, 2100 hours

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

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

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

///

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

///

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

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

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

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

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

///

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

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

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

///

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

///

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

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

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

///

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah thanks...” muttered Mia.

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

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

“I hope so-”

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

“In about ten hours captain,” said Holo.

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

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

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

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 24 2012, 07:05 PM   #10
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 5, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Demands?” asked Kira a little shrilly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Let's hope not...”

There was a small pause…

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Very well,” said Ezri.

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


***


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

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

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

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

Paulson simply nodded and headed for the turbolift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bergfrid here.

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

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

I do,” said Bergfrid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that all you need?” asked Megan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 25 2012, 10:21 PM   #11
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 6, part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well I hope not...” said Nog.

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

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

“An hour, perhaps a little longer...”

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

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

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

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

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


***


“ETA to DS9?” asked Ezri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We do,” said Ezri firmly.

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Helping you to defend this bar.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cover my position,” said Raris.

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nooo!” screamed Megan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Burn in hell!” said Megan seethingly.


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 25 2012, 10:22 PM   #12
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 6, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Commander!” exclaimed Retal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nog here...

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

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

“Where are you?” asked Megan.

I'm in the security office.

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

Understood,” said Nog.

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

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

Bashir here.

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

I'm sorry commander but the transporters are down.

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

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

“Good! Felpes out.”

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

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” said Mia in a trembling voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

///

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

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

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

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

“On screen!” said Megan.

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

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

“Less than ten minutes...” said Nog.

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

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

///

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

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

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

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

///

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes captain,” said Max.

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
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Old June 28 2012, 12:16 AM   #13
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 7, part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you sure?” asked Tanya.

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

“I promise,” said Tanya solemnly.

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

“One more thing commander...”

“Yes?” asked Megan.

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

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

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

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


***


Day 14, 0020 hours

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

“It was close...” responded Ezri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Okay Nerys...”

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


***


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

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

“Yes colonel?”

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

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

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

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

Unable to process, damage to internal sensors.

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

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

Affirmative.

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

Promenade, Quark’s bar.

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

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

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

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

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

“Mia, Deru!” she called out to them.

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

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

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

“I'm fine, as is your father.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mum?” mumbled Deru.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odo here... Have you found them?

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

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

I understand, Odo out.

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

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

“Colonel...”

“Yes?” asked Kira a little impatiently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raris nodded and left Kira.

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28 2012, 12:17 AM   #14
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 7, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And what about toilets?” asked Mia.

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

“No,” replied Mia politely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you going?”

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

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

“I will mother,” said Mia.

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


***


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

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

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

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

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

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

“I understand...” said Holo simply.

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

///

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“As do I...” said Max.

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

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

“Name it.”

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

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

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

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

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

“One more thing...” said Tanya.

“Yeah?”

“How about a farewell kiss?”

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

“Is that better?” he asked Tanya.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I... love you,” whispered Tanya.

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

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

“Doctor...” said Max.

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

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

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

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

“Max...” said a voice, Holo’s voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption contest: DS9
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Old July 5 2012, 10:18 PM   #15
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 2)

Chapter 8

Day 14, 0600 hours

Mia lay back on her bunk bed, staring upwards at the cargo bay's ceiling. For some hours now, the cargo bay steadily filled up with people, to such an extent that Mia had to move the third mattress against the wall, to give some space to a Bolian family of four. Though it was crowded, the atmosphere remained civilised, and there were a few quarrels about space, but the Bajoran and Starfleet security guards watching over the cargo bay were quick to break up any disputes.

There was a low murmur of people talking, while the rest were asleep, or just laying still upon their mattresses. To Mia's surprise, she found that Deru had gone to sleep, and she wished she could also. However her eyes refused to close as she replayed the events in Quark's bar, over and over again in her mind. She had fired directly at several Romulans, and she was certain that two or three were killed by her actions.

Again and again, Mia kept telling herself that she was justified in defending herself. But she felt a horrible guilt and it wouldn't go away. Deru had seen her defend the bar, but what he didn't know was how many Romulans Mia had injured and killed. Mia's parents didn't know either, and this was something Mia could not bring herself to do; to tell her parents just what exactly she had done and her experience of it.

She knew that both Kira and Odo would want to talk about it, but Mia couldn't. She kept telling herself that what was done, was done. Yet at the same time she had the desperate urge to talk to her parents about what had happened... It felt so surreal, she had taken another person's life...


***


His shift was finally over, and in some ways Max dreaded this. For a few brief moments he had grieved over Tanya's death, but it was a only a few seconds. A terrible sense of duty and responsibility forced him to compose himself, and to keep calm and detached until his work was done. Even walking along the corridors he kept a rigid grip on the seal that contained all of his emotions.

Tanya was dead, and so far all he could feel was emptiness. He had hoped that Tanya would have survived, preferably unharmed or at worst a bit injured but nothing serious. Megan had come in half way through his shift to tell him what had happened, how Tanya got injured in the first place, and it took all of Max's control not to shed a tear or completely shut down and prematurely leave his shift. His feet were taking him to his quarters, and Max wasn't even thinking about the direction.

When at last he did make it inside his quarters, and when the doors closed, Max realised he now had privacy. The emotional seal began straining, but he was scared of opening it, even with his privacy. Finally the seal burst open and his emotions rushed out: grief, despair, loss and sheer anger. He screamed out aloud as his despair consumed him, screaming with all his force, as the loss hit heavily against his heart.

Once he stopped, he felt his eyes burn like mad, and soon hot tears poured from his eyes. He started sobbing, his mouth hung loosely open, while he sounded his despair. With conscious effort, he was again walking this time to the bedroom. When he went inside, his eyes strayed to the bed, a bed that was empty and would never again accommodate Tanya.

Seeing the bed compounded Max's loss, and he then slumped over the bed, his knees banging against the floor, while his torso was strewn over the sheets. He buried his head in the duvet, and his sobbing intensified. Why did Tanya have to die? How could she be taken? Now raw anger intermingled with his grief, and for the first time he knew what it meant to really hate a race.

He knew that Kira once had a hatred of the Cardassians, and he could understand why she once hated them for what they did to Bajor and her family, but he could never grasp the actual hate. Now he did, and all of it was directed at the Romulans. The animal instincts inside of them wanted to see every Romulan die for what they had done today; for killing his beloved Tanya.

It was a hatred more powerful than what he had for Coplin, this was anger, whether righteous or not, that made his head spin and created a massive desire for him to do something, other than grieve while slumped over a bed. What he wanted was revenge, but his stomach then squirmed out of self-disgust; revenge? That was the basest and most destructive of all human emotions, and however much he now hated the Romulans, killing them in cold blood would bring him no comfort.

He would not descend to their level, and no sooner did he come to this conclusion, he felt a brief respite to his grief. Pushing himself upright, he got off the bed and headed over to the wardrobe. Once opening it, he stared numbly at Tanya's clothing so neatly hung up. This just reminded him of Tanya's death, so he quickly closed the wardrobe, breathing out deeply from his intense emotions.

With his back to the wardrobe, he slowly slumped downwards against it, as a new wave of grief crashed over him. He lost his sense of time as he sat there crying away, as tear after tear poured from his eyes. Eventually he stopped crying as he had ran out of tears to shed, and all he felt was a terrible ache inside his heart from Tanya's death. The heart ache was the worst feeling of all, made all the worse as he thought back to all the happy times he had with Tanya...


***


It had been hard for Odo to complete his shift while not seeing his children. More than anything he wanted to see them with his own eyes, rather than just accept Kira’s words that Mia and Deru were alive and unharmed. But Odo always had a powerful sense of duty, and his shift’s work of helping to rescue people, search for missing people, was highly important.

He had seen a lot of relief and joy, of colleagues finding friends, fellow officers or members of family. Likewise Odo had also seen the grief, pain and despair of people losing loved ones, friends and family members. Everyone had been affected by the Romulan attack, and as the night hours progressed, the casualty report grew, as did the deaths… So far the number of dead reached 132, however Odo knew that toll would increase some more.

Only by tomorrow would all the missing people be accounted for. He worked multiple shifts, however he managed to allocate some time between shifts, so that he could finally reunite with his children. Along the way to cargo bay three, he was joined by Kira, and she told him all about what had happened to their children.

Upon hearing the information, Odo started worrying for both Mia and Deru. Odo always suspected that Deru was more sensitive than he appeared to be, and he hurt far harder than Mia did to emotional pain. However he was more concerned for Mia. She had done something which even he wouldn't have expected from her.

Inside the cargo bay, Kira guided Odo over to where their children were staying. The cargo bay was full of mattresses, but it didn't seem too cramped. Finally Odo spotted his daughter’s face, and his mood soared, she was alive, she was well…

“Father!” cried out Mia, and when Odo came close to her, she rushed towards him and hugged him tightly.

Odo returned the hug, and inside him he was overcome with emotion. Of everything he accomplished in life this was the most important; the bond between father and daughter. “Am I glad to see your faces,” he told Mia.

He let go of Mia, and decided that he would broach the matter of what she had done in private. For one thing Mia looked calm, as if nothing had happened. Looking around to his right, Odo saw the familiar sight of the back of Deru’s head. Deru it seemed was sulking way on the mattress, pretending to sleep, though this didn’t fool Odo for one second. “Is your brother okay?”

Mia looked at her brother sadly. “He's just shocked, I've tried to comfort him and tell him everything is going to be fine, but nothing has worked...”

“You did your best...” said Kira gently.

“I'll go and talk to him...” said Odo.

He came over to Deru, sitting down on the empty mattress next to his son. Leaning over, Odo gave his son a gentle shake in the shoulders to wake him, to make him respond. “Deru...” he said gently. “It's your father...”

“Go away...” whispered Deru, and he pulled the duvet over his head.

“I hear from your sister you've been a bit upset. You want to talk about it?”

“It's so embarrassing...” said Deru quietly.

“What is?” asked Odo.

“I'm a coward!” answered Deru, raising his voice, and sounding angry with himself.

“No you're not,” said Odo firmly.

Deru then pulled back the duvet off his head, he rolled onto his back while giving his father an ugly look. “I am! I was so scared when the Romulans came, I thought they were going to kill me and Mia. I mean Mia was calm, she even defended the bar! So why wasn't I calm?”

“Deru even the bravest can get frightened sometimes.”

Deru though shook his head as his eyes stared up at the ceiling. “I haven't seen you or mum get afraid. I'm twelve, and mum was in the Bajoran resistance at that age, but I just sat there crying into Mia!”

At that point Odo realised just how little Deru really knew about his parents. “You think Nerys and I don't get scared?”

With a nod, Deru then looked into his father's eyes.

Odo decided to give Deru a little fatherly advice. “Well let me tell you something, when we arrived at this station we were worried. We may not have shown it to anyone, even ourselves, but we were scared sick that something had happened to you and your sister. It is every parent's worst nightmare, wondering whether your children are alive or not.”

For one moment Deru acted with some surprised to hear this, but then his mood and surliness returned. “But you didn't act afraid, you kept strong!”

It was Odo’s turn to shake his head, as his son was so wrong. “Feeling fear does not make you a coward, it is how you deal with that fear that counts...”

Watching Deru’s face carefully, Odo felt glad to see Deru beginning to understand the gist of his advice. “Now why don't you greet your mother?”

“Okay...” said Deru eventually.

While Deru got out of his mattress, and stood up, Odo gestured to Mia and Kira to come over.

When the four were together, Deru looked a little embarrassingly into his mother’s eyes. “Hi mum.”

Kira’s eyes twinkled as she gazed down at her son, and she acknowledged him with a small nod.

“How about a family hug?” suggested Odo.

Without further ado, the four moved closer, with Kira hugging Odo, and Mia and Deru in the middle. All four arms were wrapped around each other, and now Odo looked at Kira and smiled at her. Kira’s eyes continued to twinkle for Odo knew nothing had to be said, the family was together again and it was such a beautiful thing. Despite everything that had happened to them, they would get through this...


***


Ezri received news of the Tau Ceti agreement from admiral Ross some hours ago, but she had to watch the Federation president's speech to make sure she was not dreaming. How the Federation had conceded to the Breen and Romulan demands shocked her, as it was such a weak move on the Federation's part. As much as she recoiled from the prospect of war, Ezri knew that the Breen and Romulans would only become more invigorated due to the Federation setting down a dangerous standard of compromise.

President Najor Eren was a thin, if almost gaunt, middle-aged man of Trill origin. Ezri thought that Eren had aged some more since the flare up of hostilities with the Breen and Romulans. The man's hair contained more grey streaks, his face possessed more of that lived-in quality, and despite his composure, Ezri could just tell how worried Eren really was.

My dear citizens. As I'm sure you are aware, there have been very disturbing events which have happened to the Federation. The Romulan attack on the station Deep Space Nine was one of them, and there have been conflicting media reports about the Breen and Romulans preparing to invade the Federation.

I can tell you with full confidence that there will be no war with the Breen Confederacy and the Romulan Star Empire. The Federation Council successfully pressed for peace, and war was averted between all parties concerned. However as part of the Tau Ceti agreement, the Federation had to accept certain terms in exchange for peace.

Do be aware that the Council carefully considered these demands, and weighed them up against the prospect of all-out war with the Breen and Romulans. As part of the terms of the Tau Ceti agreement, the Federation is to hand over sectors 1334 to 1341, and sectors 1232 to 1245. This accounts for over 258 inhabited worlds, 19 sectors, 49 space stations and 450 outposts.

Over twenty million people will have to be evacuated in just less than two months. This is no small task, and for the people who are going to lose their homes, the Federation will be quick to resettle you and find you new homes. I know that this is no consolation or fair deal for having to leave the homes and worlds you live on and cherish. But this is for the greater good. The evacuation is not mandatory, but for the safety of your lives and your families it would be best to leave.

Had the Federation not agreed to the Tau Ceti agreement there would be war, a war potentially as deadly and as devastating as the Dominion war. Starfleet would be able to repel the Breen and Romulans, but at a terrible cost. Hundreds of millions of Federation citizens would die, and worlds like Bajor, Andoria, Vulcan, Bolarus, Risa, Betazed, Earth, Tellar and dozens of other important worlds would come under attack.

The Council and Starfleet has a responsibility to protect your lives, and by signing the agreement, I personally believe this is the best option for all concerned. But know this; the Federation will only compromise once with the Breen and Romulans. If these two races press the Federation on more unfair demands and concessions, the Federation will not relent, regardless of the consequences.

To the Breen and Romulans, I say to-


Ezri had heard enough and in a weary way she tapped a command to turn her laptop off. She felt so sorry for the millions of people who had to relocate, but of course not all of those people would leave. This presented a rather disturbing parallel to Ezri, that of the Maquis. Would the people staying in their homes resist the Breen and Romulans?

There was an obvious answer to that, and in some ways it would be a complication to the Tau Ceti agreement. Former Federation citizens attacking Breen and Romulans was a very ugly prospect. Even though the Tau Ceti agreement had come in the nick of time for Ezri, her crew and the station, it felt so bittersweet... War it seemed looked inevitable...
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