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Old April 2 2012, 12:11 AM   #1
Ln X
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Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

This is the story I'm most proud of, and it focuses mainly on the Breen and Romulans. This story may have a big gap (and like 14 stories in-between) Secrets and Lies (the new version I posted here) but it doesn't really matter.

Basically this story is part of my own series DS9: the continuation and it doesn't really matter if you've watched DS9 TV show or not. Plus this series is not in the DS9 relaunch universe and what it is is basically my own interpretation of what happened after the Dominion war.

For want of a better introduction (for I'm keeping this post as short as possible) see this: Preface to my First Season

This story is set in 2394, and in brief here are the seven main characters:


Captain Ezri Dax: Now a captain, many years go she broke up with Bashir and it really depressed her. However as she came to terms with the Dax symbiont, and familiarised herself with the all memories contained, her life priorities changed. She's now in command of DS9, plus she and Bashir have made amends.


Constable Odo: He managed to teach his people, in the Great Link, about his knowledge of the solids and about love. In the process he reformed the Dominion. After a year in the Great Link, he decided his task was done, and still deeply missing Kira he returned to DS9. There he settled into his old job as chief of security and continued on his relationship with Kira. Eventually they married and-thanks to Bashir's pioneering medical methods-conceived two children.


Colonel Kira Nerys: Not much to say, except she took the 24th century equivalent of maternity leave (from the Bajoran militia) to raise first her daughter, Mia, and then her son, Deru, in the first few years of their lives. When she returned to duty, DS9 was under the command of some Starfleet commander. Since then she has stayed on the station, still second in command, working under a string of Starfleet captain's and commanders (and now working under Ezri, someone whom she respects, though occasionally is at odd with). She's more calmer than ever before, but still retains that fiery temper when people really nark her off...


Doctor Julian Bashir: Feeling deeply bitter and depressed from his break-up with Ezri, Bashir has spent the last seventeen years of his life drifting from one research project to another. He has a new best friend; Nog, and though Bashir still writes to O'Brien, Bashir has known Nog for a lot longer. When Ezri returned to command DS9, it came as some shock to Bashir, though eventually he and Ezri settled their differences.


Commander Megan Felpes: One of my new characters (a human woman). Once an agent of Starfleet Intelligence, Megan's last mission went horribly wrong. Her long-time colleague (and lover) Jack Smith in effect betrayed her, and it resulted in Megan being captured by rebel Cardassians. Tortured for two years by the Gul Bordak, a prefect of the Tau Primia prison, Megan was nearly destroyed in the process.

After eventually being rescued in a joint Starfleet/Cardassian operation. Megan slowly reintegrates back into normal life. She has a deep-seated hatred of Section 31 (for Jack worked with it) and of Bordak, the Cardassian who tortured her. Though with each passing month of freedom, normality slowly returns to Megan.


Lieutenant Commander Max Weatherby: Another new human character, Max is hard-working, a bit free-spirited and somewhat socially awkward. He has bad family memories of his twin brother running away from home and getting involved with crime, and Max's parents dying at the young age in their sixties. Max has worked on DS9 for the last two years, though he is most friendly with Holo (another new character). Max's old girlfriend, Tanya Dawson, from his Academy days is assigned to DS9, and the two have restarted their relationship.


Lieutenant Commander Holo: Holo is a hologram, one of a few thousand designed as part of a project into developing sentient lifeforms. With an inbuilt mobile emitter (such technology becoming available with the Voyager's return from the Delta Quadrant) Holo has complete freedom just like any other humanoid. Initially he had a hard time as the crew of Deep Space Nine became accustomed to working with a hologram. After overcoming some discrimination and discourtesy, Holo has over the year fitted in.


That's the brief overview of my seven main characters, please note:

Benjamin Sisko is still living in the Celestial Temple, and Worf is now Chancellor Martok's most trusted aide. So don't expect those two to show up in this story.

If you have read Secrets and Lies (http://www.adastrafanfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=990) then here are the following stories in-between:

Shallow Rights , Vacation , Bad Blood , Outlier , Devolution , Gold Rush , Medical Pariah , Commitment , Ménage à Trois , Tip of the Iceberg , Survival , High Stakes , Running the Gauntlet , The Price of Sanity

Next post will be chapter one of Cloak and Dagger!
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Old April 2 2012, 12:12 AM   #2
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 1, part 1


Stardate: 71669.7

The head of the Tal Shiar, chairman Eret Toshen walked along the smooth flagstones of the hallway’s floor. Grand columns supported the sweeping roof, while the flagstones were made of pure Teraeen marble. Such extravagance angered Toshen deeply, the whole senate building, and the surrounding government offices were elaborate and a big waste of resources.

The majority of the Continuing Committee had decided in the aftermath of the destruction of Romulus, that the senate should relocate to Talon, the second most populated planet in the Romulan Star Empire. Three billion lived here, and the Romulan senate was rebuilt in the centre of Talon’s capital, Adjaron.

It was just over seven years since the destruction of Romulus, a loss that Toshen still lamented over as did every other Romulan. After the terrible event, and the loss of seven billion Romulans, there was much anger towards the Romulan government, especially at the science ministry and its top scientists. How could they have not foreseen the Romulan sun suddenly going supernova?

Those scientists were sacked and put on trial for gross negligence, Toshen himself put them there. Of course the scientists were not to blame, but the people wanted someone to pay for what had happened. The deaths of a few hundred scientists, clerks and officials was an acceptable price to pay if it meant preserving order in the general populace.

But the bitterness, and even humiliation, did not stop there, Toshen still squirmed at the thought of Spock and a team of top Vulcan scientists saving billions of Romulan lives. The supernova would have destroyed dozens of star systems if were not for the Vulcans deploying an experimental substance called red matter.

The tragedy was made worse by the crippling blow to the empire’s industrial base, the loss of Remus, the backbone of the shipyard industries, meaning the Romulan Star Empire became a third rate power. To this day a resource and energy shortage still lingered on. Planets that relied on replicators and food-processing factories, suffered repeatedly from food shortages.

It still shocked Toshen that one third of all Romulans were malnourished, and 650 million Romulans, one percent of the Romulan population, were dangerous close to starving. Tens of millions of Romulans had already died of starvation, and the fact that the Federation had to be called in to provide aid, told Toshen that the empire had lost its way.

Toshen blamed the Continuing Committee and that fool, Praetor Pelak, for being too proud and vain, by trying to keep the empire self-sufficient. Toshen had no love for the Federation, but too refuse help for so long was just stupid. And what aid did come through was inefficiently distributed, and for Toshen, being the head of the Tal Shiar, this was criminal in his eyes.

As a member of the Continuing Committee he was trying to push through the Toshen Food Distribution and Funding ordinance or TFDF, his remedy to the problems afflicting the empire. He had one supporter of the ordinance on the committee, senator Coria Darak. The rest though did not like his ordinance, and he knew as he walked along the hallway, to the sealed door beyond which the committee room lay, this was his last chance to get the ordinance through. But his hopes were not high…

He glanced to his left when he saw senator Darak walking towards him by his side.

“Chairman,” acknowledged Darak, when she was at his side.

Darak slowed down her pace, and Toshen did accordingly, as he waited for her to speak. She looked uneasy about something, and Toshen’s mind instantly began jumping to conclusions as to why…

“We need to talk in private,” said Darak, and with a slight jerk of her head she indicated at a chamber immediately to the right, outside of the hallway.

“If you insist,” said Toshen courteously.

He followed Darak to the chamber, and he wondered just what was giving this woman consternation. For many years Toshen kept close tabs on Darak when she won, in a landslide result, a place on the Romulan senate. For someone who was so ambitious, Toshen was always surprised by how she put the people interests first; always voting for the controversial bills and ordinances, pieces of legislation she believed in.

She was popular amongst the people, with her unwavering conviction to what she believed in, her charismatic character, and some good looks. Darak was in Toshen’s eyes a serious candidate to replace the current Praetor. However Toshen had plans, plans to changed the empire, and he needed Darak as his ally to ensure his designs went accordingly.

Walking into the small room, with a conference table at the centre, softly padded chairs and a view screen on the back wall, Darak lingered by the doorway. Her hands inputted a rapid series of commands on the door panel, the chamber door closed downwards, seconds later a series of clicks and the magnetic locks had sealed the door shut.

They were alone, no one could see or hear them, and as a precaution Toshen activated his electromagnetic jamming device, disguised as one of the insignias around his collar.

Darak walked towards Toshen, and her eyes were searching him, as if looking for deceit or deception. “Are you certain you can't persuade the Continuing Committee to allocate more funds to the Romulan military?”

Toshen suspected something like this, Darak was trying to back out, but he was not going to let her. “Coria, the Continuing Committee won't change its position, they're too eager to please the Federation and to dependent upon them.”

“If the coup goes ahead the Federation will cut all the aid the empire receives!” said Darak loudly, gazing angrily at Toshen.

“Which will be offset by the Breen providing us with food supplies and their hydroponics technology,” countered Toshen. “Trust me on this one, I have figured this out.”

Turning a little to the left, Darak folded her arms and positively scowled her concern.
“Allying ourselves with the Breen...” she commented disparagingly.

“Is the only way this coup will succeed in the long term,” answered Toshen.

Darak cast a sharp eyed look straight at Toshen. “If the Breen keep their promises to help us.”

For one moment Toshen hesitated, the less she knew of his dealings with the Breen the better, and his brain worked overtime as he struggled to find a way to convince Darak while at the same time not to give much away. “Fellet Yret would not be helping us if he didn't think this coup had a chance of succeeding. But think about what happens when the coup does succeed, you will become the new Proconsul and finally you will have the power to really help the Romulan people.

Darak made an angry ‘tuh’ noise, as her anger increased. “And you will style yourself Praetor! The head of the Tal Shiar, the leader of the Romulan Star Empire, with no legal or democratic legitimacy!” She advanced forwards, and gave Darak a scathing glare. “The line between Praetor and dictator is a very thin one indeed!”

“Coria, you assured me of your support!” said Toshen testily, with the stakes so high he struggled to keep the anger out of his voice. “If the senate does not fall into line, then the coup will result in an all out civil war! Now are you prepared to have the blood of millions of Romulans on your hands?”

“Of course not!” exclaimed Darak, though her anger faltered and she seemed less sure of herself. “But our democratic system is in tatters, if after the coup the people get a sense of not being represented...”

“Which is why I'm entrusting the position of Proconsul to you,” said Toshen smoothly. “You can deal with the masses, while I will deal with the enemies of the empire.”

Inwardly Toshen smiled to himself, for all of this woman’s desire to help the Romulan people, she was as ambitious as all the other senators who came through these walls. He was using Darak's ambition to tempt her into something she would not usually consider. This was his talent; manipulating people into what he wanted them to do.

“Agreed,” said Darak finally. “But on one condition; the Breen support this coup.”

“They will, trust me,” replied Toshen with resounding confidence.

Darak though did not seem to share that confidence, she appeared to be regretting the deal immediately. With one last questioning look at Toshen, she walked back to the doorway, unlocked the door and went outside.

Toshen followed some moments afterwards, tapping the device on his shoulder insignia to turn it off, and tailed behind Darak who was heading to the committee room.

Inside the committee room, Toshen took up the chair next to the desk, in front of him was the raised up platform no more than two metres tall, where the committee sat. It was an imposing arrangement, making the questioned feel small and the questioner reigning supreme, and they said his people lacked vanity…

Already eight of the committee member’s were seated, while Darak took up her seat at the far left. She was new to the committee and being its most junior member, her word carried little weight.

Everyone was waiting for Praetor Pelak to arrive, and when he eventually set foot in the room, accompanied from behind with two guards of the court, did everyone stand in obligatory respect and tradition. Pelak was old, a little hunched, short for a Romulan, somewhat overweight and weak chinned. His eyebrows and hair were mostly grey with black flecks, and he looked ill and weary. With a raising of his hand, Pelak bade everyone to sit down.

Toshen sat down, in the process taking out a padd containing some of his arguments and points he had written down in preparation for the meeting.
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Old April 2 2012, 12:18 AM   #3
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 1, part 2

Pelak reached his seat, at the centre of the committee’s platform, and laid down some padds before quickly reviewing them. Glancing upwards, he stared just a little down at Toshen, reached out for a golden ball-gavel, brought it up from the flat black pedestal and brought it down against the pedestal. The loud, and brief, sound reverberated through the silent room. Clearing his throat a little, Pelak then spoke.

“This meeting is held to make the case for the Toshen Food Distribution and Funding ordinance, or TFDF ordinance. Chairman Toshen, you may make your final case for the TFDF ordinance.”

Toshen bowed his head a little in customary acknowledgement of being allowed to speak by the Praetor. “Thank you Praetor. I do not need to remind the committee members of the famines ravaging Celinar, Haakona and a dozen other Romulans worlds. Romulan citizens die because of this committee's inaction and the government's inefficient distribution of Federation aid-”

Pelak though cut through Toshen in a clear commanding voice. “The committee understands very clearly the situation on those worlds Toshen,” he said, sounding somewhat impatient.

A brief burst of rage filled Toshen’s mind, he kept his face blank as he quickly calmed himself, and continued on. “The point is Praetor we have a clear solution, a first concrete step, to resolving the famine with the TFDF ordinance. Ration the food to occupied worlds, let their inhabitants eat what is required, while that food is allocated to the victims of the famine. Let the Romulan military carry out raids on worlds in the T’Bak and Talvath sectors. This empire has a military for a reason, it just hast to be used to take what is rightfully ours.

“Finally we should ally ourselves with the Breen, in my talks with them, I have discovered the capabilities of their hydroponics technology. They will share it with us, should we ally with them, and this is another step in the right direction to ending the famine, and the appalling disgrace of a sovereign state unable to feed its own people!”

“Your words are very convincing,” said Pelak, “and yet they mask some of the...” Pelak paused as he tried to find a word, all the while gazing at Toshen with a cold expression. “Questionable elements of the act. I ask you Toshen, have you really thought out the consequences of us allying ourselves with the Breen?”

“Whatever consequences there are, the benefits of such an alliance eclipse them,” answered Toshen, with full confidence, and he stared back at Pelak trying to mock him with just his eyes.

“We would be siding ourselves against the Federation and the Klingons!” said Pelak, his voice raised, and his hidden anger becoming apparent. “The treaty of Devron would be in tatters! We could barely hold off a Federation or Klingon invasion force, but the two combined... It would mean the end of the empire.”

“Those possibilities are covered with provisions 6 and 18 of the TFDF ordinance,” said Toshen, glancing at his padd as a quick reference. “A shake up of the military's command structure, combined with a technological overhaul and construction of twenty new fleets, would be sufficient protection against a Federation/Klingon invasion.”

“If I may Praetor?” asked a senator to Pelak’s second left.

Toshen glanced upwards and his eyes bore upon senator Astia, trust her to speak, no doubt she was going to pick his act to pieces on behalf of Pelak.

With a nod Pelak gave his approval, and Astia turned her head to face Toshen, she looked almost gleeful at the chance to direct questions at Toshen.

“Chairman such policies rather alarm me in how they are to be implemented.”

“How so?” said Toshen calmly, matching Astia’s neutral tones.

“It is no secret that you are close to some of the empire's most senior admirals and generals. Your involvement in improving the Romulan military would also strengthen your hold upon it. You are in murky waters as it with your connections and apparent influence.”

Astia’s expression hardened, and she leaned a little forwards as if preparing herself for destroying Toshen’s arguments. “But with this ordinance, an alarming amount of power will be thrust onto your shoulders, too much power.”

Toshen smiled at this, and he had a response ready made for such a difficult and dangerous question. “Are you implying that I would abuse my position and threaten the senate, the bedrock of the Romulan government?”

“I never said that...” said Astia somewhat quietly, and she looked uncomfortable and wounded.

Accusing the head of the Tal Shiar of treachery to the empire was not the smartest thing to do, and Toshen made a mental note to have her life be made a living hell after his planned coup succeeded.

Pelak then resumed the questioning of Toshen. “What the senator is trying to say is that your role as chairman of the Tal Shiar, and the corresponding duties, will expand and encroach into areas this committee is not happy about.”

There was a awkward pause, and feeling that he had said nothing more which could help for the TFDF ordinance, Toshen decided to defend his reputation instead. “If I may Praetor, my duty is to the empire and to the Romulan people. A coup would destabilise the empire, and make the ailments inflicted upon it even worse!”

“You are quite right,” said Pelak, and bowed his head slightly in recognition of that fact. “Thank you for presenting your endorsement of the TFDF ordinance, the committee will place this act under very careful consideration.”

“Thank you Praetor,” said Toshen, and he lowered his head, briefly, in respect.

“This session is adjourned!” said Pelak, and he then banged the golden ball-gavel against the pedestal.

Pelak was the first to stand up, and with a surprising speed for someone who looked so old, he hurried out of the room, albeit walking somewhat stiffly, while his guards followed from behind.

Toshen was the next to leave, glad to be out of the committee room. In some ways he felt glad things had gone miserably, for it was no more than he expected, and this now forced him into a position where a coup was the only option to carry through his plans.

Walking down the hallway, he noticed admiral Borak and general Keelin standing some distance, waiting for him. Borak and Keelin, in contrast with Pelak, not only looked younger but far healthier.

As Toshen got closer to the two, he slowed down. “Well trust you two to arrive,” he said a little jovially. “We can discuss matters in a chamber I found to be rather private.”

Keelin glanced at Borak in a superior way, while Borak scowled a little, clearly unhappy about something.

This did not go amiss with Toshen, and as he went over to the chamber Darak used to talk to him, he wondered how wise it was to have Keelin and Borak as members of his inner circle for the coup. The tension between Keelin and Borak, stemmed from Borak’s jealously of Keelin, since Keelin was a general gaining popularity amongst both the people and the soldiers.

A string of victories in skirmishes against the Klingons, bolstered Keelin’s popularity, however he was considered a hero of the empire for he risked his life as the Romulan sun went supernova, directing his ship and others to transport as many people off the doomed Romulus.

More than that Keelin was Toshen’s closest friend and confidant, they had planned this coup for years and now they had been given a catalyst for which to commence it.

Once inside the chamber, Toshen locked the door, and activated his electromagnetic jamming device. “We can speak openly now, no one is recording this.”

“Well did the Continuing Committee approve of your petition?” asked Borak.

“They said they would place it under consideration, and you know what that means.”

The tension in the room increased, as all three men realised the significance of what Toshen had said.

Keelin who was stroking the tip of his chin thoughtfully with his hand, lowered it and gave a beady-eyed stare into Toshen’s eyes. “So the coup goes ahead then?”

“It will when I get some clearer signals from the Breen,” said Toshen.

“The Breen…” hissed Borak, while his mouth contorted with disgust. “They're using us like pawns in a game of Frellchet! They will only support us if our coup succeeds, and you above all people, Toshen, should know that!”

“I know it will come to that,” said Toshen tensely, “but I need to make sure of the Breen intentions. We know they don't like the Federation anymore than we do, and like us, they feel threatened by the Federation's encroachment to their territories. They will ally with us, I'm certain of it.”

“I haven't forgiven them for the second battle of Chin'toka!” piped up Keelin, looking just as disgruntled as Borak.

“Same here,” seconded Borak. “Will we fight their wars?” he added sarcastically.

“An alliance between the Romulan Star Empire and the Breen Confederacy will be one of convenience,” said Toshen blandly, “we don't need to love each other for it to work. The thing that unites us is that we have a common foe; the Federation.”

“But what about the Breen/Federation trade negotiations?” asked Borak. “Does it not show that the Breen are already bedfellows with the Federation?”

“That,” said Toshen with heavy emphasis, “remains to be seen, the Breen aren't serious about these negotiations, Fellet Jret practically told me so in my last meeting with him.”

Borak’s eyebrows rose a little in both surprise and interest. “You’re right perhaps the Breen can be counted upon to assist us.” He paused, and nodded to Toshen. “Good day to you chairman.”

Toshen walked over to the door panel, and unlocked it, letting Borak out. The moment Borak was gone, did Toshen close and lock the door. He then pulled out from a pocket in his trousers a small Romulan memory chip, and inserted it into a input port to the padd he was still carrying. Wiping the padd clean of all memory, he inserted the chip’s data into the padd.

Keelin remained silent and rooted to the spot, it seemed he was going to ask Toshen what he was doing, but trusted that Toshen would tell him.

“Keelin,” said Toshen the moment he was done with both the padd and memory chip. “I need to ask a special favour of you.”

“What sort of favour?” asked Keelin, his eyes narrowing.

“Fellet Jret has agreed that we should control the Badlands, and they have given us a limited, and for the time being one-off, right of passage through their territory. We can send in two hundred ships but no more... What I'm asking is for you to take part of the 31st fleet, just two hundred ships, through the Breen Confederacy, and reaching these coordinates in the Delof sector, just inside the Badlands.

“Once there you will wait for an encrypted message sent by me, where I will inform you that the coup has started, and the moment you receive the message you are green-lighted to annex the Badlands and claim it for the Romulan Star Empire.”

Toshen then passed to Keelin the padd, and slowly Keelin took it out of his hand.

For a beat, Keelin stared at the padd, before lowering it. “All of this rests on the coup succeeding and the Breen allying themselves to us. If that doesn't happen, I'll be cut off from Romulan territory, holding an untenable position.”

“That is a risk, but a necessary one,” said Toshen, sounding reassuring though he knew Keelin was above such simple measures of persuasion. “Once the coup has succeeded, I will be sending to you a second message with further instructions.”

Looking downwards, Keelin frowned a little, and appeared uncomfortable, it seemed his next question would not be to Toshen’s liking. “Toshen, I feel I would be of more use if my fleet were to assist the coup and the take over of the government.”

“Though that is the logical thing to do,” admitted Toshen, “you have to see the big picture. I can't tell you all my reasons for annexing the Badlands, but what I can tell you is that you will be playing an important role in making sure the empire's long-term goals are achieved.”

He looked seriously at his colleague, this time with an honest stare, no pretence or false looks, but with genuine appreciation. “Trust me on this one.”

“Very well,” said Keelin, seemingly resigning himself to Toshen’s judgement. “When should I depart?”

“Immediately,” replied Toshen. “Cover up your tracks... Though I can fool the senate, it will be up to you to ensure the falsification of the 31st fleet's movements goes unnoticed. Do what you must to keep the status of the 31st fleet unchanged, if the senate finds out about the two hundred missing ships...”

“I know the consequences,” said Keelin, who did not appear fazed whatsoever. “But I assure you my personal assistant is very talented at manipulating the records, you have nothing to worry about.”

“Good,” said Toshen, and he managed a small friendly smile, a very powerful show of affection in Romulan culture. “It will be a few weeks before we see each other again, so take care old friend.”

“The same here,” said Keelin, his eyes twinkling a little.

The two walked over to the doorway, and Toshen opened the door. When they left the room, Keelin strode off and towards the building’s entrance, while Toshen walked at his own leisure. Of all the people Toshen knew, he trusted Keelin to follow his orders to the letter. Keelin was probably Toshen’s only true friend, though Toshen wondered how their friendship could be sustained after the coup had succeeded.

He would be in charge, and in that position everyone was his enemy. Toshen was no fool, he had studied his history well, and knew that the reason most coups failed was the infighting that happened afterwards. There was no other way but to rule with an iron fist, having people he could trust, but making sure everyone around him were expendable. But with all his heart he hoped that he would not have to dispense with Keelin…


*Fellet, means chancellor in Breen.

**Treaty of Devron is a Federation/Romulan peace treaty signed in 2380. Both sides agreed to right of passage, and full respect of each other’s borders. The Neutral Zone still remained but it’s role was slightly modified, and certain stretches of it were used for both side’s ships to go to either interplanetary state. The premise of the treaty was laid down thanks to a Federation delegation lead by William T. Riker in 2379, the delegation travelled to Romulus in the ship Riker first commanded, USS Titan.

***Frellchet is a Romulan-version of chess.

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

Next chapter coming up tomorrow.
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Old April 5 2012, 11:04 PM   #4
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Sorry I'm late, but I've been really busy with university assignments.

Chapter 2, part 1


Captain's personal log, stardate 71669.7. It has been close to a week since I returned back to duty, and it is good doing the job I love. I have resolved the issue of who should be chief of station security, where lieutenant commander Paulson is now deputy head of security while Odo is head of security. There was a little friction over the matter, but I hope the two will get along and resolve their differences in a professional manner.

This morning I received from admiral Ross the news that the Breen Confederacy are ready to engage in negotiations concerning trade rights with the Federation. There has been an informal ceasefire for over thirteen years, and this is good news indeed. This could be the start of a formal peace treaty between the Breen and the Federation, and ultimately, a final resolution to the Corneria war.



***


Day 1, 0830 hours

It was the start of the usual day in Ops, the second shift had arrived, and Kira Nerys was at her station, compiling reports, directing space dockings and traffic. Behind her was the sound of the turbo lift ascending, and she looked around when it came to a halt, revealing Ezri.

“Captain,” said Kira, a smile forming on her face. “You're in a good mood today.”

Briefly Ezri returned the smile, while her hand clutched onto a padd. “I have good reason for being so,” she replied, while walking down the small flight of stairs to reach Kira’s console. “Come with me, there's something I need to tell you.”

Kira followed Ezri, and the two entered the commander's office. While the doors to the office closed behind them, they came to a stop by the desk and faced each other.

“Well?” asked Kira without preamble.

In a winning way, Ezri raised the padd and showed it to Kira. “The Breen have requested trade negotiations with the Federation!”

“I don't quite see the significance of that,” responded Kira, giving Ezri a blank stare.

Lowering the padd, Ezri looked a little disappointed by the colonel’s reaction. “It's simple really. After the ending of the Corneria war there was only an informal ceasefire between the Breen Confederacy and the Federation. It has been like that for over thirteen years. However with these trade negotiations it means that the Breen want closer ties with the Federation, and that ultimately means a peace treaty is in the works!”

Now Kira looked interested and also impressed. “A formal peace between the Breen and the Federation... Now that would be something.”

“I'm keeping my fingers crossed,” said Ezri, while she dumped the padd on her desk. “It means a repeat of the Corneria war becomes very unlikely.”

“So that is one less thing to worry about.”

“Hopefully...” replied Ezri, she paused and some of her enthusiasm and excitement faded. “I've been requested to attend the meetings, and the Bajoran government has ordered you to come with me, to represent Bajoran interests.”

“Great,” said Kira sarcastically, shaking her head in apparent disbelieve. “Up to a week of sitting through mind-numbing meetings and conferences.”

Ezri though did not take to kindly to that remark, and Kira was quick to see that.

“I'm joking!” added Kira, holding her hands up in a mock peace gesture. “I know how important the trade negotiations are.”

The disapproving look on Ezri’s face vanished. “Who knows, perhaps some benefit will accrue to Bajor? Anyway I'm looking forward to stepping foot on the Breen homeworld, we'll be the first to do so since the Cardassians.”

“It'll be freezing on Breen,” said Kira, who looked a little daunted by the incoming trip. “I just hope Starfleet-issued thermals will cut it, otherwise we'll be going in space suits!”

“That would be embarrassing,” added Ezri, while she smiled briefly in an uncomfortable manner. “Anyway the first preliminaries for the trade negotiations start in exactly five days time. So tomorrow at 0900 hours we'll be departing on the Defiant... Dismissed colonel.”

With a courteous nod, and with a twinkle in her eyes, Kira left the room. No sooner did Kira go through the doorway, than did Odo walk through it. Kira briefly stopped to see what Odo was doing, but seemed to think better of it and returned to her station.

Odo was full of purpose, and when the office doors closed, he launched into an explanation for his visit immediately. “Captain request permission to join you.”

Though her face remained fixed, Ezri’s eyes betrayed a little surprise. “Slow down constable, how did you hear of the Breen/Federation trade negotiations?”

“I have a source, and let's just keep at that, on Breen.”

For a moment Odo paused, and a brief awkward silence transpired between the two. “My source knows about the trade negotiations, and in the interest of retaining this source, I need to meet him in private on Breen. That's why I need to join you on the Defiant.”

“And just who is this source?” asked Ezri, giving Odo a rather penetrating look.

In a sheepish manner, Odo looked away from Ezri. “Erm captain, it's best not to ask. Suffice to say this person has been very reliable, and has been a big help to me in the past five years.”

“I see...” commented Ezri, when she said nothing more, Odo looked back at Ezri.

It seemed the two were silently agreeing to something. “Just one more thing constable, what does this person want? Nothing illegal I presume?”

“It's not illegal per se,” replied Odo slowly, who was taking care with his words. “At least not on Breen if you get my drift.”

“Right...” said Ezri, for a few moments it looked like she was going to ask some more questions to Odo. But after frowning a little, whatever reservations she had appeared to vanish, and it was clear she trusted Odo’s judgement on the matter.

“Well far from me to interfere in your job, permission granted.” Ezri paused, and a rather stern look came upon her face. “But make sure no trouble arises from contacting your source.”

“There won't be any problems captain,” replied Odo, and he gazed at Ezri with a steady expression.

Once more Ezri appeared satisfied by Odo’s answers. “Good.”

With a small nod, she dismissed Odo, and when Odo had left the office, she walked around her desk and sat down on the chair. After a few seconds contemplation, she reached a hand over to bring the padd closer to her, and started reading its contents.


***


Day 2, 0900 hours

Kira walked down the corridor to the airlock where the Defiant was docked, she had almost reached the first set of doors, to the airlock, when she saw Odo come around a corner in the corridor. “Odo, are you here to see me off?”

Odo simply shook his head. “I'm coming with you.”

“But you're not part of the Bajoran delegation.”

“I'm simply coming as a visitor, the Breen were kind enough to allow us to roam around their planet.”

Kira moved away from the doorway, and she glanced around to make sure nobody was nearby. She felt a little surprised and angry to discover this, as she did not understand why Odo failed to tell her about his plans. “What do you mean you are visiting?”

Darting his eyes shiftily, Odo did not seem comfortable answering the question. “If I tell you what I'm doing, you won't tell anyone. Promise?”

With a simple nod, Kira promised.

“I'm meeting up with a source on Breen, I can't disclose to you the name of this person. But the person has been a great help to me in the past with some of my investigations.”

“I understand,” said Kira quietly. “But wouldn't it be easier if your source visited you on the station?”

“I wish that were so,” replied Odo heavily. “But I'm dealing with people who value their privacy and secrecy. So I've got to give them a reason to trust me, and they barely trust me at best.”

“Even so, be careful,” warned Kira, feeling obliged to do so. “This is Breen we're talking about.”

“I'll be fine, I know how to keep a low profile...”

Briefly Kira smiled at Odo’s reassurance, and she followed him through the airlock. She was still a little worried for Odo, and she knew it was a little obvious of her to tell him to be careful, but she wanted Odo back in one piece. For one thing she did not trust the Breen at all, she thought the whole trade negotiations were an exercise in futility. The Breen were definitely up to something, though Kira could not discern their schemes.


***


Along a few corridors, away from the airlock, Ezri and Megan were proceeding slowly down another corridor, heading for the Defiant. They were having a very quiet discussion, and seemed in no hurry to reach the airlock.

“I hear you were offered a promotion,” said Ezri, “captain of the Grendel, I mean if you took it you would become the youngest captain in Starfleet history.”

“I guess I would...” said Megan, though she sounded rather unenthusiastic about it.

Ezri glanced at Megan, with a very calculating look in her eye. “But you're not going to take it?”

At this Megan simply frowned, seemingly lost in thought. “I know I have the talent,” she said at last, “and the command skills, and Starfleet Command may think I'm ready, but I know I'm not.”

“How can you be so certain?” asked Ezri. “Before being captured by the Cardassians, from reading your service record you struck me as a very ambitious women.”

“I was ambitious,” replied Megan, “but I received most of my promotions because I lived a double life.”

She looked down the corridor in a very unfocused manner, the memories of the past appeared to be haunting her. “One was this Starfleet officer, the other was an agent of Starfleet Intelligence. I only became a commander simply because SI wanted me on the Liberty, and the Liberty needed a new first officer. I basically learnt everything on the go, and added the brains to seem more knowledgeable than I actually was.”

Despite Megan’s self-depreciating remarks, Ezri did not seem swayed by Megan’s argument. “Still captain Haydra gave glowing reviews of you as a first officer,” she pointed out. “She said and I quote 'I've never worked with an officer so dedicated to duty, so on the ball, and so liked by her crew'. You must have done something right.”

A little smile formed on Megan’s mouth, before fading. “Not sounding disparaging but I was role-playing, it came from my SI experience pretending to be certain people to get near targets. In that sort of work you have to think on the go.”

Ezri tilted her head a little to the left, as she considered Megan’s words. “You shouldn't knock what you have accomplished, even under those circumstances.”

“My decision is final,” said Megan resolutely. “I'm staying here because it is the best place for me to be.” She paused and a faint tinge of embarrassment appeared on her cheeks. “This may sound very sentimental but I think of this place as like a home of sorts.”

“I know the feeling...” said Ezri understandingly.

The two then remained silent until they reached the airlock. Once there, Ezri turned around to face Megan. “Well I leave the station in your hands commander.”

“I'll keep her just pristine for when you return captain,” said Megan, bowing her head a little.

“I know you will,” said Ezri confidently, with a hint of proudness.

“One more thing sir, good luck with the trade negotiations.”

“Thanks, I'll need all the luck I can get dealing with the Breen.”
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Old April 5 2012, 11:05 PM   #5
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 2, part 2

Day 3, 1300 hours

Tired of completing reports in her ready room, Ezri headed to the bridge to take a quick break. When she entered the bridge, her entrance did not appear to be noticed, and that was the way she wanted it, since the customary call of ‘captain on the bridge!’ embarrassed her.

Once she was comfortable in her chair, she checked the ship’s status reports on the console to her left. She did this absentmindedly, to pass the time. There was not anything major amiss, though it came as little surprise to her for this was an excellent ship and an exemplary crew.

“Sir, we're receiving a communication,” said the officer at communications. “It's from admiral Ross.” She glanced around to look at Ezri significantly. “It is a priority one message.”

Ezri got off her chair. “Patch it through to my ready room, and apply the standard encryption protocols.”

“Yes captain.”

Leaving the bridge, Ezri made the short journey down the main corridor in deck one to her ready room. When she arrived, she returned to her desk, saved the reports files on her laptop and then rerouted the message through to her laptop.

“Computer, patch through priority one message into this room's console, authorization Ezri Dax Gamma Theta Five Eight Zero One Four.”

Authorization confirmed,” said the computer.

Just like that the laptop screen showed a live feed to admiral Ross’ office, there was Ross, looking a little tired and strained.

Upon seeing Ross, Ezri rested her elbows on the desk, and clasped her hands together. “Admiral Ross, you wished to speak with me?”

“I presume you've gone through the reports I sent to you about the general details of the Breen/Federation trade negotiations?”

“I have admiral.”

“There are just a few more things you need to know,” said Ross, and he paused a little, it seemed he had a lot to think about at the moment. “Firstly the Breen have long memories, and are just waiting to use any excuse to cancel the negotiations.”

This Ezri already knew. “Sounds to me sir that the Breen are simply toying with us.”

“That is a possibility,” admitted Ross. “However I've chosen you because you have negotiated with the Breen before in attempts to sign a formal ceasefire and peace treaty. You have a talent for negotiating with the Breen and the Federation is going to need that in the next few days.”

“I assure you that I will do everything, short of breaking the Prime Directive, to get this job done.”

“I know you will,” said Ross, smiling a little, but his amusement did not last long. “Another thing to be aware of is that the Breen are seeking concessions from the Federation. It was no small miracle that the Breen agreed to these trade negotiations in the first place. That will be a major sticking point, but with some persuasion this should be resolved. Finally the Breen are a somewhat paranoid race, so we follow their instructions. If we are to arrive on their homeworld unarmed, then that is what we will do.”

“Are you sure that's wise admiral?” asked Ezri, while she frowned deeply at Ross’ instructions. “If we beam down to Breen unarmed, and-heaven forbid-they betray us and try to capture us, the Federation delegation will be completely defenceless!”

“It's a risk I'm willing to take,” said Ross, in a manner that seemed very resolute.

For a few moments Ezri remained silent, as she thought of a counter-argument, a better idea. “If I may suggest so, I think it would be wise if we ask the Breen whether we can carry personal firearms when staying on their world. If they agree, then we know they're serious about the trade negotiations, and if they don't agree... Well, it would be very suspicious and suspect on their part.”

She held her breathe wondering if Ross could accommodate her suggestion.

“Agreed,” said Ross finally. “I'll contact Ferret Jret over the matter immediately. Are they any other suggestions you have captain?”

“Nothing,” answered Ezri blandly.

“Understood, Ross out.”

The live feed terminated, and the Federation insignia appeared on the screen. Tapping a few buttons, Ezri opened up her report files again, though her conversation with Ross had taken her mind off work. She was willing to follow the Breen’s instructions, but if some of them were too ridiculous, then it showed just how insincerely the Breen really wanted these negotiations to succeed.

She had encountered something similar when she was part of the Federation delegation for the ceasefire talks with the Breen. That was nearly twelve years ago, and the Breen had been just as finicky then as they were now. Still something got accomplished in those talks, and Ezri felt adamant that something would also be accomplished with these trade negotiations.


***


The Breen office of Fellet, was the highest, prestigious and most powerful office in the Breen political system. The Fellet, was in effect, leader of the military, and president of the Breen government. Still the Fellet was by no means a dictator; the Breen Confederacy’s success in its campaigns and wars, was a measure of a Fellet’s popularity.

If the Thot’s, the Breen generals, did not like the Fellet, then the Fellet was seriously weakened. But the Fellet needed majority support from the Breen parliament, the Diet, to pass domestic laws and new bills. The Fellet was in effect his/her party’s most important representative.

Fellet Jret had a reasonably successful time as the Breen Confederacy’s commander in chief. Of course it was not easy for Jret to fail, because the bar had been set so low. The previous Fellet, disgraced by the outcome of the Dominion war, managed to regain some favour by waging war on the Federation. Unfortunately, or most fortunately for Jret, the war stalemated and the previous Fellet had to settle for a humiliating ceasefire.

That was how Jret came to the post of Fellet, through a landslide victory. For the last eleven years he managed to carry out the upgrading of the Breen military, the conquest of the Kaladi race and five sectors worth of expansion for the confederacy. Decent feats, but by no means remarkable. However it was enough to make Jret re-elected two times more, and here he was a year into his third term in office.

Right now though Jret was faced with a major dilemma; the Federation. The real expansion of the confederacy was for conquering the other races, the humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians. Jret and his Thots had been planning this for years, and they realised there was a way to achieve this, to get rid of their biggest enemies: the Federation and the Klingons.

But it would mean years of war, and a colossal gamble on Jret’s part. He had to balance the expansion of the confederacy with the expansion of its economy, two elements that did not necessary equate to the same thing. Jret was torn between a trade agreement with the Federation or siding with the Romulans, but only if that coup of Toshen's were to succeed.

Jret was in his office, no doubt thinking about all of this. For an office it was as alien as you could get. Curved and hollowed, black bulkheads supported the walls, while on the walls themselves were trophies of previous campaigns: skulls, weapons, jewellery, emblems and other artefacts stolen from countless races hitherto unknown.

The desk-which incorporated numerous consoles-Jret worked on was a bonding of a grey alloy, intermingled with purple data nodes and bio-circuitry. Jret was working away, tapping on green and orange commands on the console screens, when there was a knock on the metallic door.

Pressing a button, Jret opened the door, and one of the Thots, Thot Fjort (a well-known figure in the Corneria war), entered.

“Fellet,” acknowledged Fjort, while he approached Jret’s desk. “Head of the Tal Shiar; sends to you a message.”

He passed to Jret a Breen-styled padd, and Jret took it from him without comment. After a while Jret looked up, a smug smile formed, moving the small mandibles above his lip upwards. “Toshen; requests clarification of Breen's stance towards his coup.”

“Toshen's coup; dependent on our support,” replied Fjort. “Toshen; he'll do anything we tell him.”

“Indeed,” said Jret smugly, the mandibles around his mouth moved irregularly up as he made up his mind on what to do. “Fjort; send Toshen an ambiguous reply. Our support; dependent on the outcome of the trade negotiations.”

“Trade negotiations; a sham,” hissed Fjort, the mandibles around his mouth were still and parted from each other in anger. “Federation; we should keep a healthy distance from them.”

“In the balance,” replied Jret, his mandibles remained still, possibly to hide his true feelings. “Depends on the Federation's motives. Federation faux pas; if committed then we end the trade negotiations!”



***


Day 4, 0900 hours

“ETA on the Breen homeworld?” asked Ezri, the moment she stepped onto the Defiant’s bridge.

“About four hours captain,” replied Max. “The starships Rudder and Xaviar will arrive in one hour.”

Just then Kira arrived, and she looked a little rushed. “Sorry I'm late,” she told Ezri. “I was just packing my thermals when the Bajoran trade minister decided to have a last minute 'check-up' to the Bajoran mission.”

Ezri smiled a little at this, while she made herself comfortable on the commander’s chair. “Minister Dovae is new to his job, so he's bound to be a bit jumpy.”

“I still can't believe that the Breen actually want to trade with the Federation,” said Kira, after she had taken up her station.

“Well they are, and I take it as a hopeful sign, that the Breen don't consider the Federation such a threat to them.”

“I've always wondered what a Breen looks like beneath those helmets of theirs,” commented Max, while he focused on his helm console.

Glancing up from her console, Kira raised a questioning eyebrow in Max’s direction.
“Some people have seen Breen without their helmets,” she said darkly, “just a pity that it is the last thing they ever see.”

Some moments later, Ezri moved off from her chair, and came over to Max, stopping close to his right. “Mr Weatherby when we arrive at Breen I want you to conduct discreet sensor sweeps of the planet's surface.”

“What are you looking for captain?” asked Max, glancing up into Ezri’s face.

“Nothing,” answered Ezri. “But there are no Federation cartographical records of the Breen homeworld, I thought now is the opportunity to add those records to the Federation database. I've asked Fellet Jret about this and he's given us permission to map the Breen homeworld.”

“Wouldn't it be easier if Fellet Jret just gave the information?” said Max, a little irately.

“That's the nature of the Breen,” explained Ezri patiently. “They hold all of their cards to their chests, and want us to second guess their intentions. Really Fellet Jret is testing us, and determining if we stick to our word and only cartographically map Breen.”

Max simply nodded to this. “I’ll get onto mapping the Breen surface the moment we arrive,” he told Ezri.

With a small silent thank-you, Ezri walked back to her chair, before sitting down and reading the padd which was constantly clutched in her hand.


***


Four uneventful hours later, and the Defiant was now in orbit above Breen. It was a planet coloured white around the poles, dark blue for its seas, and bits of white, grey and dark green intermingled on the landmasses not covered with massive glaciers.

Ezri arrived in the transporter room, where Kira and Odo were already waiting.

“Captain,” said Kira, the moment that Ezri had arrived. “There's one thing I need to discuss with you.”

Ezri simply gave Kira a blank stare, as she had no idea why Kira needed to delay their arrival to the Breen capital.

“In private,” Kira quickly added.

The two women left the transporter room, and stopped just outside of the entrance. From her pocket, Kira pulled out a small cylinder shaped device, and held it in the palm of her hand. “Captain I think it is best if you take the site-to-site transporter device.”

“That won't be necessary,” replied Ezri with confidence.

“I insist,” said Kira, with an edge to her voice, and she moved her hand closer to Ezri. “Listen Dax, you may be confident that these negotiations will succeed, but I don't trust the Breen. They're capable of doing anything, and if the worst happens, they could kill you, or take you hostage. It'll be quite a prize for them, the Defiant's captain in their clutches.”

Such concern was rather touching for Ezri, however it was sensible advice coming from her first officer. “I do realise the dangers of what I'm doing Kira, though you're right. If the worst should happen...” She took the eraser-sized device off Kira’s hands, and placed it inside a special small compartment, which was hidden in her jacket sleeve. “Thanks for looking out for me.”

“Just being careful,” said Kira, with a rather knowing look in her eye.

The two then reentered the transporter room, and Odo was already on the transporter platform.

“Energise,” said Ezri, when both she and Kira were upon the platform.

A second later, Ezri saw the blue shimmering transport beam envelop her, and the transporter room quickly disappeared. Some seconds of limbo, afterwards she then saw a rather different sight...


Author's note: The Breen language is rendered into its nearest human equivalent hence the unusual word format. Also the Breen language has a very alien structure to it. My inspiration for this is from the progenitor language structure in Sid Meier's Alien Crossfire.

Second note: The Breen don't wear their helmets on their world, but the helmets are part of the military equipment that every Breen soldier wears. While every other Breen doesn't, also when outside they wear cloaks, which hide their faces (unless you get really close). The Breen atmosphere has a unique compound that is vital for the Breen to breathe. This is why on other worlds, and on non-Breen ships and stations, the Breen ware the helmets. Not only to stay cool, but also to breathe in air from an air-processor unit in their helmet (that converts the alien atmosphere into something breathable).
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 17 2012, 11:16 PM   #6
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 3, part 1

Ezri’s eyes then saw a rather tall and imposing building, made of what seemed to be black stone, which was rife with blue veins.

“Breen welcomes you,” said a Breen figure a few metres in front of Ezri, his (or her?) voice rendered very mechanical by Ezri’s universal translator. “Thermals; you may need to wear them.”

All of a sudden Ezri felt the biting cold, it had to be minus ten at least, and she shivered violently, while flecks on snow, cast from the grey, cloudy sky, drifted downwards. At once she rummaged for her thermals, as did Kira, with the bag that had been beamed down next to her. “I thought we were beaming directly into the Imperial Palace,” she said angrily.

“The plan; slightly changed,” replied the Breen. “Your delegation; 'acclimatise' to this planet's weather. When ready; follow me.”

“Your welcome,” said Ezri, when she had got her thermal jacket on and zipped it up.

The Breen figure bowed a little, possibly mocking Ezri, and proceeded to the palace. Out of the corner of her eye, Ezri noticed Kira and Odo having a quick conversation, before Odo walked away down the wide street. Ezri wished she were a shapeshifter because Odo didn’t need to keep warm.

It was cold, and the wind made it even worse, but Ezri was a little lost in thought taking in the Imperial Palace, and the surrounding buildings. The palace was six stories tall, rectangular in blueprint, had numerous balconies from the second floor and upwards, and it reminded Ezri of the Palace of Versailles in terms of the simple exterior design.

While the first floor was the tallest, the other five floors were only half the size. The columns were elaborately carved out, twisting upwards, while elaborate sculpting lined the whole surface area of each column. The sculpted figures were too distant to make out, however Ezri was more struck by the architecture. Where the columns merged into another floor, there were some perfectly symmetrical arches lining the bottom of each floor.

The windows also caught Ezri’s eye, there shape was constantly prismatic, with a semi-circle on the bottom, a rectangular part in the centre, and a semi-circle on the top. However the window frames were far more geometrically complicated, bending in and out, almost snake-like, in various symmetrical patterns.

However such elegance could not be said of the surrounding buildings. Ezri thought they were very drab, with dull grey, green and brown colours. They were no more than four stories high and barely reached half the height of the palace. Metal plating lined the buildings walls, while the frame was made of stone. This surprised Ezri because she wondered just how strong the stone would be to support such buildings.

Again the building’s windows were of similar shape, and this made Ezri wonder if this was some sort of generic Breen architectural feature. All in all it was very alien to Ezri, more so than other places she visited. Even the pavement she walked on was made of a very oddly featured stone; purple veins, mixed in with yellow specks and red chunks.

The Breen leading Ezri and Kira, stopped outside the metal-looking gates, mounted on top by stone similar to the pavement. One line of fences appeared to surround the palace, and the spikes on top of the fences looked very nasty and foreboding. Ezri noticed a gloved hand come out from the Breen’s cloak, and deactivate the small boxy device attached to the centre of the double gates. Finally the gates swung backwards, and the Breen resumed walking.

When Ezri and Kira made it past the gates, they then swung closed, silently. Ezri wondered why the Breen was wearing his helmet, but the answer was apparent when she entered through a rather unassuming and modest doorway. Inside, the temperature was very warm, a stark contrast to the severely wintry conditions outside.

Ezri took off her thermals, and stuffed them back into her bag. Gazing at the inside of the building, the first thing that caught her eye was the shaft-like atrium that ran from one end of the building to the other. Numerous walkways crossed the distance, linking the five floors above her.

The Breen started walking again, and the group made its way past more black columns, though these columns were square in nature. To their left and right were corridors leading to other parts of the first floor. Finally the Breen took a left turn, at the centre of the atrium, and headed towards a corridor.

Once out of the atrium, the corridor opened up revealing a flight of very wide and elaborate stairs. The bannisters were lined with a stone that closely resembled red marble from Earth, while the stairs were draped with a blue carpet, that hugged each individual step.

Ezri made a mental note that this place appeared to have no lift, as they had to walk up the whole flight of stairs to reach the top floor. Though she had a sneaking suspicion that the Breen had deliberately taking the stairs instead of the lifts. At the top, the corridors were grid like in their layout, and the walls covered with tacky looking white metal plates, and Ezri assumed they were duranium or tritanium. The doors leading to the rooms all had individual numbers.

The Breen then came to a stop outside what appeared to be the door to Ezri and Kira’s quarters. “The temperature; increased to 20 degrees centigrade, most humanoids preferred temperature. Ezri Dax’s room; this one.” And the Breen pointed to the door to emphasise his point. “Kira Nerys’s room; the one to the left.”

He then tossed to Ezri and Kira, a small metal component. “Your keys; don’t lose them. The palace's facilities; at your disposal. Breen guard shall escort you; should you go outside.”

“Why do we need a Breen guard to escort us?” demanded Kira, casting the Breen a dour look.

“Breen guard; for your safety,” answered the Breen, and Ezri almost thought she heard smugness in that mechanical, grating voice.

With a small bow to them, the Breen then left Ezri and Kira.

“What a pleasant fellow,” said Kira, when the Breen was out of eyesight. “His voice is almost as cold as the weather.

“Amazing place...” said Ezri, looking up and down the corridor.

“What this palace?”

“It's more than that,” replied Ezri a little impatiently, as her enthusiasm flared up. “The Breen have been kind enough to give us limited access to their historical archives, and this place was where the Breen monarchy once ruled!”

“Knowing the Breen, those archives will be pretty biased,” said Kira dryly.

“Anyway I’m going to sort out my luggage,” said Ezri while she slotted her key into the door’s locking mechanism, and opened it up.

Roaming around, Ezri found three rooms: a bedroom, bathroom and living room. They all had the look of humanoid (mainly human) like furniture imposed upon the Breen design of each room. Though in a strange way, Ezri found this comforting. She had only just sorted out her items from her bag, when there was a knock on her door.

Returning to the door, Ezri opened and found Kira.

“I just checked out my room's replicator,” said Kira without preamble, “they've got a wide variety of Federation dishes, including Bajoran ones. I wonder how they found those recipes...”

“From raiding stricken Starfleet vessels in the Corneria war that's how,” said Ezri, standing back to let Kira in.

“It's funny how little the Corneria war is mentioned,” said Kira, while she slowly walked forwards, deeper into the living room past Ezri, before then turning around. “I mean you still hear talk about the Dominion war, but the Corneria war? It's like it never happened.”

A little pang of annoyance sprung up in Ezri’s mind, while she closed the door. “Try telling that to the tens of thousands of officers who served on the ships at the front lines.”

Her voice was more angry than she wanted, but since Kira had brought up the subject, she now felt a little uncomfortable staying in Breen quarters. In the lair of the enemy she mused.

“It was just as bad as the Dominion war,” she continued, “probably worse because for over two years it was a stalemate. It should have ended when Starfleet pushed the Breen back over the border but it didn't, the Breen were determined to fight.”

Kira looked at Ezri with a gentle and sympathetic expression, as she to had been through her share of wars. “You've never really told me about your experience in the Corneria war, you know...”

“I don't want to either,” said Ezri curtly, “to many bad memories…”

At light speed Kira changed tack. “The Breen speak pretty oddly...”

“It's how they speak their language you see,” explained Ezri, while she rested on a padded chair. “Basically the Breen say the most important thing, or subject, they want to convey. This can be one word or a phrase, and then the second bit they add is what the word implies, or the emotions they infer from it.”

“You've lost me here,” said Kira, giving Ezri a somewhat impressed look.

“It's quite simple really, you see this padd here?” Ezri pointed at the padd she dumped on the bed. “Say I was impressed with the padd's functions. I would say the padd has many impressive functions, but the Breen would say it like this: padd; many impressive functions.”

“Which is the same thing, just compressed.”

“Exactly,” said Ezri, and she was glad that Kira was quickly understanding. “Though a second Breen may disagree with the first and say: padd; unnecessary amount of functions. So the second Breen says again the subject of the conversation, but adds his or her opinion. But the Breen do this by modulating the tone of the words said by the first Breen-”

There was another knock on the door. “I think that's Pete Amir, the senior Federation ambassador,” said Ezri, and she stood up and went back to the front door, and opened it. “Mr Amir, an honour to meet you.”

There in front of her was a human man, of Indian descent, mid-fifties and with a rather boisterous, and yet charming, face. “The honour is all yours,” he replied, in a strong southern British accent. “You are Dax, I'm sure my achievements will never match your own.”

Ezri laughed a little uncomfortably, she was forever uneasy with people singing her praises just because her former hosts had done some remarkable deeds in their time. “This is colonel Kira Nerys,” she said, gesturing with her hands to Kira, who was staring at Amir in a respectful manner.

Amir stepped past the doorway, his hand held out. “Pleased to meet you miss Nerys.”

Inwardly, Ezri winced at such a faux pas, but she had the self-control not to place her palm against her face.

The look on Kira's face was if the insult never happened, though the respectful smile on her face became rather fixed. “I'm married sir, so that's Mrs, and you call me by my family name, the first name, Kira.”

Despite Kira’s very polite correction, some of the charm on Amir’s face faded. “Oh, sorry about that,” he said with a little bravado, those his eyes became rather cold. “This is my first time working with a Bajoran and my knowledge of Bajoran culture and traditions is a little ropy.”

“I thought a good diplomat would know of such things,” replied Kira, and Ezri noticed, to her surprise, that Kira really was smiling at Amir.

A very awkward silence followed, and Ezri decided to break it, before the mood became anymore frostier. “Mr Amir here will be leading the whole Federation delegation, any proposals will have to come under his review.”

“Indeed,” responded Amir, “we wouldn't want the Breen being offended by an inappropriate proposal would we?”

The question was fielded at Kira, and the smile from her face was gone, and her eyes became very cold. “Oh I'm sure the Breen will be open to the Bajoran diplomat's offers.”

“Let's hope so,” replied Amir, seemingly unnerved by Kira’s confidence. “Erm... All the chief representatives of each party will convene at 1600 hours today, to discuss the general matters at stake here.”

He paused. “Colonel,” he added, with a small nod to his head. “Captain,” he said more brightly.

When Amir left the room, and the door closed, Ezri watched Kira slowly move away. At that moment Ezri was glad she could not see Kira’s face.

Suddenly Kira made a brief frustrated sound. “I feel like strangling that Amir guy!” she angrily exclaimed, before turning to stare at Ezri with wide incensed eyes. “Are all of the senior Federation diplomats cocky, arrogant little bastards?”

“Only the ones with vanity,” said Ezri, smiling to herself. “I should know from Curzon's experience of being a famed diplomat. It's safe to say that at times it did all go to his head.”

“It's not that,” replied Kira a little thoughtfully, “I got the distinct impression that Mr Amir didn't like me.”

“Probably because you outplayed him in his own game.” Ezri moved a few steps closer, grinning at Kira. “Honestly 'a good diplomat would know of such things', now that is rubbing it into ones face.”

“He needed to be cut down to size...” said Kira in mock superior terms.

Ezri though sighed, and was glad that Kira was not a diplomat. “That's the annoying thing about diplomacy, sometimes you've got to refrain from doing so, and put up with someone's waffle.”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 17 2012, 11:16 PM   #7
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 3, part 2

Walking along the Breen streets, Odo was surprised how little the other Breen, walking past him, seemed to notice. Though perhaps that was because all the Breen were wearing cloaks, with their head hooded and most of their face hidden by some sort of scarf. Only the eyes and the top of the nose were visible, and Odo, with his sharp eye sight, noticed that some of the Breen gave him a beady eyed look. Though it was a very brief stare.

Navigating the streets was easy for Odo, because he had studied street maps of the Breen capital while travelling on the Defiant. His photographic memory was as good as ever, and combined with his naturally gifted special awareness, the streets almost seemed familiar to him. But they were not, and Odo casually looked around, taking in the drab buildings, the street lamps jutting out of the building’s walls, and how dimly lit everything looked.

If Odo did not know better, he was convinced that these homes and offices were not occupied by the well-off, and it seemed on Breen there was a clear class system. It was cold, but Odo did not feel it as such, what he did feel was his metabolism running faster to keep his masses temperature warm. Half an hour walking, and Odo came to another street that looked more posher, and wealthier. For one thing the street lighting was brighter, and the buildings facades were shinier, and looked new.

He came to a stop outside of a four story building, somewhat wider than the rest, and at the front, the ground floor was lined with some very fancy looking windows. The design seemed to resemble the Imperial Palace’s windows somewhat, except these ones had a rectangular frame. This was the café Odo had been looking for, and he briefly marvelled as he saw Breen patrons sitting outside on coffee tables, as if it were a hot summer’s day.

Clearly the Breen must have thought this was warm, or maybe they were just impervious to the cold? Whatever the reason, Odo went inside the café, walking through the open door. He entered the brightly lit dining area, and for a brief moment there was a hush from the other Breen when they saw a shapeshifter walking in their midst.

Though the general chatter returned, Odo’s translator became overwhelmed by the various sounds. He was in the centre of the dining area, when he saw a Cardassian sitting on a table all alone, against the back of the premises. Odo thanked his lucky stars that Lorek was here, he had been dreading the possibility of making a pointless trip to Breen.

Lorek was not your average Cardassian, though he looked the ideal Cardassian, with perfectly symmetrical neck, eye and forehead ridges on his face, a rather carved out looking nose, and a lean figure. But Odo thought Lorek behaved more like a Ferengi, because Lorek appeared obsessed with money, and how valuable information was. Of course Lorek possessed that Cardassian mean streak, and combined with his avarice, Odo thought Lorek was rather unpleasant, even for a Cardassian.

Lorek, who stood out by a mile, was wrapped up in grey Cardassian thermals, and drank from what appeared to be a Breen beverage. Only when Odo stood next to the table, did Lorek look up. “Well Lorek, I'm here, now what do you want?”

Lorek looked a little surprised, enough so to move his eye ridges up ever so slightly. “Constable, you arrived dead on time,” he said politely. “Though you've always been quite punctual haven't you?”

“And I also don't like to waste time,” reminded Odo, while he took up the opposite chair. “I didn't make this trip to Breen just to come back empty handed. Now do you have any useful information or not?”

“Of course I do,” said Lorek briskly, sounding all business now. “But this time the price will be far higher.”

Odo had expected something like this to happen, Lorek was indeed a contact hard to satisfy. “If you're talking about gold-pressed latinum I don't have any.”

“I'm not talking about latinum,” said Lorek sharply, and he ignored his cup. “I'm in the market for names, sources, information. Information my government would find useful. You may already know this but smuggling activity between the Cardassian and Federation border has gone up twenty percent in the last year. The Cardassian government suspects Bajoran smugglers are behind the increase in activity. But we don't have any viable suspects...”

“And you think the Federation does...” said Odo, careful to not give anything away. “So is that what you want; the names, and criminal activity reports, of all the suspected smugglers along the Cardassian/Federation border?”

For a while Lorek absentmindedly stroked his upper neck ridges as he mulled over the offer. “That would go a long way towards reaching an agreement.”

“You know if I give you that information, your government will catch many of these smugglers, and will then execute them-”

“I don't give a damn about your moral objections,” answered Lorek nastily, he leaned forwards as a very ugly look appeared on his face. “Perhaps if the Federation was less tied down by bureaucracy and legal niceties, you would be arresting the smugglers, and the Cardassians wouldn't have to do the work for you!”

“Alright fine!” replied Odo, huffing as he did so. “I agree to your terms, but I'll need at least a day to compile the various reports.”

Lorek leaned back into his chair, his eyes once more on his beverage. “I don't care how long it takes just as long as you are back here in this cafe two days from now at 2000 hours!”

“That'll be all the time I need, thank you,” said Odo, while he rose from the chair.

“One more thing constable.”

“What?” said Odo, while he was half-standing.

Lorek leaned over the table again and beckoned with his finger for Odo to come closer, which Odo did. “You may be safe in the Defiant, but not so here,” he whispered. “If I were you, you and your whole Federation delegation may be best to leave this planet, for your own safety.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Odo, his face inches from Lorek’s.

“I won't go into specifics but this bit of information I give to you freely. The Breen and the Federation have nothing in common, and while the Breen are openly negotiating with your Federation, in secret they are in talks with the Romulans.”

“And what do the Breen want with the Romulans?”

“You're going to have to figure that one out for yourself, unless of course you have more information you would care to disclose to me. Which in that case I would be quite happy to divulge to you everything I know about the Romulans.”

Having been snubbed, Odo rested back on the chair, while Lorek did the same. “Tell me something Lorek, do you really work for the Cardassian government, or are you some sort of rogue agent, trading sensitive information to the person who brings you the highest offer?”

Lorek did not look remotely insulted by the question, and he started running a finger along the rim of his cup. “Who I am is not important constable, as far as I'm concerned this conversation never happened.”

“No it didn't...” muttered Odo, and he stood up, eager to get away from Lorek.

“Send my regards to your wife,” said Lorek with considerable fondness. “She is a rather pretty and charming women isn't she?”

There was a rather suggestive quality in Lorek’s voice, and Odo was in half a mind to give Lorek a real mouthful for talking about his wife like that. But Odo decided against it, it was better to leave Lorek in his own twisted little world, rather than get dragged in.

“Huh!” was the reply that came out of Odo’s mouth, and he left the café.

When he was outside, he felt a slight prickle of fear. Just how much did Lorek know about Kira? Odo though quickly came to the conclusion that Lorek was the guy who had the right information for the right person, in other words Lorek knew just what to say, and for a moment he had succeeded in unnerving Odo.

Another troubling thing was Lorek's assertion that the Breen and Romulans were conducting talks in secret with each other. However Odo quickly realised that Lorek may have been doing a little diplomatic manoeuvring on his government's part. The idea being to try and rattle the Federation delegation in some sort of attempt to scupper the trade negotiations. Odo was going to tell Ezri this, but he knew that she would come to his conclusion.

The only good thing was that Odo had managed to retain Lorek as a useful source. He did not care what sort of person Lorek was for Lorek’s information was the important thing here. With that Odo walked back to the Imperial Palace and though his journey was marred by a snow storm, he trusted his shapeshifter’s sense of judgement. Sure enough he made it to the palace’s gates and his mood lifted considerably as he thought about the prospect of having his wife for company.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 20 2012, 09:58 PM   #8
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 4, part 1

Day 5, 1600 hours

It was a relief for Kira to leave the negotiating room, her head was almost pounding from the hot air, clever word plays and posturing that had occurred in that room. She kept telling herself that she was under orders from the Bajoran government, and that from this some good would come to her people. That was the only thing that kept her going; her duty to her people.

Walking back with Ezri, along the atrium, Kira noticed that Ezri looked just a little jaded as well. Clearly Kira was not the only one feeling that all of this was a waste of time. She winced a little when she felt the tension and stiffness in her shoulders and neck. Leaning over a table, and hunching ones shoulders, had taken its toll on Kira. With her age, she was not used to sitting like that for such long periods of time, and she no longer bounced back like she used to.

When she and Ezri walked into a lift, and the lift doors closed, only then did Kira feel it was safe to express her true feelings. “I think I learnt one thing today; never argue with a Breen.”

“They are a tricky bunch aren't they?” said Ezri, who tapped in commands to the small console by the side of the elevator wall.

With a jolt, the lift moved upwards before moving at a constant pace. “Why do they quibble over such small details?” burst out Kira, gesticulating forcibly with her hands. “And don't tell me it is there paranoid streak coming out.”

Putting on a thoughtful face, Ezri then answered Kira’s question. “From my experience of the Breen, they negotiate to juice a deal so as to accrue as much benefit for themselves. So expect more delaying tactics on Fellet Jret's part, he is simply keeping all his cards to his chest, but he will eventually relent.”

“I hope so,” said Kira, sounding a tad bit impatient. “I would have got more results talking to a stone wall.”

Such sarcasm did not go amiss with Ezri, but with a small smile, she seemed to ignore that remark. “You did good in the first round of negotiations. You kept your cool and you made somewhat of an impression upon Jret, he'll take notice of that.”

Kira appreciated the compliments, but she had no faith in her diplomatic abilities. “Diplomacy doesn't come naturally to me Dax, I was just being polite.”

“Diplomatic...” added Ezri, in a sly way, while grinning mischievously.

Kira though just shook her head. “Honestly your incorrigible at times.”

“It's good teasing you,” said Ezri brightly.

“Only because I let you get away with it,” responded Kira, smiling a little herself at Ezri’s simple but stupid comment.

At that moment the lift came to a halt, and the doors opened. The two walked out of the lift, coming only to a stop outside of their quarters. “Goodnight captain,” said Kira.

“Yeah goodnight,” said Ezri warmly.

Kira walked a bit more to reach her quarters, while pulling out the key from her trouser pocket. Talking to Ezri had made her feel better about the negotiations, and Ezri always had a way to lift Kira’s spirits. Ezri’s friendship and advice was invaluable to Kira, often she thought that the line between professionalism and friendship got blurred between herself and Ezri.

In front of others they were professional, pretending to simply be acquaintances, long-time colleagues. But when working in private, that attitude became far more relaxed, and sometimes Kira had to remind herself that Ezri was her commanding officer. Still she did not want it any other way.

Kira was still thinking about this when she arrived into her quarters, she stared down moodily at the floor. But her gaze sharpened up when she saw Odo, standing next to her bed, who was giving her a thoughtful expression.

“I take it things didn't go well?” he said.

In a weary way, Kira nodded. “Trust me I came this close-” And she raised her hand, bringing her thumb and finger almost together. “-to losing it.”

“But was any progress made?”

“A little bit,” admitted Kira, but it seemed very trivial to her. “What about you? Did you meet with your contact?”

“I did,” replied Odo with a slight nod. “We're going to meet up again. Same place, different time.”

Setting aside her frustration for a moment, Kira gave Odo a genuine small smile of affection. “I'm glad everything went well with you.”

“Thanks.”

“I just wish things would work out with the negotiations!” moaned Kira, and she walked over to the bed. “It got so maddening at times, it makes me want to hit something!”

Odo stepped aside to let Kira sit down on the double bed. “You could hit me if you like, and vent out your anger.”

A hearty snippet of laughter erupted from Kira’s mouth, she couldn't tell if Odo was serious or not, but she liked guessing… “You have a knack for saying the right thing don't you?”

She unzipped the back of her uniform tunic, and dumped it on the bed. Tilting her neck upwards, she stretched her arms out, in an attempt to ease the stiffness in her shoulders and neck. She didn’t notice Odo walk around the bed, but she did feel him get onto it. Odo was resting on his knees, and Kira felt herself relax as her husband’s hands gently caressed her shoulders.

“What you need is a massage,” said Odo, and his hands rested upon the back of Kira's white shirt.

“I don't know,” said Kira, cocking her head to one side. “I'm feeling really cranky today...”

“I know just the thing,” said Odo softly.

No sooner had he said that, then Odo’s hands liquefied and moulded against the back of Kira’s shoulders.

The moment Odo started rubbing his hands around, Kira felt her eyes instinctively close, and all her troubles melt away with Odo’s tender touch. “Oooh Odo!” she breathed out in a deep warm voice. “That... that is very good. I can't believe I had all that tension inside of me!”

“I can always tell...” said Odo with some joviality, he seemed lost in the moment as well.

“Don't stop...” whispered Kira, as she let her head loll a little bit to the left and right.

Odo always went out of his way to make her comfortable in private, and Kira loved the effort her husband put in to calm her, and make things easier for her. Only Odo could comfort her like this, and only her husband could make her feel not guilty by being pampered to like this. Maybe it was worth coming to Breen after all…

Just when she was starting to get a little aroused by Odo’s touch, she pulled herself together. There were reports to write to the various Bajoran ministers and to First minister Shakaar himself. Gently she moved a little away from Odo, and he desisted in his massages.

“That was wonderful,” she said, while standing up and marvelling at the miraculous removal of her aches and pains in her shoulders and neck.

“You deserved it,” said Odo simply.

With a last smile at Odo, Kira picked up some padds and headed over to a desk. Perhaps after work she and Odo would have some spare time to comfort each other...


***


Day 7, 1900 hours

At the back of the Defiant’s bridge, Max was working away on one of the two-man consoles, studying the results of the cartography scans of Breen. Such scans simply provided telemetry of the surface, and a rudimentary classification of the features discovered. Still in laymen’s terms it was rather important information, and Max skimmed through it, making sure there were no areas of the planet that the scans had missed.

He was also absentmindedly looked through the results to see what the highest landmass on Breen was, so far he managed to find 11529 metres above sea level. Such height was impressive, and Max hoped to find some more high-up points on Breen, when he was interrupted by one of the officers at the science station, who still conducted some further cartographic mapping.

“Commander, I've found something unusual.”

Max locked down his console, and moved over to the woman officer. When he arrived, the officer briefly gestured to her console screen, and Max’s eyes instantly focused upon it.

“Stray tachyons?” he said, though more to himself. “Must be a cloaking field.”

He looked away from the console screen. “Can your sensors get past cloaking fields?”

“Negative,” the officer replied. “I can’t get an accurate reading on this area, every time it comes out scrambled. So I presume there is a cloaking field, and it is somehow distorting the sensor results.”

“That area must be pretty important for the Breen to go to such measures,” muttered Max, he was lost in this mystery, but something more pressing came to mind. “How did you detect them?” he suddenly asked. “You didn't apply any invasive methods?”

“No sir I didn't,” said the woman in earnest. “The sensors simply automatically registered them.”

Inwardly Max breathed out a little sigh of relief. “Well that's good; at least we haven't broken any Breen rules. Have you finished mapping the planet?”

“I've finished the cartographical scans.”

“Good,” said Max, and he backed away from the science station. “I'll give captain Dax the results right now.”


***


The third day of negotiations had been just as hard as the first and second days. Ezri was back in her quarters, sitting down on her bed and sipping some much needed tea. There had been progress made, but the way the Breen negotiated made the Federation delegation look like amateurs when it came to diplomatic matters. A bruised ego aside, Ezri was just glad that something productive would come out from these negotiations.

She had read the list of points and demands from both sides, and for some time she had disregarded the padd containing that information. Though her mind kept thinking back to how long the negotiations dragged on for, ending only at 1900 hours, after ten hours of talk, talk and more talk... She had had enough heavy thinking for one day, and she was glad to simply sit in silence, contemplating nothing…

“This is Weatherby to the captain, come in please.”

Ezri got to her feet, thinking in a humorous way how a captain was never idle. She rested her coffee on top of a small wooden cabinet, and retrieved the comm badge from her uniform tunic, which lay on top.

She tapped the comm badge. “Dax here.”

“Captain I'm sending over the results of the cartographic scans... Do you have a tricorder or padd nearby?”

“I've got a padd,” said Ezri, and her eyes drifted to the padd resting on her bed. “Why do you ask?”

“I'll send the results over via subspace link up.”

“Just a moment,” replied Ezri, and she went to the other side of her bed, to the chest of draws.

Pulling out the top draw, she found a small device, hidden behind layers of clothes. The device appeared thin, cuboid like; its size no bigger than her finger nail. But a subspace receiver was very useful device. She sat down on the bed again, and inserted the subspace receiver into the top part of her padd, attached to a small input port.

“I've got a padd,” she told Max, “and I have attached the subspace receiver, you can upload the results now.”

“Uploading...” said Max, and there was a few moments pause. “Captain... When I conducted the scans, something unusual came up.”

“What sort of unusual?” asked Ezri.

“I won't tell you in this comm link, but you'll find out in the results.”

“Understood,” said Ezri.

She felt her anticipation and curiosity grow, just what had Max found? While she waited for the download to complete, she sipped some more tea.

“The transfer is complete captain,” said Max a minute later.

With one hand, Ezri picked up the padd, and analysed the contents. “I've got the results... Is there anything else Mr Weatherby?”

“No sir, goodnight captain.”

The comm link ended when Ezri tapped the comm badge again. Now her mind was focused on the padd, and with one more sip of coffee, she delved into the results…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 20 2012, 09:59 PM   #9
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 4, part 2

Jret entered his office, taking off his helmet as he did so. By the looks of things, the negotiations were not going well, as once Jret sat down by his desk, he took out from a drawer a bottle of some sort of Breen wine. Jret had taken a few sips of the green drink when the door chimed.

“Enter!” he said, his mandibles cracking loudly in annoyance.

Immediately Fjort walked in, his helmet stashed under his arm, he looked deeply grim and serious. “Fellet,” he said, bestowing the customary greeting. “Biogenic factory; its cloaking field fluctuated for a few minutes. Cloaking field; now stable and within normal parameters. The Defiant; must have detected stray tachyons from the fluctuations.”

With a heavy clunk, Jret rested the wine bottle against his desk, he did not seem surprised, but the tension in the room had definitely gone up a notch. “Cloaking field; did the disruptions reveal the biogenics factory?”

“Revealed; that cannot be determined,” answered Fjort, sounding somewhat frustrated. “Biogenics factory; may have been detected by the Defiant.”

“The Defiant; if it has detected the biogenics factory...”

Jret let the statement hang in the air, as both men knew what the implications were. “If detected,” modulated Fjort, “awkward questions will be asked by the Federation.”

At this Jret stood up, and his mandibles again briefly cracked loudly against each other. “Federation; must not know about the biogenics factory.”

“Solution; perhaps we cancel the trade negotiations. Federation; forcibly removed from our territory?”

Jret though appeared not to be listening. “Federation; they will know. Biogenic's factory; if not detected, then the Federation will infer the worst.”

“The worst,” replied Fjort, the anger rising in his voice, “I warned you something like this would happen.”

For a moment Jret hung his head low, perhaps from shame, or perhaps from the stigma of making a bad decision as Fellet. “Blame; this is my fault.” Jret glanced up, and a hard determination had set in his eyes. “Fault; to foolishly trust the Federation. The response; they will pay for their nosiness. Cloaking field; did the fluctuations occur due to invasive sensor scans?”

“Sensor scans; possibly invasive but disguised as non-invasive,” replied Fjort, modulating his voice tones into a more paranoid stance.

Jret’s eyes seemed to be burning with rage. “Federation; broke our rules! Their delegation; capture and interrogate them. Resistance; kill anyone who resists. Starfleet ships; drive them out of our territory!”

“With pleasure,” intoned Fjort, while bowing his head. “That loathsome Amir will excrete in his pants. Ha ha!”

The laughter that came out of Fjort’s mouth, was then matched by Jret’s, it was a brief burst of laughter but a menacing one indeed.


***


Gently, Kira was massaging her forehead as she rested against the armchair. She was not cut out for diplomacy, and twice she had almost lost her temper during today's meetings. Why couldn't everyone be forthright, instead of the constant compromises, counter-compromises, and so forth?

She lowered her hands when she saw Odo, who was putting something into a thin container, laid out on their bed. “Are you going now?” she asked him.

Odo simply nodded. “I just hope my contact's information is worth it for the exchange I'm making...”

“Well good luck,” said Kira trying to sound encouraging, as she fought to keep the tiredness out of her voice.

“I don't believe in luck,” said Odo a little humorously.

“I know that, but in your case it sounds like you need some luck.”

Odo simply smiled at this, before closing the container. “I'll be back before 2100 hours, this shouldn't take long.”

“See you then,” replied Kira.

She gave her husband a quick warm smile, before she summoned her courage and started reading over the padd that she had deserted some minutes ago. Reading over the list of Bajoran demands for these trade negotiations felt soporific to Kira, but she persisted anyway, trying to think of ways to adapt the demands to something the Breen wanted...


***


Ezri continued to read the padd, and she kept reading over the same set of results again and again. She was convinced that the Breen had a cloaking field, and its size with a diameter of twenty kilometres surprised her. A cloaking field of that size was massive, and whatever that field hid, the Breen didn't want anybody to know about it.

The Defiant's sensors had managed to penetrate the field, unfortunately the results were garbled, though in the report, Max told her that he was working on a way to unscramble the data and try to make it coherent. Ezri hoped Max succeeded and there was enough data to reveal what the Breen were hiding...

A distant bang brought Ezri back to her surroundings, and the bang sounded like an explosion. But how could it be an explosion? Something was not right, so she put on her uniform tunic, while attaching her comm badge to it, and grabbed her type-2 phaser. Walking over to her chest of drawers, she rummaged around the clothes until she found her site-to-site transporter.

It seemed Kira's suggestion was a wise one, and once Ezri safely fastened the device to the left sleeve of her tunic, she proceeded out of the room. Once outside she spotted Kira gazing around the corridor.

“Did you hear that noise captain?” asked Kira.

“I did, so I wasn't imagining things!” said Ezri, and her eyes briefly focused on the Bajoran phaser pistol Kira grasped in her right hand.

“Have you got a tricorder on you?”

“I have,” said Ezri, and she doubled back to her room. “I'll just get one.”

Inside her room, she found one of the bags she carried into the hotel. After some searching she found her tricorder, and not bothering to zip up the bag, she headed back to where Kira was.

“Got it...” she told Kira after unfolding the tricorder, she used the tricorder to scan the nearby vicinity of the palace. “There are two hundred Breen surrounding this palace and they-”

The corridor lights all turned off at once, casting Ezri and Kira into darkness. The darkness was almost pitch black, but the tricorder lights added a little illumination close to Ezri.

“They're assaulting this building!” exclaimed Kira. “Why else would the lights go down? So we can't see, but they could if they had some sort of night vision.”

Kira had a solid point, and Ezri could come up with no other explanation. This being the case, then the entire Federation delegation was in grave danger. Ezri tapped her comm badge. “Dax to the Defiant, come in!”

There was no response, just static. “Dax to the Defiant, come in!”

“The Breen must be blocking all the transmissions which go out from the palace,” explained Kira.

Being unable to contact the Defiant was one concern of Ezri’s, but a more pressing concern was being able to see around the palace. “Have you got a torch or something?” she asked Kira.

“Thank the Prophets I brought one... If only I can find it...”

Slowly the two women stuck close to the corridor wall, until Kira came to the door of her room. The two went inside, and Ezri waited close to the front door, while Kira went deeper into the room.

Some moments later, two powerful beams of light appeared, illuminating the wall that Kira pointed at with the wrist-mounted torch she wore. The light was bright enough to illuminate a little of Kira’s face. But no sooner had Kira turned the torch on, did the faint sounds of phaser fire resound in the distance, coming from the lower floors.

“I don't believe it!” breathed Ezri. “They're attacking the Federation delegation! Have the Breen lost their minds?”

“Captain you have to get out of here!” warned Kira, while she pointed the torch in Ezri’s direction. “Use the site-to-site transporter, beam yourself back to the Defiant!”

“I'm not leaving my first officer or the-”

“Captain Dax what is going on?” came a panicked voice from the front door.

Kira raised the torch higher, and Ezri moved against the wall, allowing the light to reveal a worried-looking Amir.

“Why have the lights gone out?” he asked, while he hurried over to Kira to get out of the darkness.

“We're being attacked by the Breen, Mr Amir,” said Ezri impatiently, the last thing she needed right now was Amir’s big mouth in a situation like this.

She had accepted the fact that she must leave, but she wasn’t going to let the Breen capture Kira that easily. So she tapped in a series of commands on the tricorder, and the tricorder started mapping the palace.

“What are you doing captain?” asked Kira, who had walked over to Ezri.

“Studying the schematics of this place... There is-”

Looking out of the front door, Ezri could make out turquoise coloured phaser fire hitting the walls around a T-junction in the corridors. Worse she could make out small orange laser beams, and these must have been attached to the weapons the Breen were carrying. The lasers were jerking up and down, and Ezri deduced that the Breen must have been hurrying down the corridor.

“This way!” she said, and she hurried out of the front door and proceeded rightwards. “Colonel take the lead!”

Kira nimbly jogged ahead of Ezri, while Ezri and Amir followed from behind. The three were running at a brisk pace, and the torch moved from side to side, as Kira guided their way through the darkness.

“Where are we going?” asked Kira, her breathing quite steady despite all the running.

“There's an access hatch to the elevator, twenty metres from here,” said Ezri.

“I don't understand,” said Amir, who sounded out of breathe. “What have we done to offend the Breen?”

“Offend?” said Ezri disbelievingly. “It's looks to me as if-”

“Get down!” shouted Kira.

All three dived down as more Breen phaser fire flew over there heads. Kira’s torch revealed three Breen, and both Ezri and Kira fired there phasers hitting two of the Breen.

The third Breen quickly backed away, hiding behind another T-junction in the corridors.

Taking advantage of the Breen’s cover, Ezri fired a few more rounds, before signalling to Kira and Amir to follow her into a room. Ezri discharged one round from the phaser, blasting the door’s magnetic lock, and with one good kick on the door, it swung open.

The three hurried into the quarters, and once past the entrance hall, came to a stop in one corner of the room close to the hall.

“Take my tricorder,” said Ezri, while she passed to Kira both the tricorder and the phaser.

Kira promptly handed to Amir the second phaser, but when Amir took possession of it, he looked at the phaser in a terrified manner. It seemed he was either frightened to use it, or completely terrified out of his wits.

“Get to the elevator hatch,” Ezri told Kira, “and proceed all the way downwards until you get to the basement. In the basement, there is a small passageway that leads to the sewers. But from there you'll have to work out where to go!”

“Understood captain,” said Kira, her face becoming deadly serious.

“And you'll have to mask your life signs-”

“I know what to do!” said Kira a little angrily. “Now get of here!”

“Kira-”

With a bang, and the sound of splintering wood, the front door was blasted open, and two Breen soldiers stormed in. Their orange laser sights darted from left to right.

However with a speed that Ezri found hard to believe, Kira lurched around the wall she was hiding behind, and fired in quick succession several rounds at the Breen. The rounds hit the Breen, and bright sparks erupted from where the phaser fire hit the soldier’s armour.

Quickly Kira got behind the wall again, her phaser raised in anticipation of more trouble, and she looked at Ezri. “Get back to the Defiant. You are more important than us two!”

“I'm sorry,” said Ezri somberly.

“Don't worry about us,” replied Kira impatiently. “Go!” she urged.

Finally Ezri pulled herself out of a stupor, she did not want to leave Kira to fend off the Breen, but there was no other way. So Ezri slipped a finger under her left tunic sleeve, and with both her finger and thumb pressed hard against the device. In the blink of an eye Ezri dematerialized. She took in one last glance of Kira’s tense face, and those staring eyes, before that to vanished, and the blue light was all Ezri could see…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 27 2012, 11:30 PM   #10
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 5, part 1

In those brief five minutes, Kira felt herself change completely. She was now in survival mood, and the only thing that mattered was escaping from the palace without being tracked.

“There's no way out of this!” burst out Amir, disrupting Kira’s thinking.

“Mr Amir, just stay quiet,” said Kira calmly, she needed Amir to keep his head, otherwise he would complicate things.

Her right hand was gripping onto her phaser pistol, while her left hand was holding onto the tricorder. Mounted on her left wrist was the torch, and right now it was pointing at the bed, with the two beams of light shining onto a small portion of the bed. Kira checked the tricorder; there were no Breen soldiers in the nearby vicinity. This was good for the time being, but the Breen could arrive at her position very quickly.

“Let's go back to my quarters and Ezri's,” she told Amir. “We get some thermals on, and then we leave.”

“Go back?” said Amir in a hollow voice.

“We cannot go outside this place without thermals!” said Kira sounding exasperated, how could Amir be that stupid?

She proceeded out of the room, and jogged back up the corridor, her torch light momentarily shone on each door, to the left, she passed. 234, 236, … Kira was amazed just how far they had gone down the corridor in their attempt to avoid the Breen. Finally she saw 252, the number to her room.

When she was inside, she headed over to a cabinet and searched for her greyish blue thermals. She found them after half a minute, and took at least one minute just putting them on. She also noticed that the temperature had lowered, clearly the palace’s heating systems had been turned off.

Once she had put her thermals on, she emptied the rest of the cabinet’s contents: a rucksack and a medkit. In her mind a voice instinctively said ‘water and ration packs’, but she didn’t see any. Inwardly she cursed herself for not bringing such essentials. The replicator was down, and she went to the bathroom; the taps were not working, so no water. But she could worry about food and water later, right now she had to escape from this palace.

She directed her torch at Amir, and she realised he didn’t have any thermals, but she knew Ezri did. So the two went to Ezri’s room. Waiting for Amir to put on Ezri’s thermals (which just fitted on Amir’s pudgy frame) was torture for Kira. Any second she expected the Breen to rush into the room and catch her unawares…

No sooner did Amir finish with the thermals did more turquoise Breen phaser fire shatter the front door and fly through the narrow hall way.

“Give me your phaser,” Kira asked of Amir.

Kira took the phaser out of Amir’s pudgy hand, and thanked the Prophets this was a Starfleet-issued phaser as it was far easier to overload. While the phaser began to build up energy, Kira took a few shots (with her Bajoran phaser) in the direction of the front door to keep the Breen at bay. That did the trick, until finally Kira checked on the phaser and realised it was ready to go off…

Amir was looking at it nervously, and for good reason, if the phaser went off it would have vaporised both him and Kira, and totally destroy the living room. The phaser started making an ominous wining sound that got steadily louder.

Finally Kira chucked the phaser as hard as she could at a slight angle. The phaser flew in the air going past the door, before bouncing off the wall and disappearing from her sight.

Kira heard an outburst of that mechanical sounding language of the Breen’s, no doubt they were running away for their very lives. She did the same thing in the opposite direction. “Move!” she screamed to Amir.

The two ran into the bedroom, and there Kira closed the door, before both she and Amir crouched down behind a bed, with their hands over their heads in a bracing position.

In an instant, there was a huge roar, followed by the sound of the interior duranium partitioning shattering. The very wall in front of Kira and Amir was blasted to pieces, while the smoke and chunks of plasterboard and insulation enveloped most of the room. Most of the debris went over Kira’s head, though a few rolled over the bed and hit her.

When it was all over, Kira slowly got up… She was not injured thanks to hiding behind the bed, but the rest of the room was completely destroyed. The walls in front of her were completely levelled as was the corridor’s ceiling and floor. Everything was dusty, smoky and blackened, while fires raged at the point where the phaser had detonated.

Smaller fires were starting up twenty metres away from the centre of the blast, the Breen soldiers were screaming in agony while others were on fire. Some of the ones on fire were desperately rolling around on the floor trying to put out the flames. The others were lying on the floor, dead, and the flames devoured them.

It was a horrific sight, but Kira felt nothing, she and Amir had to get out of there. She looked at Amir and he was gazing in a petrified manner at the carnage. “Move it!” she shouted.

But it was no good, and stashing her tricorder in the rucksack, with one hand she lifted Amir onto his feet. She was so full of adrenaline and Amir was so full of fear. With a strong nudge to Amir’s ribs, she managed to bring Amir out of his horrified trance and forced him to start walking.

She and Amir avoided the flames, by walking through four rooms, where the walls had been blown out. It was treacherous going, walking over the debris. At the fourth room the wall to the fifth room was largely intact, so Kira and Amir dashed down the corridor.

Briefly Kira stopped, when she saw one fallen Breen soldier and picked up the Breen’s phaser rifle. She then quickly took off her rucksack, opened a hatch and stuffed her phaser pistol inside. Next she took out her tricorder, and when she was finished with her rucksack, she scanned the corridor and found out that the door to the elevator hatch was only five metres in front of her.

For a door, it was very well concealed, almost blending in with the wall. Looking down at her phaser, she noticed the various settings shown below the sight and at once she raised the setting to maximum. Without even thinking she pulled the trigger to the Breen phaser rifle, and immediately a turquoise streak of light hit the door, and vaporised a good chunk of it. She waited a few moments for the door to cool down, before signalling to Amir to follow her.

Stashing the tricorder in a side-compartment of her rucksack, Kira moved her hand left and right, so that the torch light could cover all the areas of this elevator hatch. Trouble was all the light revealed was simply more darkness, and no discerning objects, except for the platform she was standing on, and the safety railings around the perimeter and a few consoles.

She then noticed a small hole in the platform. When she examined this hole, she realised the ladder ran all the way down to the bottom most floor. Amir saw this and hurried over…

“Wait!” she warned him, while she again took out her tricorder, as she remembered Ezri’s advice. “I can mask our life signs, so hopefully the Breen won't track us!”

“That's all very good,” said Amir impatiently, “but where are we going?”

“Downwards, into this place's basement, and then into the sewers.”

“The sewers?” repeated Amir, sounding aghast.

“It's either death or braving the sewers,” said Kira, and she wasn’t going to argue with Amir about their escape route. “Personally I'd take the sewers any day.”

She reconfigured what the tricorder could emit, and with some modulations to its frequency matrix, she managed to readjust the tricorder so it emitted bio-dampening signals. “There done,” she said to Amir, sounding a little proud of her handiwork. “Let's keep moving.”

Climbing down the ladder was a dull and uneventful task. There were no more sounds of phaser fire, and when the lights came back on, Kira presumed that the Breen restored the palace’s lighting because they thought they had secured the palace. Or perhaps it was because they didn’t detect anybody else inside…

The elevator hatch was basically coloured grey, with numerous chained cables and two vertical support structures to hold up the lifts. But the orange lighting tinted the grey into a more darker colour. Kira continued climbing downwards until her feet found a floor.

Looking around it was a small, featureless room, lit up with white light. Her eyes found a door, and tapping on the panel next to the door, the door swished open sideways. At once she turned off her torch when she saw how illuminated the basement was. She proceeded along narrow, and long, corridors that looked similar to the room she had just left, and she used her tricorder to guide her to this passageway.

“This way,” she told Amir, while her eyes glanced at the tricorder screen.

“You really know how to use that device don't you?” said Amir, sounding almost admiring of Kira.

Inwardly Kira cringed at such a stupid comment. “Yes Mr Amir I do,” she said, struggling to keep the exasperation away from her voice.

After a series of left and rights, Kira came to a stop at a hatch. She scanned the hatch with her tricorder and realised there was a simple monitoring device embedded into the hatch control’s circuitry. So she ripped off the panel next to the right of the hatch, and started fumbling around with the circuitry.

It was good fortune that she had spent a little time dealing with Breen codes and language, as part of a Starfleet Intelligence course in computer and system hacking. With a little reconfiguring of the fibre optic cables and bio-circuitry, Kira managed to deactivate the device.

She reattached the panel to the chamber containing the hatch’s circuitry, and then inputted some simple commands to the panel, which was to the left of the hatch, and the hatch swung open.

The passageway was rather dark, with a few orange lighting strips on the top. When she and Amir were inside the passageway, Kira closed the door. The air in the passageway smelled stale almost whiffy, of what Kira couldn’t be certain.

She came to another similar hatch, but this was just a matter of turning the handle, built into the hatch. When the hatch opened, a horrible smell assaulted her nostrils, but she stepped forwards, feeling that escape through a sewer was infinitely more preferable to being killed, or worse being captured by the Breen…


***


Keeping close to the thin stone walkway, Kira moved along the massive sewer. She was glad the cross section of the sewer was rectangular, as it meant she could keep a hand against the wall to balance. The walkway was thin, and Kira didn’t find the idea of falling into sewage water, Breen sewage water, too appealing.

Though it could have been much worse without the green neon lighting, walking around a sewer in pitch blackness was not a very sensible idea. Even with her torch, the lighting would have barely been adequate...

She had a plan of sorts, and she was using her tricorder to navigate her way through the labyrinths of sewers. One part of this plan was for Odo to meet up with her, assuming Odo hadn’t been captured. Kira’s gut instinct told her that Odo was not captured, and he would find out what happened in the palace, and then try to contact her.

It was most fortunate she still had her combadge on her. Now the question was when Odo would contact her, it had to be soon in the next few hours, she felt certain of it. But Odo would have to find her first, hence why she proceeded to the eastern merchant’s quarters. It was a easily recognisable part of the Breen capital. If she could find shelter in one of the buildings above ground, and wait until Odo arrived, then maybe there was a chance of leaving the city.

She knew she couldn’t stay in the sewers forever, the Breen must have surrounded the outlets where the sewers discharged their contents, outside of the city. Just then the smell became a bit worse and she wrinkled her nose some more, Breen excrement sure did stink to high heaven.

“Have they detected us?” asked Amir, sounding totally on edge.

Kira inwardly groaned, Amir kept asking that question, she wished Amir would shut up and follow her instructions, without his stupid questions. “I'm not sure,” she replied, while looking at the tricorder to check on Breen life signs. There were life signs above them, but they weren’t moving in a way that suggested she and Amir were being followed.

“Listen I've taken us this far, and about six kilometres away from us is this forest. Once we go there that should make it hard for them to track us. All we have to do is get out of these sewers, and try to stealthily make our way through the outskirts of the capital.”

“A quick rest first,” said Amir desperately.

“Another rest Mr Amir?” asked Kira, she could not believe how unfit this guy was, and they were the same age more or less. “We need to keep moving!” she urged him.

Amir though rapidly shook his head, and leaned against the sewer wall, he looked utterly fatigued. “My legs have seized up, this wasn't part of my job running away in terror, completely clueless!” His voice became alarmingly loud. “We're doomed, we-”

“Shut up!” hissed Kira, “and keep quiet!”

Such a stern reprimand made Amir literally shrink a little, he looked so way out of his league it was unbelievable. “We have to assume Starfleet will come to rescue us,” he said, making it sound like a certainty.

“Starfleet probably think we're dead!” said Kira, and she got sick of saying that to Amir, why didn’t he understand the reality of the situation they were in?

“They have to rescue us,” said Amir, he seemed to be clutching at straws. “I'm a senior Federation diplomat, doesn't that count for anything?”

“Keep your voice down!”

But Amir seemed to have overcome some of his fear, and his anger built up. “This is your fault! Your group somehow managed to offend the Breen!”

Kira was starting to really get sick of Amir, she felt like knocking Amir senseless just for the hell of it. “Perhaps they realised how much of an arrogant and pompous fool you were?” she retorted back, making her voice as venomous as possible.

“How dare you!” shouted Amir, looking apocalyptic with rage. “You wouldn't last one day as a diplomat, but I'm not surprised with you Bajorans. You're too headstrong, too prideful, too-”

Suddenly Kira snapped, she advanced over to Amir, and with one hand grabbed his thermal’s collar. “If you don't stop talking, the Breen may hear you, and you will die!”

The deadly nature of Kira’s voice, made Amir go completely silent, and he seemed to pale before Kira’s eyes. Though she hadn’t intended to frighten Amir out of his wits, at least he was now silent and Kira could finally concentrate on the plan still forming in her mind.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old April 27 2012, 11:31 PM   #11
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 5, part 2

Returning to the same café, except this time holding in his right hand a small thin container, Odo found Lorek sitting down on the same spot.

“You have the list?” asked Lorek when Odo had sat down by the table.

Odo placed the container on the table, opened it up, and pulled out the padd. All the while he kept a tight grip on his padd as he moved the container off the table. “You give me your list of names, and I'll give you mine.”

There was moments pause, finally Lorek pulled out a smaller but bulkier Cardassian padd from a pocket in his jacket. The two then slid their respective padds across the table, and completed the exchange.

For a few minutes the two men were silent as they studied their newly acquired padds carefully.

“Oh very good constable,” said Lorek, sounding pleased. “The Cardassian government will find this very useful.”

Odo lowered his padd down on the table, he to was pleased with what he had received. “Well this trip was worth it-”

Just at that moment a Breen hover-transport, dashed by the café, the sound of its klaxons was deafening, and many people outside on the street were still staring at the vehicle long after it had sped by.

“What was that?” said Odo sharply, the moment the vehicle passed the café.

“No it can't be!” said Lorek in a hollow voice, and his skin seemed to become more whiter from nervousness.

“Lorek, what's going on?”

Lorek suddenly rose from the table, looking around as he did so. “Come with me constable.”

Odo though wasn’t going anywhere.

“Now!” said Lorek through gritted teeth.

Going against his better judgement, Odo followed Lorek, who ventured deeper into the café, moving past a doorway which lead to a thin, shabby and poorly-lit corridor. When they reached the end of the corridor, Lorek was the first to go up a narrow and steep flight of stairs. After going up four floors, Lorek briskly strode down another corridor, lined with doors, stopping when he reached a particular door.

Lorek fumbled with the locking mechanism in his door, before the lock unsealed itself, and the door opened. Standing back, Lorek hurried Odo in. “Come on get inside!”

Odo walked inside the room, and noticed the temperature was far more warmer, but that was about all he noticed. “What is happening?” he demanded after Lorek had closed the front door. “What was that vehicle which passed by the cafe?”

“It is a standard Breen troop deployment vehicle,” explained Lorek, while he weaved around the various bits of furniture to look out of the window. “Which means something serious has happened in the capital, or they're conducting an operation.”

After peering from the window, Lorek quickly closed the blinds, and moved over to the other side of the room and turned on his holovision.

The holovision showed some sort of news channel, because there on the screen appeared a smartly dressed male Breen presenter sitting behind a news desk in some studio. The presenter’s face was clearly visible and Odo felt utterly revolted by what he saw.

Where there should have been a nose, there was a series of almost gill-like slits. The mouth was lined with a series of inch-long mandibles, though the lips were coloured a dull green, and the presenter’s teeth looked little razors. His entire face sloped outward from the line of his eyebrows, and both the jaw and the cheeks were elongated. The eyes looked humanoid, but his hair, if you could call it hair was not.

Each individual hair was thick and very visible to the naked eye. Centimetre long follicles, sheathed with some sort of sturdy organic plating, ran from the top of the presenter’s forehead, and the hair ran backwards over his scalp. The skin was a dull brownish grey, and the ears were very pointy, sticking out by at least six inches. Not only that the ears seemed to flex from stem to tip, backwards and forwards, up and down.

Odo had seen some weird looking aliens in his time, but something about the Breen’s look appeared sinister to him. “So is that what a Breen looks like?”

“Pretty hideous don't you think?” said Lorek rhetorically. “Almost threw up when I saw a Breen without their helmet or cloaks on.”

Overcoming his revulsion, Odo started listening to what the news presenter was saying.

Imperial Palace; assaulted by Breen troops. Federation delegation; attempted to carry out acts of sabotage.

“Sabotage?” cried out Odo in indignation.

“Breen propaganda,” muttered Lorek.

Federation delegation; most members captured, over twenty killed. Warning; three members are not captured. Three members; colonel Kira Nerys, ambassador Pete Amir and constable Odo.

The holovision then showed the mugshots of Kira, Amir and Odo.

Three members; wanted alive. Reward; for information leading to their capture.

At that point Lorek turned off the holovision, and was now keeping some distance from Odo, as if he were contagious or dangerous. “Kira and Mr Amir aren't going to evade capture for very long. If they manage to leave the capital I'll be-”

Odo though did not give a damn about what Lorek was saying, as his mind joined the dots together, and some of his suspicions built up concerning Lorek. “You knew something like this was going to happen, didn't you?”

“I deduced that the likelihood of an attack on the Federation delegation was a strong possibility.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” said Odo impatiently.

“I warned you three days ago about-”

The anger building up inside of Odo finally made his patience, and tolerance, of Lorek snap. He then stretched out his arms, and pulled Lorek towards him by the scruff of Lorek's jacket. “You soulless piece of scum,” snarled Odo, “you don't care if they live or die! Well I do, that's my wife on the run, and I want to know why the Breen attacked the Federation delegation!”

Lorek’s composure changed considerably, for he no longer looked so sure of himself. “That information comes with a price, you-”

Odo though redoubled his grip on Lorek, as his anger mounted. “I'm warning you, if you are in any way responsible for the Breen attack!”

“I don't why the Breen decided to assault the Imperial Palace!” replied Lorek in a quick manner, the words tumbling out of his mouth. “And I assure you I didn't tell them any information that would warrant such an extreme response from the Breen. I'm telling you the truth, my warning was simply good guesswork, and wasn't based on hard facts!”

It was hard to read Lorek’s face, but Odo decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and he let go of Lorek. “If you're lying to me...”

“Listen constable I don't think you realise how much danger you're in. The Breen soldiers will already be looking for you!”

“Don't you worry about me,” said Odo brazenly, and he shapeshifted into a Breen civilian (while still holding onto Lorek’s padd), complete with standard Breen clothes. “It's you who should be worried, I wonder what the Breen will think when they find you've been in contact with me?”

Lorek looked rather subdued, and it seemed he was doing some soul-searching. “Here take this,” he said offering to Odo another padd, which came out of another one of Lorek’s jacket pockets.

“What is it?” asked Odo, while he stuffed the padd into his cloak’s pocket.

“A padd containing maps of the Breen's sewer and geothermal networks. You're best chance of escaping this city is through one of the main geothermal pipes that runs underground. There are geothermal building units all over this city, go inside one and you'll find a series of maintenance passageways that which eventually connect up with one of the main geothermal pipelines.”

Odo didn’t know what to say, he was both grateful and suspicious of Lorek’s sudden generosity. “Why are you helping me?”

An enigmatic smile appeared on Lorek’s face. “I have friends in high places who seem to admire you constable...”

“You are under orders from president Garak aren't you?” inquired Odo, as the truth about Lorek’s true occupation came to him suddenly.

Lorek though simply shrugged at that inquiry. “As I said I have friends in high places.”

Shaking his head in disbelieve, Odo left Lorek’s room, and walked briskly down the stairs and out of the café. When Odo was outside of the building, he placed the hood over his head, and walked away looking for an alleyway or somewhere secluded. He could shapeshift himself a combadge, contact Kira, and hopefully she would respond back. But if she did not it meant that the Breen had captured her and Amir.

After walking for a few moments, Odo found a secluded alleyway. It was very dark, and just perfect for what he was planning to do. On his chest he shapeshifted himself a Starfleet combadge, and looked around to make sure nobody was noticing him. There was nobody, so he tapped his combadge. “This is Odo to Kira, can you hear me? I say again, this Odo to Kira.” There was some silence as Odo waited for a reply. “Nerys, please respond.”

More silence and then-

Odo is that you?” said Kira’s slightly shocked voice.

“Nerys, thank god!” Odo then quickly lowered his voice, and his joy of hearing from Kira quickly subsided. “Are you hurt or injured?”

I'm fine,” she answered.

“Where are you?”

I'm holed up in an office block by the eastern merchant quarters, with Mr Amir. This building is by the road that leads out to the city, as you go out of the merchant quarters. I'm in the building to the left of the road, the tallest one in this particular city block, tenth floor next to the central staircase. Where are you?

“I won't tell you that just in case this conversation is monitored, but I'll get there as soon as possible.”

Understood, and one more thing; we don't contact each other again, the Breen could trace the transmissions and track us down.

“Agreed,” said Odo, he nearly tapped his combadge to end the transmission, but there was something else he needed to say to her. “And Kira...”

Yes?

“Stay alive, you hear me?” said Odo, his voice faltering with emotion.

I will, now hurry!

The transmission ended on Kira’s end, and Odo knew what he had to do. He then transformed himself into a Rigellian eagle, while careful to keep the two padds inside of him. When he had done transforming, he stretched out his wings, and flew up into the cloudy sky.

He got as much elevation as possible, finally he stopped ascending when he came just below the clouds. In his mind he had the whole map of the Breen capital, and his sharp eyes matched what he saw with that on the map. He worked out his position in relation to the city and the direction he had to travel in. Flapping his wings more vigorously, Odo flew over the city to the eastern merchant quarters.


***


The surroundings of the room vanished, and Ezri now saw the familiar sight of the Defiant’s bridge-her device’s predestined transport coordinates-through the blue fog/haze of the transporter. With a slight bump her boots made contact with the carpeted floor.

“Captain,” came Max’s surprised voice from the captain’s chair. “What's going-”

Ezri though did not have time to explain, with a simple jerk of her thumb, she gestured to Max to get off the commander’s chair. “Raise the cloak Mr Nog, helm move us behind Breen's further most moon.”

“Cloak activated,” said Nog, while the bridge then became illuminated with the blue lighting.

When Max was at the helm, and had finished tapping in the flight commands, did he then turn his head around to address Ezri. “What happened captain?”

“Breen soldiers attacked the Imperial Palace,” explained Ezri, as she sat down on the commander’s chair. “The Federation delegation is probably dead.”

“Kira, Odo?” asked Max, a worried expression on his face.

Ezri simply shook her head. “I'm sorry. They were good officers, good people. But we can't dwell upon them right now. I want you to carefully analyse the sensor findings regarding the cloaking field you discovered on Breen, see if you can find any telemetry on what was beneath that cloaking field.”

While Max left the helm-which was quickly manned by the previous helm officer-to go over to the science station, Ezri slumped her head against the chair. Her eyes darted upwards to the ceiling, taking in the lights. What had gone wrong? The actions by the Breen made no sense whatsoever, it was totally unprovoked.

But she remembered her experiences from the Corneria war; the Breen were very paranoid. Was the simple act of discovering those stray tachyons, the catalyst for the Breen’s extreme and violent response? One part of her felt guilt for transporting out of the Imperial Palace, it seemed such a cowardly thing to do. But the Defiant needs its captain she told herself.

To Ezri it seemed like a feeble excuse for without the transporter device she would have been killed or captured, along with Kira and Odo. She then buried deep inside her the pang of loss for Kira and Odo, especially Kira, it was a horrible way to lose a friend. In her mind she fought off the powerful anger that coursed through her, she had had it with the Breen and their paranoid, treacherous and xenophobic ways.

But attacking would do no good, information was the answer here, and she was desperate to know just what the Breen were hiding…


***


Ezri remained on the bridge, and constantly she wondered when the Breen would detect her ship. Even though the Defiant remained cloaked and hidden behind one of Breen’s moons, Ezri wouldn’t put it past the Breen to detect the Defiant, despite all the measures to hide it. The two Starfleet ships, Rudder and Xaviar, were high-tailing it out of Breen territory. The strange thing was that the Breen did not seem very interested in chasing the two ships, though Ezri felt glad for this turn of events.

Maintaining position had been very informative, as sensors gathered masses of information concerning Breen ship movements in their star system. While the sensors were closer to penetrating through the cloaking field, detected on Breen earlier. In all truth, Ezri really stayed here to find out what happened to Kira and Odo. The ship’s sensors had tapped into a few Breen media networks, and apparently the Federation delegation had been captured, barring four members.

She had escaped and much to her surprise, Kira, Amir and Odo had done the same. Ezri stomach churned in discomfort when she heard that 24 of the Federation delegation had been killed. But just what did the Breen expect to get from capturing up to thirty ambassadors and high-ranking officials from the Federation? Was this how the Breen carried out their ‘diplomacy’, using force and intimidation?

Even though Kira, Amir and Odo were out of the palace, Ezri doubted they could elude the Breen military for long. What hope she had for them, was clouded out by the wall of worry and uncertainty she felt.

“Priority one message from admiral Ross,” said Max.

“Patch it through to my ready room,” she ordered.

She then left the bridge, and when inside her ready room, she turned on her laptop and routed the transmission through it. The subspace carrier wave was the standard one by Starfleet for disguising transmissions, so all the Breen would detect would be a slight increase in the cosmic background radiation in a small area above their moon. Nothing that would make them conspicuous.

A moment later the laptop displayed the life feed from admiral Ross’ office, Ross looked very grave indeed. “Captain I've just heard about the Breen attacking and capturing the Federation delegation, while killing many of its members. I have ordered all Starfleet ships to leave Breen space, but I want the Defiant cloaked, so that we can monitor what is happening on the Breen homeworld.”

“Don't worry admiral, the Defiant's already cloaked and we're hiding behind a moon next to the Breen homeworld.”

For a small moment, Ross looked surprised that Ezri was two steps ahead of him, but not for long. “If the Breen detect you, retreat immediately to Federation space.”

“Understood.”

“What happened down on Breen Dax? Was there any warning of this attack?”

“There was no warning, and I don't see how we could have provoked them. I was in the Imperial Palace, when Breen soldiers literally stormed it without warning! The Defiant was scanning the Breen homeworld-with non-intrusive scans-and there was nothing to threaten the Breen.”

Ross briefly sighed, and looked even more grave. “That might have been enough to provoke the Breen, they're xenophobic and suspicious. But to react in such an extreme way to rudimentary scans, it doesn't make any sense!”

Inwardly Ezri wholeheartedly agreed with that, nothing about the situation made much sense. “The scans revealed indications of a cloaking field on Breen's surface, and the Defiant's sensors managed to briefly penetrate through one gap in the cloaking field due to its temporarily fluctuations. Unfortunately the results are garbled but we do know that the Breen are definitely hiding something from us.”

“It could be anything,” said Ross. “Perhaps they were afraid that the Defiant's sensors managed to scan whatever was beneath the cloaking fields? In any case keep scanning the Breen homeworld, I want to find out what the Breen are so desperate to conceal from us. Maintain communications silence unless absolutely necessary. Ross out.”

The subspace transmission ended, and the laptop showed the Federation insignia. In a weary way, Ezri tapped a key to turn off the laptop, and then she rested her hand against her right cheek. Her mind was lost in thought about the Breen, and her bad memories of the Corneria war came flooding back, further depressing her...
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Old May 1 2012, 10:09 PM   #12
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 6

By some good fortune, Kira managed to find a hatch that led out of the sewers, and into the basement of a building which was very close to the eastern merchant quarters. After checking with her tricorder, Kira discovered there were only two Breen occupants inside the building and they were on the top floor.

When she and Amir reached the ground floor, it was very dark, and switching on the torch, she could make out what were a series of closely clustered desks and terminals. The building had to be some sort of office block, and nearly all the workers must have left it to return home. Ten metres in front of her were the windows, blinds covered them, hiding the interior of the building from passers-by.

She half expected intruder alarms to go off, but then she realised intruder alarms were for a person trying to break into a building. It was also apparent that the Breen didn’t believe anyone would have the audacity to trespass by going in the sewers and using the hatch she walked up to enter.

Kira didn’t dare turn on the office’s lighting, and wielding her torch, and after some creeping around, she found a closed-in staircase. She wanted to get a little height, and get a view of the city to work out where exactly she was in the eastern merchant quarters. Walking up the staircase was eerily quiet, but at least it was lit up. Finally Kira decided to come out at the tenth floor, and opening the door, she saw a sight similar to the first floor.

Again the office spaces were very dark, even more so now they were above the street lights. She checked her tricorder and saw that the two Breen were still on the top floor. Perhaps they were technicians or janitors of some sort, but Kira didn’t really care, just as long as the two Breen stayed on that floor. Carefully she navigated past the desks and when she made it to one of the windows, she carefully pulled back one of the blinds slightly, and looked around.

To her right were the bright lights coming from the centre of the merchant quarters. Looking downwards was a busy road, full of pedestrians and the lanes clogged up with those hovercars the Breen used. She checked the map of the capital on her tricorder and worked out she was on the major eastern road that lead out of the city.

With that information in mind, Kira found her bearings. She would have left the building, right then and there, and tried to escape from the Breen capital, when all of a sudden Odo contacted her. It was a big relief to hear Odo’s voice again, and now Kira impatiently waited by the window. Every now and then she peered through the blinds checking activity on the street.

Only this time the traffic had stopped flowing, there were no pedestrians next to the building, and Kira could just make out the uniforms of Breen soldiers. “Damn, they've tracked us down.”

“I thought we lost them!” said Amir.

“We haven't,” said Kira, and she walked away from the window and both hands were now holding the phaser rifle. “They must have traced the contact I had with Odo. We're cornered, so there's only one thing left to do; fight our way out of the situation.”

“We'll die!” exclaimed Amir, who looked horrified by the prospect of fighting.

“I'd rather die fighting, then be captured cowering in this building!”

For some reason Kira felt less nervous about matters, she was in her survival mode, and there was no time to feel fear. She didn’t care what Amir was feeling right now, and she signalled to Amir to follow her. Obediently Amir did so, and he looked completely dazed and shocked.

Kira raced down the staircase, occasionally yelling at Amir to keep up. When she arrived at the bottom, she carefully opened the door leading to the ground floor. It was dark, the floor deserted, but she turned off her torch; she was going to have creep around in the dark. With a nod to Amir, she walked out of the staircase, and kept close to the wall. There had to be another route out of this building, but her tricorder was of no use. It did not contain the schematics of this building.

She explored the ground floor and found a door that hopefully would lead to another exit in the back of the building. Just when she was about to pull the door open, a loud sound came from outside on the street.

“Attention; surrender yourselves at once. Your presence; on the ground floor. This building; surrounded. Escape; is impossible.”

Kira though went over to a nearby terminal, and trained her phaser in the direction of the windows. Like hell she was surrendering, she checked the tricorder again and took note that only a couple of Breen troops were stationed behind the building. Just then her heart sank like a stone when she realised why they were positioned like so. The back of the building probably only had one entrance whereas the front had at least three.

The Breen at the back were simply waiting for her to leave at that entrance, but she wouldn’t do that. She was going to make a stand of it when the Breen soldiers at the front stormed the floor.

“Your weapons; drop them,” said the voice, which was coming from a loud speaker. “Resistance; will result in your deaths.”

At this what little of Amir’s face was visible seemed to grow more pale. While Kira concentrated on the windows, she then heard a faint trickling sound. It was a sound she had heard before when in the Bajoran resistance, the true sound of fear. Amir had just peed in his pants out of complete terror.

Kira realised that Amir was too frightened to do anything, let alone fight the Breen, so it was all up to her.

There was suddenly a series of bangs, and the ground windows shattered, while the blinds disintegrated. The lights then turned on, and Kira blinked furiously as her pupils adjusted. Moments later Breen soldiers stormed in, firing at a level a few feet above Kira’s head. She responded with a few pot shots, but the Breen were smart enough to take immediate cover.

There was a bang and a sizzling sound, Kira thought her left arm had been hit but it turned to be the torch. Now useless, Kira quickly removed it before the singed metal made contact with her skin.

With a clunk, Kira heard a canister of some sorts land right next to her. It had to be a canister full of a soporific gas or perhaps a gas to incapacitate her. She groped around until her hands found the cold metal canister. With all her force she chucked it back, but she had inhaled too much of the gas, and she felt strangely disorientated.

Forcing herself to mount her phaser rifle on the terminal, she took some aimed shots at the Breen soldiers who were now advancing upon her position. She might have hit one of them but she could not tell. With the swiftness of the Breen assault, Kira knew it was over, and she expected to be struck repeatedly with phaser fire or have hands pinning her to the ground.

There were then yells of commotion coming from the Breen, and peering upwards, Kira realised the Breen were being fired on from behind. It was Odo, but the moment the Breen turned around to face him, Odo shapeshifted (dropping the Breen phaser rifle) and with a speed Kira couldn’t believe, she watched as a brown mass oozed around the floor and on the ceiling, leaping around from both.

There were cries of pain, when Odo hit a Breen soldier. Odo wrapped himself around the Breen, and what he did Kira could not discern, but each time the Breen fell to the floor unconscious. In vain the Breen soldiers tried to fire at Odo, but he was to nimble for them.

Kira helped out by firing at the Breen furthest away from Odo, finally after a half minute, all the Breen troops were incapacitated.

“Odo over here!” she called out.

Odo bent down, picking up two Breen phaser rifles, and dashed over to Kira.

“I thought you said you didn't use weapons?” she asked.

“I'll use anything to protect you,” replied Odo, looking deadly serious.

He then threw a phaser rifle to Amir, but it simply hit Amir’s body. “Who's he?” asked Odo.

“Pete Amir, senior Federation diplomat,” explained Kira, she turned around and saw Amir.

Never had she seen such a shocked looking person. “Come on Amir get on your feet!”

“I can't... So afraid,” replied Amir, in a voice barely above a whisper.

“We could knock him out and take him with us,” said Odo in an undertone.

“We could,” agreed Kira.

Suddenly Amir’s whole face jerked out of its shocked reverie, he looked deeply scarred. “Please don't hurt me!” he said loudly.

Just at that moment phaser fire flew through the broken windows, and Kira and Odo took cover.

“Damn it!” swore Kira. “More soldiers are coming!”

“Mr Amir get onto your feet,” said Odo, who sounded very impatient.

Amir though failed to respond, and he was visibly trembling. “I can't move, I can't-You have to carry me.”

Kira though was tired of Amir’s cowardliness, she strode over, forcibly picking Amir up and onto his feet. “Get a grip on yourself!” she shouted. “If you don't-”

More phaser fire entered the room, one such beam hit Amir in the shoulder and he yelled with pain, while collapsing to the floor.

“He'll wake up half the capital if we take him!” exclaimed Odo.

“We'll just have to leave him,” said Kira, “if he can't calm down-”

There was more phaser fire, and Kira’s mind was finally made up. “Let's get out of here,” she told Odo.

“We’ll blast our way out of the back,” replied Odo, “I know the layout of the Breen city, there’s a way out and it goes straight to the Gadansjik forest.”

“Perfect,” said Kira while she followed Odo to the door that she had opened some minutes ago.

They ran out of the room, ignoring Amir's screams for them to help him. Running down a corridor, when they came close to the walled end, Odo blasted the wall down with his rifle, firing repeatedly. Once the debris had stabilised, Kira followed Odo outside onto a back alley. Kira turned around to her left, and fired a few rounds at the four Breen soldiers standing outside of the building.

Three of the soldiers were hit, while the fourth dived for cover. It seemed they thought the exploding portion of the wall was simply their comrades pinning Kira and Odo down and killing them. It was Odo who struck down the final Breen soldier, and then the two started running again.

“Where exactly are we going?” asked Kira, who kept close to Odo’s side.

“About a hundred metres from this street is a geothermal energy unit. We go inside, and in there are maintenance passageways which lead to the main eastern geothermal pipeline. We follow that for five kilometres before we arrive in Gadansjik forest.”

“How do you know all this?”

“My Cardassian source was kind enough to provide me with some handy maps of the Breen geothermal pipeline system.”

Kira was deeply surprised to hear this, though she didn’t press Odo any further on his knowledge of the Breen capital’s geothermal pipelines. If she and Odo did make it out of the capital and into Gadansjik forest she would be indebted to a Cardassian, and that would be a first for her…


***


At a brisk pace, Kira and Odo moved along through the neon-blue lit pipeline interior, stretching as far as the eye could see. The compartment the two were walking in was a cross-section of half a cylinder, while the actual pipes carrying the geothermal energy were at the very centre. Thick sturdy looking metal surrounded these pipes, and a slight humming sound could be heard that was as constant as a heartbeat.

“You would think we would have tripped off a few alarms walking around in these pipelines,” commented Odo, as he strode along.

“It's my tricorder,” explained Kira. “As long as any sensors, or devices, in this pipeline don't detect our life signs, we should be fine.”

“Unless the Breen have silent alarms, and they're waiting for us at the geothermal pumping station.”

“Good point,” said Kira, glad that Odo had brought that up. “We're half a kilometre into Gadansjik forest... That should be plenty of cover and there are no Breen around.”

She came to a stop and looked around at the pipeline interior. “Question is, is there any hatch so that we can exit this pipeline?”

Kira punched in some commands on her tricorder, while she moved it left and right, before stopping. “According to these readings there's an exit hatch every two hundred metres, and the closest one is fifty metres in front of us.”

“Let's hope it opens...” said Odo darkly.

Fifty metres later they came to a stretch of wall, and Kira had to really focus her eyes to spot the hatch. Finally she noticed a little black indent in the wall. Cautiously she slipped her fingers into it and they felt the cold interior of what must have been the locking mechanism. She fumbled around the controls but the mechanism wasn’t responding. “It's not working…”

“Let me try something,” said Odo.

Kira stood back, and watched as Odo laid his phaser rifle on the metal floor, and then shapeshifted. He oozed along the floor and up the door into the hatch, as if gravity were nonexistent. After some moments the door slid sideways, and a powerful blizzard hit Kira full on, as did the cold.

It was pitch black and the little bit Kira could see was the snowy ground next to the pipeline. “Odo we can't go out in this!” she shouted above the raging of the blizzard. “I can't see a thing!”

Odo had transformed back into his usual self, and picked up his phaser rifle. “Hold my hand, and follow right behind me, and be careful where you place your feet!”

Kira placed the thermal jacket’s hood over her head, before taking Odo’s hand.

Odo stepped outside, and the temperature got even lower. The blizzard was deafening, and Kira gripped Odo’s hand as if her life depended upon it. They must have only gone ten metres, because looking around, Kira couldn’t see the pipeline anymore.

How Odo could see, baffled her. But this was trivial regarding their situation, it was so cold and Kira knew that she had to find shelter and warmth. Odo didn’t need those two necessities but she did…

“Odo how long until you regenerate?” she shouted, her voice barely audible against the blizzard.

“About three hours,” shouted Odo back. “But I can postpone it.”

“Postpone it?” asked Kira, wondering if she had heard correctly. “For how long?”

“Up to tomorrow night, and then I must regenerate, otherwise my form will collapse.”

“How will not regenerating affect you?”

“It'll be a big hit to my metabolism but I'll cope, we have to keep walking...”

“All night?” exclaimed Kira, wondering if her husband had taken leave of his senses. “We need to find shelter from this blizzard!”

“Alright I'll find somewhere sheltered...”

Some moments later, Kira felt herself walking down a slope, and eventually the wind died down as did the sound. “At last, no more wind!”

“Stay right there,” said Odo, and he sounded extremely serious. “I'll get some wood to burn.”

Kira was going to say good luck but the words stuck to the insides of her mouth. She heard the faint footfalls of boots pressing through snow, and then the sounds disappeared. She was all alone, standing in the pitch black and in the freezing conditions. It all felt rather frightening for her.

In the Bajoran resistance, she had been in the pitch black before, but that was with other people on territory she felt familiar with. This was something completely different, and for the first time in her life she was feeling fear, lots of it. What if there were dangerous creatures in the woods that could see her? At once she brought up her phaser rifle, but it would do little good in the absolute darkness.

Instinctively she stomped a little on the ground, she did this because many animals were sensitive to ground vibrations, and usually moved away when they were close to humanoids. She just hoped Breen animals had the same instincts...

“Come on Odo,” she moaned, as the cold started to dig deep inside of her.

Just when she started worrying about whether Odo had somehow lost his way, she heard some faint footfalls that grew steadily louder. She turned around in the general direction of the sound, and pointed her phaser towards it.

“Stay still! I’m armed!” she warned.

“It’s me Odo, and put that phaser down before you shoot me with it.”

“Sorry,” said Kira quickly, but her curiosity was then piqued. “Was I really aiming at you?”

“You were,” said Odo.

“Wow must have got lucky…”

There was the muffled sound of more snow crunching, and it seemed like something heavy had hit the ground. Some moments later a spark of light appeared which soon became a raging fire, feeding itself on the wooden branches and melting the nearby snow.

Kira came closer to the fire, and the warmth came as a welcome relief to the bitter cold. She felt herself warm up immediately and she knew that as long as the fire kept burning throughout the night, she wasn’t going to freeze to death. “Are you sure you don't need to regenerate?” she asked Odo.

“I'll manage,” said Odo, who sounded a little tired. “Besides if we are to be captured then it's more than likely going to happen tonight. I need to maintain my form, to protect you should the Breen find us.”

Kira smiled to herself upon hearing this, it was the first time she smiled since the Breen stormed the Imperial Palace. But that small moment of sentiment did not last long, she was constantly worried that the Breen were going to find her, and Odo, standing by this fire. All the adrenaline inside her, and the worry about the Breen, kept Kira alert and bright-eyed. In her head she prayed to the Prophets, asking them to watch over her and Odo, and hoping that they would make it through the night…

///

Author's note: Ever since leaving the Great Link 18 years ago, Odo's regenerative cycle changed. Now he just needs a minimum two hours (in one two period) rest in every 24 to 30 hours. He can as explained extend the time in solid form for another 24 hours or so, but after then he cannot hold his form for much longer.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

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Old May 8 2012, 10:10 PM   #13
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 7, part 1

Day 6, 1100 hours

For over three hours Kira and Odo had been walking in the dense forest. For Kira it was difficult going, not only from the cold but the terrain. It a mixture of snow, ice, muddy ground and various shrubs and sturdy looking grasses. It was in general, dull green mixed in with the white/blue looking snow.

The tree were very odd looking with elegant trunks, while their long branches went outwards, and drooped towards the ground. The thinner branches were only a few metres, if that, above her head. Sometimes the trees cleared revealing spectacular mountains or views looking up glaciated valleys. But most of the time it was snowing, this wasn’t so bad walking under the trees, however when the wind blew, Kira felt a horrible chill that went right through her entire body, even with the thermals on.

It was at least minus five and she shuddered to think just how colder it would get when night came. At random she checked the tricorder to make sure it was still masking her and Odo’s life signs, and that the Breen soldiers were not following them. The one thing that remained constant was the rumbling of her stomach. She had not eating anything since she escaped from the Imperial Palace, and the mushrooms and fungi she saw, occasionally, on the ground were not that appetising.

Not that all of them were poisonous, the orange ones, according to the readings of her tricorder, were not dangerous to eat. But Kira fancied something more tastier, like meat from an animal, hunted and then cooked. The strange thing was she hadn’t seen any animals, maybe Breen had few amphibian, mammalian and reptilian creatures. Or maybe they were just hiding from her and Odo.

Perhaps this was a good thing because she had no idea what sort of dangerous animals lingered in these woods. Still she had her phaser rifle ready to blast anything remotely hostile, but she didn’t want to use it out of fear that the Breen would detect the energy discharge.

Odo of course did not require food or water, but Kira, to her embarrassment, did not have her ration packs on her. She hadn't brought any along when she arrived on Breen, and though she knew Odo was not carrying anything she had to ask out of sheer hopium.

“Got any food?”

“No,” answered Odo, sounding a little exasperated.

“Great,” replied Kira, trying to put a good spin on it. “What about water?”

“I haven't got any water.”

Kira’s last hopes were dashed, and she knew she was going to have to improvise, and quickly, to survive. “So all we have are two disruptors, a medkit, and my pair of thermals.” Her eyes then caught a stream running about ten metres away from her. “But there's water over there.”

Odo came to a stop, while Kira scanned the stream with her tricorder. “There's elevated levels of nitrogen, and some small amounts of phosphate, and organic matter, the last two are at the minimum hazard level.”

“How do the Breen drink that stuff?” she then asked to herself, gazing at the innocent-looking water, with disgust. “I didn't see any water purification plants in the capital.”

“Perhaps Breen cells could be nitrogen based,” suggested Odo, “so nitrogen wouldn't poison the Breen.”

“Well that's good to know,” said Kira sarcastically, she was torn between amusement and irritation as Odo sounded so much like Bashir.

And at times Bashir did annoy her with his smug, know-it-all manner, just like Odo was doing now of sorts. Kira set aside her annoyances and thought about the problem at hand. There was water, so how do I purify it? she asked herself. “Does the tricorder have a radiation frequency converter matrix?”

“It does why do you ask?”

“I can reconfigure it, to emit phased gamma rays that will neutralise most of the nitrogen.” Kira looked back at Odo and was a little amused to see a surprised expression on her husband’s face. “It's a trick I learnt in the Bajoran resistance, very useful when you could get your hands on a Cardassian tricorder.”

She took her tricorder, sat down against a rock, rested the tricorder on her lap, and took off her combadge. From there she opened the back of her combadge, and used her finger nails to prize apart some of the components. Some moments later she had a few thin components, and she used them to tweak the tricorder’s radiation frequency converter matrix.

It took some time, as her skill at this talent was now rather rusty, but she finally reconfigured her tricorder, reassembled her combadge, and walked over to the stream. “Pass me the medkit,” she told Odo who had followed her over.

Her right hand clutched the medkit Odo offered to her, and no sooner did she take it, then she placed the contents inside her thermal jacket’s pockets. She then dipped the empty medkit container into the water, careful to make sure her hand avoided the water. Before eventually she brought the medkit back up and placed it on the ground.

She ran her tricorder back and forth along the water, as the radiation type she used energised the nitrogen, causing it to break down into harmless sub-atomic particles. The only down-side to this method were the small amounts of gamma radiation produced by the break down of the nitrogen. However only a few mircosieverts of radiation would be given off, this would not harm her, and barely so in the long term.

When the water was purified to the best of her ability, she then raised the medkit (as she had no cups or bottles) close to her mouth and lapped down the water. It was cold but deeply refreshing, and while she drank she failed to notice Odo’s impatient pacing.

“We need to keep moving,” said Odo when Kira had drank her fill of water. “We're being followed I can just sense it.”

Kira felt a little harried by Odo’s comment, and she hastily placed the medkit back into her rucksack. “Then let's get moving!” she said tensely.

While she felt better with having drank some water, her stomach still rumbled, and she knew sooner or later she was going to have to brave those edible mushrooms which sprouted around most of the damp areas by the trees.


***


It was about mid-afternoon, though Odo wasn’t sure because the sun rarely came out, and he kept walking until he felt utterly weary of it. The forest seemed safe, but Odo knew that Breen soldiers must be inside, tracking him and his wife down. All those cold and brutal elements barely bothered Odo, though he knew Kira couldn’t take that sort of punishment.

At first when walking, he looked around to glimpse Kira’s face, just to see how she was coping. But after a while, and an angry remark from Kira, he desisted from doing this. He was becoming filled with worry over Kira, so he tried to distract himself of that concern, looking at the trees, and the other geological features.

Even that though lost its appeal, and one such feature, the vents-metre wide cracks- that ran across parts of the forest floor, were rather dangerous. Well dangerous to Kira, the vents emitted strong levels of carbon monoxide and sulphuric dioxide, and when they once came too close, Kira had reacted horribly to it, coughing and retching for minutes on end.

So Odo had to find a route which snaked around the vents, and this made the whole walk even more difficult. The horrible truth was that Kira, being a Bajoran, was simply not suited to this climate and the planet. It did not help matters when Kira complained that the Federation thermals were not keeping her warmth enough. Odo suggested to her about taking a rest, and lighting a fire to warm up, but his suggestion was promptly discarded by his wife.

No, Kira wanted to keep on walking, and to keep adding distance between themselves and the Breen who were, or were not, on their tail. Odo did not trust his shapeshifter senses as the cold seemed to be affecting them somehow, even his body clock seemed off. But to make things a little easier on Kira, he had offered to take the tricorder and run scans on the nearby area.

Finally though Odo could no longer ignore Kira like this, even if she wanted it to be this way. When he came to a stop, he turned a bit and looked very carefully at her. “You look cold.”

Kira though continued moving. “I am cold,” she answered through gritted teeth. “I've never liked the cold.”

Odo moved to the side when he realised that Kira was not stopping, so he instead walked close to her left. “Get used to it, this is Breen. We have got to keep moving, keep warm.”

“Easy for you to say,” retorted Kira.

Ignoring the jibe, Odo checked his tricorder, and the readings spelled trouble. “We're being tracked, my tricorder is picking up faint Breen life signs about five kilometres away, they're definitely searching for us.”

Kira simply shrugged. “So they’re following us…”

“I’m not sure about that,” said Odo while he studied the tricorder readings more carefully. “I think they don’t have a general idea where we’re going, because the Breen life signs have disappeared again.”

“See, there’s nothing to worry about, yet.”

Try as Kira might, Odo could still she her faintly shiver, and though he admired her grit-and iron will-to keep moving and ignore the cold, perhaps it was time for her to listen to reason. “Nerys, I think we should stop, take a rest and light a fire to warm ourselves up.”

Kira came to a stop, and looked positively sour. “We keep moving, no matter what! I don’t care that I haven't felt warm since I left the Imperial Palace. The Breen are not going to catch us!”

“Well why not we find a building, to temporarily rest in and warm up?”

“No, that's too risky.”

“There are a few small structures located in these woods, they could be homes. They're isolated, so there will only be a few Breen living in them at most.”

Odo held his breathe hoping his little attempt at reverse psychology would pay off, give Kira the least desirable option, and she’ll then settle for the original option of lighting a fire.

“And what if one of them manages to call in the Breen soldiers?” asked Kira, she was looking at Odo as if he were stupid. “We're not following your plan, it's too risky. I'd rather brave the cold, then risk capture.”

With his plan backfiring, Odo decided to be more far forceful as he fought against his wife’s stubbornness. “We-you need to find food, other than these fungi, you can't live on that, not in this cold!”

“Well I don't see you helping!” said Kira loudly, her temper fraying. “Why not shapeshift and become a fire or something to warm me up?”

“Shapeshifting is very energy consuming for me!” Odo shot back.

“Your a shapeshifter!” exclaimed Kira, she appeared beyond exasperation. “You don't need food!”

“My metabolism can't produce heat energy fast enough, my body temperature has gone down by at least a few degrees. Sure I could become fire but such a form is very energy-consuming to maintain. Every time I shapeshift I lose a bit more energy, that's why I'm sticking in this form.”

“What about Laas, you told me he traversed space in the form of some sort of creature?”

“I don't know how Laas did that, my people never really attempted to exist in space...”

Some of Kira’s anger faded, and she looked slightly surprised to hear this. “So what happens when you lose too much energy? Do you die?”

“No, but I would be permanently in my gelatinous form due to my cells being stuck in a hibernation mode.”

Such dire information served to further drain Kira’s anger, now she had become intensely serious. “How many days do you think you can keep your current form?”

Odo thought for a bit, as he made some quick calculations in his head. “About fifteen at best.”

There was a silence, and though the mood descended further into grimness, Odo felt glad to see Kira's anger melt away. “Nerys, I understand fully your desire to evade the Breen, but we’re fighting two battles here; one is avoiding the Breen, the other is surviving in this inhospitable world. We have to balance between the two, do you really think you’ll be able to walk when the night comes and the temperature plummets?”

Kira’s face seemed to be visibly deflating, as even she could not argue with such sound reasoning. “You’re right Odo, I… I’ve been high on adrenaline ever since the Breen attacked the palace… We will stop and rest but only when the night comes, and…” She paused and appeared to be shelving her pride. “And we’ll light up a fire to stay warm, even if the fire is detected by the Breen.”

“Which I doubt,” said Odo.

“I know that, the Breen didn't appear to detect the first fire we made. But if we are to die, let’s make sure the Breen do it and not their blasted planet’s weather!”

Odo remained silent, unsure of what to make of Kira’s bold proclamation.

“That was a joke!” she pointed out.

With a brief half-hearted laugh, Odo shook his head in disbelieve, and then resumed walking, with Kira following behind him. His mood had marginally improved now that he was on better terms with Kira.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

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Old May 8 2012, 10:10 PM   #14
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 7, part 2

For many hours Kira and Odo continued their walk through the forest, now though it was becoming dark, and in such an alien place this unnerved Kira. She was used to roaming out in the night, she did that all the time in the Bajoran resistance, but that was Bajor, this was Breen. One thing that always remained in her mind was the notion that what you didn’t know tended to kill you in situations like this.

They were not going to walk for the rest of the night, they couldn’t because Odo would need to regenerate. Right now they were walking close to a cliff, not quite vertical, and lined with trees. Apparently Odo spotted a place to shelter, though Kira thought he was seeing things.

“It's becoming to dark to keep walking...” she said, glancing up into the evening's sky. “Are you sure this cliff has a few hollows to rest under?”

“Positive,” said Odo, while the tricorder’s light illuminated some of his face.

Kira had a strong sense of foreboding about the night, what if the Breen were nocturnal and continued their search into the night? There was no answer to that question and this worried Kira, but there was no feasible way of walking on without separating from Odo.

As she continued walking, the darkness really started to set in, and with the dense trees, Kira could just make out their outlines. Thank the Prophets there would not be another snowstorm, since being outside in the freezing cold and the total darkness, was not her idea of good conditions.

“Here's the spot,” said Odo at last.

Kira looked at the hollow in the cliff-face, and it did penetrate into the cliff for a few metres so it would provide some shelter. “Not much,” she finally said, giving her conclusion, “but it'll have to do. It'll keep out most of the elements.”

“You stay here, while I'll get some wood to light a fire.”

While Odo departed, passing to Kira the tricorder, she went inside the hollow and was surprised to find it rather earthy and dry. She rested her rucksack on the ground, and then crouched down having found a flat bit of the hollow. Finding a few stones, she cleared some of the earth before her to make a rough circular patch on the ground, lining it with stones.

When she completed this, she simply waited, folding her arms, and tucking them tightly against her chest. The temperature started dropping again. Though she felt warm for most of the day, that chill was ever-present, and now it would become far worse as the night descended.

With Odo gone, Kira became vastly more aware of her surroundings, and for some reason the forest seemed to become a bit more alive. There was the occasional howl, the infrequent rustling, and sometimes the grunting sounds of a beast. Her fear dominating her desire to keep warm, Kira reached out for her phaser rifle, and placed the gun butt close to her chest, while aiming the rifle outwards.

It was not quite pitch black, but all she could see now were simply the presence of trees, black blobs against a slightly brighter evening. How Odo could see was a mystery to Kira, and she found it amazing that after being married to him for over seventeen years, some parts of her husband still puzzled Kira.

A sudden thrill of terror coursed through her body when she heard commotion close up. She held onto the phaser rifle, her heart beating wildly, and she saw the black outline of a humanoid figure approach her.

“Don’t shoot! It’s me Odo!”

Kira lowered her rifle, and breathed out deeply as she overcame her shock. “Next time warn me earlier!” she replied angrily, as she remembered the similar situation last night when Odo had returned to her.

She could not make out the expression on her husband’s face, and she presumed Odo’s silence was simply him trying to diffuse the situation. Even though it was almost pitch black, Kira watched as Odo crouched down, and she heard some soft thuds. She deduced that must have been the branches Odo collected, hitting the ground onto the circular patch she made. With another thud, a little further away, Odo dumped the rest of the wood.

“Have you got anything to light it up?” she asked.

“No, but I'll shapeshift, and provide a spark, like I did last time...”

For a few moments there was only blackness, then a small ball of fire appeared, lighting the immediate surroundings. Kira quickly realised that small ball of fire was actually Odo’s transformed right hand, and she watched intently, as Odo placed the fire ball against one of the logs.

Pretty soon one part of the log caught fire, until half a minute later all the branches and wood were on fire. The warmth generated was immediate, and Kira gratefully placed her hands closer to the fire to warm them up. “Nice, haven't seen you do that one before.”

Odo smiled a little at her compliment. “I thought you did last night?

“Nah, I wasn't paying attention to what you were doing.”

“Oh,” said Odo, and he looked uncomprehending. “Anyway I've got some more branches to stoke the fire.”

Now that she was warm, Kira opened up her medkit, and in there she saw half of the kit’s space taking up with the various edible fungi and mushroom-like vegetables she collected. “Damn...”

“What?” asked Odo, gazing at Kira with a little concern.

“I wish I had brought along some ration packs, it would have been better than eating this fungi...”

“We should have hunted down an animal instead.”

“If we could find any,” said Kira, the frustration creeping into her voice. “I mean aside from a few odd-shaped birds that was all I saw...”

With a sigh, she resigned herself to the worst, picked up one of the orange mushrooms and put it to her mouth. It was so chewy, so squidgy and bitter, but she persisted in chewing. The taste was bad, but the worst part was that it lingered in her mouth for hours afterwards.

She had downed over twenty mushrooms and various bits of fungi, when she noticed Odo reading a padd. “What's that your reading?” she asked, pointing towards the padd.

Odo looked up from the padd. “A list of names, suspects, concerning the criminal smuggling operations that happen between the Cardassian/Federation border.”

With a snort of laughter, the half-eaten bits of mushroom flew from Kira’s mouth. She could not believe it, and to her it seemed absurd, yet so funny, and she laughed some more.

Odo who was trying to concentrate on the padd, ceased in his efforts. “What's so funny?” he demanded, giving Kira a stern look.

“We're running for our lives, and you're...” Kira paused, catching her breathe from the laughter. “You’re… you're reading criminal activity reports!” She laughed even harder, before calming down. “And they say you don't have a sense of humour.”

Pretending to be serious, Odo bristled at the remark. “For your information, this isn't just any old criminal activity report. This-” And he held the padd high, like it was a scared religious text or something. “-is the reason why I came to Breen.”

The laughter died away, and Kira calmed down. “Oh...” She wiped her eyes of the tears from her laughter. “So that's why you contacted your source...”

Odo nodded, and then, having decided it was safe to do so, returned to his padd.

Summoning up her iron will, Kira devoured a few more mushrooms, until finally she had enough. Resisting the urge to throw them all away, she closed the medkit, and stashed it back into her rucksack. With nothing better to do, she moved around the fire, and then sat down next to Odo.

There she snuggled up to her husband, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and rested her head against the base of Odo’s neck. It felt so comfortable, sitting there and feeling the warmth he generated. Kira looked into the fire, thinking about the last 26 hour’s worth of events, and coming to terms with the surreality of the situation. Last night she occupied one of the Imperial Palace's quarters, now here she was out in the wilderness, avoiding the Breen, and braving the unknown and serious danger.

“I'm glad I have you Odo...” she murmured, while she gently rubbed her left hand against Odo’s shoulder. “I don't know what's going to happen to us tomorrow, or the day after, or for the whole week. But being next to you, this doesn't seem so bad...”

“Same here...” said Odo, with equal conviction.

Odo then lowered his padd, and turning his head around, he looked at Kira. In that moment the two exchanged a brief kiss, before Kira resumed her gazing into the fire, and Odo returned to his padd.

“I really need to regenerate,” said Odo after many minutes of silence.

“Two hours...” said Kira, while she moved away from Odo and returned to her previous spot. “If the Breen find us and your still regenerating...”

“If that happens then leave me, and save yourself,” implored Odo. “Don't worry about me, just stay alive and out of the Breen's clutches!”

“You really think I'll let the Breen capture you, without putting up a fight first?”

Odo though was not swayed by Kira’s passionate promise. “If you do that, the Breen will kill you. Just promise me that if the Breen do come, and I'm still regenerating, you run away as if your life depends upon it?”

Though what Odo was asking ran contrary to what every fibre in Kira’s body urged her to do, she eventually relented, recognising that Odo wanted to make this sacrifice-if the worst happened-and how could she refuse?

She walked over to Odo, and took up his left hand. “I promise,” she said, before bringing the hand to her mouth, and giving it one long constant kiss.

When she let go of Odo’s hand, her other hand rummaged in one of her thermal jacket’s pockets to search for her tricorder. After a few moments searching, she found it, took it out, and began fiddling with it.

“What are you doing?” said Odo.

“Creating a proximity beacon,” replied Kira, as she focused intensely upon the tricorder. “If the Breen come within three kilometres of our position, the tricorder will emit a loud screeching sound to alert us. That way I can get in a few moments of sleep, in-between times when I'm on watch.”

“Are you sure you can rely on that tricorder?”

“I have no choice!” answered Kira, and she looked up from the tricorder. “If you were humanoid I'd wake you, so you would take watch, but you're not. Try as I might to stay awake, I will eventually fall asleep, and I need something to do the watching for me!”

Silence followed, until Odo moved somewhat away from the fire. “Well... good night Nerys...”

“Yeah good night Odo, watch you don't ooze into the fire...”

“Don't worry about me, I've already planned for that.”

Sure enough Odo placed a log in front of him, and lowering himself, the bits of ground the log did not cover he filled in with earth. Finally Odo reverted to his gelatinous form, and Kira watched him as the shape of a crouching man, collapsed into a big thick dull brown-like treacle. The log held, and Odo’s mass, slowly oozed outwards, away from the fire.

With Odo regenerating, Kira sat down, a bit closer to the fire, and took watch. For many minutes she thought about her husband’s ingenuity at keeping his form away from the fire. Those thoughts quickly changed into a long period of reminiscing, as Kira considered the good times she experienced with her family.

It didn’t seem possible to her, that her children were on DS9, perhaps currently sleeping, blissfully unaware of the danger she and their father were in. But very soon, they would know, and sadness made Kira’s heart ache. She did not expect any miraculous outcomes from all of this, and she prepared herself for the very strong likelihood that she would never see Mia or Deru again.

It was a very depressing thought, one that made her eyes burn, so she thought about something else. Though nothing really came, a series of distorted images flashed in her head, and all the while the tiredness crept in. The noises of bigger creatures, the howls, yelps and sounds of other animals kept her awake and reasonably alert.

She kept glancing at the tricorder, it seemed to be functioning, and the warning sound she rigged had yet to go off. Maybe the Breen were not going to track her and Odo down in the dead of night. That gave her a little hope, but it was dwarfed by the sick feeling inside of her. This was not going to end well, the Breen were going to eventually track her down.

Whether to kill or capture she did not know, and worrying thoughts popped up in her mind. Horrors, based on rumours about the Breen, lingered and made her feel a bit more nervous. Through all her feelings, the tiredness steadily crept up on her unnoticed, and then she felt it. But it was to late, she could not stay awake forever, she was simply so exhausted from the day’s walking and the small amounts of food she had for sustenance.

Just as she was about to fall asleep her eyes caught a small floating yellow light. Immediately her senses sharpened, as she worried that this light was somehow coming from an incoming Breen soldier. But then more floating lights appeared, mainly yellow, but she saw green, orange and red.

The lights were drifting around in the darkness, and just when she thought she could not be any more surprised, she heard a slight harmonic hum come from the lights. Kira then began to realise that these lights were actually a type of firefly, and she listened intently to the simple harmonies these creatures made. It sounded ever so pleasant, and it was the first beautiful thing she witnessed on Breen.

Eventually her interest faded, and her tiredness returned with a vengeance. Her eyelids drooped lower, and her will to stay alert dropped lower as well. Now her eyelids were mainly closed, and her mind drifted. Though when she did open her eyes, she found herself back on DS9, her children were there, running towards her in their home to greet her…

With a soft thump, Kira fell onto her side against the ground, her phaser rifle askance. Her breathing was shallow and contented, and a faint smile formed on her lips. She was home!
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Old May 15 2012, 10:13 PM   #15
Ln X
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Re: Cloak and Dagger (part 1)

Chapter 8, part 1

Day 7, 1300 hours

The next day was more walking, and further periods of long silences between Odo and Kira. Odo thought that after 25 years of knowing each other they would have rather a lot to talk about, unfortunately Kira wasn’t in the mood for talking, save when it was only necessary.

Trees, trees and more trees was the view for most of the time, and sometimes Odo checked the tricorder to scan the nearby surroundings, but he had no real idea of where he was going, just that he and Kira were going deeper into this forest. Walking down a slope, Odo thought he heard the sound of river, sure enough, a few hundred metres later, he came across one, a very wide river indeed.

“Damn!” said Kira, coming to a complete stop and staring at the iced up river. “A dead end!”

“We could cross the river as the ice looks thick enough,” suggested Odo.

“Yeah 'looks' being the operative word,” added Kira sarcastically. “Are you out of your mind? Some parts of the ice sheet are going to be thin, and if I fall in...”

There was a pause as Kira thought about that possibility. “The water must be below freezing, submerged in that, however momentarily, and I'll be chilled to the bone. I would probably get hypothermia, and be dead in a matter of hours.”

“We can't stay in this side of the river,” explained Odo, “we're still too close to the Breen capital, but on the other side...”

“Well why not transform yourself into some massive Alterian eagle, carry me, and fly over the river?”

It was a good idea, so Odo shapeshifted and he was in the shape of a big eagle, but try as he might he couldn’t solidify such a massive form. His metabolism didn’t have the energy to hold such a huge form, and he eventually gave up and reverted to his previous form.

“I can't...” he told Kira, sounding deeply disappointed. “The cold is already starting to affect my shapeshifting, the form is simply to big to hold.”

Kira though didn’t seem to take that for an answer. “We can't walk across the ice, it's to dangerous.”

“Well it's risking death or being captured,” reminded Odo, and he decided to really stick it up Kira’s face. “Though I suppose we could try to find ourselves a bridge to cross?” he added somewhat humorously.

“Oh very clever,” snapped Kira, “if there are any bridges then the Breen will surely be guarding or monitoring them.”

“It's your choice Nerys; we either stay on this side of the river, or cross it.”

Fuming some more, Kira became silent, and her eyes glazed over as she thought about it. “We cross the river,” she said, sounding as if a death sentence had been cast upon her. “But I pray to the Prophets that the ice doesn't give out!”

Taking the lead, Odo stepped onto the ice, where it appeared to look very sturdy. His whole weight was upon it and he didn’t feel the ice moving in any way whatsoever. He took a few more steps, stopped to feel how the ice was holding up. Turning round, he nodded encouragingly to Kira, and reluctantly she stepped onto the ice, following the steps Odo was taking.

And so it continued for five minutes, Odo lead the way, careful with each step. When the ice creaked, he got nervous, not for his safety but for Kira’s. However the end seemed in sight when they were more than three-quarters of the way across the river. Stepping his foot on one bit of the ice, Odo thought he heard a slight groan, but he decided it was nothing serious and moved on.

A few steps later, he heard a crack of ice folding, and then a splash. He spun round on the spot, careful to keep his balance, and his heart sank when he saw Kira deep in the water, submerged up to her chest.

“Odo!” she cried out in a stricken voice.

Odo moved as fast as he could, without weakening any more of the ice. He came to within a foot of where the ice ended, and crouched down. “Grab onto my hand.”

Kira grabbed his hand, but her hand slipped. “I c-c-can't grip yor-your hand!” she said through clattering teeth.

So Odo lowered himself some more, and with both hands grabbed Kira by the elbow and pulled up her up onto the ice.

Laying down on her front, every bit of Kira below her neck was sodden, and she shivered violently, while her breathing was deep but very shaky.

“Oh my! Oh my!” she gasped. “That w-w-was so cold.”

Carefully, Odo lifted Kira onto her feet. “Can you stand?” he asked, while supporting her upright by her armpits.

“Just...” said Kira, tremulously nodding.

Slowly Odo moved his hands, he expected Kira to collapse, but she didn’t. “Let's move on, before the ice weakens anymore.”

Kira nodded more vigorously, and the two resumed their trek over the ice. They finally made it to the other side, and at that point, Odo felt glad the crossing was done. He started making his way up the forested slope, while nightmare scenarios popped up in his head. Was Kira going to get hypothermia? If so would a fire be enough to warm her up?

No was the answer that came to his head. Kira needed to take off her soaking wet thermals but that was out of the question giving the bitter cold. So what could he-

“Odo,” came Kira’s weak voice some distance behind him. “I can't walk.”

Odo turned around and he saw Kira slumped forwards upon the ground, her face almost buried in the snow. He ran down the slope, his boots digging into the snow as he tried to reach Kira as quickly as possible. “Then I'll support you!” he told Kira the moment he was by her side.

Kira forcibly flipped herself around so that she was lying on her back. “No!” she replied in a strong voice. “I w-would slow you d-down too much.”

“I am not leaving you!”

A sad expression came on Kira’s face, and her eyes found Odo’s face. “Odo, you have to,” she said gently. “Please, just save yourself, the Breen are tracking us down, I'll be captured but at least you won't.”

“Like hell I'm leaving you!” growled Odo. “You'll be dead before the Breen get to you!”

Kira seemed to have difficulty breathing, yet she found the strength to shout back at him. “Don't make me order you to leave!”

“Stop pretending that we're just officers,” chided Odo, “we're husband and wife, and I will not leave you here to die!”

He bent down, and took the rucksack off Kira, before placing it around his back. Next he got an arm around Kira's shoulders and lifted her up, so that she was standing. His arm supported his wife, and he would do the walking for both of them. “We're going to keep walking, and find some accommodation!”

“Odo, even if we keep moving, I'm still going to die from exposure.”

Odo ignored his wife’s accurate point, and he whipped out his tricorder, and looked at the map readings. “There's a small building about a kilometre north from our position, we'll head there and try to warm you up.”

“But if there's Breen inside-”

“We'll deal with that problem when it arises. Now what I need from you is some of that old stubbornness and fiery will to stay alive.”

“You're right,” agreed Kira, as some of her strength returned to her voice. “When this is all over I'm going to give you the berating of a lifetime!”

“Really?” asked Odo, sounding half surprised half amused.

“I need something to motivate me!”
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