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Old April 7 2014, 08:05 PM   #1
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DS9 Phase 1A: "Merciful Justice"

A Bajoran man is on death row. He was lauded as a hero during the Occupation, but seems to have no place on a free Bajor. While nearly everyone on Deep Space 9 has an opinion on the subject of the death penalty, the station's investigates odd malfunctions that may be caused by artifacts excavated on an archeological dig in the Gamma Quadrant.
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Old April 7 2014, 08:06 PM   #2
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Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Merciful Justice"

Chapter One

The floor of a cargo hold was littered with ruins from an ancient civilization. Most of the items looked like useless junk to any passer-by, but probably bore some level of significance to archeologists and historians. A knee-high wooden table was in the center of the compartment, which had six eating spaces--two on each longer side and one on each shorter end. The plates, beverage cups and utensils were made of rusted metal. A few meters from the longer end of the table stood a statue of a portly humanoid figure in a sitting position. In front of the statue was a half-open stone storage chest with a glass sphere inside. Dispersed throughout the cargo hold were several stone tablets containing inscriptions resembling ancient Bajoran script.

Lieutenant Jadzia Dax and Chief Miles O’Brien were supervising the offloading of the ancient artifacts from a civilian survey vessel’s main cargo hold. Engineering technicians and security deputies used antigravity harnesses to lift some of the heavier artifacts, which included the bulky statue. Dax and O’Brien stayed behind to categorize each artifact and to instruct the lower-ranking officers on where to take them.

“That should go to the metallurgical analysis lab,” Dax instructed two crewmen gathering up the items on the table.

“Be very careful with that,” O’Brien told two Bajoran security deputies who were having difficulty getting an antigrav harness attached to a large stone tablet. “It’s gotten very fragile after millennia of decay.”

“Why not have it all transported to the lab?” Benjamin Sisko inquired as he sauntered into the cargo bay.

“This planet’s sun went supernova roughly three thousand years ago,” Dax explained to the station commander. “While the radiation left in the atmosphere has subsided below what is harmful to humanoid tissue, it does contain material properties we’re not aware of. It could damage the transporter in ways we can’t predict.”

Sisko flashed an approving smirk. “Good thinking. I trust all other precautions have been taken before they were brought aboard.”

“Certainly,” Jadzia enthusiastically assured him. “In fact, the captain of the survey vessel that brought this stuff here refused to dock his ship until he was satisfied even the ceremonial tablets were not composed of any hazardous materials. He may be a civilian, but he knows how safety conscious Starfleet officers are.”

Sisko nodded, seeming both pleased and suspicious of how cooperative this civilian ship captain acted. “When is that archeologist supposed to be here?”

“He should be here tomorrow morning,” Dax replied, following the last of the engineers out of the room as they carried off the storage chest.

Unbeknownst to everyone, the glass sphere in the storage chest starting glowing red. At the same time, electrical crackling coursed through a control console in the cargo hold and computer panels in the adjoining corridor.
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Old April 9 2014, 08:18 PM   #3
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Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Merciful Justice"

Chapter Two

He was so dangerous and unrepentant that he had to be kept in restraints throughout his trial and during announcement of the verdict. In fact, the trial lasted only a day and was among the fastest since Deep Space Nine was placed under Starfleet and Bajoran administration. There was little doubt that he had viciously murdered a security deputy in cold blood based on the evidence Security Chief Odo had provided. He didn’t just kill the man; he tortured and eviscerated him for days on end. He stared blank-faced at the court magistrate with a slight smirk in one corner in his lips as if wearing the pending verdict like a badge of honor.

“Konnert Ros,” Magistrate Pirlos declared, “you stand convicted of murder in the first degree. Do you have any last words?”

Frelk off,” Konnert sneered.

Pirlos showed no visible reaction to the convict’s profane retort. “Very well. The sentencing hearing is to be convened in three days’ time on Bajor. Until then, you will be remanded to maximum incarceration on this station. And may the Prophets show mercy upon you.” He banged a wooden sphere signaling adjournment of this particular case. “Next case.”

Konnert was escorted through a side entrance to the courtroom in order to isolate him from the public in case he attempted escape or some vigilante on the Promenade carried out his or her own form of summary justice. Once he and his security escorts had vacated the courtroom, a male Bajoran security deputy stepped in via the main entrance from the Promenade with Quark in tow.

Odo was by no means shocked that the Ferengi barkeep was here once again when he had personally arrested Quark for yet another illegal sales transaction. The security chief had enjoyed every instance in which he arrested Quark even though they were for minor violations of the law. He had hoped to eventually bust Quark on a major criminal offense even if that hadn’t happened in the four years since he first became chief of security under the station’s Cardassian administration.

“Constable,” Quark said with feigned befuddlement, “this has to be some kind of practical joke bringing me before the Magistrate right after a murder trial.”

“Do you really think me that crass, Quark?” Odo responded. “Besides, you should know by now that I don’t control when these cases are tried.”

“This is all an unfortunate and, when you think about it, a rather amusing misunderstanding,” Quark insisted. “Rom was the one who sent in the wrong requisition code.”

Odo rolled his eyes, having heard this excuse from the moment of the arrest. On many occasions, Quark would try to lay blame on his brother, yet Odo knew very well that Rom lacked Quark’s deviousness. “I’ve done my job; now tell it to the Magistrate.”

Quark paced quickly towards the judge’s bench saying, “As I explained to the Constable, Your Honor, I had requisitioned fourteen metatourlos of Goulonian triptocederides. My idiot brother instead made a request for forty, which is far beyond the amount that can legally be transported to the Bajoran system.”

“Your authorization code for interstellar transit was on the requisition form, Mister Quark,” Pirlos tersely stated.

“Okay, you caught me,” Quark said with fake repentance, “But like I said, it was just a minor error in…”

“Let the record show the accused has entered a plea of guilty. You are incurred a fine of two hundred credits to be paid within the month.” Once again, Pirlos banged the gavel and called for the next case.

###

As commanding officer of Deep Space Nine, Benjamin Sisko was also the leader of a large and diverse community. In effect, he had some say in how criminal offenders were punished whether they were Federation citizens or not. However, he and Major Kira Nerys could only make recommendations to the Bajoran judicial system. The ultimate fate of Konnert Ros would still be decided at the sentencing hearing in Bajor’s capital when a four-person judicial panel contributed its votes.

“Considering that Konnert showed absolutely no remorse during the course of the trial,” Sisko informed Magistrate Pirlos. “I’d have to recommend he be imprisoned in a maximum-security prison facility for the rest of his life.”

“Thank you, Commander,” Pirlos replied while making notes on a padd. “Your recommendation is so noted. Yours as well, Major.”

Kira nodded in acknowledgement as the elderly judge excused himself from the office.

“I’d thought that would be your recommendation, Commander,” Odo remarked. “In my opinion, he’ll still the get the death penalty.”

“Oh?” Sisko curiously asked while twitching one eyebrow. “I thought that capital punishment had been reserved for Cardassian war criminals.”

Odo nodded, indicating that was usually the case in the months since the Occupation had ended. “Maybe so, but Konnert represents everything members of the Bajoran Underground hated about Cardassians--the complete lack of remorse in taking a sentient being’s life. It was all in days’ work as far as the labor camp commanders were concerned. He might have been lauded a hero during the Occupation, but he took his time torturing a fellow Bajoran to death.”

Sisko briefly considered Odo’s argument and scoffed. “Doesn’t sound like anyone I’d want fighting by my side.”

“In the Underground,” Kira chimed in, “we didn’t ask for resumes. We needed all the help we could manage. There were a few like him in my resistance cell. All that mattered was their willingness to hurt Cardassians.”

“Unfortunately,” Odo added, “he still has a thirst for blood that can’t be as easily quenched now that the Occupation is over. I’m fairly certain he’s killed others since the end of the Occupation based on the manner in which the victims of recent unsolved murders were killed.”

“Do you have any more tangible evidence to support that supposition?” Sisko cautiously inquired.

“Under the Bajoran and Federation criminal justice systems, perhaps not,” Odo relented, “while the Cardassians would have convicted him of those murders already, guilty or not. It’s either mistakenly locking up an innocent man or mistakenly letting a guilty man go free. Take your pick.”

“I’d go for the latter when considering Cardassian brutality,” Kira said somewhat gloomily.

Odo looked in Kira’s direction, recalling that she was a suspect in a murder he was investigating when Gul Dukat first recruited him as Terok Nor’s chief of security. While he had never definitively identified a perpetrator, Odo was satisfied that Kira had not committed the murder. Yet he still had some seeds of doubt in his mind. “I did what I could to make sure they didn’t hang someone who hadn’t been proven guilty,” he plainly stated.

Kira looked back at Odo with glowing eyes, as if she was also recalling that same murder investigation four years earlier.

###

Dax entered the primary science lab to find a portly Zakdorn male puttering at various artifacts. He picked up what looked like a primitive water kettle and looked at it studiously, as if hoping to glean some information if he stared at it long enough.

Dax made a point to stay at the main entrance while addressing the visiting archeologist. “Doctor Halnok?”

Halnok turned around and placed the kettle back on the table as if he should not have removed it from its perch. “Ah, you must be Lieutenant Dax,” he gasped. He sauntered over to her and grudgingly shook her hand. “Call me Retan. I never envisioned that the great Curzon Dax would be reborn in such a lovely young woman.”

Jadzia’s cheeks blushed as she smirked in acceptance of his charming complement.

Halnok then walked back to the table as if utterly oblivious to his newest colleague. “I am very anxious to get to work,” he enthusiastically proclaimed. “Archeology is an envious profession as we try to unlock the mysteries of a long dead society hoping to find some link, if any, to our own pasts.”

“It sounds like you really enjoy trying to solve the mysteries of the universe.”

“Of course, of course,” Halnok gleefully confirmed while continuing to circle around the table. Most outside observers probably wonder how we learn anything at all from just a set of old artifacts and ruins of an ancient civilization. Certain universal phenomena are apparent in nearly every society living or dead. We try to make the best guesses about their culture and their level of technological development. Even the most insignificant of objects”--he picked up two oddly shaped forks off the table--“provides some insight into these people might have lived and worked and entertained themselves all those centuries ago.” He completed his circuit around the table and removed the small crystal ball from the marble chest. “I’m certainly interested to learn what exactly this particular item was for.”

Dax was already in the process of scanning the other artifacts with a tricorder. She then turned the scanner towards the crystalline sphere. “It could have been for ceremonial purposes,” she surmised.

“My thinking exactly,” Halnok snapped with a slight grunt in his throat. “The question is what type of ceremonies? Birth rituals? Death rituals? Marriages? Coronations? Simple prayer rituals? Who knows?”

Dax took another quick glance at her tricorder. “Quantum dating indicates that each of these objects is three thousand years old, at the same time their sun went nova.”

“That much was obvious to me the second I came on board,” Halnok replied while emphatically squeezing the jewel. “I read the reports of the survey vessel, Lieutenant. There was no indication whatsoever of any industrial level of technological development.”

“If you say so,” Dax said with a disarming smile, as she was already feeling put out by the Zakdorn’s condescension, as if he had written the book on archeological investigation methods.

“I do say so, Lieutenant,” Halnok huffed while gently placing the jewel back in the chest. “I did not last very long in my profession by not being so meticulous.”

Dax’s attention was quickly diverted by something on her tricorder. “This is strange,” she muttered.

“What is?” Halnok asked with only slight curiosity.
“The readings I’m getting from this jewel--they’re not making any sense. The readouts on here are almost gibberish.”
The jewel was suddenly glowing red and the tricorder was not all that was functioning erratically. Electrical crackling was coursing through various consoles in the lab. Soon afterwards, toxic gases started seeping into the lab.

“We have to get out of here!” Dax shouted over the various loud noises. “Ops, we have an unusual situation down here. Cut main power to level five, section thirteen of the habitat ring.”

She then grabbed Halnok by the arm to escort him out of the lab. They had quickly exited just as a large cloud of gas came seeping down on the deck. The double door slid shut just in time to prevent toxic gas from billowing out into the corridor.
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Old April 15 2014, 07:41 PM   #4
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Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Merciful Justice"

Chapter Three

Chief O’Brien paced down the corridor outside the science lab where Sisko, Dax, and Halnok were waiting for a hazard team to clear the room for reentry. “I’ve run a complete check of the power grid in this section. I can’t find anything to indicate a malfunction. Everything’s working perfectly.”

Dax was pacing back and forth while working a padd that provided instant portable access to the station’s primary systems. “And that’s not all, Chief,” she added. “Everything in the lab is back in perfect working order, including life support.”

“That’s hardly a coincidence,” Sisko cut in.

“It was the jewel,” Halnok interjected. “It lit up and was making her tricorder go haywire.”

“That’s our best guess,” said Dax. “The tricorder emissions might trigger some kind of interference signal causes havoc with the power grid.”

Sisko sighed in frustration. “You’re certain none of these artifacts are dangerous?” he asked.

Dax shook her head with uncertainty as to how to respond. “We’ve run all the routine checks,” she reiterated.

“You said the solar radiation in the atmosphere was of an unknown composition,” Sisko recalled. “I want you to run another thorough inspection of each and every one of those artifacts. Make absolutely certain none of them poses a danger to the station.”

###

Afterwards, O’Brien went to the Replimat for his his lunch break. He took his beverage and sandwich from the replicator tray over to a nearby table. He took small nibble of his sandwich before setting the plate down on the table and the sipped his beverage. He was pleasantly surprised that he got a decent meal from one of the station’s replicators, which seemed to be most prone to malfunction since he became chief of operations. “The one thing that isn’t malfunctioning for a change,” he remarked.

Doctor Julian Bashir passed by him to order lunch from the same replicator. “Afternoon, Chief,” he said with brisk enthusiasm. “I’ve spent the morning making sure the prisoner is fit to travel. It seems pointless considering what’s about to happen to him. Word around the station is he’ll be executed in a few days.”

“Can’t I say I blame them,” O’Brien scoffed, having been reminded of his experiences that were similar to those in the Bajoran Underground.

Bashir grabbed his meal and quickly seated himself on the other side of Miles’s table. “Hard to believe that a lot of worlds still practice something so barbaric,” he went on. “Wouldn’t practicing the death penalty disqualify Bajor as a Federation member?”

Miles cleared his throat and took a quick gulp of his beverage to brace himself for another one of Julian’s attempts to make small talk with just about anyone on the station no matter how disinterested the other person was. “Not entirely,” he candidly said. “There are a few Cardassians I wouldn’t mind putting before a firing squad.”

Bashir's usually exuberant smile quickly became a disappointed frown. “How could say a thing like that, Chief?”

“True, the Federation believes in rehabilitating criminals,” Miles reluctantly attempted. “That seems to have worked with a lot of criminals. But if you were at Setlik Three like I was, you’d see that a lot of them were thugs utterly beyond redemption.”

“Far be it for me to argue with your experiences, but still…”

Miles sighed and racked his brain for some way to make Julian’s idealistic mind understand a different perspective. “Look at it this way, Doctor. Vulcan is one of the founding members of the Federation. They still practice ritual suicide, sometimes with the assistance of family. That may offend your sensibilities as a doctor, but it’s still one of their traditional practices.”

“I suppose, when you put it that way,” Bashir relented.

O’Brien scoffed lightly and looked down at his plate hoping to avoid to any further idle chit-chat with the doctor.

###

Odo entered the maximum-security cell where Konnert Ros was held. Rather than being held in the primary cellblock behind the security office, Konnert was in a separate high security chamber. It was situated twenty levels below the first level of the Promenade and could not be directly accessed from the security office. A thick multiple lock door separated the prisoner from the entry corridor in addition to forcefields along all four walls and the ceiling. According to rumors during the Occupation, this cell was one of many torture chambers the Cardassians utilized. Even Odo could not definitively say whether such rumors were true since he had been denied access to such facilities in the lower levels of the central core.

Konnert flashed a taunting smile in the constable’s direction. Odo made a dismissive snort, having seen that look the faces of both Cardassians and Bajorans to gloat over a recent victory. He entered commands on a panel next to the cell entryway while making a point of ignoring Konnert.

“The prison transport will be arriving within the hour,” the security chief informed the prisoner.

“One step closer to sending me to my death?” Konnert asked with an unwavering cold stare.

Odo sighed, but kept a straight face, as he looked straight in Konnert’s direction. “A death sentence is far from a guarantee. Commander Sisko has recommended a lifetime prison sentence.”

Konnert smirked, stood up straight, and took slow paces towards the cell door. “Like you said, it’s just a ‘recommendation’. Do you really think the people deciding my fate will listen to him? He can’t possibly appreciate that we’ve lived in less than ideal circumstances the last fifty years. Must be even harder for you, shapeshifter. You had me arrested and brought before the Magistrate, and now you’ll be delivering me to the specters of death.”

Odo rolled his eyes, but gave no verbal indication that he was being lulled into Konnert’s efforts to taunt him. “I do my job,” he adamantly stated. “Nothing more.”

“I still wonder how you look at your Bajoran colleagues with a straight face after you helped their oppressors,” Konnert persisted. “How much blood is on your hands, Odo?”

Odo considered the inherent conflict of interest that resulted from working alongside the subjugated after first being hired by the subjugators. But would he have been allowed to continue to serve as chief of security under the current administration he hadn’t earned the respect of Bajorans, in addition to his Cardassian superiors, during the Occupation? “I was on the side of justice. Knowing how swift Cardassian ‘justice’ can be, I did what I could to make sure no one was unjustly executed.”

Konnert chuckled, as if finding Odo’s reply a bit trite. “A rather lofty goal. Too bad you couldn’t save all those who committed capital crimes. But how many innocent people did you have condemned to death?”

That last query did remind Odo of a regrettable incident that kept secret for nearly three years. Despite his reputation for being a thorough investigator who made sure only the guilty were penalized, he had, in fact, allowed three innocent men to be executed for an attempted assassination of Gul Dukat. “You should be worrying about your immediate fate rather than inquiring about my supposed past misdeeds,” he snapped. He looked away from the prisoner and stormed out to avoid letting Konnert know he had learned one of Odo’s darkest secrets.

“Hit a nerve, did I, Odo?” Konnert asked with a maniacal chuckle. “We all have our demons. Even you!”

###

“Bajoran Prison Transport Alpha to station security, we’re ready to begin transport.”

O’Brien acknowledged the hail from the approaching shuttle. “Locked in. Transport standing by.”

“You have forcefield control, Chief,” Odo informed him from the prison cell.

“Energizing,” said O’Brien.

Konnert was encased in the golden glow of the station’s Cardassian transporter. The beam quickly lost cohesion while the lights in room shorted out. Lights were flickering out not just in the prison cell, but all over the station.

The voice of the shuttle pilot again piped through the comm system. “We didn’t get him. Do you still have him?”

Odo tapped his combadge hoping someone there knew. “Odo to Ops.”

“There was a glitch in the targeting sensors before the transport cycle was complete,” O’Brien informed Sisko. “He could be anywhere on the station.”

“Needless to say, we have to find him,” Sisko replied. “Put the station on lockdown, Major. And go to full Red Alert.”

“Yes, sir.” Kira swung into action, entering commands on her console as the alarm blared throughout Ops and the station.

“Constable,” Sisko added, “have security deployed at every major area of the station.”

“I’m already on it, Commander,” Odo acknowledged.

“Attention all station personnel and residents,” Kira announced on the station-wide comm speakers. “We are now on Security Alert Level One-Ultraviolet. All civilian residents and visitors, be advised to remain in your quarters or aboard your ships. We have an escaped prisoner who may be armed and is considered extremely dangerous.”

At the same moment, the starboard turbolift emerged. Dax quickly stepped off the lift while working a padd. “Benjamin, you may find this interesting,” she said as she walked down the stairs and towards the Ops console. “The jewel we brought about is giving off the same electropathic signature as the lifeform Vash brought aboard the station three months ago.”

That revelation quickly caught the attention of Sisko, Kira, and O’Brien. Vash was a freelance archeologist who brought aboard a collection of various artifacts from the Gamma Quadrant. One such artifact turned out to be a sentient lifeform seeking to escape its captivity. The initial prevailing assumption, though, was that Q, who had followed Vash back to the station, was playing another one of his practical jokes. The station senior staff had managed to identify the cause of the station-wide malfunctions and facilitate the creature’s escape just in the nick of time to prevent the station from spiraling into the wormhole.

“I thought certain precautions were taken after that near miss,” Kira said.

“There are,” Dax replied. “All seemingly inanimate objects of an unknown alien origin are put through very thorough scrutiny to make sure they pose no danger to the station. The jewel in the marble chest wasn’t even emitting that telltale signature when it was first brought aboard the station.”

“Nevertheless,” Sisko chimed in, “we have to get it off the station as quickly as humanly possible since tracking down the escaped prisoner is a top priority. Chief, get down to the science lab with a set of pattern enhancers. Dax, prepare to have the object beamed three thousand kilometers from the docking ring. We don’t have a lot of time, people.”
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Old April 15 2014, 09:11 PM   #5
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Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Merciful Justice"

Chapter Four

O’Brien entered the science lab carrying a set of transport pattern enhancers. He set the case down and slid each of the three rods one at a time. He then arranged the rods in a triangular formation around the marble chest containing the jewel, making sure to activate each rod by turning the knobs on the top. “Pattern enhancers are in place,” he said, tapping his combadge to signal Ops. “Are you ready up there, Lieutenant?”

“We’re locked on,” Dax replied from the Ops engineering station. “Energizing.”

Blue lasers appeared around the enhancer rods. The chest slowly dematerialized, but then quickly reappeared. At the same time, the enhancer rods burned out, as did consoles in the lab and Ops.

“What happened?” Sisko demanded as the emergency lights in Ops flickered out.

“I’m not sure,” Dax replied with befuddlement while tapping various controls on the engineering console, “but somehow the energizer overloaded.”

###

Konnert Ros skulked through a corridor in the central core trying to avoid drawing too much attention from passers-by. He did hear chatter from several people down an adjoining corridor. Konnert backed up towards a door and waited for those people to pass. Three male human engineers sauntered by while discussing how to prioritize repairs to the reactor core. It was just his luck, he thought, that he wound up somewhere in the central core, which would be heavily populated with repair people. Then again, that was to be expected since the transporter beam shorted out mid-transport. His main priority now was to get to the science lab and get ahold of the device that was responsible for his escape.

It seemed fairly simple considering he had gotten away with several murders other than the one of which he was convicted. Even the best law enforcement officer in the sector had not proven him guilty of those four other murders. Not that it mattered since the state could only execute him once. He bolted down the corridor once the engineering crewmen had disappeared from view, but was quickly stopped in his tracks when a forcefield appeared in front of him. He did a full turn and saw another forcefield appear behind him.

A Bajoran security deputy approached him from both directions. The deputy standing in front of Konnert entered a command on the wall panel to disengage the forcefield. Immediately after the forcefield went down, Konnert grabbed the deputy by the collar and hurled him thirty feet down the corridor.

The second deputy then deactivated the other forcefield and lunged towards Konnert. Konnert reacted quickly, grabbing the deputy’s arm and removing the phaser from his hand with the same superhuman strength that incapacitated his other would-be captor. The fugitive then used his free arm to put a chokehold on his hostage’s neck and coaxed him down the corridor.

Konnert was immediately intercepted by a reinforcement of four Bajoran and Starfleet security officers. “Back off or he dies,” he quickly demanded, jamming the butt of the phaser against his hostage’s right temple.

The ranking Starfleet security officer holstered his phaser while putting up his free hand, signaling the other officers to stand down. All four of them stood aside and allowed the fugitive and his hostage to pass.

###

Chief O’Brien stepped out of the pit with a laser torch in hand, having at least gotten the emergency lights in Ops working again. “That should keep some of the station’s basic functions up and running for awhile,” he informed the senior officers while making a beeline to the Ops table.

“What have you been able to make of these malfunctions?” Sisko asked. “Any kind of pattern?”

O’Brien scoffed, uncertain how to respond, but knowing the commander was expecting some kind of an answer to his query. “There doesn’t seem to be any pattern at all,” he reluctantly answered. “First, it played havoc with the life support system in the science lab. Then it interfered with the transporters on two different occasions.”

“It’s possible this entity has no malevolent intentions,” Dax offered. “It’s trying in its own way to master the station’s systems.”

“But eventually it will affect a complete takeover of station systems,” Kira rebutted. “That sounds pretty malevolent to me.”

“I’d hardly call it a coincidence,” O’Brien dismissively chimed in, “that the transporters crashed when we beaming a convicted killer out of the holding cell.”

“You may have a point,” Dax conceded. “But Chief, you were aboard the Enterprise at the time it was ferrying Selay and Antican delegates?”

“That’s right,” O’Brien said with a slight cringe at being reminded of the goriness of that particular mission. “Working security and trying to keep one group of delegates from making a meal out of the other.”

“The creature that had infested the ship’s systems was simply trying to escape imprisonment,” Dax elaborated. “It just happened to be causing a set of random malfunctions. And it killed the deputy chief engineer, most likely by accident.”

Not wanting this meeting to be nothing but theorizing about the offending entity’s intentions, Sisko put his hands up to quiet everyone. “Right now, it’s all just speculation. We have to consider this entity a threat to the station, so…”

Sisko was quickly interrupted by the sound of the comm chirping. His eyes widened with anticipation that station security had apprehended Konnert Ros. Instead, Konnert himself was on the other end. “Hello? Commander Sisko?”
“This is Sisko. Where are you?”

“Now you don’t think I’d just tell you where I am without some assurances that you won’t seal off that section of the station?” Konnert taunted. “Though I am in the science lab and your archeologist and one of your security men are my hostages. They’re both dead unless you get me off this station and onto a ship bound for the Gamma Quadrant.”

“You don’t think I’d easily accept those terms…” Again, he was interrupted when he heard a scream over the comm-line.

“That was your security deputy I just killed,” Konnert coldly informed the group in Ops. “If you don’t do as I ask…”

Sisko quickly looked at Kira and gave gesture for her to close the channel, which she immediately did. “Major, you’re with me,” he added. “Have a security team meet us there. Sisko to Bashir: report to the science lab. We may have wounded there.”

“I’m on my way,” the doctor briskly replied over the comm.

###

Odo was outside the science lab, flanked by a security team that included two Starfleet officers and two Bajoran deputies. He had instructed the other guards to stay clear of the door while he attempted to open the door. The constable grunted in frustration after each failed attempt to unlock the door, but still kept his calm knowing that he would eventually recapture the escaped prisoner. That would an even more satisfying victory than finally proving Konnert guilty of murder.

Sisko arrived alongside Kira and Bashir and immediately asked Odo’s status. “Any luck getting inside?”

“None,” Odo grumbled. “He’s placed a three-layered encryption on the locking mechanism which resets itself every ten seconds.”

Sisko pushed a control on the door panel to activate audio communications to the lab. “Konnert, this is Sisko. I’m right outside the lab. The station’s on lockdown. There’s nowhere to run.”

The doors quickly opened, revealing Konnert holding a Bajoran Militia phaser to Retan Halnok’s head. “I beg to differ,” Konnert wryly contended. “I still have one hostage. Now tell the shapeshifter and his security men to back off or I blow his head off.”

Sisko nodded to Odo, who then nodded to the members of his security team instructing them keep a considerable distance from the entryway.

“Don’t listen to him, Commander,” Halnok insisted. Despite how adamant he was that Sisko not give in to his captor’s demands, his lips were quivering in fear. Konnert immediately recognized that, and he tightened his forearm’s grip around the scientist’s neck.

“You say that now, Zakdorn,” Konnert hissed in Halnok’s ear. “But the fear in your voice suggests you want me to escape so I can spare your life.” He then looked in Sisko’s direction. “I may have a hand on the trigger, but his blood will be on your hands, Sisko. Aren’t you Starfleet officers sworn to keep civilians out of danger at any cost?”

“Yes,” Sisko affirmed, “but under no circumstances are you getting off this station.”

“You don’t have any choice,” Konnert snarled. “Get me off this station, or he dies. It’s as simple as that!” He took slow steps back towards the marble chest while maintaining his hold on his hostage. “This is what assured my escape,” he said, removing the jewel from the chest. “This will let me start a new life in the Gamma Quadrant.”

Moments later, though, the jewel started glowing, and Konnert winced in pain. During that brief instant of weakness, he had managed to loosen his grip on Halnok, who then scurried towards Sisko and his group. Konnert’s eyes were suddenly glowing red, which caught Kira’s attention. She looked at Sisko, her lips agape, and then back at Konnert.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

Konnert spoke in a much lower-pitched register. “I am known in your mythos as Kosst Amojan. On other worlds I’ve traveled to, I am known as Kesla, BeratisRedjac.”

Sisko’s eyes widened in reaction to hearing the last name Konnert had uttered. But before anyone else could speak, the light emanating from the jewel grew in intensity soon encompassing the fugitive’s whole body. Both the entity in the jewel and the one who had taken Konnert as a host merged and quickly breezed through the bulkhead out into open space.

Konnert then collapsed to the deck, prompting Bashir to check on the man’s condition. “He’s dead,” he told the rest of the group.

Everyone else remained speechless in reaction to what had just transpired. Still, the revelation that Konnert Ros was the host to an infamously known malevolent entity provided some explanation about the cold-blooded killer he had become.

###

Following the bizarre affair, Sisko convened a staff meeting in Ops. Kira, Dax, and O’Brien were seated at the commander’s left while Odo and Bashir were seated to the right. Sisko gave a succinct explanation of Starfleet’s first encounter with the entity known as Redjac. The crew of the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James Kirk had learned of the existence of a malevolent entity that fed on the fear of its victims. “Captain Kirk and his staff had pieced together a pattern to unsolved murders committed on Earth and the first Earth colonies over the centuries,” he informed his senior officers. “Three women on Argelius had been stabbed to death in similar fashion. Once he was discovered, Redjac had abandoned his humanoid host and took over the ship’s computers. Kirk eventually maneuvered the entity to return to that host body and had the transporter set on maximum dispersal.”

“Kirk had to have known the entity might be able to reconstitute itself eventually,” Dax chimed in.

“Perhaps it was still in the process of reconstituting itself when it entered a new host,” Bashir speculated. “That would explain why the host wasn’t showing superhuman strength until his escape from incarceration. If it could take over the station’s computer system, it probably would have.”

The rest of the senior staff shot quick glances at Bashir to indicate their agreement. O’Brien chuckled lightly as he considered the irony that the entity that exorcised the demon was the cause the recent round of malfunctions.

“Bajoran ancient texts,” Kira informed the group, “mention ‘false prophets’ being cast out of the Celestial Temple and incarcerated in the Underworld. One of them is said to have escaped and will one day bring about the next great battle between good and evil. We call it the Kosst Amjoan--the Evil One.”

“So perhaps our mysterious jewel must have been used for performing exorcisms,” Dax half-jokingly suggested.

Sisko slowly nodded in agreement when no one else expressed amusement. “Well, let us be thankful that Jack the Ripper won’t be bothering us again anytime soon.”
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