DS9: A continuation

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ln X, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 4, part 2

    Day 4, 1130 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Take my hands,” said Nofron.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “And then what?” Holo asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 4, part 3

    Day 4, 1245 hours

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

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

    Captain! Come in, do you hear me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 4, 1500 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5, part 1

    Day 4, 1550 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Had her decision destroyed her friendship with Kira? If that was so then it would be another friend she had lost through poor personal judgement and bad decisions...
     
  4. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “How many died?” asked Bashir very gently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5, part 3

    Day 4, 2230 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Odo looked away. “I already have.”


    ***


    Day 5, 1000 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “And?” said Ezri expectantly.

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

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

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

    Yes captain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Yes sir,” said Kira wearily.


    ***


    Day 5, 1100 hours

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

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

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

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

    “Report commander!” said Ezri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Yes admiral,” said Ezri politely.

    “Ross out.”

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

    She was back to square one, Starfleet wasn’t going to do anything, and she was out of options…
     
  6. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5, part 4

    Day 6, 1930 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Right,” said Kira with a nod.

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

    “Yes?”

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 6, part 1

    Day 7, 1100 hours

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

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

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

    “On screen!” ordered Ezri.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 0830 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 6, part 2

    Day 8, 1030 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1300 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Your-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1320 hours

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

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

    “Colonel contact the Furillian president!” ordered Ezri.

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

    “On screen!”

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

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

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

    “Levelled?” said Ezri sounding confused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Suddenly the prospect of battle became far more imminent for Ezri, perhaps in a matter of minutes the Defiant would be fighting against Cardassian or Ferengi ships. And so here came the most critical part of her plan for the closure of the strip mines; giving the Furillians orbital protection for as long as possible.
     
  9. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 6, part 3

    Day 8, 1400 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1700 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1630 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1700 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    At once Kira rose from her chair.

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

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

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

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

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

    “Raise the cloak,” ordered Ezri.

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

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

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

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

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 7, part 1

    Day 8, 1730 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “But-”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    ***


    Day 8, 1710 hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Shields are holding,” reported Farangha.

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

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

    “Moderate damage to their shields,” said Megan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    She rerouted the ship’s sensors onto the helm and she then got the ship moving again. “I think it's time we took a more aggressive approach,” she shouted. “Ms Felpes when I get the Defiant behind one of the Cardassian ships, I want to focus for a few seconds all of the phasers upon that ship, and launch a quantum torpedo.”

    Megan dashed over to the weapons station, and she quickly rerouted sensors to her station, before readying the Defiant’s armaments.

    As Ezri flew the ship, she felt herself become one with the ship. With each hit the Defiant took, Ezri urged the ship to endure, and she did her utmost to avoid the Cardassian photon torpedoes and phaser fire. If this was the end, then Ezri was going to go down fighting, for she wasn’t go to leave this ship…
     
  11. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 7, part 2

    Day 8, 1725 hours

    Inside the shuttle, Kira urged the ship to travel faster as she approached the Furillian atmosphere. At any time the villagers of Viyara would detonate the explosives, destroying the dam, and sending a wall of water that would kill Max and Holo instantly.

    Kira would have contacted Max the moment she left the Defiant, however the sub-space communications blackout meant she had to revert to basic ultra low frequencies on the light spectrum. But these were easily scattered inside the Badlands, so she would have to be within the planet’s ionosphere to successfully send the transmission.

    Once entering the atmosphere, Kira slowed down the shuttle’s speed and began the descent downwards. There was another five hundred kilometres remaining before the shuttle entered the ionosphere.

    Finally having entered the ionosphere Kira contacted Max. If the dam was already destroyed then she would get no response, but she prayed to the Prophets that the dam was still standing. “Max are you receiving my communication?”

    I hear you loud and clear colonel,” replied Max.

    Kira felt relieved, but only to find that relief disappear and followed by even more tension. “You've got to find higher ground, the Viyara villagers are about to detonate explosives which will destroy the dam and send a massive wall of water down the valley!”

    Shit!” said Max out aloud. “We've got another 750 metres to climb up, we’ll never make it!

    “I'll be able to beam you up in about five minutes time,” said Kira quickly as she made course corrections. “I'm just entering the planet's ionosphere. If you're still using that bio-dampener device then turn it off, because I need to detect your life signs. I'm going to have to take this runabout very close to the planet's surface to get a lock on your position.”

    Just as Kira was about to end the comm link Max spoke up. “Oh yes colonel make sure you beam up Nofron, he’s the marauder and the third person with us.

    “Understood,” said Kira. “Kira out.”

    Now Kira focused upon the pilot controls, she wanted to get to the strip mine as quickly as possible. But she had to reduce the shuttle's speed considerably so that when the shuttle was ten kilometres above the planet’s surface her speed was about two hundred metres per second.

    Not only that she had to get the positioning right, she directed the shuttle so that it would level off about a hundred metres above the dam and travel down the valley. While she piloted the shuttle, she also rerouted transporter controls to the helm.

    She only had one attempt at beaming Max, Holo and Nofron out of the strip mine, and she figured giving the radiation the maximum distance she could lock onto was about twelve kilometres above the planet’s sea level. This gave her at most one minute to lock onto Max’s, Holo’s and Nofron’s bio-signals and beam the three onto the shuttle.

    Satisfied with her course, Kira set the final portion of her course onto auto pilot when the shuttle was twelve kilometres above sea level. After that she would be focusing solely on getting a transport lock on the away team.

    Though right now Kira had to get her current course as accurate as possible to make sure the shuttle’s trajectory was correct when the auto pilot engaged. Otherwise the shuttle would end up ploughing into the surface…


    ***


    When Max received the news from Kira that the Furillians were about to blow up the dam, a sense of numbness came over him. At any time the explosives would go off and in a matter of minutes a huge wall of water would sweep himself, Holo and Nofron away.

    The only bit of good news was Max and his companions had managed to climb out of the gorge, and they were walking up the steep scree slopes. Unfortunately the bad news was that they had to climb up a further 750 metres in height to safely avoid the wall of water.

    By Max’s calculations at a walking pace this would take at least 45 minutes. But in a desperate attempt to cut the time, all three started running up the steep slope. As Max ran his legs seized up in less than a minute, but still he pushed himself. Sweat was poring from every gland in his skin, and he was burning up, though he still pushed himself.

    For Holo it was effortless running up the slopes, just behind Holo was Nofron, and Max could tell that even Nofron couldn’t maintain this pace for much longer.

    “Come on faster!” shouted Holo, as he ran up the slope, twenty metres ahead of Max and Nofron.

    Despite being so out of breathe Max managed to squeeze out a few words. “Humanoid bodies aren't… designed to… run… at full speed… going up mountains!” he gasped.

    Holo turned around and came to a stop, looking down at Max. “The more height we get the higher the chance of our survival!”

    Max couldn’t believe what Holo was asking of himself and Nofron, they could never maintain this pace. Clearly Holo had completely forgotten in his haste to dash to safety, that for organics running up hills was extremely difficult.

    Still Max pushed on, driven by a mixture of fear and adrenaline. As he ran he wondered if Holo would be killed if the wall of water struck him. Suddenly Max realised that Holo would be killed in a manner of speaking, as all that water would go through Holo’s projected body and collide with the holographic emitter.

    With all that force the holographic emitter would be crushed and if it wasn’t, then it would be whisked along smashing against everything that the water swept away in its path. One way or another the holographic emitter would be irreparably damaged, and Holo’s program would be lost, and that would be the end of Holo’s life.

    This explained to Max why Holo was so desperate to gain as much height as possible. Holo was in fear of his life just like any other mortal would be when faced with such a situation.


    ***


    After his speech, Sotron was given a handheld detonator by one of the villagers skilled with explosives. Sotron was about to detonate when Jacorda unexpectedly contacted him and told him there would be a twenty minute delay as a group of Furillians were in the water’s path. This group only had a further two hundred metres to go before they reached a safe level.

    So Sotron waited, he was yearning for the moment when he would pull the trigger to the detonator activating the explosives. Bringing down the dam which was an absolute monstrosity and travesty to mother nature. The hand guard of the detonator chafed against his skin but Sotron didn’t care, he wasn’t removing it until he had pulled the trigger.

    Sotron’s communicator then buzzed and he realised Nofron was contacting him. Taking out the communicator, Sotron placed it close to his mouth.

    “Is everything all clear for the detonation?” he asked Nofron breathlessly.

    Affirmative, you may detonate at your own discretion.

    Closing the communicator and placing back it in his trouser pocket, Sotron raised the hand carrying the detonator, and with his left hand he pressed a button to turn off the safety jammer.

    There was complete and absolute silence from the villagers, nobody even breathed as Sotron stood their looking at them. “For Furillia,” he said quietly.

    His index finger pulled back and firmly squeezed the trigger guard. There was a small beep that came from the device, and Sotron turned around to look at the dam.

    A second later there was a series of little explosions that ran across the length of the dam, little puffs of dust could be seen coming from the detonation points. Even from up here Sotron could feel the vibrations.

    Finally a truly colossal explosion burst from the central turbine room, Sotron instantly placed a hand to his eyes as the bright blue light nearly blinded him. A massive air shock wave ran along the dam before hitting the steep slopes, the air blast bounced upwards displacing all the loose rock and raising huge clouds of grey dust.

    The air blast rapidly dissipated while the blue light faded into a red and yellow fireball that lasted for many seconds, it rose rapidly into the sky. Momentarily the ground shook hard as the sheer kinetic energy travelled through the layers of rock beneath Sotron's feet.

    As the fireball faded, leaving behind a plume of dust, debris and rock. Sotron noticed massive cracks running up and along all parts of the dam. They spread in a fan shape, and chunks of the dam were falling to the ground.

    Suddenly a low but intense vibration could be felt, and Sotron heard a very menacing low humming sound coming from the rocks below his feet. It gradually got louder and then a massive jet of water gushed out from the centre of the dam. The jet got bigger, until suddenly the whole dam simply disintegrated before Sotron’s very eyes, breaking up into huge blocks of metal and ceramics.

    With the water free to escape, the sudden drop in pressure caused the dam to momentarily collapse inwards, but soon the raging torrents of water dragged huge portions of the dam forwards. A truly almighty roar could be heard as a wall of water a kilometre high sloshed downwards breaking and scattering every loose thing along the valley’s floor.

    The water behind the non-existent dam slowly decreased in height while successive portions suddenly lost their flat surface and collapsed.

    Everything in front of the water was washed away, huge boulders and buildings were tossed along as if they were made of straw. Everything that was artificial and impure was being swept away, and it was such an amazing sight to Sotron. He couldn’t help it, but a few tears spilled from his eyes as the sheer emotion of the event overwhelmed him.
     
  12. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 7, part 3

    By some miracle Max was still running, though now his legs were seizing up in protest at his exertions, and his entire body was covered in sweat. He jerked his head right when he saw a bright light out of the corner of his eye. It was a massive explosion right in front of the dam and Max’s heart sunk in despair. It was all over, they still had five hundred metres to go.

    Holo came to a stop and looked aghast at the sight of the explosion. “We're to late!” he said in a hollow voice.

    Even Nofron had stopped running and he bent over, his hands resting on his knees, while he looked at the dam.

    Suddenly Max heard a colossal bang and that must have been the shock wave from the explosion, a powerful breeze rushed against Max before dissipating.

    When the dam crumbled all Max could feel was numbness, he was too shocked to feel scared or frightened. He simply sat down on the ground and watch the water spew from the dam. “How long will it be until the water reaches our position?”

    “About two minutes maybe less,” said Holo, he seemed to be in a total daze, seemingly unable to comprehend the incoming oblivion…

    Nofron though didn’t look shocked, he seemed to accept what was coming next. “Let's stop and sit down, I can’t walk any more, my legs have seized up...”

    Holo nodded in a distracted manner. “Your right there's nothing more we can do but wait...”

    For a moment Holo remained standing before he came down the slope, and then sat down next to Max.

    Even though Max knew that Holo was going to be killed, he had to ask Holo the question that was almost too terrible to ask. “Will your holographic emitter survive being swept away by a few billion tonnes of water?”

    Holo looked down at the ground, he was rolling a stone between his hands. “I don't think so, if it is destroyed then my program is obliterated.”

    Nofron walked over to sit next to Max and Holo. “Do you two have any family?” he asked in a surprisingly gentle voice.

    Max nodded. “A brother, but we’re estranged… Holo here doesn’t have any family.”

    Strangely Nofron looked at Max in a pitiful manner. “I’m sorry to hear that, being estranged from someone you once cared for is a terrible burden to carry.”

    Such sentiment from Nofron totally surprised Max, though he reckoned when faced with imminent death a person’s behaviour was bound to rapidly change as they considered everything that happened in their life.

    As the wall of water came steadily closer, Max decided out of vain curiosity to ask Nofron about what happened to the person the marauder was estranged from. “If you don’t mind me asking, who was the person you were estranged from? Was it someone close?”

    Nofron simply stared at Max before responding. “It was my wife, I haven’t talked to her in four years, the only thing I regret about dying is never making amends with her…”

    After that Nofron lapsed into silence, and he looked deeply sorrowful.

    Max was taken aback by the fact that Nofron had a wife, for such a tough and wild looking person, Max could not imagine Nofron being married.

    The water was at a distance where its roar could be faintly heard, and Max looked at it and his gut tightened from nervousness. Would it hurt to die? Would it be a quick painless death or would he die in sheer agony?

    Holo placed a hand on Max’s shoulder, trying to comfort Max, while the roar grew louder. “Don't worry you won't feel a thing, the sheer volume of water hitting you will knock you out immediately.”

    Max could not help it but he tore his gaze from the rapidly approaching water and looked at Holo’s face. It was such a comfort for Max seeing those blue eyes and the calm demeanour of his friend’s face. He was going to die with a friend at his side, and the incoming oblivion strangely made sense to Max.

    The wall of water rose up and cast a shadow over Max, and the flecks of water soaked him instantly. Just as the water was right next to his face, everything faded from view and Max closed his eyes certain that he was now dead and floating away to whatever lay beyond this life.

    His body had no form and all that existed to Max was his consciousness, he didn’t dare open his eyes fearful of what he might see.

    Suddenly Max could feel his body, and his feet made contact with what seemed to be a flat surface of some kind.

    “Are you three all right?” said a voice.

    This was a voice that seemed very familiar to Max, and it sounded like Kira’s voice. He opened his eyes and realised that he was standing in the cockpit of a shuttle, and there was Kira sitting there by the helm looking at him with some concern.

    “Am I dead?” said Max with absolute conviction.

    Kira’s eyebrows rose slightly in apparent amusement. “No your very much alive, I got you out of there before it was to late. You're not hurt are you?”

    Max became aware that he was drenched to the skin, his shirt and trousers clung to him and water was dripping off his body. He looked around and saw a soaking wet Nofron, clearing water from his eyes. While Holo looked completely untouched.

    After a while Max answered Kira’s question. “My arm's still broken but apart from that I'm fine and just a little wet,” he said and he glanced at Holo enviously. “I sometimes wish I were a hologram...”

    Briefly Kira smiled widely, before swivelling around in the chair to control the helm. “Let’s get you three back to the Defiant.”

    The cockpit's view of the Tiyona valley vanished as the shuttle tilted upwards, heading for the sky and beyond...


    ***


    Day 8, 1800 hours

    After fifty minutes of battle, the Defiant had taken an absolute beating. Fires were burning inside the bridge, smoke covered the ceiling, two more bulkheads had collapsed, debris and shrapnel were scattered all over the bridge.

    Ezri twisted and turned the Defiant every which way she could to avoid the Cardassian weapons. All she was concentrating upon was piloting the ship. To her left Megan was doing one hell of a job giving the Cardassians an absolute drubbing, Megan was holding her nerve as were the four other officers around Ezri.

    Right now Ezri couldn’t have been more prouder of them.

    “Our shields are gone captain!” shouted Megan, against the backdrop of the roaring fires.

    Simultaneously Ezri dodged the Defiant out of harm's way, while briefly looking at the screen on her console which showed the positions of the Defiant and the Cardassian ships. “Launch a flux torpedo at the Cardassian ship behind us!”

    Megan looked at Ezri in a desperate manner. “The auto-targeting system is destroyed!”

    “Then use manual targeting!” shouted Ezri angrily. “And this make this torpedo count, it's our last flux torpedo!”

    Megan stared at the screen in a transfixed manner as she sorted out the manual targeting. While two of the crew members had taken out fire extinguishers and were bringing most of the fires under control.

    “Firing...” said Megan.

    The moment Megan said that the Defiant lurched heavily, a plasma conduit at one end of the bridge exploded and fires leapt up ten metres behind Ezri. She could hear the bulkheads groaning and she realised the structural integrity was close to failure. Yet other bulkhead collapsed, this one was wide and covered nearly the entire width of the bridge. It crushed the commander's chair and flattened the consoles beneath, making a terrific crunching noise.

    Ezri looked around and was relieved to see Megan was still alive, the fallen bulkhead had missed Megan by less than a metre.

    Megan was sat at her station as if nothing had happened. “The torpedo hit, the Cardassian ship is destroyed!” she said, jubilation in her voice.

    That moment of celebration was premature as the Defiant shook again. “Captain we can't take any more of this!” shouted Megan, her voice sounded absolutely raw from emotion. “The ablative armour is down to ten percent strength and ten more Cardassian ships are heading our way!”

    Ezri though remained looking fixedly at the console she was using. “The Cardassians won't stop firing until this ship has been destroyed, and I'm not leaving this ship!” she said fiercely, she was sounding beyond reason or rationality. “We're fighting to the bitter end!”

    Suddenly a look of relief shone from Megan’s face. “We may not have to captain! Fifty Starfleet ships have arrived!”

    From the depths of Ezri’s heart, she was immensely grateful for the reinforcements, it seemed admiral Ross had taken her suggestion after all to close down the strip mines. If Ross was here right now Ezri would have kissed him.

    “Contact the lead Cardassian ship!” Ezri ordered, there was a somewhat maniacal expression on her face, as she felt that the battle would soon be coming to an end…

    “Hailing them,” said Megan, her hands skimming over the controls quickly. “They're responding.”

    On the view screen was the sight of a Cardassian gul, Ezri recognised the insignia around his collar, but she had never such a ferocious looking Cardassian in her life. In the background was the orange lighting in the Cardassian ship’s bridge, while the walls were that dull golden brown colour. There seemed to be some smoke lingering at the ceiling and one bulkhead had collapsed and was protruding into the floor.

    “This is Gul Messek, commander of the 76th fleet, cease hostilities and surrender!” said Messek loudly and menacingly.

    Ezri stared right into Messek’s eyes, and in that stare she poured all of her hatred and determination. “In case you haven't noticed Messek you are in no position to make demands. If you attack the Federation fleet then you will be starting a war between the Cardassian Union and the Federation. And all the resources in the Badlands aren't enough reason to declare war upon the Federation!”

    Messek looked furious, and his nostrils flared with anger. “The Badlands belong to Cardassia!” he shouted. “We will do whatever it takes to protect our claim to the Badlands!”

    “And fight both the Ferengi and the Federation?” said Ezri incredulously. “The Cardassian Union would be heavily outnumbered and outgunned, you can't fight a war on two fronts and expect to win!”

    These words seemed to have a considerable impact on Messek. All of his anger and bravado seemed to diminish, and he remained silent as he was clearly thinking about what Ezri had said. Finally he turned his head to the left to talk to one of his officers. “Tell all Cardassian ships to break off engagements with the Starfleet ships, focus on the Ferengi ships!”

    “It seems the Ferengi are retreating Gul!” said the voice of an unseen Cardassian officer.

    Messek straightened up and gazed at Ezri with a very intense expression, his eyes were almost bulging with rage. “Very well there will be a cessation of hostilities,” he said spitefully, his eyes seemed to bulge some more. “But I warn you captain, if Starfleet ever sends a fleet of ships into the Badlands again, then the Cardassian Union will consider such action as a declaration of war! Gul Messek out!”

    The transmission ended and Ezri leaned back into her chair, looked upwards and let out a huge breathe of air. She heard the sound of the chemicals coming from the fire extinguishers, and the cessation of the sound of fires burning. These sounds further calmed her mood.

    Ezri was covered with grime and soot, her uniform was soaked with sweat and she stank to high heaven. For just a moment she felt ecstatic that the Defiant was still standing. She turned around to look at Megan, and she saw that Megan looked just as dirty and as sweaty as Ezri. Briefly Megan gave Ezri a toothy smile, but it disappeared rapidly and Ezri knew exactly why.

    How many crew members had died and how many more were injured? Faced with this loss of life, Ezri controlled her emotions though it was hard to maintain a professional detachment at this moment.

    “Is the Defiant in any shape to leave the Badlands?” asked Ezri hopefully.

    Megan went over to the operations console, and looked at the readings. “The warp drive is off line, it looks like we're going to be towed back to DS9.”

    “Any sign of the shuttle Kira was on?” said Ezri, her stomach churned as she awaited Megan’s answer.

    Megan went over to the science station and checked the sensors, she looked visibly worried, and Ezri knew that Max was a close friend of Megan.

    “I detect it,” said Megan. “There are four life signs; one Bajoran, a human, a hologram and a Furillian!”

    Relief and joy intermingled in Megan’s voice, and momentarily Ezri shared her jubilation.

    But Ezri’s moment of joy quickly faded, and she tapped her comm badge, she was dreading what she had to ask next. “Dax to the sick bay. Doctor Bashir, how many casualties are there?”

    There are at least seven dead crew members,” said Bashir, his voice was seemingly devoid of emotion. “And ten other injured crew members, is the battle over captain?

    “It is,” said Ezri wearily, it was hard to keep the anguish from her voice.

    Thank God,” said Bashir sounding relieved. “Another five minutes and we would all have been dead, Bashir out.

    Seven dead, this was a figure that Ezri dwelled upon, seven Starfleet officers who had given there lives to help the Furillians. The loss was like shrapnel piercing her heart, to lose so many fine men and women. Ezri couldn’t help it but she buried her head in her hands, though she shed no tears, it was for her the equivalent of grieving, as she dealt with the loss before burying the pain.

    She was a captain and maintaining a stiff upper lip was all part of the job, she could grieve for the dead officers in the privacy of her quarters, and that was after she had written up the reports concerning how they died.

    “Captain are you alright?” said Megan gently, she looked at Ezri in a worried way.

    Slowly Ezri turned to face Megan, her face was lined with grimness and sorrow. “Seven officers lost their lives protecting some backwater planet, it's a high price to pay.”

    Megan looked at Ezri in a sympathetic and compassionate manner. “Captain we had to do this, at the very least RH Mining's operations are closed down on Furillia!”

    Even though Ezri’s plan had worked, such success was little comfort when it came at the expense of seven officers. She further composed herself, and buried the pain and the regrets deeper, there was work to be done repairing the Defiant. But first she needed Bashir to heal the wounds on her face, left arm and upper torso.

    Standing up, Ezri glanced at Megan. “I'll work out the ramifications of my decision when I'm back on DS9, I'll be down in sickbay so that Bashir can patch up my face. You have the bridge commander.”

    As she walked out of the battered and broken bridge, Ezri also felt some sorrow for the punishment that the Defiant had taken. In all of its years it had never taken a beating like this, but it was a tough ship just like its captain, and it endured against all the odds…
     
  13. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 8, part 1

    Day 8, 1850 hours

    As Ezri proceeded to the sickbay she felt a steady throbbing pain build up around the left side of her head. It was like something sharp jarring against her skull. She did not understand why she hadn’t felt this pain earlier, but she had been pumped up with adrenaline as she piloted the Defiant.

    Now with the adrenaline gone and the endorphins fading, the pain grew steadily worse. Soon all that mattered to Ezri was getting to sickbay, she would worry about the aftermath of the battle and the casualties later. Something was seriously wrong with her but she was determined to keep walking on, if she was going to collapse then it would be in the sick bay.

    It was to her great relief that she saw the sickbay doors. Upon entering, Ezri staggered through the doorway, her eyes registered the ten injured crew members but her brain didn’t notice.

    Already Bashir was walking over towards her, and Ezri could have sworn that just for a moment there was concern and worry in Bashir’s eyes. Then again her eyes could be playing tricks on her, as her whole brain felt fuzzy.

    Ezri got to one end of the biobed and then she collapsed, the front of her body slumped against the width of the biobed while her arms dangled over the other side.

    A nearby nurse immediately lifted Ezri and carefully placed her lying down on her back upon the bed.

    Bashir was standing right next to Ezri, and he had taken out his tricorder scanning her, though his tricorder mainly lingered around the vicinity of her head. When Bashir looked at the readings his eyes widened slightly, and Ezri took that as a bad sign.

    “You should have come to me sooner!” said Bashir angrily. “There's a piece of shrapnel lodged in your brain, it is a miracle it didn't penetrate any further and pierce your brain stem!”

    Despite the fuzziness Ezri still had the strength and the clarity to explain herself. “I had a ship to protect doctor! Besides I thought the injury was superficial.”

    Immediately Bashir placed a cortical regulator on Ezri’s head, while the nurse was preparing the operating table.

    Bashir looked at a medical console just behind Ezri’s head, and he was carefully studying the scans of Ezri. “You'll need immediate surgery, to stop the internal bleeding.”

    As Bashir continued looking at the scan results he started muttering to himself. “Superficial... half of your face is peppered with shrapnel and she calls it superficial!”

    Just when Ezri felt like letting go, Megan’s voice came from the comm channel.

    Captain there's an incoming transmission from the star ship Phoenix, it's for you!

    Ezri tapped her comm badge. “Route it through to the sick bay.”

    Against her better judgement Ezri got to her feet and walked over next to a screen by the doorway. It was hard to walk, she sort of hobbled over, and she focused upon putting one foot in front of the other.

    Bashir came hurrying over towards her. “Captain you’re in no state to walk,” he said in a tone that suggested Ezri was insane. “You can’t exert yourself and I need to carry out this operation immediately!”

    Turning around Ezri couldn’t believe the expression on Bashir’s face, it was so mother-like it was unbelievable. Though Bashir was absolutely right, Ezri was going to resist his mollycoddling for just a bit longer. “You'll treat me after this transmission,” said Ezri in a forceful tone.

    She tapped a few commands on the screen, and there appeared a Starfleet captain sitting on a chair in his ship's bridge.

    The captain noticed the horrendous wounds on Ezri’s face and winced. “That looks bad...”

    “It's nothing,” said Ezri, in a tone full of bravado. “Why do you want talk to me?”

    “My ship found a Federation shuttle craft trying to leave this scene, they didn't answer my ship's hails and this aroused my suspicion. So I tractor-beamed the ship and transported the occupants onto my ship. Turns out it was Ron Harding and his secretary who were trying to flee... I've detained Mr Harding and I was wondering what you want me to do with him?”

    Through the fuzziness Ezri felt a grim satisfaction, it seemed Ron Harding was going to be brought to justice after all. But she wanted to handle the pre judicial proceedings, she wanted to be the one who handed Harding to the Federation Supreme Court. It was vital she made her intentions clear, before she lost the ability to string two words together.

    “Transfer him to DS9,” said Ezri somewhat distantly. “I will see that Harding is nailed to the letter of the law for his crimes.”

    The Starfleet captain looked at Ezri with some concern, but he didn’t say anything. “And what about his secretary? She claims she wasn't responsible for anything that happened on Furillia.”

    Ezri paused for a moment as she thought about the secretary, it was getting harder to think. “She wasn't… responsible for anything because she was Harding's office clerk, however she… is a witness and so send her to Deep Space Nine as well.”

    She was breathing deeply, the pain was becoming agonising, and she just wished the conversation would end.

    “Captain my scans of your ship show that you are in no condition to return to Deep Space Nine. Since my ship will be travelling to DS9 to escort two Federation citizens, it would kill two birds with one stone if my ship were to tow your's back to DS9?”

    The captain looked at Ezri in a sympathetic way, and she was deeply grateful for his generosity, because it gave her one less thing to think about. She tried to summon up a smile, but her mouth barely moved. “That is… most generous captain, but I before I do so… I have to take a Furillian back to his village.”

    There was no objection from the captain, and he simply nodded. “Sure take all the time you need, my ship will be staying here for at least two days to help evacuate the workers and people from the orbital extraction facility. I hope you recover soon, Gregory out.”

    Just as the transmission ended, Ezri felt a terrific jarring pain inside her head, and her face scrunched up in agony. “Ahhh!” she moaned, breathing deeply. Her hands were pressing against the sides of her head in an attempt to reduce the pain. “I think you are right doctor, I do need surgery...”

    Though she wondered how she was going to get to the biobed, she could barely stand let alone walk. An arm came around her back and the hand rested just below her right arm pit. While the second hand grabbed onto her left hand, she realised it was Bashir, and he was supporting her so that she could lay down on the bed.

    After a while, Ezri was finally rested upon the bed, she saw Bashir coming and she lolled her head to the right looking at his face. “How long before I will be up and about?”

    Bashir looked at Ezri in a neutral manner. “The surgery will take three hours, and you will need at least twelve hours rest.”

    Ezri nodded once, and she gazed up at the ceiling. At this point she trusted Bashir absolutely with her life, and she sensed that Bashir’s defensive stance against her had been momentarily lowered.

    She knew Bashir wouldn’t say anything, but she was now certain that Bashir still cared for her. Perhaps there was a chance that she could mend the rift between herself and Bashir. This was a happy thought, and it was the last thing she thought of, as Bashir had placed a hypospray to her neck and she lost consciousness almost immediately.
     
  14. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 8, part 2

    Day 9, 1000 hours

    After being discharged by Bashir from the sick bay, Ezri headed to the sonic showers to clean herself. She felt a lot more better, and when she was fully clean she felt physically back to herself again. Mentally though Ezri was not all right, the names of the ten officers who had died constantly circled around in her mind.

    When she returned to her quarters she found three padds, laying on the bunk bed. Ezri presumed Kira had placed them there, she sat down and checked each padd in turn. After quickly reading the titles, each padd had an individual report. One was the casualty report, the second was the damage report and the third was the general status report.

    Ezri decided to ignore the casualty report and proceed straight to the damage report. Scrolling through the long list, Ezri realised that the Defiant had taken far more punishment than she had imagined. It was a captain’s thing with ships, but she felt proud of the Defiant, it had survived one of her most audacious missions to date.

    She then looked at the status report, it was most pleasing to find out that the fifty Starfleet ships patrolling this sector had detected no signs of Cardassian or Ferengi ships. Another piece of good news was that most of the occupants living on the orbital extraction facility had been evacuated.

    Suddenly Ezri realised that she had asked captain Gregory some spare time so that she could personally take Nofron back home. “Computer locate Nofron.”

    Nofron is on deck four, compartment fourteen, in his quarters.

    Ezri left her quarters and went to Nofron’s quarters. Outside the door to his quarters, Ezri tapped the door chime.

    “Enter,” said Nofron.

    Proceeding through the doorway, Ezri walked in and to her left saw Nofron standing by a window and looking at the view. The Furillian planet took up most of the view, and Nofron seemed to be gazing at it with something akin to wonder.

    “Have you come to take me back home?” asked Nofron, while keeping his back turned to Ezri.

    “If that's what you want,” said Ezri gently. “I also want to say thank you for protecting the lives of my two officers.”

    The corners of Nofron’s mouth became more pronounced and turned into a frown, he seemed deeply troubled by something. “They're brave men, few Furillians have the bravery it takes to become a marauder.”

    Ezri moved a few steps closer, but still maintaining a respectful distance from Nofron. “But with the strips mines closed I don't think there will be any need for marauders.”

    “Perhaps,” said Nofron sounding doubtful. “Though if marauders are not needed anymore I'm not sure what I will do with my life.”

    This struck Ezri as a little defeatist, surely Nofron was exaggerating. “You are a resourceful man, why not put your talents to use by rebuilding the Furillian habitats?”

    “I suppose so,” said Nofron wearily.

    He turned away from the window, and still folding his arms, he looked grimly at Ezri. The silence lengthened and it was apparent that Nofron was building up the courage to say something probably quite personal to Ezri. “It's ironic that the thing I've wanted most has now come and now I've got to confront the problems I've been running away from.”

    Ezri remained motionless, and Nofron had the look of a man who was lamenting over a major mistake and agonising over how to rectify it. “What do you mean?” she said cautiously.

    Nofron’s eyes became rimmed from pain. “I became a marauder so I could ignore the pain and grief I was feeling at the time.”

    Now Ezri felt uncomfortable, for some reason people had a habit of opening up to her, and she couldn’t explain why. “You lost a member of your family?” she said gently.

    Nofron bowed his head slightly. “It was my son Hiltin, he was only nine and he died from an waterborne illness. My wife Narfareea loved our son very deeply. I remember when he was ill, my wife stayed at his bedside constantly.”

    Briefly Nofron smiled in a reminiscent manner. “She put all of her being into looking after Hiltin, it was two months, two months of watching my son slowly die. Of course Narfareea refused to accept that our son would die.”

    The smile faded replaced with a miserable expression on Nofron’s face. “Finally when Hiltin did die she was devastated, Hiltin was our only child and to lose him was unbearable to her and to me but I didn't show that at the time. I couldn't stand seeing my wife so upset, she was constantly in tears and sobbing, I just couldn't cope.”

    Nofron closed his eyes, it seemed what he had to say next was highly painful for him. “So I left her and decided to become a marauder, and that was four years ago…”

    “I'm so sorry,” whispered Ezri.

    She felt sick because she didn’t want to hear this, but it seemed Nofron had reached an inflexion point where he could no longer keep quiet about his true feelings. It was just Ezri’s bad luck that she had to be witness to this.

    It seemed the more Nofron talked the more of his inner secrets came spilling out. Ezri wondered if Nofron was opening up now to someone who would understand just to ease his guilty conscience.

    “Don't be,” said Nofron. “I left her because I couldn't come to terms with the loss, I was hurt and upset but I didn't have the courage to admit it to her. Instead I used the anger that I felt to suppress my pain, that's why I became a marauder to ignore the responsibilities to my wife.”

    “What happened to Narfareea?” asked Ezri, though she wasn’t she wanted to hear the answer.

    “I did some checking and found out that she was still living in Viyara, but I can't come back to her, it's to late for that.”

    Tears briefly built up in Nofron’s eyes before he wiped them away with his hand.

    Now Ezri realised that Nofron was indirectly asking for advice, but why he was doing so was something Ezri couldn’t figure out. Perhaps she looked like the family type, but she knew her record and knowledge on love, relationships and family was patchy at best. For she had had some rotten luck and bad experiences with all three of those things. But one thing did come to Ezri’s mind; that truth, honesty and openness were the bedrock behind every successful marriage.

    “Maybe so,” said Ezri reluctantly. “But she still deserves the truth and an explanation for your behaviour.”

    Nofron sniffed, and as he did so he grimaced in an ugly manner. “And that's the worst part, Sotron told me on numerous times that she has forgiven me and that she only wants me to come home.”

    “So what's stopping you now?” asked Ezri, she realised she was coming close to touching upon Nofron’s biggest personal problem.

    “Because I told Sotron to tell Narfareea that I'd only come back when the strip mines are closed down, and now they are...”

    There was silence. Nofron looked pale and clammy, for such a tough guy the matter with his wife was really hurting, and tearing, him to pieces.

    “You're afraid of returning,” said Ezri slowly, she shook her head trying to clear some of the disbelieve from her mind. “I don't get it, for a man who has risked his life as a marauder and faced death so many times, you can't come back to your wife?”

    “As I said before I've got to confront the problems I've been running away from and that scares me,” said Nofron, his eyes were wide whether from fear or grief Ezri wasn’t sure.

    Despite Nofron’s confusion, Ezri had a simple question to ask him, one that would truly determine Nofron’s feelings for his wife. “Tell me what would you regret more: leaving your wife or coming to terms with the grief you felt for losing your son?”

    She gazed seriously into Nofron’s eyes. “Do you really want to lose your wife?” she asked fervently.

    There was another silence and Nofron looked at Ezri, in a pained stare. “No...” he said in a choked voice.

    “Then you know what to do...” said Ezri lightly.

    Although nothing seemed to change in Nofron's face, perceptively she could tell that Nofron was coming to an understanding about what he had to do. “Are you ready to travel down to Furillia?”

    It was a question with two meanings but Nofron nodded nonetheless. The pain was now receding from his face, replaced with a serious determination in his eyes.

    Ezri lead the way while Nofron followed slightly behind her, as the two headed to the shuttlebay.
     
  15. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 8, part 3

    Day 9, 1100 hours

    It was another bumpy ride in the shuttle for Ezri as she sat in the cockpit, watching the orange streaks of light blow against the front of the shuttle. Even with Max’s skills at the helm, the shuttle craft rocked to and fro. This was starting to make Ezri space sick, and she took out a hypospray from her trouser pocket and pressed it to her neck. In a few minutes time her upset stomach would have settled down.

    Being space sick still occasionally embarrassed Ezri, she was the captain of Starfleet’s most heavily armed warship and she still occasionally felt space sick at times. After ten minutes of descent, the rocking stopped and the shuttle was now flying a few kilometres above the valley where Viyara was located.

    When the shuttle came to a rest in the centre of Viyara’s square. Max left his station and came over to Nofron, he held his hand out to Nofron. “I didn't get the chance back on the Defiant, but I want to thank you for saving my life and protecting me and Holo back in that strip mine. Without you I wouldn't have made it out of there alive.”

    Ezri watched Nofron closely and saw him reluctantly take Max’s hand and shook it, for Nofron it was very obvious that hand shakes were alien to him.

    “You would have the done the same for me,” said Nofron.

    When the three walked out, Ezri noticed there was a smaller crowd gathered around. It seemed seeing a Starfleet shuttle land in the centre of Viyara, had become something of a novelty for the villagers.

    While Nofron disappeared into the crowd, Sotron was in front of the rest. Gratitude shone from his eyes, he was looking at Ezri with something like pride. “Captain, Furillia is in your debt, you helped us remove RH Mining from this world, if there is anything you need just ask for it.”

    Ezri didn’t need anything per se, but she appreciated Sotron’s generosity. “All I want is for relations between the Furillians and the Federation to improve, though admittedly that seems unlikely.”

    The smile disappeared from Sotron’s face and in that moment the obvious gulf between the Furillians and the Federation was all to apparent. “I think it's best that Furillia remains isolated,” said Sotron cautiously. “Though of course whether that is possible when alien races like your own want our resources remains to be seen.”

    Sotron’s gloomy outlook seemed unlikely to Ezri. “Trust me,” she said confidently. “The Cardassians, Ferengi and the Federation will be avoiding the Badlands. All three came close to an all-out war, as long as all three sides feel that the political dangers outweigh the strategic advantages, then your world won't be seeing any alien visitors for a long time.”

    This seemed to uplift Sotron’s mood. “Then let us hope it stays that way for a long time, perhaps by then Furillia will be more prepared for races like your own arriving in our territory.”

    Something changed in Sotron’s face, it was like an aura of finality and Ezri knew the conversation would be coming to an end.

    “Goodbye captain,” said Sotron eventually. “I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for us.”

    “Good luck with rebuilding your world,” said Ezri, as she smiled at Sotron.

    With nothing more to say, Ezri turned back and walked up the landing ramp to the shuttle.

    Max was leaning against one of the hatch's pillars, his arms were folded.

    “I think Mr Weatherby it’s time to go back to DS9.”

    Max though looked disappointed. “I don’t suppose there is any chance of returning here? It’s such a beautiful planet-well the bits that haven’t been strip mined are-and the people once you know them, and once they trust you, are quite friendly.”

    Ezri sighed, she felt the same way as Max, but she didn’t share Max’s optimism about returning. “To be honest Mr Weatherby I don’t think the Furillians ever fully trusted us. I think they don’t want anymore offworlders visiting their planet, and from their position I can understand why.”

    When Max had returned to the cockpit, and piloted the shuttle out of the planet’s atmosphere, Ezri sat back in the comfy chair and remained silent. All she could think about were the Furillians, and she hoped that everything did work out for them. For it was no more than they deserved…


    ***


    Day 10, 1500 hours

    With the Defiant docked at DS9, as Ezri walked through the docking bay she had completely forgotten about breaking Starfleet orders. However the sight of admiral Ross standing outside the docking bay doors reminded Ezri instantly about what she had done. She was certain that this was the end of her career, but she had no regrets about her actions in the last seven days.

    Stopping at the doorway Ezri directly confronted Ross. “Are you here to court martial me admiral?”

    “We’ll discuss that matter in your office,” said Ross curtly.

    His expression was unreadable, he gestured with his hand for Ezri to follow him. She walked by his side, while two security guards took up the rear. What she was going to face she wasn’t sure, the fact that Ross hadn’t arrested her on the spot said a thousand things to Ezri.

    Once inside Ops, the two security guards waited outside of Ezri’s office. Inside the office the two came to a stop, facing each other in front of the desk.

    “Has the RH Mining company been closed down?” asked Ezri calmly, she didn’t give a damn what Ross thought of her and she acted accordingly in a casual manner.

    Ross barely moved his lips, it seemed he was restraining himself from baring down hard upon Ezri. “Yes it has, the Ferengi have withdrawn their support of RH Mining, and the Federation is confiscating all of RH Mining's financial accounts... The rest of RH Mining's operations in the Furillian star system have been closed down. I've also sent Federation supply ships to provide the Furillians with additional aid to clean up the environmental damage.”

    A somewhat guilty expression flitted across his face. “It is the least we can do to help them.”

    There was pretence from Ross, and Ezri couldn’t stand this, she just wanted Ross’s verdict on her breaking orders. “If you going to court martial me than just do it,” she said in a defiant tone of voice. “I will not stand here and explain myself, I broke your orders for ethical reasons.”

    Rage broke across Ross’s face, Ezri seemed to have pulled a nerve. “You did more than break orders,” shouted Ross. “You absconded with the Defiant, engaged in planetary affairs outside of the Federation, broke the Prime Directive, destroyed a vital strategic interest and endangered the lives of hundreds of Federation citizens!”

    He paused briefly glowering at Ezri. “Need I go on?”

    Ezri’s face was full of mock understanding, she took an almost perverse pride in angering Ross. “I think that sums it up,” she said lightly and casually. “Permission to speak freely admiral?”

    “Granted,” said Ross sounding gruff.

    The casual aura Ezri was portraying vanished, she became deeply serious because it was time for her to reprimand Ross. “I broke orders to save lives,” she said fiercely. “And to stop RH Mining decimating Furillia! Hundreds of thousands of Furillians were being harmed by contaminated water, and thousands died because of it! The company is to blame for what it did, it broke the law and the high ethical standards which the Federation and Starfleet demands from its citizens regarding humanitarian conduct and laws. I was simply preserving the Federation’s moral integrity.”

    Ross started shouting again. “You broke orders and went against the chain of command!”

    Briefly his nostrils flared before then calming down, he looked standoffish as if he recognised Ezri was right but he couldn’t quite admit it. “But if I were in your position I would have done the same thing.”

    Suddenly Ezri understood why the Starfleet ships had arrived in the Furillian star system. “Is that why you sent the fleet to Furillia, to protect Federation honour?”

    The anger had all but gone from Ross’s face. “Something like that,” said Ross with a sigh.

    He looked at Ezri honestly, and there was no pretence or standoffish in his stance, just a somewhat humble and apologetic expression on his face. “You made me realise that the Federation is based upon principles, and they can’t be waived when circumstances become unfavourable to us.”

    One of Ross’s hands rummaged in a trouser pocket and he pulled out a medal. “I'm giving you the Starfleet medal of honour for your outstanding bravery and valour in protecting Furillia. Though you deliberately disobeyed orders, you put your life on the line to help others, and risked everything to protect the Furillians.”

    Slowly Ezri took the medal, her face was full of surprise, if Ross was going to punish her why had he just giving her Starfleet’s most prestigious medal? “Thank you admiral,” she said, before giving him a puzzled stare. “Does this mean I’m not going to be court martialled?”

    Ross bowed his head slightly. “There will be no charges brought against you. But I must caution you captain, if you ever do disobey orders again and abscond with the Defiant you will be court martialled.”

    There was a menacing tone to his voice, and Ross looked at Ezri very sternly. “Do I make myself clear?”

    Ezri stiffened up, recognising the verbal chastisement. “Yes sir,” she said seriously.

    She paused before asking a question that had suddenly come to her. “What will the Federation do now that it has lost a major supplier of primary minerals?”

    Ross simply shrugged. “It's a big galaxy I’m certain there will be other locations where there are massive deposits of dilithium, duranium and other minerals.”

    Ross then walked out and was halfway to the door, when he stopped and looked at Ezri. Surprisingly there was something like pride and admiration on his face. “You performed exemplary deeds out in the field Dax, it would take a lot of courage to do what you did, and for that I commend you.”

    With that Ross left the office leaving Ezri somewhat confused but at the same time reassured that she wasn’t the only captain or admiral out there who took the Federation’s moral integrity seriously.

    The medal was still clutched in her hand. No doubt because of this she would become well known and admired for her actions, but Ezri thought she didn’t really deserve such attention. She was getting all the glory and admiration, when really it should have gone to her crew, and especially to those that had died under her command.
     
  16. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 9, part 1

    Day 10, 1600 hours

    One of the things that Ezri had been most looking forward to was talking to Harding. Upon arrival Harding had been placed in a detainment cell, where in Ezri’s opinion he rightly belonged.

    She along with Odo, walked into the detainment block. Inside the room and directly in front of her was Harding, he seemed uncomfortable with the hard seat, and this pleased Ezri. “Take's a bit of getting used to doesn't it living in a detainment cell?” she said almost gleefully. “It's far removed from the creature comforts you're used to.”

    There was a very sour and sullen look on Harding’s face. “I wish I had never contacted the Federation,” he hissed. “Of all the ships they had to bring it had to be the Defiant...”

    Odo let a a brief 'huh' of amusement. “Tell that to the magistrate,” he said nastily. “Perhaps if you plead guilty he may knock a few years off those multiple life sentences!”

    A bewildered look then came across Harding’s face. “But I didn't kill anyone!” he said in a tone of voice that implied he was innocent. “And I didn't use the Furillians as forced labourers to work the mines! It was the Furillians who agreed to sign the contract I offered to them!”

    All the amusement vanished from Ezri, she stepped forward towards Harding’s cell. “Do you know how many Furillians died from illnesses relating to contaminated water that came from your company's strip mines?”

    Her every syllable was laced with anger, and it seemed to cow Harding. Ezri was determined to say her bit, because she despised Harding for what he did to the Furillians.

    “It came to nearly 250000!” she said loudly.

    She decided to change tack and really try to hurt Harding, if he still had a conscience then what Ezri was about to say was going to hurt him. “When you ordered the expansion of the strip mines did you stop to consider the ecological consequences?”

    A deeply uneasy look appeared on Harding’s face. “No,” he said quietly.

    “And did you do anything to minimise the ecological damage?”

    “No,” said Harding again, his head was lowered in apparent shame.

    “And when it became apparent how many Furillians were becoming ill from drinking contaminated water, did you even think about closing the strip mines to stop more contaminated water seeping into the water table?”

    Now Harding looked plain wretched, it seemed he was feeling remorse for his actions. “No I didn't,” he said in a somewhat choked voice.

    “Of course not,” said Ezri furiously. “Because you were more interested in making money than worrying about how it was made! And that is why you are responsible for all those deaths, and why you are facing charges of gross negligence and why after you are charged, you will spend the rest of your life locked away in a penal colony!”

    Harding leapt off the seat and came inches to the force field containing him, he looked absolutely desperate, his eyes seemed almost mad. “I couldn't do anything to close down the strip mines!” he shouted. “It was Strart the chief executive of Depton Mining Inc who wanted the expansion of the strip mines, he forced me to break the contract my company had with the Furillians!”

    Odo interrupted, and he was looking at Harding in a most disgusted manner. “That's not true because I checked the company records,” growled Odo. “You contacted Strart because you wanted the firepower necessary to frighten the Furillians into submission while you decimated their world! You thought it was an opportunity to make money, but it seemed you sold your soul to the devil.”

    “So I lied,” said Harding in an uncaring voice. “I saw an opportunity to make money and I took it! I just didn't count on a Starfleet captain to be so determined and bloody-minded to destroy my company. However you captain broke orders and destroyed a vital Federation strategic asset!”

    He pointed at Ezri furiously, seemingly deeply aggrieved by what he perceived to be unfair treatment. “Shouldn't you be in here with me facing a court martial for breaking orders and doing serious damage to Federation property?”

    Ezri though simply smiled in a superior way, and she removed the Starfleet medal of honour from her trouser pocket. It was time to really rub it into Harding. “I'm off the hook,” she said in a satisfied tone of voice. “In fact I got this medal for outstanding bravery! It seems the Federation rewards people who do the right thing...”

    With one last look of Harding, and noting the fury on his face, Ezri left the room while Odo followed her out. She took pleasure from infuriating Harding, but admittedly it did little to ease her regrets concerning the deaths of seven crew members under her command.


    ***


    Day 10, 2000 hours

    Inside the living room to her quarters, Ezri sat down on the wide sofa, she was simply thinking and she had been doing a lot of that in her spare time. When the door chimed Ezri became aware of her surroundings and sat up a little straighter on the sofa. “Enter!” she said.

    Kira came into the room, her right hand gripped onto a padd. Her face looked surprisingly grim as if she were the barer of bad news. “Here's the report on the Defiant's repairs and the list of crew members who lost their lives on the last... mission.”

    Ezri took the padd from out of Kira’s outstretched hand, and simply read the names of those that had died. Now it was twelve names and Ezri guessed that Bashir wasn't able to treat them of their injuries. She was so distracted by this that she forgot to dismiss Kira.

    However Kira was simply standing their watching the reaction on Ezri’s face.

    “Isn't that the Starfleet medal of honour?” asked Kira, pointing to the medal that was lying on top of a stand next to the sofa.

    Against her will, Ezri tore her gaze from the names to look at Kira. “It is strangely enough,” she said sarcastically. “I break orders, destroy a vital strategic resource for the Federation, and they reward me with a medal!”

    An equally sarcastic expression came upon Kira’s face, though she did look slightly amused. “It's good to know Starfleet appreciates what you had to do.”

    A more serious expression came on Ezri’s face. “But was it worth it though, breaking orders to protect Furillia from RH Mining?”

    Kira looked rather neutral, possibly to hide her true emotions. “The Furillians would definitely think it was worth it.”

    A sigh came out of Ezri’s mouth, it wasn’t the answer she was looking for from Kira. “But the Federation came so close to war with the Cardassian Union, I nearly triggered that war. I should have spotted that danger...”

    Walking over to the sofa Kira sat down, and this was the action of a friend not a fellow officer. She looked intently at the side of Ezri’s face. “You regret losing so many people under your command don't you?”

    Ezri couldn’t look at Kira, she instead kept her gaze to the floor. “The worst part is I have to explain to their families how they died.” Now Ezri turned to look at Kira, and she couldn’t help not look anguished. “Nerys what do I say to their families? They died because of my actions!”

    Kira nodded slowly before answering. “Yes they did,” she said quietly, before her gaze sharpened up. “But those crew members knew exactly what they were getting themselves into.”

    This did nothing to console Ezri. “But I feel so guilty for their deaths,” she said miserably. “There's supposed to be a professional detachment from one's subordinates but that's virtually impossible to maintain.”

    These words seemed to resonate with Kira, something in her eyes seemed to suggest that Kira was remembering all the battles she had fought in. “I know what you are getting at, they're colleagues or comrades take your pick. But these are the responsibilities of command, you and I both know that.”

    Ezri returned her gaze back to the floor. “It doesn't make it any easier,” she said quietly.

    Glancing up to the ceiling, Ezri let out an airy laugh. “You know looking back, I have no idea what I was thinking when I decided to help the Furillians, was it the right course of action to take?”

    A pitiful look came on Kira’s face, she seemed to feel what Ezri was feeling at the moment. “I can't tell you whether you are right or wrong, but I personally think that closing down the strip mines on Furillia was the correct thing to do. Thousands of Furillian lives have been saved and now Furillia can start to repair the damage wrought by RH Mining. I think that is a decent outcome even if it comes at the price of twelve Starfleet officers.”

    “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...” commented Ezri in a distant tone of voice.

    “Perhaps,” said Kira cautiously.

    She then placed a hand on Ezri’s right knee, to comfort Ezri, it was a very friendly action. “If it makes you feel any better, I will be praying for the twelve officers who lost their lives, I'm certain the Prophets will guide them.”

    Gratitude shone from Ezri’s eyes. “Thanks,” she said softly.

    Kira gave Ezri’s knee a brief squeeze before she got up. There was an unspoken goodbye between the two, but nothing more needed to be said. As she watched Kira leave the room, Ezri was deeply grateful for having such a good friend, someone she could talk to.

    With Jadzia the friendship with Kira was more of companionship and mutual respect, mingled with some fun, humour and gossip. Twenty years on, that type of friendship had been retained with Ezri, though now the friendship was turning into something far more deeper...
     
  17. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 1, part 2

    Day 11, 1100 hours

    It had been two days since Nofron had returned to Viyara, in that time he was building up the courage to return to his wife. Nofron had no more excuses left for not visiting Narfareea, all that stopped him was his fear of what Narfareea would say to him.

    Finally unwilling to delay any longer, Nofron approached the house that was once his home. He opened the low front gate, and walked up the stone pathway to the front door. Knocking twice on the door, he waited for Narfareea to reply.

    A moment later the door opened, and it revealed Narfareea. Nofron had forgotten how beautiful she looked and wondered why he had ever left her. Narfareea though simply looked shocked at seeing Nofron standing there.

    Doing his best to act as normally as possible, Nofron found the courage to simply talk to his wife. “Can I come in?” he asked hopefully.

    The shock had worn off Narfareea’s face, it was replaced with a cold expression. “What makes you think you can come in?” she said icily.

    Unable to control his emotions, Nofron looked at Narfareea pleadingly, the regret poured from his face. “I'm so sorry, I-”

    “I don't want to hear your excuses,” said Narfareea sounding dismissive. “Why did you come back?”

    Nofron simply stared in a loving way into Narfareea’s eyes. “Because I still love you, I deeply regret leaving you.”

    For a moment Narfareea’s frosty expression warmed somewhat, before returning with full force. “Kneel,” she said sternly.

    At once Nofron got to his knees. It was Furillian tradition for the husband to prostrate himself before his wife, after he had made a major faux pas, and to beg for her forgiveness. It was considered in Furillia that the women were far more wiser and trustworthy than the men, and at this moment Nofron could see exactly why. For he had made a huge faux pas, and severely hurt Narfareea’s feelings.

    “Lower,” said Narfareea harshly, her mouth was taut with anger.

    Humiliation almost devoured Nofron’s heart, he rested onto his hands and knees. He had never felt this bad in his life but he knew that he deserved this punishment. Looking up to Narfareea, tears were pouring from his eyes and he was virtually begging her to forgive him. It was the ultimate humiliation on Furillia for a husband to prostrate himself outside the doorstep of his home to his wife.

    However it seemed Narfareea took no satisfaction in seeing Nofron grovel. The anger was almost gone from her face, and replaced with sadness. “Why did you leave me?”

    Nofron couldn’t look up to her anyway, for it was to painful to do so. “Because I was afraid of showing my emotions to you, I wanted to act strong in front of you, but seeing you grieve just made things worse for me. I couldn't stand the pain that's why I ran away from you.”

    “Stand up,” said Narfareea gently.

    Slowly Nofron rose to his feet, he noticed the look of yearning in Narfareea’s eyes. Even after all that he had done to Narfareea, she still wanted him back in her life. Nofron knew that many other Furillian women would have made their husbands beg and plead for far longer. However Sotron was right, somehow Narfareea had forgiven him, and this just made Nofron feel even more guilty.

    Tears had started to well in Narfareea’s eyes. “If I upset you because I was so grief-stricken then I'm sorry,” she said softly.

    “Don't...” moaned Nofron, how could she do this to him? “Don't apologise, the fault resides with me.”

    Nofron looked intently into Narfareea’s eyes, to show just how seriously he considered their relationship. “But I just want you to know that I'm here now and despite my absence, I want to be a part of your life again, and I promise never to make the same mistake again.”

    Narfareea made some sort of sobbing sound, before hugging Nofron very tightly. “I've missed you,” she said whispering into his ear.

    She let go of Nofron and held his hand with one of her own. Pulling him in, Nofron followed without resistance, through the door and once he was inside the home, Narfareea closed the door with her other hand.

    Instinctively Nofron moved forward expecting to kiss his wife, but Narfareea's free hand blocked his mouth. Suddenly Nofron realised he was going to have to do a lot more to woo Narfareea.

    She let go of his hand, and moved away from him, as if teasing him. “Before I even think about you kissing me, you have a lot of jobs to do.”

    Narfareea was scrutinising Nofron, as if wondering what she could force him to do. “First of all get rid of that ridiculous beard and clean yourself up!” she said fiercely.

    Automatically Nofron’s hand went to his beard, he liked having that beard, but duty called…

    However Narfareea was far from finished with Nofron. “Then I want you to scrub this house down and clean it until it is spotless. Finally for tea I want you to cook my favourite dish, Stomartian stew, and it hast to be just right. I trust you remember the recipe, and if you do all of that and I feel satisfied, then maybe just maybe you can lie in my bed.”

    Staring at Nofron defiantly, it was as if Narfareea expected him to complain and protest, but Nofron was wise enough to comply without resistance.

    “Is that understood?” she said commandingly.

    “Yes,” said Nofron humbly.

    Nofron’s torment was far from over, Narfareea then looked at him very seriously, to remind him that she still resented what he had done. “I may have forgiven you but I haven't forgotten what you did. When you left it felt like I had lost Hiltin all over again, and I don't ever want to experience that kind of grieve again...”

    She paused, and sniffed the air, she grimaced somewhat at was apparently Nofron’s body odour. “One more thing, I do hope you know where the bathroom is?”

    Nofron laughed nervously, before nodding, he was expecting Narfareea to pile on some more tasks and duties but there was simply silence. Narfareea was looking at him, and in that brief moment he realised she still loved him, and he could have sworn that she had given him a small smile.

    Narfareea left the living room and Nofron headed up to the bathroom. The house had barely changed, and memories of what it was like four years ago came back to Nofron. It was a time when he had a family, a happy family, perhaps there was a chance Narfareea would want another child or two. In any case there was plenty of time for deciding that, Narfareea would remain child baring for many years to come.

    It was good to be home again but Nofron felt terribly guilty for leaving Narfareea, it was something that was going to haunt him and Narfareea for years. Right now though Nofron looked forward to proving himself worthy of Narfareea's affections. He would make this house spotless, and afterwards he would cook Narfareea the best Stomartian stew of his life.

    Maybe afterwards Narfareea would be impressed enough to allow him into her bed. Physically he was desperately longing to hold Narfareea's body and kiss her...


    ***


    Day 23, 0900 hours

    Standing on top of Fraginar's Point, Sotron watched the sun steadily descend as it hovered above the western side of Tiyona valley. It had been two weeks since the strip mines were closed down, and already things had changed remarkably in Viyara.

    For one thing, thanks to the Federation supplies and equipment to clean up the water, the horrible acrid smell had finally disappeared from Viyara after about a week. To smell fresh air in the village, was a truly wonderful experience for Sotron. The villagers looked healthier and even the crops seemed to have picked up thanks to the now clean water flowing through Viyara.

    However it had taken ten years of hardship and suffering to get to this point. Only now did Sotron realise just how grim and miserable things were, they had all just got simply used to the difficult conditions. Now Sotron wondered how they ever put up with the smell and the contaminated water. Of course there were the people who given their lives trying to protect Furillia, Sotron would never forget the 54 villagers who died. He was determined to make sure that their sacrifice was not in vain.

    Now came the time for rebuilding and for the healing process to commence. It was a sign of the times that there were now hardly any marauders left, even Nofron had given up the wild life, and had now returned back to his wife. More than anything Sotron felt really glad that Nofron had done this, at times when Sotron had talked to Narfareea, he couldn’t help but feel anger for what Nofron had done.

    But that was the past and looking ahead to the future Sotron knew what his next long term project was. Looking down at Tiyona valley, most of it was barren rock, Sotron though was determined to change this. The Federation had been kind enough to provide soil reclimators and numerous replicator units. Using all of this equipment, the first task would be rebuilding the layers of soil and planting basic plants and grasses to bind it together.

    This would take years but when it was done, the Tiyona valley would become inhabitable again and then the trees could be planted. After about fifty years the trees would be fully grown and the Tiyona valley would finally be restored to its prime ten years ago. By that point Sotron would be an old man, and he hoped that he would live to see those days.

    One person that he would always remember was that Trill Starfleet captain, Ezri Dax. Without her none of what had happened would have been possible. Her actions showed to Sotron that perhaps the Federation wasn’t as opportunistic, manipulative and negligent as he first imagined it to be.

    Even so it would be a long time before Sotron would ever feel comfortable with having off-worlders coming to Furillia. What Furillia had were once beautiful habitats and landscapes, and they were something that every Furillian was proud of. No off-worlder could ever understand the Furillian desire to protect nature and to work with it as much as possible.

    Indeed such a desire would be the reason why Furillia would remain in its isolated state for centuries to come. There was always the danger that off-worlders would come back like the Cardassians or the Ferengi, and try to exploit Furillia’s resources once again. Hopefully by that time Furillia could properly defend itself from those aliens.

    This threat remained in the back of Sotron’s mind, and somehow he doubted that Furillia could remain being isolated without some off-worlders coming to investigate. All he had was hope, and a cautious sense of optimism that things would work out just fine. Ironically Sotron realised that perhaps the greatest protection Furillia could have for the preservation of its habitats was Federation membership.

    It had been a Federation company that had defiled Furillia, and yet Starfleet, a Federation organisation, had helped to protect Furillia. Maybe that was Furillia’s future to be a member of the Federation. Sotron knew that the government would be thinking about Federation membership and how Starfleet would be a powerful defence against anyone trying to extract Furillia’s natural resources.

    The possibility of Federation membership was just that; a possibility. Despite everything that had happened Sotron could only hope for the best, and maybe Furillia’s luck had now permanently improved.

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

    Well that is the end of Gold Rush. Feel free to comment, review, criticise (constructively) this story, and the other stories of my series.

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

    Season 1:

    Secrets and Lies

    Shallow Rights


    Vacation

    Bad Blood

    Outlier

    Devolution

    Gold Rush

    Medical Pariah

    Commitment

    Ménage à Trois

    Tip of the Iceberg


    Season 2:

    Survival

    High Stakes

    Running the Gauntlet

    The Price of Sanity
     
  18. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    I'm taking a five day break from publishing these stories. On the Friday the publishing resumes, and I'll publishing the next five stories...
     
  19. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Here is the next story Medical Pariah

    Summary: When the Defiant discovers an abandoned Dominion retrovirus factory, an awayteam comprising of Kira, Max, Nog, Holo and two engineers are sent down to salvage spare components. However when Kira and Max accidently trip a security device, a deadly virus is released leaving the humanoid members of the away team to fight for their lives. While Bashir struggles to find a cure, the away team are quaranteened to a shuttle. In there Holo must care for the away team, while he watches them all slowly die...

    Medical Pariah, Chapter 1, part 1

    Stardate: 71111.2


    Captain's log, Stardate 71110.5. The Defiant is returning to Deep Space Nine after a weeklong mission patrolling the Federation colonies of Prophet's Landing, New Bajor and seven newly established colonies close to the Dominion border. No Jem'Hadar ships were detected next to the border. I take this as a good sign, as it seems the Dominion are more focused upon internal matters, predominantly the issue of Jem'Hadar dissatisfaction about the Founders.


    ***


    Day 1, 1400 hours

    Megan and Kira were walking along a corridor travelling to the bridge. They had just been in the Mess Hall and the two had had lunch together. Afterwards Megan couldn't help but notice that Kira looked more cheerful than usual. “You look pleased about something,” commented Megan.

    Kira smiled to herself as she walked along. “I'm just glad to be returning home.”

    “And?” inquired Megan, sensing another reason for Kira’s good mood.

    “And last night Odo contacted me,” said Kira, and the smile widened on her face. “He said that Mia won the Bajoran youth excellence award in mathematics and science, for her research on the sub-space rift just outside the Bajoran star system.”

    “You kept that quiet,” said Megan sounding slightly surprised.

    Kira shrugged off Megan’s comment. “Oh Mia wanted her award to be kept quiet so that she could tell you herself.”

    “I'm proud of her,” said Megan. “She wanted to accompany me on a mission to the sub-space rift six weeks ago. I thought it would be a good opportunity for Mia to apply her knowledge to a real scientific mission, and she really proved herself.”

    The smile faded from Kira’s face. “Without you mentoring my daughter, Mia's accomplishment wouldn't have been possible,” she said seriously.

    This wasn’t exactly true, and Megan felt Kira was overestimating her influence on Mia. “All I did was motivate her,” said Megan somewhat humbly. “It was Mia who did all the hard work, not me. At the rate she's going I reckon she'll be applying for Starfleet Academy sometime in the next three years.”

    Kira glanced at Megan, and looked surprised to hear this. “You think so?”

    “Definitely,” said Megan confidently. “Mia hasn't exactly told me her intentions, but she does have a keen interest in Starfleet. Whatever she does with her abilities, she has a bright future ahead of her...”

    The two lapsed into silence, and Megan thought some more about Mia’s accomplishment. She was more than proud of Mia, more like relieved to know that Mia was finally putting her talents to good use. Megan considered letting Mia go on more scientific away missions, for it seemed to be doing Mia some considerable good.

    Close to the doorway by the bridge, Kira came to a stop and Megan obliged, she wondered what else Kira wanted to talk about.

    “One more thing,” said Kira. “Odo is throwing a party in our quarters tonight at 1900 hours, and I just wondered if you wanted to attend it?”

    “That would be great...” said Megan happily, she felt honoured to be invited to such an event.

    The two women resumed their walking, they entered the bridge and then manned their respective stations.

    Some moments after Megan and Kira had sat down at their stations, Max spoke up. “Captain I'm detecting a planet which is emitting unusual tachyon readings, it is point seventh of a light year away from our position.”

    Ezri looked vaguely interested by this weird phenomenon. “Where exactly are the tachyons coming from?”

    Max’s fingers tapped on a few more commands to triangulate the location of the tachyon particles. “They're coming from the southern tip of one of the continents around the equator, whatever is down there must be very geologically unusual.”

    “Colonel,” said Ezri turning her head slightly to the left. “Check for any Dominion ships in the planet's star system.”

    “Scanning,” said Kira, a look of concentration came upon her face. “There are no Dominion ships, or any other ship for that matter, it appears this planet could be deserted”

    “I'd say we should check out what is generating these tachyon readings,” said Max eagerly.

    There was one moment of hesitation as Ezri’s face became mask-like and unreadable.
    “Very well, we can make a quick detour, set a new course to the planet.”


    ***


    Day 1, 1530 hours

    As the Defiant approached the planet, Ezri felt a slight trickle of scientific curiosity run through her. Her former host Jadzia had been a scientist, and it was thanks to Jadzia that Ezri had a solid grasp of physics, biology and sub-space mechanics. Currently Ezri was wondering what natural phenomena could cause tachyon readings from this planet, presuming of course that the tachyons were naturally generated.

    The Defiant came out of warp and on the view screen was the image of the planet. It looked almost earth-like though it had substantially more landmass than Earth. There were dozens of interconnecting continents and this suggested to Ezri that this planet had many more fault lines and plates than Earth did.

    “Going to thrusters captain,” reported Max. “We’re now in a standard geosynchronous orbit.”

    Now came the interesting part for Ezri; finding out what was causing the tachyons. “Ms Felpes can the sensors determine what is generating the tachyons?”

    Megan was carefully studying the sensor data, after a moment she reported back to Ezri. “It's a cloaking field of a hemispherical shape covering an area of about 75 kilometres square, there could be anything down there...”

    At the mention of the cloaking field, alarm bells went off inside Ezri’s head, this was once Dominion territory and had the Defiant encountered a Dominion base? “Red alert,” she said commandingly. “Raise shields. Colonel check again for any signs of ships, ion trails, anything at all.”

    While Kira was busy scanning away, Megan didn’t look to concerned about the situation. “Captain,” said Megan calmly, “I don't think there is anyone on that planet.”

    Ezri thought that Megan was joking with her, and she fought to keep the disbelief out of her voice. “And why do you say that?”

    Megan turned around in her chair to address Ezri. “Because we can detect the cloaking field, a properly functioning cloaking field doesn't release the amount of tachyons the sensors have been detecting. Whatever is generating that cloaking field is starting to break down, which suggests the generator hasn't been repaired in a long time because no one is on this planet to repair it.”

    Though it was a sound argument, Ezri wasn’t going to take at face value the assumption that this planet was deserted. “That may be true but I'm not taking my chances, if we knew exactly what was behind the cloaking field...”

    Moving her head to the right she addressed Megan. “Would it be possible to disable the cloaking field?”

    Briefly Megan’s eyes moved upwards as she thought about Ezri’s question. “We would need to modify the Defiant's deflector dish to generate significant amount of anti-protons to neutralise the cloaking field. Once the field is down, we can then disable the generator.”

    “Do it,” said Ezri firmly. “Mr Weatherby you can assist her.”

    While Megan and Max left the bridge to go to the engine room, Ezri stared once more at the planet shown on the view screen. She was going to get to the bottom of this mystery…
     
  20. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 1, part 2

    Day 1, 1715 hours

    It had taken Max less than two hours to modify the deflector dish, the work proceeded a lot more quickly thanks to Megan’s expertise. Max was always impressed by Megan’s almost encyclopaedic knowledge of physics, astronomical phenomena, sub-space and quantum mechanics.

    With the deflector dish ready, Max returned to the bridge. He was standing by the science console where Megan was stationed. Even Bashir was on the bridge, which showed just how interested everyone was about the discovery of this cloaking field, and what it hid.

    When Ezri arrived and sat down in the commander's chair, Max knew it was time to put his modifications of the deflector dish to work.

    From behind his back Ezri addressed him. “Is the deflector dish ready Mr Weatherby?”

    “It is captain,” said Max, and he glanced briefly at Megan. “Activate the deflector dish Megan.”

    While Megan was readying the deflector dish, briefly Max was amused by the fact that only he could get away with addressing Megan by her first name while on duty. It was a sign of their friendship and how much Megan liked him.

    “The deflector dish is ready captain!” said Megan.

    “Fire!” ordered Ezri.

    A slight hum came from the ship as the deflector dish powered up and then discharged. From the view screen an orange beam could be seen and it was laced with little flecks of white light. The beam directly hit the tiny blue cloaking field which could just be seen on the view screen. With a small flash the blue cloaking field disappeared.

    “Captain,” said Max. “The cloaking field has been deactivated!”

    Max returned to his comm console, and awaited further orders from Ezri.

    “Ms Felpes,” said Ezri, “scan the surface in the area around the former cloaking field, see if you can locate the cloaking field generator.”

    There was a small pause on Megan’s part. “I’ve found the cloaking field generator, the coordinates are two five six mark one four five.”

    “Can you disable it?” asked Ezri.

    “I can,” said Megan. “I’m sending an EM signal aimed directly at the field generator, the generator should be down in a matter of seconds... It’s down captain, I’m deactivating the deflector.”

    From behind his back, Max could tell that Ezri was deeply interested by what this planet contained. He also knew that Ezri’s former host Jadzia was a scientist and this explained Ezri’s curiosity.

    “Now that the cloaking field is gone, what is down there commander?” asked Ezri, sounding slightly tense, possibly excited.

    “There's a massive structure,” said Megan. “And it seems to be some sort of factory. Some of the power units are barely functioning, but they are definitely Dominion power sources. There are no life signs inside the building or the surrounding area, however some of the silos next to the factory contain some unusual and unfamiliar microbes and viruses. Though it is hard to get clearer readings because of the materials inside the containers walls.”

    Bashir spoke up from behind Ezri. “We've found an abandoned Dominion retrovirus factory,” he said softly.

    The first thing Max thought of was excitement at finding such a building, here was a scientific opportunity. “Then we should investigate it,” he said eagerly. “Who knows what technology lies in there?”

    “That's out of the question,” said Bashir sharply. “It would be to dangerous-”

    “Gentlemen,” said Ezri firmly, with a hint of warning in her voice. “That is enough arguing, we will investigate this factory but only after we are absolutely sure that there are no biological hazards. Ms Felpes launch a class five probe and send it to the factory, that way we'll get more detailed information concerning the microbes and how safely they are contained.

    “Doctor when we get the results from the probe I want you to thoroughly examine them, if you believe it is safe then I'll send an away team down to the factory. Colonel I want you to prepare an away team, this will be a salvage operation-”

    At that point Max had to add his voice to the captain’s orders, he so badly wanted to investigate this retrovirus factory. Turning around he looked at Ezri. “Forgive the interruption captain but I would like to lead the away team.”

    Ezri stared at him in a neutral manner, and Max couldn’t tell if she was annoyed by his interruption. Max was certain that Ezri was weighing him up, and deciding whether he was fit for taking command of the away team.

    “For what reason?” she asked, somewhat blandly.

    Though he felt just a little awkward having to explain himself to the captain, scientific curiosity overrode any embarrassment Max felt. “I was the one who discovered this planet, and also I think this should be more than just a salvage operation. There must be a computer core in that factory, and whatever information it contains could potentially advance the Federation's knowledge of bio-technology. Besides I've lead a dozen away team missions before, this one will be no different, albeit we'll just be more careful because of the biohazards.”

    There was a pause, as Ezri looked at him squarely in the eyes, it seemed Ezri was trying to psych Max out. However Max didn’t break eye contact, and he sat there holding his breathe.

    “Very well,” said Ezri. “You will be in command of the away team.”

    Just when Max felt like celebrating, Kira had turned around in her chair and what she said really dampened his mood.

    “Captain are you sure that is wise, giving the dangers-”

    There was a hint of annoyance in Ezri’s eyes, it seemed Kira had crossed the line. “I trust Mr Weatherby's ability to take every precaution when down in that factory, and in this away mission you will follow his orders understood?”

    “Yes captain,” said Kira, though she still didn’t look convinced.

    While Max appreciated Ezri’s confidence in his abilities to command, he felt somewhat hurt and annoyed by Kira’s objection to him leading the away team. More than likely Kira thought that she was far more experienced to handle this mission. Though whatever her reasons, Max still disapproved of what she had said, perhaps on the away mission he would have a few words with Kira...


    ***


    Day 1, 1820 hours

    When Max materialized into a dimly lit intersection of two corridors, the first thing he did was to activate his wrist mounted torch. Looking around he saw Kira, Holo, Nog and two Starfleet engineers, inwardly Max was relieved as he felt nervous enough without a transporter mishap.

    Almost at once Max started giving out orders. “Tilvin, Girk; I want you to scout this factory, look for any energy sources: power nodes, hydrogen isotope tanks and so forth. Just locate them; Kira and I will salvage them. Nog, Holo try to reactivate the factory's computer core and see if you can download anything of interest from the computer...”

    While the four away team members headed in their respective directions, Max looked at his tricorder to work out which part of the factory he wanted to investigate. When he had come to a decision, he turned around to face Kira. “Come on, let's drain the primary deuterium tank on this floor.”

    Kira though was glancing around at the dimly lit corridors, she looked distinctly unsettled. “Are you sure about this Max?”

    Max managed to stop himself sighing from exasperation. “Myself and doctor Bashir have double checked and triple checked the Defiant's sensor readings of this factory. There are no unidentified viruses or microbes lurking outside of the silos.”

    A look of annoyed bemusement flitted onto Kira’s face, though the light from the torch seemed to exaggerate her expression. “This is the Dominion we're talking about here!” she said disbelievingly. “How can you be so sure?”

    Taking out his tricorder, Max scanned the surrounding corridors, there was no sign of any microbes or viruses. “Because this place has been deserted for years, any virus stored in those silos are either dead or dormant.”

    Kira raised her eyebrows in apparent concern. “Dormant?” she said ominously. “What if it comes alive again?”

    “Listen,” said Max impatiently. “I've checked this mission over with Bashir, if he thinks there is little risk of catching something nasty, then you should to. Now let’s head to the primary deuterium tank.”

    Though Kira followed him, Max noticed out of the corner of his eye that she was shaking her head momentarily. This did nothing to ease Max’s frustration towards her, if she was going to doubt everything that he did…

    Walking along the corridor, Max noticed that many of the purple strips of lighting were broken and strewn across the floor. On the grey walls, phaser marks could be seen, and Max realised that sometime ago there had been a massive fire fight down this corridor.

    Using his tricorder to guide him, Max navigated the almost maze-like number of corridors to get to the room containing the deuterium tank. Along the way he passed numerous doors, but there were no windows, and Max could only wonder what was behind those doors.

    “Stop!” said Kira suddenly, her left arm came across Max’s chest restraining him.

    The sound of urgency and alarm in her voice, made Max considerably apprehensive.
    “What is it?” he said quietly, he felt Kira’s arm move off his chest.

    “Do you see those bodies on the floor?” she said.

    Max squinted at some point on the floor and shone his torch light on what seemed like debris on the floor. “What bodies?”

    Kira took out her disruptor from a holder attached to her belt. “You wouldn't last one day in the Bajoran underground,” she said bitterly, before she then moved forwards and Max followed her.

    “Now do you see them?” said Kira irritably.

    Looking at the bodies made Max’s stomach churn slightly, and his breath caught in his throat. “They're Jem'Hadar, but it looks they've been dead for at least a month.”

    He tapped his comm badge, it seemed only himself and Kira had found dead Jem’Hadar. “This is Max to the away team, myself and Kira have encountered dead Jem'Hadar, it looks like they've been here for a while. Even so take care, and keep your phasers out at all times! Max out.”

    Despite walking next to dead Jem’Hadar, Max felt marginally better, at least the rest of the away team would know what to expect. He was also getting used to seeing the dead bodies, and they were obviously no danger to him. Unless he tripped over one of them and sprained an ankle...

    As Kira walked along, she occasionally glanced at some of the bodies. “They could be the renegade Jem'Hadar, there are phaser wounds all over their bodies.”

    “Possibly,” said Max, though he barely opened his mouth as he didn’t feel like talking much. “Perhaps they wanted to remove some of the microbes from the silos...”

    When they were past the Jem’Hadar bodies, the two walked together, Kira had her disruptor trained on points in front of her, while Max had his tricorder held out.

    Kira glanced at Max, and there was a slightly gentler expression on her face. “Is something bothering you? Ever since we've arrived you've been giving me a wide berth.”

    Resentment built up inside Max, he didn’t need Kira to hold his hand… “What's bothering me is why you disapprove of me leading the away team.”

    Despite the resentment in Max’s voice, this didn’t seem to bother Kira in the slightest. “I thought at the time captain Dax was making a mistake.”

    “And now?” asked Max, he waited for Kira’s answer.

    “I was wrong to question Ezri's decision,” said Kira, she sounded slightly apologetic. “I expected trouble in this factory but so far nothing has happened to harm us.”

    “You sure do itch for a fight,” said Max without thinking.

    Kira’s stern gaze rapidly came onto Max’s face, and Max knew he had said something really stupid.

    “You're wrong about that,” said Kira sharply. “If you knew me better then you would realise that I don't look for a fight. I'm just super cautious and vigilant in situations like this.”

    “What could get us, the ghosts of the Jem'Hadar?” said Max jokingly.

    Kira’s gaze reverted to the stretch of corridor in front of her. “Joke all you want, but do not underestimate the danger of what we are doing.”

    All Max could do was sigh, he personally thought Kira was taking this away mission far too seriously. He had everything under control, and yet Kira seemed convinced that death and danger were lurking around the next corridor...
     

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