Star Trek: Lambda Paz

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Nine

    Yelgrun was furious. Two of his soldiers had disobeyed his and the First’s orders to monitor only. Their defiance could have completely derailed their plan. After all, part of that plan was for the Starfleet vessel to bring the information accumulated back to its home base. The Second and the Third stepped onto the bridge ready to face the music.

    “Why were my orders not obeyed?!” the angry Vorta demanded.

    “The plan had no guarantee of success,” Ulin’talag calmly stated.

    “That is not your decision to make, Second,” Teron’tokal growled, grudgingly reminding the second-in-command of his title.

    “With respect, First,” Otan’irix began, “I attempted to remind the Second of your orders.”

    “But you still defied those orders,” Yelgrun replied.

    “And you are both aware of the consequences of your defiance,” Teron’tokal added. He unholstered his hand phaser and quickly vaporized both soldiers. Now that the biggest liabilities in his unit eliminated, Teron’tokal could continue to the next phase of the Founders’ plan.

    The Lambda Paz EMH applied a dermal regenerator to Doctor Markalis’s wounded shoulder. She had removed her uniform jacket and blue tunic to allow easier access to the wound, which left a large stain of blood on the back of her sleeveless tank top.

    Markalis had her own patient though, monitoring Lieutenant Carson’s vital signs at the main biobed. She grabbed a hypospray to administer a dose of innoprovaline to stabilize the patient. The holographic doctor rolled his eyes in annoyance of his patient’s refusal to hold still. He grabbed her left arm to finish his treatment.

    Limis and Morrison entered to see medical attendees treating the injuries that Davis and Logan had suffered. Both their cases were less urgent, so the two doctors could attend to more critical cases. Markalis had stabilized Nowitzki before she could attend to her own injury. An alarm sounded at the MACO sergeant’s biobed. Markalis raced towards the second biobed in the surgical bay.

    “I haven’t finished treating your injury,” the EMH huffed.

    “I am in far less danger of dying than she is,” Markalis replied. “Attend to Lieutenant Carson before I decompile your program.”

    The EMH gasped in horror. That was a death threat directed at him from a fellow medical practitioner sworn to do no harm. He knew the rules of triage as well as she did, so he complied with the chief medical officer’s order without another word.

    Nowitzki’s vitals were failing. Markalis asked the nearest attendee for a cortical stimulator. An electrical pulse from the stimulator traveled into the patient’s cerebral cortex. No change. “Again,” Markalis ordered.

    Another pulse shot through Nowitzki’s brain, but nothing happened.
    The EKG readouts flat lined, but the doctor pressed on. The cortical stimulator sent one pulse after another to no avail. “Make a note in the log,” Markalis stated. “Death occurred at 1157 hours.”

    Everyone else present in sickbay stood silently for almost a minute. Limis then turned her gaze to Morrison. “If it’s convenient,” she said, “I need to see you in private.”

    Limis and Morrison stepped off the bridge port turbolift and headed straight for the briefing room. Kozar looked up from a padd he was reviewing. He handed it back to the young female ensign who gave it to him and followed the captain and security chief. “Captain, a moment of your time,” he said.
    Limis had already anticipated that Kozar would criticize her decision to lead an away mission to the planetoid. “I’m not in the mood right now,” she said without taking a look at her XO.

    “Tough,” Kozar snapped.

    “The doors closed behind Kozar after he was the last to enter. Limis then turned around to both subordinates a stern look. She then pointed to Kozar saying, “Before I get a dressing down from my first officer, you should be dressing down your second officer for failing to follow orders.”

    “With all due respect, ma’am,” Morrison replied, “your decision to lead an away team was a risky one. Then you were going to let Carson die down there.”

    “I decided we had to cut our losses. The Jem’Hadar kept coming at us. We all could have been incinerated.”

    “Easy for you to say. You sent a lot of your colleagues to their deaths.”

    Limis soon remembered the brutal beating Yanith suffered at the hands of the Cardassians. He died the next day even knowing he made a major sacrifice to set back their oppressors’ ship production efforts.

    “You are out of line, mister,” she snarled. “You are on report. Dismissed.”

    Morrison exhaled in exasperation, turned, and left the room. Limis sighed as well before sitting down at the head of the meeting table. She had dealt with insolence all her life, especially from Cardassians. But Starfleet officers, she knew, set better standards.

    Kozar was still standing on the captain’s left. Seeing him in the corner of her eye, she asked, “Something else, Kozar?” She picked up a padd from her last time there to indicate her disinterest in what the first officer had to say.

    “Only that you took a huge risk leading that away mission,” Kozar answered. “You could have been killed yourself. One crewmember died as a result.”

    Limis quickly remembered that Kozar had been passed up for command in favor of her. Although humans had overcome wishing ill on those who were obstacles to career advancement, she felt Kozar had to be mildly disappointed with his current position.

    She slammed the padd on the table, stood up and glared straight at her second-in-command. “And you would just love that,” she snapped. “I die, and you get the command you feel you’re entitled to.”

    “That is not fair,” Kozar calmly replied. “All I’m saying, ma’am, is that you have made a few poor choices already, perhaps to assert your position.”

    “I don’t need to assert anything, Commander. I have the rank and the position. And if I remember Starfleet protocol, even female superiors are to be addressed as ‘sir’.”

    She picked an interesting time to point that out. But he and Morrison had been calling Limis “ma’am” in protest of Command’s decision. “Yes… sir,” he said. “That is the protocol.” This he didn’t want to fight her on, and without being dismissed, Kozar exited the room.

    Mandel Morrison went back to sickbay after his dressing down from the captain. He had expected Doctor Markalis to be off duty following her ordeal planetside. She was frantically entering commands into the diagnostic console overlooking the surgical bay where Carson was asleep on the main biobed.

    “How is she, Doc?” Morrison asked.

    “She will recover,” Markalis replied without looking up from the console. “I am keeping her for observation overnight in accordance with… “

    Morrison raised a hand knowing Markalis’s tendencies to quote regulations and protocols word for word as if she was at least half-Vulcan (although she clearly wasn’t by the shape of her human ears). “You needn’t quote the regulation,“ he said. “Shouldn’t you be off duty as well?”

    “The hologram was pissing me off,” she said, “and the captain needs that postmortem report on Sergeant Nowitzki by 0700 tomorrow. I encrypted the program and not even your security authorization can break it.”

    Markalis gave Morrison the kind of triumphant sneer children would give when they thought they had outsmarted the adults. The doctor stormed off into her office. Morrison knew from her file that she was socially awkward. Her excellent academic record and credentials as a medical practitioner outweighed her obvious social deficiencies. Her work on Ajilon Prime as a trauma surgeon after the Klingons invaded that world less than a year earlier had nearly a dozen Starfleet captains demanding Markalis as their chief medical officer.

    Mandel tiptoed to Sara’s bedside and stroked her forehead. She opened her eyes and smiled at the sight of a familiar face. “I feel like a shuttlepod was dropped on my head,” she groaned.

    “The doctor says you’ll make a full recovery,” Morrison whispered. “I wasn’t about to let the captain leave you there.”

    Her eyes widened at the implication that Morrison went against orders. “Are you in trouble?” she asked.

    “I’ll get a reprimand in my file, meaning I won’t be eligible for promotion for three years. I can live with that.”

    Carson exhaled slowly and placed her left hand on her forehead, feeling a rush of pain there. “I could sleep for days,” she sighed, “but I’d like to get out of this sickbay.”

    “I can arrange that,” Morrison said with a wink.

    He walked over to the diagnostic console to tap into transporter control. He and Carson dematerialized. Markalis heard the transporter beam from her office and raced out to the surgical bay.

    Markalis raised her right hand to tap her combadge. She stopped herself thinking that calling in an all-points bulletin on them would also be admitting to disobeying orders to take it easy while recuperating from her injury. Wherever they went, they’d be back if any further problems arose.

    Weyoun received a transmission from Yelgrun regarding the reconnaissance of the Starfleet ship Lambda Paz. Once the Lambda Paz crew confirmed that the planetoid deep inside the Tong-Beak Nebula did, in fact, house a Jem’Hadar breeding facility, Yelgrun would then report back to Weyoun.

    Dukat’s Dominion advisor spoke to the fellow Vorta through the wall-mounted monitor in the station commander’s office. “The Starfleet vessel got what it came for,” Yelgrun stated. “We offered the kind of resistance they’d expect. As far they’re concerned, the planet has minimal defenses.”

    “Excellent,” said Weyoun in his usual self-assured manner. “However many they send back, we’ll mobilize twice that amount.”

    “Of course. I will begin redeploying our forces in that sector.”

    Weyoun did not turn around to see Dukat come in through the main doorway until Yelgrun signed off. He then smiled upon seeing the Cardassian. “Ah, Dukat,” he said with a wry grin. “I was just about to summon you. I need you to contact the fleet commanders in Sector 21607 and have them re-deploy to the Tong-Beak Nebula.”

    Dukat nodded in acknowledgement. He remembered his conversation with Weyoun about a Jem’Hadar breeding facility he knew nothing of. Such a clandestine encroachment on Cardassian territory was a small price to pay for eventually becoming rulers of the Alpha Quadrant. “Is this is any way related to the fleet deployments Damar reported?” he asked innocently, as if he heard none of Weyoun’s communiqué with Yelgrun.

    Weyoun chuckled at Dukat’s feigned ignorance. “I told you about the breeding facility there,” he said. “The Federation is willing to do whatever it can to achieve a quick end to this war. We’re taking advantage by evening the odds after Toros Three.”
  2. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    You did have some grammar errors here but the story is fascinating. Your ship is a mess-morale wise. Your crew does not strike me as top-notch. It is a war, though, so more is tolerated I guess. This is a cool story. Looking forward to more.
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    That's fair. The captain is an ex-Maquis, so isn't entirely familiar with Starfleet rules of conduct. The doctor is going to be sort of a Seven of Nine minus the sex appeal. Her attitude towards the EMH is an "I'm not obligated to be courteous to a piece of technology" kind of thing (perhaps mirroring Pulaski's initial attitude about Data).
  4. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

    Jan 25, 2008
    San Diego
    A not so 'top notch' crew is, I think, the most luring part of this story. Good to see you finally updating it!!! Keep it coming!!!

  5. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Ten

    Limis Vircona rarely had the creature comforts this starship had—replicated food, a comfortable bed, and a sonic shower, a chamber that used sonic pulses to rid ones body of all the dirt and grime. She never saw the appeal. It did not have the same sensual feeling as cold water pouring down on her.

    While running her hands through her wet hair, she felt two hands touching her bare shoulders. Arnit was standing behind her. He kissed her neck. Limis turned around slowly to kiss him on the lips.

    Upon opening her eyes, Limis’s former spouse morphed, as if he was a Changeling, from a Bajoran to a Jem’Hadar. He then pushed her against the wall with one hand grabbed her neck, choking her. She began to feel her own death was imminent before experiencing a sensation of being in two places at once. She felt herself lying in bed. She awoke quickly and sat up slowly, having to absorb that she was partially clothed in a sleeveless tank and upper thigh length underpants.

    Limis thought for nearly a minute what this dream meant. That contemplation then gave way to doubts about the next mission. She grabbed the combadge on the nightstand and tapped it. “Rebecca,” she said. “Sorry if I woke you, but can you come to my quarters?”

    Vircona and Rebecca had many heart-to-heart discussions during their time in the Maquis. Those long talks got Rebecca through her husband’s death even more than the counselors on Jaros Two. In the absence of a ship’s counselor, Rebecca would be someone Vircona would confide in on many occasions.

    Neither was an expert on dreams, but Limis knew from experience that dreams were warnings of possible futures. They would also be subconscious thoughts coming to the surface. She once loved Hasin Arnit, and maybe his presence brought back those passionate memories. His transformation into a Jem’Hadar may have been a warning that planted seeds of doubt in her mind.

    Rebecca Sullivan entered Limis’s quarters without ringing the bell. She had that right as one of her closest friends. The captain sat at her desk with her uniform slacks and unzipped red tunic on while staring at the desk monitor. The sensor data gathered while the Lambda Paz was in the nebula. She looked through the numbers almost hoping they would tell her something different.

    “This does seem far too convenient, Rebecca,” she mused aloud.

    “Federation and Klingon ship captains made a point of avoiding the Tong-Beak Nebula after a few ships disappeared there. We actually go in, and we find next to nothing in terms of resistance.”

    Sullivan was not at Arnit’s de-briefing, but Limis told her everything afterwards. “Perhaps that was to keep the Cardassians from getting too curious,” she offered. “Arnit said not sharing some things with them gives the Dominion an ace in the hole.”

    “I still would’ve liked to have been under heavy fire,” Limis answered with a grin at the irony of that statement. “The Borg usually wait for an opponent to show their cards. Not the Jem’Hadar. They see something that doesn’t belong, they shoot first and ask questions later.

    “Most of all, we’re getting information that tells us what we want to hear. My gut tells me this is too good to be true.”

    “Would you prefer doing nothing?”

    “Of course not. Admiral Ross is convening a meeting of fleet commanders. I can still voice my concerns.”

    Sara Carson’s surgical gown lay on the floor next to the bed in her quarters. Morrison’s uniform and undergarments lay in a pile next to the gown. Sara rested her head on Mandel’s chest. She smiled contently when he opened his eyes.

    This was the first time they had consummated their relationship. They met when they were transferred to the Lambda Paz from their previous assignments. Carson had previously served on the Defiant as a relief flight controller, while Morrison served with Kozar on the Horatio Nelson until the Klingon withdrawal from Cardassian space, by which time war was almost inevitable. Their relationship involved a lot of playful flirting in the beginning. As war was on the horizon, their relationship was the only distraction.

    “I feel like I could stay here like this for three days,” she purred.

    “Too bad I’m on duty in a few hours,” Morrison responded. “I’m already in enough trouble disobeying orders and then sneaking you out of sickbay.”

    “The things we do for love,” Sara quipped.

    Mandel’s eyes widened. Yes, he cared for this woman. But hearing those words love in reference to their relationship made him nervous. “Are you saying you love me?” he asked.

    Sara lifted her head to look Mandel in the eyes. “I guess I am,” she said.
    Morrison blinked and looked away as if this was the last thing he wanted to hear. Sara turned her head to her left. “What?” she asked.

    “This near death experience suddenly had me wondering if we should be so attached,” he relented. “Who is to say both of us will survive this war?”

    Sara gritted her teeth in restrained anger. Starfleet officers faced all kinds of danger, but that never stopped fellow officers from becoming romantically involved. She rolled over and got out of bed. She made sure to cover herself with the bedspread, as Mandel did not now deserve the privilege of seeing her naked. She walked to the other side of the bed and threw his clothes on the bed. “Get dressed and get the hell out,” she snarled.

    Carson walked into the side alcove housing the sink and sonic shower. Morrison knew she would stay there until he left her quarters. He quickly dressed wishing he could take back what he said. While was in love with her, he felt saying it would be committing to something he wasn’t sure of.
  6. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    Short but to the point.
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Eleven

    The ward room at Starbase 375 was filled with high-ranking Starfleet officers meeting with the senior most crewmembers of the Lambda Paz. The purpose of this meeting was to debrief the Lambda Paz captain and first officer and decide what course of action to take next.

    Captain Limis felt more out of place than the two Klingons seated at the opposite side of the circular table. The Klingon wearing a Starfleet uniform was obviously Worf, the service’s only Klingon. She did not recognize the other Klingon dressed in military armor and missing his left eye. The only other Starfleet officer she recognized was Benjamin Sisko, seated amongst four unfamiliar rear admirals.

    Admiral Ross entered the meeting room accompanied by a human woman with the rank of captain. He handed the padd he was reviewing to Captain Joanna Bennett and stood at the end of the table nearest the door. “Thank you all for coming,” he said to the rest of the group. “Two days ago, the Starship Lambda Paz conducted a reconnaissance probe into the Tong-Beak Nebula. Her captain is here with us.”

    Ross raised his left hand to point out the Bajoran captain. She told all other present about the breeding facility on a planetoid inside the nebula. She then turned the floor over to Kozar. Kozar walked over to the monitor screen to show a set of schematics he had prepared for the briefing. On the left side was a topographical map of the area where the facility was located. The right showed a vertical layout of a standard Jem’Hadar breeding facility.

    “If this is such an important facility from which to breed troops,” General Martok, the one-eyed Klingon stated, “It makes very little sense that it would have minimal defenses.

    “During my first voyage aboard the Rotarran, I ordered that the nebula be avoided because of reports the Jem’Hadar were using it as a base.”

    Martok glanced over at Worf, who was also familiar with that mission. Martok repeatedly ordered that the ship avoid combat situations while in search for a missing Klingon battle cruiser.

    “Perhaps the Jem’Hadar altered their patrol routes since the war began,” Worf suggested, “but not if this nebula had strategic importance.”

    “A number of strategies seemed uncharacteristic,” said Limis. “Two Jem’Hadar ships were firing at one of our shuttles. We came at them with quantum torpedoes and they retreated without a fight.”

    “They’ll do that if they have bigger goals in mind,” Sisko explained. “When I made first contact, the Jem’Hadar passed off their Vorta as one of their prisoners. They wanted us to escape so that she could serve as a spy in the Alpha Quadrant.”

    “You’re suggesting that was for our benefit?” Limis asked with a bewildered look. “And that we’re being lured into an ambush?”

    “It’s not out of the realm of possibilities,” Sisko grimly suggested.

    “So, do we launch this assault or not?” Rear-Admiral Coburn inquired. “Your ship, Captain Limis, did encounter minimal resistance, but that could change by the time our fleets arrive.”

    “Weigh that against the consequences of doing nothing,” Admiral Jellico added. “Unless we act, the Dominion will have no problem creating Jem’Hadar in the Alpha Quadrant.”

    “We could still end up losing as many ships as we did at Toros Three,” said Vulcan Admiral Sitak.

    “It’s worth the risk if we can set the Dominion back even further,” Andorian Admiral ch’Mak insisted.

    Soon everyone began talking at once arguing the costs and benefits of a possible offensive. Neither side would relent. Ross tried in vain to quiet the crowd.

    “I, myself, went through making these tough decisions enough for an entire lifetime,” Limis interjected, which quieted the crowd. “It’s never easy. I lost many friends on Bajor. And we may take huge losses. We’ve got to keep the momentum on our side.”

    Sisko raised an eyebrow at Limis’s last statement, even though she wasn’t intending on using a baseball metaphor. Addressing the admirals, Limis continued. “You made a statement when giving the order to mine the wormhole. I started to have my doubts when too many things seemed to go our way. We are at war. We can’t afford to second guess ourselves.”

    “All those in favor of an attack,” Ross said to the lower ranking admirals. All four of the rear admirals approved an offensive.

    In the absence of the captain and first officer, Mandel Morrison had command of the Lambda Paz. He had taken this time to oversee repairs and diagnostics of tactical systems. As second officer, he awaited daily reports from all department heads to assure the captain the ship would be in perfect condition to fight a larger battle.

    Morrison observed Huckaby running a diagnostic on the structural integrity fields when relief tactical officer Jovis Ren reported from the opposite side of the bridge. “Commander Morrison,” the Bolian called. “I’m getting those readings you told me to look for. Someone is using the EPS taps to send a subspace transmission.

    Morrison looked back at Huckaby. “Ensign, call up the power allocation logs,” he said.

    Huckaby pushed a few controls to access those logs from the last few minutes. “Confirmed, sir,” the ensign replied.

    “Run signal correlation traces, Ensign. We may be able to narrow it now that our mole made a second transmission.”
    Morrison headed for the command chair to contact the captain. “Bridge to the captain,” he said after tapping the comm panel.

    “I’m just returning to the ship,” Limis answered. “I’m in transporter room one.”

    “Good, I need to see you as soon as possible in private.”

    Although low on the priority list, engineering crews finally put the finishing touches on the ready room off the starboard side of the bridge. The sofa and coffee tables from the briefing room materialized behind the viewport just as Limis, Kozar, and Morrison entered.

    Kozar gave a quick visual survey of the room almost wishing this was his. Luckily, he had no opportunity to personalize this office. Limis also took in the rather Spartan setting, thinking one redeeming quality Cardassians had was greater creativity in terms of interior design.

    “Our mole has sent another message,” Morrison reported once the doors closed. “This time Huckaby has traced it to a specific section.”

    “As I said before,” Limis stated, “this is an old Maquis trick. The guilty party most definitely covers his or her tracks well.

    “Mister Morrison, have your people poke around. Proceed with caution. We don’t want to tip our hand too much.”

    “Yes, sir,” Morrison compliantly replied before leaving.

    “How will this affect the mission, Captain?” Kozar inquired.

    “It shouldn’t,” Limis replied, taking a seat behind the desk. Kozar took two steps towards the two desk chairs. He then decided to stand, feeling he was on the wrong side of the desk.

    “We should just be extra careful to code all internal and external communications,” Limis continued. “I’ll mention it to Admiral Jellico and the other fleet commanders. But I want the mole found before we reach the nebula.”

    “Very good, sir,” Kozar replied.

    Limis smirked at being called “sir.” She saw no point in such a practice, though Bajor had more gender egalitarian society for more than ten millennia, before the rise of the first ancient civilizations on Earth. Maybe the masculine appellation was symbolic of making some kind of headway with a first officer constantly second guessing her.”

    Kozar motioned towards the door, but then stopped and turned around to address the captain on one more issue. “If I may make a suggestion,” he said. “We launch several probes ahead of two of the four fleets. If a large fleet is massing and we’re being lured into ambush, we call for backup.”

    “I’ll propose it to Admiral Ross and the fleet commanders.”

    Kozar nodded in agreement and left the ready room. Limis felt some wave of relief both that the admiralty had approved the offensive and that certain safety precautions would be taken. She still felt apprehension that something would go horribly wrong.
  8. fleetcaptain

    fleetcaptain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 9, 2005
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    Loving this series. Keep it up. Do you happen to have a site for this besides on here?
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Twelve

    Captain Limis sat in the officer’s lounge sipping raktajino while staring at a desk monitor screen. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for while looking at the sensor data picked up from their last mission. Maybe if she looked at the numbers enough times, she could put her mind at ease. One thing was for sure. She would not be getting any sleep for the next two nights. Perhaps that was because she had trouble falling asleep before a major battle or because she didn’t want her subconscious telling her something she didn’t want to hear.

    Arnit then entered the dark and empty lounge. Limis was too focused on the monitor to look away and see who entered. Arnit ordered a glass of Bajoran synthale from the replicator. Once it had materialized, he took a sip, winced, and remembered why he hadn’t drunk the stuff in a while. His time in the Maquis meant not always having the luxury of fully functioning replicators.

    He walked over to his ex-wife and sat on the sofa facing her. “You never could get any sleep before a big battle,” he commented.

    “Some things never change,” she quipped. “Everything the sensor data tells us is that is a Jem’Hadar breeding facility. But my gut tells me this is a death march.”

    “Even if many lives are lost,” Arnit replied, “a greater good will be served, Vira.”

    “We kept reminding ourselves of that even after our friend Yanith was beaten to death in that mining facility. “Of course, we don’t put a dent in that planetoid and whole fleet is wiped out, then lives are wasted needlessly.”

    “We had our victories and our defeats against the spoonheads. But if the Prophets showed us all of the future, then life would be without challenges.”

    Vircona cringed at hearing the word Prophets. She could never fathom why caring gods would allow such suffering despite Arnit’s statement. Did the fact that the Occupation did not end sooner than it did mean that those who prayed for deliverance were not praying enough?

    “You have a point there,” she said. “We’re taking various precautions: coding our transmissions, sending probes out ahead of our fleets.

    “We launch in the morning. All we can do is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

    The two of them exchanged smirks. For a second, they both wondered if old feelings would be rekindled. That was never the case during their Maquis days. At least they could have a civil conversation. That was a minor victory. If only making peace with the Dominion was a simple.

    Vircona yawned saying, “I actually am a little tired now.”
    “Walk you to your door?” Arnit jokingly asked.

    “That will not be necessary.” She placed her half-full coffee mug back in the replicator and walked out without dematerializing it.

    At 0700 hours on the starbase’s clock, the Fifth and Seventh Fleets departed Starbase 375. The Lambda Paz was part of the Seventh Fleet under the general command of Admiral Jellico. The admiral had described Captain Limis as a “loose cannon” to Commander Kozar. He didn’t see that in her at the meeting though. Maybe he based that assertion on certain preconceptions he had about the Maquis.

    Commander Logan had similar preconceptions, which were seemingly validated by his interactions with Erhlich Tarlazzi. His seemingly cavalier attitude epitomized the notion that the Maquis were undisciplined. Logan had come to see that Tarlazzi was often pulling his leg, and entrusted him to assisting Lieutenant sh’Aqba in running diagnostics on the probes they would soon be launching. Tarlazzi had experience building makeshift reconnaissance buoys for more covert missions.

    “This is one sophisticated piece of machinery,” he commented, while entering commands for running self-diagnostics. “It’s a shame we can’t send a whole bunch of these into Dominion-held territory.”

    “They would be shot down in a heartbeat,” sh’Aqba said, looking up from her tricorder scan of the nose of the probe. “Besides spying on the Cardassians would have given the Dominion an excuse to attack anyway.”

    Tarlazzi smirked at the Andorian’s statement. A war broke out despite the usual diplomatic platitudes he had heard to no end. “War was going to happen one way or another,” he countered, “even if missiles heading for Cardassia was really code for ‘We’ve reached our primary fallback position.’ The idealistic Federation’s attempt at diplomacy was only delaying the inevitable.”

    “My people once believed that about the Vulcans,” sh’Aqba replied, closing her tricorder. “Two-hundred years ago, Vulcan had a puppet government, where the Romulans were pulling the strings.

    “Many believed that Andor would not be safe until every Vulcan was dead. But we resolved our differences and became two of the founding members of this ‘idealistic Federation.’ “

    “Our current enemy, though, is unlike any other,” Tarlazzi responded. “The Founders will not rest until they’ve achieved complete subjugation of ‘solids.’”

    “Believing an enemy to be different from any other has been a justification of atrocities on many worlds.”

    She had a point there. Rigel’s history was known for its subjugation of the Neanderthal-like Kaylar. Tarlazzi’s ancestors were ancient Vulcans who colonized what was now Rigel Seven. Generations of crossbreeding with the primitive natives created a whole new species. Two millennia later, the full-blooded Rigel natives maintained rather primitive ways of life. Human anthropologists compared the Kaylar to the prehistoric Neanderthals. Later analysis found the Kaylar to be more accurately compared to Earth’s ancient Nordic tribes.

    On the subject of the Dominion, Tarlazzi felt that he and sh’Aqba should agree to disagree, so decided not to push the matter further. The result of the diagnostic he was running appeared on a readout screen. Blinking in red letters were the words Unknown component interfering with normal sensor functioning.

    The Rigellian picked up his tricorder and scanned. An alarm sounded indicating this component was in a forward sensor cluster. He opened an access panel. What looked like tentacles were burrowing out of the mechanical wiring. An electrical surge quickly filled the component shorting everything out. It was a bio-synthetic device the Dominion once used to sabotage a Federation starship in order to instigate a war. Something told Tarlazzi that this sabotage was the mole’s handiwork.

    Tarlazzi set down the tricorder and tapped his combadge. “Tarlazzi to Commander Logan. We have a problem.”

    Captain Limis was still awake well into the gamma shift to read personnel reports from the department heads. She could only muster three hours of sleep the night before, yet a cup raktajino was not allowing her to have full concentration on the reports. In fact, she failed to acknowledge the first door chime. “Come in,” she mumbled after the second chime.

    Morrison entered carrying a larger sized padd. “We may have had a breakthrough in our investigation,” he said, setting the padd down on the desk. “A room-by-room search seems to have revealed who our mole might be.”

    Limis picked up the padd. Her eyes widened at the name of her likely culprit. She stared at the screen trying to absorb this turn of events when the door chime sounded again.

    “Yes, come in?” she snapped.

    Logan and Tarlazzi both entered. Tarlazzi showed the now fried bio-synthetic device he found in the probes. “We found this while conducting diagnostics on the probe sensors,” he said. “It may have been in there to create false sensor readings.”

    “Acting on a hunch,” Logan added, “we found similar devices in the shuttles dispatched to the planetoid.”

    “How could they have eluded the security sensors?” Morrison inquired.

    “They were beamed in,” Tarlazzi replied, “and once inside, they latched on like a virus.”

    “In all likelihood,” Logan offered, “we saw what we wanted to see. And we know where these devices were beamed from.”

    Limis glanced at the padd and then back at the engineers. She knew exactly whom they were referring to before they said another word.
  10. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Thirteen

    Hasin Arnit stood before two prayer candles perched on the nightstand. He had both forearms pointed upwards in accordance with the Bajoran prayer ritual. The silent meditation was interrupted by the door chime.

    He opened his eyes and inhaled slowly through his nose. He then walked over to the candles to blow them out. “Enter,” he said.

    The double doors leading to the main living area of his quarters parted. He grinned at the sight of Limis at the door. She walked in without an invitation accompanied by Kozar, Morrison, and two human security guards, all armed with Type-2 phasers.

    “Vira,” Arnit said with a sound of feigned surprise. “Is this a party for me?”

    Limis held up a padd containing information Arnit had provided when he first came aboard along with a new set of findings. “That Jem’Hadar breeding facility,” she said, “it’s no breeding facility, is it? It’s just an unmanned monitoring station.”

    Arnit looked at the telemetry from the probe launched from one of the other ships in the fleet. His stone-cold expression did not change. If he was misleading the crew, his face didn’t show any sign of guilt. “I’m just as surprised as you,” he offered.

    “Then how do you explain the unauthorized transmissions originating from your quarters?” Morrison asked.

    “This was not my place,” Arnit began. “I believe Commander Kozar is your mole. He countermanded your order to search this ship for a Changeling infiltrator. You’ll find those bio-synthetic devices were beamed from the replicator in his quarters.”

    “Nice try,” Kozar calmly replied. “If I was a spy, I’d cover my tracks a lot better. And we never mentioned any bio-synthetic devices.”

    “That’s evidence you undoubtedly planted in case you got caught,” Limis added.

    “I defended you despite everyone else’s suspicions,” the captain lamented. “I didn’t want to believe you to be a Dominion collaborator even when the evidence was staring me in the face because you got sloppy.”

    Limis then looked behind her to the two junior security officers. “Throw him in the brig,” she ordered.

    The two guards walked towards Arnit. Just as they were about to grab him, Arnit threw down his earring. A flash of light momentarily blinded everyone else in the room.

    When they all regained their sight, Arnit was gone. Limis tapped her combadge to hail the bridge. “Limis to the bridge: Intruder alert.”

    Lieutenant Selek, a middle aged Vulcan male and the night-watch commander sat in the first officer’s chair on the bridge when he acknowledged the order. He then accessed the power consumption logs on the console on his left.

    “Captain, he transported away just before you sounded the alert,” he reported in the usual dispassionate tone of a Vulcan.

    An alarm sounded from the Ops console, occupied by the Kobliad male Tor Makassa. “Sir,” he shouted, “unauthorized shuttle launch in Bay 3.”

    “Can you block it?” Selek asked.

    “No such luck,” Makassa replied.

    “Rebecca,” Limis called over the comm to Sullivan at conn, “break formation and lay in a pursuit course.”

    Limis, Kozar, and Morrison entered the bridge from the port turbolift. Selek quickly vacated the center seat and stepped onto the open turbolift. “Message from Admiral Jellico,” Ensign Makassa reported from Ops. “He wants to know why we’ve broken formation.”

    “Tell him to piss off,” Limis replied. “We’re just one ship.”

    Makassa knew not to respond to the hail in those exact words and immediately cut the transmission. Limis seated herself in the captain’s chair and looked to Morrison. “Hail the shuttle,” she commanded.

    “Captain,” Kozar whispered, leaning over from his chair, “you probably should have informed the admiral before ordering the course change.”

    “If you have a problem with my orders,” Limis stated calmly,
    “you can file a formal protest… and shove it up your ass!”

    “Channel open,” Morrison reported, completely oblivious to the exchange between captain and first officer. “He’s not answering though.”

    “Arnit,” Limis called over the comm. “It’s Vira. Why are you doing this?”

    “Why is obvious,” Arnit replied from the one-seat cockpit of compact shuttle pod. “These people signed a treaty with the spoonheads leaving us at their mercy. Their spineless desire for peace blinded them to our suffering. And they our colleagues be slaughtered by the Jem’Hadar.”

    “You are ware that you are helping these murderers.”

    “You don’t think I know that?!” he shouted, his voice breaking. “They killed our friends and destroyed everything we cared about. But the Federation stood by and allowed it to happen. I want them to see what being mercilessly slaughtered is like!”

    “I understand your hostility towards the Federation, Arnit. "This is not the answer, though. We can talk this out… “

    The comm channel suddenly shorted out. Alarms sounded throughout the bridge. “Perimeter alert,” Morrison called. “Looks like the Jem’Hadar are coming to us.”

    “Message from fleet command,” Makassa added. “Sixteen hundred twenty-three Dominion ships closing fast.”

    “Battle stations!” the captain called.

    “How many ships?” Yelgrun asked Fourth Romat’ison, who was manning the primary tactical and communications monitor on the Dominion flagship’s bridge. Romat’ison was now second-in-command, although Yelgrun had chosen not to elevate the young and inexperienced soldier to the title of Second. The Vorta decided he would have to earn that title once this battle was won.

    “Six-hundred fifty,” the Fourth answered. “In weapons range in one minute.”

    Teron’tokal addressed the rest of the Jem’Hadar. “Our motto, ‘Victory is life’ has literal meaning,” he announced. “Today we fight to protect our unborn brethren. Victory is life!”

    “Victory is life!” the other Jem’Hadar on the bridge echoed.

    Romat’ison’s console blinked, indicating the large armada had reached weapons range. “In weapons range,” he reported.

    “Attack wings one through five,” Yelgrun stated over the comm channel, “break formation and cut try to cut off the enemy fleet from aft. Remaining ships, attack all lead ships.”

    Jem’Hadar fighters laid down cover fire with a methodical spread of disruptor fire. The larger battleships fired plasma torpedoes, taking out a large number of Federation frigates and Klingon Birds-of-Prey. The Federation-Klingon fleet returned fire quickly to counteract the Dominion strategy of cutting off an enemy’s possible escape routes.

    The Lambda Paz had fallen behind the rest of the two fleets, and so was the last of the ships to be hit by enemy weapons fire. The Starfleet vessel laid down phaser fire. The shields absorbed disruptor fire. A swath of torpedo fire had a larger impact.

    The bridge rocked hard. An auxiliary engineering station exploded, and a wall panel fell on the technician manning the station. Another torpedo hit inflicted heavy damage to the starboard nacelle.

    “We’re venting plasma from the starboard nacelle,” Makassa reported.

    “Divert repair crews to that area,” Limis shouted over all the commotion. “Route power to the good one.”

    “Shields at sixty-four percent!” Morrison called out after another hit.

    Both Limis and Kozar monitored the battle from the tactical display on their side consoles. “Fire aft torpedoes at the battleship’s ventral,” Limis commanded.

    Silver bolts erupted from the aft of the ship, inflicting damage to the unprotected ventral of a Jem’Hadar battleship. The battleship got off a shot that barely grazed the Lambda Paz’s unprotected hull.

    “Two fighters closing from port and starboard,” Sullivan reported. The ship took two hits from the two enemy ships firing in a single file attack pattern.

    “Forward torpedoes,” Kozar commanded. “Dispersal pattern echo.”

    A swarm of quantum torpedoes zeroed in on the two attacking fighters. One erupted in a fireball while the other quickly moved out of the line of fire.

    The Lambda Paz arched to starboard, but a larger battle cruiser had just finished off two Vorcha-class Klingon attack cruisers and moved in for its next kill. Two plasma torpedoes struck the forward saucer.

    Explosions were all over the engineering section. “Two anti-matter tanks just ruptured,” Logan shouted over the sound of falling girders. No response came from the bridge. “Bridge! Bridge!” he called out futilely.

    “Internal communications are offline,” Makassa reported.
    The situation was grim. For each Dominion ship taken out, they took out three alliance ships according to Morrison’s displays. “We’re losing ships at a faster rate,” he said reluctantly.

    A ceiling fixture came loose and landed hard over the helm station. Sullivan dove out of the way in the nick of time.

    “Rebecca!” Limis cried out.

    Rebecca quickly stood up and raised a hand. “I’m okay,” she said lunging toward the end of her station not covered by the fallen fixture. “Inertial dampeners are losing power,” she noted grimly.

    “Any chance of getting out while we still have minimal warp power?” Limis asked.


    “Well, we can’t take too much more of this,” Morrison responded.

    Aboard the Dominion flagship, the bridge rocked from numerous torpedo impacts. But the acting-Second’s attention was on another matter. Romat’ison kept a close eye on his tactical display to see that no enemy ships slipped by and headed for the nebula. That had not happened yet. He kept a comm-channel open just in case that did happen. “First” he whispered to Teron’tokal. “I’ve lost contact with the facility on the planet.”

    “Can you reestablish contact?” the First inquired.

    “There is nothing to reestablish contact with.”

    Yelgrun was equally perturbed. He began thinking of a lie that would not get himself killed by his own troops. But he had gotten obedience out of these soldiers. And once he was dead, his clone would come to life anyway. “Since we are winning the battle,” he relented, “I can probably tell you.”

    “Tell us what?” Teron’tokal growled.

    “There was no breeding facility on the planetoid. It was a ruse to lure the Federation into an ambush.”

    Both Teron’tokal and Romat’ison looked at the deceitful Vorta straight in the eyes. Yelgrun backed up slowly until he was up against a wall. He was almost hoping the two Jem’Hadar would strangle him to death right here and right now. “You had us believing we were protecting unborn Jem’Hadar!” the First growled. “I executed two of my subordinates over something that never existed.”

    Teron’tokal and Romat’ison pointed their rifles at the Vorta. The other Jem’Hadar on the bridge also aimed their rifles. They fired a flurry of plasma charges at the defenseless Vorta until his charred body fell to the deck.

    Romat’ison then returned to his console to notice another Starfleet delta enter the display. “I can’t identify it,” he said. “It’s throwing up a scattering field. Plus, our communications dampening field is also interfering with our sensors.”

    “No matter,” Teron’tokal replied. “One ship will not turn the battle in their favor.”

    The same blip appeared on Morrison’s display. “Sir, Arnit’s shuttle,” he called to the captain.

    “Can you raise him?” Limis asked with an equally bewildered look. What was he hoping to accomplish with this defenseless shuttle pod. Maybe he had come to his senses. Either way, he’d be facing certain death.

    “No, sir,” Morrison growled in frustration.

    The pod was on a fast collision course for the lead battleship at the center of the battle. All the other ships were too focused on the larger Federation and Klingon ships to notice it. The pod exploded taking the battleship and at least six surrounding support ships.

    “No!” Limis screamed, seeing the large explosion on the viewscreen. She had denied being in love with him after the divorce. Whatever positive feelings she still had for him rushed to Vircona’s conscious mind. She stood in shock with Rebecca, who had also lost a spouse, holding her back. All Vircona could do was watch the viewscreen in horror. All she had left of him was the memories of each other even though they had long before ceased to be husband and wife.

    “Can you get us the hell out of here, Miss Sullivan?” Kozar asked.

    Rebecca gently let go of her friend’s shoulders and slowly walked to the helm. “Getting the hell out of here maneuver confirmed,” she said.
  11. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Fourteen

    Captain’s personal log, stardate 51074.6: The Lambda Paz is on course back to Starbase 375. The two fleets suffered heavy losses. But that loss of life does not compare to a more personal loss. To quote a Terran expression: “You don’t appreciate what you have, until it’s gone.

    Limis recorded that log in her ready room. After giving the command, “End log,” she picked up what was left of her late former husband’s earring. The force of the impact on the floor created some kind of explosion that momentarily blinded the others. Most of the surrounding metal either disintegrated or burned. Though she never the religion the earring symbolized, it was one of the few remnants of Hasin Arnit.

    She was lost in that though when the door chimed. “Come in,” she said lethargically.

    Kozar entered holding a larger-sized padd. The captain looked up and saw the first officer. She quickly placed the earring in a drawer, embarrassed that a crewmember saw her in a moment of vulnerability.

    Kozar stepped through the doorway, but continued no further. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” he asked.

    “No,” Limis answered shaking her head. “Just distracted.
    What do you have?”

    “The damage report, sir,” said Kozar, holding up the padd. He then placed it in on the desk.

    “Can you give me the short version?” Limis asked with a slight grin at how these discussions usually went.

    “Sh’Aqba has crews working around the clock on the starboard nacelle,” Kozar began. “We can manage no more than Warp Four. At least the enemy is no longer pursuing us.”

    “I’ll keep that in mind,” Limis said half-sarcastically. “How many ships did we lose?”

    “A hundred twelve from the Seventh Fleet,” Kozar ruefully answered. “One hundred forty-seven from the Fifth.”

    Limis sighed dejectedly. She had dealt with such colossal losses throughout her life. If this battle was any indication, Limis immediately knew that regardless of the war’s outcome, the Federation would suffer losses by the time it was all over.

    The loss that affected her most was not something Limis could discuss with the first officer. She called Rebecca to her quarters to discuss the man she thought she stopped loving years ago. The biggest question was why Arnit, after implementing his vengeful plan, decided to allow the surviving ships to escape the mass slaughter.

    “Perhaps he wanted to make sure your life was spared,” Rebecca suggested. Both were seated on the sofa in the captain’s quarters.

    “You may be right,” Vircona replied. “But he didn’t seem to care initially I would die with them.”

    “He may have felt guilty on some level. He made careless mistakes. Perhaps he wanted to get caught.”

    Vircona grinned. Her friend sounded like a counselor even though this ship had none. “Are you sure you weren’t a psychologist by day when you were a terrorist by night?” she jokingly asked.

    “No,” Rebecca answered. “I was a maintenance engineer at the Volan colony.

    “He was willing to die for you, Vira,” Rebecca continued, “just like Michael was willing to die for all of us.”

    “They were people, not machines though,” Vircona said, staring vacantly out the viewport at the starfield. “I’ve buried so many friends and loved ones. A little of me died with them. How much life will I have left when this war ends?”

    Rebecca scooted over to her left and placed her right hand on Vircona’s shoulder. “At least the cause is alive,” she said, “even if very few of us are left. Be grateful.”

    “Than you, Becca,” Vircona whispered. She began fighting back tears while she clasped Rebecca’s hand.

    Rebecca’s eyes began to well up as well. Both women then shared an embrace.

    Chapter Fifteen

    Stardate 51102, one month later

    After about a three week layover at Starbase 375, the Lambda Paz was ready to rejoin the Seventh Fleet in the Tyra System. Ships in that fleet not as heavily damaged were forced into retreat in an adjacent sector. The Starfleet vessels were charged with cutting Dominion supply lines between the Klingon and Cardassian Empires. They were only able to slow the Dominion’s advance. A fresh set of ships would now rejoin the fleet in the Tyra System.

    Limis was inspired by Sullivan’s words. She confidently sauntered onto the bridge from her ready room when the ship was ready to get underway. “You need only give the word, Captain,” Kozar stated.

    Limis nodded. She then shot glances at Morrison, then Huckaby, and finally Carson. “Many of our colleagues died in our last engagement,” she said. “But our cause lives on.
    “The best way to honor their memories is to continue in the fight they made the ultimate sacrifice for. We must be sure their lives were not wasted.”

    The entire bridge crew applauded, except for Kozar. Seeing that he was the only one, he quickly joined in. Maybe Limis was the right choice for command, as he would not have been so eloquent.

    “Set a course for the Tyra System, Miss Carson,” said Limis. “We press on.”
  12. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Episode 2: Moral Dilemma

    Historians Note: The first chapter and epilogue take place one day prior to the opening scenes of “A Time to Stand”. The main events of this story take place two weeks before the events of that same episode.

    Chapter One

    The Seventh Fleet was heavily outnumbered and under heavy fire from a large armada of Jem’Hadar battleships and smaller support vessels. The smaller fighters were taking small Starfleet and Klingon support fighters as if they were easy target practice. A combination Akira and Steamrunner-class destroyers countered with a flurry quantum torpedoes, destroying a few the enemy fighters.

    Larger Federation and Klingon ships faced off against the larger Jem’Hadar battleships. The USS Lambda Paz took a flurry of plasma torpedoes from a cruiser inflicting damage to the unprotected forward saucer section. The Lambda Paz fired forward phasers at point blank range causing some moderate damage. The battleship fired another spread of torpedoes at the port side of the primary hull.

    The bridge rocked. Tactical officer Mandel Morrison kept entering commands to fire phasers at the Jem’Hadar attack ship as it was moving towards other targets. His tactical display then indicated another attack ship, flanked by two smaller fighters off their bow. “Three more Jem’Hadar ships off the port bow,” he reported to Captain Limis Vircona and first officer Ronnie Kozar.

    The captain sat in the command chair viewing her side console to watch a backup tactical display. “Forward phasers at the flanking fighters,” she ordered. “Full spread of quantum torpedoes on the attack ship.”

    A simultaneous spread of phasers and quantum torpedoes erupted from the ship. The phasers knocked out the forward shields of the fighters while the shields of the attack ship absorbed the torpedoes. The enemy ships moved off, but the Lambda Paz arched upward and around towards the three ships. Two separate phaser bursts incinerated the two fighters. The attack ship fired aft torpedoes at the ventral of the saucer section. Two fighters moved in from below and fired disruptors at the lower secondary hull.

    Sparks flew from various auxiliary stations on the bridge while gas leak erupted from the aft situation monitor. “We’ve lost number three and number four shields,” Ensign Willis Huckaby reported from Ops. “Fire suppression system is offline.”

    “Return fire with whatever you can muster,” Kozar shouted to Morrison. “Helm, evasive pattern Pike-delta.”

    The Lambda Paz arched downward exposing the still protected half of the ship. A battleship swooped in from behind and launched a pair of plasma torpedoes tearing a hole in the forward saucer section.

    “Hull breach in the forward saucer,” Huckaby reported. “Emergency force fields off-line.”

    “Primary phaser array has failed,” Morrison added. “We’re down to six quantum torpedoes.”

    “Notify the rest of the fleet,” Limis commanded. “We’re getting the hell out of here.”

    The Lambda Paz laid down suppression fire with the secondary phaser arrays still available as it moved upward and then streaked into warp. Thirteen other vessels followed. Of course the fleet initially consisted of one hundred twelve ships. With the Dominion moving closer to Klingon territory, Starfleet dispatched a large number of Federation and Klingon ships to make a stand in the Tyra System. Instead of slowing the Dominion’s advance, The Federation and the Klingon Empire suffered a devastating defeat.

    “How many other ships managed to escape?” Limis asked, rising from her chair.

    “Thirteen, sir,” Morrison answered.

    “Fourteen ships?” Kozar repeated. “Out of a hundred twelve?! My God!”

    Kozar stood up and looked over at Ops. “What’s our status?” he asked Huckaby.

    “Main power and internal sensors are offline,” Huckaby replied.

    “Do a deck-by-deck survey,” Limis said, dejectedly. “I want a full damage report. I’ll be in my ready room.”

    Limis stepped into the dark and messy ready room, breathing slowly. She wanted to explode in a fit of rage. For three months, the Federation and its allies endured one painful defeat after another. Somehow reminding herself of the defeats she had dealt with throughout her entire adult life was of no consolation to her at this time. The future of the entire quadrant depended on the outcome of this war. If the Dominion was allowed to prevail, Limis dreaded the thought that not only would she be failing her cohorts, living or dead, but the entire Alpha Quadrant.

    She grabbed a piece of debris and flung it against the wall before walking over to her desk. That was enough to calm her down for now. “Begin captain’s personal log,” she said, sitting down behind the desk.

    “Stardate 51196.3,” Limis began after the computer chime. “We’ve suffered another major defeat at the hands of the Dominion. They outnumber us two to one at nearly every turn. I can’t help wondering now if my actions two weeks ago were warranted. They information we received may help the Federation achieve even a minor victory.

    “In the meantime, have I become the enemy I seek to destroy?”
  13. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    This is a bloody mess. Thousands lost, the Fleet crippled. I am waiting to see if you pull a rabbit out of your hat...
  14. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Before continuing any further with this latest story, let me say it borrows from the DS9 episode "In Pale Moonlight" where Sisko reflects on his actions and the Enterprise "Anomaly" where Archer tortures a prisoner to obtain important information.
  15. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Two

    Stardate 51189: Two weeks earlier

    For nearly a month, the Seventh Fleet was engaged in small-scale hit-and-run engagements with the Jem’Hadar in the Tyra System. They were hoping to soften and maybe even divide our forces in preparation for a larger engagement. Our fleet used this opportunity to try to slow them down.

    The Lambda Paz was playing cat-and-mouse with a pair of Jem’Hadar fighters in the atmosphere of a gas giant, the Tyra System’s seventh planet. The ship was in gray mode to avoid attracting too much attention from the enemy. The major drawback of this maneuver, of course, was the ship had minimal sensors, so they wouldn’t know an enemy vessel was approaching until it was right on top of them. At least the Jem’Hadar were at a similar disadvantage.

    Lieutenant Shinar sh’Aqba sat at the auxiliary mission operations station behind tactical monitoring what little sensor capability the ship had. Captain Limis assisted in conducting echolocation sensor scans. Kozar and Morrison, meanwhile, kept an eye on the tactical display. The displays on both station’s screens were blank, yet everyone knew that could change at any minute, except for the Starfleet delta representing their own ship.

    Almost in the blink of an eye, a second blip appeared on the mission ops display. A Jem’Hadar fighter emerged from the atmospheric eddy current firing its disruptors at the Lambda Paz’s aft. The Starfleet ship fired back with its secondary, then primary port phasers.

    “Direct hit to the ventral fusion core,” Morrison reported.
    “We’ve ignited a pocket of toh-maire gas,” sh’Aqba added. “Initiating evasive maneuvers.” Helm control had been temporarily transferred to sh’Aqba’s station in order to change course at a moment’s notice to avoid unpredictable pockets of incendiary gases and to keep from giving away the ship’s position through echolocation scans.

    The gas grazed the starboard nacelles of both the Lambda Paz and the Jem’Hadar fighter. The bridge of the Lambda Paz rocked with enough force send everyone flying had they not been grasping their stations. “So much for evasive maneuvers,” Morrison retorted, rolling his eyes. “The Jem’Hadar is coming around for another pass.”

    “We could use these pockets to our advantage,” Limis mused. “Sh’Aqba, come to within five hundred kilometers of him. Morrison, on my mark, fire main phasers straight at the nose of the ship.”

    “That’s going to be cutting it rather close,” Kozar contended.

    “Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair, Mister Kozar,” the captain quipped in reference to Kozar having been passed up for command of the Lambda Paz.

    Kozar knew immediately that was a jab at him. He took plenty of risks as a frigate post-captain, but they were usually within the bounds of Starfleet protocol. Of course, this was not the time to offer a response.

    The two vessels came nose-to-nose with one another with the Jem’Hadar continuing to fire disruptors. The Lambda Paz fired phasers point-blank, then arched upward. The gas ignited, enveloping the enemy fighter in a fireball.

    The Lambda Paz took a hit to the ventral of the hull. The bridge rocked hard again. “Let’s not do that again,” sh’Aqba muttered once she was standing upright.

    “We may not have another opportunity,” Morrison replied. “The phaser burst at such close range sent a feedback pulse shorting out the emitters.”

    “Make repairing them a top priority then,” Limis pointedly responded. “Any luck with the other guy?”

    “No, sir,” sh’Aqba answered. “He’s probably waiting us like we were waiting out the ship that just went up in smoke.”

    “What would be the point in locating the fighter?” Kozar asked the captain. “Just being in this atmosphere is taking a huge chance with a ship not designed for sub-orbital flight.”

    “I haven’t forgotten your objections,” Limis stated. “If that ship gets out intact, he’ll sent word to his superiors we were too afraid to finish what we started. It’s him or us.”

    “Put it that way, it may as well be him,” Morrison retorted. “We don’t have phasers and we don’t dare try torpedoes with these gases screwing up their guidance systems.”

    “Then we try something else,” Limis offered, “whether that meets with safety protocols or not.”

    Limis sauntered over to the command chair and tapped the comm panel on its left. “Bridge to Commander Logan. Any ideas on how to use the engines to ignite the toh-maire gas when we come face-to-face with that other fighter.”

    “What you are proposing could destroy us as well as the Jem’Hadar,” Logan replied from the main engineering section.

    “Of course, we could collect some of that gas with the bussard collectors and ram it down their throats, although we run the risk of severely damaging the nacelles.”

    Second Lieutenant Erhlich Tarlazzi was an assistant engineer in training. He was overseeing the matter-antimatter conversion rates while overhearing the discussion over the comm. “Captain, if I may make a suggestion, “ he said. “Do you remember how we outran those Cardassian frigates in the McAllister Nebula?”

    “Of course,” the captain replied. She knew exactly what her Maquis colleague was suggesting, but she felt Tarlazzi would be such a good idea in this particular situation. “What are you suggesting?”

    “We calibrate a disproportionate matter-antimatter mix,” Tarlazzi replied. “When the emergency dump kicks in, we make sure we’re over a pocket of toh-maire gas.”

    Kozar winced at the Rigellian engineer’s suggestion. He knew that Logan had final approval regarding pitching suggestions to the CO as the engineering department, and immediately asked for the chief’s input. “What do you make of this, Mister Logan?”

    “If I remember correctly,” Logan grudgingly replied, “the McAllister Nebula is composed of chromium that jams sensors. It’s less volatile than toh-maire. The eruption could encompass us.”

    “Not if we time it properly,” Tarlazzi interjected.

    “’Not if we time it properly’,” Logan sarcastically repeated. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

    “The calibrations should be completed in about two minutes,” Tarlazzi continued over the comm channel.

    Kozar looked over at Limis to make a suggestion. “We should evacuate the lower most decks.”

    Limis nodded and spoke over the comm. “Keep us posted,” she said, before closing the channel.

    Logan then approached Tarlazzi to discuss a matter of Starfleet protocol while the engineering assistant was preparing the calibrations. “In the future,” he said calmly and quietly, “you should bring any suggestions you have to me first.”

    Tarlazzi rolled his eyes at Logan splitting hairs yet again. “Is this another silly Starfleet protocol?” he wittingly asked.
    “There’s nothing silly about it, Lieutenant. In Starfleet, we follow the chain of command.”

    “Sounds rather inefficient if you ask me,” Tarlazzi replied with a sigh. “The captain trusts my judgment.”

    “That is beside the point. I bring all the alternatives to the captain’s attention, and that way she has less people to interact with regarding every aspect of the operation of this ship. Am I making sense, Mister Tarlazzi?”

    “Yes, sir,” Tarlazzi relented, placing his hand against the top of his forehead, and then giving an old Earth military salute. “Consider me on report.”

    Once the calculations were completed, Tarlazzi then hailed the bridge despite the chief engineer’s explanation of the benefits of the chain of command. “Engineering to bridge, we’re ready to put this plan in motion.”

    Limis kept the comm channel, while standing up out of her chair and paced toward the tactical station. “Any sign of that Jem’Hadar fighter?” she asked Morrison and sh’Aqba.
    Morrison saw nothing of interest on the tactical display. He then shot a glance of sh’Aqba. “I’m getting something on sensors,” she said. “It could be the Jem’Hadar.”

    “Keep a sensor lock on it,” Limis ordered. “Locate the nearest pocket of toh-maire and set a course at one-quarter impulse.”

    The remaining Jem’Hadar fighter streaked through a cloud and was right on top of the Lambda Paz. The fighter fired disruptors at point blank range. Sparks flew throughout the bridge. The operations console and two of the auxiliary control stations behind it exploded, sending Ensign Willis Huckaby and two other officers to the deck. Kozar leapt from his seat to take over at Ops. “Medics to the bridge,” he called.

    Limis grabbed the front of the tactical console to keep from falling. “Conn, take evasive action,” she shouted to the flight controller, second Lieutenant Sara Carson. “Get us on top of that toh-maire.”

    Sh’Aqba and Carson did their best to comply as the ship continued to take enemy weapons fire. Limis sighed in frustration at not being able to return fire. Of course, if this plan did not work, no one on board would be alive to worry about conventional weapons not being available. “Calibrate the mix on my mark, Engineering,” she said over the comm.

    Tarlazzi acknowledged the command and kept a firm hand on the console overlooking the warp core. From where he was standing, he could only wait for Vircona make the mark. The comm channel remained open to stay in constant communication with the bridge. He still could not help thinking that life or death in the next few minutes was completely out of his control.

    “Mark,” the captain called.

    Tarlazzi’s hand danced over the console to implement this risky maneuver. The hum of the warp core became louder and louder. On the ventral of the ship, a compartment opened to release the excess antimatter. As expected, a gaseous eruption resulted. The eruption shattered the enemy fighter, but it also sheered into the Lambda Paz.

    Bridge personnel were sent to the deck from the eruption. Limis grasped the carpeting on the floor to keep from being thrown hard into a bulkhead. “Warp Four,” she called. “Any heading.”

    The Lambda Paz’s nacelles lit up and sent the ship streaking into warp to escape further damage. Everyone on the bridge was back on his or her feet. Medical technicians entered the bridge from the port emergency access hatch off the port turbolift to attend to Huckaby and other wounded officers. A human female officer entered the bridge from the port
    turbolift to take over Ops. “What’s our damage?” the captain asked.

    “Main phaser array is burned out,” Morrison answered. “Secondary phasers have limited effectiveness. Shields are at forty-two percent effectiveness.”

    Limis looked over at the relief Ops officer, but then remembered that officer just arrived and would not have anything to report. “Engineering?” she asked over the comm.

    Logan stood at the main situation monitor in engineering displaying a schematic of the ship. “We have hull breaches on decks nineteen and twenty,” he reported. “Hopefully no one was down there when the emergency bulkheads closed.”

    “Send the reports to my ready room as they’re updated,” Limis said before closing the comm channel. “The bridge is yours, Mister Kozar.”

    Captain Limis sat in her ready room sipping raktajino and looking at personnel files of her crew. This was the most arduous part of her on the job training, as her ship was sent out on an important mission almost the second she got this command. Kozar could vouch for a lot of them, taking some the pressure off her to get to know her crew.

    The file on her chief medical officer intrigued Limis the most. Doctor Aurellan Markalis had graduated at the top of her class in medical school. She had received numerous commendations for her work as a trauma surgeon during her brief, but illustrious career. Her file also noted her difficulties getting along with fellow officers, and that she often kept to herself, impeding opportunities for advancement.

    The part that Limis found puzzling was a security notation in red capital letters stating: MEDICAL FILES RESTRICTED TO PERSONNEL AT STARFLEET MEDICAL HEADQUARTERS AND MEDICAL PERSONNEL AT ASSIGNED STARSHIP OR STARBASE. Those files may have contained information that might be of the interest to Markalis’s commanding officer, as she was what Terrans called an “oddball.”

    The sound of the door chime diverted Limis’s attention from the monitor. “Yes, come in,” she said eagerly.

    Kozar stepped into the ready room carrying a padd. After two months in command, Limis had gotten accustomed to the first officer being the bearer of bad news. This visit was likely to be no exception. “The damage report, Captain,” he said, holding up the padd and setting it on the desk.

    “I’ll look it over in a minute,” the captain replied. “I have a question regarding one of the crew if you don’t mind.”

    Kozar raised an eyebrow and sat down in one of the guest chairs. This was not the first time the captain had a question about a crewmember. Limis turned the desk monitor around to show Doctor Markalis’s file. “How do you explain this?” she asked, pointing to the notation that piqued her interest.

    “I don’t understand,” Kozar replied.

    “Why would an officer’s medical files be off limits to his or her CO? What if the information in those files would be of interest?”

    “I wouldn’t want you knowing about illnesses or ailments as long as it does not impair my ability to perform my duties.”

    Limis chuckled. The Terran concept of privacy seemed rather contradictory. “I’d probably see it that way. But for enlightened races, a lot of the Federation members have broad definitions of privacy. Even the logical, unemotional Vulcans are reluctant to discuss their mating practices with off-worlders.”

    The comm chimed and Morrison signaled from the bridge. “Bridge to the ready room. We’re receiving a distress call from a vessel approximately three light years away.”

    “Lay in an intercept course at maximum warp,” the captain replied. “We’re on our way.”

    After three and a half hours at high warp, the Lambda Paz slowed to impulse. The gamma-shift had already come on duty by this time. Ensign Rebecca Sullivan sat at the conn ready to change course at a moment’s notice. Limis, Kozar, and Morrison remained on duty given the urgent nature of this situation.

    “Try hailing them,” the captain commanded.

    “Channel open,” Morrison replied.

    “This is Captain Lims Vircona of the Federation starship Lambda Paz. We’ve answered your distress call. What kind of assistance do you require?”

    The hail was followed by several seconds of silence. “Do they hear us?” Kozar asked.

    “They’re transceiver is in full working order,” Morrison replied.
    Looking at the viewscreen, Sullivan saw the freighter move off. “Captain,” she called. “They’re moving off.”

    Limis looked up at the viewscreen to see what Sullivan had seen. “What the hell are they doing?” she wondered aloud.
    “They’re moving below our secondary hull,” Sullivan answered.

    A indicator flashed on Morrison’s console. “An escape pod is moving toward the hull breach,” he reported.

    “Do we have shields around that section?” Limis asked.

    “No, sir,” said Morrison. “Those generators are still offline.”
    “Then send security teams down there and sound the intruder alert.”

    The bridge rocked from the impact of the escape pod. Down on deck twenty, meanwhile, a group of Nausican, Breen, and Ferengi mercenaries sprawled out of the pod. Two Cardassians were also among that group. Down a corridor, three Breen were confronted by a pair of Starfleet security officers. Phaser fire pinned them down, but they were quickly able to incapacitate them.

    A pair of Ferengi broke into a storage room and placed miniature locator devices on two of the antimatter pods. The two pods then dematerialized.

    Down in engineering, sh’Aqba and Tarlazzi were both working double shifts when the intruder alert sounded. They armed themselves with Type-2 hand phasers in the event the mercenaries stormed the deck. They took cover behind consoles on opposite sides of the section.

    Four Nausicans squeezed out of an access hatch one at a time. Each one who entered began laying down suppression fire with their phaser rifles. Two armed engineers were incapacitated by phaser fire. At the same time, a group of Ferengi materialized on the catwalk in the warp core chamber. They laid down suppression fire. Sh’Aqba and Tarlazzi futilely fired their phasers at the intruders.

    Two of the Ferengi continued firing as they climbed down the ladder. Tarlazzi lunged at the two of them from behind. He wrestled one to the ground, but the other fired, stunning the Rigellian. Sh’Aqba fired her phaser at the Ferengi getting back on his feet. The second Ferengi fired back, but sh’Aqba took cover under a console.

    The Nausicans in engineering continued laying down cover fire while the Ferengi opened an access hatch containing one of the upgraded bio-neural gel-packs. They placed a locator tag on the gel-pack and beamed it away.

    “Stop right there,” a voice called out. Limis and Morrison led a team that also included three other security officers, all of them armed with phaser rifles. The two Ferengi fired their rifles, knocking out one of the junior security guards. The officers still standing took cover against the walls on both sides. The intruders continued firing while backing into the core chamber. One of the Nausicans grabbed a communication device from underneath his right sleeve and they all dematerialized.

    Limis’s security team moved outward towards the core chamber. Morrison kneeled down to attend to Tarlazzi. Limis and the other guards noticed sh’Aqba come out of from under a console. The Andorian then noticed an open access hatch and moved to investigate it. “They stole one of the gel-packs,” she said. “How’s Tarlazzi?”

    “Alive,” Morrison answered. “We’d better get him to sickbay.”
    Limis then tapped to comm badge to hail one of the other security teams. “Limis to Kozar. What’s our status.”

    Kozar led a team of four MACO’s on Deck Nineteen. He tapped his comm badge in reply. “We’re moving towards Cargo Bay Four,” he called. “A group of Breen just beamed in there.”

    Four Breen in the cargo bay were quickly opening containers and knocking them over when they did not have what they were looking for. The security party entered with phaser rifles firing. The Breen fired back with their rifles knocking out two of the MACO’s. The Breen then tagged a cargo container and dematerialized with it.

    On the bridge, Sullivan sat in the first officer’s chair monitoring the freighter. A blip on the readout screen indicating the ship was moving away. “Bridge to the captain,” she said over the comm. “They’re moving off.”
  16. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

    Dec 13, 2003
    Just finished catching up. Very nicely done. I like your characterizations as well as your pacing. Nicely done!
  17. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Three

    Doctor Aurellan Markalis had more biobeds than patients in sickbay. The least critical cases lay on cots throughout the primary ICU. Two medical technicians, a human male and a Vulcan female attended to the patients on the secondary biobeds. Markalis, meanwhile, was attending to the most critical case on the main biobed.

    Limis entered the sickbay, still armed with her phaser rifle, and walked over to Tarlazzi. “How are you?” she sternly asked.

    “I’ve had worse phaser burns,” Tarlazzi responded. “I’ll live.”

    “Just don’t make a habit of taking those kinds of chances with your life.’

    “Yes, ma’am,” Tarlazzi replied, once again giving the military salute.

    Markalis placed a sheet completely over the body of the patient on the main biobed, just as Limis sauntered over. “What about the others?” the captain asked.

    “Most of them minor to moderate phaser wounds,” the doctor replied. “Crewman Jones didn’t make it.”

    Logan walked into the sickbay to deliver a padd to the captain. Limis walked towards the door to get out of the doctor’s way. “I’m afraid the news isn’t good,” the engineer reported.

    Limis grabbed the padd to read the list of stolen items for herself. “Ninety percent of our antimatter tanks,” she read aloud. “Eighteen bio-neural gel packs.” The list went on, but she saw no sense to reading the other stolen items aloud after seeing which of the most crucial of supplies were stolen. “That’s just great,” she sighed.

    “We’re mostly down to the antimatter we have in the reactor,” Logan added. “Once it runs out, we’re dead in the water.”

    Morrison then walked in, so Limis was expecting even more bad news. “We captured one of the raiders,” he reported. “He’s a Cardassian. And he’s in our brig now.”

    “Why would a Cardassian be part of this raiding team?” Limis rhetorically asked.

    Markalis passed between Limis and Morrison carrying a set of empty hyposprays. “Would you all mind taking this meeting somewhere else?” she asked. “I have patients to tend to.”

    Limis nodded to direct the men out of sickbay, suddenly wondering why starship captains often conducted meetings in the room they happened to be in.

    A petite middle-aged Cardassian stood in the cell of the brig. He tried to make idle conversation with the female security guard on duty. She showed very little interest in socializing with the prisoner. Limis paced into the brig area and stood in front of the cell. “You must be the captain,” the prisoner deduced. “I didn’t know Starfleet had any Bajoran captains.”

    “I’m sure there’s a lot we don’t know about the Cardassian military,” Limis retorted. “So, who are you working for?”

    “You’ve probably gone through this drill many times before,” the Cardassian cheerfully stated, taking a seat on the bench in the back of the cell. “Mirren, service number four two three seven violet. I serve the Founders in all things.”

    “No, you don’t. The Founders send the Jem’Hadar to do their dirty work. Not Nausicans, Breen, or Ferengi. And certainly not a Cardassian civilian.”

    “You wound me,” Mirren responded. Like most Cardassians, he tried to keep a sense of humor despite his incarceration. “If I am not a servant of the Founders, exactly who do I work for.”

    “You’re probably with one of those criminal syndicates that goes around raiding passing starships.”

    Mirren stood up and clapped three times. “Very good, Bajoran,” he smugly quipped. “You’re very well informed. Is this Starfleet’s usual interrogation technique? Ask me questions you already know the answers to in order to gauge how cooperative I will be, and to see how good of a liar I am.

    “You know, my dear,” Mirren continued, walking closer to the forcefield. “If I was on Bajor, I’d be afraid for my life. I know of plenty of Bajorans still wanting retribution for Cardassian war crimes.”

    “You admit to being a war criminal?” Limis asked.

    “No,” Mirren sneered, rolling his eyes. “My point is, Bajorans learned a lot from my people during our occupation of your world. That uniform wouldn’t let you get away it. Starfleet prides itself as too civilized to torture prisoners.”

    He had a point there. Starfleet does not torture its prisoners. But I wasn’t concerned with almighty Starfleet regulations. I was tempted that all time to smash his arrogant little face in. I didn’t want to show all my cards at that point yet.

    A group of senior officers convened in the observation lounge to discuss what action to take next. Tarlazzi, Carson, and Ensign Willis Huckaby were also present comparing sensor data accumulated during the raid with Morrison and sh’Aqba. The biggest challenge was how to find the mercenary ship since the thieves had masked their ion trail. Tarlazzi provided information on how the Maquis masked their ion trails from the Cardassians, hoping that would provide some inspiration.

    Limis sat at the head of the table, barely able to stay awake while moderating discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of possible plans. Kozar and Logan stood at the monitor screen on the opposite side of the room. Kozar handed a padd to Logan, who then stepped out through the door behind the monitor, before walking to the captain’s side.

    “Logan is working on a way to conserve what’s left of our antimatter, and he should have some of the damaged systems up and running by morning,” the commander reported. “If you don’t mind my asking, sir, what is the point of going after these mercenaries? We’re hardly in a position to give chase.”

    “Starfleet does not have the luxury of sending any other ships after mercenaries,” Limis explained. “Add to supply shortages, we have to be the ones to go after them. We have to send a message to these kinds of thieves that they won’t have free reign throughout Federation just because we are at war.”

    “Understood,” Kozar answered with a nod. “But I would suggest you get some rest. We won’t come up with a solution overnight.”

    “I’ll take your suggestion under advisement,” Limis replied, turning to face the rest of the officers in the room. Kozar walked away, but Tarlazzi’s attention was on the conversation between the captain and first officer.

    “The first officer is actually right,” he told his friend. “You’re carrying the weight of the Alpha Quadrant on your shoulders.”

    “That’s one of the short definitions of captain,” Limis quipped. She then stood to address the rest of the group. “Hopefully you can continue this without me. I’ll be in my quarters.” She then left the observation lounge through the entrance from the bridge.

    Sara Carson later took her work to the mess hall. She was only one there this late at night. She stared at a padd containing the navigational data Rebecca had gathered during the raid. The caffeine from the coffee she drank had her staring at the padd, but unable to make sense of what was on it. She looked up from the padd to see Morrison enter the mess hall and order a raktajino from the replicator.

    Sara then looked back at the padd hoping that Mandel would not notice her looking in his direction. They had communicated the misunderstanding they had after her near death experience. He was not interested in any kind of committed relationship, so they agreed to slow things down a bit. That he brought something like this up after they had sex, though, created a sense of awkwardness in their off-duty encounters.

    “Lieutenant Commander,” Sara muttered as he walked by.

    “Are we calling each other by our ranks now, Lieutenant?” Mandel asked. “You don’t look very busy.” He sat down next to her to look at the padd.

    “I thought we could use the navigational deflector to detect the mercenary’s ion trail,” she said. “The caffeine is keeping me awake, but it’s not helping me think up a workable plan.”

    “I remember detecting a subspace displacement field to throw off sensors originating from the ship,” said Morrison. “We might be able to discern a pattern in the saturation of those waves. But I would suggest you get some sleep so you can think more clearly.”

    Carson then smiled wryly. “Would you care to join me?” she subtlety inquired.

    “I like the way you think,” Morrison replied, smiling just as wryly. They grasped each other’s hands and kissed. The two stood up to move to a more private venue. Carson reached out her right hand to snare the padd as they headed for the exit.

    Some hours later, Carson stepped off the bridge’s port turbolift while in the process of putting on her black and gray uniform tunic. Kozar immediately noticed two protocol violations on her part, also being late for her shift. She had the padd she was reviewing in tow. “You’re out of uniform, Lieutenant,” the first officer said sternly as he stood up from his chair. “You’re also five minutes late.”

    “Nevertheless,” Carson replied, showing Kozar the padd, “I was able to extrapolate the mercenary’s course by way of residual electrons left by their subspace displacement field.”

    Kozar turned his head to see Morrison exit the starboard turbolift. He was then able to deduce why the alpha shift flight controller was late. Morrison was the master of mixing business with pleasure since he and Kozar were roommates at the Academy. Sara Carson was just another one of Mandel’s conquests. “We’ll skip the court martial,” Kozar joked, looking back at Carson “And set a course that follows that trail.”

    Carson assumed her station to program in the new course. Kozar then paced over to the tactical station to have a word with Morrison. “I’m not one to discourage fraternization with subordinates,” he whispered. “But make sure they are not late to their duty shifts.”

    Who knows how many precious hours could have been saved if Carson had presented these findings sooner. Other than being five minutes late that morning, she did her duty to the letter, which is fly this ship for eight hours a day. Better late than never, many of us. Though Logan warned about the strain put on our engines, I felt we had to take a chance on going nine hours at high warp. We continued to follow the trail of the mercenary ship until it just stopped in the middle of nowhere.

    Limis and Kozar assisted Carson in monitoring the ship’s course. Limis stood next to Carson at the conn to see that the ship’s course continued to match the trail the ship was following. Kozar and Ensign conferred at an auxiliary mission operations station to compare the course with Federation star charts. Kozar zoomed the section on display outward to see the ship was getting closer to the Romulan Star Empire. While the Romulans remained neutral in the war, Federation captains were still strongly advised to steer clear of the Neutral Zone.

    “Captain,” Kozar called. “I should warn you that we’re now within a parsec of the Romulan Neutral Zone.”

    “Then let’s hope our chase doesn’t lead us into Romulan space,” Limis replied. “We can’t afford to be fighting a war on two fronts.”

    “This is strange,” Huckaby remarked from the primary operations station. “I’m reading a gap in the trail.”

    “Any sign of the mercenaries?” Limis asked.

    “No, sir,” the ensign replied.

    “The trail resumes after two hundred million kilometers,” Carson added. “I can’t explain it.”

    “Put the display on the viewscreen,” Limis requested so that all on the bridge could see what the two officers were monitoring.”

    “Maybe stellar winds dispersed the particles,” Morrison suggested.

    “There would still be some kind of particle traces,” Carson added. “I’m not picking up anything on my sensors.”

    “Here’s something even more curious,” Huckaby reported. “The particle decay rate indicates these electrons were left here sixteen hours ago.” A circular representation of the particle residue on the viewscreen flashed in red. The display then advanced to the next graphic indicator. “And this one was left nine hours ago.”

    “Take us out of warp near the end of the first trail,” Limis ordered.

    The Lambda Paz slowed. The surrounding stars, which appeared as streaks of straight lines began to look more like single flashes of light. The ship drew closer to a large circular area of blackness with no stars. From one second to the next, a star field that surrounded the ship was replaced by a dark void.

    The bridge rocked as it was being sucked into the void. The red alert klaxons began sounding automatically. “We’re losing inertial dampers,” Carson reported as the bridge continued shaking.

    “See what you can muster from auxiliary power, Huckaby,” Kozar ordered the dark skinned ensign.

    “Shields are failing,” Morrison added. “Micro-fractures are forming on the hull.”

    The Lambda Paz began clear the void. The total darkness was then replaced by blinding light. Somehow, the ship had gone from entering a void completely dark to the surface of a star.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
  18. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four

    Many of the bridge had to shield their eyes from what appeared. Huckaby turned down the brightness on the viewscreen, so that everyone could regain on their tasks at hand. “What did we just pass through?” Limis demanded, pacing over to the Ops station.

    “You got me,” Carson sighed, trying to make sense of the endless stream of sensor data with which her display was being inundated.” She was just as anxious as the captain to get some answers and looked over at Huckaby.

    “I’ll have to sort out all these readings later,” Huckaby answered. “But if I had to guess, I would think we just entered a Dyson Sphere.”

    “Dyson Sphere?” Limis repeated.

    “Named after Freeman Dyson,” Kozar explained. “In theory, such a structure could draw energy from a star, providing an almost endless source of power.”

    “The sheer amount of raw material needed to build one of those things makes the idea highly impractical,” Huckaby added.

    “I remember hearing about Dyson Spheres in a theoretical astrophysics course at the Academy,” Carson chimed in.
    Limis nodded as if what her officers were saying now made sense. “I remember hearing the Enterprise rescued Scotty from transporter suspension seventy-five years after his transport crashed on a Dyson sphere. Is this one cloaked?”

    “Unlikely,” Morrison responded keeping his focus on the sensor readings on his display. “I didn’t pick up any tachyon spikes while we were passing through… whatever that was.”

    “No matter, that’s not important now,” Limis said. “Any sign of where the mercenaries may have gone?” she then asked Carson.

    “I have fragments of their trail on my navigation sensors,” Carson answered. “Solar flares are making it difficult to completely detect.”

    “Another good reason hide here,” Kozar retorted, sauntering over to the tactical station. “Mandel, did the shipyard crews get around to installing metaphasic shielding.”

    Morrison entered a few commands into his console. A file on metaphasic shielding then appeared on the display screen. “Lucky us,” he answered. “Activating now.”

    “That should protect us for a while,” Kozar explained to the captain. “Hopefully, it’ll hold for as long as we need to be here.”

    “I have something on sensors that may be of help,” “Huckaby reported.

    Limis and Kozar walked over to operations station to hear what the ensign had to say. “This sphere is constructed of a poly-duranium alloy,” he told them. “I’m reading a monotanium hull alloy just like the mercenary ship at bearing nine-five mark two-zero-five.”

    “Conn, set a course,” Limis commanded.

    The Lambda Paz arched upwards towards the interior hull of the Dyson Sphere. It soon came across a craft the size of an escape pod docked along the interior of the hull. “Sounds like a good starting point,” Limis suggested. “Prepare an away team, Kozar.”

    “Aye, sir,” Kozar replied. “Morrison, assemble a security team. Kozar to sh’Aqba, report to the transporter bay with an engineering team.” He and Morrison then stepped onto the starboard turbolift.

    Kozar, Morrison, sh’Aqba, and Tarlazzi materialized, knees slightly inside the small pod that did not leave much standing room. Two human male security officers were behind them. Sh’Aqba upholstered her tricorder and then entered a few commands into the single seat piloting station to transmit information into tricorder translated into Federation standard. “This appears to be a cargo pod,” she reported. “The cargo holds are below here. Whatever cargo was in them was transported out roughly fifteen hours ago.”

    “Any idea what was transported?” Kozar inquired.

    “The transport logs were wiped afterward,” the Andorian answered.

    “We should probably take our chances in the habitat this thing is docked at,” Tarlazzi suggested.

    “Agreed,” said Morrison, upholstering his Type-2 hand phaser. He then looked over at the two security guards. “Set phasers to cut through the hatch.”

    The two other security officers compliantly pulled out their phasers and began firing at the ceiling hatch. Within two minutes, the six-person team was inside an artificial habitat of the Dyson Sphere.

    The team made its way through a circular hatch in the floor one at a time. The Starfleet officers then tiptoed quietly through a dark corridor. The metal walls showed signs of age from the large rust patches. Live wires protruded from the walls, the ceiling, and the deck. The away team had to walk slowly in order to avoid accidental contact with those wires.

    Kozar, Morrison, and sh’Aqba had tricorders out to scan for the locator beacon most Starfleet property. If the alien thieves had known of such technology, they could have easily removed the devices in order assure the pilfered equipment could not be found. That was all they had to go on, though, as the crew was not afforded the time of formulating a rough schematic of the sphere and its artificial habitats. “It’s like a haunted house,” Morrison commented.

    “Haunted house?” sh’Aqba asked, not familiar with the antiquated Earth term.

    “Old Earth mythology,” Kozar explained. “An old abandoned house is often believed to be haunted by demonic spirits.”

    “Something modern science has disproved,” Tarlazzi chimed in.

    “Nevertheless, this place gives me the creeps,” Morrison replied.

    “This almost seems too easy,” Kozar mused.

    The tricorder scans led the team into a large storage room. It looked to have to been ransacked with containers knocked on their sides. A set of upright containers filled the center of the cargo hold. Kozar raised a hand signaling the rest of the team to stay, and then nodded to Morrison to accompany him to the cargo containers. Kozar opened one of the containers to reveal Starfleet ration packs. “This looks like our stuff,” he said.

    A particle burst struck the wall behind Morrison just below the ceiling. Morrison quickly jerked his head to the right. “Ambush!” he called out.

    The rest of the team took cover behind the cargo containers. A Romulan peered out through a doorway on the opposite end of the cargo hold, firing his phaser again. He was wore a light gray jumpsuit rather than a military uniform. Two other Romulan civilians entered the hold firing projectile phaser rifles. Morrison was then able to notice the brow ridges that distinguished Romulans from most other Vulcanoid races. “Romulans?” he wondered aloud.

    “We’ll worry about their involvement in this later,” Kozar replied, firing his phaser at their assailants.

    Two of the Romulans continued to lay down cover fire while the one on the right made his way around the set of containers. Tarlazzi turned to his right and fell down on his back to fire his fire his phaser stunning the Romulan. The one Romulan who was armed with a small pistol climbed onto the top of the containers to lunge at the officers. He jumped Morrison, knocking his phaser out of his hand. The Romulan pointed his pistol at Morrison’s head, but the two junior guards stunned him with their phaser rifles.

    The third Romulan who was still standing darted towards the Starfleet team. A dagger he was holding as he charged towards them grazed sh’Aqba in her left shoulder. She quickly fell over and Kozar lunged at the attacker. The Romulan quickly broke free. The dagger sliced through Kozar’s left wrist. Morrison then fired his phaser, stunning the last attacker.

    Tarlazzi and the guards helped sh’Aqba to sit back up while Morrison walked over to Kozar. “The knife just grazed me,” sh’Aqba lied.

    “You should still have Doctor Markalis look at it,” Tarlazzi replied.

    Morrison ripped part of the left cuff of his gold inner tunic to apply a tourniquet to Kozar’s wound. “It looks superficial,” the commander insisted.

    “We shouldn’t take any chances with it though,” Morrison replied.

    “Tarlazzi,” Kozar called to the Rigellian. “Set up the transport enhancers.”

    Tarlazzi slid rods from the case he had been carrying and handed them off to the two guards. The three rods were placed around the cargo containers. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” said Kozar, tapping his combadge. “Kozar to Lambda Paz. Energize.”

    The away team and the cargo containers then dematerialized.

    Over the next several hours, other away teams consisting of engineering and security personnel transported to the sphere habitat to locate more of the missing equipment. These teams encountered similar resistance from trios of Romulans. Kozar’s team, meanwhile, reported to Captain Limis in the observation lounge for debriefing after routine medical exams in sickbay. While en route sickbay to the briefing room, Kozar again questioned the captain’s decision to engage in such a risky endeavor. He had the same concerns about going off a wild goose chase to retrieve stolen equipment, especially now that Romulans were involved.

    “I’ve mentioned how Starfleet is dealing with supply and manpower shortages,” Limis reiterated, as they stepped into a turbolift heading for the bridge. “Deck one,” she ordered the lift’s computer.

    “Besides,” the captain continued, “in the Maquis, we put ourselves in greater danger nabbing technology that did not belong to us.”

    Lieutenant Commander Morrison and Lieutenant sh’Aqba were already in the observation lounge when the captain and first officer arrived. The two subordinate officers were comparing notes regarding personnel from their respective departments available for away mission duty. Limis and Kozar sauntered in and stood at the head of the table. “What’s our status?” the captain asked.

    “We have security and engineering teams aboard the sphere to find the rest of our equipment,” sh’Aqba responded. “Commander Logan is staying aboard to supervise repairs. He should have warp drive online in thirty minutes.”

    Limis nodded approvingly, and then looked to Morrison. “Major Davis is leading the MACO’s in case the teams encounter further resistance,” the second officer stated. “The question is what the Romulans have to gain from all this.”

    “They’re probably not affiliated with the Dominion,” Kozar offered. “The Romulan Empire signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. They’re neutral.”

    “Admiral Ross relayed a message to me from Starfleet Intelligence,” Limis added. “Various criminal syndicates have raiding starships for the latest technological innovations. With the Maquis mostly out of the picture, these mercenaries have to turn to organized crime groups. The Romulans’ stake in this is probably to feel out both sides of the war to see who is a greater threat to their interests.”

    “The teams did find equipment that was clearly beyond Romulan technological capabilities,” said sh’Aqba. “The science labs are analyzing it now.”

    “Anything else about the Dyson Sphere?” the captain asked the engineer. “This is an interesting archeological find, worthy of extensive study if we weren’t in the middle of a war."

    “According to Ensign Makassa,” Kozar replied, in reference to the gamma-shift operations officer, “the quantum scans indicate this thing is almost two hundred thousand years old.”
    “How did they conceal it if isn’t using cloaking technology?” Limis asked.

    “From what we can gather from the all the sensor data,” Morrison replied, “whoever built it took a pocket of subspace and folded over the sphere.”

    “Too bad we can’t stay here and study it further,” the captain lamented. “Keep me posted on your progress, people. Dismissed.”

    The other officers left leaving Limis to mull over the implications of stumbling across such ancient, but advanced technology. In the wrong hands, this Dyson Sphere could cause disaster, especially if the Dominion learned of it.

    As much as my first officer second-guessed my decision to go after the thieves and go to such risky lengths to take back our pilfered equipment, I knew I made the right choice. After that debriefing, I learned of a breakthrough that would be of major importance. I’m an agnostic, but I would still say that the Prophets were pointing me in the right direction.

    Markalis called Limis into the main science lab. She had been analyzing one of the mystery devices the away teams brought aboard. The science officers on duty worked tirelessly to get some idea on what purpose it served. The doctor had quickly discovered something that she thought the captain would consider important.

    “From what we can tell, this device is designed to analyze and identify various types of microorganisms,” Markalis explained to the captain upon the older woman’s arrival. “It is unlike any medical technology Starfleet has. I can also break down those microorganisms into their base elements.” Markalis handed Limis a padd containing a set of complicated chemical formulas.

    “I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Limis replied. “You’ll have to give me the short version.”

    “Tri-nucleic fungi can be broken down into yridium bicantizine,” the doctor answered. “It’s an active ingredient in ketracel white.”

    “Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?” Limis asked with a grin.

    “I’ve observed that Starfleet officers feel a need to impress their captains with their excellent reasoning skills,” Markalis explained. For the first time that Limis could remember since coming aboard the Lambda Paz, Markalis smiled.

    A light went on Limis’s mind. This was superior Dominion technology, meaning the mercenaries who raided her ship also stole Dominion technology. If that was the case, then the Cardassian in the brig would have some idea as to the location of a ketracel-white manufacturing plant. Having once been a resistance fighter, Limis engaged in other lines of work as a cover profession. Perhaps Mirren’s cover profession was working in a ketracel-white manufacturing plant.

    Limis then headed straight for the brig and dismissed the guard on duty. Mirren was taking a light nap, so he immediately sat up on the bench upon the captain’s arrival. “You got your stuff back without my help,” he said with that wry smirk Limis had become familiar with during their last exchange. “Here to let me go.”

    “Your group stole equipment from a ketracel-white manufacturing plant. Where is it?”

    Mirren shook his head, attempting to feign ignorance of the Bajoran was talking about. “I don’t know of any ketracel-white plant,” he confidently insisted.

    You’re lying!” Limis sneered. She entered a few commands into the wall panel to the left of the cell shutting off the forcefield. She then upholstered her phaser and pointed it at the prisoner. “Get up!” she insisted.

    When Mirren did not comply, Limis grabbed him by the collar to force the Cardassian upright. She then dragged him out of the cell and out into the corridor. The human male guard assigned to detention cell overnight had been waiting outside the brig, and he gazed in wonder at the captain was planning. Further down the corridor, a passing human female officer passed by and stopped in her tracks staring in awe. “As you were, Ensign,” Limis said.

    “Where are you taking me?” Mirren rhetorically asked. “Your torture chamber?”

    “I’m going to get that information out of you any way I can,” Limis cryptically replied.

    “Like I said before, Starfleet is too civilized to torture.”
    They arrived at an airlock where Limis opened the door and shoved the prisoner inside. After closing the door again, she peered through the small transparent aluminum window. “This airlock can decompress in forty seconds,” she said. “Tell me what I want to know.”

    Mirren chuckled, thinking Limis was making a cruel joke. Limis then pressed a button to the right of the door, cutting off the oxygen. “The ketracel-white plant,” she demanded, gritting her teeth.

    Morrison and two security guards arrived on the scene while the captain and the prisoner stared each other down. “Captain,” he said.

    “Everything is under control, Morrison,” Limis replied.

    Morrison could not believe his eyes when he saw the readout on the airlock control panel. “The airlock is decompressing,” he said. “He’ll die.”

    “Not for another twenty seconds he won’t,” Limis responded without looking away from Mirren. “Where is the ketracel-white manufacturing plant?”

    Mirren began gasping for breath. “Say again,” Limis taunted.
    With five seconds left before the airlock completely decompressed, Limis recompressed it and opened the door. Mirren sprawled out, falling to the deck while gasping for air. “Sector…” he gasped. “Sector four-nine-seven.” Mirren suddenly began choking.

    The two kneeled down to attend to the Cardassian as he was lapsing into unconsciousness. Limis tapped her combadge to signal the transporter room. “Transporter room,” she said, “lock onto our Cardassian prisoner and beam him to sickbay.” Mirren then dematerialized.
  19. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Five

    Mirren’s lifeless body lay on the main biobed in sickbay. The Vulcan nurse placed a cardio-stimulator on the patient’s chest hoping to revive him. Doctor Markalis entered commands into the biobed’s surgical scanner to administer electrical pulses from the stimulator. The scan indicating Mirren’s vital signs indicated a flat line even after each pulse. “Again,” the doctor ordered after each pulse.

    No change registered on the EKG readout. After five pulses at the highest intensity, the doctor gave up. “I’m sorry,” she said, lowering her head dejectedly. “I did everything to try to save him. Everything I could. But he’s dead. I’m very sorry.”
    “I know you did everything,” Limis replied. “It’s my fault. How did it happen.”

    Markalis looked straight ahead and walked over to Limis. “Cardassian physiology is adapted to a thinner atmosphere on their home planet,” she said in a dispassionate monotone voice. “The air pressure calibrations on Starfleet ships bombarded his respiratory system. Like frostbite, you have to warm the affected area slowly. Otherwise, the sudden blood could lead to potentially fatal damage.”

    In my youth, I would have said that Mirren was just a Cardassian. When I was recruited into the Resistance. I hated all Cardassians and wanted them all dead. As I got older, I was able to temper that hatred and think in more pragmatic terms. Each death that I caused made a little of me die.

    There are rules even in war. And I condemned a sentient being, not to mention a noncombatant to his death. I was ready to face the music.

    Limis sat in her ready room the next morning reading daily status reports when Kozar and Morrison paid her a visit. The first officer had given her a hard time about minor violations of protocol since her first day on the job. Limis immediately sensed that Kozar would throw the proverbial book at her on even more serious violations of regulations.

    “Mister Morrison told me what happened last night,” Kozar matter-of-factly stated.

    Limis looked up to see the chief of security also present. “Why do I get the feeling you’re going to gang up on me?” she inquired.

    “Before we left space dock,” Kozar stated, “Admiral Jellico contacted me.”

    Limis felt that Kozar saw her as an obstacle to the starship captaincy he had been seeking since his tour on the Horatio Nelson. She stood up assuming he would hesitate to use this latest situation to push her out of the way. “What are you saying?” she asked, standing up.

    “Captain Limis,” Kozar proclaimed, “I hereby relieve you of your command under Starfleet Regulation 104, Section C.”

    “That regulation only applies to a CO judged physically and mentally unfit. Can Doctor Markalis certify that with a full medical examination?”

    “Admiral Jellico told me she doesn’t need to. He granted me expanded autonomy which I am now using.”

    Kozar then turned to Morrison. “Mister Morrison,” he said. “Please escort the captain to her quarters and confine her there.”

    Morrison walked around the desk to carry out that command. “I’m sorry, Captain,” he said apologetically. “If you’ll come with me.”

    “She’s all yours, Captain,” Limis sneered at Kozar on her way out of the ready room.

    For sure, my short Starfleet career was over. While the Cardies may argue that the ends justify the means, Starfleet and the Federation have very little tolerance for mistreating prisoners. Despite the intense guilt I felt over Mirren’s death, I felt in the back of my mind such actions would help turn the tide in this war. The JAG office wouldn’t have seen it that way and I was prepared to accept. But five days later, something happened to change all that.

    Vice Admiral William Ross sat at his desk reviewing the latest casualty reports from the Tyra System. The hardest part about reading these reports was looking over the names of those who were unaccounted for. So many ships were lost in these battle, so the families of those missing people were left in limbo on whether they were dead or alive. He welcomed any kind of distraction from this difficult duty, which came in the form of his office door chiming. “Yes,” he called.

    Rear Admiral Edward Jellico entered holding up a padd. “What’s the meaning of this, Bill?” he asked, raising it.

    “I beg your pardon?” Ross innocently answered.

    Jellico entered a command on the padd to call up the relevant information. “”On the recommendation of Vice-Admiral William Ross’,” he said, reading the contents, “’no disciplinary action will be taken against Captain Limis Vircona at this time.’ Why the hell not?”

    “She was able to acquire vital information that could give us even a minor victory,” Ross stated, rising from his chair, “which our troops could certainly use right about now.”

    “She tortured a man, and he died soon afterward,” Jellico snapped back.

    Ross took a few deep breaths to keep this discussion from becoming a knockdown-drag out shouting match. He then circled around the desk and sat in one of the guest chairs. “I didn’t expect this kind of reaction from you, Ed,” he said, calmly. “Your style of command is one that demands results. You’ve had plenty of dealings with the Cardassians during your career.

    “This is war, Ed. We can’t be distracted with penalizing someone for a petty violation of protocol.”

    “’Petty violation of protocol’?” Jellico repeated, sitting in the other guest chair. “That’s what you call torturing a man? By letting this slide, you’re basically giving all Starfleet CO’s unlimited freedom to use whatever methods they may deem necessary. And to blazes with the Seldonis Four Convention.”

    Stardate 51196.32

    Limis Vircona sat in behind the desk of the ready room sipping whiskey from a shot glass. As a result of Ross’s recommendation, her command was reinstated. The downside was Limis witnessed the Battle of the Tyra System, where nearly a hundred ships were lost to the Jem’Hadar. While awaiting full damage reports, Limis retired to her ready room to reflect on the events that led to the death of that Cardassian. The cataclysmic confrontation she had just brought her back to that incident. Would the information obtained through such extreme measures culminate in a reversal of a demoralizing trend?

    “I was off the hook,” Limis stated in her personal log. “I’ll bet Jellico was furious. Kozar was not too happy either. He said the JAG office was setting a ‘dangerous precedent.’ As much as I wanted to gloat, we was right. At some point, we have to be willing to stand on principle. Even if we do defeat the Dominion, they’ll still achieve a philosophical victory if we started to behave too much like them.

    “Even so, I have done things I am not proud of. I sold sexual favors to high-ranking Cardassian military operatives. I killed more Cardassians than I would care to count, including civilians either to achieve mission objectives or in acts of petty revenge. People die in war, and Mirren is just one more casualty of war. I may hate myself for some of the horrible things I have done. But I can learn to live with that guilt.”

    Limis stood up from her desk, paced over to the replicator, and ordered another shot of whiskey. After downing it in one gulp, she returned to the desk. “Computer,” she said stoically, “erase that entire personal log.”

    Two weeks after the Battle of Tyra, Admiral Ross sent Captain Benjamin Sisko and the senior officers of the USS Defiant on daring mission into the heart of Dominion territory using the information Limis had obtained by way of torturing and inadvertently killing Mirren. Using a captured Jem’Hadar fighter, Sisko and his crew were able to destroy the ketracel-white manufacturing plant, putting the enemy in a difficult conundrum for months with its supply line to the cut off.
  20. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Historians Note: The main storyline takes place during the week between the events of "Sacrifice of Angels" and "You Are Cordially Invited…"

    Chapter One
    Captain’s Log, Stardate 51241.3: The Lambda Paz is docked at Deep Space 9 for repairs, following the successful Operation: Return. With a lull in the fighting, my crew is enjoying some much-needed time off before returning to the front lines.

    One of the hardest duties of Starfleet officer was ordering his or her crew to their deaths. Limis was put in that position during her time in the Bajoran resistance and in the Maquis. On numerous occasions, she questioned whether the causes those groups fought for were worth laying down the lives of her cohorts. While not a believer in the Prophets, the mysterious non-corporeal beings inside the Wormhole, like most Bajorans, Limis did find solace in memorializing those who had made the ultimate sacrifice as a reminder that they were people and not machines.

    Nearly two dozen crewmembers gathered in the forward most section of the ship’s saucer section to say their goodbyes to those who lost their lives in the four months since the Dominion War began. From the destructive Siege of Sector 21607, where Starfleet was lured into a Dominion ambush, to the Betreka Nebula counterstrike, designed to divert enemy forces from the battle to retake Deep Space Nine, the Lambda Paz had suffered heavy casualties among its officers and crew.

    Captain Limis Vircona, Commander Ronnie Kozar, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison, and Commander Chaz Logan stood before the front viewport wearing full dress uniforms. Among the others present was Shinar sh’Aqba, Erhlich Tarlazzi, Rebecca Sullivan, Sara Carson, and Aurellan Markalis.

    “Since this war began,” Limis proclaimed, “we have lost so many ships and so many lives. But our cause in battling the forces of tyranny and oppression remains a just one. It is important that we remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are gathered here today to honor their memories.”

    A procession of caskets exited the ship from the forward torpedo launchers. They were accompanied by a shuttle escort on both sides. Kozar then began to read the names of the deceased on a padd in the order their caskets were ejected.

    “Nowitzki. Hayes. Mitchell. Prieto. Hawkins. Jones. Compton. Sonak. Yar. Grabowski. Monroe. Tomlinson. Hawk. Branson. Th’Ralt. T’Mirra. Davis. Munoz. Kaplan”

    “From the stars we came,” said Limis, “and to the stars we shall return.”

    For the first time in as long as he could remember, Quark was actually glad to see his establishment on Deep Space 9 crowded with Starfleet officers.

    During the four months when the station was under Dominion control, the Ferengi admitted while drunk that he missed the Federation. Though Federation and Ferengi values were in conflict, Quark found he preferred Starfleet over the Dominion and the Cardassians.

    He personally delivered the beverages ordered by three members of the Lambda Paz crew. Commander Ronnie Kozar, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison, and Lieutenant junior grade Sara Carson sat at a table near the bar and to the right of the Dabo wheel. Morrison took a sip of his alcoholic beverage before looking over at Kozar, seated on the other side of the table. “So where do you think we’re going next?” he matter-of-factly asked his friend.

    “I’d rather not think about that for the next few days,” Kozar sighed before taking a sip of his beverage.

    Carson, seated at Morrison’s right, smacked her lover’s arm with the back of her left hand. “Can’t you have you think of something other than work for one minute?”

    “I disobeyed orders to save your life,” Morrison retorted.

    “That’s fair,” Carson replied. She then looked away from both men while rolling her eyes.

    Kozar still knew that incident was a topic Carson was not comfortable with. After her shuttle crash-landed on a planetoid during their ship’s maiden voyage, the captain decided to lead an away team to locate Carson and her copilot. In the midst of a firefight with the Jem’Hadar, Limis decided to abandon the rescue, but Morrison went off to save Carson anyway.

    That incident was Ronnie’’s first clue about the nature of Mandel’s relationship with Sara. He did not know for sure until one morning when they were late for their duty shifts. “So, what is the nature of your relationship?” he asked them.

    “We haven’t exactly defined it just yet,” Mandel stated. “We’re taking it slowly.”

    “We’re just two people who enjoy each other’s company,” Carson added.

    Kozar smirked as if he didn’t buy what the two of them were a saying.

    Carson looked over the table at the floor hearing a humming noise. She did not hear it until a lull in the conversation. And it was getting louder. “Do you hear that?”

    Kozar turned his head to listen for the noise to which Carson was referring. “Yes,” Kozar answered. “It’s like a humming noise.”

    Kozar and Carson both stood up and slowly tiptoed towards the source of the noise. The hum was then replaced by a swishing noise. Morrison stood up and knocked over the table in the process of tackling his two colleagues. A fireball erupted from the floor. Most of the debris that accompanied the explosion caught Morrison, as all three of them were knocked unconscious.