Chapter Two The three injured officers were referred to the station’s infirmary. Lambda Paz chief medical officer Aurellan Markalis tended to Kozar and Carson, who had minor injuries, in the main exam room. The doctor applied a dermal regenerator to a cut on Carson’s forehead. At the reclined patient chair, a Bajoran female nurse applied a hypospray to Kozar’s neck. “You suffered minor injuries, Lieutenant,” Markalis told Carson. “You’re free to go now.” “How is Commander Morrison?” Carson asked. “He suffered multiple shrapnel wounds from what I’m told,” Markalis demurely replied. “Doctor Bashir is treating him, but he should be fine.” “How chivalrous of him,” Carson quipped. “I wouldn’t say that,” Kozar offered. “He saved me as well.” “Heroic then?” Carson suggested. “He did his job,” Markalis stated, “to assure the safety of his fellow officers.” “Thank you, Doctor,” Carson muttered rolling her eyes. Carson walked into the primary intensive care unit adjacent to the main waiting area where station CMO Julian Bashir tended to Morrison. The security chief lay face down so the doctor could treat the wounds where he absorbed the shrapnel. Bashir used a set of tweezers to remove each bit of shrapnel from Morrison’s bare back. “You were fortunate that none of these bits hit a vital organ,” Julian stated. He then sarcastically added, “You should be a little more careful looking out for the safety of your fellow officers.” After removing each piece of metal debris, Bashir applied a dermal regenerator to the flesh wounds. The process took about five minutes. Carson watched at the entrance to stay out of the doctor’s way. Once finished, Bashir entered some notes into a main console. “I suggest taking the next few days off,” he said. “Will that affect our holosuite visit?” Carson asked, slowly walking towards the biobed. “I’d hate for us to have to cancel it with our ship having no holodecks.” Morrison grinned while sitting up. He then grabbed a gray sleeveless tank top and put it on. “I’m sure that won’t be a problem,” he said, “as long as I don’t have to knock my fellow officers out of the way of more explosions.” Both exchanged smirks. Morrison then grabbed his gold tunic and black and gray uniform jacket, and the couple bolted out the door. “You’re dismissed, Commander,” Bashir jokingly muttered without looking away from his console. Quark sat in the security office acting befuddled as he always did whenever his nemesis Security Chief Odo brought him in for questioning. For almost nine years, Odo was obsessed with finding a reason to throw the Ferengi entrepreneur in jail, even for something as little as failure to conform to safety regulations. “I must protest, Constable,” he innocently stated. “Surely my contributions to the resistance during the Dominion’s occupation entitles me to some benefit of the doubt.” “It wasn’t the first time you’ve tried to ingratiate yourself hoping we’d look the other way for awhile,” Odo sternly replied, while partially seated at the front of the desk. “We’ve had this conversation a few times before. You neglect much needed maintenance until someone gets hurt, and you end up having to pay a small fine.” The usual banter between the two adversaries was interrupted when Captain Limis entered the security office, accompanied by Morrison. “Security Chief Odo,” she said, “Captain Limis Vircona of the Lambda Paz. This is my head of security, Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison.” Odo immediately knew that Limis was going ask about his progress in the investigation. Although he was answerable to the station commander (whether that was Gul Dukat or Captain Sisko), he preferred a high degree autonomy when conducting a major investigation. He did not care for having to deal with Starfleet bureaucrats; especially those who he felt were trying to usurp his authority. “No,” he said, “I don’t have any leads so far, Captain. Besides, this does not concern you. It is a matter of station security.” “Three of my officers were injured in that explosion,” Limis shot back. “That makes it my concern.” Odo sighed and walked behind his desk. “Quark, you’re free to go,” he announced. Quark leapt up out of his chair. “Feel free to ask for my help in finding whoever is responsible for the loss of business today,” he said to Limis before walking out of the office. Odo grinned, seeing right through the façade. “And, Captain,” Odo continued, “I will let you know of any leads I come across.” “I will be functioning as Captain Limis’s liaison in this investigation,” Morrison stated. “As long you understand this is my investigation, Commander,” Odo replied. Morrison nodded an approval. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” Limis said, looking at Morrison. Then to Odo, she said in reference to her deceased Maquis colleague Michael Eddington, who served as DS9’s head of Starfleet security (assigned by Starfleet because they didn’t trust Odo) prior to his defection, “I’ve heard from Michael how you prefer to operate. So what do you have so far?” “Chances are this incident is not as simple as Quark not keeping up with his maintenance schedule,” Odo replied. “I keep him in check though. Given the damage inflicted on the station at the end of the Occupation five years ago, we may have stumbled on another Cardassian booby trap.” “This time, however, the Cardassians had far less time to evacuate,” Morrison offered. “That’s true,” said Odo. “But I’ve learned never to underestimate Cardassian ingenuity. It could’ve been something that was lying dormant for many years.” “Keep me posted on your progress then,” Limis said to both chiefs of security, before walking out of the office. Lieutenant Shinar sh’Aqba crawled through a Jeffries Tube to make investigate a power fluctuation. This layover at Deep Space Nine, which had been seized by the Dominion four months earlier and then just returned to Federation control, was hardly for her and most of the engineering crew. A number of crewmembers were away on shore leave, and so the senior most engineering officers had extra repair and maintenance work. Granted, station chief of operations Miles O’Brien could spare members of his crews to lend a hand. However, those engineers were not entirely familiar with the latest technological innovations the Lambda Paz featured. Lieutenant junior grade Erhlich Tarlazzi, the Rigellian assistant engineer was working on an access panel down the tube. Sh’Aqba’s eyes widened as if he was not supposed to be there, and she moved towards him faster. “You do not have authorization to work in this area, Lieutenant,” she said calmly, but sternly. Tarlazzi looked at his Andorian superior with a smirk. “I’m a member of this crew,” he answered. “That’s authorization enough, isn’t it?” “Maintenance on the navigational sensors is not on today’s assignment roster,” sh’Aqba explained. “You should have checked with me or Commander Logan before making changes in scheduling.” “Relax, Lieutenant,” Tarlazzi said with a chuckle. “I didn’t do any harm.” “On the contrary,” sh’Aqba responded, crawling over to look at Tarlazzi’s work,” I scheduled a warp engine diagnostic for this morning while you were re-routing power. We have lost hours of work because of this.” “When you put it that way,” Tarlazzi quipped. “You are, of course, still in on the job training,” said sh’Aqba. “But your cavalier attitude worries me, Mister Tarlazzi.” Sh’Aqba’s right antenna turned slightly. While not looking directly at Tarlazzi, her quadroscopic vision, supplied by her antennae, sensed that Tarlazzi’s skin had flushed and his pupils had dilated. She quickly dismissed what her mind was telling her. “You’re dismissed, Lieutenant,” she said harshly. “Yes, ma’am,” Tarlazzi replied, before crawling down the tube. Elim Garak was once again the only Cardassian residing on Deep Space 9. Unlike the end of half-century long Cardassian occupation of Bajor five years earlier, the return of the station to Starfleet control this time around seemed like a smoother transition. Much of the station’s Federation and Bajoran population had initially been suspicious of the Cardassian who owned a tailor shop on the Promenade. He had done much over those years to assuage those suspicions, although he was more comfortable not being trusted. One remaining reason for suspicion was that he did not want a security escort to accompany, given that many Bajorans and Cardassians had wanted him dead. His own father and former mentor had hired an assassin to eliminate him three years earlier, but he remained tight-lipped to station personnel investigating the attempt on his life. He paced through the corridors of the habitat ring of the station. A hooded man who bumped into him from behind sidetracked him. “Pardon me,” the man mumbled, while looking down at the floor. The hooded man’s brick red robe piqued Garak’s curiosity, as the man’s clothing looked vaguely familiar. As an agent of the Cardassian intelligence agency the Obsidian Order, he had used the trick of pretending to bump into someone he and his fellow were keeping track of. He turned a corner and saw the hooded man who passed him. Two other men were with him, wearing the same brick red robes with large hoods on their heads. They all had their faces covered with peach colored masks. Garak had heard of a Bajoran extremist group whose undercover operatives had dressed in this manner. Its numbers had diminished, however, four years earlier when evidence was revealed that the Cardassians had sponsored its attempt to rid Bajor of all foreign influences. “May I help you, gentleman?” Garak asked in a humorous tone. The man in the center of group took two slow steps closer to Garak. “The Prophets say this is a holy time,” he rasped. “B'tanay, the time of awakening. Return to that dark place where all life springs. Mind awakens and focuses on its task. Pagh’tem’far b’tanay.” “Pagh’tem’far b’tanay,” the other two masked men repeated in unison. “I seem to have taken a wrong turn,” Garak replied. “Carry on.” Garak turned around and began to walk away when two of the masked men grabbed him by both arms, and then pushed him against a wall. One of the men punched Garak in the jaw sending him to the floor. The mysterious assailants then held the Cardassian down while the third masked man moved towards them. He took a cylindrical device out of his pocket and jammed it against Garak’s forehead. Down the corridor, Mandel Morrison stepped off the turbolift and saw what taking place. He tapped his combadge to call for reinforcements. “Security to the habitat ring, level four, section five-three alpha,” he called. He then ran towards the fracas and bowled into one of Garak’s attackers. The masked assailant threw Morrison aside. He stood up and ran off with the other two masked men. Morrison quickly got back on his feet to check on Garak. The Cardassian slowly sat up feeling blood trickling down the side of his mouth. Two Bajoran Militia security deputies stepped off the turbolift with phasers in hand. They immediately upholstered once they saw Morrison attending to Garak. “Are you all right?” Morrison asked Garak. “I’m fine,” Garak replied, feeling his spot on his forehead where he was branded.