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Unofficial Literary Challenge #47: "Dominion Deliberations"

starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,705 Arc User
edited December 2018 in Ten Forward
Welcome to Unofficial Literary Challenge #46: "Dominion Deliberations"!

Prompt 1: "Dominion Delegation" by @worffan101

You and your crew have been chosen to escort a Dominion diplomatic team through the wormhole and back to Dominion space while bringing your side's own diplomats with you to further negotiations. Write a log entry about your experiences.

Prompt 2: "For the Dominion!" by @damzelltrill

With the release of VIL, do a story where you are assisting the Dominion in a mission, or are a member of the Dominion. Doesn't have to be a Jem'Hadar, ould be a Vorta POV.

Prompt 3: "Golden Age" by @proteusrex

It is a Golden Age. The Dominion War united the quadrant. The Federation and their Romulan and Klingon allies are in a lasting peace. The Undine defeated the Borg and brought Voyager home, ushering in a new era of exploration deep in the Delta Quadrant. Romulus is intact and the Iconains never resurfaced. Peace has settled in on the Galaxy in a way that has never been seen before.

Your Captain wakes up in a world without conflict and crisis. Your ship is on the frontier, on an exciting mission of exploration and discovery. Your crew, family and friends are happy and healthy. Life is good. As your Captain settles down for a morning coffee, there is a flash in your Captain's ready room. A mysterious person stands before you claiming to be a time traveler. They explain that everything is wrong. The Golden Age you stand in now was the result of a terrible mistake meant to end the Iconian War. (I.e. destruction of Earth; the extinction of the Tellarites; the death of a teenage James T. Kirk; the plague that ravaged Qo'noS; the Tholian erasure from existence.) Regardless of how good things are, it can't be left like this and history needs your help. After all, the catastrophe that caused this was your fault (in the other timeline).

What happens when someone tells you that your timeline is the wrong one? What happens when they tell you that you caused an unspeakable act that lead to an unprecedented peace? What happened that created this golden age? Will your Captain help restore the proper timeline? or was the cost worth it for this Golden Utopia?

As usual, no NSFW content.

The discussion thread is here.

The LC Submission thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs (click ULC 31 for earlier entries):
Index of previous ULC Annuals:
Post edited by baddmoonrizin on
"Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
— Sabaton, "Great War"


  • drajora#9471 drajora Member Posts: 3 New User
    edited June 2018
    [b]Prompt 2: "For the Dominion!" [/b] - [i]With the release of VIL, do a story where you are assisting the Dominion in a mission, or are a member of the Dominion. Doesn't have to be a Jem'Hadar, could be a Vorta POV.[/i]


    The doorchime chirped and the occupant of the room took another moment to acknowledge the pang of loss. It had been two years, six months and eight days since the loss of the U.S.S [i]Talon[/i]. While the [i]Magellan[/i] was a fine vessel, nothing quite would ever replace that small nimble, repurposed Jem’Hadar ship. And that ship didn’t have ‘frivolous’ systems like a simple door chime.

    Still, the Iconian War had changed many things. And the Starfleet’s gesture of ‘returning’ some of the recovered Dominion property was the right move diplomatically…but losing a ship left a hole in your heart.

    The door chirped again.


    The Bajoran lieutenant had changed over his service under her command. The scar on his left cheek an unwanted souvenir of a Tzenkethi attack, and the bright sparkle of his eyes dimmed by the horror of Iconia.

    “Captain. We have received new orders from Starfleet Command”.

    “Thank you, Lieutenant Wolversham.”

    It took a moment to flip through the PADD.

    “Buckle up, Lieutenant. We’re heading back the Bajor System. Inform Commander Anthi to download the latest starcharts for the Gamma Quadrant. We’re taking a trip through the wormhole.”

    “Aye Captain.”


    The wormhole flowered open to disgorge the [i]Valiant[/i]-class U.S.S. [i]Magellan[/i] into the Gamma Quadrant.

    “Captain, we’re receiving a hail from a Jem’Hadar vessel – they identify themselves as the [i]Ardent-4088[/i].”


    Again, simply the sight of the Dominion bridge behind the female Vorta was enough to cause another emotional twinge, one that she had to firmly suppress.

    “Captain Selene Persico. Your file does not do you justice. I am Niyana, of the [i]Ardent-4088[/i]. My First and I are prepared to beam aboard at your…convenience.”

    “Niyana. I greet you on behalf of the United Federation of Planets. We’ll beam you aboard shortly. I look forward to our mission together.”

    “As do I, Captain. Niyana, out.”

    Fifteen minutes later, the small group was assembled in the mess hall. Niyana and her First, Virat’Khan representing the Dominion, and Captain Selene Persico, Commander Anthi and Lieutenant Commander Info representing Starfleet.

    “The mission we have is somewhat…unusual. Of course, the Dominion is currently pressed hard by the Hur’q threat, so we are obliged by the wisdom of the Founders to consider alternative strategies. We are to travel to a small world on the edge of Dominion space, known as Wadi.”

    “The Wadi made independent First Contact with Bajor, I understand?”

    “They were not independent. Simply one of many trading relationships the Dominion allowed to occur. Their reports were most…enlightening. The Wadi culture is based around games – of skill, of chance. Their main exports are an alcoholic liqueur known as ‘alpha-currant nectar’, and the product of their extensive gem-mining operations. They are not warriors.”

    “What’s our mission there?”

    “The Wadi recently repelled a Hur’q force with little to no losses of their own, without the aid of our brave Jem’Hadar. We are most interested in finding out how – a goal I would venture is also within Starfleet’s sphere of interest.”

    “You assume correctly, Niyana. We’ll depart immediately once you return to your vessel”

    “Ahh…Captain. The [i]Ardent-4088[/i] is required at Emperasa. We will be travelling aboard your vessel for the duration.”

    “I see. Commander Anthi, see to quarters for our guests.”

    “Aye Captain.”

    As the Andorian led the Vorta and Jem’Hadar first out of the room, Selene turned to Info, the quiet Soong-type Android.

    “Inquiry Captain; You do not believe this is the ‘entire story’?”

    “They’re sure not playing level with us. If these Wadi have a technology that can hold off the Hur’q, then just perhaps it can hold off the Dominion as well…Or Starfleet for that matter. In the meantime, I want you to find everything we have on these Wadi and get me a report.”


    The transporter deposited Niyana, Virat’Khan, Selene, Info and Anthi in what should have been the main reception hall for the Wadi Exterior Ministry.

    “Persico to Magellan. Confirm beam-down co-ordinates.”

    “Confirmed, Captain. You’re in the Reception Hall.”

    The group looked around at the plethora of gaming machines, betting tables, and even what appeared to be set of popular Dabo tables.

    “Because this sure looks like a Casino.”

    A larger man in a blue and gold costume with blue geometric tattoos across his forehead approached them.

    “AH! Visitors! Yes, yes! Come, come. We must play, must we not? Oh, forgive my manners! I am Senior Gamemaster Falow. Come!”

    “Senior Gamemaster. I am Captain Persico of the [i]Magellan[/i], of the United Federation of Planets and this is Niyana of the Domini-“

    “So formal! Did you know, when we first met the Federation, we played a simple, honest little game? We played it with the Vorta too! We must play once more! Simply must!”

    “A game called Chula, if our files are corr-“

    A cry arose from the gamblers and gamers around them “CHULA! CHULA!” Several began taking out small wooden sticks and beating them together, creating a tapping rhythm.

    “Gamemaster! Gamemaster. We’re simply here on a diplomatic mission to ask about your recent encounter with the Hur’q.”

    “And I will happily talk with you, but first – let us play Chula. Shall we start at the Second Shap?”

    Selene took a breath. [i]There was a note about this game in Sisko’s personal log, and-[/i]

    “As a representative of the Dominion, I would be honored to play Chula with you, Senior Gamemaster Falow.”

    There was a flash of white light.

    Selene awoke in a room. Hexagonal. Hexagonal doors. Floor covered with a triangular pattern. [i]Damnit[/i].

    Sisko’s log, from 2369 mentioned this game. It worked by transporting four players inside it, while a fifth made choices. There was a dice-roll component, wagering, and challenges that players had to overcome. The only immediate question was…who were the other players, and who was the Fifth?

    “Persico to Anthi” Silence.

    “Persico to Info.”

    “I am here captain. We appear to be within a Chula game board.”

    “It appears so. I can’t contact Anthi, so I assume she’s making choices for us.”

    “A reasonable deduction. Wait one moment… I believe I have found the Dominion representative.”

    “Niyana? I’ll try to find you.”

    “No Commander. I have located First Virat’Khan, and Commander Anthi. Logically, this means that Niyana-“

    “Is the one playing the game.”


    [i]“Allamaraine, count to nine,[/i]
    [i]Allamaraine, you’ll be mine,[/i]
    [i]Allamaraine, two in one,[/i]
    [i]Allamaraine, it’s been fun”[/i]

    The young child was repeating the rhyme as she manipulated five glowing spheres, hovering just over the triangular tiles. The Jem’Hadar Virat’Khan was looking more and more annoyed.

    “I do not see what this…child…has to do with our predicament.”

    “It’s part of the game, First. It’s a puzzle that we have to complete. Starfleet officers have been through this before, which gives us an advantage.”

    “Starfleet Officers have too much time for games. The only games are ones that hone’s one’s prowess for battle.”

    “Really First? This is a game – a battle of sorts. We just have to complete this objective.”

    The Jem’Hadar grunted and resumed his gaze to the child and the orbs. After a moment he spoke again.

    “Her pattern is repeating”.


    “There are five orbs, to be touched in sequence. One and Three are always touched with the left hand and turn blue. Two, four and five turn red when touched by the right hand.”

    Anthi stepped next to the child and five orbs appeared in front of her. She touched one and three with her left and tapped the others with her right hand. Nothing happened. She took a step forward and ran smack into a forcefield.

    “Try it with the rhyme. That was the key in Sisko’s game.”

    [i]“Allamaraine, count to nine,”[/i], Blue One. [i]“Allamaraine, you’ll be mine,”[/i] Blue Three. [i]“Allmaraine, Two in one”[/i] Red Two and Four. [i]“Allamaraine, it’s been fun”[/i] Red Five.

    The forcefield snapped off.

    “See? We win, which should mean-“

    Senior Gamemaster Falow appeared on the other side of the room. “Allamaraine! Third Shap! Move Along Home!”

    “-we get to proceed.”


    Virat’Khan swept low under the grasping claw of the Hur’q and landed a solid blow on the left carapace, causing it to stagger back and emit another scream. Info was to one side of the room, scanning Anthi’s prone form, and Captain Persico was shaking off the effects of its stun field. The beast had literally dropped from the ceiling of the room.

    Wings flashed and Virat’Khan rolled to one side and levelled a powerful kick at the nearest leg. His efforts were rewarded as the beast staggered, allowing him to lever himself back up and smash a fist into the face. The Hur’q staggered back…and then disintegrated, leaving a thoroughly confused room.

    “Allamarain! Sixth Shap! Move Along Home!”

    “Starfleet! How many more of these puzzles and fights are there in this…game?”

    Persico helped Anthi to her feet.

    “As many as Niyana dictates, First. She’s the one choosing our path for us, and by the difficulty we’ve faced, I’d say she’s taking the riskier path and doubling her winnings each time. Although…she may not be aware that we are facing peril in here. To her, it will just appear to be a game.”

    “If I may venture a hypothesis, Captain, I believe that Niyana is not following type for a Dominion Vorta. She is, in effect, ‘playing to win’."

    “Of course. Victory Is Life!”

    Selene sighed. “I expected to hear that at least once. Look, First, how much do you know about the Vorta?”

    “They are created by the Gods to serve them. Through them, we serve the Gods.”

    “Vorta are cowa- Never mind. The point is, Niyana should be playing safe with us, but she’s choosing higher and higher risks. Why do you think that is? Why now? Why would a Vorta be so out of sorts?”

    “It is not my place to question the Vorta. Neither should you!”

    “Captain, Commander. I am picking up strong magnetic field flux. There is something approaching us.”

    A swarm of bright bluish-white lights popped out of the walls. A bright scanning beam swept over the four players…and then with a flash of light, they all reappeared in the casino-esque Reception Hall.

    Niyana was seated at the Chula table, with a small crowd of obviously let-down punters exchanging side-wagers amongst themselves.

    “Too bad, too bad! Such a risk, but a quadruple thialo? Such an unfortunate roll! It’s game over, I’m afraid.”

    Selene started, and then her eyes narrowed. [i]Of Course![/i]

    “You will talk with us about your encounter with the Hur’q now? Specifically how you managed to defeat them?”

    “We didn’t, my dear Niyana. Wadi is a place for games, and the Hur’q had no desire to play – no reasoning. There was nothing for them here, so they left.”

    “I don’t believe you. The Hur’q strip systems bare!”

    “Nevertheless that’s all there is to it. They arrived and destroyed our outer stations…and then they departed. They took nothing from us.”


    “Niyana, I think the Gamemaster is telling the truth here. The Wadi have no new defensive technology past their transporters. I’d be willing to guess…no, to wager, that they simply turned the Hur’q around a few times, before they went off on their own way.”

    The gamemaster smiled.

    “A bet you would be wise to make, my Captain. It wasn’t easy for us – why we had to override three quarters of the planet’s power grid to transport the lead ships a mere few dozen kilometers. Even then, that did not confuse them long. Something else caught their attention – or else we would not be here today.”

    Niyana seemed to visibly deflate.

    “Very well. But the Dominion will remember this, Gamemaster. And we will return”.

    “I would expect nothing less, my dear Vorta.”


    Captain Persico stood in the transporter room as Niyana and Virat’Khan stood on the pad. The [i]Ardent-4088[/i] had returned to meet them at the mouth of the wormhole. The failure to acquire technology to assist the Dominion obviously still annoyed the Vorta deeply.


    Twin shimmers flickered over the pad….and Virat’Khan disappeared. But Niyana did not.

    “What? What is the meaning of this, Captain?”

    “Just thought I’d make something perfectly clear to you. Starfleet is not in the habit of deceiving our own allies. If you want to travel with us again, I’d advise you do so honestly….Founder.”

    The Vorta shimmered once and then reformed into the flat, smoothed form of a Changeling.

    “I will take that under advisement, Starfleeter. I am curious as to how you were able to tell.”

    “Simply? Vorta are cowards. One would never play that riskily. After the first Wadi encounter, Quark made sure to publish the rules of Chula. One of them is that after four Shaps of doubling, the player is able to make an all-or-nothing roll. That is the only way a quadruple thialo can be rolled. And Vorta are too cautious, too…careful to ever make that decision.”

    The Changeling nodded, and reformed into the Vorta.

    “I will not make that mistake again, Captain. Energize”

    The Founder dissolved in a shower of sparks.​​
    Post edited by drajora#9471 on
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,544 Arc User
    edited June 2018
    (A short piece, answering Prompt 2)

    Aboard Dominion destroyer DV Victory-00874
    Orbiting Delvin III

    Verdin-3 stood near the viewport, looking at the glowing landscape below. Behind him, the door opened, and the distinctive sound of Jem'Hadar boots stomped into the room. “Ah, First Drokath'Gor,” the Vorta said without turning. “What have you to report of the mission?”

    The Jem'Hadar First snapped to attention. “We have achieved victory, in the name of the Founders!” he snapped.

    “Victory?” Verdin spun on Drokath'Gor, visibly angered. “This is your 'victory'? You were ordered to pacify a rebellion, not obliterate an entire planet!”

    “The leaders refused to surrender. We treated them as traitors to the Dominion should be treated, Vorta. The rebellion has ended, has it not?”

    Verdin gestured out the viewport. “You have reduced the entire surface of a once-productive world to slag, First,” he hissed. “Your instructions were to quell the rebellion, and return the Delvi to the fold. Instead, you slaughtered every single living thing on the planet, and rendered it uninhabitable for tens of thousands of years. Your generation were, as you may recall, a pet project of the Founder Odo, intended to be capable of restraint in pursuit of a goal. This--" Verdin pointed at the planet below again "-- is hardly 'restrained'. Clearly, you have failed the Founder. Your ultimate destiny is in His hands, which may prove to be fortunate for you – were it my responsibility, I'd simply have your entire gene-line erased as a mistake!” He gestured dismissively. “You may return to your quarters, First. The Founder will send for you.”

    As the Jem'Hadar angrily stomped from the room, the Vorta returned to his contemplation of the ruined world below. He would miss the delicate glarh-fruit, which for some reason would grow on no other world. As for the Devli themselves – well, the Founders had wanted them to live, and the Founders were wise in all things, but Verdin couldn't manage to make himself feel any actual sympathy for them. How could one sympathize with those who would betray a god?
  • xungnguyenxungnguyen Member Posts: 195 Arc User
    (Queen's Log. June 23, 2412) *Prompt 1*

    I'm escorting a Dominion delegation back to the Gamma Quadrant via the wormhole. The Pridelanders and Pokemon Council are staying out of the Hurq War unless it spills into their borders. Kion and the rest of his Guard are recovering from an attack by Section 31. The Federation is helping the Dominion hold the line against the Hurq while a small force of KDF ships is doing the same. My operatives in the UFP assured me that the rest of the Feds will leave me alone so I can put more plans into motion. Queen Raksha and Admiral Luperca have attacked a S31 base and recovered intel and high ranking operatives. Unfortunately, Franklin Drake is nowhere to be found according to my mole. The Marenguardian family is ruined thanks to a certain captain's uncle who pulled a Scar. My mate's babysitting Amy for me due to the recent Hurq attacks.

    My current plans are going smoothly. Recently, dragons under Steven and Destiny's command repelled a massive Hurq assault on the Spiral and Dragon Realms respectively. This gives them more time to consolidate their forces in their homeworlds. VaKel's staying out of royal affairs since he's competent enough to avoid reassignment to my palace staff. I may be able to reach out to Sora, Donald, and Goofy for an undercover op on the edge of Dominion territory. All the answers will be there according to Garak and Bashir. Speaking of that, we are in the GQ and the Vorta and his Jemhadar beam to their ship. They signal a farewell to me and I set a course back to the Pridelands.


    "Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder." (King Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5)

    "Simba, you've forgotten me. You've forgotten who you are … you are my son and the one true king." (Mufasa)
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,705 Arc User
    edited December 2018
    Lies, Damned Lies, and Politics
    By StarSword-C, with Worffan101

    Part I

    At night, assimilate life
    In the infinite realm
    Of our intrinsic side

    Find, the missing parts of the mind
    The hidden truth behind
    Our dungeon of thoughts, this labyrinth

    Search, it has a reason and a meaning
    Remembered and repeated
    A guide, not to be ignored

    Feel, there’s so much to feel
    Amnesia must confiscate an elusive link
    To consciousness

    It’s there; cause there’s so much we don’t know
    Even our own true face
    It’s there, facing what we can't have

    Our ideals ain’t true, naked and exposed
    To the bareness of what’s real
    Boundless fantasy, becomes reality
    As we breathe water and run through the sand

    Whispers and a scream, flying high, falling down
    And a face with no features or name
    Exposed to life, we can only divine
    Tell me, what’s your reality?

    — “Intrinsic” by After Forever

    Kanril Eleya. Conference room, Deep Space 9. 27 September 2410. Six weeks after the Battle of Iconia.

    “No, absolutely not.”

    Ambassador Kannan looks a little taken aback at the old Cardassian’s vehemence as he glares across the table at the Vorta, who introduced himself as Weyoun when they arrived. I’m no diplomat but sending him reads to me like a calculated ‘phekk you’ to the trans-quadrant nations.

    “Councillor, please,” the Romulan in blue robes speaks up. “The Dominion didn’t have to aid us in the war, but they threw their ships against the Iconians by the tens of thousands.”

    “The Iconians were as much a threat to us as to yourselves,” Weyoun adds. “We simply want to coexist with our neighbors.”

    “I believe that the last Vorta who made that claim to me died tragically soon afterwards,” the Cardassian remarks conversationally, with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “Disruptor misfire, I believe. Very tragic accident.”


    But the Vorta chuckles slightly. “Ah, yes, my predecessor, I believe. We could trade barbs about who killed who from here until that lovely sun out there collapses to a white dwarf, but that thought wearies me, Councillor Garak. Can we not let bygones be bygones and focus on the future?”

    “I’m only relaying the opinion of my head of state. Castellan Lang’s position has not changed: she wishes significant reparations payments before she’ll consent to any increased diplomatic ties with the Dominion, especially if that means membership in this… ‘Galactic Alliance’ of yours,” he says to Kannan, then turns back to Weyoun. “Something about eight hundred million dead in a day and our homeworld in ruins. To say nothing of your little regime change operation before that.”

    “Four decades have passed since then, Councillor. And I seem to recall a report that you all did something much the same to the Kobali Free State not too long ago, hmm?”

    Trust a Vorta to pick up on the elephant in the room. “Ambassador Weyoun,” I put in, “the Cardassian Union wasn’t involved in Delta Rising and, uh, my government voted ‘nay’ and refused to participate.”

    “But you went along with it once it was in progress nonetheless.”

    “The Republic of ch’Mol’Rihan led the Delta Alliance in seizing a location and materials that were not Kobali property and ending a war into which we were drawn on false pretenses,” General t’Thavrau says. “That is a very different scenario from overthrowing a democratically elected foreign government to establish an expendable puppet state as a beachhead for a gang of paranoid shapeshifters.”

    “Mister Weyoun, the Founder who commanded your invasion made it clear to me it was the Dominion’s intention all along to eradicate my entire species once we were no longer needed.”

    “Did she?” the Vorta replies neutrally.

    “Hers, too,” Garak adds, nodding at the Romulan officer.

    “We had a non-aggression pact with the Romulan Empire, which they broke first.”

    “You were planning to break it as soon as you had overcome the stalemate with the Federation and Klingons,” t’Thavrau retorts. “The Senate declared war after Deihu tr’Vreenak discovered a security hologram of one of your predecessors planning the invasion with Supreme Legate Damar and you assassinated him to cover it up.”

    “And given that precedent,” Garak finishes, “can we really trust the Dominion to keep to its end of any bargain we make here?”

    “I am afraid I have no recollection of those plans,” Weyoun replies smoothly. “Most of Weyoun 5 through 8’s memories were lost after the destruction of the Rondac III cloning facility. But I assure you, we are not the same Dominion you knew so many years ago.”

    “Then why are you here and not someone we could trust when he says that, like Odo?”
    * * *

    Rachel Connor. Quark’s Bar and Taproom (A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Quark Enterprises!), Deep Space 9.

    “So what’s the situation?” I ask Lieutenant Korekh over a mug of that Cardassian booze they call kanar. “And why don’t we do this on the ship?”

    He leans in, scanning the room with the corners of his eyes. “Because I bribed the Ferengi to ensure that our conversation is private.”

    “Hope you have an anti-snoop handy, sir,” Lamont suggests. “‘A deal is a deal, until a better one comes along.’”

    The big horned alien pats his left jacket pocket. “Yes, I know the Rules of Acquisition, Petty Officer, my people have been allies of the Ferengi Alliance for over a century. And unfortunately, our duties have left me unable to fully sweep Bajor for bugs after the repairs at Earth Spacedock—with Lieutenant Connor’s nature, Section 31 infiltration is a concern.” He passes me a data chip under the guise of picking up my mug to sniff it. “I know that you are not a trained investigator, Lieutenant, but given the proximity to Bajor and the recent devastation, I have reason to take this threat seriously.”

    I plug the chip into my PADD, tapping at it idly as if I were playing a shoot-em-up. “Circle, or Kohn-Ma?”

    “The threat against the Ambassador is not the Kohn-Ma’s usual style. I performed basic textual analysis with a computer algorithm; the language is very similar to a Circle manifesto published on the extranet last year.”

    “Figures, those f*ckers don’t know when to quit. Who’s in the loop?”

    “The two of us, Captain Kanril, Ambassador Kannan, and the Chief of Starfleet Intelligence. The Dominion will be shortly--at least, those factions within it that are sympathetic to Federation interests.”

    “Odo’s in the loop?”

    Korekh nods to a chair at the table next to us. “Hello, Ambassador.”

    The former Constable transforms smoothly, a faint grin on his face. “Impressive. Why did you not reveal me earlier?”

    “If the Dominion were truly interested in a lasting arrangement, they would have insisted that you front the negotiations. That they sent a Weyoun instead means that they—or at least the Founders currently in control, who may disagree with you on issues related to the Federation—do not have that goal, and that you are here eavesdropping on a conversation means that you have likely been sidelined by the other Founders.”

    “Not all of them, but correct in the essentials.” He morphs smoothly into a Starfleet Security uniform, face morphing into a handsome Andorian. “There are some younger Founders who find my views on domestic and foreign policy agreeable, but others, including the… individual who was released recently from Facility 4028, disagree strongly.”

    “So you’re in this to stop the Circle?” I ask, trying my damndest to keep my face blandly flat. “Good to have you, sir.”

    “Please, no need for such formalities. I get enough of those from my Jem’Hadar.”

    “Being a deity not suiting you?”

    He grimaces. “I have not yet had success making independent Jem’Hadar. My scientists have solved the Ketracel-White problem, but they still formed an organized religion around me. Now they are randomly assigning each other hobbies.”

    “Randomly-assigned hobbies.”

    He grimaces again. “Yes. One of the Jem’Hadar that I had designed knits in the time that I have ordered him to spend off-duty. I could go on for hours about this. At least Nerys liked the knit hats,” he adds thoughtfully.

    “Hey, the guy helps you romance your girl, sounds alright to me. So, Lieutenant, Founder, we got a plan?”

    “I know Councilor Garak personally,” Odo says. “I can covertly guard him under the guise of catching up with an old friend. One of my Jem’Hadar adjutants is available to help with apprehension of suspects.”

    “My team is investigating the electronic trace of the threat,” Korekh says, “but I would appreciate it if you spoke to a Bajoran by the name of Tamir Kalan in the secondary cargo bay on the outer habitat ring.”

    “On it. He affiliated?”

    “It is quite likely that he is a point man for smuggling cell members and materiel onto the station. I must cover another suspect, but I trust you to interrogate him. Gently, please.”

    “Sure thing, I had interrogation training. Don’t break any limbs, don’t threaten to break any limbs, just be friendly and make like I’m his best friend ‘cause I am.”

    Korekh’s lips twitch briefly. “I had no doubts.”

    I nod crisply. “Right. I’ll get on that. Lieutenant, Constable.”

    “Ah, one more thing,” Odo says, reaching a hand towards my arm but stopping before he makes contact. “Do you happen to have a holodeck reservation that I could… borrow?

    I pass him a chip. “Here. Two-hour slot, everyone got one for free ‘cause of the conference. Didn’t you get one, sir?”

    He grimaces. “I refuse to give that criminal Quark the satisfaction of using his handouts; I am well aware of the disdain that Ferengi society has for charity. Even implied charity. And, well, since Kai Kira and I have some free time…”

    I nod in understanding. “Got it. Try the Soami Gardens program, it’s set on Betazed, super romantic according to Lamont here.”

    “I took a Bolian fellow I met at the reception yesterday to that program, it went swimmingly,” my second confirms.

    Odo accepts the chip with a nod of thanks. “Thank you. If you want mine…”

    “Nah, s’fine, sir. I spend half my life in the holodeck for training, anyway.”

    * * *


    I scratch at my dress uniform as we break for recess. I don’t know what the phekk is wrong with the replicator patterns for whites but they never seem to fit me comfortably. And I’ll have to make Gaarra rub my feet later after spending so long in these damn heels.

    I shake my head and look at the various other delegates and hangers-on. The Romulan, Commander-General Morgaiah t’Thavrau. I fought with her at Iconia but we were never formally introduced. Elim Garak, the living legend. Ambassador-at-Large C. Mohan Kannan, a former Starfleet officer with five career first-contacts to his name. The Vorta Weyoun, of course, and Captain Kurland. Chancellor Worf didn’t send anyone but I assume that’s deliberate: there was no love lost between the Cardies and Klinks even before the ‘72 war.

    I tug again at my uniform, and a tenor voice intrudes. “Once upon a time I might have offered to fix that for you, Captain.”

    I look up, or down, rather, at the Cardassian. “Once upon a time I might not have accepted.”

    “Bajorans were some of my best customers when I owned a shop here, Captain Kanril.”

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. I’m from a Resistance family.”

    “Ah. Yes, I remember reading that in your CIB dossier. Chief Praidor did an acceptable job, I thought. Your father was—”

    Is alive and well, thank you, sir.”

    He takes the hint and changes the subject, offering me a shot glass of something yellow. “This is a very fine kanar, you know. Bajoran-made, I believe?”

    I nod, and click glasses with him, taking a sip of the thick, floral liquor. “I never would have understood it growing up but there’s quite a few distilleries dirtside. I think they got that one from a place outside Hathon but don’t quote me on it. Heh, you know, my favorite cocktail is part this, part bloodwine, if you can believe it.”

    “The Hathon hammer? A heavy drink indeed. I believe you’re from a wine-growing region?” I nod. “When business was good, before the war, sometimes I’d celebrate with a bottle. Omdra Heights. ‘71 was a very good year.”

    “Omdra Heights, huh? Little on the citrusy side for me. What’s your game, Councillor?” I ask abruptly.

    “My game, Captain?” he says innocently enough.

    “Yeah,” I confirm, laying down my glass. “Spooks, politicos, diplomats. There’s always a game, an angle, a card up your sleeve, a knife behind your back… Okay, I’m running out of metaphors. Point is, you know the Dominion’s never going to agree to the amount Lang wants in reparations but you’re still here. So what do you really want?”

    “I suppose you won’t believe me if I said I wanted to have a quiet drink?”

    “Well, maybe ‘plain, simple Garak’ does,” I allow in a dry tone, “but Elim Garak of the Detapa Council has something different in mind. So level with me, there’s gotta be something Castellan Lang is willing to accept that we can actually give her.”

    He actually smiles at that, for real this time. “I did tell Chief Praidor and Castellan Lang you’re much smarter than you act.”

    My combadge chirps. “You don’t get where I am by being completely stupid.”

    “Just stupid enough?”

    Yep, walked right into that one. I stifle a laugh as I answer the call. “Ahem, Kanril, go.”

    Captain, it’s Lieutenant Korekh. A matter has come up but I and Lieutenant Connor are dealing with it. I will brief you later.

    “Nothing in need of shooting, right?”

    Not at the moment, but I will inform you if that changes. Korekh out.

    That was strange. I shake my head and turn back to Garak. “So what are you really after, Councillor?”

    He nods and gestures back to the table. “I don’t know how much of our… internal issues you’ve been paying attention to but the True Way, or the ‘Cardassian Third Empire’ as they’re calling themselves now, they’ve suffered a couple setbacks recently. We’ve recaptured Atbar Prime.”

    “Congratulations, sir.”

    “During the recently concluded war, the Federation and the Klingon Empire agreed to suspend Article VII of the Treaty of Bajor. We’ve been able to bring much of our mothball fleet back to the front lines, and several senior officers have chosen to defect back to our side.”

    “Didn’t know what they were signing up for?” I surmise.

    “So they claim. Some of them I actually believe: Kerim Morag is a monster, Captain,” he tells me in absolute seriousness. “It’s hard to believe that man was ever a part of the Rebellion.” He takes a breath and finishes his glass, dabbing at his lips with a napkin. “The current state of affairs has made conditions in the field more favorable for the CCDF. We would like conditions to stay that way, indefinitely.”

    “You’re talking about repealing Article VII.”

    “Indeed I am. Like the Dominion, we came to your aid in the war, as insignificant as our contribution might have been.”

    I certainly remember that: Legate Ocett had my wing when we flew cover for the Undine kicking in the Herald Sphere’s front door. “Big lift,” I comment to him, “but I assume you knew that.”

    He nods. “You understand, it has to be Cardassia winning the fight with CTE on the battlefield, not Starfleet, or else… Are you familiar with a mythical creature from Earth called a hydra?”

    I nod. “You can’t just win, you have to win legitimately. Insurgency is something I understand very well, sir.”

    “Correct. One other thing: we want Torc Madred extradited.”

    I whistle. “I’ll look into it, but I won’t make any promises. Is that all?” He nods again. “Then it was nice speaking to you, sir.”

    I get up and beckon to Ambassador Kannan. This isn’t going to be easy.
    * * *

    Rachel. Docking ring.

    “Tamir Kalan?” I ask, feeling g*ddamn naked in my service blacks. I should be in armor for this, I’ll need the protection in a firefight if one breaks out. Behind me, Luiz crosses his arms and looms, and the Jem’Hadar Odo sent with us clicks his knitting needles together.

    “Who wants to know?” a wiry Bajoran guy with red hair and tanned skin asks, before doing a double-take at the Jem’Hadar. “Uh, what the…”

    “He’s off-duty,” I say like it explains everything, which it really doesn’t—in fact, I’m still not hugely certain on why First Kumot’Iklan brought his scarf-in-progress with him—but I forge ahead anyway. “You got a minute?”

    “For Starfleet? Don’t you Feds do enough with all the usual regulations and cr*p?”

    “Hey, I’m just a Lieutenant, I don’t set policy.” I jerk my head towards a big stack of crates, and Tamir groans, setting down his PADD and following me with a roll of his eyes. Luiz and the Jem’Hadar stay back.

    “What’s the problem? And can you make it quick, I’ve got a hundred units of self-sealing stem bolts to move…”

    I crowd him against a big stack of crates and lean in, putting my right hand over his head. “What’s the rush? Got any global unity you gotta fight for?”

    He freezes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But his heart rate spikes and I hear the slight hiccup in his voice.

    “Bullsh*t. Are they on the station?”

    “I don’t know…”

    I flex my left arm, my bicep straining my uniform. They need to stop cutting ladies’ uniforms so skinny. “Cut the cr*p. I’m your best friend right now, buddy. I can keep you out of prison, get you back to work, make sure you get a good time slot for loading, all kinds of great stuff. But only if you play ball with me.” I nod to the two behemoths behind me—Luiz’s over 195 centimeters and the Jem’Hadar tops 2 meters, and both of them have arms thicker than Tamir’s legs. “If you don’t play ball, and I have to search your cargo, and I find anything that means probable cause, then these two fellas haul your *ss to a nice comfy cell.”

    Tamir’s gaze flicks for a moment to a crate by the wall, and I point at it, Luiz heading for it with a neutral expression. I give the Bajoran another grin. “You’re new, aren’t you?”

    He shakes his head. “No, I’m not part of the Circle, I swear—they’ve got me over a barrel and I’m just trying to get by, please, have some pity on a working man…”

    I pat the little guy on the shoulder. “I am! I’m giving you a chance to get away from the Circle and avoid prison! So if you’d just tell me your contact nice and quiet-like, and let me know where I can find him, we can be friends, that sound nice?”

    “Got some trilithium resin,” Luiz reports, showing me the substance in a secure canister. “Crate says it’s stem bolts.”

    Tamir begins to sweat. “Um, it looks like there’s been some mistake…”

    “Yeah. I’m sure there was. So, want to tell me what I want to know?”

    He spills like a waterfall.
    Post edited by starswordc on
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    Winning Hearts and Minds, Inc.

    Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour
    Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour
    Roll up (And that's an invitation), roll up for the mystery tour
    Roll up (To make a reservation), roll up for the mystery tour
    The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away
    Waiting to take you away
    John Lennon, Paul McCartney

    Deep space 9, Two months after the incident at Starbase 132

    “I think you’re making a mistake”

    Captain Kurland had seen many people pass through his station on their way to the Gamma Quadrant. Many were ultimately not allowed through the wormhole. Relations with the dominion were such, and the way the religious on Bajor felt about it, that they tried to keep the obvious hucksters, and those who would cause issues between the alpha quadrant governments and the Dominion out of the founders hair. Metaphorically speaking.

    His latest supplicant was human...one of the few non Ferengi members of the Ferengi Commerce Authority. Quark had been beside himself when he heard Jake Evans was coming to the station, visions of ‘investment opportunities’ to talk to the young human about dancing in his lobes. Or not-Evans had come straight to ops when he arrived, bypassing the promenade entirely. The human wasn’t old despite his wealth, in his mid to late twenties, his long dark hair pulled into a ponytail, dressed in a well tailored silk suit. He simply nodded as the Captain continued.

    “The dominion has resisted all cultural exchanges. They are not interested in anything we have to offer.”

    “I am aware of that” Jacob Evans replied “But I still wish to talk with them-and they have agreed to see me.”

    That was another thing that both puzzled and annoyed Kurland. Normally those that did go through the wormhole, the dominion gave little seeming care to the traders that went to buy and sell from the Gamma quadrant races. There was little actual communication, occasionally a Vorta would contact the station about some ship or other that had transgressed, and if they were lucky, simply banned from returning. Those who violated dominion laws, paid the price at times. While part of him didn’t like the idea, it was a universal fact that stupidity did have consequences.

    Yet two days ago DS9 had been contacted not by a random low level vorta, but Weyoun. Number eleven or whatever number he was up to these days, requesting priority access through the wormhole for Mister Evans.

    That both intrigued and worried Kurland. Hence the visit. “Just what are you planning on doing in the Dominion mister evans?”

    “Just talking to them. I don’t plan to be on the other side of the wormhole more than a day or two-I’ve still got to prep the new ship for the trip to the Delta Quadrant.”

    Something else that Kurland didn’t understand was why they were letting him go through the Dyson sphere. The Romulans were fairly selective on who they let through. But then...Evans did have Romulan artists on board-in fact, while he was at DS9 he was producing a show both on station and on Bajor-and Romulans were well represented in his groups performances. As well as Klingon opera, Cardassian poets, and everything in human music from modern holographic heavy bluesgrass to the old human classical music such as Beethoven, Mozart and Motörhead.

    Still..he didn’t have any reason to prevent him going through the wormhole. “All right, just watch yourself on the other side Mister Evans. We don’t have any treaties with the dominion for civilians, if you get in to trouble over there there isn’t much we can do.”

    “Believe me” Jake said with a charming smile “Trouble is the last thing I want to get into.”

    Risan ship Heart of Gold

    “Took ya long enough.”

    Jake shrugged as he came through the airlock. “Captain Kurland had a few questions for me before I go through the wormhole.”

    His wife looked, well not worried. Concerned “I still wish I could go with you to meet Weyoun.”

    “They were pretty specific. I was to come alone Tan, and given this opportunity, I’m not about to TRIBBLE things up.”

    “You could take one of Dr S’s shuttles.”

    “You know how much those cost to run. Besides, do we really want the Dominion to have that tech if things go pear shaped?”

    She could see his logic. She didn’t have to like it. “At least take one of our guys to pilot? I know you’re better than you were but this is the Bajoran Wormhole.”

    “I’ll be fine. It’s pretty much routine going through there nowadays. Unless the prophets want to talk to you, in which case it wouldn’t make a difference what I rode on.”

    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."

  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    Six hours later, Idran system

    When a Dominion heavy dreadnaught tells you to drop your shields and prepare to be boarded, running isn’t an option. Especially when they were waiting for you. Jake found himself escorted off of the shuttle to the bridge of the Dominion vessel by a trio of hulking Jem’Hadar who only spoke to issue commands.

    He didn’t appear alarmed at the treatment, in fact was much calmer than many of the weak alpha quadrant races they had intercepted the First thought as he led him to the Vorta on the bridge.

    “Ah, Mister Evans. Sorry for the brusque treatment, but , well, we have a few questions the Dominion needs answers for.” The Vorta nodded to the Jem’hadar who stepped back. “I am Weyoun 10, I speak for the founders in this.”

    Jake returned the nod “I had a feeling you might have a question or two.”

    The Vorta’s eyes narrowed “Indeed we do. You know, we predicted the horrible calamity that befell the colony world of New Saigon would have happened sooner or later. One of the Founders aims in invading the Federation years ago was to prevent such tragedies from occuring. We dealt with such artifacts in Dominion territory several of your centuries ago. The irresponsible way your peoples, especially the humans, went about digging up things that should have stayed buried, alarmed us.”

    Jake simply nodded, listening as Weyoun continued. “While we may have a treaty with your Alliance...our own safety requires that we still conduct intelligence. Especially after the events of the past few years, New Saigon, Betazed, Goralis.. Federation Starbase 132. The founders are quite perturbed, especially as there are rumors of certain things that should not be, being found by an organization called, what was it, Kerberos? An organization that you seem to be deep in.”

    “I wouldn’t call it an organization so much to be honest.” Jake replied, causing both the Jem’hadar and Weyoun to frown. “It’s more a group of like minded people taking care of business.”

    “And what business might that be?” the First growled from behind him, fingering his weapon. “And what does Kerberos mean anyway?”

    “Kerberos is the Greek name for Cerberus. The three headed beast of ancient legends, who guarded the gates of Hell and prevented evil from escaping.”

    That caused both the Vorta and the Jem’hadar to blink. “I see..and what do you do with these artifacts once you recover them?”

    “Depends where we are. Personally, I prefer to toss them into the singularity at Cygnus X1, but that’s just the musician in me speaking. Any black hole over a certain mass will do.”

    “I’ve heard enough” The new voice was gruff..fairly male, and one that caught Weyoun by surprise

    “Founder!” He bowed as part of the wall flowed in two places, forming into two humanoid shapes. “Or should I say founders, welcome Odo.”

    The female looking one peered at Jake intently “Your peoples covet such artifacts-yet you destroy them?”

    “You know what they are capable of Founder,” He replied. “Throwing them into a black hole feels like littering, but I’ve been assured by some of the brightest minds i know that it’s the best way to deal with them.”

    “It is the only way” Odo replied, giving a nod to the Jem’hadar, who Jake noticed looked less angry than they were a few moments before. “If we hadn’t had our own people verify your tale, you would have died right here you know.”

    “I know how seriously the Dominion takes such artifacts.”

    “More than you realize” she said “one of the reasons for the Jem'hadar creation was to deal with the things those warseeds could spawn. We were immune to their metagenic transformations-but we could still be killed. So we destroyed all we could reach.”

    “Yet this is not the reason you requested for this meeting.” Odo interjected. “While I do appreciate some measure of culture from the Alpha Quadrant.” he said, prompting a shudder through the female changelings form and an amused almost smile on Odo’s face. “Though I do admit that Vic Fontaine may be an acquired taste.”

    “The dominion has had scores of would be bards wanting to spread their ideas and art across the dominion space. Which we are not willing to let them do.”

    “That’s fine” Jake said, causing both changelings to blink “Because what I’m actually wanting is Dominion artists to join the Frontier’s Delta Quadrant tour.”

    “And why..would you want to spread Dominion influence in part of the galaxy that your government is trying to influence?” the female changeling asked.

    “They’re not my government. I’m not a Federation citizen. My agenda is getting rid of dangerous artifacts-while both spreading and learning new culture.”

    “Why is spreading culture so important?”

    “Because” Jake smiled “people who can see others as people, instead of something different to be feared, are more likely to band together in a crisis. And I believe that the so called Masters may have been thwarted for now..but the thing about great evil. It never stops hungering. We all live in the same galaxy, and there are things out there that want us all dead.”

    He could see the female shapeshifter didn’t agree-but the other was more open. “I see your point. My time on Deep Space 9 helped me to understand both sides of the wormhole.”

    “And I feel I must concur with your assessment as well.” The female looking being added “Just because one threat is gone, does not mean there are not others. I hear that there are solid fools poking at Iconian artifacts even as we speak.”

    “We have tossed a few of the more dangerous of those we’ve found into Cygnus as well. Dr Roirr-Schrodinger is one of the leading experts on the tech...if she says it’s dangerous, it’s gone.”

    “She is part of your group?”

    “More of an advisor, You’ve heard of her?”

    The Female changeling simply smiled “We are aware of her multiplicity. One of her is in the Dominion.”

    “Doesn’t surprise me” Jake replied. “According to my sister, there’s even some of her in another universe.”

    Odo’s gruff voice intruded “let's concentrate on protecting this universe, shall we before we go off on exotic mathematical tangents. We will discuss your request with the others in the great link, the decision is not mine alone to make.”

    “Of course.” Jake replied, nodding his head respectfully as the two changelings left the bridge. As the door closed he grinned at Weyoun “well that went better than I thought.”

    “How do you mean?”

    “I’m still alive.”

    There was a gruff , well not laugh from behind him. But as close to one as you could get from a Jem’hadar.

    Outside in the corridor, the female changeling turned to her companion.. “Odo, I think we should grant the solid’s request. Not just for his reason though. More due to your situation.”

    He knew of course of what she spoke “the others who were sent out when I was.”

    “We sent them into what the humans call the Delta Quadrant as well. We have not been able to search for them...I think this Evans is so eager for us to send representatives that he will not balk at us sending a Vorta along, as well as some Jem’hadar should he find some of our lost.”

    “Mmm. it will be difficult to persuade the Romulans to let Jem’hadar through the Dyson Sphere.”

    “Ways can be found. It would be a small group by necessity.”

    “Security for the Vorta perhaps.”

    She nodded at him “Why don’t you inform the link, and select the races that will send representatives. I will access the archives, and see if I can find areas where Evan’s can look for our missing.”

    “Very well. Perhaps some of those Karemma musicians, or perhaps one of the Yaderan light artists.”

    “I’m sure you will make selections that will show the best of the Dominion to the races in the Delta Quadrant.” Odo nodded and continued down the corridor to the secure communications station. She didn’t let her face show her anger of course as he left. She was too practiced after millenia.

    Destroyed. Artifacts that could have given the Dominion control over their wayward creations. Tossed into a singularity as if they were garbage. Still..perhaps it was for the best. With their destruction, while they were not available to be used...they were also not available to be studied, especially by that too clever solid calling itself Roirr-schrodinger. So she stayed her anger, and did not strike the human down for his offense. Besides, she mused as she headed to a terminal to access the records, he in a way had helped the Dominion more than he would ever know. By sealing the multidimensional entities away at the incident on the Federation starbase 132...they could no longer hound the Founders for assistance.

    Now, without their interference? It was time for the Dominion to rise.
    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."

  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    edited July 2018
    Deep Space 9

    A week. It had been a week with no news. If only for the fact that she trusted Jake, and of course the fact that she didn’t know where to even start looking, assuming that Captain Kurland let her take the Heart of Gold through the wormhole, she’d have gone after him days ago.

    So instead Tan took her frustration out at Quarks. He was upset at the first holosuite she broke-until she asked how much to replace it-then pulled more than enough gold pressed latinum out of her pocket. The Ferengi was both elated and concerned. Elated because he could do some nice upgrades with the cash...but she was working on her third holosuite. That and the fact there shouldn't be a way a hewmon would be fast or strong enough to both outmove the holograms, or break the emitters when they were accidentally punched.

    He saw her coming down the stairs holding a piece of the holosuite control panel and sighed. Not that he minded the money-it’s just it took time to get replacement holosuite parts out here. And they were not making money if they were out of order. Probably shouldn't have bought them used off Pakleds he mused, wiping down the bar.

    Tan dropped the piece of panel on the bar, as well as a couple more slips of latinum. “Sorry about that.”

    Quark pocketed the money “eh, I should have followed the 99tn rule.”

    “Cheapest isn’t always the best for profit.” Tan replied, quoting the rule.

    He nodded glumly. “I bought them third, or was it fourth hand? Anyway I never found someone who could keep them running like my brother. In fact, he’s the one that installed them. I think this time i’ll go a bit over budget. Broken holosuites gather no latinum.”

    Tan had been around Ferengi enough to know that ‘over budget’ meant buying the next to latest generation model. Still it would be an improvement, the holosuites here had been installed before the Dominion war.

    “Hey Quark? I know a guy.” Nola said, “He’ll work for scale minus five, but it’s better than trusting your profits to a hack.”

    “Scale minus five? That’s almost robbery!”

    “He does good work, and you need it, besides, rule 99 doesn’t just apply to hardware.” she laid the broken piece of emitter on the bar, “and I would consider it a significant favour if you give this guy a shot, a favour you can call in.”

    “Got a resume?” Quark asked, sounding interested.

    Nola pulled a cheap-looking PADD out of her pocket, scrolled through it, and laid the device on the bar.

    “He can be here in three days.” she tells the Ferengi, “transit through Betazed, so he’ll be here before your parts...if you’ll give him the shot. Three years working on a variety of military spec systems, plus what he’s done working as an able spacer on the commercial circuit.”

    “What’s your interest?” Quark asked.

    “I get a cut.” Nola told him, “And there’s a ninety day minimum on the employment, so my cut’s profitable.” she knew how to play the game like a Ferengi here. “Juan’s a good hand with all the systems you need, plus structure work-and he owes me.”

    Quark smiled, “I’ll give Mister Epstein a chance, then...a chance, only.”

    “Fine by me. sign?”

    He sighed dramatically and signed the PADD “you know, you and your husband are two of the most annoying humans to deal with at times-you know too much about making profit.”

    She just smiled “you must not do much business with the Confederacy.”

    “Not enough that’s for sure.”

    She was about to laugh when her com beeped “what is it?”

    Something’s coming through the wormhole

    “On my way.”

    DS9 ops

    Traffic through the wormhole was fairly routine. There were a number of traders that went back and forth, both Dominion races and others. Seeing a Jem Hadar flagged ship coming through however...THAT wasn’t exactly good for ones nerves.

    “Give me the news, how many ships?” Captain Kurland yelled across ops.

    “Uh.. one sir.”


    “Yes, the wormhole just closed. Nothing else is coming.” The young Lieutenant noted something else. “And they’re hailing.”

    “Oookay.” he adjusted his tunic out of habit “let's hear what they have to say,”

    The Vorta he expected, the one standing next to her however… “Mister Evans. You’re someone I didn’t expect to see on a Jem’Hadar ship.”

    ”it’s got more room than my shuttle, and I needed the extra space, and they were kind enough to let me borrow this.”

    That made him pause, generosity was one thing that the dominion was NOT known for “space for what?”

    It was the vorta who answered, not Loriss at least. “for the entertainers and artists that will accompany Mister Evans on his trip to the Delta Quadrant. We request docking clearance so that we can transfer them over to Mister Evan’s vessel.”

    Technically he had to get authorization for official Dominion visits..however “Docking port 23.” The vorta nodded and broke the connection.

    “You’re letting them dock sir?”

    “Curiosity got the better of me. I’ll go down to meet them, notify Evan’s wife where they’re docking.”

    By the time he’d reached the docking port along the promenade a small crowd had gathered-not entirely friendly either. Fortunately when the lock opened there wasn’t a Jem’hadar in sight, just a human and the Vorta from earlier, as well as a group of varied races from the Gamma quadrant. From the splash of pink hair in the crowd he could see that Evans wife got the message about her husband’s return.

    “I Was starting to get worried” Tan said as she wormed her way under Jake’s arm.

    He just chuckled, putting his arm around her shoulders “I told you it might take a few days.” As Kurland stepped forwards he made introductions.

    “Captain, this is Trana” he said, introducing the Vorta “the Founders have sent her as a liaison for the upcoming tour.”

    Kurland nodded politely to the Vorta “I see you were able to talk them into it. We haven’t had much luck with cultural exchanges.”

    “Perhaps it is because Mister Evans doesn’t represent the governments of the Alpha Quadrant” Trana replied “I do not question their decisions, but it should be an interesting voyage.”

    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."

  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,173 Arc User
    edited July 2018
    The Negh'Tev-class I.K.S. Kragoth moved to be swallowed whole by the Bajoran wormhole at Deep Space 9. Captain Menchez took a seat in his chair on the Bridge as the ship was then surrounded by the glory of the verteron phenomenon.

    "So, it's come to this, has it? We've been relegated to the ULC's," the aging Klingon remarked, staring forward at the fantastical vision upon the viewscreen.

    RaeLuna, a half-Human, half-green-alien and his first officer, turned from her stance, standing next to him. "Are you speaking of the underwater love cauldron we are to attend in two weeks?"

    "Yeah; that. It's irrelevant, anyway. Our mission at this very moment is to escort Dominion diplomats and Klingon diplomats to the Gamma Quadrant."

    Vato, a rugged Klingon male and the Security officer, looked up from a rear console. "Captain, why did you wait until now to tell us this? I have had both groups violently locked up in the Brig for trespassing for hours now."

    "Oh, when you've been on the job for as long as I have, you find it more fun to reveal details to your crew through passing remarks and detached indifference," chuckled Menchez. "Also, old age memory loss."

    Seconds later, Vato released the two groups from the Brig, prompting them both to rush to the Bridge.

    "This is unacceptable behaviour, Captain!" argued Dahar Master and diplomat Gaurantan, who was accompanied by two other of his Klingon aides. "I will have your head on a Klingon Gin'tak spear!"

    The Vorta, Feylou, and two of his Jem'Hadar soldiers, entered the Bridge from opposite doors. "We, on the other hand, quite appreciate the experience and study of the inner workings of Klingon jailing processes."

    "Did you like the Rura Penthe-inspired Chameloid inmate and accompanying cigar?" smirked Ulkegh, a Klingon female and officer. "It's standard for all KDF containment cells now."

    Feylou clasped his hands excitedly. "You know we did! Morphable humanoids are an obsession that extends right into what some may deem for us as inappropriate. Oh, and thank you for the misplaced-aggressive Nygean-style prison violence."

    "Am I the only one here who is out-raged??" blurted Gaurantan. "This is merely a symptom of a greater problem with you, Menchez: Coming back from being undead, partaking in Winter Wonderlands, nearly-losing your other ship to the Kazon-Rokka, submitting this vessel to the Children of Khan, and singing Takarian poetry on the planet Raatooras? Evidence of foolhardy, fooly cooly foolishness!"

    Menchez stood up to confront the honoured Master. "I submit to you that all those activities are necessary in this universe. That, without the willingness to embrace the absurd, grow, and break the monotony, we would have been truly failures for never having been written— I mean, existed— in the first place."

    "I must say, Great Master," began Feylou, "Your unwillingness to read— I mean, be open to new experiences is surely a fearful and grim situation all together. That is the basis of all Dominion principles. It's what drives our invasion forces, powers our killing-weapons, and thrusts our pointy-blades into the hearts of our dear friends. We will have to deliberate on whether it is worth continuing talks with you."

    The Vorta then turned to his two ketracel white-addicted soldiers.

    "Come. Let us return to the holding cells for the ritual fight with a horned alien," ordered Feylou. "I hear the key is to kick him in the knee-genitals."

    As the group left through the doors they came, Gaurantan reached out his palm. "Wait; no! We Klingons invade too! It builds our egos and is the foundation of our reward systems!"

    "Well, perhaps it should be more perverse," suggested Menchez as the Dominion delegation left. "Like, maybe we could conquer for sport or the bloodlust?" Then, dreamily, he added, "Mmm. I could go for some tasty humanoid blood right now."

    As he realized the crew was looking at him strangely, Menchez sat back in his chair.

    "Vato, please take the Dahar Master to our best Guest Quarters. You know, the one with all those bed cushions and chandeliers that don't fall even when we're in battle."

    Gaurantan took a few steps back. "What? No! I want to go back to the Brig! I want to fight the voles for my blood cakes! I will not be a failure like you!"

    "Sorry, Your Grace. But it's extravagance and pampering here on out. Hope you enjoy giant leaf fans and wiggly gagh being fed to you one-by-one," threatened Menchez as the Dahar Master was gracefully and respectfully led out.

    The diplomat yelled as the doors were closing him off from the Bridge. "You'll pay for this, Menchez! You'll regret this for however long we Klingons live, which is an undetermined convenience in itself! Wait? Even that's a luxury! No! Noooo!"
    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    The Beauty of Godless Spaces

    by antonine3258

    On 'For the Dominion'


    Space was bright, cluttered with smears of color from nebula concentrations diffusing the deadly radiation from a globular cluster. It covered light years to be visible from here, light years filled with irradiated planets, sudden mass concentrations that could interfere with warp, and young stars with few heavy elements.

    It was clear they were very far from godly space.

    Kleian, commander of the attack ship JI235, glanced at his First, Lixian, who had just made an oddly content noise. Both had their viewers activated.

    "I'm surprised a view of a toxic, blasted wasteland would elicit such a reaction," Kleian said drily, "But I do strive to better lead, so please explain."

    "The colors are quite spectacular, Overseer," Lixian said, eyes down.

    The Founders had in their boundless wisdom given the Jem'Hadar a sense of aesthetics, to better identify, and remove, leadership in species with the same frivolity.

    "Do you feel a base would be set here?" Klein asked, "As a monument or oubilette? It could be a useful place for an ambush if it was closer to something."

    Lixian looked forward again, considering. The First had a considerable eight standard years of experience, much of it as part of a ship's crew.

    "The signal's EM component matched the germanium absorption band, Overseer," Lixian said, "I would assume its termination would be a spaceborne relay of some kind, but the nebular cluster is large enough a new civilization could be present, and the records indicate the Alphas have very good shielding and life support technology, hiding from the gods. They would not need a star for one of their stations."

    "So many foolish and uniformed," Kleian agreed, "I would rather it be the latter and involve less violence." His voice hardened, "Alas, we will see - begin the segmented neutrino scan, First. I will conduct an inspection."


    Several hours later, they had found... nothing. A large nothing, admittedly.

    "A dead rock?" Kleian summarized.

    "No subspace emissions found, a slight amount of latent heat remaining above background. No sign of the rock being worked, but several useful minerals in large quantities," Lixian said, disappointed.

    "And no sign the signal may have bounced somewhere else?" Kleian said. The First shook his head. "Perhaps it was an errant stellar emission in the subspace range, but let us confirm no one threatens the Dominion's safety. Arrange the signal to be reproduced, and deploy probes to confirm it terminated here."

    Lixian's art critiques aside, he was a good First and anticipated the request. "At once, Overseer," he said, nodding to his Third. A brief working of a console and the little fighter hummed; probes leaving torpedo ports, visible as brief glints from station-keeping thrusters. Another moment and a capacitor trilled as the signal went out.

    The Third shook his head, "No detection on probes, First."

    "Well, I suppose bring them back - align a full navigational fix," Kleian said, "Some day this asteroid will serve the Gods as part of our armory."

    "Yes, Overseer," Lixian said, and went to work. Kleian, a tad bored, went to inspect the fuel consumption levels before turning at a sudden intake of breath.

    "Report," he said, moving to stand by Lixian, and pulling the First's displays to his own viewer.

    "Background heat level on the navigational fix did not match our earlier scan," Lixian said, "Ready weapons and shielding, battle standby."

    "Well done," Kleian said loudly, then much quieter, "The asteroid is primarily germanium - a pizeoelectric reaction from our beam?"

    Lixian spoke even quieter - Kleian was quite proud of his hearing. "No, Overseer, it is general to the rock, our effect could not spread so fast."

    "Alert: point thermal sources detected," the Third said. Both could see it, sections of the rock were warming much faster now.

    "Shields," Lixian and Kleian said together.

    "It is done," the Second said.

    "Send standard challenge in wide short-range," Lixian said after a moment.

    "Addendum. Communications: send position and recent ship log to Sector Command on tightbeam. Recommend again a ship sent to observe the signal origin," Kleian said.

    "No response, signal sent," the Fifth said.

    "Gravimetrics showing changes in asteroid density," the Third reported, "Detecting magnetic fields."

    "It's falling apart?" Kleian asked Lixian, who shook his head, baffled at the readings they were getting. Fissues were appearing, rocks - mountains, really - apparently drifting away from the main rock.

    "EM fields harmonizing - impulse signature! Correction- signatures multiplying!" the Third said. Displays lit up with more readouts as energy began to pour - they weren't rocks, they were ships of some sort.

    "No communication?" Kleian asked.

    "Negative Overseer," the Third said.

    "Destroy them, First," the Vorta ordered, dismissive.

    "Full spread - nearest enemies priority - bring us to half impulse, bear away and come for a full attack run! Victory is life!" the First ordered, eyes alight.

    Phased polarons spat from the forward emitters as the small ship's engines came to life, cutting short as they impacted the wildly separating rock.

    "There is a depressing lack of debris," Kleian observed mildly.

    "Some sort of decoy system," Lixian surmised, "Compensate." The attack fighter lurched, and Kleian's eyes widened as there was brief squeal of escaping atmosphere before the heavy thud of a bulkhead.

    "Three breaches through inner hull, damage to port nacelle and impulse," the Second stated, "Power dropping. Heavy damage to coils." The ship lurched again. "Total damage to coils."

    "Phaser fire originating from multiple vectors," the Third said, "Power is considerable. Shield grid near overload, complete collapse on third quadrant."

    "Overseer, we are significantly outnumbered by threat vessels," Lixian noted, gripping his console.

    It was also getting worse all the next, Kleian noted - parasite craft were departing the larger rocks, and the patchy scan return through the decoys and damage showed they were as large as their own ship.

    "Communications?" Kleian asked.

    "None to us, but local subspace is beginning to fill," the Fifth said, "It is...noise."

    Kleian closed his eyes briefly, and wondered if there would be another.

    "First Lixian," he said, "We have no warp capacity and lack the power to communiate to Sector Command this threat. Our remaining duty is to diminish this threat."

    "Agreed, Overseer," Lixian said, "Second, all power but forward shields and targeting to engines. Intercept course on largest enemy vessel, maximum possible speed."

    "It is done," the Second said. Kleian gripped a railing by Lixian's console, his knuckles white.

    The ship howled forward, shields flaring in defiance as hull plating evaporated. Kleian closed his eyes...

    And opened again a moment later. "First, I am disappointed to be able to state I am very disappointed," Kleian said.

    "Yes, Overseer," Lixian said with real anger, "Third, why have we failed?"

    "A tractor beam of great complexity and power overwhelmed our forward shields, First," the Third said. "And we are now being boarded," he said without surprise.

    "Enemies within engineering," the Fifth added.

    "Very well," the First said. "Overload the warp core if possible." He unstrapped his holstered sidearm and checked the charge. When the Second shook his head, Lixian nodded.

    "This enemy is clever," Kleian said, "Scramble the computer cores and we will head to antimatter containment." The bridge crew nodded, drawing their armanents. Each had served in the Founders' glorious ground forces before being worthy of ship duty, and knew their job.

    Lixian clasped Kleian's shoulder, and Kleian's protest died in his mouth as he looked the First on squarely. There was real kindness in the First's eyes. "Overseer, we all know you serve well, there is no need for you to suffer pain in this fight, no decisions left to make; your place with the gods is secure."

    Not sure what to do with the hand that had been reaching to pluck the Jem'hadar off, he instead patted Lixian's hand. "Thank you, First," Kleian said. Somewhere, there was a scream, pitched well above a Jem'Hadar throat. "But do we have a moment more?" The First's concentration switched to his headset, then he nodded.

    Kleian went to a wall and opened the bio-coded lock there, bringing out the precoius vials. "A final gift from the Founders, for your loyalty to death. May it keep you strong."

    The Jem'Hadar crowded for the vials, and then left the bridge, shrouding as they went.

    Kleian watched them go, then went to stand at his post. When the Dominion conquered these, and if something was salvaged, he'd prefer his next clone could take some pride. He wondered if he should say something, but the computers were down. No matter.

    With a quick gesture to his head, he activated the final gift from the Founders: escape from true peril, without pain.

    There must have been something wrong with the implant - it certainly hurt, but was otherwise working as advertised. Kleian's head hit the deck, resetting his viewer to some functional subsystem showing the exterior.

    And there, for a moment at the end, he saw the beauty in it.

    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited July 2018
    Wrong thread
    Post edited by antonine3258 on
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,173 Arc User
    edited August 2018
    The Negh'Tev-class I.K.S. Kragoth dropped warp and joined the Dominion vanguard heavy raider Lyngon-5328 at an asteroid belt in the Torad sector of the Gamma Quadrant.

    "It is agreeable to see you, Captain," came the hail from Lyngon-5328 by its Jem'Hadar Honored First, Kurok'Tekan.

    Captain Menchez stood from his seat at the Bridge of the Kragoth. "You're thinking of Vulcans! Klingons just start shouting obscenities and falsified claims."

    "My apologies, Oh Eternally Angry One," said the Vorta, Feylou, who suddenly walked into frame. "He's new here. Almost like a newborn son to me, considering he still has Dominion birthing chamber goop all over him."

    The Kragoth's half-Human half-green-alien first officer, RaeLuna, raised an eyebrow. "Didn't we just deliver you to peace-talks with Klingon diplomats?"

    "That was my predecessor, Feylou-6. Your precious Dahar Master Gaurantan broke his neck during a discussion about what snackables to have at the table."

    Menchez nodded. "As any Dahar Master in charge of diplomacy would. Also, our gagh addiction is much like your ketrecel white addiction, except we go mad within seconds."

    "Klingons and Dominion working together," mused Kurok'Tekan. "Stranger things have never happened, nor will again, nor should have to begin with."


    Beaming down to a low-gravity cave, Menchez, RaeLuna, and security/operations officer Ulkegh met with Feylou, Kurok'Tekan and Second Wui'Xiau.

    "Since it was we who detected the Hur'q here, it us who will lead this mission," declared Menchez.

    Kurok'Tekan readied his polaron rifle. "The only reason you were ever allowed in Dominion territory is because your scent repels the Karemma."

    "petaQ! How dare you take that tone with me!" countered the Captain. "Then again, we are proud of our odorous effect on an entire species. Their Prime Minister completely lost his lunch last week."

    Suddenly, one of the nearby walls opened up, revealing a large group of Hur'q on a level below, celebrating. The Hur'q that opened the wall stopped himself in shock.

    "Whoa! Is there a humanoid convention or have the cows gone missing?" the Hur'q quipped. "Seriously, though, my name is Craven."

    Kurok'Tekan dropped his aim. "Hold on. You can talk?"

    "Oh, please. Talk? Why we're the foremost melodically auditory masters of our generation— meaning, we can siiiinnnnnggg!" And then, after a moment, he added, "But, to clarify, we're a group of Hur'q who circumvented the madness from our dependency on our fungus. Evolution, perhaps? I don't know. I'm just a crystals systems analyst with barely any weekends off. It's crazy at the office some days. My co-worker Jane knows all about it."

    Feylou turned to Kurok'Tekan. "Why are you chatting with this Xindi-wannabe? Our mission here is to exterminate him!"

    "Yeah, we haven't had contact with the outside galaxy in eons. How are things? Do they still use laser disc?" Craven asked.

    Menchez waved those questions away. "Your people have succumbed to the madness previously aforementioned and are running amuck, consuming the cosmos. They specifically attacked my homeworld centuries ago."

    "Ha! Oh yeah, that sounds like us," Craven chuckled. "Seriously, though, we do not side with them at all. Our society is one of simple tailors and barbershop quartets— but the bug versions, of course. We refuse to associate with those foam-mouthed vermin."

    Kurok'Tekan felt Feylou's eyes burrowing into his face, but diligently ignored it. "Then you will assist the Dominion and the Alliance in opening communications with the enemy."

    "Have you lost your mind!?" Feylou snapped at his Jem'Hadar subordinate.

    The Hur'q flailed his humanoid arms. "Yeah, we couldn't even if we wanted to. No one remembers the old tongue. There was that one guy, but he was squashed by a giant Spock clone. Came out of nowhere."

    "Some progenitor you turned out to be," Feylou continued with Kurok'Tekan before turning to Menchez. "Then you, Klingon, will complete your mission or I will have the entire Dominion fleet descend upon you like a plague of bug-like aliens of some kind."

    Menchez quickly and swiftly snapped his neck, allowing the now dead Vorta to fall to the floor. Everyone watched in shock before Wui'Xiau pulled up his weapon at the Captain. Kurok'Tekan just chuckled, prompting his Second to man-down.

    "Hahaha! You know they'll just make another one, don't you?" the First reminded Menchez. "Also, they always expect the Klingons to do the head thing. Like, sixty of you have done it since the Dominion War."

    The old Captain nodded. "We are compelled to murder Vorta. Perhaps it is their prey-like distinction. By the way, don't ever put us in a room with Kelpian people. We will eat their faces off without even killing them first."

    "The Jem'Hadar are not bred to use our mouths to consume, as we only require the White, but we have had Kelpian before and it is absolutely delicious," agreed Kurok'Tekan.

    Craven held up his muscular arm. "Hold on. We haven't had official outsiders other than some giant clone and you guys in centuries, but we were able to replace our madness-driving hunger with one thing: a major Kelpian import. Would you care to join us?"

    "Would I?? That's probably what I've been smelling since we've come down here!" the old Klingon perked, excitedly.

    Kurok'Tekan nodded. "We have drawn blood, so now we will feast."

    "Now you're getting us!" Menchez slapped the Jem'Hadar on his back agreeably as the entire group followed Craven into the festivities below. "You know, you Jem'Hadar are alright."
    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,705 Arc User
    Lies, Damned Lies, and Politics
    Part II

    Eleya. Wardroom, USS Bajor.

    The Starfleet Intelligence file on Gul Torc Madred, late of the Cardassian Military Intelligence Directorate—which is not the Obsidian Order, I remind myself, though it might as well be—is long and heavily redacted. It takes two tries and some significant pulling-of-rank to get the whole story, and parts of it almost make me wish I hadn’t.

    “The guy was at phekk’ta Gallitep???” Gaarra reads incredulously.

    “That’s what the file says,” I half-growl. “Stationed there as an interrogator in ‘65, a couple years before the Shakaar Resistance Cell liberated the camp. Prophets, Ambassador, half the stuff in here would be fodder for the Seldonis IV Tribunal if that damn treaty had any teeth.”

    “Yes, I see that,” Ambassador Kannan agrees. “But you know as well as I do the reason we refused to hand him over to the Cardassians for trial.”

    “Is holding him forever without trial really any better than sending him to a firing squad?” I retort. “Hell, Dul’krah, talk to me—what do we even have jurisdiction to try him for? I know Bajor’s courts aren’t allowed to take an Occupation case since the agreement in 2400, so that just leaves Cardassia. Besides, anything he knew about the True Way is over a year out of date at this point; Chakotay’s dreaming if he thinks they’ll get anything more out of him.”

    “Look, the policy’s clear, El, we don’t extradite to death penalty jurisdictions.”

    “Yeah, well, maybe it’s time we started.”

    Gaarra’s look flips from shock to something that looks almost rueful. “I think we’re about to have our first married fight.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask over Ambassador Kannan’s stifled laughter.

    “Just that I don’t agree with you and I know I don’t have a snowball’s chance in the Fire Caves of changing your mind.”

    “I can talk to Exterior Secretary Shad,” Kannan puts in before I can think of how to respond to that, “see if they’re willing to make an exception if it’ll get the Cardassians on board with admitting the Dominion.”

    “Please do, sir.”

    “Well, then, that just leaves the repeal of Article VII.”

    He scoffs and takes a sip of water. “Yeah, about that. Chancellor Worf was receptive, but I asked Speaker Ktumba and he said no way in hell do they have the votes needed to amend the treaty. Computer sim said the Alpha Rim Caucus and the Maquis worlds would never go for it.”

    I tap my finger on the table for a moment, then key the intercom. “How about we test that, Mr. Ambassador. Kanril to Comms.”

    This is Comms,” Lieutenant Esplin sends back.

    “Lieutenant, bit of a strange request. I wonder if you could get me on First Minster Arvel’s schedule.”
    * * *
    Rachel. Former ore-processing sector, Deep Space 9.

    I tap my earpiece comm. “Kallio, you still got an eye on him?”

    “Kylla,” my sniper replies. “Tamir’s still here, handling some Tholian silk imports.

    “Good, keep watching him.” I jerk my head at Lamont and Luiz. “You guys smell a rat, too?”

    They nod. “Seems a little slapped-together,” Lamont says quietly. Behind him, First Kumot’Iklan nods in agreement. “Circle ops usually are, but if they’re on DS9 that means they’ve put some thought into it. So, why the lax security on the trilithium resin?”

    “Red herring?” I suggest. “Or another player?”

    “Either way, we shoulda worn armor,” Luiz rumbles.

    “Yeah, well, apparently kicking the door in ain’t subtle enough.” I take off my boots and socks. “You lot try to act subtle, I’m gonna do the stupid thing.”

    “Should I be prepared to catch you, Lieutenant?” the Jem’Hadar asks.

    “And they say chivalry’s dead… Nah, I’ll be fine.” I flex my toes and swing my arms back and forth. “Throw on some workers’ outfits. First, you’re going to have to put the knitting aside.”

    First Kumot’Iklan nods, checking the power on his pistol. “Of course.”

    “Alright. We’ve got five minutes ‘til the meet’s supposed to be. Let’s move.”

    I leap up, grabbing the bars on the underside of the catwalk above me, and swing up, clambering up on the underside through two go-rounds of the spiral walk. My earpiece sounds again.

    Lieutenant, Tamir’s in motion. He’s got the case.

    “Good, keep on him, Kallio.” I pin myself up against a support, the muscles of my abomination of a body keeping me in place with ease. Chrono gives me four minutes. I drop my voice to a low murmur, counting on my throat mic to pick it up. “Lamont, Luiz, you see anything?”

    Nothing yet,” Lamont says through my earpiece. “Just a couple Cardassian voles.

    I keep my breathing even despite my fluttering nerves. It’s honestly easier when the phaser bolts are flying, waiting wears on a woman’s nerves, makes your reflexes turn to sh*t.

    I’m being followed,” Kallio hisses in my earpiece. “Humanoids, nondescript—they aren’t Bajoran, no earring flash. Human or Betazoid, I think.

    “Can you lose ‘em?”

    Not without losing Tamir.

    F*ck. “Where are you?”

    Main habitat ring--Tamir just got into a turbolift.

    “If you can get the next one down, get it, but don’t let those guys get you alone in the lift.”

    Kyllä, luutnantti.” What did… oh, yes, Lieutenant. Wish I could still have a translator implant without metabolizing it. Wish the little b*stard would quit using Finnish cusses to be obtuse, too. Took me a week before I realized that he was calling that Nausicaan on Drozana’s mother something unfit for polite company.

    I’m watching the turbolift,” Lamont tells me. Then, after a moment, “It just arrived, Tamir’s here.” Good. Then I hear footsteps above me.

    I pull myself out with care, hanging by my fingers and toes as I try my best to breathe quietly--even with a musculature that makes a boosted Romulan look like an Elaysian, it’s hard to be quiet like this. I squint, and my augment eyes make it ridiculously easy to cut through the low light. Hand it to the f*ckers that turned me into a monster, some of these tricks are pretty useful.

    A couple of fit Bajorans with what look like concealed weapons. Hard to tell what, but probably not phasers, it’d be hard to get those onto the station unregistered, and Circle wouldn’t be stupid enough to let themselves be tracked like that.

    “Where is he?” one of the Bajorans asks the other. Deep voice, accent’s similar to the Captain’s.

    “Calm down, Okar,” the taller one says. High-pitched, female, accent different enough that my rusty knowledge of Bajoran can barely process it. “He’s got two minutes.”

    Short, deep, and burly grunts. “I don’t trust him. He trades with outsiders too much.”

    Tall lady shakes her head. “Irrelevant. We will hang the heathens with the rope that they sell us.”

    “Indeed you will,” says Tamir, and I can hear the quaver in his oily voice as he trots up. “I have the shipment here.” He pats a briefcase by his side—should be the one we gave him.

    “Were you followed?” tall lady asks.

    “I, uh…” Tamir lets out a nervous chuckle. “Plainclothes security type. Small and skinny, lost him at the turbolift.”

    “We don’t have much time, then. This is the amount agreed upon?”

    Tamir nods. “A hundred grams of trilithium resin. Enough to fracture the hull and wipe out the entire conference.” He wipes his forehead. “Can we hurry? I don’t want to get in trouble for this.”

    “Sure,” Okar says, but tall lady stops him.

    “Wait. Open the case.”

    “Uh, it’s all here,” Tamir says with a nervous chuckle. Great. This f*cking guy can’t even act. I swing out, pulling myself to the lower lip of the catwalk, and…

    The d*mn catwalk creaks as I start to haul myself up. Okar and tall lady turn immediately.

    Phekk! We’re made!” tall lady snarls, and I yank myself up, flipping over the railing. Okar swings a punch, and I duck, then hammer him in the gut, lifting him six inches off the ground and leaving him a crumpled, wheezing wreck. Tall lady grabs for Tamir, but I sweep with my leg and trip her.

    “Get the f*ck outta here,” I snap at Tamir. He doesn’t need telling twice, as I turn back to Okar and hit him with my phaser pistol. I turn back, and tall lady’s scrambling to her feet, one hand going for her weapon. I hit her with light stun, and she crumples.

    “That was too f*cking easy,” I grumble as I pick up tall lady’s weapon. It’s a slugthrower, compressed-gas model, single shot by the looks of it. You could make this out of junkyard parts on any third-rate backwater colony in the galaxy. Kind of gun for someone who wants to be a martyr.

    “Lamont, keep an eye on Tamir. Luiz, First, get up here. Kallio, you good?”

    I lost them, I think. Returning to Quark’s, sir.

    “Good. Something still smells rotten here…”
    * * *

    Eleya. Office of the First Minister, Ashalla, Bajor. 28 September.

    “Thank you for agreeing to meet me, First Minister.”

    “Of course, of course!” Arvel Selan says, smiling broadly and gripping my hand in both of his, and I can’t help but wonder how much trouble he goes to to keep just that faint trace of a Selesian accent to sound folksy. “And may I say, it is an absolute pleasure for us to finally be introduced. I cannot imagine how we kept missing each other at the meeting on Schrödinger’s Butterfly.”

    I force a chuckle. “Well, in my defense, sir, it was the springball championships.”

    He nods understandingly. “You’re Kendran, correct? Tomis Lee fan, one supposes?”

    “That’s right. He grew up a few towns over, springball squad at my school played them a few times.”

    He nods again, still with that smile fixed on his face. “I was captain, we took provincial in ‘77. You play?”

    “A little bit,” I allow. “I liked baseball better—I was pitcher when we went to provincials.”

    “Oh? How did you do?”

    “Didn’t. Went down 5-6 in the first round, sad to say. I had nine strike-outs but the right fielder blew a catch in the top of the 8th, so…”

    “Ah. I received your proposal, of course,” he says, pulling a tablet out of his desk. “Intriguing, intriguing. Difficult,” he adds, holding up a finger.


    “Well, as you well know, handing over one war criminal is one thing, but we’re talking about letting the Cardassians re-arm.”

    “Mister First Minister, are you serious?”

    “Of course I’m serious. It’s an election year, I have to be. Look, I want this nonsense to stay in the past, but with the war, the bombings… We’re talking about cozying up to—”

    “Mister First Minister,” I snap, “my father fought in the Kendra Liberation Front. His father died when the Third Order stormed the caves in ‘68 while he was off buying katterpods. So don’t try to tell me what you’re up against here, I understand.”

    “Do you? Because right now the Nationalist Party is trying to paint me as weak on defense—how in the Prophets’ names was I supposed to see the Iconians coming? Besides, it’s not as if a dozen surplus Breen frigates would’ve even slowed them down.”

    I bite my tongue on what I want to say to that, because he’s right, unfortunately: Space Arm as it was when I was in would’ve been a speed bump to the Heralds at best.

    “Everything I’ve done with the Militia,” he continues with barely a breath, “I’ve been trying to trim waste. Kalin Tala wants ten additional divisions active, do you believe that?”

    “I can imagine,” I carefully respond. “But respectfully, sir, I’m after larger game than a state election here. Come on, even Governor Kalin ought to know Cardassia actually attacking us again is about as likely now as a black hole’s event horizon cracking.”

    “And if you said that, people might actually listen.”

    Now I know what he’s getting at. What I want to say to this smarmy son of a wraith, what I might have said two or three years ago, isn’t fit for polite conversation. Instead I fall back on regulations, holding my voice carefully neutral. “First Minister, I’m not allowed to make political endorsements. That violates Starfleet codes of conduct and the Prime Directive.”

    “Well, of course, of course! Obviously I’m not asking for you to do it officially, but we both want what’s best for Bajor, don't we?”

    “Yes, sir, we do. Which is why, privately, I'm still registered Nationalist.”


    “What? Surprised?” I chuckle a bit at his expression. Yeah, I like Kalin Tala, I think she’d be a good First Minister.”

    “She’s too close to the Temple. And her position on—”

    “Sir, I didn’t come here to discuss local politics any more than I had to. I’m not allowed. But don’t worry, that applies to the governor, too—I won’t be endorsing her either, just voting for her. Now maybe I can help get you something you can take to the voters, but—” I shake my finger at him as he opens his mouth. “—if you try to associate my name with it, I’ll deny everything, clear?”

    “All right. Torino IV.”

    I blank on the name. “You’ve lost me completely.”

    He clicks a couple controls on his desk console and brings up a map on the monitor. “It’s a Class L planet.”

    I lean forward and zoom in on the highlighted world. “What about it?”

    “Well, it’s right on the edge. Cold, thin atmosphere, a little high in halogens and noble gases. But it’s basically habitable, it’s got some big rare-earth and transuranic deposits, and it’s within our borders. A little light terraforming…”

    I sigh. “I know a couple of guys in Starfleet Science.”

    Now he’s all smiles again. “I thought you might.”

    * * *

    Rachel. USS Bajor brig.

    “Let me guess,” tall lady, alias Vakeris Sulan, ex-Bajoran Militia, cashiered after being reprimanded for falsely accusing her CO of smuggling, sneers. “Okar knew nothing, so you’re trying your luck on me.” Shackled to a table in our interrogation room, she still manages to keep her chin up. Pretty, too. Pity she’s a terrorist, though even then I don’t like to f*ck racists.

    “Indeed,” Korekh replies calmly. “You were apprehended two hours ago while attempting to purchase trilithium resin, a Class A controlled substance, with the assistance of a known Alliance for Global Unity operative, Okar Matan. Starfleet has reason to believe that you are involved in an attempt to assassinate an allied diplomat. It would be helpful to your case if you gave us information pertaining to this investigation.”

    “I bet,” Vakeris sneers, leaning back as far as her chair lets her. “You’ll get nothing, unless I walk.”

    “Not happening,” I snarl as Korekh folds his arms, settling into a calm death stare that I’m told is pretty effective. “You want a deal, we talk months.”

    She snorts. “Phekk’ta joke that is. You give me six standard months, I’ll be right back in contact within a year and then you’ll never get me again.”

    “You want me to call up the chain of command, see if I can get you a decade?” I retort. “You might’ve seen the holovids, I’m kind of popular on Earth right now.”

    “Yeah, I saw. Big fancy Human hero, got a bunch of sh*t pinned on your chest. Now you’re kicking us in the fork—go ahead, b*tch, show the universe what the Federation’s really about, huh? Lock me up, I’ll have a civil-rights case going before you can sneeze.”

    I hit the table with the flats of my hands. “Listen, you little…”

    Korekh clears his throat, and I back off. “I think,” he says as Vakeris looks back to him, “that what my colleague meant to say is that this case is very politically sensitive, and your cooperation would be greatly appreciated.”

    “Why should I care?” Vakeris retorts. “Either way I get prison, we all know how this ends.”

    “We can certainly ensure that you are not put away for too long,” Korekh replies mildly. “And there is the possibility of a plea bargain for amnesty.”

    What?” I exclaim. “We just let this little terrorist…”

    “Control yourself, Lieutenant,” Korekh demands, and I shut up, crossing my arms and fuming dramatically. “Tell me, Ms. Vakeris. How does three months’ community service in an Orthodox church charity in Kendra Province sound?”

    “You’re whacked, the Feds would never…”

    “I, too, have some pull with the federal government,” Korekh replies mildly. “What do you know?”

    Vakeris tries to bring her arm up to brush over her face, but can’t quite make it. She licks her lips, eyes flitting from side to side as Korekh sits there unblinking.

    “OK. I know my boss. Dekon Ch’Ano. He used to be a Prylar. He’s on the station as part of a contingency plan.”

    “Please describe him.”

    “No, no, I want a guarantee on that deal first.”

    Korekh just stares. Vakeris starts to sweat.

    She lasts five minutes. I’m impressed. “Okay. Alright, he’s from Dahkur Province, but looks Perikian. Green eyes, shaved head.”


    I do a quick search on my PADD. “This him?” I turn the screen to Vakeris.

    “Yes, that’s him, now please, what about my deal?”

    “Nasty rap sheet this boy’s got,” I remark. “Looks like he was an ultra-Orthodox hardliner, got involved in Occupation theology and the Kohn-Ma before going full Circle.”

    “Excellent. Lieutenant, if you would please take Ms. Vakeris to the brig?”

    “Sure thing.” I haul the Bajoran up, keeping her hands cuffed together as I detach her from the table.

    “Hey, what about my deal?” she protests. Korekh shrugs.

    “I never stated how much pull I had with Command. I doubt that you will be released in under six months—and I will be attaching a recommendation for probation after that.”

    “You—you f*ckers played me?”

    “Sure did,” I reply with my most winning smile. “You even fell for the old good-cop-bad-cop routine. C’mon, you’ve got a 2-by-2-by-3 hotel room to get to.”

    “You phekk’ta b*tch!” She struggles, but against my bullsh*t aug strength it’s futile.

    “I did warn you that you had a right to an attorney,” Korekh remarks.
    * * *

    Eleya. Wardroom, USS Bajor.

    A terraforming project?” Admiral La Forge asks hesitantly on the screen. “It won’t be easy to get support, not with so much clean-up work to be done after the Iconian invasion.

    The Starfleet Corps of Engineers has had lead on terraforming projects since the Federation was founded, just because they’re really the only organization in the country that does stuff that big. Hence, my chain of deals grows even longer.

    This diplomatic cr*p makes fixing an overheating phaser lance look easy.

    “Sir, it’s not as bad as it could be,” Biri puts in. “Humanoids can already live on the surface, we’re pretty much just looking at adjusting the atmosphere for comfort.”

    Commander Riyannis, I’m sure you know it’s never that simple. We’re talking years just to start it: we have to get a full environmental impact survey done, get preservation specimens of any species that won’t be able to survive in the new environment, probably find somewhere to use as a preserve, develop algal strains that won’t overgrow the native flora, deal with the environmentalist vote, make sure that we can get all the minerals without strip-mining, negotiate union contracts…

    “Sir,” I say, “you understand why I’m asking you this.”

    Of course I understand. I’m just trying to wrap my head around why your First Minister thinks this is a fair exchange for Council votes.

    I shrug. “Look at it this way, Admiral. If the polls are right, all you really need to do right now is start up a planning committee, because Arvel will be out of office in two months.” Biri and La Forge both give me a funny look. “What?”

    Well, one thing’s for sure, you’re no Picard,” he comments, shaking his head.

    “No, sir,” is about the nicest way I can respond to that.

    All right, I’ll look into it.

    “Thank you, sir.” He vanishes from the screen.

    I let out a breath. “We did it.”

    “Did we?” Tess asks.

    “Well, I hope so. If everybody can deliver what they promised, then I just managed to buy the Dominion into the Galactic Alliance. Oh, Prophets…” I rest my head in my hands, giggling nervously as Gaarra rubs my back. “You believe this cr*p, guys? We’re having to trust politicians.”

    And the wardroom dissolves into general hilarity.
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
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