“I see something moving,” said a voice with a British accent.
A large armored vehicle could be seen through a set of digital binoculars. Upon magnification of the image, the vehicle could be identified as an Earth motor vehicle, what was referred in 21st Century dialect as a sport utility vehicle. “I see it, too,” said another faraway onlooker, also with a British accent, looking through a set of binoculars. “It’s stopping in front of the main house of the Drazen estate.”
The vehicle did stop in front of the main entrance of a mansion-sized building. Emerging from the passenger side of the vehicle was a heavyset human male of advanced middle age. The onlookers dressed in all black knew from behind a bush on a steep hill overlooking the perimeter of the main house they had their man: Victor Drazen, one of the cruelest warlords of Earth’s 21st Century, Both onlookers were wearing black turtleneck shirts and black sweatpants in order to blend in with their surroundings.
“That’s Drazen, all right,” said the team leader. He then pushed a button on the communication device on his shoulder. “This is Bauer. Hammer One. Repeat Hammer One.”
“Roger that,” a voice on the speaker replied. “Hammer One ready to initiate. ETA: six minutes.”
The two men watching the Drazen estate from afar could identify the arrival of a military airship by a loud rumbling in the sky. Soon to accompany the rumbling was a high-pitched squeal that became higher in pitch, suggesting a projectile falling out of the sky. A missile landed hard on the front section of the mansion. The mansion erupted in a fireball. When the explosion subsided, a large part of the mansion was covered in flames. The covert mission to eliminate Drazen was a success.
The sound of gunshots began ringing through the air. Sensing his men were under attack, the man who identified himself as Bauer jumped to his feet. “Let’s get out of here,” he ordered his colleague. “We need to radio the chopper to pick us up sooner.”
Bauer and his colleague hurried down the hill and out into the open valley. They were slowed when they heard high-pitched chime. “Ops to Doctor Bashir, “a voice with a small hint of a Scottish accent boomed.
“Freeze program!” Bauer shouted. He was actually Doctor Julian Bashir of Starbase Deep Space Nine. His colleague was Raul Fitzpatrick, the station’s chief of Starfleet security. They were running a holosuite re-enactment of a famous Earth battle. The gunshots could no longer be heard once the program was frozen. The dust and debris from the explosion that was flying about appeared to be frozen in time. “Go ahead.”
“I hope you’re not too worn out running from holograms, Doctor, a few Starfleet destroyers are on the way,” replied the voice on the other end, Commander Elias Vaughn in the station’s Operations center. “They have wounded.”
“I’ll be in the Infirmary in five minutes. Doctor Gharani should be on duty.” Bashir took a quick look at his surroundings and then looked at Fitzpatrick. “You can continue without me.”
“What would be the point?” Fitzpatrick asked rhetorically. “Jack Bauer was the only person to survive this scenario.”
Bashir suddenly realized his character was the only person of a team of six to survive this covert operation. “Quite right,” he quipped. “Computer, end program and save from this time index.”
Bashir sauntered away as the surrounding area dissolved and was replaced by the walls of an empty holosuite chamber. Fitzpatrick followed close behind saying, “I get to be Bauer next time.”
Bashir gave just gave a thumbs-up to avoid slowing himself down. The program they had just run was one of a number of holosuite reenactments that his friend and former colleague Miles O’Brien had introduced him to. Fitzpatrick had the same interest in Earth history, Julian discovered when the former transferred from the USS Veracruz. The two became fast friends, and Raul soon became Julian’s new holosuite partner after O’Brien left to take position with the Starfleet Academy faculty.
Upon exiting the holosuite, Bashir headed the main entrance on the second level of Quark's Bar and Casino. Lieutenant Ezri Dax happened to pass by the bar on the station's Promenade. Based on Bashir's clothing, Ezri concluded that he had been reenacting a major battle in Earth's history. Ezri, as well as the Dax symbiont’s previous Trill host Jadzia, knew very well about Bashir’s adventures in the holosuite with Chief O’Brien before the latter’s departure. In recent months, either the new chief of operations Aiman al-Rashid, Fitzpatrick, or both accompanied him. “What was it this time,” she said. “Desert Storm?”
Though Ezri had accumulated much of Jadzia’s knowledge and memories when the sluglike creature known as Dax had been transferred from the now deceased Jadzia Idaris to Ezri Tigan, she was not as familiar as her predecessor host with Earth history. “Operation Nightfall,” Bashir responded. “A group of United States operatives are sent to take out a genocidal 21st Century warlord in a place called Kosovo.”
“The mission is a failure I take it,” Ezri replied.
Bashir grinned at that remark. He had gained an appreciation for the valiant struggles of the losers in famous conflicts. He was not the least bit enthusiastic, however, when O’Brien introduced him to a holosuite reenactment of the Battle of the Alamo where they would play the role of the defeated rebel forces. The fact that the rebels’ defeat was still instrumental in its eventual victory over the neighboring nation-state of Mexico still did not curb his frustrations at not being able to win.
After O’Brien transferred off, Bashir had suggested Ezri accompany him to a holosuite reenactment of the Battle of Thermopylae. Again, while the heroes of this simulation lost this battle, it was instrumental in an eventual victory of Greece over the invading Persian Empire. The war between the Dominion and major Alpha Quadrant powers had historical parallels with these epic battles. While the Federation and its allies suffered many devastating losses, some of those defeats were just as detrimental to the enemy.
“Have you ever considered talking to a counselor about these annihilation fantasies?” Ezri once jokingly asked him.
After taking Julian up on the invitations, Ezri experienced a moment of awkwardness. The two later agreed that this was something Julian should do with his male friends, not his girlfriend.
“In some manner of speaking,” Bashir answered. “The men were ambushed. Bauer was the only survivor, but as far as the general public was concerned, Drazen had been assassinated as planned.”
The two officers took a spiral staircase down to the first level of the Promenade and walked towards a turbolift. “Well, I’m needed in the Infirmary,” Bashir stated after a long pause in conversation. “I should probably get into uniform. Dinner tonight at Vic’s, remember?”
“I haven’t forgotten”
Captain Limis sat on the reclined examination chair in the station infirmary’s main exam room. Commander Kozar stood several feet away as Bashir scanned the captain with a medical tricorder. Her injuries were superficial compared to those of her colleagues placed in the primary intensive care unit adjacent to the main waiting area.
Her black and gray-shouldered uniform tunic along with a wine-red turtleneck indicating command department was draped over the back of the chair. Bashir trained his tricorder’s small hand scanner on the side of her abdomen. “You have two broken ribs,” Bashir quietly observed. “Nothing I can’t handle.”
Bashir looked over to the Bajoran female nurse setting items down on the instrument table. “Nurse,” he said, “another ten milligrams of morphinezine.”
Ridiculous, she thought. She had endured worse injuries during the war when her ship’s medical facilities were fresh out of painkillers.
Kira and Ro entered the exam room through the waiting area. Limis immediately recognized both Bajorans upon their arrival. “You must be Colonel Kira,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot about you from Captain Sisko.”
That she had. Shortly after the Dominion War began and Starfleet was forced to surrender the station, Limis had helped foil a plot by her ex-husband to lure Starfleet into a Dominion ambush. Many of the Maquis who survived after the formation of the Dominion-Cardassian alliance were willing to help the Federation defeat their common enemy. A small number of the Maquis still felt bitter towards the Federation for having signed a treaty three years prior that turned their colony worlds to the Cardassian Empire.
Limis had never met Kira before. What she knew of the colonel came from Sisko, as well as her personnel file. Kira recently become the station’s commanding officer after Sisko’s confrontation with Dukat in the Bajoran Fire Caves. “How do you like command?” Limis asked, oblivious to the nurse who placed a hypospray on the side of her neck to inject her with a painkiller.
Kira considered the question for a second, and then gave a quick answer. “A lot more responsibility.”
Limis had been well acquainted with Ro from their days in the Maquis. “I see Starfleet is taking its sweet time pardoning you, Ro,” she quipped, noticing the security chief’s Bajoran militia uniform.
“The uniforms are looser fitting, though,” Ro responded.
Kira quickly got to the matter at hand—the Lambda Paz’s destruction. “So what happened out there, Captain?” she asked.
Limis lay on her right side and rolled up a portion of her sleeveless tank to expose a bruise where her broken ribs were. Bashir trained a laser bone regenerator on the wound. “Simply put,” Limis explained, “everything went to hell as soon as those escort ships hailed us. Then they came at us with a hard burst of Jem’Hadar plasma torpedoes.”
“The Cardassians began outfitting their ships with Dominion and Breen weaponry over a year ago,” Ro explained to Kira. “But those ships were decommissioned when the current provisional government took over.”
“That hasn’t stopped radical groups from using them,” Limis answered. “Various factions held in check by Central Command are now at each other’s throats.”
“I warned that some of our tactics could have been construed as hostile,” Kozar offered. “But the captain was right… this time.”
The tone in Kozar’s voice suggested he still disagreed with Limis’s maneuvering. Kozar sauntered out with Limis close behind, although Bashir was still treating her injury.
“Captain…” Bashir began to say, but she had already left.
At that moment the intercom chimed with Vaughn’s voice piping through speakers. “Ops to Colonel Kira: incoming message from Admiral Ross, sir.”
Kira looked straight at Bashir while pointing towards the waiting area. Bashir nodded approvingly. “I’ll take it in Doctor Bashir’s office,” she responded.
Crewman, first class, Marquez was one of the engineers now temporarily transferred to security to guard one of the key sections of the habitat ring. He had never had very many opportunities to wear a phaser since the war ended. His time in the Chin’toka system gave him some combat experience, but he was becoming bored at not performing maintenance or repairs. All he and his colleague, Ensign Magnaulty, were doing was standing in front of a large door to make sure only authorized personnel went beyond it. “I’m almost hoping for something to break down,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, just standing around is real hassle,” Magnaulty sarcastically replied. He preferred doing that to fending off enemy attacks.
Someone get me out of here, Marquez thought to himself. A buzzing noise pulsated through the walls and the ceiling. He thought nothing of it, attributing the noise to the unusually quiet atmosphere. He heard it again; a buzzing noise that slowly got louder as it coursed through the plasma conduits behind the wall and above the ceiling and quickly dispersed down the corridor. “You hear that?” he asked Magnaulty.
“It’s a pulsing buzz,” Magnaulty replied. “Does that always happen here?”
“No. I’ll go check it out. One of the power taps might be misaligned.”
Marquez pulled a tricorder out of his holster and began scanning. He paced slowly down the corridor until he reached an intersecting walkway. His tricorder began beeping loudly. The scans showed that the strange noise came from a wall panel. He opened the panel to see what set off the scanner. He turned a small switch that would correct the misalignment. Electric current passed through his arm. He pulled away, but it was too late. The electrocution killed him.
Magnaulty heard the scream down the corridor. He then saw Marquez being thrown backwards. He ran towards him while removing a phaser from his holster. He looked to his left when he reached the intersecting hallway. He crouched down to feel Marquez’s pulse on the right side of his neck. Nothing.
Magnaulty tapped his combadge. “Magnaulty to Infirmary, medical emergency, habitat ring, level four, section fifteen.”
He had some familiarity with basic engineering principles, and decided to take a look at what killed the engineer. He felt around inside the open panel. The same electric current then struck him dead.
Someone was watching what had transpired from a crawlspace above the corridor. The Bajoran engineer Ronnick was peering through a thin metal screen. He derived no pleasure from causing the deaths of two fellow crewmembers.
His employer joined him in the crawlspace. Ronnick was not even aware of the employer’s presence until he spoke. “I see the test was a success,” he said.
Ronnick quickly grabbed the screen and turned to avoid crashing into screen. “Not a good idea in these crawlspaces,” he said.
“I decide what ideas are good and bad,” the employer replied.
Of course, Ronnick knew not to question people he worked for too often. He still could not understand what he just carried out necessary “Was killing two innocent people necessary?” he asked.
“Unfortunate casualties of war. Besides, everything has to work perfectly if we are to discredit the Federation. We cannot afford for anything to go wrong.”