The new Klingon flagship, the IKS Sword of Kahless approached Deep Space Nine. Because this class of ship was too large to dock at the station, a shuttle ferried the chancellor and the ambassador to one of the ports along the docking ring.
Aboard the station, several senior officers were waiting at the airlock. Doctor Julian Bashir fidgeted with the collar of his dress uniform. Ezri offered to help adjust the collar having noticed his constant tugging while walking to the airlock.
“You either need a new uniform or a new neck,” Dax remarked.
“My neck is the same size as it was when I was in med school,” Bashir replied.
“Any word from Captain Sisko yet?” Kira asked Vaughn.
“He hasn’t contacted the station,” Vaughn replied.
The inner airlock hatch rolled open. Two Klingon guards stepped through the entryway. Kira gave an approving nod. Chancellor Martok then stepped through the egress, with Ambassador Worf close behind.
Kira nodded to both VIP guests feeling that her welcome would be awkward since both Martok and Worf had regularly been aboard the station through the end of the Dominion War. “Chancellor, Ambassador,” she stated plainly. “Welcome to Deep Space Nine.”
“We are honored to be here, Captain,” the one-eyed Klingon chancellor replied.
“The two of you know Lieutenant Dax and Doctor Bashir,” Kira continued. “And this Commander Elias Vaughn, first officer.”
“An honor to meet you, Commander,” Worf said to Vaughn. “I have heard a lot about your major accomplishments.”
“I am honored to meet you as well, Ambassador,” Vaughn replied. “I knew your paternal grandfather.”
“While Klingons are not known for their intellectual prowess,” Worf stated, “Colonel Worf was one of our best legal minds.” In fact, the older Worf was the defense for James Kirk and Leonard McCoy when they were on trial for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon during the first efforts towards peace between the Federation and the Empire.
Martok looked around to see that Sisko was not part of the welcoming committee. “Is Captain Sisko aboard your station?” he then asked Kira.
“We’ve tried to contact him with no success,” Kira replied.
“He’s been inactive for almost two years,” Dax added. “I guess coaxing him back wouldn’t be easy.”
“Well, that is a problem,” said the chancellor.
“Hopefully, I’m not too late to solve it.”
Everyone heard a familiar voice down the corridor. Kira, Dax, and Bashir smiled at the sight of their former CO, Benjamin Sisko back in uniform. After his confrontation with Dukat in the Bajoran Fire Caves, Sisko was pulled into the timeless realm of the Prophets. He returned the day Bajor was admitted into the Federation. Kira offered to relinquish command back to Sisko, but he declined.
The welcoming committee and the two guests sauntered down the corridor. Bashir shot Sisko a grin and raised his eyebrows. Julian was now remembering when Sisko dressed him down for not wearing the proper uniform as part of a welcoming committee for an alien delegation.
The group that welcomed Martok and Worf aboard the station later convened with the two Klingons in the station’s wardroom. Their visit was mainly for routine diplomatic reasons. However, Vaughn could immediately deduce that they had other reasons for having specifically requested to meet with Sisko.
Martok began the briefing with what the Gorkon encountered in the Narendra system. Only he claimed the Gorkon encountered the detonation of subspace weapons banned by the Khitomer Accords. “Intelligence reports indicated the Ku-Vok-leth are involved,” Martok added. “A century ago, they were considered the elites of the warrior class. They have a much more literal interpretation of the teachings of Kahless.”
“Like religious fundamentalists on Earth three-hundred years ago,” Sisko offered.
Worf nodded. “They are opposed to the alliance between the Federation and the Empire,” he added. “Ever since the first Khitomer Accord was signed, they have attempted to destabilize the Empire. And the Romulans could attempt to manipulate the circumstances in their favor.”
“And now with these subspace weapons,” Kira replied, “they could conceivably shift the balance of power.”
Vaughn’s eyebrow twitched when he heard a slight hesitation in Kira’s voice when using the words subspace weapons. As a long-time intelligence agent, he had other means of obtaining classified information. Clearly, the damage to subspace in those two star systems was the result of the Omega molecule. Of course, Kira had to keep her crew in the dark as long as possible.
“And if we attempt to stop these rogue Klingons,” Vaughn stated, to show that he was still focused on the discussion, “that could give the Romulans an excuse to strike.”
“Are the Romulans in any shape to wage war?” Dax curiously asked.
“The Romulans entered the Dominion War much later,” Sisko explained. “Plus the use of Reman soldiers as cannon fodder minimized their own casualties.”
“Even then,” Worf grumbled, “they lacked the courage to face their enemies on the battlefield.”
“Sloan told me that the Federation and the Romulans would be the major competitors after the war,” Bashir recalled of the Section 31 agent who tried to recruit him three years earlier. “We’re not conceding that war is inevitable, are we?”
“As Kahless once said,” Martok replied, “’Ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat.’ We have a lead that may allow us to find out where the Ku-Vok-leth plans to strike next.”
“That is where you come in, Captain,” Worf said to Sisko.
Sisko squinted his eyes curiously. Finally, he thought, he would learn why Martok and Worf requested his presence.
“A month ago, an intelligence agent tracked one of the terrorists to Torman Five,” Martok began. He attached a data chip to the side of the wall monitor behind his end of the meeting table. A black and white photograph of a crowed tavern appeared on the screen.
“This suspected Ku-Vok-leth operative designated a person of interest,” Martok continued, “met with someone with whom most of you are familiar. Computer, magnify grid one-six gamma and enhance.”
The image magnified to show a Klingon and a Trill male. The brown haired, pale-skinned Trill caught the attention of Sisko, Dax, Kira, and Bashir.
“Verad Kalon,” Sisko confirmed aloud.
“But Verad’s dead,” Ezri insisted. “Julian and I saw him take his own life to avoid capture.”
“We theorize that he faked his death to keep the authorities off his trail,” Worf replied. “I was able to cross reference this image with Starfleet and Klingon databases. This man is, without question, Verad Kalon.”
The name certainly brought back unpleasant memories. Eight years earlier, while a skeleton crew was running the station during a dangerous plasma storm, Verad and two Klingon mercenaries seized DS9. Verad then demanded the Dax symbiont. He then became a temporary host, almost at the expense of Jadzia’s life.
Verad resurfaced six years later when he unleashed a virus in the hope of eradicating the Trill symbionts. Bashir and Ezri Dax foiled his plan with the help of Worf’s former crewmates on the Enterprise-E. Verad then martyred himself. Now, this photograph showed that Verad was very much alive.
“Your job, Captain,” Worf declared, “will be to infiltrate the neo-Purists, learn their connections to the Ku-Vok-leth, and, if possible, find out the Ku-Vok-leth’s next target.”
“That’s a bit of a long shot, Ambassador,” protested Sisko. “We can’t be certain that these two organizations have very strong ties to begin with. And wouldn’t Ezri be a better choice for this job?”
“I represent what they hate,” Ezri replied. “I’d be shot on sight.”
“Besides, you’ve been out of Starfleet two years,” Kira added. “That would make a desire to join a terrorist organization more plausible.”
“I suppose,” Sisko sighed. “If this is the best course of action…”
“We would not make this request if we had a better plan,” Martok assured.
“When do I leave?” Sisko inquired, showing no hint of enthusiasm.
During the briefing, Nog was in charge of Ops. He remained at his station, however, to oversee the day’s routine system diagnostics. Most of the diagnostics revealed no problems. He was slowly nodding off when a flashing readout caught his eye.
“That can’t be right,” the petite Ferengi mumbled. The flashing words indicated a problem with one of the circuits in the reactor core’s plasma coolant system. He remembered that Crewman Doran had repaired that circuitry the day before.
“Doran,” he called to the Trill engineer at one of the aft auxiliary stations. “You repaired the plasma coolant system?”
“Yes,” Doran nervously replied, as if he were hiding something.
“Did you notice this misalignment?”
“Then it may be a new problem. You have Ops, Tenmei.”
Nog grabbed his engineering toolkit and headed for the port turbolift. Doran surreptitiously picked up a plasma torch, lit it to see that it worked, and tucked it underneath his uniform tunic.
The two engineers crawled through one of the access tunnels on a lower level to get a closer look. Nog opened the hatch to the malfunctioning circuit and flipped open a tricorder. Doran anxiously looked back and forth down the crawl space to make sure no one else was working n this section. He then became jumpy when his CO closed his tricorder.
“This looks like our malfunctioning circuit,” Nog confirmed aloud. “Hand me a coil spanner.”
Instead of obliging, Doran reached around Nog’s head, covering the Ferengi’s mouth with a cloth from his gold under-tunic. Nog quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Doran then threw aside his own combadge and Nog’s before hastily crawling off.
Ki Baratan, Capital City of Romulus
Suran stood in a dark alley. He could hear the quiet rumbling of thunder in the distance, and he tightened his hood. This was the part of being an agent of the Tal Shiar that he hated. He looked at the timepiece on a ring on his left middle finger wondering how much longer he would have to wait for the agent he arranged to meet.
The Romulan commander stood still when he heard footsteps walking towards him. Suran shined his wrist beacon on the humanoid figure approaching. “It’s all right, Commander,” he said.
He was an elderly human male whose hair had gone completely gray. He removed his hood to show that he was the person Suran was waiting for. “The operation is underway,” he declared.
“Then Kur’Tok received the boronite?” Suran inquired.
“Yes. Enough to form a single Omega molecule.”
The human agent then removed an isolinear data chip from his left front pocket. “This contains all the relevant data,” he continued, “as well as specifications for the harmonic resonance chamber.”
“You should deliver that technology yourself,” Suran insisted.
“We wish to minimize activities that could be traced back to us.”
“Of course. The ‘morally superior Federation’ does not engage in these kinds of underground operations. What is to guarantee I won’t forward this information to the Klingon High Council as well? Not even Martok would be happy to learn Starfleet agents are consorting with the Tal Shiar or sources of dissent within their Empire.”
“I’ve programmed the chip’s data to self-destruct if you forward it to anyone other than your clients on Nimbus Three.”
“Well, this agency of yours hasn’t survived this long by being sloppy. I will pass this along.
The human agent nodded, then placed his hood back on his head. Both the human and the Romulan walked away slowly in opposite directions.
Suran stopped, once he turned a corner. He had a sense he had met this man before though he was not certain. Suran began to think back to a strange associate of the late Senator Vreenak. But that person was a Romulan. Then again, anything was possible with Section 31.