Miette Donatra gently caressed the arms of her chair on the bridge of the IRW Valdore. She never understood why her ship was called that. Two centuries ago, Admiral Valdore had conceived of a remote controlled starship that could disguise itself as any other ship for the purpose of inciting conflict among the eventual founding members of the Federation. In fact, the entire Earth-Romulan War was fought with remote controlled ships. Truly courageous warriors faced their enemies on the battlefield, Donatra believed. For now, she would serve the Star Empire she loved in her own way.
A youthful male centurion walked away from a starboard auxiliary station and strode over to the center seat. “Commander,” he said sharply, “the Tiralihaan has left orbit of ch’Rihan.”
“Thank you, Subcommander,” Donatra replied while lost in a thought. “Pilot, lay in a parallel pursuit course. Keep us on the edge of their sensor range and engage the cloak.”
The lights dimmed as the cloaking device hummed to life. Donatra arched her head to her right to see the subcommander still standing next to her. “Something else, Murot?” she snapped suspiciously.
“May I ask why we are shadowing your former mentor?”
Donatra sensed more than just curiosity in Murot’s voice. Just five years ago, Murot was a lowly uhlaan in the Romulan Guard. She could never corroborate his claim that he earned a battlefield commission during the Dominion War. He could have easily assassinated his way up the ranks, yet no one could definitively prove it. Donatra appointed Murot as her second-in-command in accordance with the Terran expression, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
“You only need to know that I am acting on direct orders from the khre’Riov himself,” Donatra lied. She could say no more, even to her executive officer. If he was working for Suran, or worse, Senator Tal’Aura, Donatra was as good as dead.
Murot half-nodded in acknowledgement. Donatra took a momentary glance at him as he returned to his station, hoping he wouldn’t push his inquiries any further. Thankfully, he knew that to do so would only further confirm her suspicions.
Prynn Tenmei stepped out onto the Promenade from the main entrance to Quark’s. She saw Doctor Bashir saunter towards the bar from the opposite direction, and she slowly turned the other way. From the tuxedo he was wearing, Prynn deduced that he had a holosuite reservation. She had hoped to avoid being asked to accompany him, but he had already spotted her.
“Prynn,” Julian called. “Fancy seeing you here.”
She grinned to act as though she was not trying to avoid him. “Which program is this?” she asked, feigning interest. “Julian Bashir, secret agent or Jack Bauer, sociopath?”
“The former. Care to join me? Nog cancelled at the last minute.”
“In what role? Someone with a degrading name like Mona Luvsit? I’ll pass.”
Bashir chuckled. He had the program for six years, yet no one mentioned that aspect of it. While they continued exchanging laughs regarding the absurdities of the program.
Worf descended down a nearby spiral staircase. That woman is clearly not Ezri Dax, the ambassador thought. Yet, Julian was very friendly towards Prynn. He and Ezri became romantically involved shortly before Worf left DS9 to become Federation ambassador to Qo’Nos. Both Julian and Ezri put off pursuing such a relationship for a month before then. Worf even encouraged Ezri even though she carried the memories of his deceased wife Jadzia. Worf became sort of a protective older brother to Ezri.
Worf was not sure whether to be annoyed or elated at what he was witnessing. He was not one to listen in on the latest gossip, so he had not learned Julian and Ezri had dissolved their relationship after Ezri’s switch from counseling to the command track caused various problems. He was envisioning saying, “I told you so.” The way Julian was now dressed once again confirmed to Worf that Bashir was an overgrown child.
The Klingon sighed, and then continued on his way. He nodded as he passed Tenmei with a look saying, “I am afraid for you.” She nodded back, and then gave a perturbed wince wondering why he gave that look after he had passed.
Nog and a Bajoran male security officer walked stealthily through a corridor in the habitat ring. For some reason, Nog felt like he had to re-learn the names of the deputies who had served under former station security chief Odo for seven years. He couldn’t really understand why since they were the same individuals wearing Starfleet uniforms rather than Bajoran militia uniforms. The uniform fit snugly on Yndar Pol, a middle aged Bajoran man with graying dark hair, who had been one of Odo’s most trusted officers--and of course, now Ro’s--during his nine year tenure.
Nog took small steps to a door to empty crew quarters, scanning with a tricorder. When the readout indicated no life-signs inside the cabin, he nodded to Yndar. The Bajoran petty officer placed himself at the left of the door, phaser rifle at the ready. Nog removed the panel on the door’s right to access the manual release. The lock became unlatched and Yndar slid the door open the rest of the way.
Nog and Yndar entered the vacant room, ready to fire their rifles. As the tricorder indicated, no one was inside. Nog stood watch in the living area while Yndar made a quick survey of the bedroom and the head. After a few minutes, Yndar returned saying, “This cabin’s secure. Let’s move onto the next one.”
The two-person team followed the same routine in the vacant quarters across the corridor. Again, no one was hiding there.
Ro and an Andorian male officer made another searching a section of the habitat ring. Ensign th’Helek’s quadroscopic vision was certainly an asset for this operation in case someone tried to sneak into vacant quarters after the cabin had been declared secure. They followed the same routine as Nog and Yndar. After seeing no one in the living area, th’Helek would stand watch while Ro would scout the bedroom and the head. While waiting on Ro, th’Helek’s antennae stiffened. Someone was sneaking towards him.
Th’Helek quickly turned around to see a Nausicaan lunging towards him with a knife. The Andorian was able to deflect the swing of the Nausicaan’s right arm, but in the process, his attacker was able to clip off a piece of his left antenna. Th’Helek fell backwards as the Nausicaan was lunging towards him. Th’Helek slugged the Nausicaan with the back of his fist twice to no avail. When he was on his back, the Nausicaan then threw him to the deck. The Nausicaan stood up and swung his knife towards th’Helek. Then in a split second, he fell to the deck after a blast from Ro’s phaser rifle.
“Ro to all security teams,” she said, tapping her combadge. “We’ve apprehended a ‘person of interest.’ Keep looking for Mister Doran while we try to get something out of our Nausicaan friend.”
Verad and Runold began filling up brown travel bags with essential items. Sisko lent a hand gathering up field rations, while keeping a close watch on the two Trills in the hope they would reveal critical information. Runold glanced at Sisko from the corner of one eye to see the newcomer gazing intently. When Runold headed for the sleeping area, he shot Sisko a suspicious glare. When he returned a few seconds later, Runold bumped his shoulder against Sisko’s to nudge him aside.
“I almost forgot about those,” Verad said of the three cylindrical rods Runold was carrying. “We should definitely take those with us.”
“You packed those charges too tightly,” Sisko remarked.
Runold stuffed the explosive devices into the travel bag and then wagged his finger at Sisko. “Look, pal, I know what I’m doing,” he sneered.
“Does he?” Sisko asked Verad. “Whatever it is you’re planning, I’m not sure you can rely on him.”
“I’ve been working with explosives probably a lot longer than you have, pal,” Runold shot back.
“Gentleman,” Verad interjected. “This is not the time or the place.”
Runold scoffed trying to calm a strong urge to deck Sisko. This Russell guy had a lot of nerve telling him how to pack explosive charges. Russell’s file did say he had conducted illegal weapons sales. That was hardly evidence that this newcomer was an expert in the kind of crude explosives terrorists used. Runold took a deep breath and turned to Verad. “He may be a notorious criminal, Verad,” he said, “but my gut says not to trust him. I don’t see how you can.”
“He’s offering to help us out of a jam,” Verad plainly replied. “That’s reason enough for me.”
“Whatever,” Runold muttered, zipping his travel bag and hanging it off his right shoulder.
Verad put a much larger travel bag on his back and gestured towards the back entrance by the replicator. “Let’s roll,” he proclaimed.
The three of them headed for the back entrance at the same time someone was banging on the front door. “Police, open up!” a loud masculine voice boomed through the metal wall. The three occupants of the makeshift house quickly filed out of the back entrance without stopping. Almost as soon as they were gone, two officers in blue jumpsuits pried open the front door. They would find no one inside. The police officer on the left was the first to see the back door open. He motioned his partner to follow him through the other entrance.
Sisko, Verad, and Runold made their way to an alleyway. Verad brought up the rear to make sure other police officers were not following them. Sisko shined a flashlight to allow the group to see in front of them. Sisko would also occasionally glance up at both rooftops to check for police snipers. The police probably wouldn’t know to look for them specifically, but he could not be too careful. Though he was almost clipped by phaser fire from right behind him.
Sisko threw himself against a brick wall while drawing a phaser. He began firing back. The two helmeted officers dove for cover as Verad and Runold also began firing their phasers at the pursuers. They continued moving while continuing to lay down cover fire. Runold unknowingly kicked down a cargo container with the word flammable written on it. As the pursuing officers continued giving chase, not noticing the wayward container, Runold fired his phaser at the container.
A fireball erupted. The police officers were close enough that the fireball completely charred their bodies. Sisko’s eyes widened in horror seeing them meet a gruesome death. “Was that really necessary?!” he bellowed at Runold.
Runold was just as befuddled. “We’ll just add cop killer to the list of charges,” he quipped.
“This guy’s a joke, Verad,” Sisko hissed. “He’s too reckless. He’ll botch up your whole operation.”
“That’s it,” Runold shot back taking a swing at Sisko, punching him in the left jaw. When he moved to take another swing, Sisko grabbed Runold’s arm with both hands and pulled.
Runold screamed out in pain. “He dislocated my shoulder!” he cried. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“We have to get you to a doctor,” said Verad, feeling around the other Trill’s injured shoulder.
“Ditch this psycho first,” Runold spat still wincing in pain. “Leave me. That freighter’s leaving any time now.”
“I’ll be down a man,” Verad replied. “You up for coming instead, Benjamin?”
“Sure,” Sisko replied.
“Just be careful not to piss him off,” Runold retorted.
Sisko and Verad continued running down the alley, leaving Runold behind. They slowed down once they turned a corner. For now, they were satisfied that no one else was following them. “So where is this freighter of ours headed?” Sisko asked.
“Let’s just say it involves that space station you once commanded,” Verad answered.
Sisko’s eyebrows twitched, but not so much so that Verad would sense worry. Of course, if Verad had any doubts about Sisko’s desire to help, he would not have let him in on the plan to attack Deep Space Nine. Sisko could only hope that Ezri and the Defiant’s crew were still listening in.