by Travis Anderson
Sisko and Dax beamed down to their intended destination half a kilometer away from the farm. The entire group had transported back to the Rio Grande earlier before gearing up. They’d armed themselves with phasers. Dax also carried a tricorder.
“Shall we?” Sisko gallantly made a sweeping gesture to indicate the direction they should go.
“Let’s,” Dax curtsied and started down the road. Sisko accompanied her. She took readings as they approached the farm.
“I hope Julian made it down all right,” Dax fretted.
“O’Brien is an expert. He’ll set the doctor down where he can do the most good,” Sisko remarked.
“I am surprised, though,” Dax admitted. “I thought you found him to be too inexperienced for a task like this.”
Sisko chuckled. “I trust Bashir to stand back and provide cover fire. Have you ever looked up his proficiency ratings at the Academy?”
“Of course not,” Dax said with indignation. “That’s a CO’s purview. Although I bet Kira’s looked it up.”
“And Odo,” Sisko’s good humor grew.
“Is there a point to this conversation?” Dax asked with a longsuffering air.
“Bashir has some of the highest scores on the range of any cadet in his class. He’s good. Not phenomenal, despite his feelings regarding that matter, but he is good,” Sisko shared. “So while he is inexperienced, his role is to lay down suppressive fire to inhibit movemen,t not to pick off targets.”
“So, he has impressed you,” Dax ventured.
“I respect the Doctor’s professional skills,” Sisko clarified. “I still don’t think he’s fully qualified as field personnel and there’s no reason to expect him to be.”
“Yet you brought him along,” she pointed out.
“I was expecting casualties,” Sisko confessed.
“You didn’t expect Hudson to come quietly,” Dax surmised.
“Cal and I have stretched the boundaries of friendship to the breaking point and beyond. We areadversaries now and will treat each other accordingly.”
“Do you think he would kill you?” Dax asked softly.
Sisko let go of a heavy sigh. “I don’t know. He’s proven himself to be a killer. Why should I be immune if I stand in his way?”
“Well, he…” Dax began, but Sisko stopped abruptly, so she did as well.
Sisko’s feelings were very raw as he spoke. “Cal Hudson is a terrorist. He’s not a soldier any more. He certainly kills military targets but he also indiscriminately butchers civilians for no crime greater than working for the Cardassians. What is a man like that capable of?”
Dax let out a mournful sigh. “We’ve seen it too many times, Benjamin. He has to be brought in for his own good, not just the safety of others. You know what will happen to him if he has to live with himself.”
“Exactly,” Sisko agreed with new resolve. “So let’s keep walking.”
“One question though,” Dax insisted. “Why didn’t you involve the local constabularies?”
Sisko gave her a pained look. “They’re Cardassians.”
“I thought that’s why we were cooperating with them in the first place,” she dryly remarked.
“Cal’s a Maquis and the local police are Cardassians. How well do you think he would be received?” Sisko put it baldly.
“Gotcha,” Dax caught on. “Just asking.”
“We’re running late,” Sisko commented. “Care for a jog?”
She grinned, “Try and keep up.”
Bashir found himself in a peaceful wooded glen…and totally surrounded by armed strangers. One of them, whom he guessed was the authority here, strode towards him. She, at least, didn’t wave her phaser at him. She let her companions do that for her.
“Drop the phaser rifle,” she ordered, “And the phaser on your hip and you will hand over your comm badge.”
Bashir suddenly had a wild thought of tapping his comm badge and calling Sisko. The woman saw it in his eyes and smiled. “On second thought, I think I’ll take that comm badge.”
She removed it from his chest and handed it off to a young woman with violet hair. “Put this someplace safe, Alea.”
The younger woman blinked. “You shouldn’t have used my name, Kalinda.”
This amused Kalinda, “I’m sure Doctor Bashir here would be accurate enough in his descriptions of us for Starfleet Intelligence to identify us…particularly with that hair of yours.”
Alea blushed and moved off. Kalinda motioned for Bashir to step aside. When he did so, other Maquis retrieved his weapons. He scowled as they did so.
“Cheer up, Doctor. You’ve contributed to a noble cause,” Kalinda assured him.
“I don’t see how arming terrorists is serving a noble cause,” Bashir said spitefully.
“I see. You’re an expert on local conditions and politics then?” Kalinda asked.
“Of course not,” Bashir admitted.
“Then keep your mouth shut about things which you have no scope of,” Kalinda warned.
“Or what? You’ll kill me?” he baited her.
Kalinda tried to be reasonable. “No, but I will stun you for the sake of everyone here. Your voice carries, Doctor, and the occupiers have itchy trigger fingers.”
“I thought that pertained to your group as well,” Bashir smarted off.
“Do you see us storming the castle?” Kalinda dryly asked.
Bashir had to admit she had him there. “So what now?”
“Now we sit very quietly and see what your commander flushes out,” Kalinda explained.
“Now see here!” Bashir protested. Kalinda clamped a hand over his mouth.
“Quietly, Doctor! I won’t warn you again,” Kalinda stressed. “You can sit back and observe or you can take a nap while we do our business. Your choice.”
“Just how did you get here before us?” Bashir wondered.
Kalinda smirked, “It wasn’t that hard. The Maquis get things done while Starfleet holes up in hotel rooms.”
Bashir’s cheeks burned. Kalinda pushed him towards a nearby tree. “Sit.”
He planted himself on the ground and she motioned for another Maquis to take her place. He noticed with some satisfaction that it was the woman with the unusual hair. She squatted across from him and frowned.
“Why are you smiling?” she asked suspiciously.
“I’m just admiring you. I’ve never met anyone like you. Captain Rionoj comes the closest,” Bashir observed.
“She’s a Boslic,” Alea commented.
“Are you?” Bashir inquired.
Alea smirked, “No.”
“Then what are you?” Bashir asked after a moment’s hesitation.
“I’m me,” Alea said snarkily.
Kalinda came over. “I said to watch him, not to romance him.”
Alea gave her an angry stare as Kalinda went back to her preferred location. Bashir tried a more conciliatory tone. “I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.”
“Just shut up,” Alea sullenly demanded.
“Really, I…” Bashir quieted down as Alea aimed her phaser at him.
“Not. Another. Word,” Alea grated.
Bashir settled in and wondered if he’d achieved something by becoming the Maquis’ first prisoner of war.
Kalinda flipped open an old surplus communicator and called Ro. “We’ve captured a Starfleet officer. The doctor of all people.
“Well, it’s not like this wasn’t expected,” Ro commented. “Any sign of the others?”
“None yet, but they can’t be far behind…” Kalinda trailed off. “Wait, they just came jogging up. Literally.”
“What are they doing?” Ro inquired.
“Catching their breath and heading for the front door of the bunkhouse,” Kalinda reported.
Kalinda could imagine Ro’s eye roll as she responded, “Keep an eye on the situation. We’re roiling in now.”
Kalinda knew that Ro and the assault team were a kilometer away on a side road. “Roger that. We’ll be ready and waiting.”
“Starfleet ought to pay us for rescuing their tactical geniuses,” Ro snorted before she cut the transmission.
Kalinda felt the same way.
Dax scanned the bunkhouse and frowned. “They’re not exactly hiding, Benjamin. We have human life signs mixed with one Vulcan and an Andorian. I mark a dozen Cardassians.” She put away the hand scanner. “What do you want to do?”
“Let’s knock on the door,” Sisko suggested.
As they approached, the door flew open and two armed Cardassians stepped out. More came jogging around the building. Given there were twelve inside the building to begin with, the four that had been on external foot patrol made sixteen.
“I’m Commander Benjamin Sisko,” he said. “I’m here to take Calvin Hudson into custody.”
The Cardassian everyone seemed to defer to suddenly laughed. “I heard comedy was a dying art among your people, Commander. But you seem to have a fine grasp of it.”
“It’s not a joke,” Sisko said sternly.
“It’s not?” the leader asked.
“Not even close,” Sisko assured him.
“Then we have a definite problem,” the leader informed him. “In that case, you will surrender your weapons and communications gear and step inside and join the other prisoners.”
“Are you suggesting that you’re taking us prisoner?” Sisko asked.
The Cardassian shook his head. “No Commander, I’m informing you that I am.”
“Your government will hear of this,” Sisko warned him.
The Cardassian chuckled. “Commander, I doubt they’ll even realize you’re gone before we have you on Cardassia Prime. It’s amazing how efficiently prisoners can be lost there.”
Sisko tried one last gambit. “This is an act of war.”
“So were the Maquis attacks on our colony. Consider this a counterstrike,” the Cardassian declared.
Sisko grated, “What is your name?”
“I am Feron,” he said. “That’s all you need know.”
Sisko reached for his phaser and Feron tucked his disruptor’s emitter end under Dax’s chin. “Ah, ah, Commander. You’re willing to lose your life but what about hers?”
Sisko dropped the phaser on the ground. Feron turned to Dax. “And now for you.”
Her eyes met Sisko’s and he nodded. She dropped her phaser and tricorder. Feron then plucked their comm badges off of their uniforms.
He motioned inside with his disruptor. “Come in here.”
They disappeared into the bunkhouse.
Outside, Kalinda swore and flipped open her communicator again. “Ro! Where are you? Starfleet just got taken prisoner.”
“We’re five hundered meters away. You’ll see us in any second,” Ro advised, and in a handful of minutes later, the scout car came sliding across the gravel and the Maquis deployed even before it came to a halt.
“Ben,” Hudson scowled.
“Hello, Cal. This isn’t the reunion that I had planned,” Sisko admitted.
“No, you intended to grab me at phaser point and slap binders on my wrists,” Hudson corrected him.
“Something like that,” Sisko said darkly.
“Now I suppose you’ll be joining us on Cardassia,” Hudson predicted.
“Not her.” Feron pointed at Dax. “Gul Evek is always looking for new comfort women. His supply of Bajorans has dried up. I’m certain he’d like to try an exotic Federation creature.” He laughed at seeing Dax’s revulsion. “Never fear, my pretty. Evek takes good care of his lesser lifeforms. As long as they please him.”
“I guess I’m going to be awfully mistreated then,” Dax warned.
The sound of crunching gravel interrupted Feron’s retort. He pointed at the door. “See what that is.”
The door opened and two Cardassians exited. The sound of phaser fire filled the air. Feron ordered his troops, “Alpha Team with me. The rest of you, fan out and deal with the intruders.”
The others went out a back door. Seconds later, more phaser fire could be heard. Feron called to certain Cardassians on his wrist communicator. There were no replies. He summoned reinforcements from the main house.
Heavy weapons fire sounded after that, as well as cries of pain. Feron called out repetitively but no one ever responded. Not even a wounded man, if there was such a thing.
Phaser fire rained down from the roof. The other four Cardassians fell to the ground. Feron had enough time to look to the roof and see a Bajoran woman and a human male on the rafters and crossbeams above. The woman had him in her sights and he knew that death had found him at long last.
After Feron was dealt with, Ro and Tulley climbed down. Tulley immediately aimed his phaser in Sisko and Dax’s direction. Ro checked in with Hudson.
“Are you all right?” she asked. “Can everyone move?”
“We can but how will we…” Hudson started to ask.
Ro squeezed his arm. “We have a military grade transport outside and a ship at the port. We are leaving, trust me.”
Hudson suddenly knew what Chakotay saw in her. Macius had been the one to take a chance on Ro and that belief had just paid itself back a thousand fold.
“I’m afraid that isn’t possible,” Sisko insisted. “Commander Hudson is my prisoner. He will stand trial…and so will you, Lieutenant Ro.”
Ro met his statement with an incredulous stare. “You are aware of the fact that you’re essentially myprisoner right now?”
“The Maquis don’t have the legal right to take prisoners,” Sisko argued. “Starfleet does.”
“And just how are you going to take us prisoner?” Ro wondered.
“I have a Federation warrant for Commander Calvin Hudson,” Sisko clarified. “I can get one for you, Ro Laren. In the name of expediency I’m willing to let the others go for now.”
Ro grinned. “Then it’s a good thing we’re not in the Federation.”
“Excuse me?” Sisko wasn’t certain he’d heard her correctly.
“We’re in the Demilitarized Zone, Commander,” Ro countered. “Show me a warrant from the central government of the DMZ and I’ll gladly turn myself in.”
Sisko was caught and he knew it as he admitted, “The DMZ lacks any centralized government.”
“Then I guess we’re free to go,” Ro sarcastically opined. She turned to Tulley. “Keep them here while I gather the others.”
Ro stepped away, flipped open her communicator and began speaking into it. Hudson turned to Sisko. “I’m sorry it had to be this way, Ben. But just to warn you, I’m not going to be brought in. Not now, not ever. Even if you manage to capture me somehow, I’ll never break and I’ll never talk. You can put me in the stockade on Jaros II until I die. I’ll never betray these people.” He smiled, “And now I think you can see how far they’ll go for me.”
The rear door opened and Kalinda marched Bashir in. He looked distraught to see Sisko and Dax overpowered as well. He miserably spoke to them.
“I’m sorry. I transported down and they were everywhere,” he lamented.
“Don’t take it personally, Doctor,” Kalinda reassured him. “Your friends were captured with ridiculous ease as well.”
Bashir brightened a bit until Sisko scowled at him. Sisko turned to Hudson and said, “You won’t be able to leave. I have a ship in orbit.”
“And how do you think my people arrived?” Hudson asked scornfully. “That they walked here from another solar system?”
Ro pulled Kalinda aside. “Have everyone gather up the Cardassians’ weaponry.”
“What about Starfleet’s?” Kalinda asked.
“Theirs too,” Ro answered. “Waste not, want not.”
Kalinda went outside and began issuing orders. A few moments later, she paged Ro with her communicator. Ro ordered Kalinda’s squad to mount up and take off for the spaceport.
Ro turned to the Starfleet officers and showed them their comm badges in her hand. “I’ll drop these off alongside the road at a safe distance. By the time you get back to your runabout, me and mine should be long gone.”
Sisko angrily stared at her and she shrugged, “I wouldn’t step out of that door until you hear us drive off. We’ll just stun you and it’ll take that much longer to return to your ship.”
A few hours later, Sisko and his companions found their comm badges sitting alongside the road as promised. Sisko wearily requested a transport. O’Brien beamed Sisko and Dax aboard and then grabbed Bashir. He was full of questions but Sisko derailed him with a question of his own.
“Have any ships lifted off in the last three hours?” Sisko wondered.
“Sure,” O’Brien answered. “At least half a dozen.”
“Were any headed for Ronara Prime or thereabouts?” Sisko clarified.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t tracking traffic. I suppose we could extrapolate it out of the sensor logs,” O’Brien offered.
“Never mind, Chief. Just head us towards home,” Sisko blearily ordered.
“Do you mind, Lieutenant?” O’Brien asked Dax before taking the CONN.
“Be my guest, Chief,” Dax said. “I’m going to crash on a cot in the lounge. Don’t wake me until we get there.”
Sisko sat at Ops, but he wasn’t saying anything. He seemed lost in thought and O’Brien didn’t want to disturb him. He had an alternate resource anyway.
“So Julian, what happened down there?” he asked.
Within twenty four hours the Maquis had spirited Hudson off of Ronara and onto another colony. The move was in case any of the Cardassian tracking stations put their movements together and sent more paramilitaries or even regular forcers to try to apprehend the Maquis Commander once again.
Ro actually thought it unlikely. She’d given the Cardies quite a bloody nose on this one. It would be some time before they crossed paths with her again.
Thinking about all of these events, she entered the Old Biddy. What she saw surprised her. She rather liked it. It was so much livelier than the drab sterility exuded by the place where she’d been recruited. That dive was becoming known as her cell’s favored meeting place. Perhaps it was time to move on after all.
As expected, Macen sat at a table waiting for her. He’d opted for a table in the middle of the room rather than the privacy of a booth. She complained about such as she sat down.
He wore a merry smile. “Then people think you’ve something to hide.”
“I do,” Ro wryly reminded him.
“But why advertise that fact?” he asked jovially. “So what do you think of the place?”
“It’s nice.” Ro wasn’t certain what was expected of her.
“The owner is very accepting of anyone that has coin in their pocket,” Macen shared. “He also insists that conversations remain discreet.”
Now Ro understood where Macen was going with the conversation. “I think I can swing some business his way.”
“So how are you settling into your new job?” he asked.
“I actually think I may be a good fit for it,” Ro admitted.
“You’re a natural,” Macen assured her. “But then, I’ve always thought so.”
“I’m not sure I’d be as certain about you,” Ro confessed.
Macen shrugged. “You’re bound to think so. It comes with your new job.”
“Do you honestly think you can pull this off?” Ro wanted to, no needed, to know.
“What did you think of our first collaboration?” Macen asked.
“It was perfect,” Ro admitted. “But how long will you be able to keep your access?”
“I don’t need access to Starfleet files. I did the job for fifty years. I’m pretty valuable on my own,” Macen countered. “Starfleet just pads the résumé.”
“Okay, let’s really look at this though.” Ro stated, “I can’t give you access to my cell. Not until you’ve proven yourself, really proven yourself.”
Macen chuckled. “Have I ever asked for anything?”
That gave Ro pause. “Well, no.”
“And that’s the way it’ll stay,” Macen promised her. “My people are a self-sustaining operation. Tells us what you need and we’ll do our best to get it. If we can’t we’ll simply say so. Deal?”
Ro thought it over. She really didn’t have anything to lose. She smiled at long last.
“Deal,” she said.
Sisko contacted Nechayev again. She was a little terser this time around. “I didn’t expect to hear back from you, Commander.”
“Why is that, Admiral?” Sisko asked.
“You didn’t exactly succeed, now did you?” she asked crossly.
“The Maquis arrived. Amazingly enough, they seemed to have all of the same intelligence that we had.” Sisko left the accusation unspoken.
“What, precisely, are you implying, Commander?” Nechayev asked sternly.
“You said that you had a contingency in play and lo and behold, the Maquis drop in,” Sisko explained before cutting straight to the point. “Where they your contingency?”
“Commander, you know the Maquis are considered criminals by Starfleet, and Starfleet is not in the practice of working with criminals,” Nechayev said archly.
“Starfleet has made notable exceptions in the past,” Sisko reminded her.
“The past is the past, Commander. Nowadays we don’t have cowboys for starship captains or admirals. You’re speaking of a bygone era,” Nechayev assured him. “I suggest you focus on your area of command and let others who are more attuned to the DMZ work within the DMZ. We have experts for a reason, Commander.”
“The DMZ is near my operational area. I feel…” Sisko began but was cut off.
“Commander, you have two frontiers. You are further out into the interior of the Alpha Quadrant than any other Starfleet commander and you have access to the Gamma Quadrant. Quite frankly, between those and overseeing the reconstruction aid to Bajor, you have your hands quite full.” Nechayev cut to the quick. “I don’t think you need to gallivant about and do some adventuring where you’re frankly not needed.”
Sisko bristled, “Yes, Admiral.”
“So you’ll leave the DMZ alone unless you’re ordered to return?” Nechayev demanded to know.
Sisko tried to remain civil. “Yes, ma’am.” Nechayev’s brusque manner wasn’t helping.
“Good.” Nechayev cut the transmission.
Sisko leaned back in his chair and thought over the events in the DMZ again. The Maquis had received help from an outside source. That source had obviously obtained information from Starfleet. He recalled the so-called “information broker.” He filed a report with Starfleet Security flagging Macen’s operation. He thought about filing one for Starfleet Intelligence, but reconsidered it. Macen had spent his career in intelligence. He undoubtedly still had friends there. Friends that would tip him off.
Sisko knew this hadn’t ended. In fact, things had only begun because he now had a vested interest in events in the DMZ. He would keep a close eye on that region from now on and one day, he would move against the Maquis again.
Thanks go to Bernd Schneider for designing the Blackbird-class scoutship.
Thanks also go to the contributors at Memory Alpha Wiki as well as the writers and editors of the Star Trek Encyclopedia 3rd Edition.
Geographic and spatial data was provided by Star Trek Star Charts.
Information was also gathered from the Deep Space Nine Technical Manual.
Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.