by Travis Anderson
Major Kira Nerys, first officer to the Cardassian-built, Bajoran-owned space station Deep Space Nine, was at her usual post in ops when her comm panel chimed. Kira was a little surprised at who was doing the calling. Constable Odo had been a tad…distant…since their return from Prophet’s Landing. Of course, they had been duped into travelling to an ionized moon by a female Founder. Odo had deduced the nature of the duplicity and freed Kira, but he hadn’t been completely himself with her in the few days since the incident.
Kira activated the comm panel and saw Odo’s nearly featureless face appear in it. Odo may have been a Changeling, but humanoid faces still exasperated him, which was remarkable since he was the best judge of humanoid expressions that she’d ever met.
“Odo, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Kira asked warmly. The constable was her closest friend aboard the station.
“Can you join me in the security office, Major?” Odo requested.
“Is there a problem?” Kira inquired, suddenly troubled that a matter would be dire enough for Odo to ask for assistance.
“You might say that,” Odo obliquely replied. “Please have Commander Eddington accompany you. This matter concerns him as well.”
Kira knew that admission had to pain Odo. While the station was Bajoran property, it was administrated by Starfleet. Upon learning that Odo was from the same race that had created the openly hostile Dominion, Lt. Commander Michael Eddington had been brought in as Starfleet’s strategic affairs officer. As such, he controlled the security surrounding Starfleet’s property and personnel aboard the station. Odo retained jurisdiction over station affairs as the Bajoran Militia’s chief of security.
Eddington played down the rivalry between himself and Odo but Odo’s feelings belied that supposedly amicable relationship. In the course of his duties, Eddington kept things from Odo and Odo chafed because of it. Starfleet’s criminal action reports still flowed his way ,but aspects of station security, in regards to the Starfleet personnel aboard, had been taken out of Odo’s purview. So including Eddington in whatever matter concerned Odo had to hurt the constable’s professional pride.
“Odo, is this strictly a station matter?” Kira inquired. Because if it was, she would gladly tell Eddington to jump out an airlock. Hell, she’d order him to.
“No Major, it isn’t. This request has been made by the Bajoran Militia,” Odo revealed.
That surprised Kira. Typically the militia commanders addressed her directly. As Bajor’s liaison to Starfleet, she was the highest ranking Bajoran officer aboard the station. As such, she usually got word of any requests made by the Provisional Government or the Militia from the leaders themselves.
“I’ll be right down,” Kira assured him and switched off the comm panel. Grudgingly summoning Eddington, they took the lift down to the Promenade where the security office lay.
As the turbolift descended, Eddington wore an enigmatic smile. “I’m surprised you asked me along, Major.”
Kira suspected a trap. “Why is that?”
“Because you don’t like me,” Eddington replied. “You think I’m here to sabotage Odo’s position with Commander Sisko.”
Kira blinked in surprise. She hadn’t realized her feelings had been so blatant. “I don’t think you’re here to sabotage anything between Odo and Commander Sisko. But I think it’s obvious you’re here to ruin any chance he has of convincing Starfleet he’s the man to run security aboard this station.”
“Odo’s people did that for him when they ordered the destruction of the Odyssey and demanded we stay clear of the Gamma Quadrant,” Eddington replied, “and it’s not like Odo doesn’t have a questionable past. He was Gul Dukat’s chief enforcer when this station was still called Terok Nor and they ran it.”
“Bajor trusts Odo,” Kira grated, “and this is now a Bajoran station.”
“I’m not arguing that, Major,” Eddington said as the lift came to a halt. He ushered Kira past him. “I’m just laying out Starfleet’s position.”
Kira stepped off the lift and whirled on Eddington, “And what’s your position, Mr. Eddington?”
Eddington gave her a soft smile. “That I don’t need to be here. Odo has things wrapped up very tight.”
Kira snorted. “Then we agree on something.”
“Major,” Odo said with his usual gravity. He tipped his head towards Eddington. “Commander.”
Kira knew Odo and Eddington had an informal truce going. Eddington stayed off of the Promenade and Odo avoided the Defiant and ops. They shared jurisdiction in the power core and the docking and habitat rings.
“Major, take a seat.” Odo offered her his chair.
She accepted and wondered why the constable was allowing her to usurp his place. Beside the desk was his “bucket” where he regenerated in his natural liquid-like state. Odo joined Eddington behind the desk.
“A Colonel Hassup Trew of Militia Special Forces is holding,” Odo informed Kira. “Just release the comm panel and the message will resume.”
Hassup’s image appeared on the screen at Kira’s behest. He wore a grave expression. From what little Kira knew of the colonel, his mien was habitual. He still saw Cardassians everywhere.
“Is everyone present, Major?” Hassup inquired sharply.
“They are unless you’re inviting someone else,” Kira quipped.
“Very droll, Major,” Hassup grated. “They warned me about you.”
“Funny, they didn’t say a word about you,” Kira retorted.
“Need I remind you that I’m your superior officer?” Hassup wondered. “That does still mean something in the Militia. It may not amongst Starfleet but with us, rank still matters.”
“Understood,” Kira tersely acknowledged.
“Good,” Hassup recognized her submission. “Tell me, Major, what do you recall of the Haalavet Resistance cell?”
“They operated north of the Kendra Valley. They usually operated alone, but like the Shakaar cell, when they allied with another cell it was frequently with the Kohn Ma,” Kira easily recited.
“And what do you know of their recent history?” Hassup wondered.
Kira frowned. “They went off-world after the Cardassian withdrawal and continued to fight. But I thought I’d heard they’d accepted the Provisional Government’s amnesty offer and returned to Bajor and Prophet’s Landing.”
“That’s correct,” Hassup concurred, “only now they’re all dead.”
“What?” Kira was surprised. “Constable Odo and I were just at Prophet’s Landing two weeks ago. There were no deaths among the Haalavet then.”
“The murders all occurred in the last three days,” Hassup explained. Noting Kira’s startled expression, he added, “Yes, Major, I said murders.”
“Are you sure they were murdered?” Kira wanted to know.
“Yes, we’re certain,” Hassup said dryly.
“But why would anyone kill the Haalavet?” Kira wondered.
“You alluded to it yourself, Major,” Hassup informed her. “To put it bluntly, what did the Resistance do with collaborators?”
“We executed them,” Kira asserted with no regrets.
“The Haalavet were seen as collaborators by their allies when they accepted the amnesty,” Hassup explained.
“Who were their allies at this late date?” Kira asked.
“They were still allied with the Kohn Ma, and in turn, the Kohn Ma are allies of the Maquis,” Hassup stated before asking, “Can you see where this is leading?”
“I was under the impression from Tahna Los that the Kohn Ma were all but finished,” Kira interjected.
“So were we,” Hassup admitted, “but Tahna has changed his story. Now he claims the Kohn Ma are stronger than ever and directly responsible for the murders.”
“How would he even know about them?” Kira had to ask.
“That’s another question to be asked,” Hassup divulged, “and you’re going to ask him.”
“Me?” Kira sputtered.
“He’ll only talk to you,” Hassup declared. “He’s being damnably stubborn on that point. During the Resistance, we could have…persuaded…him but now that civil rights have been restored, we have a few limitations.”
“Colonel, the last time I met with Tahna Los, he held me at phaser point and tried to destroy the Celestial Temple,” Kira reminded Hassup.
“Yes, but this time he’s sitting in a rehabilitative penal camp,” Hassup asserted, “so I think the situation has changed somewhat.”
He could tell she was still hesitant. “What’s on your mind, Major?”
“The Kohn Ma shared a cave network in the Kendra Valley with the Shakaar cell,” Kira pointed out. “Tahna and I were friends. I’m not certain I won’t still be blinded by that former friendship.”
“That’s why you’ll bring Constable Odo with you,” Hassup insisted. “He’ll watch over you and make certain Tahna doesn’t lead you down a merry path again.”
“Which is why I’m here,” Eddington suddenly spoke up.
“Constable, you will brief Commander Eddington on your ongoing investigations and prepare to leave the station for a number of days,” Hassup ordered.
Odo grunted even as Kira asked, “Days?”
“Tahna is a tough nut to crack,” Hassup reminded her. “The Cardassians have put him through hell on more than one occasion and he’s never broken.”
“Yet I’m supposed to break him,” Kira said ruefully.
“Nectar and spring wine go further than a laser scalpel and a dermal regenerator,” Hassup stated. “You have your orders, Major. You’re expected in Ashalla in six hours. That should be enough time to beg off from your station duties.”
“Yes sir,” Kira said with a clenched jaw.
The comm panel went dark and Kira slowly swiveled the chair around to face Odo and Eddington. “Odo, I’ll explain things to Sisko. I’ll give you thirty minutes to brief Eddington. The Rio Grande is undergoing maintenance but the Orinoco is cleared for flight. Meet me at the airlock in forty minutes and we’ll get underway.”
“Yes, Major,” Odo said with a protective note to his voice.
Kira departed for ops and Odo turned to Eddington. “Very well, Commander. Ready for a lesson in realpolice work?”
Eddington wore an appreciative smile. “Ready when you are, Constable.”
Odo released one last skeptical grunt before he began briefing Eddington.
Kira and Odo left DS9 and set course for Bajor. At half impulse, the journey required three hours. That still got them to Ashalla well before their deadline. However, Kira was beginning to feel as though she was experiencing what the humans called déjà vu. Like the return trip from Prophet’s Landing two weeks again, Odo had fallen into silence again. Only before it had been a contentious silence and this had more of a morose flavor to it.
“Here we go again,” Kira said with some amusement.
“How so?” Odo finally deigned to speak.
“You. Me. Looming silence while on a trip,” Kira said. “Remind you of anything?”
“Should it?” Odo stubbornly replied.
“Oh, come on!” Kira cajoled him. “If this carries on for any length of time I’ll be expecting a Founder to appear.”
That statement made Odo bristle. Kira cast a concerned look his way. “Odo, I know you don’t want to talk about what the Founder said to you, but what did she do to you?”
“What do you mean?” Odo asked irritably.
“She obviously hurt you,” Kira observed. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Odo looked perplexed for a moment and then he shook his head. “I’m sorry, Major. I’m afraid it’s something I have to work out for myself.”
“But if there’s ever something I can do, you’ll let me know?” Kira inquired.
Odo slowly nodded. “I’ll let you know if you can help.”
“You’re sure?” Kira prodded him again.
“I said I would, didn’t I?” Odo said with a little exasperation in his voice.
Kira smirked. “Now you’re getting back to your old self again.”
“And how is that?” Odo asked a little condescendingly.
“You’re grumpy again,” Kira chortled.
“I am not grumpy,” Odo insisted.
“Odo, the Chief said it best when he called you a curmudgeon,” Kira chuckled.
“The Chief said that?” Odo’s ire was raised.
“Just yesterday,” Kira confirmed.
“He’s never said anything of the sort when we’re kayaking,” Odo defended.
“He probably doesn’t want you capsizing the boat,” Kira snickered.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Odo declared defensively.
“I know that,” Kira assured him, “and I’m sure the Chief knows it too. But I had to get you out of your funk.”
“So Chief O’Brien never said I was a curmudgeon,” Odo surmised.
“Oh, he said it,” Kira promised him.
“And you agreed with him?” Odo was slightly incredulous.
“Odo, I know you better than anyone else on the station,” Kira began, “so, of course I agreed with him.”
“Humph!” Odo huffed.
“So,” warmth exuded from Kira’s voice, “what kind of cases did you brief Eddington on?”
“Actually, there isn’t much going on right now,” Odo admitted.
“Not even Quark is up to anything?” Kira was incredulous.
“I didn’t say that,” Odo said cannily. And then he began to describe Quark’s progress with his latest scheme and how Odo kept pulling the deck plating out from underneath the Ferengi’s feet.
Kira landed the Orinoco at the Militia’s primary spaceport facility in Ashalla. Located adjacent to the ancient city, it was home to various impulse and sub-impulse vessels. As Kira and Odo stepped out of the runabout, a Bajoran lieutenant in Special Forces gray met them.
“Hello, Major,” she said. “I’m Lt. Nerrit Wen. I’m your point person for this mission.”
“And what qualifies you as our Militia contact?” Odo suddenly inquired.
Nerrit suddenly smiled, “I may not have been raised on Bajor during the Occupation but my family and I felt the effects of the Occupation as refugees inside of the Federation. I even joined Starfleet for a time. But when the Cardassians withdrew and the Militia was reformed, I knew where my duty truly lay.”
“What division of Starfleet did you serve in?” Kira asked.
“Starfleet Security,” Nerrit answered. “I was an ensign when I resigned my commission and returned to Bajoran space.”
“Bajor isn’t your home world?” Kira was surprised.
“No, Major,” Nerrit confirmed. “My parents were colonists on Prophet’s Landing when the Occupation began. I was born there as well. But a Boslic freighter captain gave my family a lift to Valo II and from there we entered Federation space.”
“I wasn’t aware that Valo II had interstellar transport during the Occupation,” Kira admitted.
“They had a limited amount of warp capable vessels. My family and a cluster of others left while I was a teenager,” Nerrit reported. “Ro Laren stole the last ship a few years after we departed.”
“She also joined Starfleet,” Odo recalled.
“You know Ro?” Kira asked.
“I know of her,” Odo replied. “She is now AWOL from Starfleet and an active cell leader in the Maquis.”
That piece of news surprised Kira. Starfleet types rarely wanted to get their hands dirty in something like a band of terrorists. Kira turned to study Nerrit a moment longer before asking another question.
“Why is Special Forces involved with Tahna Los?” Kira wanted to know. “Isn’t this a case for the Constabulary?”
“Special Forces has assumed jurisdiction over the case,” Nerrit replied. “Other than Constable Odo, the Constabulary is excluded from the investigation.”
“Why?” Odo asked in a leery tone.
“The Haalavet were reporting to Special Forces in a special project to bring the Kohn Ma under control,” Nerrit confessed.
“You were running the Haalavet?” Kira scoffed. “No wonder the Kohn Ma and the Maquis wanted them dead.”
“We don’t know who actually did the killing though,” Nerrit admitted. “We were hoping you could find out for us.”
“It’s always up to us to solve the case,” Odo grumbled.
Kira flashed him a grin. “If anyone can, Odo, it’s you.”
Odo nodded. “Thank you, Major. I think.”
“I have transportation standing by,” Nerrit informed them. “We’re expected at the city’s Chief Constabulary House.”
“Then let’s not keep everyone waiting,” Kira urged.
Odo was disgruntled to see the local constables lingering around the station house. Most were on active patrol but those outside their own precinct were the rapid response reinforcements for those on patrol. Inside the station was a sea of gray uniforms.
“Can I see the evidence or can your people even find it?” Odo snippily asked Nerrit.
Nerrit took it stride. She moved to a senior enlisted woman and brought her over. “Sgt. Tera will assist you, Constable.”
Nerrit directly addressed Kira. “If you’d like, we could approach Tahna now. We told him to expect you at 1600 hours. If we leave now, we can just make it.”
“It doesn’t seem I have much choice,” Kira dryly remarked. She looked to Odo. “Call me when you find something.”
“I will, Major,” Odo consented and then he narrowed his eyes at Tera. “What have you got for me, Sergeant?”
“Follow me, Constable,” Tera beckoned towards him. “We’ve just finished cataloguing everything. The primary physical evidence has been assembled here as well, should you wish to see it.”
“Trust me, Sergeant, I will,” Odo promised her.
Kira and Nerrit excused themselves. Kira chuckled. “Sounds like Odo’s in love.”
“With Sgt. Tera?” Nerrit asked.
Kira shook her head. “With the case.”
Nerrit brought Kira outside once again. Parked in the Constabulary yard were several Militia vehicles. The Constabulary used skimmers, but Special Forces preferred all-terrain vehicles. Most were of Cardassian manufacture and had been abandoned during the Cardassian Guard’s flight from Bajor.
The vehicle Nerrit mounted was a six-wheeled scout. Kira climbed aboard wearing a wry smirk. “I remember planting pipe bombs in these monsters.”
“Try not to relive old memories until after we get back from the Belava penal camp,” Nerrit requested.
Kira was largely silent as Nerrit drove through Ashalla’s streets. Most Bajorans still traveled by foot. Decades of experience with the Cardassians had taught them to give a scout car a wide berth or they’d get run over. Those instincts served Nerrit’s needs very well.
“They still expect a Cardassian to be driving when I’m behind the wheel,” Nerrit sighed.
“The Occupation only just ended,” Kira reminded her. “We have a lifetime of oppression to forget.”
“But can we forget?” Nerrit wondered. “Should we?”
“Those are interesting questions from someone that wasn’t even on Bajor during the Occupation,” Kira opined.
“Just because I wasn’t physically under the Occupation’s yoke didn’t mean I didn’t still feel that yoke’s weight,” Nerrit said with an edge to her voice that Kira found slightly threatening.
“Tell me about Belava,” Kira requested.
“It’s a labor camp, pure and simple. Hard work is supposed to cleanse the prisoners paghs,” Nerrit described.
“Does it work?” Kira wondered.
“Not usually,” Nerrit grimly answered.
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