by Travis Anderson
Nerrit uncomfortably shifted under the weight of the stares bearing down on her. Even Eddington was looking at with an intense scrutiny she hadn’t expected. She fought the urge to lash out to back everyone up.
“Yes?” she managed to ask with some pretense of assurance.
Kira got straight the point. “Why do the Maquis care about Tahna Los?” Nerrit was finding this an increasingly damnable character trait that Kira had.
“You may not be cleared for this information,” Nerrit attempted to veer off the topic.
“Nice try,” Kira retorted. “Colonel Hassup said you’d reveal what we needed to know and I’m telling you right now, we need that information.”
Nerrit tried to retake the high ground. “And why is that?”
“Because it establishes Ro Laren’s motive for rescuing Tahna Los from prison. And that motive will determine where she decides to take him next,” Odo spoke as if to a simpleton.
“So, basically you can catch Tahna at this point or simply let him go,” Kira added.
Nerrit weighed hr options carefully. “Very well. But not in front of Starfleet.”
“Starfleet is the Militia’s ally,” Odo reminded Nerrit.
“Take the deal,” Nerrit advised, “It’s the only one you’ll get. Either Commander Eddington walks away and forgets everything he’s heard until now, or I willfully let Tahna slip from your grasp.”
Kira was out of Odo’s chair. “Whose side are you on?”
“Bajor’s,” Nerrit said coolly. “Whose side are you on?”
“Don’t even try that stunt,” Kira warned. “I fought and bled for Bajor while you were cozying up in some Federation refugee camp. They saw you got fed regular meals and access to medicine. On Bajor, we were half starved most of the time and facing an enemy that would just as soon kill you as look at you after they got down working to the point you wanted to die. So don’t go there.”
Nerrit looked away from Kira. “Commander Eddington? It’s your move.”
“It’s been nice but I think I’m not wanted,” Eddington said jovially and exited the security office.
“Seal the door,” Nerrit instructed, “and turn the security recorders off.”
“There had better be a good reason for these requests,” Odo advised.
“There is,” Nerrit responded. “I’m about to reveal why the Maquis are desperate to get Tahna Los back and Starfleet will not appreciate the answer.”
“Very well,” Odo conceded as he slid behind the desk. “Your conditions have been met.”
“Is anyone in the holding cell area?” Nerrit asked.
“No one is being held there today,” Odo said, “but the day is young.”
Nerrit ignored the veiled threat. “So none of your deputies are in there?”
“Why would one of my deputies be guarding empty holding cells?” Odo found the notion to be incredulous.
“Very well.” Nerrit straightened her shoulders. “You already know that Tahna had contacts with the Duras family. Through them, he established relations with both the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire. They are both willing to recognize an independent Maquis confederacy and are willing to supply material to make it happen. Included in these weapons shipments are working cloaking devices — older models — but fully functional.”
“How do you know this if Tahna hadn’t talked?” Kira wondered.
“The Haalavet cell provided the details in exchange for amnesties,” Nerrit divulged.
“And why hasn’t Starfleet been told?” Kira wondered.
“Because the Haalavet swore us to secrecy,” Nerrit said, “and besides that, the scattered Resistance cells and many of the Maquis are Bajorans. Bajorans fighting the Cardassians. It was felt that leaving them to it was a greater asset for securing Bajor’s security than if the Maquis were trampled underfoot and the Cardassians could concentrate on Bajor again.”
“How many times do I have to remind you that Starfleet is our ally?” Kira was exasperated.
“No offense to your so-called colleagues, Major, but Starfleet is a group of aliens,” Nerrit retorted. “They and their false Emissary don’t have the first clue as to what it means to be Bajoran and so their concern for our well-being is secondary to guarding the Celestial Temple.”
“You used to be part of Starfleet.” Kira hoped the irony would shock Nerrit back into reality.
“And they trained me well enough that I can now serve Bajor,” Nerrit replied. “Even if you have a problem with this scenario, Major, I can have the First Minister giving a personal order to remain silent in less than ten minutes’ time.”
Kira knew she should have been surprised that this secret was held at such a high level. But then again, what else could she expect from the Provisional Government? She wanted to ask Nerrit a question, but the younger woman spoke first.
“What happened to you, Major?” Nerrit inquired. “You had no love for the Federation before being assigned to Terok Nor. What corrupted your thinking?”
“I’ve worked with Starfleet,” Kira opted to explain. “They can be deluded fools, but at least they try to live up to their ideals. We used to do the same before the Occupation.”
“The Cardassians taught us the price of living in a dream world,” Nerrit retorted.
Kira had had it. “There you go again. You talk about the Occupation as though you lived through it.”
“I did!” Nerrit’s temper flashed. “I lived every single day hearing about Bajor and the Prophets and wondering where the hell my so-called ‘gods’ were. Why was I a second-class refugee treated like trash in a ‘benevolent’ and ‘enlightened’ society? So I bit my tongue and said all the right things and got the training that would make it so I could help Bajor free itself. Only then it actually happened and Bajor was liberated before I could personally do anything. So, I came ‘home’ to a planet I’d never seen and decided to do my part.”
Kira realized two things then. The first was that Nerrit truly was as much a victim of the Occupation as Kira herself. The second was that Nerrit had no love or faith in the Prophets, which meant she lived a hard, cold, and sterile existence. Kira pitied her.
“Spare me your pity, Major.” Nerrit’s anger threatened to boil over. “I don’t need it.”
“I’ll just say one thing,” Kira spoke. “Faith keeps one alive and one’s hope burning bright even in the middle of an Occupation.”
Nerrit was stone silent, glaring at Kira. Odo spoke up. “Here’s something interesting.”
Kira turned to him and saw he was perusing the traffic logs Eddington had given him. “What is it, Odo?”
“The Odyssey broke orbit over Bajor and transited the system shortly after Ro liberated Tahna,” Odo reported.
“Odo, the Jem’Hadar destroyed the Odyssey,” Kira reminded him.
“Not the U.S.S. Odyssey,” Odo corrected her,. “The S.S. Odyssey. It’s a civilian scout sharing the name, although ‘civilian’ may be a misnomer. It’s a decommissioned Starfleet scoutship and her commander is a former Starfleet officer.”
“So?” Kira knew Odo was going somewhere with this, but she just wished he’d hurry up.
“The Odyssey’s captain, Brin Macen, joined Starfleet in 2303,” Odo shared.
“So he’s retired,” Kira ventured.
“In a sense. Macen took early retirement. He’s over four hundred years old and in the prime of his life,” Odo shared.
“So he’s not human,” Kira surmised.
“No, he’s El-Aurian,” Odo said with distaste.
Kira knew Odo’s mood was shaped by his recollections of Martus Mazur. “But Macen wasn’t a con man. You said he joined Starfleet.”
“I wouldn’t be so certain,” Odo advised. “Macen arrived in the Alpha Quadrant in 2293. Afterwards, he spent ten years wandering before returning to Earth and taking an accelerated course at Starfleet Academy.”
“That’s rare,” Nerrit suddenly piped in.
Kira shushed her with a glare. “Why did Starfleet feel Macen was qualified for that?”
“It seems Brin Macen was an accomplished historian and the equivalent of a Starfleet archeology and anthropology officer. He’d been a member of the El-Aurian Exploration Corps for a century before the Borg assimilated his world.”
“So why is this leading to something suspicious?” Kira wondered.
“Macen spent the better part of his decade before joining Starfleet on the Federation’s growing border with Cardassia. It’s rumored he spent over five years on Cardassian worlds,” Odo explained. “When Macen graduated from the Academy, he served for one year aboard a starship as its A&A Officer. Then he was moved to Starfleet Intelligence. From there, the picture gets a little murky.”
“How murky?” Kira asked because now it was getting interesting.
“His activities with Starfleet Intelligence are classified, but it was theorized he was the leading analyst of the Cardassian desk. But in the 2350s, he disappeared entirely. He didn’t surface on official records until 2369, after the Federation signed a peace treaty with the Cardassian Union. And one year later, he resigned. But he left with a decommissioned scoutship and another Starfleet officer who suddenly resigned after speaking with Macen.”
“Macen immediately proceeded to the DMZ and recruited a crew. He then began offering his services as an information broker and a sometime supplier of exotic wares to the Cardassians,” Odo divulged, “but the turnabout is, his chief customer is the Maquis.”
“I’m surprised the Maquis deal with him if he’s a collaborator,” Kira admitted.
“I think Macen is being more subtle than that,” Odo stated. “He lived a nonexistent life for nearly twenty years during the Border Wars. I think Macen knows what the Cardassians want, supplies their greed, and sells everything he gleaned from his time in Cardassian space to the Maquis.”
“What makes you say that?” Kira wanted to know if there was any evidence to support Odo’s theory.
“Because after his last trip into Cardassian space, Macen supplied Commander Sisko with key details of events within the Cardassian Union. Events that could have a direct bearing on Bajor,” Odo revealed, “and when Sisko sought out verification of Macen’s credentials, Vice Admiral Alynna Nechayev personally vouched for Macen’s credibility.”
“Okay, how does that tie Macen into recent events?” Kira inquired.
“Macen is at least sympathetic to the Maquis cause if not an outright member,” Odo concluded. “He’s been sighted with Ro Laren on at least two dozen occasions. They have an established working relationship.”
“But would Macen risk his ability to freely navigate in Federation space by assisting a known Maquis cell leader in a jail break?” Kira asked.
“That’s what we need to find out,” Odo stressed.
“So what did Macen file as a destination?” Kira queried Odo.
“Valo II,” Odo succinctly replied.
“You’re certain it would be Valo II?” Kira wondered.
“Ahem,” Nerrit cleared her throat. “Tahna Los would be headed for Valo II because that is where the Kohn Ma have been operating for the better part of a year.”
“You could have said something earlier,” Kira scolded Nerrit.
Nerrit shrugged. “It hadn’t come up.”
“Last I heard, Keeve Falor was still running the colony on Valo II,” Kira recalled. “He’d always kept the refugees out of the Resistance. So why start trouble now?”
“Keeve bet on the Federation. The Federation in turn ceded the Valo system over to the Demilitarized Zone. Wouldn’t you feel betrayed?” Nerrit offered as an explanation.
“So why did the Militia offer Tahna a deal?” Kira sharply inquired.
“Tahna agreed to convince the remaining Resistance cells to abandon the DMZ and repatriate to Bajor,” Nerrit shared. “Calvin Hudson would undoubtedly have issues with this.”
“How so?” Odo probed the issue.
“Tahna has already approached Hudson with the idea of arranging a weapons transfer,” Nerrit stated. “If Tahna were to abandon that idea and take a good portion of the Maquis with him when he left the DMZ, the Maquis would be the ones to absorb the losses.”
“And just how do you know this if Tahna hadn’t talked to anyone in the Militia?” Kira had to ask.
“Tahna Los is hardly the Militia Special Forces’ only asset in the DMZ,” Nerrit admitted.
“There’s more to it than that,” Odo surmised. “The Klingons and the Romulans would hardly support a ragtag rebellion. They’d have to be presented as a viable entity. Given that, they’d have to have a stable supply of arms and training. A decidedly Bajoran source. Or am I mistaken?”
Silence fell as Nerrit stopped answering questions. Odo snorted. “That’s what I thought.”
“Don’t you people realize that any support Bajor provides to the Maquis, openly or covertly, will be a provocation towards war with Cardassians?” Kira was dismayed at Nerrit’s ignorance.
“We beat them before,” Nerrit boasted.
“We fought a limited engagement. The Cardassians hardly threw any of their troops at us. This time, because of the Federation’s commitment to help defend us, they’d throw everything they had at us. We managed to bleed them dry before. But that was after they decided we weren’t worth the effort of keeping us. Bajor isn’t even self sufficient at this point. So where do you get off committing us to a war we can’t win?” Kira demanded to know. “And just where the kost were you when I was on Bajor fighting every single day?”
“You’ve become a Federation stooge, you know that, Major?” Nerrit accused.
“Better that then being so delusional I’ll pick a fight I don’t stand a chance of winning,” Kira retorted.
“I think it’s time we adjourn to Valo II,” Odo interjected.
“I agree,” Kira said tersely.
“I’m coming with you,” Nerrit demanded.
“Like hell you are,” Kira snapped.
“Do I really have to call Colonel Hassup?” Nerrit asked. “He’ll just flag the First Minister and have him order you to take me with you.”
Kira met Odo’s gaze. He subtly nodded and Kira relented. “Fine. Just stay out of the way.”
“You’ll hardly know I’m there,” Nerrit promised.
Kira could almost hear the “until it’s too late” behind that sentiment.
Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.