by Travis Anderson
Earth had been struck by Breen and many of the Maquis, even those that had never set foot on humanity’s birth world, were dazed and fearful. Riker just looked distraught. Sito tried to be accommodating but she finally threw up her hands in disgust.
“Come on, Tom, life hasn’t ended,” Sito cajoled him.
“Maybe it has. The Klingons never struck Earth and the Romulans never succeeded, but the Dominion has,” Riker lamented.
“Tom, the Xindi hit Earth centuries ago and that was before there was a Federation,” Sito argued, “but it sets a precedent. No planet is immune from sneak attacks.”
“But…” Riker began.
Sito held up a single finger. “Stow it. Whatever feeble excuse you’re about to come up with, just stow it.”
Riker had never seen her in this light as she pressed on. “You survived Nervalla IV. You survived Letau. You’ve survived the last three years as a security specialist. You know what that says to me? You’re a survivor. So act like it!”
Riker was almost afraid not to. “Why do you still look after me?”
That irked her even more. “How can you ask that? I watch your back and you watch mine. That was the deal, right?”
“Yes, it was,” Riker agreed, “but I’m aboard the Indomitable now and you’re still flying the Razorcat.”
“But I still watch your back,” Sito promised. “Never doubt that.”
“You two!” Ro yelled across the paddock. “We’re lifting off.”
Riker and Sito jogged over to Ro’s side as she started down the flight line. Ro addressed Riker, “I’m hopping a ride aboard the Indomitable. Do you have an objection?”
“No, but I’d like to know if you’re assuming command,” Riker admitted.
“No, I’ll be in charge once we reach the ground,” Ro assured him.
“What’s the op?” Sito wondered.
“Orions have taken hostages on Golana,” Ro informed them. “The Indomitable, Nathan Hale, and Valhallaare lifting off with the Razorcat and heading there straightaway. Two Orion Wanderer-class-V blockade runners have landed on the planet and two more are in orbit. The Constabulary had them held down in the town hall. We’re coming in as support.”
On Golana’s surface, Tulley led the Indomitable crew in aiding the constables holding action. The Nathan Hale and the Valhalla stayed in high orbit in case more Orions arrived. The Razorcat strafed the Orion ships on the ground before she landed and they were no longer space worthy.
The Indie crew was specifically helping block the path to the shuttleport. Six ships were currently landed there: The Indomitable herself, the Razorcat, one civilian runabout, three civilian Type 6 shuttle analogues, and a number of Bajoran interceptors. The Orions were demanding passage to the shuttleport, access to the ships, and a withdrawal all under the cover of hostages. And to make matters more interesting, The militia’s response had been to send Ro in to “negotiate.” Her preferred method of talking was sneaking around back and committing a full incursion in order to disable all of the Orion pirates.
Ro reached the rear entrance to the hall. The pavilion was used for bazaars, town meetings, and religious festivals. With her phaser drawn, she went to one side of the door. Sito and Riker took the other side.
The constables that Ro was fending off had initially objected to Riker’s participation in this part of the intervention. The chief constable had wanted one of his own deputies to be included. Ro simply told him off and insisted she use someone she’d worked beside for years. She then asked if the Maquis hadn’t done a good job defending Golana for the last three years, and if so, why couldn’t they be trusted now?
Ro signaled the Nathan Hale, which in turn contacted the Valhalla, and the two Maquis raiders each beamed up two Orions. The Orions were stunned as soon the annular confinement beams of the transporters released them. The Orions on the ground flipped on their transport inhibitors at that point, realizing that help from their fellow pirates wasn’t coming.
The Maquis in orbit signaled Ro and updated her. She smiled as she spoke to Sito and Riker. “They took the bait.”
“Which means they’re coming to us,” Sito nodded.
Ro contacted the chief constable. His deputies pulled out and circled around to flank the Orions, should any get past Ro’s triad. Sito sounded off that the Orion life signs read by her tricorder were now down to eight and there were still one hundred Bajorans. So at least none of them had been killed yet.
Ro had noted Sito’s improved confidence since she enlisted in the militia. Like so many coming out of the Occupation, Sito felt a need to contribute to Bajor’s well-being. Her assignment with the Maquis was just a more practical application of helping than serving in Starfleet — or so Sito argued. Ro just felt Sito had gotten a raw deal out of Starfleet and was looking for new horizons from her own people.
Riker towered over Sito as she stood poised with a two-handed grip on her militia-issue phaser. She was crouched while Ro stood opposite her with a similar grip on her own phaser. The locks on the door cycled and Ro silently nodded at Sito and then Riker. Everyone was ready for anything.
An Orion poked his head out and Ro shot him in the temple. Even if she’d set her phaser to “stun,” a head shot would have been lethal. But Ro wasn’t playing by such niceties. She was sending a message to the Orion Syndicate and that message was “stay away.” The Orion dropped and his head, lying in the door track, prevented it from closing.
Two Orions tried to drag the body away. Ro swung into the building and killed both pirates. The pirate chieftain bellowed for Ro to disarm or hostages would start dying. Ro tossed her phaser aside and raised her hands.
The Orion captain sneered as he took aim at Ro. Sito swung around the corner has Ro dodged to one side. She shot the Orion captain in the forehead and he fell dead before his crew. Sito ordered the Bajoran hostages to hit the ground as the Orions panicked and Sito tried picking them off one by one.
Ro had dodged in the direction her phaser laid and she scooped it up and added her firepower to the fray. Riker was late to arrive and only targeted the very last Orion as he was drawing a bead on Sito while she killed another Orion. Sito grinned at him.
“Nice to see you still have my back,” she said jovially.
Chief Constable Erim Veld rushed his deputies in only to find the hostages liberated and the Orions dead. He gushed to Ro that he admired her style…among other attributes. She smirked and gently told him patience was a virtue.
When Ro reached the shuttleport, she found an excited Tulley. Korepanova had announced that the war with the Dominion was over. The Dominion and the Breen had surrendered. The Cardassians had turned against their allies and Cardassia Prime was being occupied by the Federation Alliance.
Ro told him to calm down and quickly got on the horn with Korepanova. Once she had Sveta Korepanova’s attention, she quickly reminded the former Starfleet officer of a few facts. “Sveta, we’re criminals in the eyes of Starfleet. They have long memories when it comes to things like that. The chances of us getting to return to the DMZ are highly unlikely. The only place Federation justice is going to send us to is a penal colony or two.”
“But Bajor…” Korepanova clung to her last hope.
“Will extradite us if the Federation presses too hard. The only exceptions to that rule are Sito and I. We’re both Bajorans. We’re both militia officers, and Sito has the added virtue of never having been a Maquis. And despite their making an exception for Odo, the militia is a Bajoran force and it’s going to stay that way,” Ro calmly let her friend down.
“The militia generals have spoken to you about this day, haven’t they?” Korepanova realized.
“They have, and so has First Minister Shakaar,” Ro informed her. “Shakaar has a legal trick to play that he hasn’t shared, but he’s advised me to warn you to evacuate Bajor and get to the outer colonies.”
“We’re leaving now,” Korepanova promised.
Ro and the Maquis with her listened in to Shakaar’s communication network-wide message. In short, any and all Maquis inhabiting the Bajoran Sector would be extradited to the Federation organs of justice. That explicitly left the outer colonies as safe havens. Everyone knew that Starfleet would be howling over this proclamation.
In the end, Ro and Sito got some official instructions regarding their next assignment. Riker, Tulley, Thool, and the crew of the Indomitable would be heading out into nonaligned space in order to continue to offer their services as freelance security specialists. Half the Maquis were going with them. The other half were spreading out across Free Haven, Golana, and Dreon VII and forging new lives as colonists.
Korepanova was leading the colonial faction and Riker was heading up the spacer faction. He tossed away Sito’s objection that he was merely becoming a mercenary. “Sorry Jaxa, but you could say I was a mercenary for the last three years. As you know, we’ve all become very good at providing convoy escort services so that’s what we’re going to continue to do. And at the same time, we’ll put down stakes in some world or worlds along the way.”
“Good luck, Tom. I can’t follow you this time,” Sito said.
“Ro said you two received a new assignment,” Riker recalled. “Can you share what it is?”
Sito smirked. “It seems the militia wants Ro’s and my Starfleet service record to work for them. So with Colonel Kira in command of Deep Space Nine, Ro is being assigned as its executive efficer and as the Bajoran liaison. I’m taking over Constable Odo’s position as chief of security.”
“That’s wonderful, Jaxa!” Riker enthused.
“Yeah, but it’s going to be weird being on a space station and not out there,” Sito admitted.
“You’ll do great,” Riker assured her. “You’ve always been more of a detective than a simple gunfighter. And the mysteries you couldn’t solve, Ro pitched in and you solved them together. You’ll both do great.”
“Glad you think so,” Ro said dryly from behind Riker.
“I guess we’re leaving now,” Sito surmised.
“Yes, we’re on the clock now,” Ro informed her. She turned to Riker and offered her hand. “Take it easy, Tom. Just remember you’ve got nothing to prove. You’re one helluva a man and your brother would be lucky to accomplish half as much under similar circumstances.”
“Thanks.” Riker shook Ro’s hand and then hugged Sito. “Thanks for always being there.”
“Good luck, and don’t do anything stupid,” Sito admonished him.
“Would I do that?” Riker grinned.
Sito rolled her eyes and then followed Ro to the Razorcat. “I can’t believe they’re letting us keep her.”
Ro gave her a rueful look. “They’re not. We’re handing her off to the militia when we reach Bajor. Deep Space Nine is sending a runabout to take us to the station,” Ro explained.
“I just hope I’m up to my new job,” Sito fretted.
“Tom was right. You’ll do fine.” Ro paused. “As long as your first official order upon arrival when Starfleet tries to arrest me is, ‘release her.’”
“They wouldn’t!” Sito protested.
Ro gave her a wry look and Sito shrugged. “Okay, so they would. I’ll keep it in mind.”
“Just remember, you’re in charge of the holding cells,” Ro chuckled. “If Starfleet is unwilling to see reason, Quark owes me a favor. You get me out of the detention center and Quark will get me off the station.”
“It won’t come to that,” Sito said with iron resolve. “I’ll see to it.”
Ro gave her an appreciative smile. “Somehow I don’t think it will.”
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