by Travis Anderson
It was the year 2368 as reckoned on Earth. The Bajorans had been forced to abandon their ancient calendar in favor of that used by their oppressors, the Cardassians. Although unknown to the Bajoran population at the time, it would turn out to be a year where the Occupation began its last throes. Despite their ignorance of Cardassian politics, the Resistance was throwing everything they had into the fight…including a great many lives.
On the Bajoran moon named Jeraddo, the Sekra cell currently occupied Lunar Base V. Two mechanically gifted women were currently overhauling a small squadron of subimpulse raiders. The raiders were shared amongst many cells and the base was frequently a gathering place for disparate cells and leaders. Each cell that was able to provided and maintained their own group of raiders. Although various cell members would share technical knowledge between factions.
The women’s names were Neela and Anara. Anara was older and therefore put in charge by tradition. Neela was slightly more gifted if only because she wasn’t mentally constrained by boxes. Neela was a problem solver and generally could devise solutions to nearly every mechanical problem and even to some tactical issues as well.
Anara was a fairly straightforward engineer whose specialty was maintenance rather than design. She was also a level-headed fighter which often led to her being assigned harrowing tasks within a greater mission. Anara was very, very good but she also knew her limitations.
On the other hand, Neela seemed to be constantly stretching her boundaries, both in her technical skills and her abilities as a fighter. Neela was easily the most religious of any member of the Sekra cell and her growth always coincided with her spiritual development. As her faith expanded, so did her capabilities.
Neela and Anara made a game of repairing and overhauling the raiders. Each had three raiders to care for. The first done would require the other to buy them a meal as soon as they were in a proper village.
As usual, Anara finished ahead of Neela. And then she pitched in and helped Neela hurry through. They were on a tight schedule, but they’d finished thirty minutes early so Sekra Gim would be very pleased.
The Sekra raiders departed Jeraddo as Terok Nor slipped over the horizon. They had several minutes before the Cardassian picket ship in orbit around the opposite side of the planet came into view. The raiders dove into the atmosphere and pushed their dives to the point that their heat shielding threatened to melt away.
The need was pressing through. The Shakaar cell had begun liberating the labor camp at Gallitep. The Sekra raiders would provide air cover for the fighters on the ground. And they had just slipped into the atmosphere between the nearly overlapping scan cycles between the space station and the picket ship.
The raiders had made their first pass around the camp when the picket ship opened fire from orbit. The raiders veered away from the camp to draw away the orbital ship’s fire. This would alleviate the Shakaar group from orbital bombardment.
The Sekra lost three raiders in a matter of seconds of each other. Sekra Gim ordered his remaining people to go to ground and link up with other cells if necessary. He then launched himself into a vertical climb with the intent to engage the Cardassian ship.
Every remaining cell member knew they’d seen the last of their leader, but they refused to let his sacrifice be in vain. Using the distraction he had provided, they disappeared in the Hill Provinces. But at this point, the cell split up.
Bok and Cheron, the two pilots, went their own way. Neela and Anara headed into the nearby valleys. Half a day’s hike later, they arrived in a village they would soon learn was called Arami.
Neela was familiar with the area. A local Ranjen Winn Adami had bribed several Cardassians in order to shield them from capture and subsequently saved the regional villages from reprisals. Neela also knew Winn from her speaking tours.
Anara could easily tell that Neela was impressed by, if not enamored with, Ranjen Winn. As Neela stopped to ask the locals of where Winn was, she was horrified to learn that Winn had been detained for the last five years for her tours teaching about the Prophets. It was the closest thing Anara had ever seen as a fit of rage emanating from Neela.
Neela was absolutely crushed by these circumstances. Anara tried to console Neela, but the younger woman merely stoically accepted Anara’s words while they truly had no effect on her. Still, Anara felt responsible to Neela. It was like being an older sister, she supposed.
Anara knew this chain of events was making Neela reel. Neela saw the Prophets as the true gods of Bajor and they were intimately involved in every aspect of life. Anara saw them as an abstract. Maybe they got involved and maybe all they did was send prophecies Bajor’s way to befuddle the populace. Whichever testimony was the truth, it was plain to see the Prophets had abandoned Bajor to the Cardassians and it was up to the people to liberate themselves. Even Kai Opaka acknowledged vestiges of this truth.
Neela drug Anara off to a quiet corner in the village. “Let’s recruit members for a Resistance cell we’ll start ourselves.”
“They probably already have one nearby,” Anara dryly reminded Neela, “and it’s better to join it than start over from nothing.”
Neela looked like she’d never considered that, which was a first because Neela was usually ahead of Anara in these matters. Ranjen Winn’s fate was already proving to be a distraction.
“Look, it’ll work. We’re engineers,” Anara coaxed Neela. “Our skills are in high demand. And you’re an explosives expert on top of it.”
Neela seemed ready to go with it but Anara added icing to the jumja stick. “We also have two fully functional raiders that are in top condition, if I may brag about our skills. And we already have weapons.”
All of which was true…except none of them were in the village. And Neela silently warned Anara of Cardassian troops approaching.
“Hold,” the garresh in charge ordered. “Identification. Now!”
The three gorrs under the garresh fiddled with their weapons. Anara and Neela knew the type. The four-man squad oversaw the small village for a local overseer. As payment, they got to be little tin gods in their own minds.
Neither Anara nor Neela had ID. ID cards had transponders that not only gave off personal information, but they could be tracked by handheld tricorders and even Terok Nor or capital ships in orbit. No one in the Resistance carried them and travel was forbidden without them.
“Is there a problem officer?” Neela asked innocently.
“I haven’t seen you two in this village before,” the garresh needlessly explained. “Travel is restricted without ID. But you knew that already, didn’t you?”
Neela gave Anara an accusing glare. She’d argued with the older woman about leaving their weapons in the woods outside of the village, but Neela decided to play along with that look of exasperation.
“I told you they’d catch us!” Neela protested.
“Well they haven’t until now,” Anara immediately argued.
“Until now?” the garresh grated in disbelief. “How far have you travelled?”
“Well, we left Rakantha Province three months ago,” Neela answered.
“Come with me,” the garresh instructed. “I want the name of every city, town, and village you’ve stopped at along the way.”
Neela smashed the garresh’s nose with the heel of her hand. As the three gorrs came out of their slumber, Anara rushed towards one and tried wresting the disruptor rifle out of one’s hands. Doing so, she kept her foe off balance enough to spoil the aim of the other two.
As one of them grew wiser and swung wide, he was cut down by a Cardassian rifle. Neela had recovered the rifle the garresh had dropped and shot his man with it. As the senior noncom recovered, she shot him too.
Neela discovered she had the same problem as the free gorr. Just as the struggling gorr ruined his aim, Anara being between Neela and all of her targets did the same. Neela fumed as the little viper circled counter to her movements to keep the status quo going. She couldn’t expose Anara to his weapon.
Disruptor fired erupted from behind the cowardly vole and he went down. Another armed Bajoran woman approached and gunned down the remaining gorr. She looked rather impatient.
“Just don’t stand there and wonder, pick up those weapons!” she ordered.
Neela and Anara gathered a bundle of rifles and side arms. Anara thought it best to inform the stranger of their own cache. “We also have weapons stashed outside the village.”
The woman sighed. “We’d best gather them up too.”
“So which cell do you two belong to?” The woman, whose name turned out to be Chaz Arin, asked after they’d trod through the village a second time.
Neela and Anara fell silent and Chaz snorted. “Oh please, people with your skills don’t just drop out of the sky.”
“Sometimes they do,” Neela remarked.
Chaz gave Neela a questioning look. Anara explained the fate of the Sekra cell and the location of their raiders. Chaz went from slightly annoyed by her tagalongs to utterly delighted.
“You’re both engineers?” Chaz couldn’t quite believe it. “We need a pair of engineers. It’s like the Prophets provided you.”
“They did,” Neela said with such conviction Chaz was afraid to dispute her.
“So what are your names?” Chaz wondered.
“I’m Anara and this is Neela,” the older of the two answered.
“No given names?” Chaz wondered.
“We’d prefer to keep them to ourselves,” Neela asserted.
Chaz shrugged. “Suit yourselves.”
Chaz brought the pair to the campground of the Holn Resistance cell. Their leader, Holn Herim, was impressed. “The Sekra cell, eh? I’ve heard of you. You come by Hedrikspool way.”
“We did.” Anara silently wished Neela would keep quiet. “But we actually came to your Province by way of Lunar Base V.”
“You have raiders?” Holn’s jaw almost dropped as he practically began to drool.
“We have two in the vicinity,” Anara assured him. “We need two volunteers to train as pilots and two more people to serve as flight crew.”
“You don’t want to ride along with them?” Holn wondered.
“I prefer maintaining the craft to actually flying in one,” Anara admitted. “Neela’s a hand with explosives so I imagine her spare time will be cannibalized when she’s not assisting me with the fighter craft.”
“Well, your arrival is a gift from the Prophets,” Holn exuded.
Anara shot Neela a dagger-like glare to urge her companion to remain silent. Holn continued, “We’re gearing up for a major offensive. Five years ago, Dukat had every vedek, ranjen, and prylar who openly supported the Resistance rounded up. They’ve been moved on a regular rotation in order to keep anyone from attempting to liberate them. We’ve just discovered that they’re currently held in Rakantha Province.”
“They’re here?” Neela blurted.
Anara barely suppressed a groan. “Neela is specifically concerned over the fate of one Ranjen Winn.”
“Yes, Winn is known to everyone in our province. She used to tour through here quite regularly. She even travelled after the ban was implemented,” Holn shared. “At first, the Cardassians overlooked the offenses. Finally, word came from Terok Nor to take her and every religious figure like her.”
“We have to get her out,” Neela insisted.
“Is this personal for you?” Holn wanted to know.
“Winn saved my family from a Cardassian unit that was going to execute them because the Cardassians wanted our land,” Neela explained. “We were still displaced but we were taken to a monastery and sheltered there. Eventually I left to join the Resistance but my family is still there. My sister has become a prylar and my brother is the groundskeeper.”
Anara realized she’d never know any of that. Of course, every member of the Resistance had a story, but Neela always directed her conversations towards her faith. It had served as a bulwark for many secrets.
“They’re being held in the Garan Detention Center. It’s named after some grand family in Cardassian circles,” Holn snorted. “Of course, they think a name alone will bestow greatness.”
Holn shows them a digital map of the area and points at a specific position. “The camp is located there. The map was made before the Occupation, so the spoonheads have added to the region, but this is the basic topography. Can you get us in?”
The question was directed at Neela. “With the proper materials, I can blows holes into anything.”
“We should be able to cobble together a communications scrambler with some surplus comm badges and a power supply,” Anara suggested.
“We want to move in a week,” Holn admitted. “We’ve been gathering material from a Cardassian munitions depot that we stormed a few days ago. You should be able to find what you need there.”
“I’ll be able to teach your people how to fly the raiders in that time, but they’ll be lousy at it,” Anara warned.
“Just so they stay in the air and can hit a few large targets,” Holn requested.
Anara frowned. “I’d better fly with them just in case.”
“Excellent!” Holn enthused, “We can get this done on time then.”
Anara cast a glance towards Neela. Her partner practically glowed from pure happiness. Anara dourly wished that the Prophets would actually intervene for once.
As the week stretched on, Anara found herself wishing she could beat her head against the ships’ hulls. Then she recanted of that position and wished she could beat her students’ heads off of the hulls. It was bad enough to have to rush like they were, but they couldn’t even fire up the raiders’ systems, much less take off for fear of detection.
In the Holn cell’s camp, Neela was happily foraging for components and whipping up devices that weren’t quite weapons of mass destruction, but they would qualify as weapons of mass disruption. These were chemical bombs and the Cardassians had been notoriously slow about expanding their sensor sweeps to target chemical compounds. As it was, it would require a six person team to plant all the bombs along the perimeter of the facility.
Those bombs would blow the outer walls. Combined with an air strike and a full assault from the ground pounding cell members, the Cardassians would be torn to shreds. In addition, the communications jammer would prevent them from calling for assistance.
Neela would be carrying the final bombs to breach the inner walls of the prison facility. They had no way of knowing who was in what room or cell, so they were taking a risk of harming a prisoner when they blew the wall. Holn could merely pray that the calamitous noise and confusion all around would alert the prisoners to be ready for a break out.
The assault team would break off and lead the surviving Cardassian guards into the nearby forests. The appropriately named Hill Province would provide its own cover as her native sons and daughters disappeared into that same country. Meanwhile, the rescue team would break out the prisoners.
Now it was just a matter of logistics and timing to get the cell into position.
The plan unfolded as envisioned. Before Neela activated the comm scrambler, she summoned Anara’s flight team. Then the scrambler roared into life. Old fashioned radio wavelength transceivers were utilized by the Bajorans after that.
The air strike tore through the front gates and outer courtyard of the detention center. Then the assault teams blew down the vast majority of the remaining outer walls. The fighting was intense but after drawing out the bulk of the guard contingent, the assault team broke away and headed off into the surrounding hill country.
Neela placed the penetration charge on the wall behind where the front gates lay. Blowing the wall, it turned out that she’d penetrated into the prison’s security room. The Cardassian units were further paralyzed as their scant reinforcements were killed in the blast. Afterwards, it was proven that only a half dozen guards remained to resist.
Neela sought out Winn. Finding her, Neela shot the lock and released the woman who now wore vedek robes. Neela expressed joy at this sight.
“Yes child, I was elevated to the rank of vedek shortly before I was arrested,” Winn happily explained. “Now, can you help me find Prylar Serif?”
“Of course.” Neela happily would have obeyed any request Winn made.
Tracking down Serif Haz, who had been liberated by Chaz, Winn had a happy reunion. Neela hated to interrupt but they were on a schedule. “Your Ladyship, we must go. The Cardassian guards will be returning very shortly.”
“What is your plan for our escape, child?” Winn inquired.
“Our plan is for two members of our cell to escort two members of the religious community into the hills and from then evade our pursuers and reunite with our main group,” Chaz interjected.
Winn was amused by Chaz’s irritation. “Shall we carry on then?”
“Follow me, your Ladyship,” Neela insisted. She led the small group consisting of her, Winn, Serif, and Chaz into the woods and started into the hills.
The quartet travelled deeper into the woods as the foothills began to rise. Soon, the sounds of pursuit could be heard. Chaz called a break.
“The Cardassians must have broken off from our main group as planned,” she said specifically to Neela. “I’ll drop back and buy you some time. Make camp at the designated site and I’ll rejoin you there.”
Neela knew from studying Chaz’s eyes that the last was for public consumption. Chaz knew she wouldn’t return, nor would she be captured. Neela handed her a micro charge.
“If the worst should happen,” Neela said to Chaz.
Chaz gave her a curt nod and then backtracked over their trail. Neela pushed the others on. Shortly thereafter the sounds of disruptor fire could be heard lifted into the air. Neela and her duo had long left the sounds of fighting behind when a sharp crack of an explosive could be heard echoing through the hills.
Winn tugged at Neela’s sleeve. “My child, is your companion…?”
“Chaz gave her life so yours could be spared,” Neela said calmly. “A noble sacrifice to be sure.”
“You seem familiar to me, child,” Winn admitted. “Do we know one another?”
“Let’s get to the day’s designated destination and I’ll explain,” Neela offered. “Otherwise, we risk sleeping in open ground. The Cardassians aren’t ones to work through the night unsheltered, especially in these northern climes but they may just be angry enough to make an exception this time.”
“Very well,” a very winded Winn agreed, “Let us press on.”
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