"Sensors are picking up a small vessel," Nog reported to the captain.
"Is it Bajoran?" Sisko asked.
"Yes," Nog confirmed. "It is a late Durna model."
Sisko raised an eyebrow, "Didn't realize there were any of those in this section."
"Durnas were cheap," Kira offered. "Comparatively. And because of their size, it was easier to dodge Cardassians in them. Look at them. They may be old, but they are still sleek ships."
"Obviously you have first-hand experience with a Durna," Sisko said, offering the Colonel his first smile of the tense journey.
"My first ship was a Durna," Kira said. Her face clouded over as she remembered that mission; her best friend had perished when a plasma leak had exploded in engineering. Kira had been lucky to escape with her life. "It was a good ship, but unfortunately, its time has come and gone. It's no match for the Defiant and they must know it."
"Even if they do, they probably don't care," Sisko said, his gaze still riveted on the viewscreen.
Kira opened her mouth as if to speak, but then shook her head. O'Brien twisted around to look at his friend, but she just looked past him at the Durna, as if she could already see its fate in her mind.
"Hail the ship, Commander," Sisko said to Worf. Worf nodded.
"Hailing frequencies open, sir," Worf announced.
"This is Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine," Sisko stood up. "Bajoran vessel, please identify yourself."
There was a crackle of static and then a face filled the view-screen. Kira blinked; it was her late night visitor, Yaroc.
"Hello, Yaroc," Kira said and the she turned a guilt-ridden expression towards Sisko. He waved his hand at her, a gesture indicating that she should proceed. Kira felt a surge of gratitude towards her commanding officer; she truly appreciated his flexibility and his acknowledgement of her skills.
"Colonel, so we meet again," Yaroc said.
"I should have known Riata would tell you where we were going. She was always soft, our weakest link."
"You can't outrun the Defiant in a Durna. You must know that."
"Don't be so sure, Colonel."
With that the viewscreen went black. Kira scowled and turned back to Sisko. He shrugged at her as if to say, "You tried."
"Captain!" Worf turned around. "The Bajoran ship has jumped to warp seven."
"Ensign," Sisko took a big stride over to Nog. "Match speed and course heading. Now!"
The Defiant lurched and then smoothly slipped into warp seven. The engines hummed gently, the deck vibrating below their feet.
The Durna class vessel was still ahead, but the Defiant increased speed until it was within three hundred kilometers of the ship.
"Fire a warning torpedo," Sisko said to Worf.
"Sir," Worf responded. "I..."
O'Brien stood up, "With all due respect, Captain, our children are on that ship."
"I'm aware of that, Chief," Sisko said. "I did not ask that you hit the vessel, I asked you to fire a warning torpedo."
Worf took a deep breath, "Plotting a trajectory now."
"On my mark," Sisko's eyes never left the viewscreen. "Now!"
The torpedo headed straight for the ship but in the last few seconds, it veered off course, exploding just off of the port side of the other ship. The Bajoran vessel rocked in space for a moment from the explosion, before it resumed its initial speed and heading.
"Doctor," Sisko turned to Bashir. "Scan for life signs. I don't want to pursue this anymore than I have to. I don't want any casualties."
Bashir nodded. He tapped a few buttons and then he turned to face Sisko.
"I'm picking up one human child and one Klingon child and three Bajorans."
Relief was etched on the faces of Worf and Chief O'Brien.
"When we get in range, Chief, beam them directly to sickbay," Sisko ordered. "Ensign, increase speed. Go to warp seven point four."
The Durna increased its speed also, but Kira could see that the White Rose's ship would not be able to tolerate such speeds for much longer.
"Captain, it's breaking apart!" Worf exclaimed.
"Are we in range?" Sisko demanded.
"Not yet, sir!" Nog replied. "Increase to warp seven point six, sir?"
"Structural integrity on the Bajoran ship is failing," Worf announced. "They are trying to match our speed."
"A Durna class ship only has warp eight capabilities," Kira said to Sisko. "Back during the Cardassian occupation, that was good enough. Now? There is no way they will out-run us. They will break apart first."
"Do you think they will slow down?"
Kira shook her head, "No, they would rather be martyrs than anything else. It's more honorable than surrender."
"Ensign, are we in range yet?" Sisko asked sharply.
"In range in thirty-two seconds, sir."
"They lost one of their port nacelles, sir," O'Brien reported. Sure enough, there was a bright light of an explosion emitting from the other ship.
"Life support is going down!" Bashir exclaimed.
"Ensign…" Sisko stood next to the ensign, his hand gripping the Ferengi's shoulder.
"Now!" Nog shouted.
"I've got them!" O'Brien cried out as Bashir scrambled to his feet and headed for the infirmary.
"We're being hailed," Worf announced. Kira raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"Yaroc," she said.
"You have the children," Yaroc said softly. "But you cannot stop our efforts."
"We understand your concerns," Sisko said. "But we must do what is best for Bajor and the Federation."
'It is not about Bajor, it is only about your beloved Federation!" Yaroc nearly spat out the words. In the background, the Defiant's officers could hear small explosions. Sisko turned to O'Brien.
"Beam them over," Sisko said softly.
O'Brien nodded and a second later, a trio of Bajorans shimmered into being on the bridge of the Defiant. Thirty seconds later, the Durna ship exploded.
Dax was in her quarters when she heard the explosion. She nearly jumped out of her skin as her ears rang with the sound. In the next room, she could hear Madison wailing in fright. Dax ran into the bedroom and scooped up the crying baby.
"Shh, Maddy," she whispered into the baby's ear. "It's okay, sweetie, it's okay. It's nothing, don't worry. It's nothing."
As soon as Madison stopped crying, Dax called Odo.
"I've got security down there now," Odo said. "The explosion occurred just two doors down from you."
Dax's eyes widened as she stepped outside of her quarters, still carrying Madison. Even the baby's face held a perplexed expression as her large gray eyes took in the activity around her.
"Commander," one of the security men nodded at her. Dax took one look at the disfigured metal walls, the burned out wires and she wrinkled her nose at the acrid smoke which was rapidly filling the corridor. She turned slightly, so that Madison would not be exposed to the still smoldering wires.
"What happened here?" Dax demanded.
"It was very sudden, sir," the young ensign said. "Out of nowhere. An explosion. No one saw anything."
"I guessed that," Dax said with a wry grin. "These are guest quarters. Was anyone hurt?"
"No, thankfully the rooms were empty. The Kai was supposed to be staying here, but he changed his plans at the last minute."
Realization dawned on Dax and suddenly, it all made sense to her. She glanced down at Madison who was now sucking on her knuckles contentedly.
"Come on, Maddy," she said. "This is your lucky day. We're visiting Ops."
Back on the Defiant, Sisko eyed the trio standing in front of them, trying not to their looks of defiance too personally. Kira stood next to him, her hands on her hips.
"We would not have hurt the children," Arel said.
"I'm not so sure of that. You would have done whatever you could to make sure that this treaty failed and I don't think you cared about what happened to these children. Your actions have proved that," Sisko said smoothly.
Kira nodded, the anger apparent in her eyes. She had been dismayed when she had visited the children in sickbay and seen how ill Yoshi had become from the transporting. Bashir had been optimistic, saying that he didn't think Yoshi would have any lingering effects, but that it would take several weeks for the little boy to recover from his ordeal. As for Daria, she had withdrawn into silence and even Worf could not coax a word out of his little girl.
"We always knew that the Federation would act if there were children involved," Alysia said. "Especially if they were Starfleet children."
"So you took two innocent children," Sisko said. "Two children who have no idea that there is even a war going on. How could you?"
"We had to get the Federation's attention. You have been ignoring us for years. Giving the Derenda cluster to the Cardassians was the last straw," Arel continued. Yaroc and Alysia nodded.
Kira took a step forward, "But don't you understand that peace with the Cardassians is in the best interests of the Bajoran people? Aren't you tired of fighting?"
Arel shook his head, "You've spent too long with these people, Colonel. Where does your allegiance lie? More importantly, where is your heart?"
"With Bajor, of course," Kira said indignantly. "Like you, I was not fond of the Federation. You can ask Captain Sisko; I resented Starfleet presence here at first. But I've changed and you will too. You will soon understand that the Federation only means well for Bajor."
"Perhaps in your view, Colonel," Alysia said gently. "But to us, the rule of the Federation is just as oppressive as that of the Cardassians. It's all the same, Colonel. You just don't see it the same way."
"No, I don't," Kira said. She looked at Sisko, her large brown eyes begging him for help.
"Your Kai has asked that you stop this madness," Sisko said. "Doesn't his word mean anything to you?"
"The Kai does not speak for the Bajoran people," Yaroc declared arrogantly. "He is speaking words fed to him by the traitorous Federation. No, Kai Arin is not one with Bajor and soon, we shall lead him to see the error of his ways."
"This doesn't end here," Sisko said slowly. "Does it?"
Yaroc's eyes met Sisko's.
"You are an astute man, Captain," Yaroc said quietly. "Just because you have captured the us does not mean we will give up the fight. We are everywhere and we are everyone. Bajor needs us and we will not give up. You have slowed us, true, but you have not stopped us. You still have not captured our leaders and even if you did, you would not stop us. Our determination is too great to stop now."
Sisko looked at Kira. She shrugged, but there was something she wanted to say and Sisko took a step back,
almost as if to say, go ahead.
"Have you planned something?" she demanded of Arel. He merely smiled at her and Kira knew, absolutely knew, the answer to her question. She turned to Sisko.
"The Kai," she whispered. "The Feast of Repentance..."
"What have you planned?" Sisko demanded of the terrorists. But they did not answer and Arel only offered up a cryptic grin - one that sent shivers down Sisko's spine.
"Colonel, hail Deep Space Nine," he ordered. "I want to know what's going on there."
"Aye, sir," Kira spun on her heel and left the room.
Odo turned just as Dax came out of the turbolift.
"I just received a message from Kira," Odo said. "She says the children have been rescued."
Instant relief flooded into Dax's eyes. She clutched her baby closer.
"Did you hear that, Maddy? Daru is coming home," she whispered. "Daru is coming home."
Odo watched Dax for a moment, before interrupting her.
"There's more," Odo said. "Apparently, the White Rose has been planning for some time to assassinate the Kai for his support of the Federation's treaty with Cardassia."
"So they were monitoring his intended quarters," Dax said slowly. "That would explain all those transports into the Habitat Ring."
Odo nodded grimly, "I checked in with the Kai's secretary today. He had had every intention of being here for the Feast of Repentance, but at the last minute, some issues came up arose in the Vedek Assembly, and he was forced to stay to moderate the discussion."
"We still don't know who was behind the actual assassination plot, do we?" Dax asked.
Odo shook his head, "It wasn't these three for sure. They apparently acted on their own to kidnap the children. There was no real plan in place. I believe the woman, Alysia, stumbled upon Yoshi and Daria and made a split second decision. I don't believe the two events were related and it doesn't seem that these three even know themselves who was responsible for carrying out the assassination. I doubt we'll ever know."
"Comforting thought," Dax said, her hand stroking the baby's back gently. "When will they be back?"
"In a few hours," Odo said. "And I hope to have some answers by then."
Keiko O'Brien met Dax and Odo at the airlock. Molly had come with her mother also, anxious to see her brother after nearly a week's separation. Dax could tell that Keiko was ecstatic, though some of her joy was obviously tempered by the news that Yoshi was still suffering from transporter sickness. Dax didn't say much, but she was perturbed as Worf's last message said that Daria still refused to talk, although she had been cuddling with him at night, unwilling to let go of him.
It would take, Dax thought, considerable time for Yoshi and Daria to recover from their abduction. She could only hope that they had been well-treated by their captors.
The Defiant docked with a resounding thud and the clamps roared into place. Dax had forgotten how loud a docking ship actually was.
It seemed like an eternity before Sisko and the others emerged. Bashir and O'Brien came together, with the Chief carrying Yoshi. Keiko rushed forward to take Yoshi in her arms, tears in her eyes.
"Hi," Keiko said softly. "Hi, Yoshi. Welcome home, sweetie. Welcome home. We've missed you so much."
The little boy nodded sleepily, resting his head on his mother's shoulder, his little arms wrapped around her neck.
"You will come tomorrow?" Bashir asked O'Brien. "I want to start Yoshi's treatment immediately."
"First thing in the morning," O'Brien promised. "Keiko and I will bring him."
"Good," Bashir said. The O'Briens left. Sisko smiled at Dax.
"Have you been keeping the station safe for me, Old Man?" he asked.
"Mostly," she smiled back. "Benjamin, thank you for bringing Daria home. I can never thank you enough."
"There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you, Old Man," Sisko said, a trace of irony in his voice. "Or, for that matter, anyone on my crew. And I wanted Yoshi and Daria home, just was much as you did."
"Speaking of which," Odo cleared his throat. "There is a subspace message from Admiral Ross. He wants to
talk to you as soon as possible."
"I can imagine," Sisko said. "Constable, Kira has three, um, visitors who will be spending some time here on the station. Please, show them our deluxe accommodations."
"I'm sure they will find the brig very comfortable," Odo said with a knowing grin. By now, Madison was growing impatient in her mother's arms. Dax knew that the child, at just nine months, could have no idea of what had happened in the past week, but Maddy was astute enough to feel her mother's anticipation.
"It's all right, sweetheart," Dax assured the baby. "We're going to go on board and see if we can't find your father and sister."
She followed Odo onto the ship and located Worf sitting on the bridge, Daria on his lap. Worf's face immediately brightened when he saw Dax.
"Jadzia," he said.
"Hi," she leaned over to give him a kiss and she knelt in front of him. "Daria, welcome home. How are you, sweetie?"
Daria stared at her mother blankly and Jadzia looked up at Worf in dismay. He shrugged.
"She has been like this since we rescued them," he told her. Dax handed the baby over to Worf and then crouched down next to Daria, wrapping her arms around the child.
"I missed you, Daru," Dax whispered. "I missed you so much and I'm so glad you're home now. I'm so glad."
There were footsteps on the bridge; Dax looked up. It was Odo, leading three Bajorans out. A security guard followed them. Immediately, Daria started to scream. Her yells echoed through the ship. Odo stopped, almost in surprise. Dax immediately grabbed Daria and picked her up.
"It's them. She's scared of them," she said to Worf. "Odo, get them away from us. Get them away!"
Daria's screams subsided once the trio of prisoners was gone and Dax patted Daria on the back.
"It's okay, sweetheart, it's all right," Dax said. "They won't hurt you. Your daddy and I will make sure of it. We promise, right Worf?"
"We promise," Worf said, his lips skimming Daria's forehead lightly. He stood up then as Kira emerged onto the bridge.
"Well, hello there," Kira said. She smiled broadly and held her arms out for Madison. Dax immediately handed the baby over. "Is it my imagination or is she bigger since I last saw her?"
"She gained half a kilo while you were gone," Dax answered, her eyes still fixed on Daria. Daria was shaking, her mouth open in a silent scream. Her little fingers were gripping Dax's shirt tightly, her eyes wide with fright.
"Nerys," Dax said slowly. "Nerys, I hate to do this..."
"No," Kira shook her head. "I understand. I'll leave, but if you don't mind, I'm going to take Madison with me," Kira said. "Is that all right?"
"No problem," Worf rumbled in his low voice. Kira took Madison and left the bridge. Dax grabbed Daria in her arms, hugging the child who was now sobbing in her arms.
Worf looked at his wife and daughter.
"What should we do?" he asked helplessly.
Dax closed her eyes and shook her head. For once, her seven lifetimes of experience left her at a complete loss.
Sisko was not looking forward to his conversation with Admiral Ross. He and Ross had clashed many times, mostly over Sisko's connection to the Prophets. Ross did not hold a lot of respect for Bajor's Gods nor did he appreciate Sisko's acknowledged position as the Emissary.
Still, they were friends in a grudging way and each respected the other. Of course, Sisko would never admit that to Ross nor would he expect a reciprocal gesture from Ross.
"I had to fight for you, Ben," Ross said.
Even over the distance between them, Benjamin Sisko could see the tension and stress in Ross's face. Those same emotions were echoed in Ross' voice.
"I am sorry," Sisko spread his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "But I had to do what I had to do."
"You understand that Admiral Fleming wanted to dismiss you from your post. Dishonorable discharge, of course."
"I assumed she would make a move of that sort."
"Ben, I talked her out of it. I convinced her that your position as commander of Deep Space Nine and more importantly, your connection to the Bajoran people makes you extremely valuable to Starfleet."
"I'm glad you appreciate my actions."
"I didn't say that, Ben. I don't believe in disobedience. We cannot have that in Starfleet, not in times like this. Our peace with the Dominion is still tenuous and I refused to allow anything to jeopardize it. I understand when the children are at stake, you must take action. But Ben, you cannot ignore direct orders. Next time, I may not be able to save you."
"And one more thing, Ben. The three members of the White Rose you captured, well, that was good work. We appreciate that."
"You can thank my first officer for the tip that led us to the White Rose."
"I will do that. Personally. I'm planning a trip to DS9 next month."
"I look forward to seeing you then."
"Any word on who was behind the Kai's assassination?"
"No, just that it was engineered by the White Rose," Sisko shook his head. "The transports stopped immediately after the aborted attempt. We will continue to monitor it closely and two of my officers are working on a tracking device, but it is slow work."
"I understand. Good luck, Ben, I'll see you next month. Ross out."
Sisko leaned back in his chair, pressing the tips of his fingers together. He knew that he would have to avoid
Admiral Fleming for the next few months, but capturing three members of the White Rose was quite a coup. He could at least offer that to Starfleet if ever this incident was mentioned again.
In the meantime, he knew that he had not heard the last from the White Rose.
Kira hit the ball with a resounding smack and she leaped up in joy when she saw the score.
"I beat Dae Win!" she exclaimed as the holographic character blinked out of existence. Odo nodded, applauding her win. She ran over to him and hugged him. Odo smiled a rare smile.
"Are you happy?" he asked.
"Yes, of course," she said as they exited the holosuite. "I've been trying to beat Dae Win for months now. I finally did."
They linked hands as they walked out of Quark's. As Kira looked around the Promenade at the sea of Bajoran faces, she felt a sudden fear run down her spine.
"Do you suppose one of these people belongs to the White Rose? Do you suppose one of them ordered the assassination?"
Odo looked around solemnly, "I don't know, but it's very possible."
It was a thought that frightened Kira immensely.
Sisko met Kira and Kai Winn in his office. The Kai looked at ease, as if there had never been an attempt on his life.
"The Feast of Repentance will be held as planned," the Kai said. "The Bajoran people have waited seventy-five years for this event. I will not allow terrorists to derail this holy occasion."
Kira's expression turned from one of concern to one of relief.
"And the trial?" she asked. "How will that work?"
The Kai held up a hand, "I have faith in the Bajoran justice system."
"There won't be a backlash?" Kira asked anxiously. "I don't know how much support the White Rose has on Bajor."
"It does not matter," the Kai declared firmly. "They went against our way of life by kidnapping those children."
"Not to mention the attempt on your life."
"My life is of no consequence. Only one thing matters and that is what is best for Bajor," the Kai said quietly.
"My child, you need not worry about the trial. It will be fair in all aspects."
"That is a relief," Kira said. "Without you, there is no way we could get this treaty approved."
"I will not withdraw my support."
"I'm glad we can continue to rely on you," Sisko commented.
"I will always support a movement towards peace," the Kai replied. "It is the only way."
At that moment the door chimed. Sisko frowned; he had specifically asked not to be disturbed while he was meeting with the Kai.
"Come," he said.
Dax entered holding a PADD in her hand.
"I'm sorry, sir, but this isn't good," she said, handing the PADD to the Captain. "It seems rather urgent, in fact."
Sisko pressed a button and reviewed the message.
"No," he shook his head.
"What is it?" Kira asked.
"This is not good," Sisko said. He started to pace the length of the room. Three pairs of eyes watched him anxiously. Kira's face grew increasingly pale. She grabbed the back of the chair, clenching her fingers on the rim of the seat.
"Jadzia?" she said hollowly. "Jadzia, what is it?"
"The White Rose has launched an attack on the border colonies," Dax said quietly.
"What?" Kira shrieked. In her fury, she nearly knocked over the chair. Dax placed a hand on Kira's forearm in a comforting gesture. "This is crazy! What fools are we dealing with? Do they not think?"
"Nerys," Dax said, aware that the Kai was staring at Kira with an odd expression. Kira paused and took a deep breath.
"Captain, I am sorry," she said slowly. "I just can't believe..."
Sisko held up a hand and Kira fell silent. She folded her hands across her chest and looked over at Jadzia and
the Kai, who were both looking at her with concerned expressions. Kira shrugged off their questioning glances; they could not understand. After all that she had worked for in the past, how could Dax or Sisko or even this new, peace-loving Kai understand how terrible this new development truly was?
"Thirty Cardassians are dead," Sisko continued, not looking at any of them. "Including women and children."
"Oh no!" Kira exclaimed, unable to restrain herself any further. She slammed her fist into the heel of her hand.
"The Cardassians have broken off negotiations," Sisko read off the PADD, "until this situation is resolved."
"What does that mean?" the Kai asked, bewildered.
"It means we've lost," Kira said. She took a step towards Sisko. "After everything we've done, everything we've
fought for, it means nothing. What the Captain is holding in his hands... what he has there, well, it means we've ended up back where we started when the Federation first arrived here ten years ago. It means that the White Rose has destroyed our chances for peace."
"What do we do now?" Dax queried. Sisko laid the PADD onto the table, glaring at it.
"I'm open to ideas," Sisko said honestly as he looked at his first officer and his best friend.
Kira shrugged and Dax shook her head. The Kai placed his hand on the captain's shoulder.
"I know you will do what is best," he said softly. "You are the Emissary."
~ To Be Continued… ~
December 9, 1998 - July 8, 1999
What? You're still with me? Well, since you're still here, do read on a bit
I know there are a few loose ends in this story… but it was definitely written with a sequel in mind. Part of the reason is because once I started writing about the White Rose, I was intrigued by the possibility of a Bajoran terrorist organization going to any lengths to prevent another occupation - whether "friendly" or otherwise. Basically, I got really excited about writing fanfic again, so I've decided that the series will continue, with a strong focus on the White Rose.
So, in all due time,
everything will be explained - including a return of some briefly mentioned
characters in this story - mainly Ro and Jacko. So, I hope you enjoyed this
part and please come back and read the next two stories in this series: "After
All These Years" and "Demons." -- seema:-)
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