You know the drill - places and characters belong to Paramount. No profit or infringement is intended but I still have to say it, because I have no money and can’t afford to be sued. Pino, Terel, Lora and Jaren belong to me.
This story is based on events that took place in “Necessary Evil,” but is set five years before that episode aired.
For Danielle. Sassy or not, you'll always be my hero. Here's to impossible dreams and retiring before 30 with our millions!
I shifted on the ground, trying to ignored the rocks and sticks poking into me. Already my back was a mess of scratches and bruises, but those were all superficial wounds; there were much deeper hurts which would never heal.
In the distance, I could hear the a steady pounding of something. Miners, I think, working for the Cardassians. The rhythm continued endlessly, haunting me endlessly. Finally, I threw aside my worn brown blanket and got up; sleep, it seemed, would not come tonight.I made my way to the front of the cave, where I found Lupaza and Pino guarding the entrance, their rifles in their laps.
“We haven’t heard,” Lupaza’s face creased with worry. But just as quickly as the anxious expression appeared, it vanished; in times like this, there was little gained in wasting precious energy in worrying. It wasn’t that we lacked heart; on the contrary, we mourned each loss and celebrated each victory equally. But sentiment often can be a weakness that the enemy can exploit and as such, sometimes it is easier not to care than it is to experience the alternate emotion.“The mining operations have been going on all night,” Pino said. “Activity has not stopped for even a second.”
The flatness in her tone was a perfect example of how we viewed the Cardassians’ brutal treatment of Bajorans; we could not allow ourselves to be blinded by their plight. We could do only what we were able to and then move on, without a look back. As I said earlier, sentiment is a terrible weakness and we could not allow anything to affect our work.“We still move at first light,” Lupaza continued. “You and Pino together, Jaren and I. We will meet Terel and Lora there.”
We cleared out of the cave, making sure to obliterate all signs of our presence. I watched Pino carefully remove the ashes from our fires; he would dump them in a nearby stream. In the distance, Jaren continued to scatter leaves, sticks and rocks over the floor to cover up any of our footprints. We could not afford to leave any clues behind; the Cardassians would dearly love to get their hands on any of us.
Terel and Lora had left long before us, while I was still sleeping, in fact. The path to the mining settlement was long and arduous over rocky terrain, and Terel and Lora had gone ahead to mark the way for the rest of us.I slung my pack over my shoulder and helped Pino with his. Lupaza took one look around.
We kept our phasers drawn at all times. Our rifles would be more effective, but it was easier to carry the bulky rifles over our shoulders and hold the smaller phasers in our hands. While we walked, we did not speak, taking care to keep to the underbrush. We found the path Terel and Lora had marked for us easily; they had broken branches off of a certain type of tree, the norka pine. The trail they had chosen led up the south side of the Callista Mountain range - a difficult ascent in the most perfect of circumstances. However, this side was well protected with trees and since it was so difficult to climb, we knew there would be very little chance that the Cardassians would be patrolling this side.
In the late afternoon, we found a place in the shade to rest. We ate our first meal of the day in silence, one hand gripping the phaser at all times. After ten minutes (all the rest we could afford), we began moving again. Soon it would be dark and we had to be in position outside of the mining settlement just after sunset. As with everything, there could be no room for error.
We arrived at the mining settlement with no problems. Immediately, we made for a farm house, which was safe haven for members of the resistance. We could rest there for a while before making our next move.We found Terel and Lora waiting for us and by the expressions on their face, we knew something terrible had happened.
“Were you able to get in the camp?” Lupaza asked Lora. Lora's husband worked in the Callista mining camp, so occasionally she was allowed to go see him. We used her visits to our advantage. So far, the Cardassians had not suspected her other reason for visiting the camp.
“Yes,” Lora nodded. “But only for a few minutes. I did not want to attract suspicion. But the Cardassian guard has doubled, even tripled in some areas. They know we’re coming.”
“What now?” Pino asked, voicing the frustration we were all feeling. This was the second such mission that we had attempted and the second which had been found out. There were other resistance cells which would have been willing to take the risk, but with Shakaar and the others heading towards the capital, we were not willing to chance added attention from the Cardassians. No, this mission would also have to be aborted.“I suspect a collaborator,” Terel said darkly. “There is someone who knows all of our movements and is reporting them to the Cardassian authorities.”
I looked around the circle and suddenly felt fear. Could one of my friends be a collaborator? And suppose whoever it was had alerted the Cardassians about what Shakaar had planned? To blow up Gul Dukat’s home here on the planet would certainly be cause for many executions, regardless of whether the plans were carried out successfully or not.“It isn’t one of us,” Jaren said firmly. “It can’t be. But we have to find out who it is. And I have an idea.”
I had been to Terok Nor two or three times in the past and I never stayed for long. It was the story of my life, I suppose, rushing from place to place in an attempt to stay at least half-a-step in front of the Cardassians. But this time, I had come with Terel and Jaren, looking for the collaborator who we knew was on the station.
Why Terok Nor? I suppose we suspected the station because it was where Gul Dukat was most of the time and whoever was providing the information on resistance activities had to have the Gul’s ear. That didn’t mean that the collaborator was actually on Bajor, spying on us; he only needed to have an extensive network of informants to send him the necessary information on us and any other resistance cell.
After the transport docked, we three separated immediately. I headed straight to the Bajoran side of the station, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. A sign that you were looking for someone was reason enough for the Cardassians to haul you in for questioning. Lupaza had warned me to be as unobtrusive as possible, and I was doing my best to comply with those instructions.
I got some food - or rather, some slop that masqueraded as food - and found a seat at a table in a corner where I could watch those around me. I relished this time alone, mostly because peace and time for oneself was a virtual unknown for those of us in the resistance. We depended so on each other and every moment was fraught with uncertainty and danger; there could be no time for contemplation.“Mind if I join you?”
My thoughts suddenly interrupted, I looked up at my unwelcome guest. He was a Bajoran, about six meters tall, a little round in the stomach, but it was his eyes that fascinated me; dark, glass pools with an expression I could not read. He was holding a mug of something in his hand. I recognized the aroma immediately, but my own expression did not change.“Please,” I indicated the empty chair.
“No, not anymore,” I said. It was the truth, sort of. My father had been killed years ago and on the day he died, I had picked up a phaser rifle for the first time and joined the resistance. My mother had died when I was very young, three or four. The only information I had was that Dukat was somehow responsible for her death and I did not know how I would react if I ever saw the man. As for my brothers, I had lost touch with them long ago and I could not say if they were alive or not. And to be honest, it was better this way, since they would not be able to provide information to the Cardassians about me. Sometimes ignorance is the only option and not being able to see our families was a price we paid in order to fight for our freedom.“Dead?” Vetrik asked. There was compassion in his voice, not something I expected to hear from a man drinking an expensive ginger tea.
My rendezvous with Terel and Jaren was scheduled for 0800 hours the next day. Terel, who knew the layout of the station expertly, had chosen a fairly secluded corridor for our meeting. I was the last to arrive, as I had had breakfast in the Bajoran sector and Vetrik had joined me. After the meal, he had presented me with a packet of ginger tea.“Nerys,” Terel said. “I was afraid something had happened to you.”
Vetrik appointed himself my guide to Terok Nor and I had to pretend absolute ignorance of the station. True, I had only been here a couple times before, but like most resistance members, I knew the blueprints of the station inside out.“Gul Dukat’s office is there,” Vetrik told me, as we strolled along the main through way of the station. “He is a very busy man.”
At that moment, Gul Dukat emerged from his office and I found myself face to face with the man allegedly responsible for the death of my mother. I had to swallow hard to keep the bile from rising in my throat.“Hello, Vetrik,” Dukat said pleasantly. “How is business?”
“There is no question as to his complicity,” I told Terel and Jaren at our meeting. We had chosen a different rendezvous point this morning, so there would be no suspicion. Hidden in the shadows, we talked very quietly, sometimes straining to hear what the other was saying.“You think Vetrik is a collaborator? You are sure?” Jaren asked.
I had a couple run-ins with Vetrik’s wife, but Vetrik told me to ignore her.
“She is jealous, that is all,” Vetrik said. “She has everything a woman could possibly want and she wants all of me too. And I’m afraid, she doesn’t believe me when I say our friendship is completely innocent.”
Innocent would not be the word I would use, as I had my own motives for staying close to Vetrik. However, I just smiled at him.
“You will stop by the shop tonight?” he asked suddenly. “I have something for you.”
“Of course,” I said.
“You know, I hear the Ferengi is hiring again.”
“I will talk to him.”
“Good, because if you don’t find something soon, the Cardassians will send you back to Bajor. You cannot spend too much time here idle or they’ll think you’re here to cause trouble.”
Vetrik eyed me carefully, “Are you here to cause trouble?”
I laughed, “No. And to be honest, Vetrik, it’s just that I’m lazy. Very lazy.”
Vetrik nodded, “I thought that. I could see it. Don’t worry. I will take care of you.”
“I was counting on it.”
The end of the second week was fast approaching and still I had no leads on who might be Vetrik’s accomplices. I would visit his shop often, yet I would see nothing untoward. At face value, I saw that Vetrik was merely a Bajoran who was allowed to operate his own shop at Terok Nor. But as I grew to know him, I knew that his connections to Dukat and others in the Cardassian high command must run deep. Terel cautioned me many a time to be careful and his warnings did not fall on deaf ears. Soon, the three of us agreed that we could not procrastinate much longer.“Tonight, Nerys,” Jaren said quietly. “There will be an explosion in the mining processes. At that time, you must search his shop for some clue. If there is nothing there, then you must search his quarters.”
*****I quickly broke the lock on the shop that night and slid into Vetrik’s place of business as quietly as I could. I could hear the heavy steel boots of the Cardassian guard on the deck and each step matched the pounding rhythm of my heart. I tucked my phaser into my vest and made my way immediately to Vetrik’s desk. I figured I could find relevant information there, but my search revealed only his accounting related to the business. I replaced everything as exactly as I could as not to arose Vetrik’s suspicion. Next, I checked in his supply of chemicals, but could find nothing. Frustration was building and I knew that eventually, I would have to move to his quarters and search there. But it made sense, of course, if Vetrik was a collaborator, he would not leave the incriminating evidence in plain sight.
Nerys!” I hissed to myself. I began tapping the wall paneling, listening for
a hollow ring. At that moment, I heard the doors swish open. I whirled, with
my phaser in my hand. It was Vetrik.
he took a step towards me. “What are you doing here? You don’t need to steal
from me. Whatever you want, I can give it to you.”
I noticed Vetrik’s eyes and knew I could not trust him.
are you looking for?” he continued. “You will not find it in the wall panels,
I assure you.”
will I find it then?" I countered softly.
took another step towards me.
come any closer," I warned him.
just a girl, Maru," Vetrik said. "What are you doing? What do I have that you
know what I want,” I answered softly. Vetrik kept walking toward me and then
he stopped; he had glimpsed the
phaser in my hand.
aren’t here looking for work,” he realized.
are with the resistance.”
took a step backwards. I raised the phaser and fired. Vetrik fell heavily to
the ground. I ran over to him, knowing already that he was dead. I dragged his
body into the shadows, where the Cardassians would not see it easily.
am sorry,” I told him. “But it’s for the cause, understand that.”
I pocketed the weapon and slipped out of the shop.
The Ferengi was called Quark and he eyed me with interest as I plunked down
“I need an alibi,” I told him. “I hear you sell those.”
“By the dozen,” he leaned forward and I was immediately repulsed by his breath.
But I tried to control myself, so that he would not be offended.
business is always a pleasure,” the Ferengi answered.
I left, I noted the Ferengi’s lack of curiosity and figured that he must get
requests like this quite often.
“Vetrik is dead,” I told Jaren and Terel. “I think you should leave immediately.”
“What about you?” Jaren asked.
“I will follow in a day or two. I want to see if I can’t find out more about who his informants might have been,” I answered.
Jaren and Terel nodded. Their mission had gone off well, and the explosion would incapacitate Cardassian mining operations for at least a month. I knew the Cardassians would start hunting immediately for those responsible and it was for the best that Jaren and Terel leave before they aroused any suspicion. We parted there, not wanting to risk being seen together. I returned to the Bajoran sector, hoping to lose myself there in the throngs of people.
I should have guessed that my troubles would not end so easily, as Vetrik’s
wife immediately pointed her finger at me and the shapeshifter hired by Dukat
to search for the truth behind Vetrik’s death joined me at my table.
“Constable,” I said with a sneer.
His name was Odo and he insisted that he was a neutral observer of events, dedicated to only finding the truth.
“What was your relationship with the dead man?” the shapeshifter asked. “Were you lovers?”
“We were not lovers,” I told him. “He had ginger tea, that’s all. We talked. We were friends.”
“What were you doing on the station?”
“I work in the mines.”
“That’s a lie,” Odo picked up one of my hands. “Your palms are smooth.”
I shrugged, withdrawing my hands.
“So you work for them?” I asked quietly.
“I told you, I only want the truth.”
I leaned forward and said softly, “You will have to choose, Constable. You will have to choose sides one of these days and then what are you going to do?”
I got up and left him, feeling his eyes boring into my back. I resisted the impulse to look back.
My encounters with the shapeshifter did not end there. He had questions for me, since he had somehow discovered that my alibi, as provided by Quark, was utterly false.“If you want to know, I am with the resistance,” I said wearily. “And if you check the logs, you’ll see that there was an explosion in the mining processes that night when the murder occurred.”
“Is this the girl?” Dukat asked fiercely. Dukat’s interest in the murder of
Vetrik only strengthened my belief that
Vetrik had been a direct source for all information about resistance activities. Odo eyed me and then Dukat; my eyes dared him to turn me in.
We scaled the Callista Mountains again two weeks later. The trek wreaked havoc on my knees and I felt suddenly very tired. I thought of Vetrik, thinking of how I had just stood there and killed him. I have killed many times before, but never have I stared into the eyes of one of my victims. Never have I spoken to them so coolly before pulling the trigger. I think those moments in Vetrik’s shop will haunt me always.We descended the opposing slope of Callista and once again took refuge at the same farmhouse. Terel and Lora reported that the guard had decreased at Sukra Point and we would be able to make our move as planned.
I think about Vetrik often and I wondered why he did it. Did it really mean so much to him to have his own shop, private quarters, ginger tea and other luxuries? Was it so important that he turned his back on his own people? It’s not a question I can ever answer and I wrestle with it often. Sometimes, when a mission goes awry because someone has warned the Cardassians before we get there, I think of Vetrik and his extensive information network.There will always be traitors to any cause, I suppose, and they must have their reasons; reasons, which I never will or can comprehend.
My own guilt over Vetrik’s death has not diminished over the years. I did not want to kill him because he was a Bajoran. Of course he was a Bajoran who had betrayed his planet and when I turn the events of those two weeks over in my mind, I know that when I fired that phaser, I did it for Bajor.And Bajor is and always will be the only justification I need.
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