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Hit & Run Tactics by Travis Anderson

The tales from the Maquis

Lieutenant Ro Laren, of the Bajoran Militia, decided she liked the (former) USS Asimov after all. The formerly decommissioned Starfleet science vessel had been re-registered to Bajor's shipping bureaus and upgraded and re-armed by the Iotians of all peoples. The Iotian Federation was one big, happy Mafia forcing less advanced planets into their Federation through a blatant protection racket. Dr. Leonard McCoy's lost communicator had served the Iotians well, allowing them to access the public Federation Databases after its processors and transceiver had been adapted and boosted so that the Iotians could reach nearby Federation subspace comm buoys.

The United Federation of Planets facilitators that came to collect the Federation's "Piece of the Action" watched in horrified admiration as the Iotians advanced from the an analogue of Earth's early 20th century to a robust mid-23rd century UFP equivalent. The Federation Council was simply horrified as long delayed reports of the worst cultural contamination of a less advanced pre-warp culture had occurred under the noses of the very facilitators and advisors sent to prevent such an occurrence. The Iotians built a Phoenix-type analogue within fifteen years of the USS Enterprise's departure. A Warp 5 capable NX-class followed ten year later. By the time Starfleet became involved again to jam the Database signals from reaching Sigma Iotia II, it was far, far too late.

The Iotians had prioritized construction and gone straight to the workhorses of the UFP Starfleet's stable of starships. So the Iotians were flitting about in mid-23rd century analogues, terrorizing their nearest neighbors, and press ganging everyone into paying them. They'd even developed their own "refit" model starships along the purloined lines of the Constitution- and Miranda-classes, the development stage of Excelsior- and Constellation-classes. The Bajoran government had struck deals for hull constructions which Ro was unaware and would remain blissfully ignorant of until those ships departed Iotian space for Bajor a year later.

Which give the Bajoran Colonial Defense Forces a rapid reaction squadron to defend Bajor's interstellar interests. As well as massively upgrading the Bajoran system's defensive capabilities. Giving the Militia the same strength Starfleet gave many far flung colonies by giving them decommissioned starships. most Federation star systems boasted at least one outmoded starship for customs duties as well short term defense. But Federation systems generally only received frigates or lesser classes.

Bajor went an alternate route with frigates, cruisers, and heavy cruisers all ordered and paid for through gold pressed latinum earned through secretive weapons sales to less advanced or embargoed planets. Including providing the Iotians with modern small arms and heavy ordnance including photon torpedoes and polaron phaser emitters and modernized sensor pallets and upgraded computer cores and shield emitters along with the prerequisite warp core designs to support them. It would take the Iotians a deal of time to reverse-engineer the equipment but they'd manage it just as they always did.

Major Anara of the Bajoran Special Forces along with Neela, a civilian representative of the Kai, reported that the Iotians had even built J- and K-class starbases in their home system and beyond. And the Iotians had acquired the franchise rights to "guard" several decommissioned starships depots where they really examined and pilfered technology they didn't already have. Here they were ignored by the Federation Starfleet and covertly monitored by the shadowy Section 31.

It was S31 that had garnered the Iotians the franchises in the first place. Unfortunately for the Iotian Starfleet, the original Starfleet had already recommissioned most of their 24th century model starships to prosecute the war against the Dominion and its allies. Which had brought Ro and Starfleet Intelligence Commander Brin Macen back to the former Demilitarized Zone established prior to the war between thte Federation and the Cardassian Union. For the ex-Maquis, it was going "home" again.

Except for the "volunteer" Angosian Augment commandos aboard the Newton- class vessel Ro commanded and the Blackbird-class scoutship Macen had commanded throughout the Maquis conflict, all of the crews were former Maquis as well. Despite the Asimov being a later Starfleet Fleet Yard production than the Odyssey, the scout was more capable and even greatly feared starship by the Cardassians. The class model had proven themselves against the Cardassian Guard time and again throughout the sporadic Border Wars. A fifty year conflict Macen had been in the front lines off during most of its duration.

Being the only El-Aurian to join Starfleet, Macen was young enough to easily weight out the decades while barely seeming to age. After the DMZ was established by treaty and the Maquis formed under Cal Hudson's guidance, Macen took on the guise of an "information broker" and utilized the Odyssey to further Ro's efforts to eradicate the Cardassian presence within the DMZ. His official orders from Starfleet Vice Admiral Nechayev, and his personal privilege, was to assist Ro in any means necessary and to vault her into the role of Maquis Commander should the former Commander Hudson fall.

But when Hudson died, Ro had no ambitions on replacing him. Preferring to protect the lives already entrusted to her. Nechayev was irate and summoned Macen out of the field. he'd simply refused to comply. Meanwhile, the Starfleet Chief of Security at Deep Space Nine, one Lt. Commander Michael Eddington, fostered delusions of grandeur and took on the position of Maquis Commander.

Macen's handler, one retired Admiral and former Deputy Director of Analysis at Starfleet Intelligence, had created a clearing house to consign real shipments to Maquis vessels to justify their approaches to their intended targets. Upon his assassination by a Section 31 agent, John Browder, Lt. Commander Kristina Liu assumed control of the agency and kept the latinum flowing to the Maquis as well as their forged credentials. Situated on DS9 itself, the Architect, one former Lt. Commander Svetlana Korepanova and her all female staff, ran the operations planning for the Maquis.

Sveta had also been personally responsible for recruiting Chakotay. The Bajoran Joint Chiefs had persuaded Starfleet to release Korepanova and clear Liu into working together on DS9 again to coordinate Ro and Macen's action on Bajor's behalf. So far that had consisted, strangely enough, of anti-piracy missions on the Dominion's behalf but also sabotage and destruction of Dominion logistical support trains providing for the seemingly endless onslaught.

The Vorta tasked with securing the former DMZ areas was none other than Kilana, who actually earnestly believed Macen and Ro were double agents in her employ. She'd personally cleared them for operations throughout the DMZ regional ribbon, as well as the adjacent Almatha and Dorvan Sectors. Since the decommissioned yet active starships were registered as Bajoran scouts, they easily transited Federation space and Kilana's clearance gave them limited access to the Dominion space, as much as the Cardassians hated referring to it as such. The rugged Blackbird-class was built for penetration of far flung sectors. The Newton-class' sensor capabilities exceeded the previously prevalent Oberth-class' capabilities.

Both had been built at the turn of the 24th century so were considered obsolete even by the wartime demands met by Starfleet. Yet the all purpose and constantly refitted Excelsior- and Miranda-classes still served in active combat roles. Even some of the venerable Oberth-class science vessels supported modern Nova-class long range sensor scans.

The extermination of all humanoid life on Dorvan V had shocked and horrified the Maquis discoverers. But as it turned out, the biogenic weapon that the Dominion had developed, also eradicated all Jem'Hadar shock troops and Vorta handlers as well their Cardassian and Breen allies. Even the Breen and Cardassian subject races were being employed as front line cannon fodder. The Breen Confederacy supporting the Dominion had been as decisive a setback as the Romulan Star Empire allying itself with their long-time rivals, the Federation and Klingon Empire. But the Dominion seemed to overplayed its hand when they attacked the First Federation and the Talarians who both mounted stiff resistances that stymied the Dominion's formerly relentless advances.

The true hilarity commenced when Kilana assigned the Maquis to finding and neutralizing the force hindering the logistical support the front line forces desperately needed. The Andergani easily took the fall and the expected beating for it. The Andergani Oligarchy, like the Orion Syndicate, had made piracy a cultural phenomena. The Pakleds, Lurians, and the Gatherers could only dream of competing.

Both Maquis captains manned shipboard stations. Ro manned her CONN and Macen operated the OPS platform aboard his ship. Ro had Elfi Hendryks, a long appreciated savant at managing sensors and shipboard systems. The leader of the Starfleet Angosian Corps, Lieutenant Rab Daggit, had the honors of operating the Weapons station. A rotating band of commandos assisted Ro's Bolian Chief Engineer, Emjon Thool, himself a former Starfleet enlisted engineer, in the drive section as well as the bridge Communications station.

Aboard Macen's ship, most of his Maquis crew had returned just as they'd stolen the impounded scoutship to return her to action. The sixteen-year old Tracy Ebert manned the CONN. The transfemale, Christine Lacey, held dominance over the Weapons station. The engineering marvels were Tom Eckles and Heidi Darcy. Angosians filled in where they could, overseen by Master Command Chief Varglas. Missing were the Vulcan/Romulan OPS maestro, T'Kir, and Macen's former second-in-command, the Joined Trill, Starfleet Lt. Commander Lisea Danan.

The science vessel had been designed to host a crew of sixty-four officers and enlisted. The scoutship had been meant for twenty-two crewmen. Ro had eleven and Macen had thirteen including themselves so everyone got private accommodations.

Safely away from the Dominion, Ro and Macen joined one another in his bridge-side briefing room to receive new instructions from Korepanova and Liu.

"The Dominion has reestablished three new supply chains and depots spread across the DMZ," Korepanova opened the brief, "Two are still under construction but the third is reinforced."

"You have targeting instructions for the former and a scouting mission regarding the latter," Liu shared.

"Your Angosians will earn their pay this week," Korepanova warned. Despite officially being Starfleet agents, the Angosians were paid in Bajoran leks by the Militia. As well as the original Cardassian version and gold pressed latinum by Kilana. Ro and Macen also collected funds from information sales conducted with non-Federation planets in keeping with Macen's well established cover as a freelance spy and Ro as his partner in crime. This news also reached Kilana and reinforced her unswerving conviction that Ro and Macen literally had turned against the Federation even if they ostensibly served Bajoran interests now. Interests that Kai Winn Adami seemed to prefer the Dominion's protections over the Federations whereas First Minister Shakaar favored the Federation's overtures for eventual membership after the candidacy had been voluntarily withdrawn earlier at the Emissary's behest.

The Militia's Joint Chiefs kept it that way. Even sending Anara and Neela as envoys to keep Kilana's hopes of Bajor betraying the Allies and evicting them from their solar system as a carrot versus the stick that currently separated the Founder from the Wormhole and her native Gamma Quadrant. Besides the constant patrols securing the border, the Bajoran Sector always kept a minimum of a twelve starship squadron supplied by Starfleet. Romulan and Klingon patrols bolstered the effort. Massive fleets would gather at DS9 to invade Cardassian territory.

"The bad news is your first target inside of Cardassian space is in the Almatha Sector," Liu warned.

"But its barely guarded. Just some remote platform sensors and three Jem'Hadar fighters," Korepanova began to explain, "But this seemingly unimportant target is a key ketracel white distribution hub."

"Take out the local subspace relays and the sensors and the Jem'Hadar will be blind of your approach and by the time a distress signal burns through your jamming, the ground based facility will be destroyed," Liu added.

"The second target en route back to the DMZ is in the Dorvan Sector," Korepanova continued, "Because of local security measures, they will be aware of your presence once you destroy and jam their comms. It's an orbital facility situated in a previously unoccupied solar system. Your commandos will have to deploy to board the facility and disable it from within while you disable and destroy its defenders. The station's defense grid will pose a problem. So with you drawing fire, your auxiliary craft should be able ot approach unnoticed."

"The number of Jem'Hadar fighters?" Ro inquired.

"Six," Liu unhappily answered. Ro and Macen both looked pained.

"Even with our shield and phaser upgrades it'll require a number of torpedoes to destroy that many Jem'Hadar," Macen counseled them.

"The Joint Chiefs are aware and authorized the mission parameters anyway. This is the best we could do," Korepanova apologized.

"Of course," Ro snorted, "What about the third target?"

"A base inside your old local Militia derived headquarters on Ronara Prime. It seems to have been repurposed as a cloning facility," Liu answered.

"At least we'll know the terrain," Macen offered. Ro glared at him.

"It is what it is," Macen shrugged.

"I'll go in on the ground while you lead the ships against any Cardassian or Dominion response," Ro decided.

"You mean defense?" Macen prodded her.

"I think we can handle that together," Ro smiled slightly, "But they'll be on guard after they lose contact with two other replenishment posts."

"We have new leads on Maquis imprisoned in Cardassian labor camps," Liu reported.

"And Starfleet POWs are held there as well so they'll pave the way for you extracting both sides," Korepanova gloated.

"We'll need new ordnance loads before we can attempt any rescues," Ro grimly assessed.

"And a boatload of intelligence," Macen interjected.

"I can tell you the bulk of the survivors are isolated into a handful of camps," Korepanova assured them.

"And we're narrowing those locations down," Liu promised.

"Any Jem'Hadar guarding the prisoners?" Macen asked the pertinent question.

"Not that we can determine," Korepanova replied.

"Major Kira and Chief O'Brien once raided a labor camp in Cardassian territory. Maybe I can pick their brains," Ro suggested hopefully.

"It couldn't hurt," Liu stated, "I'd try but Sveta and I are pariahs here. Only Garak will really speak to us."

"Kira won't speak with Laren either," Macen predicted, "Have Major Anara try. She and Neela are seconded to our unit."

"That should be epic," Korepanova snorted.

"But very entertaining," Liu chuckled.

"Then you have your work cut out for you," Ro smirked.

"Your data packet is uploaded. We'll check it out," Macen confirmed, "Out."

"Now we get to work," Ro said with grim determination.

"Always," Macen grinned.

"You actually enjoy this shuk," Ro accused.

"So do you so shut up," Macen advised.

"You may outrank me, Commander Macen, but you are the lowly Mission Specialist while I'm the lofty Mission Commander," Ro said with faux imperiousness.

"Carry on, Lieutenant," Macen made half bow with a sweeping motion fo his arm to prod her into exiting the briefing room, "We have crews to alert to our action orders."

"Damn. You really are into this," Ro grudgingly realized.

"And you're bored," Macen reminded her.

"Too true," she conceded.

The first target within the Almatha Sector was a mining station converted into a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub for the ketracel white dependent Jem'Hadar. Kerok Nor orbited a once bountiful planet strip mined of every resource imaginable and its natives press ganged into forced labor across the Cardassian Union. As so many other worlds had been before. A chilling reminder of what the Cardassians had intended for Bajor.

The Cardassians had a centralized mentality that envied every world that hadn't been ravaged by their ancient wars against their fellow sentient but rival species. Imagine the genocidal wars between the Romans and the Etruscans with thermonuclear capabilities. That the modern Cardassians had emerged victorious at all attested to their raw determination and knack for survival. But it had taken centuries for their world to even begin to resemble a harsh but survivable planet.

It was on the very edge between being classified as Class-K rather than a forbidding Class-M. Science had engineered a massive terraforming effort that made Cardassia Prime closely resemble Mars before the centuries long terraforming made life somewhat bearable outside of the pressure domes needed to sustain comfortable lives.

"I always hate these stations," Ro grumbled.

"They're not my fave either," Hendryks confessed.

"Godawful is more like it," Daggit concurred.

"It's not so bad," Shipman Apprentice Oblek opined, "It's kind of graceful."

Oblek withered under the glaring stares of her fellow bridge officers.

"The Cardies built one of these monsters over every planet they plan on raping to death," Ro explained the Maquis members' abhorrence.

"Our transit passes must be holding up because they haven't raised shields or powered up weapons yet," Daggit reported.

"They nicely place the weapons sails on the Habitat Ring," Ro grimaced.

"They're hailing," Oblek informed her.

"Oh joy," Ro grumbled, "Ignore it a while longer."

"I have three Jem'Hadar fighters moving to intercept," Daggit reported suddenly, "They haven't powered weapons or targeted us yet."

Ro heard the stress on the word yet.

"Two Cardassian Lukat-class frigates also dropping out of warp," Daggit announced.

"Damn," that added two more headaches to Ro and Macen's swiftly unraveling plan.

"The Odyssey is signaling using T'Kir's encryption. The jammers have placed throughout the surrounding systems. Let's hope the Dominion had cracked her cipher keys by now," Hendryks reported.

"That took longer than expected," Ro remarked.

"The message also reports that they mined the surrounding systems," Hendryks was incredulous.

"Oh no," Ro groaned.

"What's this about mines?" Daggit inquired.

"Some bag of tricks the Iotians provided," Ro looked and sounded pained, "I didn't buy any because I thought they'd be a waste of ordnance and cargo space."

"Mine laying takes even longer than that elapsed time," Daggit cautioned them.

"They're self guiding once activated. With full impulse engines and sensor suites," Ro explained.

"Whoa! Sensors are picking up asteroids moving towards the station," Hendryks suddenly reported.

"They're mines," Ro stated with some grim finality, "They would've been the first ones deployed."

"No one's reacting," Daggit observed his own sensors.

"We're the dangling bait they're all sniffing at," Ro was angered.

"The mines disappeared," Hendryks yelped.

"It's an Iotian version of cloaking devices," Ro said heavily, "When they go terminal, they cut engines and begin absorbing electromagnetic sensors sweeps."

The multi-reactor fusion core at the base of the station detonated.

"Raise shields!" Ro shouted and began veering the starships into the impending shock wave. The Vorta aboard the Jem'Hadar fighters weren't as quick to respond and the shock wave obliterated the ships. What little remained had no life support. The Lukats fared batter . They began to move away from the system but they're warp engines appeared to be offline. Even with their shields raised they were buffeted by explosions as the Odyssey crested the shock wave and launched photon torpedoes at the frigates.

"Fire at the Cardassian ships," Ro ordered Daggit as she brought the Asimov to bear. As the already damaged frigates were destroyed, Ro angrily demanded that Hendryks hail the Odyssey.

Macen's image appeared on the main viewer and Ro demanded, "What the hell was that?"

"That was complete and total annihilation of the opposing forces," Macen's grin annoyed Ro even further.

"Were you ever going to let us in on the plan?" Ro snapped.

"You wouldn't have agreed to it just like you vetoed buying mines in the first place. So I acted unilaterally. Unfortunately for your pride, it worked," Macen explained his rationale.

"Do you have any more damned mines?" Ro asked.

"Nope. But the investigative forces that'll arrive when this station doesn't check in will get surprised. And they should have little to no knowledge of Iotian tech so they won't know who to blame," Macen finished explaining.

"Or that you the one to purchase them," Ro understood. She didn't like it at all but she understood.

"Still, all in all, we should probably move on our next target," Macen suggested.

"Agreed. I'm altering course now," Ro conceded and the two diminutive starships exited the scene at Warp 5.

"The shuttlepods have evaded detection so far," Hendryks reported. Both the Asimov and the Odyssey had deployed their shuttlepods in an elliptic around the solar system. Each pod held four Angosian commandos. The Jem'Hadar had deployed four of their outriders as escorts to the cargo run being made deeper into Federation space to logistically support the war effort. Another convoy was resupplying the station with necessary weapons and ketracel white tubes to enable the Jem'Hadar and their controlling Vorta to continue prosecuting the war deep into Federation territory.

With the Romulans and Klingons drawing off Dominion forces, Starfleet's regular forces, having recommissioned hundreds of formerly decommissioned ships, had driven the enemy from key worlds such as Vulcan and Betazed. The sieges of Trill, Izar, and Kalandra had been broken as well. The Kalandra Sector neighboring the Bajor Sector was still contested but the Romulans had liberated the planet Kalandra itself. Again.

"Light 'em up," Ro manipulated her CONN controls and the Asimov surged into the system to engage the station's defenders and to destroy the unloading cargo runners. Elsewhere the Odyssey did the same. The starships had shadowed the Jem'Hadar patrol ships and their photon torpedoes struck without advance warning. The fighters were destroyed within a few volleys, but the station's shields went up.

This was not the Nor-class type mining station that everyone was used to the Cardassian Union littering about. This was a military outpost tasked with coordinating Cardassian Guard operations throughout the Dorvan Sector on behalf of the Central Command. The attack had been timed to occur after the shuttlepods had reached the station and begun cutting their way into the hull at various points.

Each shuttlepod was commanded by a senior officer. Lieutenant Rab Daggit commanded one. Command Master Chief Varglas another. Master Chief Plenum a third and Senior Chief Veritas the fourth. The rest of the commandos were Petty Officers or below. Most being simple shipmen or shipmen apprentices. They would've been privates and corporals in the outmoded MACOs and Starfleet Marines.

"Daggit to all units, report," he ordered. The communicators' subspace signals being encrypted along similar lines as the starships'.

"Command Chief Varglas reporting all's well," came the first reply.

"Master Chief Plenum also reporting all's well" came the second orderly reply.

Alert klaxons resounded throughout the station, "Senior Chief Veritas, they're onto us, sir."

The woman was as placid as a still lake.

"Stay on mission, Veritas," Daggit instructed over the weapons fire.

"Aye, sir," she crisply replied and signed off.

"They're on us as well," Shipman Floas reported to Daggit as phasers and disruptors began whining and particle beams crisscrossed. Daggit knew Petty 2nd Gommery would be Veritas' right arm just as Shipman Dawd would be Varglas' and Chief Monty was Master Chief Plenum's. As seasoned Angosian Augments, despite having been incarcerated and out of action for over a decade now.

The mental and physical conditioning would probably never go away despite Starfleet's recruitment promises. Annika Ryst and her dissidents had probably been well advised when they rejected Starfleet's offers. Of course, Ryst was the last surviving Augment Infiltrator. So who knew which version of "her" Starfleet dealt with?

He'd heard that Ryst, as herself, had become a mercenary in the Orion Syndicate's employ. The cartel was already a criminal power in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Even taking advantage of the war to further their gains. Daggit wondered how Ryst could stomach war profiteers?

Such vermin hadn't been tolerated by the Angosians during the Tarsus Wars. But Tarsus had employed such criminals and the Angosians had happily hunted them as well. As an Infiltrator, one or more of Ryst's psyches had probably made contacts within the Syndicate, making her egress into their ranks much easier now. Daggit wondered if he'd be called upon to kill Ryst one day and would he ever regret doing so now that she'd criminalized her life?

"Damn, that station packs a punch!" Hendryks was operating Tactical and her sensors from her OPS station. Much as an old-time Starfleet Navigator would have. Ro had taken over phasers while Hendryks concentrated on torpedoes.

"Keep at it, Elfi. Their shields are failing," Ro urged.

"We're hardly gonna have any ammo left for our third target, Skipper," Hendryks complained.

"Just keep aiming at their shield emitters and weapons arrays," Ro ordered, "We have to make certain our saboteurs live long enough to extract."

"Yes, Ma'am," Hendryks sighed as she launched another brace of torpedoes.

"Holy shit!" Lacey cried out, "The shields on this side have finally failed."

"Good, now do something about those goddamned disruptor banks," Ebert complained.

"At least we have a crew," Macen chided them both, "Ro, Hendryks, and Thool are on their own."

He supplied targeting coordinates, "Chris, concentrate torpedoes on this mark."

"Ooo-kay," Lacey couldn't understand why until the unshielded section erupted in plasma discharges after the barrage struck.

"Weapons systems across the station are going offline," she breathed a sigh of relief.

"Hopefully our jamming pods kept everyone from calling for reinforcements," Ebert remarked.

"We need to get more of those," Macen mused.

"The Cardassians are retreating!" Floas realized. Daggit checked to find out all of his units were facing dwindling resistance.

His communicator to beep and he switched channels, "Daggit."

"The Cardassians are abandoning the station and Elfi is picking massive fluctuations and buildups. They're scuttling the station itself. Prep your withdrawals. The Odyssey and the Asimov will tow your shuttlepods out of the blast radius before attempting to recover you. Understood?" Ro explained.

"Aye, Ma'am," Daggit reversed the channel selection and ordered his own troops ot retreat back to their respective shuttlepods. Fortunately for their side they only two walking wounded and one dazed shipman who'd been too close to a concussive blast. Even more fortunate was that neither combat medic, Shipmen Dawd and Floas, had been among the injured so each starship would have one medic aboard.

Ro and Macen were diligent to carry out Ro's withdrawal plan. Each ship tractored their own shuttlepods from the estimated blast radius before the station's reactor cores went critical and detonated. Daggit appreciated Varglas' report that Macen was just as intent on determining the well being of the recovered Angosians as Ro herself before they made way again. As Daggit reported to the Asimov's Bridge, he found Hendryks manning CONN and his Tactical board showed she'd set course outside of Dominion held space. Bypassing Ronara Prime altogether.

"Hendryks? Where are we headed?" he inquired.

"The Badlands and then Bajor," she informed him, "We're in serious need of resupply and rearming. Our torpedo magazines are nearly depleted and our phaser coils are nearly fried. Thool can handle the coils if we're out of action but torpedoes? I don't think so."

The turbolift doors swished open and Ro relieved Hendryks so Elfi could resume her customary station, "Course laid in?"

"Ready to implement," Hendryks happily reported.

"I informed Macen so he's accompanying us," Ro stated as she engaged the impulse engines to build to employing the warp engines.

"Like he'd go his separate way," Hendryks chuckled.

"What do you mean you're not going to Bajor?" Ro was irked beyond measure.

"Kilana contacted me," Macen explained, "She wants me to investigate our own handiwork."

"You're kidding," Ro deadpanned.

"Nope," Macen actually grinned now.

"How long do you expect to be?" Ro wondered.

"Give it a few days and then we'll meet up in the Kalandra Sector," Macen suggested, "You can ferry our torpedo load that far regardless of who holds the sector at the time thanks to our Dominion operating license."

"Sure, make me a tender. It's not bad enough I have a poorly armed science vessel type begin with," Ro mock complained.

"She's more heavily armed than an Oberth-class by far," Macen chided her ongoing "faux" complaint. He knew there was real discontentment buried beneath her words.

"They share the same bridge module," she reminded him.

"But the design ethic included the bridge accessed briefing room you're hiding in now," Macen chuckled.

"I am not hiding," Ro scowled at his image on her desktop screen.

"Save it for those that care," Macen actually chided her this time, "We're setting out in ten minutes. That should take Dominion attention off of you long enough to let you transit to Bajor."

"Just don't end up dead," Ro ordered, "I can't afford to make new friends."

"Cynic," Macen smirked.

"Idealist," Ro countered.

"We'll see everyone in a few," Macen promised and cut the connection before she could delay him further. When she exited the briefing room, Hendryks had a view of the Class-D dwarf planet they were orbiting and the Odyssey beginning to maneuver through the plasma storm funnels beyond the calm eddy they currently occupied.

"Damn, Tracy is so good at this you'd forget she's just a teenager," Hendryks opined.

"I started piloting sub-impulse raiders when I was younger than her. It happens," Ro shrugged.

Daggit entered the bridge from the lift, "All of my personnel check out. How long will we be staying put?"

"Long enough to get some real sleep and a meal or two," Ro promised.

"That'll boost morale a bit," Daggit admitted.

"We'll making way for DS9 when we depart. The time it takes to get our and Macen's magazine loads should give everyone a two day's worth of liberty," Ro pledged.

"Now you're spoiling us," Daggit headed for the lift, "I'll spread the word."

The Asimov, unlike the Odyssey, was supposed to have a large enough crew complement to allow for an Officer's ward room and an enlisted mess. Her ersatz crew all shared meals at the mess. The Blackbird-class scoutship only had a mess hall so meals were always communal even in Starfleet's service days. the Blackbird-class had harkened back to a command structure that had been prevalent amongst Archer-class scouts as well. With only three commissioned officers aboard, the CO, XO, and 2nd Officer, everyone else had been enlisted or noncoms. For the older ships, that meant a 3 to 11 ratio. aboard the 24th century models, that meant a full 19 enlisted men aboard ship. Usually the best and the brightest available.

The Newton-class science ship Ro commanded now far outstripped her beloved and cast off Ju'day-class raider but she still missed the Indomitable. The scout had served her well as many of the class, and the Ma'jel- and Peregrine-class couriers had as well. Chakotay had even made his Val Jean his and his Maquis crew's home. Personally, Ro couldn't see living aboard such a cramped vessel. The Asimov certainly had much more room within its hull and the Maquis could've only dreamed of its firepower, however outmoded the ship seemed. Just as Macen's "freelancing" during the Maquis struggle had brought the Odyssey to bear on more than one infrequent occasion.

Ro had even been given command of the vessel when she traveled aboard her. And as loathe as Ro was to admit it, she still envied Macen's command. the Asimov's superior sensors and range gave Ro a strategic advantage over the tactically superior Odyssey but damn, if she wouldn't prefer the other ship to be hers. Ro sighed and joined the others for their meal.

A week later, the Odyssey rejoined the Asimov in orbit around a dead world with a collapsed civilization. Archaeology teams had determined the inhabitants eradicated one another in a global conflict millennia in the making. Global annihilation, however, took minutes. Even their limited colonial ventures eventually collapsed rather than prospered. It was a quiet enough system to enable the two ships to transfer ordnance from the science vessel to the scoutship. The Angosians were ready hands at feeding torpedo magazines. Soon the Odyssey's forward and aft launchers were filled to capacity with a ready reserve. Ro held another conference with Macen over the comm system.

"So the Dominion bought your explanation?" Ro dared hope.

"Kilana contracted us for further anti-piracy patrols and the Dominion's ire has intensified towards the Andergani, the Orions, and the Acamarian Wanderers," Macen happily reported.

"No Nausicaans?" Ro wondered.

"The Dominion already despises them because they turned down several offers of employment regarding attacking Federation outposts beyond the Dominion's reach. The Miradorn have also earned the Dominion's anger for doing the same," Macen told her.

"So our proximity to Ronara Prime has been legitimized," Ro appreciated Macen's guile.

"Additionally, I took the opportunity to entice the Andergani into attacking the Ronaran system hoping to gain access to the ketracel white storage tanks that feed and nurture the Jem'Hadar as they mature after cloning," Macen boasted.

"Now you're just showing off." Ro accused.

"It is what it is," Macen shrugged.

"That again. We should get underway," Ro decided.

The Andergani, knowing that the Jem'Hadar would guard their own, enlisted the aforementioned Orions, Acamarians, Nausicaans, and Miradorn for the combined assault to acquire the narcotics the Jem'Hadar required to live. The Son'a made a small fortune supplying outlier Dominion garrisons with the substance as well as addicts across the Beta Quadrant. They diluted the street drug with harmless additives but processed the pure version for their Dominion customers. Another goal the criminal cartels wished to achieve was seizing hold of a Jem'Hadar cloning facility and taming subsequent generations to obey them.

A dream Section 31 would later pursue under Arinea Macen's watchful eye. From a distance, Hendryks watched the developing raid through the Asimov's sensitive sensor sweeps. A Jem'Hadar battlecruiser led the counter assault and the Dominion forces split into four squadrons to chase the offending pirates back to their home sectors. Thereby leaving Ronara Prime temporarily unguarded except by the stealthy location of the facility itself.

Originally cut into the living rock and cave system littering a mountain range, The Ronaran Militia has coordinated border defenses for colonial security forces throughout the Dorvan Sector when Starfleet wasn't available or wasn't responding to the colonists' pleas for assistance. It was here, since its location was unknown to most of the Ronaran government, that Ro and her Maquis cell had eventually been given access to until Cardassian interrogations of empathetic former officials had divulged the location of the base. But even then the Maquis had been alerted well before the Cardassians could violate the DMZ with their warships and coordinate an assault on the abandoned base. It would another six months before a combined Starfleet-Cardassian Guard effort would capture the bulk of Ro's cell.

Mere weeks afterwards, Eddington himself would be captured after deploying biogenic weapons. And just a few weeks later, the Cardassian Union brought the Dominion into the Alpha Quadrant and the Maquis were crushed. From the edge of the Asimov's sensor range, Hendryks connected with the base's computers.

As Ro had expected and hoped beyond measure, the underlying Federation built systems had only been partially overlaid with Cardassian programming. That changed everything. So in short order, she quietly programmed the warp quadcore that powered the sprawling facility and it suddenly disengaged its magnetic containment fields and the cores went into an uncontrollable breach. The Cardassian garrison that "held" the planet watched in utter horror as an entire mountain range collapsed in on itself. Ro set the starships into a course that would take them to the border of the wedge-like Andergani Oligarchy. From there they began anti-piracy patrols right on Kilana's assigned schedule.

Kilana's orders for a swift and terrible retribution upon the Andergani came even sooner than Macen had predicted. Ro had no troubles with busting the pirate culture's chops for anyone. It would only motivate the loose knitted Oligarchy into retributions to be heaped upon the Dominion and the Cardassians. An outcome Ro not only preferred but ardently desired. So it a classic case of win-win for her and her entire team having accomplished their Militia assigned duties as well as further cemented their cover with the Dominion. Ro couldn't have been happier as Korepanova and Liu began planning their next assault wave against the Andergani this time.


Last modified: 12 Jun 2022