“What will it be? Breakfast? I’ve got a traditional Irish breakfast on the menu, if you can eat it all you can eat for free.” Quark said after serving a Lurian at the end of the bar.
Marine Captain Jake Steel looked over the Ferengi deviously and smiled. “That sounds good; we will take two breakfasts and three Romulan Ales my good man!”
“Captain...” Quark paused and looked around conspiratorially. “I’m sure an officer of your esteem is aware that it is illegal to sell Romulan Ale in a Federation facility.”
Marine Captain Steel quickly looked around and ducked down closer to Quark. “Sir, I’m sure a proprietor of an esteemed establishment such as yours is aware that Bajor is not yet a member of the Federation and for five slips of gold pressed latinum I’m sure he will fill three of those large tankards with Romulan Ale.”
Quark looked at Marine Captain Steel and smiled. Normally he might haggle, but 5 slips of latinum was more than generous for that amount of Romulan Ale. But three tankards? One of them must have an iron constitution. “Coming right up Captain.”
Both marines sat down at a small table near the Dabo table. Once settled, the other Marine, Staff Sergeant Rathbone, looked as Quark quickly, but discretely, filled the tankards. “What if we get caught?” Rathbone was talking about both the Romulan Ale and the fact they were carrying a large quantity of gold pressed latinum.
“What are they going to do?” Steel interjected. “Assign us to embassy duty on Bajor?”
“Good point.” Rathbone chuckled as that is what they had already been assigned to do. Quark himself brought the ales to the table.
Marine Captain Steel offered a toast towards the third tankard: “To absent friends...”
Rathbone raised his tankard and joined in with a muted: "...absent friends."
The man in dark brown robes looked in the mirror and gingerly touched his surgically implanted eyebrow ridge and was somewhat pleased to see that although it was quite bloody it was still intact. He retrieved a dermal regenerator from his Med Kit and activated it over the cut. He winced as the skin started to regenerate over the exposed bone. Once he was finished, he looked over at the woman who was sitting on a corner of a bed holding a cold pack to the back of her head.
“If Litwin hasn’t already figured out who we are, he soon will. Either way, he knows we are not any friends of his.” He put down the regenerator. “So how do we proceed? Keep trying to tail him? Or take him out?”
The woman’s eyes were completely emotionless as she looked up. “We could tail him for another year and he likely won’t lead us to his contacts. I know he means a lot to you Luther, but there is too much at stake. I don’t think we have any other choice other than to take him completely out of the equation and start over... the question is, how do we take a man like Borysko out of the game without causing a ruckus?”
The Defiant never had a chance to get into the Draylon system as the shuttle had moved swiftly enough that they rendezvoused with Defiant as she dropped out of warp at the system’s heliopause. Commander Hunter took a quick look at Defiant and quickly matched her speed and heading.
“Defiant, this is Auroran...” Hunter brought the shuttle under the Defiant. “Please hold speed and course and prepare for docking.”
“Commander, I didn’t know a Comox class could fit into the shuttle bay of a Defiant?” Lonewolf asked, knowing for certain that it couldn’t.
“We aren’t going inside; we are going to hard dock, hobo style!” Hunter laughed as he inverted the shuttle and gently settled it onto the bottom of Defiant’s hull. Four rapid thumps were followed by a subtle hissing noise. “Defiant, we are secure, you can proceed.” Everyone on board paused as they could hear Defiant’s warp engine spool up to high warp and felt the gentle sway as the shuttles inertial compensators did their work. Hunter got up from the flight console and opened a hatch in the floor of the shuttle. “After you sir.”
Lonewolf and Aehla grabbed their gear and one at a time with Hunter each of them individually dropped feet first through the docking collar. The fall was brief as the grav plates of the shuttle and the Defiant created a zero gravity “sweet” spot halfway in. Each of them in turn did a 180 degree roll and climbed the ladder that brought them into one of the Defiant’s cargo bays. They were met by a large Klingon in a Starfleet uniform.
“Colonel Lonewolf? I am Lieutenant Commander Worf; will you follow me to the bridge please?”
Lonewolf and Aehla shouldered their gear and rifles as they followed Worf to the turbo lift. Aehla smiled and whispered: “A Klingon with manners? What sort of madness is this?”
Lonewolf saw the mischievous look on Aehla’s face and hushed her. The trip to the bridge was quick and everyone on the bridge turned to look as the sudden appearance of two Marines in full battle gear and a SAR technician in an orange jumpsuit. This sort of sight was indeed abnormal, even for the Defiant.
“Permission to come onto the bridge Captain?” Lonewolf asked the senior officer, a familiar Starfleet Captain named Sisko.
“Granted. Welcome aboard the Defiant Colonel.”
“Thank you sir, would you like us to stow our rifles and packs?”
“I’ll have Mister Worf take care of that, besides you won’t be staying long, we only have a few hours until we are back on Deep Space 9 and my orders are to clear the cobwebs out of your brain and remind you on how to run a Defiant-class ship.
Aehla had a puzzled look as Lonewolf whispered: “I’ll explain later.” He then turned to the Conn console and saw the Trill officer manning it had already gotten up and was beckoning him towards it. Lonewolf took the offered seat and glanced over the console. “Major? I know this is below your station, but before Mister Worf takes our gear away, would you be kindly serve up the Raktajino the cooks back in our Officers Mess brewed up for us?”
“Anything that allows me to stay on the bridge while you are squirming at the Conn!” Aehla smiled as she started pulling metal flasks and mugs out from the sack Lonewolf had brought.
Sisko looked curiously as Aehla took enough mugs out for everyone on the bridge. “I’ve heard rumours that Marines only drink freshly brewed Raktajino and avoid the replicated substance like a plague... is this true?”
“Yes it is Captain.” Major Aehla poured and handed a mug of the pungent elixir to Sisko.
“Thank you Major... you and the Colonel have just made this unusual trip a bit more enjoyable.”
Unbeknownst to Litwin or his assailants, his safe house, a rented apartment, was only a few blocks away from their location. He too was holding a bag of ice, but he was turning it over in his right hand while his mind was lost in thought. Luther Sloan was on Romulus... he had made the connection during the fight in the alley but at the time couldn’t quite believe it. However, on recollection he realized it was indeed Sloan he had head butted. But why? Sure it had been almost two months since he reported in person, but what he had found out was too important to risk sending a report through the regular channels. He reached out with his other hand for a glass holding a pale green liquid, a local bootleg version of Aldebaran whiskey, and knocked it back. Normally Litwin wouldn’t drink while on a mission, but he had never been given a burn notice either, so this was a first time for a lot of things.
Borysko paced back and forth across the room. Pacing, which indicated indecisiveness, was also something new to him. He then paced to a table that had a large bottle half full of the bootleg Aldebaran whiskey. He dropped the bag of ice on the table, reached in for a few ice cubes and dropped them in the glass which he then topped off with the whiskey. Litwin took the glass and walked over to the window and watched the street lights flicker on in the quiet boulevard below. He realized he was half gazing outside and half at his own reflection. He was on a world with few friends, many enemies and wasn’t exactly sure what to do.
General Martok entered the weapons bay of the Rotarran and saw, quite literally, two junior engineers shaking in their boots. He motioned for them to leave and knelt beside the pair of legs that were sticking out from under the main power junction for the Rotarran’s disruptor cannons.
“Flux coupler.” A voice growled from underneath as a hand stretched out to receive the item.
Martok reached over and grasped the flux coupler from the tool chest, but he also gathered the hyper spanner as it was obvious if the engineer needed a flux coupler, he would shortly need the hyper spanner. He placed both items in the outstretched hand. The hand drew back and Martok heard a chuckle from underneath.
“Someone has finally learned what they are doing...”
It was Martok’s turn to chuckle. “There are many who would disagree with that summation!”
Morath quickly reconnected the relay and wriggled out from under the power junction and rose to a sitting position beside General Martok.
“General, if I could have my guess, you are going to ask me about the B'Moth, correct?”
“Yes.” He rubbed a scarred area under his eye. “And why not? I think you would make a great first officer!”
“General, I appreciate the offer, but I would prefer to be an engineer.”
“Perfect! I was hoping you would say that. Captain Sisko tells me you and Chief O’Brien have been talking a lot about the USS Defiant. ”
Morath admitted this with a nod, but he was suspicious as to where this was going.
“Well Starfleet has finally started taking the Dominion threat seriously and has commenced full scale production of the Defiant Class and the second vessel of the class will be here at Deep Space Nine shortly. The problem is, she needs to head out right away and Starfleet is unable to provide a suitable engineering staff for her. I hate to put you on the spot, but I owe Sisko a few favours so I offered you on temporary assignment to be her Chief Engineer. Questions?”
“For how long?”
“Until Starfleet finds her another Chief Engineer or you all get blown to Sto-vo-kor by that oversized warp core of hers. Either way, I suspect you won’t be seeing DS9 for awhile.”
Morath smiled and laughed. “Seems like a challenge worthy of my talents! I accept!”
The two Marines in Quark’s had finished breakfast and were halfway through their Romulan Ales when security came in. There were three of them, which still would have been in the Marine’s favour if it wasn’t for the fact the leader of the security party had an interesting shaped head and looked like he could take on a squad of Marines himself. The security team leader quickly looked around the bar, focused on the Marines, and walked right towards them.
“That didn’t take long.” Rathbone commented after downing the rest of his ale, and starting on the remaining tankard that was left on the table. “What’s the plan?”
“I think we should talk...” Steel also finished his ale and then broke into a smile for the security team. “...for now at least.”
The security team leader had a firm, but disarming look as he walked up to the table. “Gentlemen, my name is Odo, I’m the Chief of Security of this station. I would normally start with some pleasantry about your beverages or the service here but time is of the essence. A Colonel Lonewolf sends his compliments and hopes your hearts were not set on embassy duty.”
“Lonewolf?” Steel could barely mask his surprise. “When did he tell you this?”
“About five minutes ago, he’s at the Conn of the USS Defiant and will be docking shortly.”
Both Marines shared a glanced at each other but shared the same thought: What the hell was Lonewolf doing back on the bridge of a starship?
Outwardly. Colonel Lonewolf was calm and collected, inwardly, he was nervous. It had been over three years since he had sat in the helm of a starship and despite both Captain Sisko’s composed presence, and some patient inputs from Lieutenant Commander Dax standing to his right; it was taking a bit to get the knack of the controls again.
Sisko got up from his chair and stood at Lonewolf’s left side, which made Lonewolf all the more apprehensive. Somewhere behind him he heard Aehla giggle again, which really wasn’t helping. Sisko then spoke which muffled the giggles somewhat. “You’re doing fine Colonel, if fact, we would normally be close enough to DS9 to let Ops take over docking, but I want to see if you still have what it takes. Besides, there is something you might want to see before we dock.”
Lonewolf took another quick look Sisko who in turn gestured towards the main viewer. On the viewer he saw not only the docking port that Defiant was normally assigned, but at the adjoining port he saw another Defiant class vessel was already docked. Lonewolf slowed Defiant’s speed as he took in the view of what was to be his new command. He didn’t realize it, but for the first time this trip his hands automatically made inputs into the Conn without having to look at the panel as he manoeuvred the Defiant toward its assigned docking port. He moved the Defiant accurately, if possibly a little slower than normal. It was Sisko’s turn to chuckle.
“Colonel, this is all well, and I appreciate you not wanting to scratch the paint on your new ship or mine, but I know you can do better. How about you do what you did the first time we took the Defiant out at Antares?”
Lonewolf smiled at the memory and turned his head towards Sisko with a questioning glance, Sisko simply nodded. Lonewolf then activated the Communications key on the Conn console. “Ops, this is Defiant... requesting a flyby.”
“Negative Defiant...” a female voice replied “...the pattern is full.”
Lonewolf’s fingers started making rapid inputs onto the Conn console as he and Sisko both started chuckling. “What are you...?” Dax said as she looked at both Lonewolf and Sisko, “...no, this is not a good idea!” She got her answer a moment later as the Defiant responded to the helm and heaved forward at full impulse.
“Sorry Dax, it's time to buzz the tower.”