The Hour of the Wolf
'Have you been able to recover his body? The Founder asked seriously.
The Vorta bowed elaborately. 'With apologies Founder, we have not. Several bodies including the Vorta that was with them have been, but the First of Firsts has been lost forever.'
'A shame.' she said quietly before looking out into space. 'And the Rebellion?'
'The secessionists were all killed. In his last act Roe'met'Felcon served the Dominion faithfully.' The Vorta fawned.
The Founder nodded. 'That Roe'met'Felcon sacrificed himself for such a pointless thing, it is a tragedy.' She turned back, facing Grell'rell'riton for the first time. His presence had been required by the Vorta, but until now he wasn't sure the Founder had even realised he was there. 'Send word out to the farthest reaches, let him be known as a hero of the Dominion. A hero to the Dominion.'
Grell'rell'riton nodded 'As commanded.'
'Now tell me, what of the future? Is there a plan to finally begin to destroy the invaders?'
Before Grell'rell'riton could reply the Vorta stepped up. 'We have one. Founder. It is the opinion of the Vorta's top strategists that to strike at the enemy. We must do so with overwhelming force, a decisive victory over the Cylon threat. Not only will such a strike punish the enemy for their arrogance but in doing so we show those foolish enough to rumour rebellion that the Dominion is not to be underestimated.'
The Founder nodded. 'And the Firsts' Council?'
'As always, the Jem'Hadar recognise the wisdom of the Vorta. As we do yours.' He told them, not giving the Jem'Hadar First a chance to speak
'Good.' The Founder nodded absently. 'Continue to keep me informed. I wish to know when the attack fleet is gathered'
'As aways.' the Vorta bowed and shot Grell'rell'riton a warning look before forcing them to leave.
Outside the Founder's chambers The Vorta gave him a small smile. 'You and your kind will be called on to perform a great sacrifice. Talk to your brethren on this council of yours. tell them that they will be spearheading this attack.' Grell'rell'riton did not bother to disguise his hatred. 'What you propose is not an attack. It is a massacre. Countless Jem'Hadar lives will be wasted for what?'
'Victory First.' the Vorta replied sharply. 'And Victory is life. If it means the death of every Jem'Hadar in the galaxy so be it. After all, we can always grow more of you.' With that he marched off. Knowing that there was nothing Grell'rell'riton could do to stop him.
Enraged the Jem'Hadar stalked in opposite direction. A handful of Dominion subjects, from a number of different species, got out of his way as he made his way back to his barracks. Once there he quickly summoned his Fourth.
Jem'Hadar barracks were unlike others. As genetically engineered warriors they had no need for sleep, rest or even food. Instead a Jem'Hadar barracks was more a training suite, where warriors would practice different disciplines to perfection. From close combat techniques to field stripping a rifle for repairs. There were also research alcoves, where leaders could access information on their enemies and review reports from those in the field. There was no quiet, no peace here, Only the preparations needed for war.
To one side of the research points Grell'rell'riton had set up a field table, loaded with data pads containing resource updates and fleet deployments as well as a number of other factors that should require his attention. He was trying to decide which one to read first when the Fourth arrived. 'First?'
Without looking up Grell'rell'riton snarled; 'The Founder had agreed to the Vorta's plans. Their machinations continue.' He ground out expressing just how helpless he felt.
The Fourth paused, gauging his First's anger. 'It was to be expected.'
Grell'rell'riton brought his first down on the table, sending data pads flying as it cracked under the pressure. 'Our lives are nothing! We should be willing to die if it is ordered. Why am I so reluctant to sacrifice our forces?' he finally faced his old comrade.
Fourth, despite his rank, was one of the most experienced and intelligent Jem'Hadar Grell'rell'riton had ever met. The reason he was not First however was obvious, a bright burn covered half his face and had burnt out one eye. While still able to fight the injury made it impossible for him to progress in rank. 'Victory is Life, First. The Vorta propose a defeat, not Victory.' They told him simply.
Grell'rell'riton heard the words but couldn't agree. Another, far more logical reason coming to him. 'No, it is a victory. Theirs.' He told the Fourth grimly. 'But a victory for the Vorta is not a victory for the Dominion. If we must we will die for the Founders, for the Dominion, but never for the Vorta.'
'What choice do we have First? They control the White, they control us. It is the way of things.'
'Many things change in war Fourth. Perhaps the way of things should change too.' He suggested. Putting voice to the thought that had been too radical before. He was not surprised to see the Fourth did not object.
That such things could be said openly, however, that was already a change. 'The one I asked you to follow, were my suspicions true?' Grell'rell'riton asked.
The Fourth looked at him carefully. 'Yes, they were.'
'Good, good. Have him brought here.'
'You wish to interrogate them, so close to the attack?
'Interrogate? No, my old comrade, I wish to join him.'
Worf ignored the pain as he stepped out of the medical facility and into the world of New Kobol. He was a Klingon Warrior, perhaps the last one remaining if recent events were anything to go by. Pain was an inconvenience to be overcome. He took another few steps and silently thanked the Colonial Doctors for their work.
While not as skilled as Federation medics they were certainly better than Klingon healers and he had no doubt that they had saved his life. Despite this he knew they were unhappy with him walking so soon. Fortunately they had also learnt to keep their distance.
The only one that hadn't was K'Ehleyr, who was also on New Kobol. Acting as special envoy for the High Council. She had barely left his side and Worf was not that uncomfortable with the presence of his mate. Taking a few more steps he waited for her to catch up before allowing himself to stumble.
Almost instantly she was there, supporting him. Instead of snapping at her, as was expected, he gave her a grin.
She scowled back. 'If you think I'm carrying you and then tucking you back in bed like an old maid…' she threatened only to drop the facade and laugh.
Worf joined in and, with her help, they continued into the buildings that made up the city so far. it was amazing to Worf just how much the Colonials had done in the year they had been on the planet. Already streets were becoming well travelled, temporary shelters were being replaced with more permeant buildings and in the centre a few truly magnificent buildings were already taking shape. The biggest and most dominating a large glass, stone and steel pyramid.
Unfinished, you could see the structure taking shape. Like some vast artificial hill growing amongst the new city. 'The administrative building.' K'Ehleyr said, more for something to say than anything else. 'They say it will hold the entire population when it's finished. A shelter in case of attack.'
'With both Federation and Colonial Technology it will be the most advanced building in the quadrant.' Worf agreed.
'Rumour is that when it's finished Adama will officially end emergency measures.' She told him.
Worf snorted. 'That must be why there's such a rush.'
K'Ehleyr shook her head. 'Since when did you find a sense of humour?'
He didn't dignify that with a response.
Together the pair of them headed to K'Ehleyr's quarters, still a temporary shelter but Worf understood they were going to be providing quarters in the Pyramid, as an Embassy.
The pair of them were part way to the shelter when a couple of Colonials caught up with them. One was very familiar. 'Lieutenant Troy.' Worf nodded to the warrior as he straitened himself.
'Lieutenant Worf, I'm surprised you're not still in the life station.'
'I heal quickly.' He said.
'Lieutenant, I was sorry to hear about your friend.' K'Ehleyr said formally. 'He was a good man and an honourable warrior.'
Troy nodded; 'I know he regretted not saving your son. That he died saving others… It's what he would want.'
Worf highly doubted that he would want to die at all, but for a human, Colonial or Federation, death in the service of others was the highest calling. 'He brought honour to his house and your people. He will not be forgotten.'
'They're going to add his name to the Wall of the Fallen.' Troy told them. 'It's a monument they're putting up at the New Presidium, for those that did not survive the journey here. It's going to be in the shadow of the new Administrative Centre.'
'A fitting tribute.' K'Ehleyr agreed, 'But I don't think you tracked us down just to tell us that.'
'No, This is Renna, she's the Chief Tech on the Rising Star. She's in charge of savaging the Astradon.'
'The medical transport that was damaged?' Worf guessed.
'It's a dead loss.' the Woman shook her head. She was heavily built and unlike Federations Engineers looked like she spent most of her time up to her elbows in grease and engine oil. 'Shame, she was a fine ship but after the pounding she took there's nothing else for it. Her space frame is cracked.'
'What's going to happen to it?' K'Ehleyr asked, curious.
'She's going to be landed, over by the west of the City. Once I've pulled all the parts we can salvage, including the Energisers, it will be up to the council to decide what to do with her. Museum, or something else.' Renna sounded sad about it, Worf could understand where K'Ehleyr couldn't. There was a bond between a warrior and their ship. The idea of losing a prized vessel was like losing a pet, or in some cases even a brother in arms.
'So why did you want to talk with us?' Worf asked.
Renna looked to Troy who silently agreed. 'I need your help with something.' She admitted before pulling a Federation PADD out of an oversized pouch in her trouser leg. 'I took these readings from my ship, the Rising Star, just before we were attacked by a pair of Klingon vessels.' She showed him a bunch of nonsensical readings before pressing a command that brought up another set. 'And these from the records of the Astradon.'
'I see.' Worf didn't, but hoped she would continue.
She did. 'Look here and here.' Renna pointed at two points that seemed to match up. 'Both taken just before the attacking ships dropped their camouflage screens. An energy spike.'
'What sort of energy spike, in what?' K'Ehleyr asked.
'The main Energiser.' the Tech told them. 'Now look at this.' She brought up a third set of readings. 'These are from my working with Leah and our attempts to get an Energiser on one of your Warp capable shuttles.'
Worf had spent years in Starfleet academy and while engineering and the sciences were never his strongest subjects he had learnt enough to see patterns in otherwise meaningless information. 'If I may.' He took the PADD and began scrolling through it again.
'What do you know about those Camouflage screens of yours?'
'Not much.' K'Ehleyr admitted. 'There is a treaty between the Federation and other major powers that prevents Starfleet from developing any form of Cloaking technology. Even research is banned.'
'So that you can't even investigate how they do it.' Troy said. 'I heard the same, but I was hoping you might know more Worf.'
'No. I do not.' He admitted before looking up. 'If I am understanding this, you think you might have come up with a way of detecting cloaked ships by their energy emissions.'
'What!' K'Ehleyr exploded.
'The Energiser collects subspace energy and stores it for use throughout the ship.' Renna explained, 'It also allows for travel between two points in space, which is why Leah was so interested, but there was a problem. Your form of power generation is incompatible. It would cause all sorts of problems for both.'
'And now we know, when a cloaked vessel gets close enough…'
'Those camouflage screens, I'm willing to bet good hard Cubits they need one hades of an amount of power to keep them running.' Renna pointed out, 'Now they might be able to hide their ships, but they can't hide that power!'
Ornithar was escorted by a pair of Jem'Hadar, to a remote section of the Station. As the Karemma Trade Minister Ornithar was privy to a lot of information, and they must have known that.
It wasn't the first time he'd have to barter for his peoples, not to mention his own, survival. He only hoped he'd have the chance.
The strange thing was that his escort had insisted on following a very obscure and convoluted route. Avoiding other patrols, the residents of the station and even security measures, such as force fields, scanners and checkpoints.
If he survived he was going to have to remember this for later, The Jem'Hadar obviously had resources he hadn't suspected.
Eventually they stopped by what appeared to be a storage area. One of his escorts, a huge brute with only one eye, rapped out a series of timed knocks on a wall panel and it swung open on a hidden hinge.
Inside was cramped at first but the short corridor quickly opened up to form a small room. The walls made from discarded supply crates. It only took Ornithar a moment to realise it was part of the storage room that had been cleverly walled off.
Not for the first time he was deathly afraid, Why would the Jem'Hadar of all peoples in the Dominion need to hide away like this?
He was quickly escorted to another grey skinned giant. This one stood taller than the others and had the air of a leader. 'First, you asked us to bring the rebel.' The one-eyed killer announced and Ornithar knew he could measure is life span in seconds.
'Rebel? I'm no rebel!' he attempted to inject as much outrage and insult as he could but the cold, hard look he got in response told him it wasn't working. 'Look around you.' The First said grimly, 'What do you see?'
'Jem'Hadar.' Ornithar responded automatically.
The First pointed to one side, where a couple of his brethren were standing at attention. Ornithar didn't now what he was supposed to see, but then he noticed something. The two Jem'Hadar, were shaking. Twitching even. As Ornithar watched one began muttering to themselves. Calling on the Founders to give him strength.
'What. what is wrong with them?' He asked desperately.
'Withdrawal from the White.' the First announced, as if it was a fate worse than death. 'Their bravery and devotion is without question, Minister.'
'You see the Jem'Hadar as monsters. As nightmares come to strike at the beck and call of our masters. That we slaughter and butcher those that make themselves our enemies. I say this is true, but why?' The First asked.
Ornithar had no answer.
'I tell you we are all slaves, Minister. For you and your people we are the threat to keep you in line. For us, we are addicted to the White.' He pulled at his tunic, revealing a tube that ran from a hidden pocket to this throat. 'Without it we will die. The Vorta control the White. The Vorta control us.'
'Why tell me this?' Ornithar asked, 'If you are to execute me, do so.'
'I have no desire to kill you. Nor do my men, but at the Vorta's command we will do so. We have no choice in the matter, but we do not serve the Vorta. We serve the Founders.'
'The Founders are no more.' Ornithar pointed out.
The First spun on him so fast Ornithar couldn't even see him move, let alone react. 'The Founders live! They are wounded yes, but they live. You have been listening to Vorta lies!'
'Vorta lies?' Ornithar repeated, stunned at the concept of a Jem'Hadar saying such a thing.
'They seek to subvert the Founders. They lie, they deceive all. They are a threat at the very heart of the Dominion! They must be stopped.' The First announced with such conviction Ornithar had no doubt he was hearing the truth.
'You, you want to rebel? Against the… against the Vorta?' He said, knowing that speaking those very words anywhere else would mean his head.
The First said nothing for a long while and Ornithar could feel the tension rise in the small room. 'Come.' The Jem'Hadar ordered and headed to the back of the space, opening an oversized container and stepping within this second hidden section.
Ornithar gasped. Inside was another ancient Jem'Hadar. Burnt, scarred and crippled. His body lay comatose. Crude sensors rigged up to his near lifeless form and tubes pumping the strange White substance into him. 'Those warriors outside have given up their White to preserve him, the greatest of our kind.'
'Is that?' Ornithar whispered, not believing what he was seeing
'Yes, he survived. A miracle. The one Jem'Hadar granted the ability to distribute the White. The First of Firsts. When he recovers Jem'Hadar from across the sector will flood to our cause. We will sweep away the Vorta and their wanton cruelty. The Dominion will be whole again, our enemies will fear us once again and victory will bring all of us life.'
Ornithar was speechless, against all possibly it was him. It could be no other. Roe'met'felcon survived!
End Chapter Forty-Two