Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, nor do I own the characters, except OCs.

This might not make sense if you have not yet seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Lower Decks' (s7ep15)

Please feel free to comment! :)

Chapter 1

Sito Jaxa was sat in Ten Forward. The stars outside the floor-to-ceiling windows were nothing but streaks in the sky that seemed to be in a perpetual state of night, of excitement, of adventure. Also, Sito knew, of danger.

During the Occupation, that was when she had gotten her first real sense of danger. She had been captured by the Cardassians, as had all her friends and most of her family. The night on Bajor would fall ever so quickly. The chill of the air would sting her neck. The birds would cease singing and chirping; their merry songs becoming nothing but solemn memories. Memories of times that seemed to be oh so long ago. Periods of time that were talked about by her grandparents. Fifty years ago, they would say, I remember when this was all greenery. Lush hills and bushes; vibrant fields and farms dotted with the occasional domesticated animal; bright blue ponds and rivers which would reflect the greenish tinted atmosphere of Bajor's intriguing atmosphere. The air would be pure. The oxygen, the nitrogen, would glide past one's throat, and the water itself would be like ichor.

As she pondered ever deeper what her grandparents used to tell her – the tales of what her beautiful homeworld was once like, she started to realise what it was that she was missing. Bajor, as she knew it, was a peaceful world. The people there had laws and regulations and a justice system. However, the invaders, they had destroyed it all. At first, Sito just wanted something – someone – to blame for all of it. The very first Bajoran space travels, who left their planet a thousand years before their human allies had even considered leaving their cradle. Before Earth-dwellers even knew what a star was. Whether or not the planets were round. That the stars were massive balls of gas, and not fixed points denoting mystical things. Sito decided she could blame them – the ancestors of hers who had chosen in the first place to make contact with the aliens.

Their gods had given them the technology. The Prophets had been so gracious and intelligent and wise as to bequeath the people of Bajor the correct technology and know-how which would make them a space-faring race. One of the first light-speed ships from Bajor, which used a standard version of beamed propulsion: a solar sail, launched when Europe of Earth was still engaged in wars fought with iron and steel; when humanity was wrought with blemishes of moral conflicts and numerous crusades. The Bajorans had never suffered so. They had their gods to guide them. To lead them. To direct them into the correct path. The Way of the Prophets.

That particular ship made contact with the Cardassians. Those reptilian aliens had barely even become aware of the fact that there was other life out there, among the stars, all through the vast and exciting cosmos. That decision stayed with little or no consequences to be seen for almost a thousand years. Yet, for a world like Bajor, which evolved little in terms of technology (for if something new was required, the Prophets would surely see to their needs), a millennium is very little time.

By the time the early twenty fourth century had rolled into being, the Cardassians were beginning to get stronger than ever. One ambitious young officer, named Gul Dukat, was at the centre of the major operations. Sito had never met the Gul, and quite frankly, she was very glad that she had not. He didn't sit well with her. But, then again, as she thought more, no Cardassians sat well with her. At least, very few did.

What she also knew, though, was that she was one of the lucky ones – in a strange sort of way. She wasn't dead. She was alive and fit and healthy. She had survived the Occupation of Bajor, and whilst she was devoid of the physical scars, she surely had the mental scars to prove it. The endless flashbacks. The dreams that were with so much depth that they almost seemed… real. The way her heart would skip a beat – and not in a good way – whenever she saw a Cardassian walk by.

And, now, there was a damn Spoonhead on the same ship as her. She had come to the life-changing decision of joining Starfleet because of the adventure, the quality, and the exciting element of danger that it brought with it. On board the Enterprise, she knew she would be tested to her absolute limits. Her actions would be questioned. Her commanding officers would be strict. She had been subjected mostly to that at the hands of her teacher, Lieutenant Worf. When the Enterprise docked with Starbase 47, she could remember how overwhelmed she felt when she caught sight of the myriad of alien species that were always swarming around her.

The only species that Sito had seen had been Bajorans – of course, and that strangely driven, courageous, interesting species; humans. The rest of the populous of Bajor shared the wondrous image of humankind that Sito Jaxa held. Humanity always seemed to strive to better themselves. To push themselves beyond what had previously been defined as their limits. In the space of only two hundred years, humanity had advanced beyond any decent man's comprehension. One hundred years before mankind developed warp drive and unified as a planet and engaged in First Contact with the Vulcans, one of the world's leaders had delivered a speech. 'We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.' This Kennedy individual was a true leader, Sito knew, even if she wasn't sure who she was. Only fifty years before the moon landings, had humankind began experimenting with powered air-flight. She couldn't help but think – and wondered whether or not it was blasphemy – if Bajor would have been different, and how it would have been different, had they not found the Way of the Prophets. However, in the end, she would remind herself that her people would be simple folk, without an enlightened soul. Without hope.

The other species which she had had the pleasure – displeasure – of seeing, were obviously the Cardassians. The Federation themselves first knew of the Cardassians, infamous for their ruthless governing, leadership, military and torture methods, at least around 2150. The Cardassians had taken advantage of the calm, reserved and peaceful Bajorans, and thrust the unaware species into war and upset and inequality, of which they had no prior knowledge, let alone experience.

A year after the Occupation had ended, Bajoran, quadrant-wide and even galactic views of the Cardassian people were still reasonably sour. Many days, weeks, months to recuperate from the horrors of the enslavement, execution and rape of their world, and Bajorans were still finding it hard to accept the Cardassians into their lives.

Sito was conflicted. She didn't know how to be feeling at that moment in time. Whether she should feel disgusted with herself. Horrified. Hateful. Contemptuous. She did not know. On the other hand, she didn't know for sure if having a sense of pride and happiness was acceptable in the circumstances. For, she was, in a way, creating a bridge between her people and the Cardassians. In a round-about sort of way, she could demonstrate to her fellow Bajorans that the Cardies were not all to be afraid of.

What was that quote that Sam had been telling her? Ensign Lavelle often graced her ears with tales of his homeworld. And, while he did not really appear as one who would be synonymous with the book-reading type, Sito could tell that he was educated, and not simply in the technical sense. 'You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it'. That was true, she knew, for the Bajorans, regarding their prejudice of the Cardassian people as a whole. Just because a portion of a race had done wrong, it does not make it necessarily the correct course of action to take, if one were to attach that stereotype to ever member of the species.

She had not yet met the Cardassian with whom she was supposed to meet in the shuttlecraft. Whom she was to spend quite a reasonable amount of time with. A Bajoran woman with a male Cardassian, alone in the same shuttlecraft for hours – possibly days, with the craft's less than exceptional warp engines – that idea she was not particularly fond of.

Captain Picard had briefed her, of course, as was always and would always be customary when a member would be going off on a mission. The French captain had informed her of what troubles she was likely to face during the journey, though he made it clear that he couldn't prepare her for everything. This Cardassian, as far as she was told anyway, was not a military man. Perhaps he had been. Once. He was a defector, now, though. He was a double-agent. One who was assisting the Federation. And, the Federation were allies of Bajor.

Sifting through her memories, Sito recalled the Cardassian's face. He was a Cardassian, all right, but somehow… different. Maybe he was just a little shaken up since being retrieved from that escape pod, she supposed, only half believing it herself. Joret, his name was. Joret Dal. She couldn't even bear to think of the last time when she had seen a Cardassian that close. She remembered how she felt when she looked around the observation lounge, noticing the plaintive expression of the other officers; her seniors.

As she turned her head away from the large window, she found herself staring into the bottom of her cup. Spending so much time with Lieutenant Worf had left her subject to numerous Klingon ways. The cup of raktajino that she now had in her hands was testament to that.

A disturbance in the air became apparent and she looked up to see those who had become her friends and most trusted colleagues during her short time as a security officer on board the majestic Starship Enterprise. Taurik, Sam, and Ben approached and took a seat at the table.

It was silent for a short while, before anyone found a reason to speak. "Nice table," Sam remarked, with a thin smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "How did you get here so early?"

For a moment, Sito considered the question that had been put to her. It was true that the tables that were enclosed in booth-like areas were usually only occupied by higher ranking staff members. "Captain Picard wished to speak with me," Sito replied blandly, looking him in the eye.

Sam frowned a little. "What about?" he asked. As ever, he was the one with the pressing questions. Whether it was about poker or starship operations, Sam Lavelle most often had something to either say or ask about the topic. And, Sito's whereabouts and how she managed to bag the appealing place in Ten Forward were not free from Sam's questioning and curious nature.

Sito blinked and then finished her Klingon coffee – at as slow a speed as possible. The longer time that she spent drinking, she figured, the less likely the possibility would be that she would have to reveal the information to her friends. "I've got a mission," she answered him coolly.

Across the table, the young Vulcan raised an eyebrow. It made Sito wonder for a brief moment if that little movement was the only response that Taurik was capable of giving. Still, she had to give it to him, he was a little more… liberated than other Vulcans were. Then again, she hadn't seen any other Vulcans other than Taurik. Romulans didn't really count. "What is the mission for?" Taurik asked, clearly interested, but with the ever-lasting plain expression on his tanned face.

Sito felt herself stiffen in her chair. Resisting the building urge to come out with some ridiculous, spontaneous lie, she decided to tell all. "The Captain," she began slowly. "He's appointed me to accompany a—" she coughed "– Cardassian defector to Cardassia Prime."

"A Cardassian defector?" Ben quizzed her, lifting an eyebrow. He was hovering over them, so that Guinan would still think he was attending to his duties as a waiter.

Sito nodded, not wanting to make the matter bigger than it already was. "Keep your voice down," she warned him.

Ben bowed his head a little. "Yeah, sorry," he said quietly.

With a smile to show her acceptance of his apology, she spread her hands on the table. "Guys, you need to keep this low. If too many people find out about the mission, things could get ugly." She scanned each of their faces. "This is top secret."

Sam grinned and then let loose a short laugh. "Top secret, eh?" he quipped. Sito managed to ignore him. "When is the mission going to take place?" he then asked her.

She shrugged a little. "Today," she murmured.

"When today?" the three of them spoke simultaneously, like some sort of speaking choir.

"An hour."