The Road Not Taken
"So we're still not sure, Captain Kanril. Lieutenant Zara thinks the problem's in the interface connections, Kora Lorn thinks it's an EPS issue, and Captain Kurland is starting to think it's a case of PEBCAC."
"'PEBCAC'?" I ask, raising an eyebrow at the dark-skinned Perikian in the chair to my right.
"'Problem exists between console and chair'," Staff Sergeant Morai answers with a grin. I snort into my glass of kava juice.
"Has anybody considered that the wormhole itself might be acting up?" Ro suggests from across the table. "I mean, I'm just a shooter, not a squint, but—"
"It's a possibility," I allow, wiping my face off on my sleeve. "Phekk, if it is, the Prophets had awesome timing, what with this conference and all."
"Mm," Ro grunts. "Speaking of which, how are we doing on the additional security?"
Commander Andrews, an older brown-haired human woman with an accent, answers, "Conference room and Ops are being swept for bugs at random intervals, your 4th Regiment, 2nd Battalion is all here and in position, and the guns are fully manned."
"I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be, then," the graying woman answers with a nod. Andrews stands and we stand with her. Ro raises her right palm to the side of her face and the rest of us quickly follow.
"General," she acknowledges, returning the Militia salute as a courtesy.
A blue-and-gold light illuminates the Deep Space 9 wardroom as Andrews leaves. "There it goes again," I comment, glancing up. The Celestial Temple is swirling open as if there's a ship coming through, but nothing emerges or enters. After a few moments the aperture swirls shut again.
"Maybe the Prophets have gas or something, Captain," Ro suggests in a sarcastic tone. I don't dignify it with a response. Brigadier General Ro Laren's an atheist and she's been a bit of a thorn in my side since I landed the gig here at DS9 two years ago.
Oh, well. Least I'm back in the black again, even if I don't get to go anywhere. Beats being stuck dirtside.
I finish my kava juice, salute Ro's rank, and leave the wardroom, making my way to the Promenade.
The place bustles with activity and I find it easy to lose myself in the crowd. I stop by a street vendor and pass her my credit card for a jumja stick and take a lick. "Huh, what's with the flavor? It's bitter."
"I'm trying a new flavor, Captain Kanril," the Hathoni woman in the kiosk answers. "New import from the Republic, khellid honey."
"Maybe go a little lighter next time, Shegu."
Then I hear a thud and a crash from downspin. "Ql'yah! Stupid, incompetent verengan!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean—Help!"
I swear, pass the jumja stick to Shegu, and force my way through the crowd, drawing my sidearm as I go. A small crowd is gathered around an enraged Klingon who has a terrified Hadron backed up against the wall with his bat'leth. I don't recognize the Klingon from the local consulate which means he's probably part of the ambassadorial guard detail. A pair of boxes are on the floor, one with blue liquid starting to seep through.
"I'm going to bleed you like a stuck targ!" the Klingon snarls into the Ferengi barman's face.
"Nononononono don't hurt meee!"
Then I jam the barrel of my phaser pistol into the back of the Klingon's head and he stiffens. "Station Security," I announce conversationally. "Drop it or I drop you."
"Officer, this verengan—"
"—is not worth ending up in ghe'tor for being shot in the back. Drop. Your. Sword."
The meter-plus of steel clangs to the textured polymer floor and I shift the pistol to his back and tap my combadge. "Captain Kanril to Security. I got a two-forty at Promenade Forty-Six. Requesting backup." I pat down the Klingon, retrieving a small arsenal. Two d'k tahg, a disruptor pistol, four throwing knives, a cosh, even a pair of grenades I found stuffed down his pants, and I'm going to have to wash my hands after this guy. "You guarding Ambassador S'taass or occupying the station, taHqeq?" I back away. "Turn around."
He turns, all right; he turns and roars, charging me, Hadron completely forgotten. I sidestep, trip him, and as he falls past I drop the pistol and snatch his arm, planting a knee in his back and twisting his arm behind him. "Let's see, that's one count of assault and now one of assaulting a law officer, and half a dozen weapons charges. You're under arrest, asshole."
He curses at me, starts to struggle, then he roars in pain as I pull his elbow hard to the left. "I'll break it," I warn him, then reach around my back for a set of zipcuffs. "You do not have to say anything, and anything you say may be used against you. Remaining silent may also be used as supplementary evidence. You have the right to contact a family member or acquaintance and an attorney regarding your arrest, and you may be held seventy-eight standard hours without charge. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them?" He growls. "Answer the question!" I bellow in his ear as I snap the cuffs on him.
"Yes," he grits out.
"Make way! Ma'am, we got this," Gunny Boaol Umjohn says, pushing through the crowd. The gold-uniformed man from Dahkur Province grabs the Klingon and hauls him up and away. He's one of my peacekeepers; he'll make sure I get the credit for the collar.
"What the phekk happened, ma'am?" his partner PFC. Brohm asks me.
I shrug and flick a thumb at the Ferengi, who's dusting himself off. "Ask Hadron. I was over at Shegu's getting a snack when he started yelling."
"I was carrying two cases of Romulan ale and I couldn't see where I was going!" he says. "Ran into him by accident and he starts… Oh no! Half of these are broken! Quark'll fire me!"
I turn around, hands on my hips, and smile at him. "If he does, come to me and I'll break his legs for you."
"You mean that?"
I give him the hairy eyeball. "You think of me as a woman who makes idle threats, Hadron?"
"Good. Private, grab one of the cases and help him. You!" I point to two of the grayshirts who came with her. "Start taking witness statements. I want to nail this guy to the wall."
I go back for my jumja stick and then head for a turbolift. "Habitat ring." A five-minute walk later and I'm at my quarters.
I pull my gold Security uniform jacket off and head into the bathroom for a shower. Naturally that's when the comm goes off. I answer it in my undershirt, snapping into a salute for Captain Kurland. "Sir. Thought you'd be a little busy getting ready for the conference."
"Yeah, I got a complaint from Ambassador S'taass about you arresting one of her bodyguards."
"Tell her I said to take it up with the Home Affairs Minister," I retort, going to the replicator for a synthale. "I got the guy in the act. Security cameras, thirty-some-odd witnesses…"
He sighs. "I know. I'm not disputing it was a good arrest, but, you know, diplomatic immunity. The guy's out."
"Figures!" I yell over my shoulder. "Look, phekk'ta Klinks think the galaxy's theirs and they can do as they please. Well, not on my station!"
"It's my station, Chief Kanril," he answers with a modicum of amusement. He sighs. "Bajor's probably going to declare the guy persona non grata but we can't charge him."
"I don't honestly give a flying phekk. This war is their fault; they can damn well live with the consequences." I let out a breath. "I really don't think this conference is going to change anything, not even after the Borg took out the entire Thirteenth Fleet at Vega two years ago."
"Well, you're a real ray of sunshine."
"I'm a realist," I retort, taking a drag on my synthale. "J'mpok doesn't want peace and as much as I like Ambassador Lizard-Breath, she's going to toe the party line, at least in public." I gulp down another mouthful of beer and wipe my mouth on my sleeve before reaching under the counter for something to spike it up. I hate the fake buzz from synthohol; one of these days I gotta remember to get a few real booze patterns from Hadron.
Kurland grunts noncommittally. "Are you guys at least ready to provide security? The conference is tomorrow."
I finish putting my impromptu boilermaker together. "Well, if this afternoon demonstrated anything, it demonstrated we can keep the Klingons from causing trouble."
"All right. Oh, one other thing. The Romulans are sending one of their senior commanders, woman by the name of t'Thavrau."
"Was she on the list?"
"All right, I'll pass the word to my people to expect…"
"D'deridex-class battlecruiser, RRW Bloodwing. She'll be here tomorrow morning. I want you to liaise with her."
"Can do. Anything else?" The human shakes his head. "Then can I go take a shower?"
"Yes, you can go take a shower," he chuckles. "Good night, Chief Kanril."
A shower and a boilermaker later I slip into my civvies and head back out to the Promenade for dinner at this new Romulan place that's opened up in the last couple weeks. Dirin Kos meets me there and I jump into the big Wyntaran's arms with a squeal and attack his mouth. "Good to see you," I tell him after we break the kiss.
"I'm here for a couple of days," he says, putting me down and guiding me to a booth in the corner.
A waitress, short blonde Romulan, meets us there. "Shaoi ben. Can I offer you something to drink?"
"Mnean stheirhn kre kheh'irhor u'hlai'vnau akhiy," I order. The Romulan takes it down on her PADD.
"Since when do you speak Romulan, El?" Kos asks in surprise.
"Since this restaurant opened up," I joke as the Romulan moves off. "Learned it in officer school."
"That's what, four languages now?" I nod. "You've got a real knack."
I change the subject. "So, how's the Tzenkethi border?"
"Actually Captain Takar wants to try our luck, make a run to Klaestron IV."
"You think that's a good idea?" He's cargomaster.
"We can make a profit, and it's a shorter haul than the Omega Piscium transfer station. So what have you been up to, El?"
"Oh, the usual." I start counting off on my fingers. "Two assaults, four burglaries, Garak's got vandalized by the Circle again, and… oh yeah, one indecent exposure."
He looks up at the last one. "Hm?"
"Impromptu lapdance at Quark's. Kanar was involved."
The waitress comes back with our ales and I take a sip. Strong stuff and not particularly well-brewed, makes my eyes water.
Kos and I talk about sports and politics and random nonsense as a course of hlai'vnau and another of jumbo mollusk come and go. A spicy soufflé with icing makes up our dessert and we amble back to my apartment. I kiss him hungrily at the door. "Shera out?" he whispers.
"Planetside visiting family," I answer huskily, pulling him inside.
My alarm goes off way too early—Kos kept me up pretty late, not that I'm complaining—and I swing my legs off the bed and dig my dress blues out of the closet.
"Official function?" Kos asks from behind me.
"Kurland wants me to meet the Romulan Republic delegation."
"So that's why you picked that restaurant."
"Just wanted to try the place." I settle a sports bra into place and pull on my undershirt, then the royal blue dress uniform top, then I step back to the bed and lean into Kos for a kiss. He pulls my head to him and squeezes my breast and I have to half-fight to get away. "Let go, I gotta go to work," I tell him, laughing.
"See you this evening?"
"Absolutely," I agree, kissing him again. "Also, I got some leave coming. We could go somewhere nice on Bajor when you get back from Klaestron IV."
"Wouldn't miss it."
I grab a hasperat from the replicator and munch on it on my way to one of the shuttlepads, where a RomulanKestrel-class runabout sits idling on the other side of the airlock. A slim, weatherbeaten-looking Romulan woman with a couple patches of silver at the temples strides through the door in blue and gold robes. A sword is buckled at her waist. "Aefvadh, Riov t'Thavrau," I say in formal Rihan, bowing.
"You speak my language quite well," she answers in Federation Standard. She's got a light accent and sounds impressed at my lack of one.
"Thank you. I'm Captain Kanril Eleya of the Bajoran Militia, station security chief. Captain Kurland's getting ready for the conference but he sends his regards."
She nods. "I believe we're short on time?"
I nod. "Follow me, please. Back to your stations," I tell the honor guard.
Well, Kurland said 'liaise', but it doesn't seem like she needs me. I drop the Romulan at the conference room and head back to the security office to do some paperwork. One of my peacekeepers comes through hauling some alien from the Gamma Quadrant I don't recognize that stinks of alcohol. "Drunk tank?"
"Drunk and disorderly, ma'am," the lance corporal answers.
"Drunk tank." I glance at her as she goes by. Red hair, tanned, works out. Could be me at that age.
Then sirens start going off. "The phekk?" I grab my sidearm and stab vest and run out the door.
The gateway to the Celestial Temple is open again, only this time there are ships coming through, a lot of them. Can't tell what at this distance but everyone's going nuts so it can't be good. I hit my combadge. "Kanril to Ops! Andrews, what the phekk is going on?"
"Jem'Hadar! Jem'Hadar vessels on an attack vector, a lot of them! Their weapons are hot and they're not responding to our hails!"
"Sher hahr kosst! Defense?"
"There's too many of them; we need to evacuate! Chief, I need your authorization to—"
"Already on it! Broadcast an evac plan to all ships in the vicinity!" I key my combadge and link it to the P.A. system as I run for the conference room, taking a deep breath to steady my voice. "Attention, this is Security Chief Kanril. Attention. Deep Space 9 is under attack, and likely to be overrun. Starship crews currently in the vicinity may consider themselves deputized into the Bajoran Militia as evacuation ships. Failure to comply is punishable by thirty years on a penal colony! Starfleet and Militia personnel, prepare to repel boarders!" I stop in the security office to get the cells cleared out and grab my rifle and every deputy in the place, then continue to the turbolift, fishing my bayonet out from inside my uniform and fixing it under the barrel as I go.
The dignitaries are already on their way out of the room and blood drips from the big Gorn ambassador's right hand. "Madam Ambassador, you okay?"
"It's not mine," she answers. "Admiral Trem is dead but I avenged him."
"All right, come on!"
We force our way out onto the Promenade, Jem'Hadar already beaming in through the station's shields. Overhead and below I can hear the thunder of the weapons emplacements and outside the sky is lit up with lances and bolts of light in orange, purple, and green.
A Jem elder unshrouds in front of me, his kar'takin raised to split me in half, and I bayonet him without slowing down. As I kick his dead weight loose from my rifle I hear steel sing behind me and glance over my shoulder. Seems the Romulan's sword wasn't purely ceremonial.
"Where are we going?" Kurland asks, grabbing a rifle off the Jem'Hadar that t'Thavrau killed.
"My shuttle has a cloaking device. It will not stand up to the Jem'Hadar in such numbers but we can use it to get through the shield and get to the Bloodwing."
"Shuttlepad Three," I agree. I grab the other Jem's rifle off him and throw it to a Starfleet crewman who's just got a pistol, while t'Thavrau grabs a pistol, and we head off down the corridor.
A Jem in a stall to the left fires into a group of civilians. I fire a burst and miss and he ducks behind cover again. The big Gorn ambassador charges his position and rips the door off its hinges; the Jem never has a chance. I hear a whine above us, swivel, and spit one on the catwalk through the head with a golden yellow lance. "Above us!" I throw Ambassador Skyl into the wall as Kurland and t'Thavrau fire, downing four of the five warriors; the other goes flat.
"Kanril!" S'taass shouts, tossing an object to me. Jem'Hadar cloaking mine; Starfleet calls it a Houdini. I flick it to proximity detonation and toss it into a clump of Jem'Hadar that just beamed in at the replimat and it goes off with a loud crump; gore and shrapnel sprays everywhere.
Another pair of Jems beams in right in front of us. I block a kar'takin strike with my rifle and kick the Jem in the knee with my boot; he grunts in pain and I knee him in the stomach and throw him off-balance. Out of the corner of my eye I see t'Thavrau fling her robes up to blind her opponent while she swings her sword and buries it halfway through his torso, then spins and headshots my Jem with her appropriated pistol. I shove the half-decapitated trunk out of my way. "Thanks!"
I turn my and see Kurland in a fistfight with one of them, weapons forgotten, and shoot the Jem in the back. "Way's clear; let's move!"
We battle our way down to where some of the guys from the 4th have set up a barricade at the passageway to the docking arms. T'Thavrau leads the way to her runabout. "Move! Move! Move!" Ambassador Skyl pushes past me. "Gunny! Get those civilians in here!" Gunny Baoal hand-signals and a dozen more people cram inside. "Okay, we're full! Come on!"
Then a Jem beams in behind him, kar'takin raised, and buries it in the top of his head. "No!"
Flashback to ten years ago. PFC. Davos with a knife in his chest. I force myself back to the present and fire, hitting the Jem square in the chest and throwing him against the far wall. The door slides shut and the airlock tunnel falls away, and the lights dim as the shuttle cloaks.
Then the dark sky opens above us and the runabout leaps skyward, dodging low across the station's docking arms and burning hard for space. I force my way through the people crowded into the cabin and take a seat next to t'Thavrau.
In the distance I can see the emerald-green double hull and beak of her D'deridex-class hanging in the black. Beams in glittering green snap out from its emitters, swatting fighters and attack ships out of the sky. "Bareldak toAen'rhien," the Romulan next to me says in Rihan. "We are inbound."
"Understood. We're coming to you. Wait, watch it! Jemhhadarsu warbird, coming in!"
An indicator panel lights up and t'Thavrau throws the ship into a corkscrew turn as the enemy ship, one of their bat-winged battlecruisers, opens fire. Bluish purple polaron bolts pass where we were two seconds ago. "I thought we were cloaked!" Kurland exclaims from behind us.
"Antiproton sweep," she says by way of explanation. "They pioneered it, we copied it."
"Rekkhai," the voice named tr'Sauringar says as the lumbering warbird starts to yaw towards us, "on my mark, come high right. Three, two, one, mark!"
T'Thavrau pulls back on the stick and swings us to the right as her battlecruiser's forward batteries blaze green and terajoules of energy blast into space. Triple streams of light reach across the void, ripping a hole into the shields for the salvo of plasma torpedoes that follows. A wing tears off the Jem'Hadar vessel in the silence, air, debris, and bodies spilling into the vacuum. The guns fire again, skewering the hole and ripping through to the other side, continuing on into space to skitter off Deep Space 9's shields, now constantly a-glitter from the Jem'Hadar bombardment.
No more Jems pursue us as we make our approach to the hangar on deck five, the shields dropping for five seconds as we pass between the dual hulls. "Your orders, Riov Kurland?" t'Thavrau asks as the autopilot brings the runabout into a docking cradle.
"We've got to get the diplomats to Bajor. Closest safe harbor and as far as I know their non-aggression pact with the Dominion is still in force."
"Hey, t'Thavrau," I say, grabbing her arm. "You got any room on your gun crews? My original MOS was naval gunnery tech."
"Rekkhai, you'd better get up here," tr'Sauringar warns through the intercom, "we can't hold them much longer: there's too many of them!"
T'Thavrau unbuckles her wrist comlink and hands it to me. "Take this; it will guide you to the gun deck. Report toErein t'Dhaviulla. I must get to the bridge."
I break away from the group and follow the directions as the warbird shakes around me under fire from enemy ships. The antecenturion in question, a short, pale Romulan woman with short black hair and wide hips, directs me to a spare console. I quickly familiarize myself with the configurations and start working.
The ship jolts beneath me and the gun goes into rapid fire. The status display flicks to a new mission profile; we're flying escort for SS Second Chance.
Then it hits me. The Second Chance.
I mutter a quick prayer but there's not much else I can do. I focus on keeping the guns running. Once there's an overload and I have to swap out a part. A siren goes off, signalling a hull breach dozens of compartments away.
Gradually the shaking from shield hits abates. The intercom is crackly, seems to have taken some damage, as t'Thavrau's voice comes through. "All hands, all hands. We are clear of the battlespace. The Jemhhadarsu are not pursuing. Mnekha."
The Romulans start cheering but I key my intercom key. "Kanril to t'Thavrau. Can I get a private line to the Second Chance?"
"My boyfriend's the cargomaster."
"I see. One moment." The screen clicks over to a staticky view of Captain Takar Edmen. Half-Bajoran, half-Boslic. "Edmen, it's Eleya. Is Kos there?"
"Took a nasty gash from one of those axes but he made it aboard before we undocked."
I let out a breath. "Thank the Prophets. Can I talk to him?"
"Sorry, I don't have any cameras down in sickbay and we're about to jump to Bajor."
"Fine, just make sure I get to see him."
"I'll do that."
Author's Notes: So, first Mirror Kanril, now AU Kanril.
I got to thinking about how to write this and it occurred to me I basically had two options. Number one, write a Morgan who never left the Imperial Fleet. But I really had nothing to work with on that front because I haven't explored her backstory enough. Brokosh was completely out of the running for much the same reason.
Option two was an Eleya who never left the Militia. I got to thinking about the options she had besides Starfleet when Space Arm was shut down, those being to muster out or retrain. I decided to turn her into a Militia peacekeeper and explore a little the relationship between the Militia and Starfleet. In keeping with the operations shown in Deep Space Nine I figure they jointly run the station, with the Militia providing security personnel in particular since they're more likely to have better local knowledge. Also, throwaway mention of Vega, where here the entire fleet was obliterated because there wasn't a plot-armored player character present.
There's also a mention of "officer school", something I cribbed from the Israeli Defense Forces. Unlike the US military on which Starfleet is loosely based, the IDF doesn't have an option for you to go straight from civilian to officer; you have to have served time as an enlisted man first. And again we have the little bits of USMC lingo like I used in From Bajor to the Black. Altogether, it's working into my headcanon that the Bajoran Militia has determined that nothing like the Occupation can ever again be allowed to happen, so they're focused chiefly on excellence in military operations far more than Starfleet.