CHAPTER FOUR

When Michael entered the bridge, Kira, Shelby, Reese and Barnes were beginning to get things operational again. "We didn't suffer any further damage during Riker's attack,"Barnes reported. "Shield strength is returning."

Nog's voice came over the intercom. "Engineering to Bridge. The warp core's back online, Commodore."

"Are we heading back to Deep Space 9?"asked Kira.

Michael shook his head. "Carry on the course set, Commander. I'm going to talk to Riker."


Michael entered the brig and signalled for the guard to lower the forcefield. Riker, Tando and the other Maquis were sitting inside. Riker stood up. "Have you come to gloat, Commodore?"

"No, Lieutenant. I've come to ask for your help."

Riker looked perplexed. "Is this some sort of joke?"

"No joke, Riker. I'm going to capture Ro and the rest of her followers – but I need you to help me."

"Why should I?"

"Because you're a Starfleet officer, Tom. You joined the Maquis because you were sympathetic to their position. But a lot of things have changed while you were in prison."

"We just want to protect our colonies from the Cardassians…"

"No, you don't,"Michael snapped. "Because they don't need protecting. There isn't a Demilitarised Zone anymore, Tom. All those colonies you're defending have either been destroyed or returned to Federation control. Your fight's over and like most fights it's ended in a messy draw. But there are people out there, people like Ro, who aren't willing to lay down their arms. They're not after justice or whatever other high and mighty ideals you think you're fighting for. They want revenge, plain and simple. They're going to kill a load of people, possibly start another war, out of malice! Is that what you want?"

Riker paused. "What do you want me to do?"


Ro sat in the command chair on her ship. One of her crew turned to her. "The Defiant's hailing us, Laren. It's Tom."

"On screen,"Ro ordered. An image appeared. Riker and a couple of other Maquis were grouped around Michael, Kira, Barnes, Reese and Ezri.

"Ship's ours, Laren,"Riker told her. "You can beam over whenever you like."

"Thank you, Tom. Did they give you any trouble?"

"They've been a bit tricky but we managed to outwit them in the end."

"I never doubted you." Ro stood up and two other Maquis came to her side. "Prepare to transport three."


On the Defiant bridge, Barnes operated the transporter controls on the tactical console. Ro and her two associates materialised nearby. Ro look at Michael. "I'm sorry it had to end this way, Commodore."

"So am I, Laren. So am I." Michael held out his hand – and Riker passed him his phaser. The other two Maquis guards handed their weapons to Kira and Reese.

"What are you doing?"Ro cried. She pointed her weapon at Michael and tried to fire. Nothing happened.

"I had your weapons deactivated during transport,"Michael explained. "This one, however, is still in perfect working order." He turned to Barnes. "Raise shields and lock a tractor beam on the Maquis ship. It's time to bring our guests home."


Commodore's Log: Supplemental. We have returned to Deep Space 9 without further incident. Starfleet Security are on their way to collect the Maquis, who will face trial for their terrorist action against the Federation. It's unfortunate. Both Tom Riker and Ro Laren had the making of good officers. But like so many others they chose to see a clear-cut morality in an area covered with grey.


Kira nodded to the two guards on the door of the quarters and they admitted her. Riker got to his feet. "Commander."

"At ease." Kira sighed. "The ship's arrived to take you and the others to Starbase 12 to stand trial."

Riker nodded. "What do you think will happen?"

"The Commodore's made a report that you helped us to capture the others. Same with Morris and Klyn. He's asked them to go easy on you. Might only get a year."

"And then what? A lot of the things I thought I could depend on are gone. I've got a lot of thinking to do about how I'm going to live my life." He put his hand on her shoulder. Surprisingly, she realised she didn't mind. "But it was good to serve with you again, Nerys. Thank Commodore Billinghurst for me."

Without another word, he walked out. The guards fell into line, escorting him to his ship.


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