The Cause

"The Cause" Chapter Five by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

The Artemis made her approach. Riley noted the presence of a Blackbird-class scoutship. He informed Aellai that the ship’s ID transponder pinged it as the Odyssey.

“I wonder what Macen is doing here?” Aellai pondered aloud. She knew Macen by reputation alone. She also knew he’d worked closely with Hudson and Chakotay before their passing and still worked hand in hand with Ro and Korepanova. It seemed Eddington would be getting rid of yet another potential thorn in the side.

“Eddington’s report just arrived,” Riley advised Aellai. “There are two starships assigned to this patrol region. The first is a Springfield-class ship called the Courageous and the other is a Cheyenne-class named the Navajo. But they both seem to be out of the vicinity right now.”

“Scan the Odyssey,” Aellai ordered. “I want to know what she’s capable of.”

“Ye Gods,” Riley breathed, “she’s intact.”

“Of course she’s intact,” Aellai grated. “She’s right in front of us.”

“No, I mean she’s listed as being decommissioned but she’s in service trim. Starfleet didn’t remove a blessed thing when they handed her over to Macen,” Riley described.

“Who is he?” Aellai mused.

“A freelance investigator, or so he claims,” Riley recalled. “No one seems to know much about him except Ro and Korepanova.”

“What’s a ‘freelance investigator?’” Aellai wondered.

“That’s commercial talk for ‘spy for hire,’” Riley retorted.

“Isn’t he a former Starfleet officer?” Aellai seemed to recall.

“That’s what put him in the club with everyone he worked with,” Riley informed her. “They’re all ex-Starfleet.”

“What’s Eddington have to say about it?” Aellai wanted to know.

Riley scrolled through the report. “He says Macen isn’t an active member of the Maquis, but he is a vital support asset.”

“Too bad he’s about to become a dead one,” Aellai snorted.

“Eddington may not approve of killing him,” Riley warned.

“Eddington can kiss my gorgeous butt,” Aellai quipped. “We’re doing this for him.”

“You know, Ro could be a problem.” Riley delved further into the file. “Eddington believes that Ro will go to great lengths to stop the deployment of biogenic weapons.”

“So she’s a traitor to the cause,” Aellai mused. “She’ll just have to be one of our first targets when we get back.”

“It says Ro completed Starfleet’s Advanced Tactical Training course, a feat Eddington couldn’t pull off.” Riley thought it over. “It means she’ll be very dangerous in a fight.”

“She hasn’t met me yet,” Aellai mused. “I’ll show her the meaning of the word ‘dangerous.’”

“But Ro may have hired Macen to spy on us,” Riley considered, “and if so, Ro could be here as well.”

“How would they know we were coming here?” Aellai breezily dismissed the notion.

“I don’t know. We didn’t share this plan with anyone, but Eddington seems to be a bit of an ego maniac. He may have bragged it up to some loose lips,” Riley countered.

“Okay, I grant you the fact that the plan to make and use biogenic weapons may have leaked,” Aellai conceded, “but how would they know to come here?”

“It may be coincidence that Macen’s here and that he’s friends with Ro, but I also don’t believe in coincidence,” Riley stated.

“You might have a point,” Aellai granted him. “Have Don offload the weapon and then he’ll stay aboard to guard the ship while Siobhan, you, and I deliver it, arm it, and get the hell away from here.”

“Does Siobhan think she can penetrate Life Support?” Riley wondered. “It is a secure area.”

“Siobhan has a former lover that gave her the standard access codes for these types of things,” Aellai explained.

“Remind me to thank him someday,” Riley requested.

Aellai smirked. “Actually, it’s a her.”

“She’s never said a word,” Riley admitted.

“Siobhan is quite cosmopolitan. She’s attracted to both sexes,” Aellai shared.

“Just so long as Starfleet Security doesn’t come crawling up our ass,” Riley opined.

“Agreed,” Aellai said heartily.

Macen’s predictions came true as the Maquis stepped off of the transporter pad. Security hurriedly confiscated all of the visible phasers. But as expected, they were so consumed by the larger Bajoran models, they confused their readings and didn’t find the compact Type I’s.

Ro traveled under a falsified ID that T’Kir had whipped up. It wouldn’t withstand a retina scan activated probe, but it was enough to initially get her past security. It seemed to Ro that there was no end to T’Kir’s illicit activities.

The Maquis spread across the station. The docking ring was divided into four quads. Lee and Vorhoven took up position in Quad One to observe the comings and goings there. To allay suspicions, they struck up conversations with various dock hands and freighter crews.

Tebler and Mayweather watched Quad Three. They chose to mingle with unemployed day laborers looking to load and offload cargo. Gutierrez and D’ofo took up their vigil in Quad Four.

Ro watched over Quad Two, which sat next to the station’s main commercial transporter. Macen was designated to join her when he was done haranguing the station CO. All of the Maquis had been given restraints and comm badges along with their weapons.

The silver comm badges were identical to the gold comm badges worn by Federation law enforcement agents. It turned out that silver badges were issued to quasi-legal enforcement authorities such as privateers, private investigators, security specialists, and bounty hunters. T’Kir had linked the badges to the station’s central comm network. They’d reach anywhere inside the starbase as well as utilize the comm array to reach the Odyssey. As an added bonus, T’Kir had set up a private channel but Starfleet’s internal channel could be accessed with a phrase uttered before speaking the intended message.

Macen joined Ro fifteen minutes later. He wore a rueful grin. “Well, that went as well as expected.”

“M’rarr is still being a pigheaded jackass?” Ro wondered.

“That’s probably an even greater mixed metaphor with a Caitian than the usual,” Macen mused. “His Chief of Security seemed interested though.”

“Is he or she going to do anything?” Ro tersely inquired.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Macen shrugged.

“Great,” Ro groused.

“Something else bothering you?” Macen wondered.

“These stupid badges make my people stand out,” Ro complained.

“You should wear them on your belt like I do,” Macen repeated his earlier suggestion, “but they grant you an air of legitimacy that you’d otherwise lack. Standing around waiting for people to arrive would be suspicious behavior, but with our comm badges, your group appears to have legitimate business doing so.”

Ro removed the badge and reaffixed it to her belt. “Happy?”

“Thrilled,” Macen deadpanned.

“Good,” Ro asserted, “because I’m not… they’re here.”

“Where?” Macen asked.

Granger exited Docking Port 8, in Quad Two. He sat down a large duffel bag, gave some final instructions to Hennessy and then reentered the ship. Riley hefted the bag and then he left the quad with Aellai and Hennessy at his side.

“Get going,” Macen urged Ro.

“Are you going to be okay?” Ro asked.

“I’m having Lees, Christine, and Tom beam over to the station so we can access the Artemis. They only left one person aboard, so we’ll be fine,” Macen assured her. “Now scoot!”

Ro immediately departed. As she dropped back and followed the Artemis crew from a discreet distance, she signaled the other Maquis and had them converge on the station’s Life Support plant. They all arrived in time to find the two Starfleet Security officers assigned to protect the oxygen, heating, and cooling providers already stunned.

“Aellai, don’t do this,” Ro called out to the other leader. “Once you do, there’s no going back.”

“Siobhan, go faster!” Aellai demanded.

Ro stepped around the pressure seal and fired. She missed Aellai and Hennessy but she struck Riley. He crumpled to the deck as Aellai returned fire. Tebler and Gutierrez joined Ro and added their weight to the phaser barrage. Aellai slapped the door controls and the hatch sealed.

“We’re trapped,” Hennessy complained. “We’ll be stuck here until this thing goes off. I’ve already started the ignition process, and in two hours, this thing goes off and I can’t find a way to stop it.”

“We’ll die for the cause,” Aellai declared with a manic edge to her voice. “Don will deliver the weapons and we’ll still have our revenge.”

“I’m not dying for your revenge,” Hennessy snarled as she stood up from the ventilation shaft she’d been working on.

Aellai stunned her own crewman and went to work sliding the biogenic weapon into the shaft.

“What’s going on here?” Lt. Commander Aerick of Starfleet Security demanded to know as he and a handful of Security officers descended upon Life Support.

Ro pointed to her badge. “We’re trying to apprehend Maquis terrorists who are attempting to plant a biogenic weapon in your ventilation shafts.”

Aerick eyed Ro. “You must be with Captain Macen.”

“You’re smart,” Ro said acerbically.

“Macen captured the other Maquis crewman and my men have seized their transports, as well as the eleven biogenic devices in their hold,” Aerick informed her. “The Navajo has been recalled to transport the prisoners to Izar where they can stand trial.”

“You can’t do that here?” Ro was surprised.

“We only have one JAG officer aboard the station, so we don’t have enough legal representation to conduct a trial ourselves,” Aerick explained. “Now, I’d recommend you return to your ship.”

“I want to see this through,” Ro insisted.

“Can we step out into the corridor?” Aerick requested.

Ro nodded her acquiescence and they left the area. Aerick gave Ro a pained look. “Lt. Ro, I strongly urge you to take your Maquis and get aboard the Odyssey.”

Ro studied him. “How long have you known?”

“I served aboard the Wellington when you did,” Aerick revealed. “I thought you got a raw deal then and I think so now.”

Ro continued to weigh the Rigellian’s words as he continued. “I’ll give you a twenty minute escape window. Afterwards, the Navajo will be here. Her XO is Shannon Farley and her Chief of Security is Onyx Drell. I don’t suppose you recall them?”

“I do and I see your point,” Ro consented after hearing the names of the prosecution’s chief witnesses against her at her court martial.

She gathered her people and as they withdrew, Aerick called out after them, “You’re welcome.”

The Odyssey headed away from Starbase 621 and back towards Ronara Prime at warp 6. Ro joined Macen on the bridge, despite her obvious exhaustion from being up for over thirty-six hours straight. She asked for a private conference with Macen.

Danan rolled her eyes at his imploring look. “Look, either make her the ‘other’ woman or put her on staff.”

Ro cast a quizzical glance Macen’s way. Danan laughed. “Go, get off my bridge.”

Ro followed Macen into the briefing room, casting a beleaguered look Danan’s way as the Trill past her by while heading for the center seat. As the door closed behind her, Ro asked, “Is there something you should tell me about you and Lisea?”

“Is there?” Macen asked merrily.

“I feel like I’ve stepped into a mine field here,” Ro confessed.

“Don’t worry about it. She’s just playing with you,” Macen assured. “Now, what’s on your mind?”

“I take it everyone aboard Starbase 621 didn’t die a horrible, agonizing death,” she surmised.

“No,” Macen smiled. “The crisis has been averted thanks to brilliant deduction work by Starfleet Security. The weapon was beamed into space. And the Maquis are being properly vilified yet again.”

“Of course,” Ro said ruefully. “It figures.”

“Commander Aerick isn’t an active Maquis, nor is he a collaborator, but he is a sympathizer,” Macen analyzed the Rigellian’s behavior. “Which is valuable information.”

“He pretty much told me the same thing,” Ro shared, “but I don’t know if he sympathizes with the Maquis cause or me.”

“Maybe it’s both,” Macen suggested, “or it’s even that he sympathizes with the cause because of your involvement.”

“What are you suggesting?” Ro was instantly defensive.

“I don’t know if I am suggesting anything,” Macen admitted. “Take my statement for what you will.”

“At least we got away and the biogenic devices aren’t in Eddington’s hands.” Ro tried to put a positive spin on the mission.

“So it counts as a ‘win?’” Macen wondered.

“Not really,” Ro grumped. “I really wanted to confront Eddington with his handiwork.”

“Too dangerous,” Macen warned. “The rest of his followers, and that’s practically every Maquis, would have taken the weapons and used them anyway. You and Sveta would have only ostracized yourself further. And Eddington would have known you were personally involved. Nothing occurs in a vacuum.”

“Brin, we’re traveling in a vacuum right now,” Ro retorted.

“But we’re moving. We have motion, a life sustaining construct around us and life forms from several different worlds inside of it,” Macen lectured her. “That alone should tell you nothing is stagnant in this universe. All life interacts and intrinsically affects other life, even if it’s only on a microscopic level.”

Ro derisively snorted. “That’s what the vedeks taught us as children.”

“There’s wisdom to be found in those teachings,” Macen opined.

“I didn’t believe it then and I won’t believe in superstition now,” Ro asserted.

“Truth can be extracted from superstition,” Macen countered, “but my real question is ‘what next?’”

“We go back to business as usual,” Ro shrugged. “We still have a war to win.”

“And if Eddington completely cuts you off from the rest of the Maquis?” Macen had to ask.

“Then we scale back the magnitude of our operations but we keep fighting,” Ro decided.

“I’ll feed you what intelligence that I can,” Macen assured Ro. “Tell Sveta that she’s in the pipeline as well. Eddington and his supporters won’t be.”

“What? Why?” Ro was astounded.

“I can’t support Eddington’s new direction for the Maquis,” Macen stated. “Genocide is not the way to win and Eddington and his loyal little minions need to learn that.”

Ro suddenly felt like kissing him despite however Danan would feel about it, and told him so. Macen looked uncomfortable. “Let’s not get drastic.”

Ro reunited with Tulley at their base on Ronara Prime. Every Maquis that had been aboard theIndomitable was trading war stories with those that had been aboard the Odyssey. Ro had already quite a few exaggerations from the latter group to make their trip sound more exciting.

“I hear you were successful,” Ro congratulated Tulley. “You even escaped from three Starfleet ships and two Cardassian cruisers.”

“Never leave me behind again,” Tulley begged. “I almost had a nervous breakdown.”

“Poor baby. I’ll try not to,” Ro consoled him. “I got back to find a message from Eddington on my comp/comm.”

“What did he have to say?” Tulley sneered the word ‘he.’

“That we’re too independent and we should have cleared the Orion strike through him. Apparently he’s upset that the freighters were intercepted and destroyed,” Ro informed him, “so now we’re truly independent operators that are Maquis in name only. All the other cells have been warned to avoid us and not to cooperate with us our support any of our operations in any way.”

“So he tossed us out on our ear,” Tulley said bitterly.

“Not really,” Ro mused. “It seems our little group is too successful to simply throw away, so we’re now viewed as a splinter faction whose logistics are completely up to us.”

“What about the Architect?” Tulley wondered.

“Sveta has received the same message and she already left a separate message to insure me we have her full support,” Ro told him.

“So they’re not going to let her plan group missions anymore?” Tulley was incredulous.

“Nope,” Ro shook her head. “They have one of Starfleet’s finest strategists at their disposal and they cast her aside simply because she wouldn’t bow before the new king.”

“Still, with you and the Architect on our side, we should be able to kick some royal ass,” Tulley enthused.

Ro smiled. “I’m glad you think so, because a major part of making that work will be a result of your work.”

Tulley groaned and Ro chided him. “It’s part of being my deputy. You want to step down? That’s fine. I’ll ask Sam to take the job.”

The thought of Richards leapfrogging him in the cell’s seniority rankled Tulley. Although, he knew Richards was a former law enforcement officer, whereas Tulley was just an inspired amateur. But he was especially motivated.

“I’m fine with the way things stand,” Tulley promised Ro.

“I understand you paid Athos IV a visit while I was away,” Ro recalled. “How did you explain my not making an appearance?”

“Shanra just told everyone you were down with Rigellian fever and were being quarantined in what passes as a med bay aboard the Indie,” Tulley explained.

“Bajorans can’t get Rigellian fever,” Ro said to much chuckling from Tulley.

“Ro, the Architect has requested that you contact her. She says you two need to start planning a new offensive,” Alea informed Ro as she approached.

“Yes, we do,” Ro said with some satisfaction. “You two stand by. I’ll need to consult with the pair of you in a few minutes.”

“We’ll be waiting,” Alea promised.

Ro suddenly felt more confident about her cause and her cell then she had since she first joined it. She also felt as bold and forceful has she had under Hudson’s wing. She was still committed enough to win the lousy struggle the Maquis faced as a daily reality. And in this game, the most committed one won.

And with any luck Eddington will get killed or captured before that victory is achieved and he can set himself up as a demigod over a Maquis Confederacy, Ro thought to herself.


U.S.S. Andor and U.S.S. Blackbird designed by Bernrd Schneider.


Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.

"The Cause" Chapter Four by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

The S.S. Indomitable soared through DMZ space and ventured beyond Gryma into the Cardassian border with the Zone. Tulley knew that Cardassian Outpost 47 monitored the space around Gryma and would alert the High Command of the Indie’s attack on the Orion convoy. The Cardassians felt far less constricted about deploying military units in the DMZ than Starfleet did, but Starbase 129 and the Argus Array watched over this region of space as well, and would dispatch starships in response to an incursion by the Cardassian Guard.

Macen’s information regarding the number of Orion vessels had been incorrect. The actual number of freighters was six, that and their two Wanderer-class escorts. Tulley’s gut clenched as he saw the freighters and fully realized just how many ground based disruptor banks were being brought to Gryma and Quatal Prime.

Tulley also fully realized he had to knock out the blockade runners before he engaged the lightly shielded freighters. Sam Richards scanned the escorts. “They’re armed with disruptors but they’re lacking torpedo tubes.”

Tulley nodded his acknowledgement. Richards was occupying his usual post at Tactical. Ro usually commanded as she also piloted the ship. Tulley hadn’t wanted any distractions, so he was seated at the oft neglected Auxiliary Station.

“From what I read on Jane’s Starships about these things, they’ll easily outmaneuver us, so we have to come in hard and fast,” Tulley thought aloud.

“I recommend an approach along their z-axis,” Alea spoke up. “Their sensors are pretty muddled along that line by their shields.”

“Got that, Audra?” Tulley asked.

“Laying in a course now,” North announced.

“Sam?” Tulley looked across at Richards.

“Photons are loaded and phasers are charged,” Richards reported. “Guidance and tracking are up and running.”

Tulley turned towards Halep. “Athena, you’re monitoring Engineering. Sing out if Thool starts to lose power. I don’t want to experience a sudden catastrophic power failure.”

“You should have used a different ship,” Halep snorted.

Tulley ignored the comment. “Do they have us on sensors?”

“Yes,” Alea informed him. “They’ve been actively scanning us for some time.”

“The escorts have interposed themselves between us and the freighters,” Richards shared.

“Good, that’s just what we wanted them to do,” Tulley commented.

“Hopefully they know that,” Richards remarked.

“Audra, now!” Tulley ordered.

The Indomitable suddenly vectored towards the Orions along their dorsal plane. The blockade runners maneuvered to intercept. Outpost 47 began broadcasting warnings toward the Indie.

Richards opened fire. He fired one photon at each interceptor. When their shields wavered, he opened up with a phaser barrage. The Orions responded with their disruptors.

The Maquis and the Orions strafed each other as they passed by. The Indomitable then concentrated firepower on the hapless freighters. Richards expended the torpedo magazines in destroying the freighters. North then cut and ran.

The Indie flew along the curved belt that comprised the DMZ with the Orion blockade runners in pursuit. The Orion craft were already damaged, so their best speed merely matched that of the Maquis raider. The Cardassian Guard pulled two Galor-class cruisers off of patrol to mirror the Maquis and Orion movements within the DMZ. Starfleet dispatched the Centaur-class U.S.S. Hydra and alerted two Saber-class Starfleet Border Patrol ships.

The Indomitable broke free of the DMZ and headed straight into the Bajoran Sector. The U.S.S. Centaur, the U.S.S. Vigilance, and the U.S.S. Steadfast joined the pursuit. The Orions opened fire upon the Starfleet ships to warn them off.

The Vigilance broke off and dealt with the Orion ships. The Hydra and the Steadfast slowed as theIndomitable slipped into the Badlands. The Cardassian cruisers traversed nonaligned space and dove into the plasma storm field.

The lead Galor-class ship, the Tergal, fired several photon torpedoes at the fleeing Maquis raider. They struck a plasma funnel and created a plasma storm eruption. The Indomitable maneuvered underneath the blast wave but the Tergal, and her sister the Tipitz, were beaten by the plasma wave.

The Hydra and the Steadfast moved in to assist. They found the Tergal was a gutted ruin while the Tipitzwas merely disabled. Towed out of the Badlands, the crew of the Tipitz decided they’d be able to restore minimal power and limp back into Cardassian space.

Meanwhile, Starfleet temporarily impounded the Orion blockade runners to find out why the Maquis targeted them. Tulley fired off a subspace radio message to the starships and laid out their reasoning. Captain Victoria Oshera read the missive and then proceeded to file her report laying out specific charges to lay against the crew of the Indomitable and urging Starfleet Intelligence to focus their efforts on finding which cell the ship and crew belonged to.

Eddington fumed as word spread of “Ro’s” strike against the Orions. He angrily wondered who she’d received her intelligence from. He then wondered why she hadn’t informed him of her plans. The part of Eddington that thought like a Starfleet officer railed against Ro’s unilateral action.

Ro was far too independent an operator to include him in her master plans. Ro had obviously wanted to derail the Cardassians’ attempt to install disruptor networks on their chief colonies within the DMZ. Eddington had wanted them in place so that the Maquis would have them after the Cardassians died en masse.

Eddington felt that Ro was far too shortsighted in these matters. Ro had worked best with Hudson, Chakotay, and Korepanova. Chakotay and Hudson were dead and Korepanova was proving to be a thorn in Eddington’s side. And now Ro was too.

Eddington’s vanity didn’t allow him to see that he held a large degree of jealousy towards Ro. Ro had completed Starfleet’s Advanced Tactical Training program. Eddington had taken the course himself earlier in his career. He’d been one of the sixty percent statistic that washed out every year.

Ro’s accomplishments, both in Starfleet and the Maquis, made others look up to her. And Ro had thrown in behind Korepanova in the battle for succession. Unfortunately, only one victor would stand as Maquis Commander when the psychological war was concluded and Eddington would be that man—no matter what it took.

It took the Odyssey eighteen hours to cross the Bajoran Sector and reach Kalandra. Ro and the Maquis were in command of the ship. Ro followed Danan’s plan and inserted the starship into an orbital track between Kalandra VIII and Kalandra IX. D’ofo reported that she had a clear sensor sweep of Kalandra IV.

“The Artemis is breaking orbit,” D’ofo informed Ro, “and she’s plotting a course towards Federation space.”

“Mayweather, set course to follow her,” Ro ordered. “Keep us within sensor range, but don’t close the distance.”

“Easy enough,” Mayweather boasted.

Ro wondered where the transport was headed to next.

The Odyssey’s crew relieved the Maquis. After each station officer reported the ongoing situation to their relief, the Maquis left the bridge except for Ro. She and Macen exchanged quiet words. Macen signaled a very curious Danan to join them.

“We’ve been following the Artemis for four hours,” Ro informed the pair. “She hasn’t deviated from her course once, but I have no idea where she’s going.”

“T’Kir, are we still in the Artemis’ subspace wake?” Macen asked the young Vulcan.

“You betcha,” she flippantly replied. “I would’ve told you if we lost them in the last two minutes.”

Ro was really getting curious as to T’Kir’s mental state. She was totally unlike any Vulcan she’d ever met. Of course, the fact that her parents had been disciples of Sybok rather that Surak said a lot. Macen had clued Ro into the fact that T’Kir had experienced a total emotional breakdown when her parents were killed by a Cardassian raid.

“We’ve skirted the Breen Confederacy,” Danan announced as she studied her charts. “Now we’re closing in on the Tzenkethi Coalition’s territory. We’ve actually followed a circuitous path back towards the Bajoran Sector again. We’re nearing Starbase 621, but I’d bet that’s not their destination. I’d guess that we’ll end up at Temechlia.”

“What’s our ETA for the system?” Macen inquired.

“Half an hour at our current speed,” Ebert stated.

“Care to wait up?” Macen asked Ro.

“I’d just be in the way,” Ro deferred.

“The platform behind me has three stations and only two are occupied,” Macen informed her. “Slave the Auxiliary Station to Lees’ sensors. You’re not going to relax until you know what’s going on anyway.”

“Bastard,” Ro chuckled knowing Macen had figured her out too well.

Danan proved to be correct because the Artemis plunged into the Temechlia system and achieved standard aboard over the planet…parallel to a Tzenkethi cruiser. The cruiser followed Tzenkethi aesthetics and appeared to be a silvery tear drop.

“What the hell are they doing?” Ro wondered aloud.

“That’s a very important question,” Macen mused. “Lees, I know the Tzenkethi have more sensitive sensors than our friends’, but keep an eye on everything they do. Tracy, keep us out here in the system’s hinter land. If the Tzenkethi are going to prove to be hostile, I want time to react.”

“No problem,” Ebert readily agreed.

Three Tzenkethi beamed aboard the Artemis. The sight of them awed Granger. Aellai was also taken in by their appearance. Many humanoids considered the Tzenkethi to be the most beautiful species in the quadrant, and now Aellai and Granger knew that firsthand.

Tzenkethi bodies were essentially a transparent carapace filled with a gel-like internal fluid. The gel was tensile enough to act as a muscle fiber and yet, without bones, flexible enough to allow Tzenkethi to contort their bodies in ways unimaginable to most humanoids. The gel was also luminescent and gave the Tzenkethi a soft glow.

Their society was composed of genetic castes. Each individual was born into the role they would play within Tzenkethi society. There no advancements in that society only downgrades. Repeated or catastrophic failure would reduce a once proud caste member to the menial classes. The lowest of the low were mind wiped to purest simplicity and they lived only to perform basic functions.

The Tzenkethi saw the Federation, with its myriad species and autonomous actions as anarchy personified. The fact that the Federation espoused self determination and democratic choices offended Tzenkethi to their core. They were utterly dependent upon their Autarch. And there was only one Autarch allowed to live to rule the Tzenkethi in a generation.

But the Tzenkethi had come to realize they were vastly outnumbered by the Federation’s scope and its member worlds and colonies, so their plan of neutralizing the Federation’s expansion was to destabilize it and to plunge it into conflicts with other races.

Chaos would expand into greater chaos and rend the Federation apart. And then the other stellar nations would tear the offal apart. For their part, the Tzenkethi would absorb the closest Federation worlds and impose order and genetic controls upon them. After all, the menial classes always needed to be bolstered by fresh blood.

Eddington had made Aellai aware of the Tzenkethi’s motives for assisting the Maquis plan and Aellai didn’t care. The end result would exterminate all Cardassian life on Gryma and Quatal Prime. There was enough biomimetic gel to create a dozen biogenic devices so there would even be leftovers to threaten worlds within the Cardassian Union itself. Frankly, Aellai hoped the Cardassians would provoke Eddington into using them.

Aellai escorted the three Tzenkethi to the main cargo bay where Granger had laid out their “special wares.” After arriving, the Tzenkethi made brief introductions. The medical expert glowed a pale shade of blue. The warrior escorting them glowed shades of silver. The facilitator was a light green.

The facilitator’s name was Arikene. Just Arikene. Aellai had been briefed that Tzenkethi had an alphanumeric designator attached to their name to publically demonstrate their caste rank. Without knowing the caste rank, Aellai had no means of knowing whether or not she was dealing with anyone of influence.

“What are your targets?” Arikene inquired.

Aellai listed them all and Arikene made a decision. “All are acceptable except for Chin’Toka.”

“But it’s a strategic position that will block Starfleet’s advance into Cardassian space,” Aellai argued.

“We are aware of that; nevertheless, the prohibition stands,” Arikene insisted, “precisely for that reason.”

“But the military base on Chin’Toka will launch a reprisal at Maquis worlds,” Aellai protested.

“That will not occur until the Cardassians unleash their own biogenic weapons,” Arikene lectured Aellai. “That will prompt an intervention by Starfleet. That intervention will primarily come through the Chin’Toka system and they shall meet considerable resistance.”

“You mean to start a war between Cardassia and the Federation,” Aellai grasped it all of a sudden.

“That would suit my Autarch,” Arikene admitted, “and it shall allow the Maquis the time and opportunity to fortify their positions within the Demilitarized Zone.”

“If you don’t want us to hit Chin’Toka, then where would you like us to use the last device?” Aellai inquired.

“We shall prepare a portable delivery system,” Arikene explained. “This device will be placed within the life support network of Starbase 621. There, it will release an aerosol agent that will eliminate all humanoid life within the station.”

Aellai struggled with that and said as much. Eventually, Aellai convinced herself it was a reasonable trade off.”Fine, we’ll deliver it.”

Arikene was pleased. “Then we may now proceed with creating your weapons.”

Tensions were rising aboard the Odyssey. Ro’s impatience was growing by the minute. “Why don’t we go there and find out what they’re doing?”

“Well, like the last twenty times you’ve asked that particular question over the last six hours, we don’t have definitive proof yet,” Macen retorted.

“Then what do you think they’re doing?” Ro tried again.

 “Best guess?” Macen asked.

“Anything,” Ro huffed.

“Tzenkethi society revolves around genetic engineering, so I’d say if you were going to have someone build you a biogenic device, you’d want them to be Tzenkethi,” Macen stated. “The problem is that help will come with a steep price.”

“What kind of price?” Ro wondered.

“Let’s just say that all the latinum in the galaxy wouldn’t motivate them,” Macen replied.

“Brin, the Artemis is breaking orbit,” Danan reported.

“Where are the Tzenkethi headed off to?” Macen wanted to know.

“Coalition space,” Danan informed him, “but the curious thing is that the Artemis isn’t headed back towards the Bajor Sector or the DMZ.”

“Then where is she going?” Ro asked irritably.

“On a straight line for Starbase 621,” Danan told her.

“Why?” Ro didn’t quite get it.

“That’s the price,” Macen said heavily.

“They’re going to detonate a biogenic device in a Federation starbase?” Ro didn’t want to believe it.

“It would line up with Eddington’s ‘you’re either with us or against us’ philosophy,” Macen remarked. “Aellai is his first convert.”

“Tebler would be his second,” Ro said sourly.

“Is he going to be a problem?” Macen wanted to know.

“Probably not,” Ro guessed.

“So what do we do now?” Macen asked her.

“What do you mean?” Ro wanted to know.

“Laren, you’re my employer. My ship and crew do what you tell us to do within the confines of our contract,” Macen explained.

“Of course we prevent then from doing whatever they intend to do.” Ro was a little outraged by Macen’s mercenary attitude.

“You and your Maquis will probably be arrested if you step foot on Starbase 621, and my crew isn’t combat trained,” Macen informed her.

“You’re the captain of a licensed starship bearing a letter of marque,” Ro reminded him. “You’re also the owner-operator of a business concern that has dealings with Starfleet. Just contact the commanding officer and tell them what’s coming their way.”

“I’m a freelancer now, not a Starfleet Intelligence agent, so they’re going to view me with suspicion,” Macen warned her. “And we have no proof whatsoever that the Artemis has hostile intentions. Just a guess.”

“I thought you used to be an analyst, not an agent,” Ro pointedly thrust back at him.

“Agent, analyst, all the same thing,” Macen said dismissively.

“Here’s the deal: My people will be ‘working’ for you when we board the station. If the CO hasn’t believed you by then, you’ll come aboard to argue the point with him while we get busy,” Ro suggested.

“It’s just stupid enough to work,” Macen mused.

Ro’s ire was raised by the appellation of ‘stupid’ being applied to her plan. “Just trust me.”

“Tracy, set course for Starbase 621,” Macen suddenly ordered. “Make it an elliptical approach so we won’t pass the Artemis by. We have a speed advantage, so we can use that to get there first.”

“I can get us there before them, but I can’t estimate how much ‘before’ them,” Ebert warned.

“Do what you can,” Macen urged. “Lees, you have the bridge.”

“Sure, run away just when it’s getting interesting,” Danan mock complained.

“Laren, if you’ll join me in the briefing room, I’ll call Starbase 621 and see what happens,” Macen requested.

“All right.” Ro was feeling more amiable now that she was getting what she wanted.

Macen was true to his word and contacted Starbase 621. After navigating through a sea of bureaucracy, he reached Captain M’rarr. M’rarr was a Caitian and his ears were flattened against his head. Not a promising sight.

“Why are you interfering in our work day, Commander?” M’rarr demanded to know.

“Technically, it’s ‘Captain’ now,” Macen asserted.

“I don’t care about your civilian position, Commander,” M’rarr shot back. “You invoked several Starfleet security protocols to get my attention. If you’re now saying you aren’t Starfleet, then stop wasting my time.”

“I’ve retired, Captain,” Macen explained, “but I have reasons to believe that Maquis collaborators will be attacking your station within the hour.”

If you’re a civilian now, I need your business license, transport credentials and registration, cargo manifest, and personnel list before I can discuss your so-called ‘terrorists,’” M’rarr insisted.

Macen transmitted the data. M’rarr cut the transmission and Macen and Ro waited in silence for several minutes—several more minutes than it took to verify Macen’s credentials. After ten minutes had passed, M’rarr’s visage returned to the screen.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” he sneered, “I don’t listen to what ‘freelance investigators’ have to say.”

The screen went dark again. Macen gave Ro a wry look. “Now we do it your way.”

“Come with me; we need to brief my people,” Ro requested.

Everyone but D’ofo and Vorhoven were awakened for the meeting. Lee asked one of the obvious questions. “How do you know we’ll reach Starbase 621 before the Artemis?”

“This ship is capable of a twelve hour burst at warp 8.3. The Artemis maxes out at warp 6.3. In her day, theOdyssey was one of the fastest ships in the fleet. Transports? Not so much,” Macen replied.

Lee and Vorhoven grinned as she said, “Good to know.”

“To do this, you’ll each be drawing a Bajoran Militia issue phaser from the ship’s armory,” Macen informed them. “You’ll also be issued a Starfleet Type I ‘cricket’ phaser. While security is busy relieving you of the Bajoran gear, you’ll still have your Federation phaser to fall back on.”

Ro looked at all her teammates. “Starfleet Security will hold onto Macen’s pistols for the duration of our stay. He’ll be reporting to the CO’s office to press our case. Seeing as how Captain M’rarr doesn’t like Macen already, it should prove to be quite distracting to the station’s senior staff.”

Macen pulled up Starbase 621’s layout and downloaded it into prepared PADDs. Ro advised them to quickly study. “We have less than twenty minutes until we arrive, so I need opinions on where Aellai could deploy a biogenic weapon and have it effectively kill everyone before we get there.”

“Sure, no pressure,” Gutierrez complained.


U.S.S. Andor and U.S.S. Blackbird designed by Bernrd Schneider.


Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.

"The Cause" Chapter Three by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

“No! I forbid it!” Tulley was reacting to the news Ro had brought him. “You’ll be on the bridge of theIndomitable where you belong. Let Macen chase down Aellai across god knows where.”

“I think I can decide for myself where I belong,” Ro said coldly.

“Ro, I’m not you. I can’t command an attack,” Tulley pleaded.

“You do it on the ground all the time,” Ro adamantly quashed his argument. “My decision stands. The Maquis are pretty loose-knit, but when the cell commander issues an order, she still expects it to be obeyed. The only difference between an extra-atmospheric attack and a ground attack is the one in space is waged in three dimensions.”

“Even if the order is stupid?” Tulley lashed out.

“That’s what command prerogative in the field is for,” Ro asserted. “Once you’re on scene, you’ll know what to do.”

“And if I don’t?” Tulley groused.

“Retreat is always an option,” Ro consoled him, “but it’s a costly one in the long run.”

Tulley gathered around the cell’s leadership. Ro briefed them on what was going to occur and she listed off the personnel she’d be taking with her. Giving the time, coordinates, and payload of their target, Ro was pleased when everyone enthusiastically agreed to go on the mission despite Tulley’s qualms. Alea, the cell’s intelligence officer, wanted to verify all of the data with the Odyssey crew.

As the woman hustled off to find a comm unit, Ro reflected once again on the mystery that Alea represented. Alea had nasal bone ridges even more pronounced than a Bajoran’s and yet had naturally purple hair—which definitely wasn’t a Bajoran trait. No one knew what planet Alea hailed from and she wasn’t talking. Yet she was far too good at her job to press her into an ultimatum of revealing her secrets or leaving the Maquis.

Emjin Thool approached Ro after the meeting had adjourned and the room had cleared. The Bolian licked his lips. “Are you sure about this? Aric is untested.”

Ro knew Thool’s worry was more for the Indomitable than her crew. Engineers, even Maquis ones, were slavishly devoted to their vessels. And Thool had a definite love affair going on with the Ju’day-class raider.

“Just prep the ship, Thool,” Ro insisted. “Aric will do fine. I have faith in him and so should you.”

Tulley herded Ro’s team into the meeting hall. They were a fairly assorted lot. Humans dominated the group. There exceptions though and Hev Tebler was one of them. The Cappellan was a better fighter than an engineer but both of his skill sets might be needed.

Lee Ziyi was Thool’s deputy. She was of Chinese descent and was quite proud of her heritage. She was also a walking burst of color since she dip-dyed her raven hair blue.

Larn Vorhoven was another engineer. He was more skilled than Tebler, but he just knew basic maintenance, unlike Lee and Thool. But he was also a fair hand in a fight.

Nadima D’ofo was one of the two medics the cell boasted. She was of African descent and also engaged in hair color playfulness. Her hair was currently blonde.

Juliana Gutierrez was one of the cell’s squad assault leaders. Lance Mayweather was a general hand and transporter chief. The other members of this group were going with the Indie.

Shanra Neet was among them. The Gideonite settler was the other medic. Athena Halep was an ops officer aboard the raider. The young Romani was yet another hair colorist, her current choice being platinum blonde. Audra North was a pilot and also half human and half Galenite, her alien heritage reflected by her bright green hair. Sam Richards rounded out the group. Richards was Tulley’s deputy, and as much as Ro would like to have his steely nerves aboard the Odyssey, she judged that Tulley needed him more.

Ro briefed the group. As usual, Tebler and Gutierrez were ready for a fight. Lee and Vorhoven were eager to get inside a starship even if it was a decommissioned one. D’ofo was slightly anxious about the new setting until she learned the Odyssey had a fully stocked Sickbay. She was much happier after learning that.

Ro got her team to the rendezvous point and wondered when someone would meet them. Seconds later, an annular confinement beam locked onto them and then they were transported up to the Odyssey in its position in orbit. They looked around and realized they’d rematerialized in a cargo bay. Macen and his Engineer’s Mate, Heidi Darcy, stood at the transporter controls.

“Thanks, Heidi. We can manage from here,” Macen informed her.

Darcy was stopped by Lee as she was exiting. Darcy’s own brunette hair was dip dyed blonde and Lee was delighted. “I love your hair!”

“Thanks.” The younger woman smiled and then reported back to Engineering.

“Excuse me, but who was that?” Lee asked Macen.

Macen explained who Darcy was and what her position aboard ship was as well. Lee lit up. “I knew anyone that fabulous had to be an engineer.”

“Does that include me?” Vorhoven teased.

“There are exceptions to every rule, Larry,” Lee quipped, “and you’re obviously one of them.”

Vorhoven clutched his heart. “Cut to the quick…again.”

Even the stoic Tebler smiled at that. Ro had had enough. “Can we get serious here?”

“Follow me and I’ll show you all to your quarters,” Macen decided. “This ship was designed with a crew of twenty-two in mind. There are six officer’s quarters with five permanent crewmen, so that leaves most of you in the enlisted barracks, since I have a feeling Ro will take the last single cabin. How you divvy up the rest of the rooms is up to you.”

What the Maquis discovered was that there were four rooms remaining that could house four crewmen in each. Ro did take the last officer’s cabin. Tebler got a barracks to himself. Vorhoven and Mayweather took a second room. Gutierrez would sleep alone and that left Lee and D’ofo sharing the last room.

Macen let everyone sort themselves out and then took them to the nearby galley. He left and Ro conducted an informal meeting. Lee was the first to speak.

“We’re already underway. I can feel that the warp core’s vibrational harmonics have shifted,” she shared.

Mayweather asked the obvious question on everyone’s mind. “So where are we headed anyway?”

“And just why the hell did we come along?” Gutierrez gruffly demanded to know. “This ship should be able to swat one lone transport.”

“We don’t want to lose the ship. It’s a transport that itself is a former Starfleet starship. We could use it in many different ways,” Ro explained, “and as far as Captain Aellai and her crew, that depends on how they react to our presence and if we have to board them or not.”

“What are we expecting to find?” D’ofo noticed all the stares her question drew. “Hey, we have to be after them for a reason.”

“I don’t know what we’ll find or where the Artemis will travel to,” Ro admitted. “This is a fishing expedition with firepower. What I do know is Eddington came to the Maquis with several dozen liters of biomimetic gel. Enough to build several weapons.”

“I can’t believe Aellai would go along with biogenic weapons,” D’ofo argued. “After all, her ancestors lost their planet to one.”

“Perhaps that is her motivation and perhaps these weapons would provide the tipping point to insure our eventual victory,” Tebler reasoned.

Ro glared at the Cappellan. “We may be labeled as ‘terrorists,’ but even we have rules of conduct.”

“Maybe that’s why we haven’t won already,” Tebler argued.

Ro suddenly saw that many in the Maquis would be swayed by a similar argument. After all, her own cell was being swayed even now. “This isn’t right. Once the bottle on biogenic weapons gets uncorked, the Cardassians are going to reply in kind and both sides will escalate until no one is left alive inside of the DMZ.”

Everyone but Tebler was with her again. “And no one will intervene unless Starfleet decides to step in. Do you really want to rely upon Starfleet?”

Tebler was still resistant. Ro wondered if he would prove to be a problem later on, so she decided to outline the hastily agreed upon plan. “The Odyssey is going to tail the Artemis at a discreet distance. We’ll be seeing where they go and who they meet with. If Aellai meets with someone capable of building a biogenic weapon, or several, Odyssey will pursue and engage when the Artemis is alone again,” Ro shared. “Our team will stand by if boarding action is required. We’ll aim for taking prisoners and then we’ll decide what to do with them after we’ve secured the Artemis and pilot her back to the DMZ. Then Eddington will be forced to justify his intentions.”

“So what are we going to do on this little voyage until we need to shoot something?” Mayweather inquired.

“Good question,” Ro admitted. “Let me ask the ship’s captain.”

Macen reported to the galley, leaving his executive officer, Lisea Danan in charge. Ro was uncertain as to the exact nature of the relationship between the El-Aurian intelligence agent and the Trill stellar cartographer. What Ro had gathered was that Danan and Macen had known each other for quite some time, and possibly through several lifetimes since Danan was Lisea’s symbiot. She’d also learned through Cal Hudson that Danan had abruptly resigned Starfleet and left a premier posting in order to join Macen on his freelance enterprise.

But the interactions between the two suggested that there was something greater than a simple platonic friendship. And Ro knew that no one was allowed to needle Macen as effectively as Danan, with the possible exception of Ro herself. Ro considered herself in rarified circles.

“I’d prefer if you restricted your movements to the cargo bays, Sickbay, and the galley when you’re not in your quarters,” Macen announced. He called up a deck layout on the galley’s main information screen. “As you can see, there are five decks total. Deck One is the bridge and I’d rather doubt you’d have a need to be there. You’re on Deck Two. Sickbay and the cargo bays make up the accessible portions of Deck Three. Deck Four is Engineering and Deck Five is monopolized by antimatter storage.”

“This would all go a lot smoother if you let us help out around here,” Lee interjected. “Have your engineers shadow Tebler, Vorhoven, and I. Ro can command while your crew sleeps. Mayweather also knows how to pilot ships. Gutierrez can man virtually any tactical board. D’ofo is a fair hand with Ops and sensors when she isn’t needed in Sickbay.”

Macen cast a quizzical glance Ro’s way. She nodded her approval. “I trust them with my life, so I suggest you loosen up and do the same.”

“All right,” Macen decided. “If you’d all follow me, I’ll show you to your future stations.”

The group moved to Deck Three where D’ofo was introduced to the Sickbay. She was left behind to examine the equipment and stores to be found there. Everyone else descended into Deck Four.

There the Maquis were introduced to Tom Eckles. Eckles and Darcy were a long-standing technical team. Eckles had first taken Darcy under his wing when she’d come aboard a tramp freighter he worked on. They’d been inseparable ever since. But they’d never moved past their age difference—greater than twenty years—to change their working relationship into a romantic one.

Eckles and Darcy both loved the prospect of working with additional crewmen. Eckles decided on the spot that he would supervise the Alpha watch while Darcy would oversee the Gamma. There was no Beta watch and the crew stood for twelve hour rotations. Fortunately, the Odyssey didn’t embark on long term missions. The crew’s longest voyage thus far had lasted for two and a half weeks.

Darcy would have Lee assisting her in overseeing Tebler while Vorhoven would work with the more experienced Eckles. Darcy quickly dismissed her group to get some food and rest before their watch commenced in five hours. Lee was more than delighted to have Darcy nearly to herself.

The Maquis were led back to Deck Three to pick D’ofo up and take her to the bridge. Upon arrival, the Maquis discovered that the ship was queued up to pass through the closest Federation checkpoint near Ronara Prime. Their wait had been estimated at two hours—plenty of time for the crew to show the Maquis their future duties.

Christine Lacey showed Gutierrez the tactical board and ran a few simulated scenarios to get Gutierrez comfortable and competent with the systems. Gutierrez mentioned that she’d seen Lacey on Ronara Prime on a couple of occasions. She’d been curious as to how Lacey got her hair to be its particular shade of red. Off the cuff, Gutierrez also revealed she missed Lacey’s blonde bangs.

T’Kir ran D’ofo through the Ops systems. D’ofo had been a nurse on Umoth before the Cardassians shut the clinic down. It was easy for her to deduce that T’Kir had been a mental patient and was probably an escapee from the Ardra Psychotherapy Institute on Ronara before it was cut off from Federation support and had shut down, thereby releasing its patients upon the general populace.

Tracy Ebert was surprised to learn Mayweather would pilot the ship in her off hours. Mayweather shrugged. “I come from a long line of freighter owner-operators. My family has been in the shipping business since the 22nd Century. I had a relative aboard the NX-01 USS Enterprise.”

Mayweather tried not to stare at Ebert’s spectacles. “I’m just as surprised that you have to wear those things.”

Ebert shrugged. “I’m allergic to Retnax.”

Mayweather accepted that simple explanation. As Ebert got him comfortable with the CONN station, he began to note that Ebert’s glasses also functioned with a heads up display feeding her navigational sensor data. For the first time in his life, he wished he were wearing spectacles.

The Maquis left the bridge after the ship cleared the checkpoint. They only had three hours before they’d pull a twelve hour shift controlling the starship. To a greater degree, they were all comfortable with that, but there was still an edge of trepidation because this was a starship and not simply a scout ship converted into a raider.

As her Maquis reported to Deck Two, Ro followed Macen into the briefing room located behind the bridge. As Ro sat down at the table, she noted the displays mounted into it. Keyboard controls predating the LCARS interfaces dominated the terminals.

“Now it’s time to talk about the practical aspects of our mission,” Macen decided. “We’ll be intercepting theArtemis in the Kalandra system. We have the sensor range to observe her transit through the inner system from the Ort Cloud. When she nears the habitable zone, we’ll move into the outer system.”

Macen pulled up a star chart of the Kalandra system. “As you can see, the primary has sixteen planets held captive. Lisea calculated the orbital mechanics of the system while we’ll be there. For several days, Kalandra IX will be in alignment with Kalandra IV.”

“And Kalandra IV is home to the system’s natives,” Ro recalled.

“True, there are colonies on Kalandras III, V, and VI, but the race evolved on Kalandra IV.” Macen gave her even more information. “This will place us well out of sensor range of an Andor-class transport. Everything about the Artemis has remained at constructed norms except her offensive weapons were removed prior to decommissioning.”

“But Aellai replaced them with Klingon Class V disruptors. Rumor has it she unblocked the torpedo tubes and has a few photons aboard as well,” Ro remembered.

“While I’d prefer to void an armed conflict or a ship to ship battle. Even though the Odyssey retains all of her original armament and defensive capabilities,” Macen advised Ro. “Of course, that means we have fixed phaser banks rather than Type IX or X phaser strips. But we do have fully stocked photon torpedo magazines. We have thirty-six photons in the forward launchers and eighteen in the aft launcher.”

“Now, we can observe suspicious activity all we want. We can’t prove criminal activities without boarding the ship,” Macen warned. “If we’re wrong, Aellai cab press charges and we’ll be tried for piracy. Everyone aboard would end up on a penal colony except you, Lees, and I. We’ll end up on Jaros II.”

“Next, you have to decide ahead of time what you’ll do with the prisoners,” Macen told her. “I’d recommend handing them over to Starfleet.”

“Why not over to the Bajoran Militia?” Ro wondered.

“The Militia supports the Kohn Ma and the Maquis,” Macen forced her to acknowledge. “An arbiter would simply release Aellai and send her back to the DMZ where she would become a very vocal, and potentially belligerent, foe of yours.”

Macen softened a bit. “Also, it doesn’t pay to antagonize the Provisional Government. Shakaar has extended the amnesty for Bajoran Resistance fighters who return home to the Maquis as well. If things go badly for you, you may want to take that option.”

“And do what?” Ro scoffed. “Farm?”

“You could always join the Militia,” Macen suggested. “They need someone with your training and experience. And most of them are ex-Resistance.”

“Why the sudden free advice?” Ro was suddenly suspicious.

“The Cardassian government is teetering on collapse. The Klingons have broken the will of the Cardassian Guard. Only Dukat’s raids even sting the Klingons. In other words, the Cardassian Union is in shambles and people under those conditions usually seek desperate measures to make all their problems go away,” Macen advised. “The Maquis are viewed as a major problem and an even greater embarrassment to the Cardassian people. Don’t be surprised if the Cardassians strike out and escalate the conflict or acquire allies who will do it for them.”

“You’re serious,” Ro suddenly realized.

“The Cardassians are hardly the first people to go down this path,” Macen warned, “nor will they be the last. But desperation makes extreme options tantalizing whereas they weren’t palatable before.”

Ro was caught short. Finally she said, “I’ll take it under advisement.”

“I really don’t think you have much more time to consider it,” Macen opined. “If Eddington does heighten tensions in the DMZ in a very real and catastrophic way, he opens the door to his own destruction and he’ll take all of you with him. Because the Detapa Council and the High Command are teetering on an abyss and that kind of provocation will throw them over it.”

Ro suddenly had a chilling feeling Macen was right.


U.S.S. Andor and U.S.S. Blackbird designed by Bernrd Schneider.


Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.

"The Cause" Chapter Two by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

Captain Aellai guided Eddington through her Andor-class transport. The Artemis had been built nearly at the beginning of Starfleet’s hull construction run beginning in 2322. The ships had endured in service until the late 2360s and had recently all been decommissioned en masse. The SS Artemis had begun life as theUSS Artemis and had proudly served Starfleet’s needs throughout its forty plus year tenure.

Over the last two years, the ship had changed hands and owners three times. Each prior owner-operator had secured the necessary clearance to purchase a decommissioned starship, but they had all been woefully ignorant of what kind of life an itinerant trader led. Aellai had led that life since the Setlik III massacre, so when the owner of the vessel let Aellai know his ship was up for sale, she leapt at the opportunity.

Cal Hudson had devised Aellai’s role in the Maquis but she chafed under its restrictions. She wanted to inflict a great deal of harm back upon the Cardassians for what they’d done to the settlers on Setlik III and her own people. She’d begun by replacing the removed phaser banks with Klingon disruptors and unblocked the torpedo tubes that now carried four photons.

Fortunately for Aellai’s line of work, and her secret life as well, the Artemis’ sensor suite was intact, as were her shield array. Her engines were also unaltered so she could easily outpace the fastest conventional freighter. No other Maquis ship could catch her or escape her.

“How did the Quatal assignment go?” Eddington inquired as they neared the transporter room where the tour had begun.

Aellai fished an isolinear rod out of her bra and handed it to Eddington. “That encompasses all of our orbital sensor readings as well as those taken on the ground with tricorders. The atmospheric studies will be of particular interest to you.”

Eddington stopped in his tracks. “Why would you say that?”

“Let’s just say if someone wanted to deploy an aerosol agent into Quatal’s atmosphere, these wind current projections would be valuable,” Aellai fenced with him.

“Too bad I’m not doing that then,” Eddington parried.

“Just keep saying that,” Aellai said smugly. “After our next little ‘job’ is completed, what do you have in mind for us?”

“I need a similar study of Gryma,” Eddington answered.

“Gryma is more of a challenge,” Aellai mused. “It was the funnel point for the Cardassian Guard’s assistance to the colonial paramilitaries. Despite that support having dried up to a trickle because of the Klingons, the Cardassians will still suspect anyone moving across their world of being spies.”

“Then it’s a good thing you will be,” Eddington chuckled. “I’d hate to disappoint them. And I never thought I’d say this, but thank God for the Klingons in this. Now that they’ve broken faith with the Khitomer Accords treaty, I’ve been in contact with representatives from the High Council. We may have a new door for material support opening up for us.”

“They’re interested in throwing weaponry our way but not of fighting beside us,” Aellai immediately grasped.

“They see putting out the ultimate effort as a virtue in warfare,” Eddington smirked.

“Like a cloaking device is honorable,” Aellai snorted.

“Like Commander Worf recently said, ‘There’s nothing as honorable as winning’ and the Klingons do intend to win,” Eddington summed up.

They reached the transporter room and the impromptu tour concluded. Aellai eyed Eddington skeptically. “Well, what do you think of my ship?”

“With only five decks, this ship is comparable in size to the Defiant,” Eddington commented. “Of course, the Artemis has much greater cargo capacity.”

“And I’ll be filling its holds with various trinkets to buy my way onto Gryma’s surface as well as taking care of your other little errand. That process is going to take several weeks,” Aellai warned him.

“Really?” Eddington was disappointed. “That long?”

“Starfleet has become aware of Captain Yates’ involvement with the Maquis,” Aellai forced him to recall. “In doing so, they’ve tightened security and are sending out exploratory patrols into nonaligned space with greater frequency and intensity. I can’t tip my hand just yet.”

“And getting your little weapons assembled will also take time,” Aellai warned. “My people had experience with biogenic weapons. They’ll be worth the wait. They completely poisoned Platonius so that no one can inhabit it.”

“We’re not destroying any planets,” Eddington countered. “We need the planets intact for settlement. Of course, they’re also going to require one helluva burial detail.”

“Well, our losses forced us to interbreed with humans just to survive,” Aellai lamented.

“As I have heard it, you’re half human yourself,” Eddington pointed out.

“Through no fault of my own,” Aellai retorted.

“Oh, we’re not so bad. If you have to interbreed with someone it might as well be us,” Eddington jovially remarked.

His good humor was lost on her. “I’ll call someone in to handle the transporter. Good day.”

As Eddington watched Aellai depart, he realized he’d just found a major vulnerability in her emotional shields. It was good to know these things. He patiently waited for Don Granger to return to the transporter room.

Granger served as the Artemis’ cargo master as well as the transporter chief. Since the entire crew was made up of four people, everyone undertook multiple specialties. Aellai was not only the captain, but she also handled the conn and ops. Donal Riley was her first officer and also controlled weapons, sensors, and communications. Siobhan Hennessy was the chief engineer and also the munitions handler. All in all, they were a highly efficient operation.

“Just step on the pad, Commander Eddington, and I’ll have you on the surface in a heartbeat,” Granger said jovially.

“I’m no longer in Starfleet, so you don’t have to refer to me by my former rank,” Eddington deadpanned.

“But you’re the next Maquis commander,” Granger quipped, “so I’m still right.”

Eddington smiled. “I’ll give you that.”

He stepped onto a pad and looked around at the unit. “Is this still a Mark V transporter?”

“It works,” Granger shot back. “With all the care Siobhan and I give this baby, she’ll outperform any Mark VII.”

“I believe you,” Eddington assured him.

Granger grinned. “Good, ‘cause otherwise Siobhan would hand you your ass.”

Eddington recalled the feisty engineer. “I believe you’re right again.”

“Energizing,” Granger smirked.

Aellai ran a tight ship with so few crewmen because greater numbers increased the security risks around what they really did and the cargoes they handled. Everyone aboard hated the Cardassians as much if not more than Aellai. So their little conspiracy ran unabated until someone outside the circle grew the wiser.

Ro contacted Elijah Waters. Macen had told her about Waters, but she’d never seen him before. His advanced years startled her. Waters was at least eighty years old. Humans were now living past the century mark, but Waters was still far older than Ro expected.

Her only estimate of his age before this was based on the comment Macen had made that he’d worked with Waters for sixty years. Given that Macen was an El-Aurian, that made his own age very deceptive and rounded out appropriately for Waters’ own appearance.

“Hello Ro, I’m afraid your reputation does go before you,” Waters smiled.

Ro appreciated Waters’ snowy white beard and hair. The twinkle in his eyes also swayed her towards immediately liking him. “So does yours. I think I’m safe in assuming the reports are from the same source.”

“Not quite. Admiral Nechayev had some choice things to say about you behind closed doors,” Waters chuckled. “Just as Brin does.”

“I have a few things to say regarding Nechayev myself,” Ro confessed. “What were hers?”

“Her metaphors were mixed and very colorful,” Waters admitted. “The sort of language you’d hear from a Klingon whorehouse.”

Ro liked that thought. “And Macen?”

“Only the best,” Waters assured her.

“Okay, setting all that aside, I need…” Ro began.

“To hire the Odyssey and her captain,” Waters surmised before Ro could finish. “You’re in luck. They just finished an investigation into the Boslics for a certain Ferengi.”

“I hope Quark paid well,” Ro said dryly.

“Far more than he expected to, I assure you,” Waters said slyly. “The Odyssey will be returning to Starbase 412 from Bajor in two days time.”

“Why Bajor and not Deep Space Nine?” Ro was instantly curious.

“Macen is confirming a rumor,” Waters said simply.

Ro waited for the man to elaborate but it quickly dawned her he wasn’t going to. “Tell Brin to meet me in the usual place on Ronara Prime.”

“I will indeed, and if I were forty years younger, I’d be a very jealous man.” Waters’ eyes twinkled with delight as he signed off.

Ro wondered just what the hell Macen had shared about her.

Two days later, Ro cautiously entered the Old Biddy. The tavern had become such a draw for the planet’s Maquis cell that she was surprised that Starfleet and the Cardassians hadn’t targeted it yet. Then again, Starfleet might have done so and no one realized it yet. The Cardassians, however, would have stood out even in the bar’s usual crowd.

The “usual” crowd was an eclectic mix of freighter crews and locals. Various fringe elements also found the Old Biddy to be a haven of sorts, which is probably why the Maquis felt at home there.

Ro had been recruited to the Maquis in an establishment similar to this, at least in the eclectic mix of patrons’ arena. That watering hole had been light years far and away in class. The Old Biddy was simply a place where one drank their cares away — or conducted clandestine meetings such as Ro was about to have.

Ro’s right hand was in her jacket pocket. Inside was a Type I “cricket” phaser. Starfleet had stopped issuing the diminutive weapons so they’d found their way into surplus dealers’ hands and the black market. As Ro worked her way through the tavern, she ordered a drink and then spotted Macen at their usual table in the back of the establishment.

Ro made her approach and as she drew closer to the table, she realized there was a male Galenite lying unconscious on the floor next to the table. His ancestry was obvious because of his green hair. His people were native to Galen III, a pre-warp culture whose planet was near the Federation colony on Galen IV. Ro knew from personal acquaintances that the colonists had violated the Prime Directive on more than one occasion.

“Did you really have to stun him?” Ro dryly asked.

Macen shrugged. “He wouldn’t vacate your seat.”

“We could have used a different table,” Ro wryly suggested.

“And break tradition?” Macen queried her with mock horror.

“It’s no wonder you’re no longer in Starfleet,” Ro snorted.

“You’re a fine one to talk,” Macen quipped.

“Too true,” she said with some satisfaction as she sat down opposite Macen, “but I’m not sure we have time for the usual repartee.”

“Elijah said you seemed to be in a hurry to hire me,” Macen began. “I suppose you’ll want my special pro bono rate.”

“What are you now?” Ro retorted. “A latinum grubbing Ferengi?”

“I know quite a few Bajorans that grub a lot too,” Macen threw back at her.

“We’re not here to discuss them,” Ro growled a warning.

“No, we’re here to discuss Michael Eddington’s intentions for the Maquis,” Macen surmised.

“How did you know?” Ro wondered. “I didn’t tell Waters anything.”

“I know you don’t like Eddington,” Macen admitted, “and if I know it, he knows it as well. That could prove to be dangerous when you’re dealing with a megalomaniac.”

 “Bully for him,” Ro retorted.

“A very free word of advice: While standing up for principle is a vital part of life, it doesn’t pay to needlessly antagonize the boss,” Macen warned her.

“So you think Eddington is a shoo in for Maquis commander?” Ro wondered.

“He already is in everything but name only,” Macen stated.

Ro sighed. “Eddington has Aellai surveying Quatal Prime. I can only guess that Gryma is next. I need to know why.”

“So do the governors of Quatal and Gryma,” Macen divulged, “and they’re willing to cover my expenses for the job.”

“So you’ll still make a profit while helping out us poor, struggling Maquis,” Ro said snidely. “Poor baby.”

“Laren, I’ve been quite generous with the Maquis in general and your cell in particular. I’d do the assignment for you gratis,” Macen shared, “but if I can get the Cardassians to finance a Maquis operation, then I’m all for it.”

“Good point,” Ro murmured.

“The Cardassians are afraid that Aellai is working for the Maquis — a fact we know to be true,” Macen remarked. “They’re of the opinion that the Maquis will learn something to enable them to deploy a weapon of some sort. I think you share this opinion.”

“Yes, but Eddington still needs Aellai’s cover intact,” Ro opined, “but the vindictive little guttersnipe wants her revenge, so I think if she enables Eddington to acquire some kind of super weapon, she’ll be likely to use it herself.”

“Aellai covered her ostensible reason for being at Quatal, which was supposedly a trade venture, by scouring nonaligned star systems to acquire exotic wares and goods that the Cardassians would want to buy,” Macen described. “Some of those planets are under protection from the Prime Directive, but apparently Aellai doesn’t feel constrained by that law anymore.”

“Should she?” Ro asked acerbically.

“Even if you don’t agree with many of the Federation’s policies, you have to admit that the Prime Directive is a valid one,” Macen conjectured.

“Unless your home planet is being occupied by a foreign aggressor when the Federation invokes its lofty principle of ‘noninterference’ and throws that in your face,” Ro snapped. “And for what? To avoid a war that they’d already been unofficially fighting for a couple of decades?”

“Then why did you swear an oath to uphold that same principle?” Macen inquired.

“Well, I didn’t fulfill that oath very well, did I?” Ro asked sardonically.

“You didn’t join the Maquis because you hated the Federation,” Macen stated the obvious fact. “You did it because you were disappointed again by the Federation’s failures to live up to its own ideals.”

For once in a rare occasion, Ro was rendered speechless. Macen brushed it all aside. “Anyway, Aellai will be stocking up her wares again so we can observe her in action and see if Eddington has any special stops arranged for her.”

“How will you find her?” Ro wondered.

“Easy. Captain Rionoj gave me Aellai’s usual route and a list of where she frequently stops,” Macen grinned.

“A little perk of working for Quark, I take it,” Ro deduced.

Macen shrugged. “Quark wanted to know where Rionoj had found her new supply of fire gems. He wanted to undercut her. She was willing to trade my silence for Aellai’s itinerary.”

“So you lied to your employer,” Ro said ruefully.

“Quark didn’t need to know the truth,” Macen decided, “and my willingness to withhold the true percentage of what he was taking off of the sale of Rionoj’s gemstones was bartered in exchange for his accepting my report at face value.”

Macen suddenly smirked. “With a twenty-five percent reduction of my standard fee, of course.”

After Ro’s mirth died down, she asked, “Will you help us?”

Macen nodded in the affirmative, “I’ve been worried about Aellai for a while now. She was clearly unhinged back in ‘57 when the massacre on Setlik III occurred.”

“And how would you know?” Ro queried him.

“I know what I saw at the time,” Macen gently replied.

That rattled Ro, so she hesitated before inquiring, “So what’s your plan?”

“That’s all up to you,” Macen informed her, “but I’d stick with the simple game plan of following theArtemis and seeing who she meets up with.”

“I agree with the idea,” Ro said after a moment’s consideration. “I’ll prep a team to come aboard your ship.”

“I’d also suggest you leave your usual staff officers behind so they can take the Indomitable out to create the illusion that you’ve never left Ronara except for this mission,” Macen urged.

“I suppose you have a mission already in mind,” Ro surmised.

“As it turns out, the Orion Syndicate is shipping Class IV ground based disruptor banks to Quatal and Gryma. The convoy will be comprised of four stock light freighters and two Wanderer-class blockade runners. The cargo manifests will show that they industrial replicators rather than weapons in order to get past any Starfleet patrols on their way to Cardassian space whereby they will transit to Gryma,” Macen shared.

“All right, I’ll inform Tulley he’s on this,” Ro agreed. “I’ll also assemble a team of reliable Maquis and meet you at Second Quad Settlement in Division Four of Primal City.”

“I have to know,” Macen interjected, “just how committed to this objective are you?”

“Normally I’d go after the Orions in my own raider,” Ro asserted, “but I’m letting Tulley do that and I’m riding with you.”

“You have to know Eddington will respond,” Macen warned her. “He has an overinflated sense of personal betrayal and he will take measures against you in response to this. You could easily be ostracized from the communal Brigade Council and the joint supply line. This would leave you utterly dependent on your own financing initiatives and logistics support.”

“I guess I really would be an independent operator afterwards,” Ro ventured.

Macen had to appreciate her courage and dedication.


U.S.S. Andor and U.S.S. Blackbird designed by Bernrd Schneider.


Please send feedback and other correspondence regarding this story to Brin_Macen at yahoo dot com.

"The Cause" Chapter One by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Travis Anderson

Series: TOS, DS9

Rating: K+

Synopsis: Michael Eddington has left Starfleet, but his arrival in the DMZ heralds in a new era for the Maquis.  What Ro Laren wants to know is will it be an era of newfound success and/or a period of unrestricted extremism?

Chronology: Two weeks after the Deep Space Nine fourth season episode “For the Cause.”

Read More