Science Fiction Chronicle
The Star Trek Deep Space Nine #24: Rebels #1: The Conqueredby Dafydd ab Hugh
When Captain Sisko leads the Defiant on a dangerous mission into the Gamma Quadrant to liberate a conquered world, the Bajoran government insists that Kai Winn, the Federation's longtime nemesis, assume complete control of the space station. Left behind by Sisko, Major Kira expects the worst from the Kai's new regime, but even she is caught by surprise when a fleet of alien warships attack Deep Space Nine!
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Captain Benjamin Sisko stood in room 77A of the All Prophets Council chambers on Bajor, facing Kai Winn and surrounded by sixty-six vedeks and conciliators and priests and votaries and even an audience circumnavigating the viewing stage above the council floor. The crowd mobbed in from the left, circled the viewing stage, and exited on the opposite side, where their prayer tokens were collected. Major Kira Nerys stood next to the captain. As they had arranged, Kira spoke first.
"Most Gracious Kai," said Kira, "the Federation offers an...assignment of Deep Space Nine on a temporary basis, to Bajoran command."
Kai Winn frowned in the virtual council chambers, smoothing her plain frock. She pulled at one finger, carefully framing her reply in the most diplomatic terms possible. Although it was Kira who had spoken, she addressed her reply to Captain Sisko. "If the station remains under Federation control, Emissary, yet Shakar or some other member of the council becomes its governor, doesn't that mean we have accepted the authority of the Federation over Bajor?"
Damn her. Sisko -- the "Emissary of the Prophets" -- was careful to keep his poker face, but the Kai had a point. Tricky diplomacy was required not to offend the Bajorans. "The United Federation of Planets most certainly does not claim hegemony over Bajor, the council, or any vedek or political leader who might assume temporary control of the station."
Kai Winn shook her head; "more in sorrow than anger," quoted Sisko silently to himself. "Emissary," she said, "if we control the station only subject to approval of our actions by the Federation Council, then we are nothing but puppets of the Federation." She put her hand over her mouth as if she had accidentally let slip an indiscretion. Good acting job, thought Sisko glumly. Kai Winn never did anything by accident. "I beg your pardon.... Perhaps it would be better to say we would be nothing but -- political subsidiaries of the Federation. Rather like a colony or a protectorate."
Sisko took a deep breath. Winn had negotiated his back right up against a wall: he was authorized by the Federation Council to offer one further step...then that was it; if Kai Winn and the other vedeks didn't accept that offer, negotiations were at an end.
"The Federation is prepared to forgo the normal review process for turnovers of this sort in lieu of an explicit timeline of events, culminating with a final evaluation."
"You won't be looking over our shoulders? Emissary, how kind of you to make such an offer."
"No reviews until the final evaluation, Kai." added Kira, bobbing her head rapidly.
"But does the Emissary have the diplomatic authority to make such an offer?"
"I do," Sisko said. "And the Federation feels that with tensions between us and the Cardassians in abeyance for the moment, this would be an excellent time for such an experiment."
"How pleasant to carry on such productive negotiations." Kai Winn smiled broadly. She's going to take it, thought Sisko. And he was right: "I, too, am authorized by a vote of the leading vedeks, of each party in the council to agree to the Federation offer -- on a temporary basis, of course, subject to our own evaluation of the ongoing process."
Fancy footwork on first base to confuse the pitcher, thought Sisko with a simile. But the extra escape clause allowing Bajor to terminate the agreement early would not substantially alter the final proposal; the captain was certain the Federation Council would approve. "Then we have agreement, Kai Winn, Members of the Council. In nine days, you will send up a governor to assume control of Deep Space Nine for a period of sixty days...which may be extended indefinitely, provided both parties agree."
The Kai's eyes flickered toward First Minister Shakar when Sisko, mentioned "governor." An excellent choice, thought the captain. Major Kira's only fear had been that Winn would try to take the position herself. For obvious reasons having little to do with the future of Bajor, Kira was quite pleased with the prospect of once again working under her old Resistance commander...and current romantic interest.
Before the final ceremony could begin, they were interrupted by the chime of a combadge. Sisko tapped his combadge as discreetly as possible.
"Captain," Worf said, "My apologies for interrupting. But there is an urgent message for you from Starfleet. You are needed on Deep Space Nine at once."
"This had better be good," Sisko said to Worf under his breath. He was not looking forward to the explanations and apologies he'd have to give the council.
Back on the station, Kira was in no way pleased with the interruption from Starfleet. "Captain, couldn't whatever this message is have waited until we finished the negotiations or at least -- "
"Let's see what Starfleet wants, Major. If it wasn't worth it, we'll soon know," Sisko said. As he spoke, he read down the text of the message on the padd that had been handed to him the moment he stepped into Ops.
"Sir, Kai Winn and the vedeks are going to be very upset. We walked right out on a meeting of the Council of All Prophets....That's like -- "
"Apparently a group of renegade Cardassians have invaded a star system on the edge of the Federation," Sisko said bluntly. "I think even Kai Winn and the vedeks will understand the urgency of the situation."
Kira froze in midsentence as the implication sank through her annoyance and humiliation and crash-landed on her comprehension circuits. If the Cardassians, any Cardassians, were starting a major offensive, the Federation was in grave danger, indeed -- as was Bajor, needless to say. The Cardassians had never forgotten the embarrassment of Shakar and his compatriots forcing them off the only planet they never quite managed to subdue.
"How close?" she asked.
"Not very close, Major," said Wort hovering nearby -- as usual when the subject is war, thought Kira. "The Cardassians have invaded the system around Sierra-Bravo 112, the active half of the binary star system that includes the neutron star Stirnis."
The captain shook his head. "I was afraid of something like this; that's why I fought like the devil against this turnover of DS9....At least right at this moment."
"Oh? And why is that?" She didn't mean it to sound quite so frosty; it was almost an autonomic reaction.
"I mean no slur against Bajor, Kira."
"I'm only concerned," he continued, "about the timing. While Starfleet is claiming that these Cardassians are renegades, disavowed by their central command, there could well be more to this. At the moment, I think it's a terrible idea to remove the Federation presence here."
"Radiation readings," said Dax, stepping forward from her science station, "in the vicinity of Sierra-Bravo 112 indicate a technological civilization on the second planet from the star, but the Federation long-range survey ship didn't pick up any subspace transmissions or warp signatures."
"Prime Directive, Old Man?" asked Sisko.
"Yes, Benjamin, I'm sure the Prime Directive would apply."
"Benjamin," continued Dax, "There are no enemy ships anywhere near here and a quarter of the Klingon fleet is on standby in case anything nasty comes out of the wormhole. Now is as good a time as any for the turnover -- much as I hate to leave."
"Perhaps you're right," allowed Captain Sisko. "But in any case it's not an option: gentlemen, we have been ordered by Admiral Baang to at least investigate SB-112....Investigate, not necessarily to act upon what we see. That, at least, Starfleet leaves to my discretion."
Kira's blood leapt in response to the simple announcement -- stop! It's just another mission, it's nothing! But her pulse raced regardless. The admiral had downplayed the potential for fighting, but Kira somehow knew the rumor would turn out to be true, and they would have no choice but to intervene. And by the Prophets, I want to be on that job. She tried to tell herself it was only to avoid tedious duty during the turnover...or even (a dark thought) to avoid the inevitable deep, meaningful discussion with Shakar about where they were headed -- they, as in They.
But she was too honest to deny what she knew: she had killed Cardassians for so long -- her whole adult life and much of her youth -- that she had become accustomed to blood. She fought the dreams every waking moment and gave in to them at night...slinking once again through the black dark with disruptor rifle in arms, approaching the Cardassian sentry as quiet as a meurik, and "taking him out" (such euphemisms for perverse joy) with a k-bar knife.
Kira smiled, remembering grim and glorious days in the Shakaar resistance cell. "I can see where you're going to need someone like me, Captain." To go to battle again -- against Cardassian aggression -- was surely enough to overcome her conflicted desire to be with Shakar during his moment of triumph. Besides, she thought, putting a pious spin, he'll be proud of my role in a mission like this. It would mark the first time she went to war with Cardassian slavers on her own, without Shakar.
Sisko stopped, turning to gaze in seeming serenity upon the assembled senior crew, Kira in particular. "And that is why I am disappointed to have to leave you behind, Major."
"What?" She blinked, not understanding.
"You are of course a very good choice for this type of job, but you are the only person who can smooth the inevitably choppy waters of the turnover of Deep Space Nine to the Bajoran government."
"But I -- "
"Major Kira, when First Minister Shakar arrives -- or whoever is sent by the council -- I cannot give him an executive officer who is a member of Starfleet; Kai Winn would never allow it. She's already as nervous as a cat that this is a conspiracy to take away Bajor's independence. There are only two people on the station she almost trusts...and one of us, Major, has to command the Defiant."
Captain Sisko turned and ascended to his imperial roost, leaving behind a Bajoran major with her mouth opening and closing wordlessly. But...I should be in charge of the Cardassian operation! Who else could -- Alas, when Kira turned for moral support to the rest of the Ops crew, they had all returned to their ongoing task to ready the station for the turnover.
Kira blew a breath through her clenched teeth. "Aye, sir," she said belatedly and angrily sat at her station. Don't be such a whiner, she berated herself; perhaps it's a hidden blessing from the Prophets. Leaving Kira as executive officer of the station not only provided stability, it would mean sixty days of face-to-face contact in a relationship that already appeared to be drifting toward the shoals of neglect. She smiled, wondering what it would be like to once again take orders from the most brilliant leader she had ever known.
Copyright © 1999 by Paramount Pictures
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PLOT OR PREMISE: This is the first of a 3-book series dealing with a time when Bajor takes over the station for a trial period of 60 days. Kai Winn is in command, and her past is revealed through a series of flashbacks to the Occupation and her actions to help the resistance. Worf, Sisko, O'Brien, Quark and Odo are stranded on a planet where all the citizens have advanced technology that has reduced them to a complete dependency relationship. Renegade Cardassians have invaded the planet and have no trouble picking off the inhabitants -- all they have to do is cut the power to the technology. Dax and Bashir are also on the planet in a different environment. . WHAT I LIKED: Dax and Bashir's trials and tribulations aren't bad and there is interesting interplay with some cadets. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Kai Winn's character comes off far too "mature" for the period, and belies the changes when she actually reached power. Major Kira's character is barely fleshed out, and mostly appears as a caricature of the real character on the series. None of the four stranded characters are worth reading about here, and are pale imitations of the real characters on the series. . BOTTOM-LINE: Not bad but not great . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.