THE VERDICT OF HISTORY
TO SEEK AND TO BE FOUND
Jasis looked out across the capital city of Eorath from her balcony. Large gleaming structures rose high into the sky and aerial vehicles and hovercraft zipped between them. Her accommodation had the most spectacular view of the city or so she was told. The Eorathites were proud of their capital. It was a symbol that was meant to impress visitors with their power and wealth. However, as a representative of the Dominion, Jasis had seen many such cities and was not so easily impressed.
The Dominion was a vast interstellar empire built in the name of the Founders and run by her people, the Vorta. Blessed by their gods, the Founders, they were given a purpose in the Founder’s glorious mission to bring order to a chaotic universe.
She was on Eorath as part of that mission. The planet had been selected to become a base for the Jem’Hadar, the Dominion’s genetically engineered soldiers, due to its strategic location near the territory of a more aggressive species. That species had formed a fair sized empire through the conquest of its neighbours. This could no longer be permitted and Eorath would be the launching point of a Dominion invasion to bring these conquerors to heel. Her particular role was to assess the Eorathites and decide the best method to bring them into the Dominion.
Jasis looked across the city’s skyline and smiled. She was almost god-like in the role she was playing. The fate of this planet rested solely in her hands. She could see them peacefully absorbed into the Dominion or she could see their cities burnt to the ground. She revelled in the feeling of power, the one true measure in the universe. The strong ruled the weak and there was no doubting that the Dominion was strong. That alone was enough to warrant its domination over others. It was simply the way things were meant to be.
Jasis bowed graciously to her escort as he left her. She was inside the grand hall, the main and most spectacular function area in the capital. The Eorathites were holding a special function to greet new visitors to their world. Jasis had a similar event when she had arrived and had enjoyed it. She enjoyed the opulence of such events. She knew that many Vorta would find such frivolity to be wasteful and pointless; she understood that these types of events had their place. It was perfect for meeting the most important people in a society and gaining access to them. Also there was much food and drink to relax the tongues of these people and granted a fantastic opportunity to gather intelligence. She could also use such an event to develop relations with officials and use them to further her and therefore the Dominion’s goals. However, that was not her mission tonight. She had already done what was required to gather the bulk of the information she needed. She was simply here to observe.
It was not long before the function really began. There was a toll that signified the arrival of someone of importance. She looked up and saw the High Minister of Eorath, the elected leader of the world, at the entrance to the room with several other individuals.
“We welcome the High Minister and Captain John Steele with the delegation from the United Federation of Planets,” called out the speaker.
She was unfamiliar with the name and watched as the group entered the hall. They were dressed in similarly styled clothing with some colour differences. She was surprised to see that the small group of four following the High Minister appeared to represent at least three species. One of them with a light blue skin colouring had a ridge that tracked through the middle of its hairless head almost as if to separate it in half. Another was also bluish but had a very different facial structure with deep set eyes and a pronounced brow and nasal area. The other two were plain and from their features they looked to be either Teplans or Yaderans.
The Teplan and the Dominion had clashed two centuries previous. As punishment for their resistance the Dominion had infected the surviving population with the Blight, a genetically engineered disease that was incurable. She did not notice any of the telltale signs of the Blight so rejected the notion that they were Teplans.
Yaderan was a real possibility. They were a species that was conquered more recently. In fact Yadera Prime was the closest Dominion controlled world to Eorath. She knew that some Yaderans fled before the Dominion tore down their empire and conquered their homeworld. These Yaderans could have formed an alliance with the two blue species. She would soon discover whether this was the truth or not.
Once the delegation started to mingle Jasis followed them and observed. She stood near the various members of the group but did not directly get involved, instead listening intently to their conversations. She had quickly learned that the two she thought could be Yaderan were not and referred to themselves as Humans. She had also learned that the blue being with the lined face was a Bolian and the other blue being was a Benzite. They were all part of a body called, “Starfleet”, which was the exploratory arm of the Federation. They had arrived just that day on a ship, the Proxima, which was named after a star close to the Human’s star system. She did not recognise the name so could not use it to pinpoint the location of this Federation. The ship was a Nebula class vessel and from some of the guests, particularly the few military officers present, the Proxima was a large and impressive looking craft.
Jasis’ interest in this Federation grew as she listened to the delegation. She had yet to listen to their leader, the Human Captain John Steele. He had the most impressive group surrounding him and the High Minister was practically glued to him. At one point when she glanced at him she noticed that he was looking in her direction. After catching him twice more she was sure he was looking at her and let him catch her also looking at him. She smiled to herself. The outfit she wore was indeed an eye catching one. It was sparkling and flowed over her feminine physique alluringly. It also showed just enough skin to entice an interested party.
She excused herself from the group she was with and walked to a long table that had a selection of food and drink. She scanned the table slowly, looking for something she had not tried before.
“This is a very fine spread the Eorathites have laid out.”
She looked to her side and saw that Captain John Steele standing by her.
“The Eorathites are a very generous people,” she replied with a smile.
“That they are. Let me introduce myself, I’m John Steele,” he said. He stretched out his hand towards her and smiled warmly.
Jasis accepted his hand. “I am Jasis. It is a pleasure to meet you John Steele.”
“Mind if I join you? In my culture it is considered rude to allow a lady to stand on her own at a party.”
She continued to smile at him. “You are most welcome to, John Steele.”
Jasis continued to smile sweetly at Steele. She had lured enough men in her lives to know when one was interested in her and Steele was definitely very interested in her. She was about to reply when another Eorathite official appeared and interrupted her. It took several minutes before he moved on.
“Sorry about that. The curse of being an honoured guest.”
“There’s a balcony that overlooks the city. There would be less people there than inside if you wish a reprieve from the Eorathites.”
“That sounds great,” he replied and Jasis led the way. “I take it you are a guest here on Eorath?”
“Yes. I’m from a planet called Kurill Prime.”
Kurill Prime was the location of the Dominion’s largest cloning centre and many Vorta were from that planet. In fact she was originally from Kurill Prime, though only a few of her subsequent clones were created there. She was the twelfth clone of the original and she was created on a planet at the other end of the Dominion after the death of her predecessor, who was killed during the conquest of a hostile planet. It was a minor detail that Steele did not need to know.
“So does that make you Kurilli? Kurillian? Kurillite?”
She shook her head. “My species is called the Vorta.”
“I’m human, if you didn’t already gather that from my science officer.”
Steele was obviously referring to the Bolian in the group; she had heard him say he was a science officer on their ship.
She nodded and gave him a slight smile. “He is quite the talker.”
“He is particularly excited by this function. Our other first contacts have been rather low key affairs compared to this. This is a dream assignment for many officers on my ship, being on one of the first ships to undertake an extended exploration mission to this region of the galaxy.”
They had reached the balcony and before them was the glittering city.
“It is a beautiful city,” she commented.
“It is, if you like that kind of thing.”
She gave Steele an inquiring look.
“I’m from a small colony world. The entire population of that world would be easily less than that of this city. Our main city was much smaller than this, more wide open spaces. No matter how many fantastic cities I see they can’t compare to that small, humble city.”
“Your home will always hold a special place in your heart,” she said. “So you were not born on your species origin world?”
“Earth? No. This city reminds me of it a bit. A big complex city full of beings and vehicles. A place where everyone is rushing around to get things done.”
“So your United Federation of Planets is an alliance between Earth and its colonies and the worlds of the Bolians and Benzites and their colonies?”
“It is much more than that. There are over one hundred and fifty Federation members and several times that in colonies. All spread across 8,000 light years.”
Jasis was shocked by this news. If Steele was telling the truth the Federation was an entity whose size the Dominion had yet to encounter.
“It must be a great and powerful empire to control such a vast territory,” she commented.
“The Federation doesn’t so much control as it guides. Member world maintain their own governments and have representation on a council that governs the entire Federation.”
From Steele’s answer it was a cooperative regime, which if true spoke of great skill by its members to be able to maintain relations despite the number of voices and different views. Given its nature would be threatened by the Dominion’s existence and in turn it was a threat to the Dominion’s order. It would have ideas that could spread to Dominion worlds and make controlling them all that more difficult.
“Are you okay?” asked Steele.
Jasis realised he had asked her something but she had not responded. The worry and concern she felt would be on her face.
“I’m fine,” she said, smiling to enhance her answer.
She glanced around and saw they were practically alone. The only other people on the balcony were not even facing them. She realised that her decision to attend this function was more crucial then she could expect. There was a new threat out there, one that the Dominion possibly knew next to nothing about. She had to get more information and she knew of only one way.
She suddenly grabbed Steele’s arm. Before the surprised Human could speak she tapped a hidden control on her bracelet and felt the familiar touch of a transporter beam wash over her.
“Lower the force field,” order the Vorta.
First Aral’hartra immediately acknowledged the order from Rona’toran Jasis and lowered the force field to the holding cell. The occupant remained seated on the bench seat at the rear of the cell. Rona’toran Jasis entered the cell. She had changed back into standard Vorta garb since returning. Aral’hartra was still unsettled by Jasis’ ease with wearing the clothing of those ignorant of the Founders’ blessings despite serving under her for all thirteen months of his life. He had once questioned the Vorta about this matter and her response was immediate, he was reduced to Second. Luckily his demotion did not last long with the new First giving his life for the Founders a few weeks later.
Apart from this unusual behaviour he found the Vorta Jasis to be an acceptable commander. She was clever and cunning without being particularly condescending to the Jem’Hadar she commanded, unlike some of the other Vorta he had dealt with. She was also fair and not petty as shown by her re-promoting him to First. From other Jem’Hadar units he learnt that Jasis had a favourable reputation among the Jem’Hadar. While the order of things dictated that he would always answer to the Vorta he was relatively pleased to be reporting to Jasis.
“Captain Steele, I would like you to show me which star your world orbits,” she asked.
The human’s, head rolled lethargically, his mouth slightly agape and his eyes were glossy. They had pumped a drug into the cell prior to lowering the force field. It made him placid and prone to suggestion. It was the only reason he was not in the cell with the Vorta. Steele was no threat.
The Vorta placed a padd in his hands and the human looked down at it, shook his head and mumbled.
“What did you say?” asked Jasis.
“Not there,” he replied.
“What do you mean it’s not there?” asked the Vorta sounding annoyed.
“Not there,” he repeated.
“This is the Gamma Quadrant.”
“Alpha Quadrant,” he replied.
Jasis looked at him confused and then reached over and pressed some buttons on the pad.
“Can you locate your world now?”
The human nodded and his hands slowly fell over the padd. He felt contempt for the Human. A Jem’Hadar would never allow himself to be captured. Victory was life and failure was death. There was no middle ground. It was the order of things.
Jasis took the padd off Steele and analysed the result. She initially looked confused; obviously it was not the answer she had expected.
“The drug has failed,” she said.
“I do not believe so, Rona’toran. The subject is exhibiting all the signs of the drug taking effect.”
“Then how do you explain this?” said the Vorta forcefully handing him the padd.
Aral’hartra looked at the results. The location for the Human’s planet was tens of thousands of light years away on the other side of the galaxy. He could not explain it.
“You said that their ship only had a standard warp drive,” said Jasis.
Aral’hartra nodded. “Our scans of their vessel only showed a technology on par with our own. No unusual events were recorded when the ship arrived either.”
“Did you scan the correct ship?”
Aral’hartra felt his anger rise. The Vorta was questioning the competency of the Jem’Hadar under his command and therefore his. “Of course. The ship was broadcasting a clear identification signal. It identified itself as the USS Proxima of the United Federation of Planets Starfleet. There can be no mistake.”
“Then how do you explain his answer to the question of the location of his world?”
“I cannot answer,” he admitted, though it pained him to admit any failure. “Why do you not ask him?”
He saw fire in Jasis’ eyes at his response. It was the response of someone that was angry and not thinking of the consequences. However, the Vorta did not press the issue and turned back to the Human.
“If your world is so far away how did you reach Eorath?” she asked.
“The wormhole. The Bajoran wormhole.”
“What is a wormhole?”
“A shortcut. It’s a conduit outside of normal spacetime that connects two points. Travel through a wormhole is much shorter than the distance between the two points.”
“So your Federation is not native to this region?”
“No, we are in the Alpha Quadrant.”
Aral’hartra could see the Vorta’s mind spin with the possibilities. He did not really care for the hows and whys of this. All he cared about was fulfilling his duty to the Founders.
“So your vast Federation is connected to our region of space through this wormhole? How long have you been here extending your influence into this quadrant?”
“We have been exploring this side for a year. We…we are explorers.”
“You have no designs for this quadrant?”
“Some are considering colonising this region. The Federation is always open to new members. One day we hope to unite everyone under the Federation.”
There is was. Aral’hartra did not need to be a political man to understand the implication of the last statement. The Federation wanted to unite all under its banner, much as the Dominion sought to. That created an impasse. Aral’hartra knew that as soon as the words left the Human’s mouth that there would be war between the Dominion and the Federation. War was what he was bred for, his reason for existing and the chance to take part in it made his soul sing.
At that moment the internal communication system sounded, “Rona’toran Jasis, we have a vessel pursing us. It is demanding that we drop to impulse and surrender the human.”
As soon as Jasis stepped onto the attack ship’s bridge the Second surrendered his virtual display device to her. First Aral’hartra was close behind her and took the second display device off another Jem’Hadar.
“Confirmation of the pursing vessel?” she ordered.
“It is the USS Proxima. It is still widely broadcasting its identity,” reported the First.
“Tactical assessment?” she asked.
“Their vessel is larger and more heavily armed then our ship. Given our earlier and current scans of the ship outrunning it might not be possible.”
“So we wouldn’t be able to defeat the vessel.”
“I did not say that,” clarified the First. “If the ship proves to be susceptible to our phased polaron beams we would have a significant advantage despite the size and armament differences.”
“What about capturing the vessel?”
“We detected seven hundred and thirty-one beings onboard.”
“So we’re vastly outnumbered.”
“Numbers alone do not dictate a battle. Tactics, combatant’s skill and tenacity are more important indicators. In that the Jem’Hadar are superior.”
Jasis knew this was no idle boast. The Jem’Hadar were bred to be the most fearsome army in the galaxy. Despite the numbers she had supreme faith in the Founders’ creation.
“Drop us to impulse,” she ordered. “Raise shields and ready weapons.”
They did not have to wait long before the other ship arrived. Its own shields and weapons were ready. The Jem’Hadar attack ship swung around to face the larger Federation vessel and it responded with a phaser blast.
“Target their bridge,” she ordered. “Destroy it.”
The attack ship pulled up and got above the Federation vessel before it fired its weapons. The phased polaron beam passed through the Federation vessel’s shields and struck the raised section that was the bridge. The first blast was quickly followed by several others. The hull around the bridge erupted inwards as one blast struck, causing a secondary explosion that tore a hole into the hull. The Federation vessel continued on its course and did not fire as the attack ship passed over it.
“First, can you board the vessel?” she asked. The situation would be confusing on the ship but that would not last long.
“Given our weapon’s effectiveness against their shields, I believe our transporters will bypass them as well.”
“Organise a boarding party and gain control of that ship immediately,” she ordered.
The First quickly left the bridge. She did not need to issue any other orders, this was the Jem’Hadar’s territory, and they knew what they had to do and how they could achieve it. She watched the large ship as it continued on its original course, the only sign of damage was the fires from the hole they blew into the hull where the bridge once was. With the loss of the bridge and the senior officers no doubt the rest of the crew were confused as to what to do. It was all she and the Jem’Hadar needed. She was soon notified of an incoming transmission.
“Rona’toran, we have secured the ship’s engineering section and are in control of its systems,” reported the voice of her First.
“What of the crew?”
“They are weak, Rona’toran. The removal of life support to several decks quickly garnered their surrender.”
“Excellent work. The capture of this ship could prove to be invaluable in the coming times,” she replied. “You have done the Founders proud, First.”
Jasis stepped in front of the holding cell’s force field so that Steele could see her. His eyes burned with hatred, especially since her previous visit when she notified him of his ship’s capture and the death of some of its crew.
“I’ve been reviewing files from your ship’s computers,” she informed him. “It looks like everything you told me was the truth. It is amazing to think that one spatial anomaly could connect our two disparate regions.”
“You didn’t need to kidnap me or kill a hundred and twelve people on my ship! I would have given you that information to back up my claims!” he ranted, standing up and walking within centimetres of the force field.
Jasis’ features did not change and she continued on. “Do you know what my first response was when you told me about this wormhole? To destroy it. However, that is a short term fix. I would prevent your people from interfering in our affairs but who knows where your Federation would be technologically in the decades or centuries before we met again? You are particularly inventive. We could lose our technological advantage and that could mean that our goal of bringing order to the universe would be impossible.”
“Is that what this is all about, your sense of order?”
“Then I thought that maybe I should take my ship and visit your Federation and tell them to stop using the wormhole. The problem is without a blockade of our side it would be unworkable. Once a blockade is set up your people would get nervous and would likely destroy the wormhole themselves. Then once again we come back to the initial problem.”
“Jasis, listen to me. The Federation only wants peace with others. We are explorers just seeking out knowledge. If you let me and my ship go I will take a message to my government and we’ll steer clear of you.”
“Do you know what decision I came to?” Steele threw up his hands at her continual refusal to acknowledge what he was saying. “Nothing.”
“What do you mean nothing?” said Steele obviously confused.
“I’m going to do nothing. In fact I’ll advise my superiors to do nothing, to give the wormhole a wide berth. You and your crew have given us another advantage, the advantage of knowledge. We know you exist but you know nothing of us. So you’ll keep sending ships through the wormhole and we will watch, learn and prepare. Then once we are ready we will visit upon your quadrant and bring it to order.”
“Jasis, you don’t have to do this!”
Jasis almost felt pity for Steele’s lack of understanding and could only think of one reply, “It is simply the way things are meant to be.”