The covert operators moved swiftly through the mansion, hunting the Vorta commander. With each Jem’Hadar they confronted, they savored the kill. Was it right for Starfleet officers to feel this way? Probably not. Was it understandable? Absolutely.
These were not normal circumstances, and these were not normal officers. Commander Lewis had endured the torture of the Jem’Hadar during the Dominion War. He’d never been the same again after that. Dr. Lisa Hall had grown up on Turkana IV. She lost her youthful innocence before she lost her baby teeth. And Lieutenant J.G. Jace Morgan, the most normal of the group, had watched his teammates die by Jem’Hadar hands all week.
The three man squad was out for ruthless retribution. For Petty Officer Jason Atwood, executed as part of the Vorta’s twisted game. For Kora Tal, murdered in a moment of compassion. For Ryssehl Th’zathol and Crewman Nam Jae-Sun, who died to stop the Dominion from unleashing armageddon upon Nasera City. And for all the others who had died in the past, or would die in the future, as a result of the Dominion’s cruel brutality. Sometimes, brutality could only be met with brutality, and this was one of those times.
As they kicked in another door, the three operators came face to face with the conductor of Nasera’s cruel symphony, the Vorta who presided over this occupation, tortured innocent civilians, and murdered their friends. Dr. Lisa Hall and Lieutenant J.G. Jace Morgan gunned down his Jem’Hadar bodyguards without a second thought, while Commander Lewis rushed the Vorta.
Before the Vorta could react, the Commander was on top of him. But the Vorta didn’t fight back. He just reached for his neck. Lewis anticipated the move. He expected cowardice from the pathetic creature, and he caught his hand before it could reach his terminal implant. The Vorta no longer had provenance over how or when he would die. That power now belonged to Commander Lewis, and he would ensure that the Vorta’s death was neither fast nor painless.
With the room secured, Lieutenant J.G. Morgan bound his hands and strapped him to a chair, and Dr. Hall began pulling the equipment out of her pack. The twisted psychologist had been waiting for this moment, the opportunity to take a crack at defeating the Vorta’s genetic coding and behavioral conditioning. It made a far more interesting challenge than melting the weak minds of Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans and humans.
Commander Lewis kept watch, his rifle at the ready. It would take a bit of time for Dr. Hall to work her magic. Might as well get a sitrep, he figured. Consumed in firefight after firefight up to this point, he had only caught bits and pieces of what had transpired.
“Lewis to all units. Report.”
“Jake, it’s good to hear your voice,” Admiral Reyes answered from the bridge of the USS Polaris. As much as Commander Lewis spent his days stalking the corridors and chasing for ghosts, she’d missed his presence on the Polaris the last couple weeks. She could have used the counsel of the aged spook as she prepared the young crew for battle. At a more fundamental level, she was just relieved they were both still alive. “The Dominion ships are all destroyed. The orbital station is no more. And we just detected an explosion at the control center so we presume the planetary defense system is out of commission. We are now preparing to head down to Nasera City to clear the streets of the Dominion scourge.”
Commander Lewis nodded contentedly. Everything was going according to plan so far, except for Ryssehl, Kora and Nam. Neither he nor Reyes yet knew the fate of their Assistant Chief Intelligence Officer, Lieutenant Commander Brock Jordan. Chief Petty Officer Shafir had not yet mustered the strength to make the call.
“Do you need any assistance at your location Commander?” Reyes asked.
Commander Lewis debated his response. On one hand, the mansion was far from secure. While most of the Jem’Hadar were tied up with colonists rioting at the west gate, there were still plenty of Jem’Hadar stalking the grounds. Eventually, the team would be found, and a few extra security officers would be nice. But on the other hand, he didn’t really want a bunch of Starfleet personnel to see what Dr. Hall was about to do to the Vorta. That would cause questions he didn’t want to answer.
“Negative. We’re good here,” Commander Lewis replied confidently. “It’s pretty peaceful here, all things considered. We just need to have a chat with an old friend.” He looked over at the Vorta as Dr. Hall shoved a needle in his arm.
“Understood.” Reyes could infer why, and she was pretty sure it wasn’t because the mansion was actually secure. Lewis’ last update had mentioned he and Dr. Hall were going for the Vorta. The update hadn’t articulated what they would do when they found the Dominion commander, but she could read between the lines. If she was right about their intentions, she had no intention of stopping them. A little dirty work could save a good many lives. “And Commander, thank you. Your team did us a good one today.”
“At a steep price,” Lewis replied coldly, again glancing at the Vorta as Hall began to pump him full of psychoactives. At least what was about to follow would make him feel a bit better.
“Not to break up this little love fest,” a jovial voice interrupted over the line as their Ferengi friend joined the conversation. “But the Jem’Hadar are doing their best Cardassian Genocide impression outside my window right now.” Sitting in the cockpit of the SS Lucre, Grok had a firsthand view of soldiers making their way through the Nasera Municipal Spaceport shooting anything that moved. “Miss Reyes, you better get your tight little ass down here soon or there won’t be anyone left to save.”
On the bridge, Captain Devreux’s jaw dropped. Did the Ferengi legitimately just say ‘tight little ass’ in reference to the Fleet Admiral? Allison Reyes wasn’t bothered by it though. Anyone who bled in the face of her enemy was a friend of hers. “We’re on our way,” she replied dutifully. A difficult task still lay ahead of them to expunge the Jem’Hadar from every shadowy corner of Nasera City.
Right then, a stray polaron burst collided with the hull of the SS Lucre. Grok knew it was time to get moving. He hung up the line and grabbed his sidearm as he headed for the exit. It was getting messy outside, and the Ferengi wasn’t going to wait for the fleeters to arrive to start the party. It was time to nab a few Jem’Hadar heads for himself.
Chief Petty Officer Shafir followed the conversation as best she could as she and Ensign Elyssia Rel crawled through the maintenance tunnels under Nasera City. When the others finished, she made a simple request: “Commander, can you switch to our secondary?” She had no intention of breaking the news on an open channel for the whole squadron to hear. She barely had the courage to tell her mentor privately.
A couple seconds later, the two operators were alone on a separate channel.
“Alright Ayala, go ahead.”
“Brock is dead. He was still inside when I detonated it.” She could barely get the words out. As much as her thoughts were killing her, it hurt so much more to say it aloud. “I didn’t have any choice Jake. There was no more time.” Her voice tapered off.
“Understood.” The Commander’s tone was flat. He didn’t ask any questions. If Ayala had done it, she did it because she had to. And if she didn’t share more details, it was because she wasn’t ready to. He’d been in her shoes before, too many times. “You and Elyssia, just get back safe.” He meant it. If he lost any more friends today, he’d have none left.
As Commander Lewis hung up the link, he turned towards the Vorta, his eyes growing darker than the night’s sky. The drugs flowed into Vorta’s system, yet he still sat there smugly smiling.
Commander Lewis drew his boot knife and approached, drawing his face so close he could feel the breath of his enemy. He placed the tip of his blade against the Vorta’s larynx, pressing just hard enough to bend the soft tissue on his neck. He could do it. He could end the Vorta’s life right now. But that would be too merciful. That monster deserved so much worse.
The Vorta was unperturbed by the threat. He would have already been dead if the Starfleet officer hadn’t prevented him from activating his terminal implant. “What’s wrong Starfleet?” he asked, trying to provoke his captor. “You appear to be in a fragile mental state. Was it something we did?” He smiled sadistically.
Commander Lewis just stood there, staring at him with hate-filled eyes, the knife still pressed against his neck.
“Something got your tongue?” the Vorta taunted. He was ready to die for his gods. But with his hands tied, he needed this human to do it. He could feel his skin about to give way. It would be fast, and then it would be over. It was his last duty.
“You killed four of mine today,” Commander Lewis said coldly as he withdrew his blade from the Vorta’s neck. “This is personal.” He looked over at Dr. Hall. “Do your worst doc. And don’t make it quick.”
Commander Lewis turned to walk away, but then suddenly he spun back around and, in one swift motion, he drove his blade into the Vorta’s thigh. It wasn’t to kill the Vorta though. It was just to make himself feel a bit better. The Vorta howled uncontrollably at the pain. Commander Lewis smiled. Yep, that did make him feel a bit better, he thought as he walked away, leaving the psychologist with her patient.
Dr. Hall slid up next to the Vorta.
“Now, now, mister Vorta,” she said in a belittling voice. “That really wasn’t all that bad, was it?” She smiled a smile as sadistic as his had been earlier as she pulled the knife out of his leg. His nerves lit on fire again, and he screamed. Hall ignored it and just kept casually talking to him. “Before we get started, do you have a name?” He couldn’t respond on account of all the pain. “What would you like me to call you?”
The doctor seemed not to care one bit about the Vorta’s pain, nor the fact that her boss had just stabbed a restrained captive. And that’s because she didn’t. She just sat there, letting him drown in the pain for a bit. It would help soften him up. Before the Vorta lost too much blood though, Dr. Hall pulled out a dermal generator and sealed the wound. No point in letting him bleed out before they finished their conversation.