“Gul Jacet, please meet Captain Cambil Bexa,” Hunsen introduced their guest to his commanding officer when she entered the observation lounge.
Jacet, who had been seated at one end of the long table, rose to his feet and crossed the distance between the two of them and extended his hand towards her.
Though a Human custom, Cambil nevertheless shook it as a gesture of goodwill on her part. “Gul Jacet, a pleasure,” She said as she took her customary position at the head of the table. She gestured for Hunsen to leave with a simple nod, and on his way out, he took the security guard as well. Once the door closed behind Hunsen, Cambil looked at her guest, who sat only a few seats away. “So, you said you wanted to meet in private?”
Jacet looked around the room for a moment. “It is impressive how much your Starfleet has returned to familiar designs in your design starship construction in recent years. You’re almost Cardassian in your nostalgia.” He looked around the room one more time. “You’re almost Cardassian in how this room in design is functional and impressive.”
Realising that Jacet was playing a small game with her, Cambil remained calm as she went along with it. She wouldn’t allow him to assert the dominant position in the room. “Yes, returning to a former lineage has certainly worked for us,” She agreed. “Themis is fully functional and impressive.”
“Oh, that’s without a doubt,” Jacet complimented her. “A Ross-class, but in the grand scheme of things, she is a merger of your Galaxy and Sovereign classes. The best of both worlds, you could say?”
“Indeed,” Cambil agreed as she sat up straighter. “I suppose the same could be said about your vessel, the Jorrene; she still contains a mixture of Dominion systems with Cardassian ones. How’s that working out for you?”
“Marvellously,” Jacet answered. He appeared to realise that Cambil was playing him at his own game, so he mirrored her move and sat up straighter. “As the Ferengi would say, let’s get down to business.”
“Indeed,” Cambil said, relaxing a bit back into her chair. It tilted slightly backward for her. “You wanted to discuss something privately. Please do elaborate.” She gestured for him to share with her left hand.
“How much do you know about the Teplan blight?” Jacet asked.
Cambil hadn’t heard of it. She shook her head initially before replying. “I’m afraid I don’t think I’ve heard of it. Why?”
“It was a disease introduced to the Teplan people in the Gamma Quadrant when they resisted Dominion control,” Jacet informed her. “It’s one of the many biological weapons they have, or had in their arsenal, and almost thirty years ago, a Starfleet doctor found a vaccination for it. As a result, almost an entire generation has not had to suffer, and their decedents will begin to benefit from his efforts.”
“That’s lovely,” Cambil said; she was still unsure where Jacet was going with this conversation. “What does it have to do with your presence here in the Divinium system?”
“Because Captain Cambil, I can tell you now that the Dominion were preparing to use similar biological weapons against the Federation during the war,” Jacet said with a heavy sigh at the end. “I know this information for several reasons.”
“Do tell,” Cambil said, encouraging him to share what he knew while remaining intrigued about what he hoped to get out of this discussion with her.
“During the war, I was transcripted as a low-ranking glinn in early twenty-three-seventy-five. Initially, I was a science and engineering student at the University of Culat; however, as Cardassia suffered heavy casualties, I was called up to serve,” Jacet told her. “I knew I would be, and I had no issue in serving my nation, and before the Breen Confederacy signed their alliance, my commanding officer, Gul Ramad, was responsible for attempting to facilitate the introduction of Dominion technology within the Cardassian fleet. One of those projects included the use of theta-band devices.” Jacet paused. “The Jorrene was the test bed for such systems; however, there were too many incompatibility issues. To attempt to make a workaround, Vorta engineers provided us with schematics of their vessels with specific designs that allowed for devices to be used. I was responsible for reviewing the material. I learnt from my research that an entire squadron of these specialist ships was part of the reinforcements meant to have arrived from the Gamma Quadrant. They were designed and built with certain technologies and crewed by specialist-trained Vorta and Jem’Hadar to operate them.”
“So thank the Prophets and the Emissary for their intervention,” Cambil noted. She then paused. “Wait, are you telling me what I think you’re saying?”
“Indeed,” Jacet confirmed. “I believe those ships are now here in the Deneb sector.”
“You’ll have to forgive me, Gul Jacet, but what does a theta-band device do?” Cambil asked.
“It’s not just about what they do; it’s what they carry,” Jacet shared. “Almost thirty-two years ago, we tricked your Starfleet into believing that we had created such devices to be able to carry a metagenic weapon. Unfortunately, we could never complete that work; however, the Dominion did.”
Cambil was starting to realise everything he was presenting to her. Starfleet captains were briefed on such powerful devices that could threaten life on a massive level. “You’ve got my attention, Gul Jacet. Do you believe the Dominion Lost Fleet has this weapon?”
He produced a Cardassian isolinear rod from his sleeve and placed it on the table. “Much more than that, captain. I also know that when the Breen joined the war, their technology was explored to see if it could support such devices. And they can, but it was never implemented.” He pushed the rod in her direction. “That is all the intelligence I have kept over the years about this information.”
Cambil pulled the rod closer to her; she turned back to Jacet. “I’m curious, Jacet. I thought the peace treaty required the Dominion, Breen and Cardassians to hand over such research to the Federation. So why are you giving this to me almost twenty-six years late?”
Jacet appeared not happy as his lips twitched at that question. “As it was research that was never successful in application, I never took it further. Plus, my world was in flames at the end of the war. I only received a field promotion to take over from Gul Ramad after he died during the final battle of the war. I was one of the commanding officers that broke ranks and forced our ships to switch sides after the Dominion reduced Lakarian City to dust. My world had to be rebuilt.”
Cambil knew of the Cardassian city that was the first mass Cardassian casualty in the concluding days of the war. But, as Jacet said, it was one of the most significant factors that pushed the Cardassian military to turn on their Dominion allies and for the civilian population to uprise. “Is there anything here that will help us locate this squadron?”
“The Death Task Force?” Jacet asked. He realised what he had just said and elaborated how he and the rest of his research team at the time had called the missing specialist squadron that designation once they started to review their technical information. “You should have everything in there, but captain, you do realise Starfleet Intelligence has this information on file?”
“They do?” Cambil asked, curious to know what he meant by that.
Jacet nodded. “In fact, one of the captains in your squadron stole a copy of my files over thirteen years from me, and I believe his brother, your squadron leader, aided his escape.”
Remaining calm, Cambil gave Jacet a curious look. “I’m sorry, Gul Jacet, but you’ll have to explain to me what you mean by that.”
He sneered slightly and smirked at her. “Do not worry, Captain Cambil. I have no ill intentions towards Fleet Captain James Preston Harvey McCallister or Captain Horatio Albie McCallister. Furthermore, the latter did me a service when he stole plans of the Breen shipyard during the war. He significantly delayed their efforts in building ships using the Dominion metagenic weapons.”
“Well, thank you for that,” Cambil said. “Now that you’ve given us this information, why do I feel there’s a price that comes with it?”
Jacet’s sneer got wider. “Of course it does.” His expression then turned serious. “I formally request that myself and the rest of my squadron join your squadron to hunt, track and destroy the Death Task Force.”
“Well, let me check with my superiors first. Dealing with what has happened here at Divninum is our priority right now.” Cambil said.
“That is understandable, and my other ships can support with that too.” Jacet offered.
“Yes, three other Galor-class ships were redirected to rescue a Federation freighter convoy from Dominion ships. Once they have escorted the convoy to Farpoint Station, they can be here to help us,” Jacet shared.
“Well, if there’s nothing else for us to discuss, Gul Jacet, I would like to discuss everything you’ve raised with the others in my squadron and get our response to you as soon as possible,” Cambil said as she stood up and offered her hand to him.
“Thank you, captain,” Jacet shook her hand. “I do mean it, captain, that if we can join your forces, I will do whatever it takes to remove this threat, and I hope that makes amends for my negligence in not sharing this information at the end of the war.”
For the first time since the start of their meeting, Cambil truly believed what he said. “Let’s take one step at a time,” She said before calling for Hunsen to return to take their guest off her ship. After he left, she returned to the bridge and had a message sent to the Odyssey straight away, she needed to speak to James at once, and it couldn’t wait.