Star Trek - Section 31

Session 25

Thorus, after an initial interrogation of the Vorta prisoner, gets coordinates for a Jem’Hadar patrol route where the Tazeka is likely to be found. When Ramsey detects nothing in that region on long-range sensors, Thorus questions the Vorta a second time. The Vorta, terrified of the Andorian, gives up his name (Nor’yar) and babbles on about his low rank, how little he knows, and insists upon offering the same coordinates again. Another search by Ramsey yields a Jem’Hadar patrol ship accompanied by three scout ships, and another three scout ships in the vicinity but a few hours distant from the main group. He also detects a small asteroid field with some kind of base or depot positioned outside it. The Tazeka’s current course will take it past the asteroid field in four hours.

Given that they can arrive ahead of the Dominion ships, Ramsey sets course and then constructs a distress beacon that will emit a signal mimicking that of a stranded Jem’Hadar scout ship. While he does that, Thorus reconfigures some warheads into mines that they can distribute around the beacon. They place the beacon and mines in the asteroid field, luring one scout ship to its doom. The other lead scout ship continues on its course while the patrol ship slows. They use the distraction to fire upon the large vessel and, having caught it entirely by surprise, they disable the Tazeka. They scan the ship and discover two non-Dominion life signs aboard (one human, one Trill). The third scout ship veers in closely to the patrol ship before warping away. After that, they are hailed by the Dominion ship. They find themselves talking to a Vorta, behind whom several Jem’Hadar work frantically in a bridge thrown in chaos. After exchanging a few barbs with the Vorta, Ramsey beams the human and Trill onto his own bridge. The two introduce themselves as Jadzia Dax and Miles O’Brien. They assure Ramsey that it wasn’t Commander Sisko who was beamed to the safety of the scout ship, because he’s dead.

They head back to the wormhole, learning from O’Brien and Dax that they and the commander were placed into a sort of simulation where – they believed at the time – they experienced the Dominion’s incursion into the Alpha Quadrant. Dax has a recording of the simulation and plays it for them. They see Jem’Hadar soldiers at DS9, abusing and even murdering officers and civilians. Though Sisko struggled to persuade Starfleet to oppose the Dominion, they refused and, in the end, Sisko stole a ship docked at the station, flew it into the wormhole and set the vessel to self-destruct, collapsing the wormhole and sealing the Dominion’s passage into Federation space. With the account over, Dax explains how their captors insisted that the simulation was proof of Sisko’s genuine intentions. She tells them how the three of them tried to escape after that but Sisko was killed and then she and O’Brien were sequestered in the Tazeka’s brig. Later, Ramsey and Thorus show the video evidence to A’Tora, who confirms that his people would indeed consider that evidence of a likely outcome. He explains that the Founders take it upon themselves to promote and even to insist upon their version of peace, even if it peace wrought through terrible violence.

They arrive back at DS9 and are greeted by Eddington who ushers Dax and O’Brien away for a debriefing. He confides to Thorus and Ramsey that a visiting Romulan politician, Neral, has expressed interest in meeting them both, and referred to them as undercover Starfleet operatives. Eddington admits that he, too, had been told they were working undercover but had been playing along until Neral spoke openly of it. In that light, he has arranged for them to stay in visiting officers’ quarters and tells them that Neral wants to meet with them. They also hear from Ivers who tells them he, Corrik, and Admiral Leyton are en route to the station to meet with Neral. In the meantime, they try to investigate Garrick again only to find his shop still closed. Pehret has been trying to spy on him and she tells Thorus that Garrick has been behaving very suspiciously. Later, in Quark’s bar, Thorus and Ramsey see Garrick menacing Rom at the bar. When they intervene, Rom admits that his brother, Quark, ordered something illegal for Garrick. When they visit the tailor’s shop again, breaking in this time, they find Garrick in possesion of a Ferengi mind-control device. They question him, harass him to some degree, and Thorus drops the device, breaking it. Pehret arrives to assist in the matter, and they more or less break Garrick’s spirit, convincing him to accept his lot as tailor and exile. (Pehret later visits Ramsey to show him the other half of the non-working device, and makes sure he knows where to find her later if he’s interested.)

Once Corrik, Leyton, and Ivers arrive, Neral calls a meeting and – with perhaps less gentility than anyone would like – explains how the Romulans want to sign a pact with the Federation to stand against the Dominion. The Romulans want to join forces and assign warbirds to hold back any Dominion ships that try to enter the Alpha Quadrant. As part of that effort, Starfleet wants Ramsey to serve as captain of the ships that will protect DS9, and will assign Ivers to be in charge of the station itself. For Thorus’ part, Ivers has pulled some strings to have him promoted to the Andorians’ highest level of religious leadership. He, too, will be assigned to serve aboard DS9 as both a security and cultural leader – using his position to better arm the station, officers, and civilians. Admiral Leyton, in particular, delights in how the extra armaments can be implemented not as a show of paranoia, but in a celebration of tolerance for Andorian culture.

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Session 24

After flying through the wormhole in the Valiant, with A’Tora and Les still serving as crew, Thorus and Ramsey search for the transponder aboard the missing DS9 runabout, the Rio Grande. They track the vessel down to an unmanned relay station (passing a Jem’Hadar scout ship that they pick up on long range sensors) where they find that a Karemma cargo vessel has dispatched a shuttle to dock at the station. Also docked is the Rio Grande, although they pick up only one non-human life sign aboard the station. After speaking with the Karemma captain they discover that the Rio Grande has been there about two weeks and has been subject to some degree of salvaging. The Karemma agree to leave and, after the lone Karemma departs in his shuttle, Thorus and Ramsey beam over to investigate. The Rio Grande has exterior damage and the navigation and weapon’s systems have been disabled and scavenged. The communication’s package is damaged and the internal logs and security recordings have been erased but they discover a recorded message from Quark saying that he has gotten passage on a Dosi vessel (the Acalia) and that if anyone from Starfleet wants to give him a lift back to the Alpha Quadrant he will tell them where Sisko, Dax, and O’Brien went. Thorus and Ramsey search the station’s logs and develop a rough timeline of other vessels’ arrivals and departures and learn that two different Jem’Hadar scout ships have docked here in the past two weeks. Rather than search for Quark, they begin searching for those scout ships.

They leave the relay station and find the scout ship from earlier on their long range sensors. As they approach the ship they are hailed despite cloaking the Valiant. They decloak after establishing that there are four life forms in the other ship and talk with a Vorta who is condescending and not at all forthcoming. When they have A’Tora join them on the bridge long enough to provide visual confirmation of the changeling’s presence, the Vorta reacts with horror and ends the conversation. They then engage in a ship to ship skirmish that ends with them disabling the scout ship and taking the Vorta hostage. He tells them that the rest of the Rio Grande’s crew were taken aboard the Tazeka and provides them coordinates to a patrol route where they can expect to find the Jem’Hadar vessel.

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Session 23

After some deliberation about the wisdom of letting an outside party discover the transwarp capabilities of the Tarsus, Ramsey and Thorus opt to take the Valiant on their errand to deliver Lt. Cmdr. Eddington to DS9. They do install the cloaking device from the Tarsus and then craft Starfleet ranks and cover stories for themselves as well as Les and A’Tora (presenting themselves as a doctor and ensign, respectively). Ramsey adopts the rank of commander but insists on being called ‘captain’ for the duration of this mission. Thorus becomes Lt. Shra and takes it upon himself to teach A’Tora everything he can about the ship’s tactical abilities (one never knows when things will need to be shot at).

Eddington proves to be an affable officer and confides to them that he thinks this posting at DS9 could be just the opportunity his career needs. He says that no one in Starfleet has heard from the senior staff in some time. Apparently, Benjamin Sisko took his son and a classmate on a field trip into the Gamma Quadrant and had a run-in with a Vor’ta and some Jem Hadar. They were briefly hostages until Odo, the constable from DS9, tracked them down and negotiated their release. Eddington seems to have a dim view of these goings-on, such activities being informal to the point of being cavalier. He doesn’t go as far as saying that he thinks Sisko provoked the Gamma Quadrant natives but he does think it’s high time that someone from Starfleet security joined the crew there to oversee things.

Upon arriving, Thorus and Ramsey recieve a message from Ivers, telling them that a friend of his is in the vicinity and may need their help. He tells them to stay there until they recieve further orders. They take A’Tora and wander through the station, only to be approached by Pehret. She tells them that Ivers had assured her they’d be there to serve as backup, should she need it, and then tells them that she’s there to spy on the Cardassian tailor, Garrik. She also tells them that Myrun posits that the Obsidian Order was testing metagenic weapons within the Toren autonomy with specific intention to threaten the Romulans. She finds this absurd, though neither Thorus nor Ramsey disagree with the notion.

Before anyone can lay eyes on the tailor, Eddington tracks them down to confide that he finds himself in a real dilemma. Unbeknownst to anyone else in Starfleet, Sisko has taken a shuttle and gone into the Gamma Quadrant with two other officers and the Ferengi bar owner. No one can say why he’s gone, and he hasn’t reported back. Eddington fears that they’ve met with real trouble and doesn’t want to wait for Starfleet permission to mount a rescue. He also doesn’t want to tell Starfleet that he’s shown up to find a disaster and has no other information to offer. He asks if they could take their very able craft into the Gamma Quadrant just to see if there are any distress messages or debris that could shed some light on the matter.

They contact Ivers and he gives them permission to go on the rescue.

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Session 22

As people abandon their seats to stare between the two versions of Toddman, Ramsey seals the main door. The Betazoid woman retreats with most obvious alarm, pointing at the doubled Admiral and shouting to the room that neither is what he appears to be. The newly arrived Toddman shows contempt for Ramsey and Thorus’ questions while A’Tora sinks down in his seat and appears utterly consumed by embarrassment. When Thorus says the other Toddman could prove his identify by offering his clearance code, Toddman scoffs and declares that this entire shenanigan is beneath him. Never one to miss an opportunity, Thorus produces a short sword and misconstrues Toddman’s statement as a challenge to a duel which he accepts.

While this is happening, a Commander Jenkens has arrived on the other side of the closed door and demands to be granted entry. Ramsey offers some excuse while the duel begins (Toddman having accepted a hand phaser from Thorus). Thorus quickly makes three strikes with the sword, each passing through Toddman as if into water. At the third, Toddman turns part of himself in a shimmering liquid mass and tries to grab Thorus, but fails. Behind him, A’Tora shifts into a type of rodent and scurries toward the nearest wall. Ramsey opens the door to permit Jenkens while the conference attendees scatter toward the furthest exit. The Toddman-changeling runs to disappear with the crowd while Jenkens orders another security guard to arrest Ramsey and Thorus. Thorus counters this order with one of his own – for the guard to retrieve the security footage recorded by a device he’d planted earlier. The guard hesitates only briefly before accepting that order, leaving Ramsey and Thorus free to pursue A’Tora who has darted out the now-open main door.

They catch up with A’Tora, now dressed as a janitor and wearing Lawrence Davis’ face again, and he confesses that he had planned to help them a final time and then disappear into the crowds on Regulus IV. He had read a communique of Boqin’s that suggested the erstwhile Section 31 agent planned to use A’Tora for testing in pursuit of a biological weapon against the – to Boqin’s perception – seemingly unkillable changelings. After they promise A’Tora that he can hide as an inanimate object and remain with them until they’re rid of Boqin, he agrees to return to the ship with them. No sooner said, and A’Tora shifts into a jacket and drapes himself over Ramsey’s arm. Back aboard the Tarsus they claim A’Tora was lost in the excitement and that they can’t afford to track him down. Leaving Regulus IV, they head for Earth but are forced to stop for repairs when the trans-warp coil become faulty. Boqin shows a decided lack of faith in Ramsey’s skills and Les panics that they’ll be stranded. Les puts on the A’Tora-jacket and replicates a week’s worth of food to stash in the pockets.

Once repairs are done they proceed to Earth and arrive without further delay. They beam Boqin to the lobby of the hotel Ivers is staying at and turn Les and A’Tora loose to explore San Francisco. Then, after moving the ship to a new docking yard (the better to throw Boqin off the track), they beam to the hotel as well. They find Ivers in the lobby and he says he’s already sent Boqin to share his intel with Myrun. Ivers then tells them he has a time-sensitive task for them – to deliver Lt. Cmdr. Eddington to Deep Space Nine because Starfleet needs another security officer there to look into the rather maverick behavior of the senior officers. Their cover story will be that they are test-piloting a new engine design on behalf of Ambassador Corrik, trusting that the duty-oriented Eddington won’t be problematically curious about the experimental nature of the Tarsus’ propulsion.

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Session 21

Before the conference gets underway Ramsey develops the smallest blood-testing device he can create. Thorus prepares security profiles for them both so that they can blend in with the details on guard during the key meeting with the higher-ranking attendees. Though A’Tora seems eager to accompany them, they tell him he should remain aboard their ship until they call for him. Boqin tells them that he’s learned though his contacts that a private investigator named Kayvan Rostami, a frequent hire of the paranoid Admiral Leyton, should be in attendance. Boqin exhorts them, again, to not do anything that might send alarming news back to Leyton who is in a position to make the wrong extreme decision. Once ready and dressed as security officers, Thorus and Ramsey beam down into the conference hall plaza (as the building itself still shielded from direct beam-ins). They see many of the same people in the plaza from the day before, notably the Bajoran protesters, and have to wait in line to pass through a security checkpoint. While they are waiting, Vice Admiral Achille from Starbase 153 does a double-take upon seeing Thorus, but the line moves along before Achille can speak to him.

Inside, they report for duty – having added themselves to the roster – at the doors to the main conference room. Along the way they see Admiral Toddman sitting at a small table where he reviews information on a padd. As they go by, a young officer tells Toddman that a private call is waiting for him at a secure communications terminal. He leaves with her. Thorus and Ramsey report for duty and do not appear to raise any suspicions among the existing security crew. Ramsey uses the device he built to surreptitiously confirm that none of the attendees are shapeshifters. The Starfleet News reporter, Jad Najeem, tries to get into the meeting and is turned away, and Starfleet Intelligence officer Renner Gorman tells another conference-goer that he heard that a Cameron Ivers was behind the attempt on Ambassador Corrik’s life. Les radios down to ask if they’ve seen A’Tora and says that the changeling beamed down while he and Boqin weren’t paying attention. Achille shows up and does speak with Thorus, but Thorus expertly deflects the Vice Admiral’s insistence that they’ve meet before.

As the conference is about to start, Toddman tries to enter but Ramsey gets a faulty reading from his blood-testing device. Toddman is also carrying a hand-phaser. Thorus explains the no-weapons policy while Ramsey delays Toddman with a cryptic reference to the Omarian Nebula. Toddman offers a weak excuse about returning his weapon to his hotel room and leaves. Thorus follows him but Toddman only goes to the conference hall’s main lobby and makes small talk. While he’s watching Toddman, Thorus sees A’Tora (who has re-adopted the face of dead Lawrence Davis) go by in a waiter’s uniform. Abandoning his surveillance of Toddman, Thorus pulls A’Tora aside. The changeling apologizes but insists that he only wanted to help.

Thorus and Ramsey decide that, since A’Tora’s already there, why not have him look like Toddman and attend the meeting? (After all, this could be the chance for Starfleet to confront the very real threat facing them.) They send him in to sit at a table with an empty seat. Before long a woman from that table slips away to talk to Ramsey. She explains that she’s concerned because – as a Betazoid – she can’t read any emotions from the Admiral that just joined her table and she wanted security to know. Shortly after that, another Toddman walks in to be greeted by the gasps and stares of everyone within sight of A’Tora.

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Session 20

Boqin explains to Thorus and Ramsey that the last time he saw them was months ago, that in fact he met them upon their hiring and was kidnapped shortly after by a shapeshifter and an individual he describes that they recognize must be a Vorta. They tell him about the arrest warrant out for Ivers – knowing now that it was issued by the imposter-Boqin. Boqin tells them that he was able to glean only a little information during his captivity but that he got the sense that the changeling was engaged more in information gathering than carrying out a specific mission. He did his best to feed them misinformation and they surmise this is what led to the building suspicion Ivers had for his superior.

They contact Ivers and share intel on the matter. Together, Ivers and Boqin conclude that the security conference at Regulus IV would offer the shape shifters a prime opportunity to impersonate any number of security officials. Chief among their worries is the safety of Admiral Toddman, a Flag Officer assigned to Starfleet Security. They also discuss the deaths of the Romulans aboard the Armstrong at the hands of the Jem’Hadar who was inexplicably on board.

They head for Regulus to monitor the situation. The conference includes not only Starfleet security specialists but also journalists, scholars, and individuals who have been to the Gamma quadrant who can share their insights. Ramsey and Thorus propose to attend as archaeologists. Upon arriving they set Les to the task of finding some way to test A’Tora that will reveal his true nature, as a tricorder scan shows him to be human.

They arrive in time for the pre-conference breakout sessions, where various discussions are taking place to dispense what little knowledge is available on the Dominion and its potential threat. Notably, the most informed presenters seem to be Ferengi traders who have engaged in commercial exchanges with Gamma quadrant people – though their only information specific to the Dominion is that they seem less interested in commerce than anyone else they’ve ever heard of.

There is ample bitterness on the part of the few Bajoran attendees over the destruction of New Bajor, and the key speaker for preemptive military tactics supports collapsing the wormhole as the only sure method to protect the Alpha quadrant.

Meanwhile on the ship, Les has found that a changeling-specific test might be possible but not with limited lab equipment he has. When Thorus and Ramsey return to the ship, Ramsey works on a portable force field that he can take to the conference the following day. Thorus researches the crew of the Armstrong and discovers that the senior officers had all been temporarily reassigned while Ivers and Corrik were escorting their doomed Romulan dignitaries. Corrik did some research into the matter as well and found that the Armstrong was recently given a new young captain and the Armstrong is slated to bring a security official, Carston Vara, to the conference.

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Session 19

While waiting for Ambassador Corrik (expected to arrive with the requisitioned Valiant a prototype ship of the same model as the Defiant) Ramsey sets about removing the transwarp coil from the Tarsus. He is, however, interrupted by Ivers who confides that upon reflection he fears that Section 31 may have been infiltrated by changelings, much as the Romulan government was. He explains that for some time he has been troubled by Boqin’s out-of-character behavior but had no reason – until learning about Colonel Lovok – to suspect anything dire was amiss. Now, on the verge of joining Corrik in the hopes of recruiting Admiral Leyton to support a Section 31 plan against Dominion forces, Ivers fears that a changeling in the organization’s ranks will prompt the ambitious and often paranoid admiral to work against them. He asks Ramsey to take the Tarsus and its crew to Starbase 153. There, if they discover Boqin is human, they are to arrest him. If they find him to be a changeling they are to eliminate him as quickly and quietly as possible.

Thorus, meanwhile, has taken A’Tora to a holosuite to explore Alpha Quadrant culture and so that the changeling might find an appearance to mimic other than that of the recognizable, late Mr. Davis. Before long Ramsey calls them back to the ship and on their way to collect Les from Quark’s Bar Thorus spots Pehret drinking alone. After sending A’Tora to the dabo tables, Thorus approaches the Cardassian woman and asks if she has a spare data padd. She agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Thorus downloads the information they gathered from the Outrider. Then, without wasting time to reminisce, he rounds up Les and A’Tora and they rejoin Ramsey.

En route to Starbase 153, they learn from the Federation News Service that the colony New Bajor was entirely wiped out. Hearing this, A’Tora tells them that he doesn’t mind if they find a changeling in Boqin’s place and harm it. He adds that, although such an attitude is an atypical one, he doesn’t have much sympathy for the other changelings because if they catch up with him they will return him to their homeworld for judgement because he’s too unlike the rest of them.

Near Starbase 153 there is extra traffic, both Starfleet security patrols and vessels ferrying volunteers and relief supplies to the Toren following the tragic destruction of a manufacturing facility on one of their occupied worlds. After docking in the civilian section of the base, Ramsey and Thorus venture out to devise a plan of action. Upon seeing the number of volunteers carting medical supplies around, they decide to impersonate Starfleet medical officers and attempt to subdue Boqin and cart him away in a biobed. In the midst of carrying out this plan, Thorus spots Boqin walking with Vice Admiral Achille. He follows them and overhears their discussion of security assignments connected with Achille’s upcoming visit to the Federation Embassy on Regulus IV.

After disabling the starbase’s internal disruptor-fire detectors, they reach the floor with the security offices. After staging a false call for medical assistance in Boqin’s office, they barge in. Without warning, Thorus opens fire on Boqin who – perhaps not unexpectedly – turns out to be a shapeshifter and seemingly melts into a puddle that disappears under the desk. As he runs around to fire again Thorus sees the changeling beaming away. Just then the starbase’s red alert warning begins to blare along with the station-wide warning that an unknown vessel has decloaked in the station’s vicinity.

Wasting no time, Thorus and Ramsey beam back to the Tarsus and attempt to track the strange vessel. They recognize it was a Karemma transport native to the Gamma Quadrant. Thorus falsifies a code, posing as Starfleet Intelligence, and orders Starbase personnel to help destroy the enemy vessel. As both the Tarsus and the starbase fire upon the fleeing ship, an escape pod emerges from vessel. Ramsey scans the freighter as it succumbs to the attacks and finds out there are six Breen and one human aboard. He beams the human out and they are joined by the actual Boqin, who, from the state of his overall appearance, has been a prisoner for some time.

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Session 18

Ramsey scans the powered-down vessel and confirms that there are no life signs aboard. Once docked with the Outrider Thorus succeeds in providing the Cardassian ship with a security code that grants the crew access. Ramsey recognizes the vessel’s model as one favored by the Obsidian Order. Though Les assures them that the atmosphere inside the ship is safe, Ramsey and Thorus don environmental suits. Seeing A’Tora’s open interest, they invite him to accompany them. While unnecessary, A’Tora eagerly pulls on an environmental suit of his own. They venture into the the Outrider and learn from the security logs that the entire crew departed with another docked vessel a week earlier. From the video footage A’Tora recognizes a Vorta coming from the docked ship. Before they have finished their investigation the Outrider requests another security code. Thorus surmises that, per Obsidian Order custom, the ship will continue to request a security code every ten minutes. Ramsey manages to delay the request by an additional twenty minutes to give them more time to explore.

They download the ship’s logs and learn that six months ago the crew’s second-in-command, Almar, took over most of the regular captain’s duties from Gul Enor. When they take a look at the crew quarters they find them unremarkable save for the fact that Almar’s quarters are more luxurious than anyone else’s while Gul Enor’s contain no clothing and no bed. A’Tora remarks that it reminds him of how his people prefer to kept their personal space. He explains that he is unable to retain the same physical shape for a full day and that, while he can regenerate by reverting to a simple puddle of liquid, that he could also regenerate by mimicking a variety of alternating forms. A’Tora studies the seemingly random collection of furniture and sculptures in the Gul’s quarters and says that it appears quite as though a changeling lives there. They take the time to scan the cargo bay and confirm that there is trace evidence linking the Cardassian ship to the materials needed to craft metagenic weaponry.

When they disembark the ship, they move the Tarsus to a safe distance and then blow up the Outrider. Then, having found the trail of the other vessel, they lay in a course for the Omarion Nebula. A’Tora explains that he has no desire to see any of his people. He says that they call themselves ‘the founders’ and worries that if any Founder, Jem’Hadar, or Vorta discover he is aboard the Tarsus that they will take him by force. Torus give him an anti-sensor belt, assuring him that it will help make him invisible to any sensors. They review the records from the Cardassian vessel and learn that six months ago Almar confronted the Gul only to realize that Enor had been replaced by a changeling some time even earlier. After hearing of the changelings’ plans to infiltrate the Cardassian government as a means of forming an alliance, Almar joined the cause whole-heartedly. Almar convinced the rest of the crew that this was Cardassia’s best hope for a future free from Federation interference.

Though Thorus and Ramsey wish to intercept the Cardassians en route to Founders’ homeworld, A’Tora tells them that the ‘Gul Enor changeling’ will recognize him if they end up in close proximity. They also surmise that stopping this particular crew of Cardassians will only delay a Cardassian/Dominion alliance. Deciding to deliver a warning as soon as possible they reverse course and head for the wormhole. Once there they hear that the colony at New Bajor has come under attack by aliens that sound like the Jem’Hadar. After reaching DS9 they report to Ivers who has news of his own – Myrun and other Tal Shiar agents found a changeling in their midst posing as the once-revered Colonel Lovok. Having tortured said changeling, Myrun learned that the Founders intended to infiltrate Starfleet as well. Ivers proposes that he, Myrun, Thorus, Ramsey and A’Tora work together in uncovering this subterfuge. He suggests they travel to Earth under the guise of being Ambassador Corrik’s crew, and he contacts the Ambassador at once to propose this plan to him.

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Session 17

Upon arriving in the Rogun system, Thorus and Ramsey pick up the distress call that had been relayed by a Ferengi merchant vessel. Confirming the source of the call at Rogun II they reach orbit and send out a hail. They hear from a Lawrence Davis who says the rest of his team was killed in the crash-landing of the runabout Stanwell. When they offer to beam him up, Davis asks if they will land and allow him to load his colleagues’ personal belongings and research samples (in particular, one of them had an anti-matter storage pod that shouldn’t be beamed). Wary, they agree but land with the Tarsus cloaked. Meeting Davis they are surprised to find him possessed of both good health and good hygiene (as the Stanwell crashed two months ago). Yet, his behavior is odd and he seems fascinated by Thorus’ appearance. When Ramsey tells Davis that Thorus is “half Ferengi” Davis accepts this blatant untruth as if for fact.

While they round up the items to off-load from the crashed runabout, Les goes to do a medical scan on the graves of the deceased crew members. When Ramsey compares Les’ findings to the crew manifest it appears that Lawrence Davis is, in fact, dead and buried. When they confront the living Davis he apologizes for his deception and changes appearance right before their eyes. He explains that he is a changeling, that his name is actually A’Tora, and that he was sent away from his homeworld in his infant form. He spent his formative years on a series of merchant vessels in the Gamma Quadrant. Though recently reunited with his people, they remain alien to him. The other changelings told him that other humanoids (which they call ‘solids’) cannot be trusted and, seeing his difficulty in grasping the concept, assigned him a mentor to provide him a proper introduction to his own culture.

Unfortunately, his first experience with his mentor was a field trip in which they spied on the doomed crew of the Stanwell. Some of them survived the crash and A’Tora wanted to help but his mentor forbid it. Seeing A’Tora’s angry distress at the solids’ plight, the mentor left his student on Rogun II to reflect on his weakness. A’Tora buried the crew and gleaned what he could about them and the Alpha Quadrant from the ship’s computer. He doesn’t want to rejoin his people and doesn’t like what little he knows about the Dominion (about the changelings, and the forced servitude of the Vor’ta and Jem’Hadar. Ramsey and Thorus offer him safe passage off Rogun II but explain that they are headed to the Omarian Nebula in search of the Cardassian ship, the Outrider. A’Tora agrees to go and to help however he can, but warns them that, although he isn’t certain what the Dominion is fully capable of, that he fears they may react badly to an Alpha Quadrant ship in that region.

En route, Ramsey equips the ship with trans-warp capabilities and they outrun a Jem Ha’dar warship that breaks formation to pursue them. Though they are making good time, they detect a ship hidden in some space debris and stop to investigate. It is the Outrider, powered down and left behind without any sign of damage. While they prepare to dock and investigate further, they detect a Jem Ha’dar scout ship on its way to their location, due to arrive in about 2 hours.

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Session 16

Upon their arrival in the midst of the Klingon campsite, Thorus and Ramsey find themselves accused of trickery in the disappearance of Lt. Klaag. Before they can explain, two Klingons shove Thorus at the nearest (and newly exposed crystal) and he vanishes. Ramsey stuns those two and the last Klingon surrenders his weapon and proposes they work together to solve the mystery – this Klingon, Kral, has sworn his loyalty to Klaag and wants to see the lieutenant returned to carry out the coup they’ve been planning. (This he cheerfully explains to Ramsey for some time while they collect components to design a scanner that might work despite the jamming caused by the crystals.)

Thorus, meanwhile, finds himself in a particularly barren stretch of land, populated only by himself, Klaag, a Bajoran couple, and a grubby human who turns out to be Bryn Stewart, the geologist who discovered the crystals. Bryn explains his theory, that exposing the crystals led to the gradual displacement of the colony’s citizens, a few at a time determined by the time of the day and the location of people as they wandered accidentally into the crystals’ displacement-causing energy. Bryn shamefacedly says that he fears any number of people might have been displaced into the ocean but that he hopes, seeing that Thorus has arrived on a rescue mission, that they might find some of the colonists and bury the crystals deep enough to lay the disruptive energy to rest. Thorus, after exchanging some hostile words with Klaag, sets the group to lighting the sparse vegetation on fire in the hopes of alerting Les or Ramsey to their location.

Ramsey, working with Les, does manage to locate Thorus, Stewart, Klaag, and the Bajoran couple. Stewart proposes they use a photon torpedo to bury the crystals only to have Ramsey counter that they could beam several tons of rock and dirt into place. After that, with the jamming dissipating as the crystals apparently go dormant, they search for and locate 77 more colonists and return them to their settlement. Bryn Stewart, deciding to remain with the colony to make amends for his meddling, gives Thorus and Ramsey his report to take to T’Larsh, and also explains that when he encountered the Outrider he tried to hail them to exchange mapping information and got no reply. The Cardassian ship, however, on the route it was headed, would have ended up in the Omarion Nebula.

As they near the wormhole from the Gamma Quadrant side, another of T’Larsh’s team intercepts the Tarsus bearing a message from the Vulcan. Due to diplomatic tensions caused by complaints from a group known as the Dominion, officials at Deep Space Nine have asked T’Larsh to recall all his science teams. As bad luck would have it, one team has issued a distress call from the Rogun system. T’Larsh requests that Thorus and Ramsey respond to the call and retrieve the team as quickly as possible.

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