This is a story of what could happen if the 'Changeling-hype' is to
As always, Paramount owns all the regular DS9 characters. Julie, Sabi
and these specific events are mine. Comments are welcome at
Note: This story was written after 'Indiscretion' but before the first
spoilers on 'Return to Grace' were out.

                             Major Changes.
                               by Myranya.

        Sisko looked at Dukat sitting in his office. He was working
with the Cardassian in trying to prevent a war between Cardassia
and the Federation.
        Tensions had risen the last few months. Ever since the
failed invasion of the Klingons, the Maquis had grown bolder and
bolder. They had been quiet for a long time, but now they were 
feeling they would have some support from the Klingons if the
Cardassians would enter the Demilitarized Zone.
        On Cardassia itself, the newly installed civilian government
was under heavy pressure of conservative groups. Extreme conservative
groups, who did not only disapprove of the Klingons holding planets
so close to Cardassian space, or of the Maquis, but of the treaty
with the Federation as well.
        Rumors of Founder infiltration were running wild. No one had
uncovered a Founder spy in the Cardassian government or its military,
but the same conservative groups, among them a remnant of the Obsidian
Order, saw spies everywhere. And the worst of it all, the people
of Cardassia were listening. They, too, had gone through a lot of 
changes in the last few months, and were willing prey to the 
'changeling-hype'. The media were only too happy to help -mass hysteria 
sells well.
        "The Federation does not control the Maquis. I can do little
to stop their raids.", Sisko said.
        "Oh, come on, Captain. I know the Federation does not control
them, although I can not convince a large number of the Cardassian
Central Command of that, but at least they take your messages. Talk to
them! Tell them that if these incursions in Cardassian space continue,
the Order and the Sach Ba will take over at next month's elections."
        "And if that happens, the first free elections will also be the 
last ones on Cardassia." Sisko stated.
        "Not only that.", Dukat added. "It is almost certain that if
they win the elections, they will move in on the Demilitarized Zone,
and perhaps even on Bajor, immediately."
        "And we would be at war." Sisko said. "We have to prevent that
at all cost."
        "I will do what I can on Cardassia. You stop those raids.",
Dukat said.
        Sisko sighed. He knew Dukat was right about the need, but he
thought the Cardassian over-estimated his influence with the Maquis. 
While he had sent out several messages to the Maquis, trying to establish 
contact, none had received any response.
        And there was more he was not ready to tell the Cardassian
yet. He had asked Starfleet to send some ships out, hoping to dampen
some of the enthusiasm of the more war-minded groups on Cardassia. If 
they did not have the impression they could walk right in, they might at 
least take some more time to prepare. The long-term implications would 
probably be war, if those radical groups gained power, but having a show 
of force out here might slow them down.
        Starfleet agreed his reasoning was solid. Unfortunately, there
were reports of Romulan activity along the Neutral Zone. 'So you will
understand, that in the light of the situation, we can really not send
any ships in response to a threat that might not even be real.' They
had sent an old Constellation Class to patrol the Demilitarized Zone,
and told Sisko he still had the Defiant. Right. She was a fine
warship, but they were dealing with the very real possibility of an
invasion here. Starfleet, too, was getting pulled into the vicious 
circle of spy reports, war threats, and xenophobic paranoia.
        But Sisko told none of this to Dukat. While they were working
on a common goal this time, there were too many occasions they had
stood on opposite sides.
        "I will do what I can.", Sisko said.
        "Let's hope it is enough." With that, Dukat stood. Sisko let
him out of the office and watched him leave. Then he went back inside,
sat down, and tried once again to establish contact with the Maquis.

        It was crowded at Quark's. Julie had waited a long time to place 
an order for a drink, and she had finally gone up to the bar to get one.
Of course, her seat was taken as soon as she had gotten up, and she did
not see another one. She looked around. There, those Zaldons were leaving. 
She tried to make her way over there quickly, but bumped into someone.
        When Dukat left the Captain's office, he had gone over to
Quark's. Not that he particularly liked the bar, or the Ferengi who
ran it, but it was a place where he might pick up some of the news and 
rumors from the Federation. The place was filled up to the notch.
Obviously Quark was running one of his games in the back room and 
currently held a break there. He glanced around for a table and saw a 
couple of Zaldons leave. When he made for the table, he bumped into 
        "Sorry.", Julie said, out of habit, before she even looked up
at who she had bumped into. Then, when she saw the Cardassian, she
started. *Could he know who she was?*
        "Pardon me.", Dukat said. "But it is rather full in here today. 
Is this seat taken?" He indicated the second chair.
        Julie thought quickly. Nothing in the Cardassian's manner
indicated he had placed her, and if she refused it might rise
        "No, it's free.", she said.
        Dukat took the seat and introduced himself. "Gul Dukat."
        "Julie Barnards.", Julie said, using the last name she had
gone by on every mission to DS9 or Cardassia. As she extended her hand 
in greeting, Dukat's eye fell on the drink she had gotten. She cursed 
inwardly. How had she gotten herself into this?
        "Remarkable. I have not met many humans who drink Kanar. Have
you ever been to Cardassia?", Dukat asked her.
        There was no use in denying it. Maybe if she could steer this
conversation in the right direction from here on, she might actually
get something good out of this. She just hated doing spy-work
unprepared -it was treading on dangerous grounds at best.
        "I am Captain of the Thalys. It is a small, unaligned trader,
it docks at Cardassia quite frequently.", Julie said.
        "Ah, yes. I know of the ship, of course. There are few enough
unaligned traders who frequent Cardassia." Dukat said. "You know the
capital, then?"
        "Yes, the space port district, and of course the city center."
Julie said. "It is very impressive."
        Dukat looked at the petite human sitting at the table with
him. It pleased him to talk to someone who had actually been to
Cardassia, and knew the capital. Most people outside the Cardassian
Union did not have the faintest idea of how anything Cardassian looked, 
except perhaps a warship. He liked his home, and he was away from it 
often enough to miss it.
        "You have seen the Town Hall, then?", he asked.
        Julie nodded. She had seen it, several times, and could easily
describe it without saying anything she should not. She hadn't lied
when she had said it was impressive -the Cardassian capital really was
a sight to see.
        Before she knew it they were talking Cardassian architecture,
music, and the best places to eat in the city. She was still on her 
guard, but she didn't feel as if Dukat was leading her to reveal
anything about her encounters or activities.

        When she got back to her temporary quarters on DS9, she had
not learned a great deal, but as it had been a chance encounter, she
had not set out to do so. And knowing a Gul could always come in
handy. Sabi was waiting for her as she entered.
        "We just received a communication from home." Sabi called it
home, but she was the only one for whom it really was. Julie had not
been born in the Demilitarized Zone at all.
        "Captain Sisko called them again?", Julie asked.
        Sabi nodded. "Yes. I don't know that we should go to Cardassia
this time. According to these messages the situation there is less
than stable."
        "That is exactly why we have to go. If we can show them just
how unstable the situation really is, and who will be in power if it
all collapses, the council might finally listen to us."
        Julie was not at all sure they could make them listen with all
the proof in the world. She and Sabi had been on Cardassia. They had
seen more than just the military. They had talked, laughed and gambled
with Cardassian traders and workmen at the bars in the spaceport
district, they had met civilian store owners and merchants. They knew
it _did_ make a difference which Cardassian group was in charge.
For too many of the Maquis, however, a Cardassian was a Cardassian
and that was it.
        When the first of Sisko's messages had come in, Julie had
pleaded to listen. They did not agree to the terms of the treaty, but
she was convinced the Captain was right about the Cardassians moving
in immediately if the right-wing groups would gain power. She had
followed the Federation newscasts. The Cardassians weren't the only
ones stirring, and she was not at all certain the Federation would
send ships in time to meet the Cardassians. A few of the others had
shared her concern. Most had not. They had barely agreed to letting
her and Sabi take on another mission.
        She looked at the transmissions, found nothing she had not
already extrapolated, and shut down the terminal. It was late and she
wanted to rest, but she still took the time to quickly fill Sabi in
on her encounter with Dukat.

        Their mission to Cardassia was quite uneventful. They collected 
propaganda, taped election tri-vid broadcasts, and gathered intelligence.
They did not manage to meet with any of the more important contacts they 
had made over the last year but they still agreed the mission had gone 
        Back in Maquis territory, they landed the small vessel and
went into the building where the council met.
        Well over an hour later, Julie was getting frustrated. "They
are using these raids in their propaganda, and the people of
Cardassia are listening! The elections are only one and a half months
off. If the Order and the Sach Ba gain power we _will_ have a war."
        "And we won't have this treaty anymore. That is what we
wanted.", Rainor, a tall man with half-long, brown hair said.
        "No. Not now, and not like this. They won't just break the
treaty, they will move in right away." Julie let out another
frustrated sigh. "Look, you were Starfleet. You have followed the
news. The situation with the Klingons is shaky at best. There are
reports of Romulan activity. There are rumors that even the Tholians
are stirring again. Starfleet has sent one single, out-dated,
Constellation Class Starship to patrol the border. Their main forces
are at least 24 hours further from the Zone than the Cardassians. We
can not hold off a full invasion force for that long."
        Sabi was the only one who really agreed with her, a few others
looked doubtful.
        "Perhaps we should at least answer Captain Sisko's messages."
Ro said. The Bajoran hated Cardassians with all her heart, but her
Starfleet training had taught her about strategy, and she was not too
biased to use it. Or at least, to talk about it. Julie wouldn't bet
on anything more.
        Julie knew it wasn't going to be enough. The way this was
going, even if they would eventually agree to suspend or even stop the
raids, it would be too little, too late.
        She had come here over a year ago, joining up as a diplomatic
advisor and political spy. She'd had experience on many planets,
most of the time in conflicts between governments on one planet, in
one system. Some called her a simple mercenary, and in a way she was. 
But she only fought for those causes she could identify with, not
for the highest bidder. As a matter of fact, she hadn't been paid
for months. She kept half of what she earned on the trading
missions she covered her travels with, and the Thalys was her own.
Her payment wasn't her highest concern, though. She saw what was
happening in the Quadrant, and although the Maquis had not joined in
the changeling-hype, they would be pulled along if they could not stop 
the Cardassians from overrunning the entire Zone.
        Slowly, others nodded, and agreed to a meeting with Captain

        A week after her return to Maquis space, a meeting was
arranged. Julie met the Captain in his office. She saw the Station's
security chief, Odo, as she walked through Ops. Good. If he was here,
he was not disguised as anything in Sisko's office.
        She came in and introduced herself as Julie Barnards, again.
She had many aliases, but preferred to use her own first name as much
as possible. Last names, she could not remember how many she had used.
She had seen the Captain several times before, when she had put in
with the Thalys, but this was the first time she spoke with him.
        The meeting did not go very well. Oh, she and Sisko agreed the
raids had to stop, and that a war right now would be disastrous, but
she did not get a lot of new information that would convince the
others of that.
        She spent the next three weeks flying frequently up and down
between the Maquis headquarters and Deep Space Nine. Finally, only
another three weeks from the Cardassian elections, she booked results.
The council reluctantly agreed to at least suspend the incursions on
Cardassian territory.
        Julie and Sabi went to DS9, and Julie met with Sisko.
        "They've finally agreed to stop the raids, but I am afraid it
is too late. There's only three weeks left. By the time the Cardassians 
believe the raids have really stopped, the elections will be over.", 
Julie said.

        Sisko had no better news. He had been even less successful in
convincing Starfleet to sent more ships. He has gotten to the point
where he was half-and-half expecting orders to return the Defiant, as
well. If the Cardassians were to move now, they would probably gain
control of Bajor, the Wormhole, and the Demilitarized Zone. Then, the
Federation would finally wake up to their problems, and move in. It
was quite possible the Romulans would take the opportunity to attack
the Federation in the back, causing war all over the Quadrant.
        "And that is exactly what the Founders want. With all of us at
war there will be no missions through the Wormhole. In the end, no
one in the Alpha Quadrant will win this one.", Julie said.
        Sisko knew the Maquis woman had the same goals as he; to
prevent war and to stop the Founder's scheme. He had never directly
told her he had worked toward the same goals with Dukat, and he was
not entirely sure how she would react, but he needed her. Dukat had
not been able to come to the Station for the last two weeks, and
neither had Sisko dared to send any important information through
subspace. He had considered going to Cardassia Prime himself, or to
send one of his staff, but a Starfleet officer would stand out on
Cardassia in the best of times.
        He knew Julie and Sabi regularly docked at Cardassia, and he
had even been able to find out Julie had spoken with Dukat at Quark's.
But he was far from certain she would agree to go into hostile
territory and actually work with the Cardassian.
        "I have been working with someone in the Cardassian Union who
thinks the same way. I can not contact him directly, and have been
thinking of sending someone to work with him in person. You would be
a good choice, if you are willing to work with a Cardassian.", he
finally told her.
        "I have worked with many races in my life. If he can help stop
this changeling-hype madness, I will do it." Julie answered.
        "Will the rest of the Maquis let you?" Sisko asked.
        Julie shrugged. "If I go back to the council, they will spent
the next three weeks discussing it. By the time they decide either
way, it will be too late. The Thalys is mine. I'll declare it an
emergency, and deal with the council when I get back. If it still
matters by then."
        "Good.", Sisko said. "I know you have met Dukat, that should
make it easier to contact him on Cardassia."
        "Dukat, eh?" Julie didn't sound surprised. Sisko would bet she
knew the Cardassian had been visiting the Station regularly. "So you 
know I have spoken with him.", she continued. It was a statement, not a 
        "We might be working together on some things, we still keep an
eye on him.", Sisko said.
        The double meaning of his words was not lost on Julie, but she
showed none of this to Sisko. Inwardly, she laughed. Not all of the 
security personnel that had watched her since they knew she was Maquis, 
had been able to stay hidden from her experienced eye. To the Captain, 
she showed only a little irony. "I'll remember that."

        Going over the details and making flight preparations did not
take long, and the Thalys took off only a few hours later. At the
Cardassian border, the patrols were much heavier than normal. But
Julie had flown the Thalys through on a regular basis, and most ships
patrolling the border knew her. Besides, what threat could a tiny,
two-person trader pose?
        On Cardassia's space port Julie took her time. She was careful
not to show more impatience in getting her ship unloaded, refueled,
and all the paperwork taken care off than any other trader would. This
was a place where everyone would be observing everyone.
        Sabi remained behind to purchase new cargo, and Julie went
into town. She followed the directions she had gotten from Sisko, and
soon met Dukat, who recognized her.
        "I was not told it would be you who would come here.", he
said. He didn't seem to be surprised. The message he had received had 
told him someone would come in person, someone who was Maquis, who 
worked with Sisko on this one. It made sense Julie would be more than 
a simple trader. Few other crafts as small as hers had traded on
Cardassia, and even those had stopped coming when the situation got
more tense. The Thalys had come in more often.
        They walked as they talked, avoiding crowded places or staying
in any one spot where they could be overheard. Julie told Dukat the
Maquis raids were finally stopped.
        "I am glad to hear that, but it is a little late for that
now.", the Cardassian said.
        Julie sighed. She'd gone over this more times than she cared
to remember. She looked at the billboards that were put up, the flyers
posted all over town, and the headlines of the news-clips on display
at the vendor. It did not look good.
        "You think they can still be stopped?", she asked.
        Dukat almost automatically replied with one of his brush-off
answers, but something compelled him to be honest to this human. "I
don't know. But we have to try."

        When they finished talking, Julie made as if to go to one of
the space port hotels. Dukat stopped her.
        "There has been trouble in the Port district almost every day.
You are welcome to stay at my place.", Dukat said.
        For a moment, Julie did not know what to say. Her first
reaction was to refuse, as it would make it impossible to hide their
contact. Then she realized it would be a better cover than anything
-while talking to someone regularly and going separate ways was a sure
indication of some kind of business relation, staying with Dukat would
give a quite different impression. And not the kind of impression any
political party or intelligence agency would be interested in. So she 
        She realized she did not even know if he was married -not that
that would matter on Cardassia, where different values reigned than on
most Federation worlds- and she asked him.
        "I was married.", Dukat replied. "My wife left me when I
brought home a daughter from another relation, some months ago. Ziyal
is half Bajoran. I have eight children, the oldest lives on her own,
the three youngest ones live with their mother. Ziyal runs the house
now, and takes care of the other three. Mikor is twelve, Balet ten,
and Zeno is almost nine."
        "I look forward to meeting them.", Julie said.
        Dukat smiled ruefully. "They might not all be too happy to
meet you. Mikor and I... We do not always agree on certain things."
        That statement turned out to be quite accurate. Mikor scowled
at her all through dinner. The other boys didn't seem to mind her too
much, and Ziyal was quite friendly.
        The next day, Julie had eaten alone as she had been in late
for lunch, she put her plate in the kitchen and in the cleaner. Ziyal
looked at her in surprise. Julie saw her expression. She knew on
Cardassia most people had housekeepers who took care of everything.
She certainly wasn't expected to lend a hand. But she'd seen Ziyal 
had her hands full with the three boys and keeping the house up.
        "You don't have to do everything for me. Don't you have a
        "She went with Leya and the younger children. In these times,
it is hard to find a housekeeper who can be trusted.", Ziyal said.
        "So you have to do it all." Julie said. She felt sorry for the
young woman. She was young, barely more than a girl herself, and
being half-Bajoran must be hard, too. Especially now.
        Ziyal nodded. "Sometimes I think it would've been better if I
never came back here. I love my dad, but I am the reason his family
broke up."
        Julie inwardly cringed. She knew that if they could not stop
the right-wing movement it would only get worse, for everyone. But as
she did not know exactly how much Dukat had told his daughter, she
merely said, "You're here now. You're doing a great job with the boys,
and I'll give you a hand when ever I can." And she would, just sometimes 
not in any way Ziyal would know of.

        During the next week, reports of increased support for the
right-wing factions kept coming in.
        Dukat met with various people all day. Julie went out for some
of the time, checking in with her connections, but many she could not
reach. She told Sabi to load the Thalys and head back for Deep Space
Nine. Whatever was going to happen, it was nothing to get caught in
with a tiny vessel like that.
        One afternoon Julie returned from another futile mission in
search of information. Dukat was out, and would be for several hours.
Mikor was sitting at the table, eating a snack while reading something.
As she hadn't eaten yet either, Julie went and got herself some
larish pie from the kitchen.
        "Mind if I sit down?", she asked the boy.
        "Hrm." Mikor grunted and pointed with one hand to another
chair. He did not stop reading.
        Julie sat down and looked at what the boy was reading. It
wasn't 'Mein Kampf', but it was close. 'First: Cardassia', by Gul Bukel.
She wasn't sure what to say, or if she should say anything. But as
Mikor read on, she couldn't just sit there.
        "You really believe that stuff?", she asked.
        Mikor looked up. "This guy is pretty good, you know. He says
we can move in and take Bajor _and_ a large part of the Federation any
time we want to." He did not, of course, know any details of why she
was here. She and Dukat had kept their political discussions private,
talking only about neutral subjects during dinner, with the children
        "That would mean war.", Julie said.
        Mikor nodded enthusiastically. Julie got the impression he was 
so wrapped up in his enthusiasm he barely noticed whom he was talking 
to, as usually he gave her one-word answers only. "Yes. War is great. 
It can make Cardassia great."
        Julie did not know much about children. She liked them, but
she had never had the time for them, and most places where she came in
the line of her duties, there were none. She had heard many times
about teenagers rebelling against their parents, holding opposite views 
and different opinions. She felt sad Mikor was so taken in by this 
propaganda she and his father were trying to stop. She looked at the 
boy as she answered, "No. War is not great. In the end, war can only 
destroy. In a war everybody looses."
        It sounded strange, coming from her, who had fought in so many
wars. Still, that was precisely what had taught her that while war can
not always be avoided, the statement she had just made was still true.
        Mikor did not see it that way. He looked at her as if he just
now noticed her for who she was.
        "I wouldn't expect a human to understand.", he said.
        He picked up his book and left, leaving Julie at the table.

        It was almost a week later. The elections were approaching
fast; they only had three more days. It was evening. Ziyal and the
boys had long since gone to bed, but Julie and Dukat were still
going over prognoses, reviewing tri-vision reports of demonstrations
and small skirmishes near the Central Command, and trying to make
sense of various Fleet movements.
        Dukat threw the PADD on the table with a frustrated sigh.
Julie looked up from hers, then put it down, too. She studied the
Gul's face. *It's easy for me*, she thought. *But this is his planet.
His home.* And he did not have a lot of support here, not even from
his own son.
        She got up and walked around the table, to stand behind the
Cardassian. She started to massage his broad shoulders. For a moment,
Dukat started, surprised, but as she kneaded the scaly chords running
down his neck, he relaxed.
        "Enough work for today.", Julie said softly.
        Dukat hesitated. "Are you saying what I think you are saying?"
        "What do you think I am saying?", Julie asked, teasingly.
        Dukat had to warn her, although he thought she already knew.
        "Cardassian sex would be rather... rough, by human standards."
        Julie dug her nails in his back. Hard. "Some humans like it
like that.", she said, as he had expected she would. As an answer, he 
pulled her around and bit her.

        The next morning, Julie woke up with more than a few scratch
and bite marks. Turning, she could see she had left her share on him,
as well. She smiled. Then she slowly remembered why she was here, and
her smile disappeared. She took a just few more moments to relax, then
slipped out of bed.
        As she came out of the sonic shower, Dukat just got up, too.
        They both quickly dressed and ate breakfast. There was no time
for playing around today. The right-wing parties had planned a big
march for this morning.
        They went out early, and found a place near the big square in
front of the Central Command building. The place quickly filled up,
many of the crowd screaming chants against the Founders, and for war.
        Suddenly, just before the leaders of the Sach Ba would speak
to the crowd, someone fired a weapon. A statue in front of the
building, quite close to where Dukat and Julie were standing, collapsed 
into an orange heap.
        "Founder!", someone screamed.
        Julie looked at the puddle on the ground. "That is _not_ a
Founder.", she said. "It's a set-up."
        Dukat agreed. It had collapsed too quickly, to much like a
thin liquid; not shimmery and slowly like he had seen Odo morph. But
there was no way anyone was going to listen to them.
        Within seconds, people everywhere produced weapons. Many pulled 
disruptors, others pulled disruptor rifles from hiding places, and Julie 
even spotted a couple of phaser cannons.
        "It's a coup!", she yelled over the noise. She pulled a
small phaser from a hidden holster on her side.
        The armed people surged into the Government building. Julie
saw Dukat hesitating, as if to go in. He, too, had drawn his weapon.
        "You can't stop them. There are too many of them. We gotta
get out of here!" She pulled him around. As his gaze at the violent
coup broke, he came back to his senses. They ran through the streets,
but every road or alley toward the residential quarters was blocked.
        "We must get to the ship, it is our last chance.", Dukat said.
        They made it to the transporter booths and beamed up to
Dukat's ship. They arrived just in time to hear the first message
from Gul Bukel. Not surprisingly, he was one of the main leaders of
the coup.
        "We, the true leaders of Cardassia, have taken back the
command we are entitled to. We will now take back those regions of
space the Federation and the Bajorans have so rudely taken from us,
and at the same time gain control of the wormhole. We will stop the
Founders once and for all."
        At the same time, orders were transmitted for all warships to
gather and start moving in formation to Bajoran space.
        Julie cursed. "Dammit. They really did it."
        Dukat watched as another Galor class ship started slowly in
the direction of Bajor. They would not go to warp until all ships were
in formation, but as far as they were from any known sensors the
Cardassians deemed it safe to gather their fleet while moving on
impulse. He gave a quick order and the warship followed, overtook the
other one, and came to rest exactly on its course. Immediately, the
warship hailed them.
        "This is Gul Vanas, what are you doing?", the Cardassian on
the viewscreen asked, irritated.
        "Vanas, don't go along with this.", Gul Dukat told the man.
"Attacking the Federation, the Bajorans, and the Maquis all at the
same time is madness. It is exactly what the Founders would want us
to do."
        At that moment the tactical officer called Dukat. "Two ships
decloaking. They are Keldan class warships, Obsidian Order configuration."
        *Where had the Order gotten new ships so fast?* Well, that
didn't really matter now. Two more screens sprang to life.
        "Defying orders, Dukat?", the Gul of one of the Keldan Class
ships inquired. Dukat recognized him, although he did not know him
well. Horet had always supported the Order. Horet spotted Julie on the
Bara'Tra's bridge. "Did she get you to do this? I wonder if she is a
        "Or perhaps you are.", the third Gul said to Dukat.
        As an answer, Julie stepped forward. In one move she pulled a
dagger from her sleeve. She cut herself, and showed the blood to the
Guls on the screen. Wordlessly, she handed the dagger to Dukat, who
did the same.
        "Don't you see?", Julie said, as they seemed satisfied that
far. "You are seeing Changelings everywhere. They don't even have to
be here! We all mistrust each other, and that is exactly what they
        "We don't take advise from a human.", Horet said.
        Dukat cursed again. "Dammit, Horet. You should listen to her.
She is right. You are all being led by the Founders' scheme, and you
are too blind to see it."
        Horet cut him off. "You are holding up the invasion. You will
return your ship to the Base, and relinquish command if you are not
willing to take part in the attack."
        Dukat did not budge.
        "Ready disruptors.", Horet said.
        Dukat looked at him. "Are you saying that you will fire on
another Cardassian ship?"
        He recalled a time, over a year ago, when he had asked that
same question. At that time he had not been on board of one of the
ships himself, but had watched from Central Command. The Obsidian
Order ships had hung in space for a long moment, then turned around
and left. Not this time.
        "Fire.", Horet ordered, and at the same moment, the ship
shook. The two other ships used only partial strength disruptors,
feeling somewhat uncertain about firing on one of their own. Horet had
no such restraints. The disruptors of the Keldan Class hit them full,
at point-blank range. A panel at the weapons station overloaded, and
the tactical officer screamed.
        "Return fire.", Dukat snapped. "Get us out of here. Heading
2-3-5 mark 8-3-0."
        Julie saw the officer at tactical had severely burned both his
hands when the shields overloaded. She was over at the station in a
flash. Fortunately, the auxiliary shields had automatically come on
        She'd never been on the bridge of a Galor Class warship
before, but she had seen many ships of all different kinds and types,
and this wasn't the first time the manual wasn't included. She hit one
button to get the main shields back on line -at 40%, but it was better
than nothing-, another to get a status display on the attacking ships.
The Keldan class ships were powering up torpedoes. Good. She knew a
little trick with those.
        Her timing was perfect. As the sensors showed the power
buildup in the tubes was on maximum, she hit the disruptors. The
torpedo from Horet's ship exploded exactly as it passed through the
shields of the Keldan Class. Sensors showed the shields blew
completely, the shockwave even throwing the ship off a bit.
        The other torpedo was hit just a little too late, exploding
harmlessly in open space. Still, she had created an opening. The helm
officer needed no prompting to make use of it. Julie fired the aft
disruptors as they went into warp, but as she had hoped, the other
ships were too shocked for an immediate pursuit. As she looked up from
the tactical station, she found Dukat looking at her.
        "You continue to amaze me.", he said.
        "Just a little trick I picked up somewhere.", Julie shrugged.

        Sisko sat in his office when the call came.
        "Dax to Sisko."
        "Go ahead."
        "Sir, we have a Cardassian ship approaching at high warp." The
Trill paused, then as new information appeared on her screen she
added, "It is Dukat's ship."
        Sisko was already halfway to the door as he acknowledged. "On
my way."
	  This did not bode well, he thought. He stepped out of his office 
into the busy Ops center. "Hail them."
        The image of the Cardassian bridge came on the screen
immediately -it had hailed the station at the same time. Dukat was not
alone. Julie, standing beside him confirmed what Sisko already knew.
        "You were unsuccessful.", he stated.
        "Yes.", Dukat said. "Worse, there was a coup d'etat this
morning. I expect a fleet will be following us shortly."
        He nodded to Julie, who transmitted the orders they had
gotten and ignored to the Station's Operations Center.
        "Damn." Sisko said. He turned to his officers. "Dax, call
Starfleet Command. Kira, tell Bajor to prepare for an invasion. Take
the Station to yellow alert. All hands, invasion procedures. This is
not a drill." He turned back to Dukat. "What is your eta at the
        "We will be there in thirty minutes.", Dukat said.
        "Come to Ops as soon as you get here. Sisko out."
        He wanted to hear more about what had happened to quicken the
coup, but he had a station to prepare.
        "Start evacuating as many civilians to Bajor as we can. Do we
have ships docked that can be of any use?"
        O'Brien answered, as Dax was busy contacting Starfleet. "We have
a Ferengi Trader and a few small vessels."
        "Tell them to work with us in the evacuations."
        "Captain, Starfleet Command on subspace.", Dax reported.
        Sisko switched the screen in front of him to the Starfleet
channel. A harried-looking admiral appeared on the viewer.
        "Captain, we are rather busy right now.", he said.
        An icy feeling crept up Sisko's stomach. He controlled it and
told the Admiral about their predicament.
        The Admiral looked apologetic as he shook his head. "I am
sorry, Captain. The Romulans have just crossed the Neutral Zone, and
our full Fleet is tied up. We will divert a ship as soon as we can
spare one."
        Sisko moved a little closer to the screen. "Look, I don't
think you understand. We have a Cardassian invasion force coming this
way. We need ships, _several_ ships, and we need them now."
        "I am sorry. We will send them as soon as the Romulans are
driven back into their own space. Until then, hold them at bay with the 
Defiant and the Gettysburg." He turned as if someone off screen
called him, and quickly signed off before Sisko could say another
        For just a moment, it was dead quiet in Ops. The activities
at the stations along the sides continued, but all Senior Officers
just looked at the Starfleet symbol that had replaced the Admiral's
face on the viewscreen. Then Kira burst into action.
        She had just called the Bajoran Administration and told them
to prepare for the invasion. Now she got back on line to tell them
Starfleet would not come to help. Sisko knew she was steaming, but 
she held it tightly under control.
        The Bajoran Council listened to Kira, then cut transmission to
discuss the situation amongst themselves.
        Sisko had to inform the Maquis, too, for as far as Julie had not 
done so yet. He called Sabi to Ops.
        Not much later Dukat and Julie arrived in the turbolift. The
Cardassian ship had just docked, and Dukat had left his officers to
take care of the docking procedures and any repairs that needed to be
        Just as they stepped off the lift, a call came in from Bajor.
        The Council informed them that they had send a message to
Starfleet Command, recalling their ambassador. "We feel betrayed by
Starfleet. If they will not honor our treaty, it is worthless.", the
Bajoran said.
        "We have an incoming message from Starfleet Command.", Dax
        Sisko took it on another channel, leaving the channel with
Bajor open. He thought he knew what the message would be, and he
knew his answer.
        The same Admiral from before came on the viewer, looking even
more harried. "Captain. The Bajorans have just informed us they have
broken their ties with the Federation. You are therefor ordered to
hand the Station over to the Bajorans..."
        "...and proceed with the Defiant to the Neutral Zone, maximum
warp." It took a moment for Sisko's interruption to sink in. "What?",
the Admiral asked, at the end of his order.
        "I said no. I am not leaving the Bajorans here with an
undermanned station and a few runabouts."
        "This was not a suggestion. Those are your orders.", the
Admiral said.
        "You can court-martial me later. _If_ you can spare a ship to
come and get me. Sisko out." He cut the transmission.
        He looked at his officers. "Anyone who wants to fight the
Romulans can board the Gettysburg. I can use each and every one of you
here, but we are defying orders in doing so. I will not hold it against 
anyone who wants to leave."
        "I am with you.", Dax said. Bashir and O'Brien nodded. Worf,
who had not been on Deep Space Nine as long as the others, was the
last to answer.
        "To leave now would be dishonorable.", he said.
        Sisko nodded briskly. He had not really expected anything
different, but he had to give them the opportunity to back out.
        "Now then. We have an invasion to stop. We will coordinate it
from here, with auxiliary command centers on Bajor and in the Maquis
Headquarters." Sisko nodded at Sabi. She had managed to open a channel
to the Maquis council, and although some there seemed skeptical, most
were listening closely. Especially as they heard the Federation was no
longer involved as such.
        "I will take the Defiant, Dax, you're with me. Kira, you
have the Station. Worf, contact the Klingons on the Cardassian/
Federation border and try to get them to work with us. I do not
think they will just get up and offer the Cardassians their planets
back, but if they work in sync with our efforts we will both be
more effective." Finally, Sisko looked at Dukat.
        "I will fight on your side.", Dukat finally said.
        Julie knew how hard it must be for the Cardassian. She wondered 
where Mikor was -probably joining in the coup, on the other side. She 
was glad he wasn't old enough yet to actually be on one of the ships 
that would be coming in soon, but she knew it was not unlikely that one 
day he would be there. Dukat had just closed the door on his home system,
and his family.
        Kira did not object, but she did ask, "Can your crew be
trusted to cooperate?"
        "I have had months to select the crew of my ship.", the Gul
said. "They think no better of the so-called new government than I
        Kira nodded. She had been in the Bajoran resistance, and she knew 
they needed anyone they could get.
        Worf returned from one of the other communications consoles
with the news from the Klingons.
        "Kulak will coordinate his attack with ours. He, also, has
been unsuccessful in recruiting help from Qonos. But he has been told
to defend the planets they hold here."
        "We will keep an open relay channel at all times, to
coordinate our defense. Are there any more questions or suggestions
before we all go to our ships?", Sisko asked.
        Julie stepped forward. She specifically addressed Sisko,
Dukat, and the Klingons on the view screen, but she made sure the
others heard her, too.
        "You are used to being backed up by a large Fleet. But
unless we can do some _major_ diplomatic patching up here, most of us
aren't anymore. In the Maquis, capturing ships and salvaging weapons
is sometimes deemed worthwhile, even if it means an additional risk.
Considering the current situation, that objective could turn out to
be quite important if we do not re-establish political relations with
any of the Fleets."
        Kira immediately showed her support. The Bajoran had fought in 
the Bajoran resistance long enough to know how important supplies and
equipment were. There were no shipyards in the territories controlled
by Bajor, Deep Space Nine, or the Demilitarized Zone, but there were
several repair facilities on Bajor. And probably in Maquis territory as
well -Kira had seen a runabout on long-range sensors that the Federation 
had given up as lost in one of the skirmishes.
        "She is right. Anything that floats can be fixed, but we do not 
have the resources to build anything from scratch."
        The Starfleet officers and Dukat nodded. "Agreed." Sisko said.
"Any other comments?"
        There were none, so everyone got ready to go to their vessels.
Dukat stopped Julie.
        "Kerahn's hands will not be much use at tactical yet. I would
like you to man that station." He had other officers who could take
over, but he had been impressed by her quick actions earlier. On the 
bridge of a warship she could do much more than on a small ship like
her own. And, he admitted to himself, he did not want her fighting 
Cardassian warships in the tiny vessel of hers.
        Julie had been on her way to the Thalys, but she immediately
        "I'ld be honored.", she said. She turned to Sabi. "You have
the Thalys. Pick someone as a second, Tuli or Cencoloh if either one
of them is still on the station -grab one of the runabout pilots if
they are not. Safe skies."
        "Safe skies.", Sabi answered as they split up.

        By the time the massive Galor Class ship undocked from DS9, 
the area of space around the station was full of ships. Most were small 
-runabouts, shuttles, trader vessels, but Julie knew some of those 
packed much more punch than they appeared to. The Klingons would be 
the first to meet the Cardassians as they came in, and were not in 
sight. The only other warship that was here was the Defiant.
        Not long after they were in position, the Klingons sent the
message they spotted the first Cardassian ships on long-range sensors.
Much too soon after that initial warning, the attack came as five Keldan 
Class ships decloaked right in front of a Klingon cruiser. As they kept 
the Klingons busy, several Galor Class ships came through to the Station.
Dukat moved the Bara'Tra to engage the Keldan Class ships. Two of the
ships turned away from the Klingons and attacked them.
        They used disruptors only, so Julie could not use her torpedo
trick. She aimed at the exact spots where the enemy disruptor beams
ran, and got some results, but nothing as spectacular. As the helm
officer worked miracles trying to avoid fire and at the same time give
her the best shots, she got an idea.
        "Can this ship handle a Picard manoeuver?", she asked Dukat.
        He looked at her in surprise. Galor Class ships were build on
fire power more than maneuverability. "I don't know. I don't think it
has ever been tried with a Cardassian warship."
        "Good. Then they won't be expecting it." Julie said.
        Dukat looked at his helm officer. "Do it."
        "Yes sir!" The helm officer sounded confident. Julie felt
secure he would manage -she would not have suggested the tactic with
this ship if she had not felt the helm officer knew his job.
        The big ship strained as it made the warp jump, but it worked
-Julie got a clear shot at the lead Keldan Class ship's bridge as they
sailed in. The shields buckled and a bulkhead blew. Immediately, a
Klingon Bird-of-Prey used the opening to deposit a torpedo in the
engineering section, and the ship exploded.
        Three Klingon ships and a small Maquis vessel had disposed of
another Keldan Class; there were three left, and they had barely
taken a hit yet. Still, they knew that would not remain that way.

        Kira held on to the panel in front of her as the station
shook. She fired several volleys of photon torpedoes, and the phasers
were firing as fast as they could re-charge.
        There weren't as many Cardassian ships out there as there had
been Klingons, only about six months earlier. But this time there
would be no back-up coming. She shouted orders as the station shook

        The Defiant cut through the shields of one of the Galor Class
ships. Bulkheads blew, and a part of the right wing blew clear off.
The ship veered off to deal with the next invader, as this one started
to slowly spin out of control.

        Dukat saw the tiny distortions in subspace on his screen. The
warship's sensors were calibrated to pick up any and all signs of a
cloaked ship, however inconclusive. He checked the tactical display.
The Defiant was between Bajoran and Maquis space, battling another
ship. He hailed Kulak.
        "Do you have any other cloaked ships in the area?", he asked.
        "All our ships are engaged in the battle.", the Klingon
answered. "To stay in hiding would not be honorable."
        Dukat broadened the hail, so all ships in the force would hear
him. "More Keldan Class coming in. Four or five ships under cloak,
heading 2-4-1 mark 4-6-5."
        He gave orders to turn about, and with Kulak's ship, they
charged in on the distortions. The warships decloaked, and they found
themselves under heavy fire from five of the large ships.
        Several other ships came in to help, but not before they had
taken a bad hit on the navigational array. They could stay in the
fight, but any of those fancy-flying tricks would be out.
        Dukat was surprised to find the Ferengi vessel among the
forces. Obviously, it had been caught in the invasion while
evacuating Deep Space Nine. He couldn't imagine the Ferengi taking so
much interest in anyone's affairs as to stay around voluntarily. Well,
whatever their motives, they could sure use them. Ferengi vessels were
rather heavily armed for the peaceful traders they claimed to be.
        He ordered the ship about, attacking the Keldan ships from
behind. The aft disruptor banks were less powerful than the front ones
and here, the ships would be most vulnerable to Julie's weapon's fire.
        The Keldan Class ships were heavily shielded, and it took a
lot to punch through. With Kulak's Vor'Cha class, they picked off one
ship, but were still under heavy fire from the other four when the
Defiant came in. It launched a volley of torpedoes and phaser fire that 
the Keldan Class' shields could not stand, and blew one almost
immediately. A third went as it tried to turn into the Defiant with
number four, exposing its back side, which had already taken several
hits from the Bara'Tra, to the Ferengi vessel. One of the remaining
vessels turned and fled. The last one had no chance, and as the shields 
went down under the heavy weapons of the Defiant, Julie used precision 
phaser fire to disable all engines and weapons. With luck, they could 
pick this one up later.
        Later turned out to be almost immediately. The Cardassians had
obviously not counted with coordinated resistance this heavy, even
though they had known Dukat would warn the Station. When they turned
back to where the Galor Class ships had been, most were drifting, or
clouds of space dust altogether. A few had turned around and fled, as
the Keldan Class had done, the others limped off when they saw the
warships coming in.
        Kulak escorted them out with the other Klingon ships, to make
sure they went back all the way to Cardassian space. The others
returned to Deep Space Nine.
        The station had taken several hits, as well, but in Ops
everyone was working hard to clear the mess. Several panels had blown
out and one work station still trailed smoke, but most of Ops was in 
working order.
        "Report.", Sisko said, as he stepped off the turbolift.
        "Small hull breach in docking pylon two, three casualties. I
do not have a number on the injuries -between 50 and 60 according to
the last reports from Julian. The Bajorans lost four runabouts, the
Maquis report three small vessels lost and heavy damage on some others. 
They request help from the Infirmary, the first vessels are on their way. 
Dukat has six deaths and 83 injured -no reports from the Ferengi or from 
the Klingons.", Kira summed up.
        "Good." Sisko said. Actually, that was much better than he had
hoped. If he hadn't had the warning of the attack... He took his
thoughts back to the current situation. The whole battle had only
taken hours. He wanted to hold a conference with all parties involved
before calling it a day. They might have won the battle; the war was
far from over. He wondered if there was any chance the Cardassian 
extremists could be beaten by this defeat, but he was afraid it would
not be so. Cardassia itself had not sustained any damage. Perhaps the
Klingons would be for moving in again, but he did not see that as a
valid option. He looked around, saw all his officers had their hands
full, and made the calls to invite the various parties himself.
        Julie had stayed at her post at tactical, even though the
invasion seemed to be repelled for now. The officer at communications
called her attention.
        "Call from the Thalys. I will route it through to you."
        "Thanks, Ulek.", Julie said. Saying thanks when someone did
their duty might not be Cardassian protocol, but she did not pretend
to be a Cardassian. She worked with them as a human, and kept her
human habits. Sabi appeared on the screen.
        "Julie. Thought you'ld like to know we pulled through.", Sabi
said. "We sustained some damage, but she held up beautifully. Say, is
that a Keldan you're towing?"
        Julie grinned. "Sure is." She looked up as Sisko came on the
main viewer. As Sisko asked them to attend the meeting at Deep Space
Nine, Julie quickly conferred with Dukat. Then she turned to Sabi
        "We've been asked to attend a conference at the Station. I
would like you to be there, too."
        Sabi nodded. "We're on our way."
        Actually, the little vessel docked before the Bara'Tra did, as
they still had to turn about and dock the Keldan class at one of the
lower docking pylons, where the repair facilities were. They could use
some repairs too, but the first priority would be to make all ships
space-worthy again.

        As they all gathered on Deep Space Nine, Sisko surveyed the
room. He had chosen the large conference room, and he was glad he had
done so. The room filled with his Senior staff. He counted several
members of the Maquis, including Julie and Sabi, the Ferengi Daimon was 
present, the Bajorans were represented by Kai Winn and two Council
members, Terfa Sen and Oryan Pasoi. Both stayed as far as they could
from Dukat. Kulak came in last, as he had seen the invaders off into
Cardassian space.
        Sisko addressed them all. "Today, we beat off a Cardassian
invasion. I thank all of you -good work. But we have won just one
battle in a much greater war. The Cardassians might be back, the
next time it might be the Romulans, or anyone else. If we can not stop
the Founders stirring up the Quadrant, this is going to be just one
battle in a long line of them. The group we have here today", he
looked around the room, "is unprecedented. I hope we can continue to
work together to stop this war before it spreads any further."
        Oryan looked at Dukat, then at Sisko. "Work together? With a
Cardassian? We fought all our lives to get rid of them!"
        Rainor, one of the Maquis, agreed. "We will not work with the
Federation or the Cardassians.", he said.
        Julie looked at him, but as she spoke, she addressed everyone.
        "In case you had not noticed, since this afternoon no one
here is supported by 'the Federation' or 'the Cardassians' anymore.
Look, you have to remember what we are fighting for. We did not start
to fight the Federation, or the Cardassians. We started to fight to
keep the Zone safe. Two years ago, that meant fighting the Federation
and Cardassia. Now the Founders are a much greater threat. Don't
confuse the methods to reach your goal with the goal itself. That goes
for you, too.", she addressed the Bajorans.
        "We can all fight one another. But don't you see? That is
exactly what the Founders want. They _want_ us to fight each other. If
we all fight each other, we are too busy to bother with the Gamma
Quadrant. Then, when we've all decimated our forces fighting amongst
ourselves, they come in and pick up the pieces. Or perhaps they'll
just sit back and expand their influence in their own Quadrant, not
bothered by ships coming through the wormhole.
        "The major powers are in no shape to take action. The Klingons
invaded Cardassia, the Romulans are attacking the Federation as we
speak, the Federation is too busy holding the Romulans at bay, every
last chance of the Cardassian Empire listening to reason collapsed
this morning. We are the only ones who have a chance of stopping this
        Kira surprised Sisko by supporting the Maquis woman. Only a
few years ago she had been in the Kohn Ma, but since then she had
seen on many occasions that the issues generally weren't so
black-and-white, and she had worked with Cardassians and some
surprising others during the last years on Deep Space Nine.
        "She is right. The Founders are trying to stir up the
Quadrant, and the very fact they are doing it suggest that we _are_
a threat to them if we work together. I don't know how we can ever get
this point across to the Councils of the Federation, Cardassia,
Romulus, or anyone. But if we split up our little group again, we will
be crushed in the middle."
        One by one, the Bajorans nodded. They still did not like it,
but they reluctantly agreed. Rainor indicated his assent, as well.
The only Maquis who had not spoken, a Bolian named Tre'Vore, added his
support to Julie and Sabi. 
Dukat had known since this morning that he would not be going home 
again. Sisko was surprised by the ease with which Julie had talked the 
Bajorans and the Maquis into accepting him. Or perhaps accepting was 
too big a word. There would be conflict, but at least they had seen the 
        Kulak agreed to stay with his troops, but was not ready to
break with his government. He made it clear that if he received orders
to do otherwise, he would follow those orders.
        The Ferengi Daimon did not agree to stay, but he saw no problem 
with trading with them. From the way Julie looked at the Ferengi, she was 
planning on ways she could use the Ferengi and his vessel in her 
intelligence work.
        Sisko had watched as Julie expertly pulled the others together. 
He knew he did not have any place to return to, either. If anyone had 
told him this morning he would turn his back on Starfleet, he would have 
laughed. He had taken the decision in a split second, but he knew that 
if he had had an hour or even days to think about it the result would 
have been the same.
        In other times Starfleet might have sent a reprimand, and
left him alone after that. These, however, were not normal times. The
Federation had declared official war with the Romulans, and disobeying
orders in war time counted much heavier than in peace time. An order to 
inform him he was suspended from his command, computer generated, had 
been waiting for him when he had docked the Defiant.
        He recalled the time almost two years ago, when he had faced
his former comrade who had joined the Maquis, and how he had tried to
pull him back to Starfleet. He smiled a grim smile, wondering to
himself if he still would be in the Maquis.
        Soon, they broke up the meeting to get some sleep. A time was
set for the next afternoon to continue talks and plan a strategy to
stop the Founders.

        Early the next morning, Julie met with Garen Telel, her contact 
in the Bajoran intelligence. She relied on information from Bajor in 
between her own missions, and with the history of Bajor it had not been 
difficult to find someone willing to help the Maquis. Even though the 
situation had changed, she still kept the meeting hidden from the other 
parties -she would wait and see for a while before playing out in the 
        "What do you have on Cardassia?", she asked.
        "Nothing good. Horet was killed in the attack, but Bukel and
several other people high up never left the planet. Their support
dwindled somewhat after their defeat, but they have gained other
followers because of it. People who see it as a confirmation that
Cardassia should take these areas of space back, who don't like 
the threat of a strong force this close to Cardassia."
        That was not what Julie had wanted to hear. She had hoped
Bukel's faction would be hurt by the defeat, allowing the civilian
government to re-gain control. But she was not really surprised
it had not happened. From what she had seen on that morning -was it
only yesterday?- there would not be many left alive from the civilian 
government, and it would take time for the few who escaped to build 
back up again.
        "How is the situation planet-side?", she asked.
        "State of emergency, most opposition killed or imprisoned. The
borders are closed, aliens either imprisoned or shipped off the
planet. Civilian life continues normally, but the military remains in
a state of alert. That is all we know as of yet.", Garen reported.
        Julie thanked him, and went off to find Dukat.
        She found him on the bridge of the Keldan Class, which had
been renamed the Unity by popular vote, checking the logs. She told
him what she had just heard. He had not expected anything different,
but he had hoped for better news. He stared at the viewscreen for
a long time.
        After a while, Julie said, "You are worried about Ziyal."
        "Yes.", Dukat answered. "Life on Cardassia has not been easy
for her. I should not have taken her to Cardassia with me."
        Julie thoughts raced. She'd been thinking of this ever since
they left Cardassia, ever since they had failed to reach the residential 
        "We'll go in and get her. And the boys.", she said.
        Dukat looked at her. "The Maquis will never agree to such a
        "The Thalys is mine. The Maquis work differently than the
military. I can take on any mission of my own, as long as it does not
interfere with Maquis duties. It's the only way I will work for
anyone.", Julie told him.
        "You can not risk everything. You are too valuable to the
Maquis, and you know too much to risk getting caught.", Dukat said.
        "Nobody is so important that they can not be missed. Yeah, I
can't allow myself to get captured, but that's nothing new. Comes with
this line of work." She saw Dukat wasn't convinced. "Look, I would not
be suggesting this if I didn't think it would work. See me on the
Thalys tonight, after the meeting, I will show you how we can get in."
        Dukat had seen her in action on his bridge, but he just did
not see how she could possibly take that tiny ship of hers to
Cardassia Prime through all the defense lines Gul Bukel would have set 
up. He wanted to believe she could. Ziyal would be in a very difficult 
position if she were to remain on Cardassia. The boys could probably 
live with their mother; hell, Mikor might not even want to leave 
Cardassia. But Ziyal had no place to go. He would see what she had 
in mind.
        "I will be there.", he said.

        The meeting that afternoon was attended by the same people who
had met the day before, except for the Daimon, who had taken his
ship away from the Station. He would be returning with parts, normal
Ferengi trade items, and, Julie hoped, information.
        The meeting started somewhat unruly. Everyone had their own
        "I would like to contact the Federation and try to negotiate
with them. They are the most reasonable group out there, we should at
least make an attempt to talk to them.", Sisko said.
        "The Klingons will fight whoever attacks the planets we are
holding. They will help us defend them if necessary.", Kulak claimed.
        "They sure sent us a lot of ships yesterday.", Terfa, one of
the Bajorans, retorted.
        "The Federation can not be trusted. They did not defend us
yesterday, who says they will the next time?", Rainor said.
        "Cardassia will not talk to us as long as the current
leadership is in place.", Dukat stated.
        "We could talk to the Romulans,", Tre'Vore suggested. "They at
least know the Founders are to blame for this, that's why they went
through the Wormhole."
        He was immediately interrupted from several sides by people
who did absolutely not agree to working with the Romulans. Julie
watched it all in silence. Then, she held up her hand.
        "Hold it. We are not addressing the real issue here. Yes, we
have to talk to the Councils of the major powers. Probably to _all_ of 
them, even if they might not listen, we have to try to make them see. 
But until we stop the Founders, none of it will make a difference. If 
we don't stop them from coming through the Wormhole, every time when 
we make any progress here, _one_ new infiltrant in the right place can 
bring us back to where we started. We stop the Founders first, then 
we can start working on restoring relations in this Quadrant."

        Sisko looked at the human woman. She would have been a good
Starfleet officer if she hadn't been a mercenary, he thought. She
knew strategy as well as anyone, and she knew how to lead people too.
        "Julie is right.", he said. "We should concentrate our
efforts on the Founders if we want anything we accomplish to have a
lasting effect."
        "We can send an envoy through the Wormhole to talk to them.",
Kai Winn said.
        Dukat waved his hand dismissively. "They are not going to be
interested in talking to us. Why would they? Everything is going their
way. If we want to stop the Founders, we have to destroy the Wormhole."
        Kira jumped up. She couldn't believe it. Each time she started 
to think Dukat was a reasonable person, he would say something totally 
ridiculous again.
        "Destroy the Wormhole? The Wormhole is the future for Bajor.
Without the Wormhole Bajor will never be able to built itself up
        Sisko sat back in his chair. "Sit down, Major." He waited for
her to sit again, not knowing how long she would stay seated. He
didn't like what he was going to say either, but he saw no other
        "I agree with Dukat.", Sisko said. Kira was so stunned she
forgot to jump up again. "We have dealt with them before. You have
dealt with them before, Major. They have no reason to listen to us.
All of their plans are working. Every faction in this Quadrant is
falling for it, except for our little group, and we are not big enough
to stop them with the Wormhole open."
        Julie nodded. So did the rest of the Maquis, Sisko's staff,
and Kulak. Only the Bajorans and Kira looked appalled. Kira stood up
again, but Julie took the floor.
        "Look, I don't like it either. But this is not just Bajor we 
are talking about, this is the whole Quadrant.", Julie said. "And with
every faction in this Quadrant at war with each other, there won't
_be_ traffic through the Wormhole. All of our planets will suffer in
a war of that magnitude, and none of them will be doing any building
up. Wormhole or not." She finished her plea and looked at the others.
        "Odo, what do you think?", she asked the shapeshifter.
        Odo hesitated. He looked at the Bajoran council members, and
then for a long time at Kira. From the time it took him to speak, and
his expression, Kira knew what he was going to say.
        "My people will not negotiate with us, or with any other
faction in this Quadrant. I see no other option than to close the
Wormhole.", he said eventually. "I am sorry, Major."
        Kira looked at him, then finally put her hands on the table
and let out a long sigh. She bit her lip before she straightened and
said, "Alright."
        The other Bajorans sat in their chairs, looking stunned. Kai
Winn slowly shook her head, but remained silent. None of them had any
arguments to keep the Wormhole open. Perhaps they had kept it open too
long. Maybe if they had collapsed it months ago, when the Founders
started to come through, the Quadrant would not be at war right now.
But the Wormhole was also the place of the Prophets. They would lose
their Prophets for sake of a Quadrant that had shown little care for
their interests in the past. There was nothing they could say.
        For a short while, nobody spoke. Then Dax got an idea.
        "We might not have to destroy it. If we can convince the
Prophets to close the Wormhole it can remain there, closed. Perhaps
some day, when relations in the Quadrant are more stable, it can be 
safely opened again.", she suggested.
        "Too dangerous.", Dukat said. "The Founders could find a way
to open it again, or they could coerce the Prophets into doing so."
        This time, opinions were split more equally. While Kulak,
Worf, O'Brien, Bashir, Tre'Vore and Rainor agreed, the others thought
it was worth a try to talk to the Prophets, at least.
        "The Bajorans have always held a special relation with the
Prophets. From what we know, it is unlikely the Founders will be able
to either infiltrate or otherwise influence them. We should at least
give Dax's plan a try.", Sisko said.
        They finally called a vote. Dax's plan won by eight against
seven, with Odo withholding. It was decided that Sisko, Dax and Kai
Winn would go into the Wormhole by runabout the next morning, and the
meeting was called to an end.

        Julie and Dukat went over to the Thalys. It was fully
repaired. Crews had worked hard on the little vessel, and Julie had
done a major part of it herself. As they entered, Julie switched on
the power to the panels. All normal systems came on line. She then
entered a long string of codes, and several more systems appeared on
the boards. Dukat's eyes widened.
        "You have more sensors here than I have on my ship."
        Julie grinned. "It is a spy ship. Now I don't have a cloak yet
-perhaps with the Defiant and the Unity on hand I can figure out a
way to cloak her in the future- but with these sensors I can see
anything before it sees me. Only the Voterons have this kind of sensor
range. That's where I got this."
        Dukat glanced around and saw several other systems he had not
expected on a vessel this size, and even some he had no idea as to
what they did.
        Julie called several schematics on the viewscreen. One of the
whole area of space, including Deep Space Nine and Cardassia, one
showing the Capital, and several more detailed maps.
        "Now this is my plan...", she started.

        Early the next morning, the small vessel left the docking
pylon of Deep Space Nine. Julie was in full Cardassian make-up, and
she had taken care to disguise Dukat as well. The Thalys flew under a
different name and registry, but she did not pretend it to be a
different vessel. During her visits to Cardassia in the past months,
she had set it up for a Cardassian trader to show interest in purchasing 
the ship, never quite managing to get a hold of the human trader who 
owned it. Understandable, since she was both.
        She swung wide around, finally entering Cardassian space from
the direction of Ferengal. She made sure she was not seen until they
were well within Cardassian space, and nothing indicated their point
of origin. As they approached the space port, they were hailed.
        "Space port flight control to trader vessel -I do not
recognize your registration."
        Julie smiled. She knew the port official on the screen, and he
was one who had met her as a Cardassian before. Perfect. She opened
a channel.
        "That is because I just purchased this vessel. I will gladly
transmit the transfer and registration documents to you.", she said,
in fluent Kardasi.
        The port official recognized her. "I see you got her." He
grinned. "Won me a bottle of Kanar, too -Paleh bet me the human would
not sell."
        Julie laughed. "Prices of traders have dropped, now that there
will be no more trading with the Feds. If you want to buy a vessel,
now is the time."
        The official gave a short laugh in return. "No, thanks. I will
remain a planet crawler, and let you risk your skins out in the cold of 
space.", he said. "Don't worry about those documents, just drop them by 
the office some time when you get in." He checked something on his 
screen. "You're cleared for pad C-7-a. Over and out."
        "C-7-a it is. Over and out." Julie switched off. She turned to
Dukat. "Be sure to watch where the pad is. It isn't anywhere near the
military section of the port, and we might have to leave in a hurry.
Take her through the docking procedures while I set up the surveillance 
systems.", she ordered.
        She didn't hesitate one moment to give him orders here. She
had followed his orders on the bridge of his ship, but this was her
mission, her territory they were on, even if it were Cardassia. Dukat
immediately complied, as she had known. Had she not been certain he
would follow her lead on this mission, she would never have suggested
        They landed the Thalys, or the Namos as she was called now,
and soon walked into the city.
        Signs of the coup where visible, but normal life had resumed.
While near the Government buildings some damage could be seen, most of 
the rest of the city looked almost as usual. More security officers 
perhaps, and no aliens even in the Port quarter.
        Julie went to a small hotel in a back street of a back alley.
She greeted the owner, Sentek, who immediately gave her a room, even
though the sign outside had said 'no vacancy'. She signed in as
Rhyanna, her Cardassian name. Up in the small room, she tossed her
pack on the only rickety chair in the room.
        "I know it doesn't look like much, but it is the one place
where it's okay to talk. This room is almost as secure as the Namos.",
she explained. Still, she used the Cardassian name for the vessel, and
spoke in Kardasi. It was too easy to make a slip if she tried to
switch in and out of her role too often.
        "Your command of our language is remarkable.", Dukat observed.
"Did I not know any better, I would not have guessed you were not born
here. Last week you spoke with an accent."
        "Of course.", Julie explained. "Languages and accents are an
important part of undercover missions. I need to be able to speak any
language fluently if I want to pass as a member of the race which
speaks it, and it helps to _not_ be so fluent when I am simply human.
As long as everyone who met me as Julie will think I speak with an
accent, no one will not suspect I am Rhyanna now."
        She checked her chronometer. Taking the long way around to
Cardassia had taken a lot of time. "It is too late to check out the
residential area now. There won't be many people on the streets this
late, and we can not risk attracting attention. I am going to see what 
I can learn in the bar downstairs. Sentek is one of my contacts, he is
the only one besides us who knows who I really am. He does not know
who you are, and there is no need for him to know."
        Dukat nodded. He was no stranger to the scheming and dealing
that was part of normal Cardassian society, but undercover work had
always strictly been done by the Obsidian Order. He would have
preferred to stay here in the room, but that would be more suspicious
than joining Julie -Rhyanna, he said to himself- in the bar.

        Meanwhile, Sisko, Dax and Kai Winn were doing their best to
convince the Prophets of the need to close the Wormhole. So far,
without success.
        It had taken three passes through the Wormhole before the
Prophets had let them land. As they got out of the runabout, Jennifer's 
image appeared. She addressed Sisko.
        "Why have you come here?"
        "We need your help.", Sisko explained. He introduced the
others, then went on to explain the situation with the Founders.
'Jennifer' listened intently. "We have come to ask you to close
the Wormhole, so the Founders can no longer infiltrate in the Alpha
Quadrant, and so we will have a chance to stop this war."
        'Jennifer' seemed to think this over. Sisko wondered if she
was conferring with the others. Or perhaps she was all of them at
        "Why would you stop this war from happening?", she finally
        "Because war is wrong. Many people die in a war. We do not
want that to happen." Sisko tried to explain as well as he could, but
he knew they might be in for a hard time.
        "This war, it has not happened yet in your linear time?",
'Jennifer' asked.
        "It has started. We might still be able to stop it, if we can
stop the Founders."
        'Jennifer' remained silent for another long moment. When she
spoke, it was slowly and deliberately. "What has happened, has
happened. What will happen, will happen. What is the difference?"
        Sisko sighed. Linear time remained a difficult concept to
grasp for these beings who lived outside it.
        "The difference is that what will happen has not happened
yet. We can still change it. We can not change the past, but we can
shape the future."
        "We can not do that.", 'Jennifer' said. "We can not interfere
with your time any more than you can interfere with other people's
        "You mean you have some sort of Prime Directive?", Dax asked.
        "If that is what you call it.", the alien replied. "We are
here, the Wormhole is open, and who ever wants to pass through, we can
not stop them. We may not stop them. Not now."
        "Not now?", Kai Winn asked, wondering about the cryptic
explanation the Prophets gave.
        "In your linear time, you might try to shape the future. But
you can not change the past. In our own ways, we can change some
things, and we can not change others. We can not close the Wormhole."
        Sisko did not know if it was a good idea to tell them this,
since he still did not know where he was or on what he was standing,
and he was not sure it, whatever it was, would still exist if the
Prophets got angry with them. But he had to warn them.
        "Some of us will advocate the use of force to close the
Wormhole. Some were in favor even before we came here to talk to you,
more will be if you refuse to close it voluntarily."
        'Jennifer' did not look in the least disturbed. "The Wormhole
will not close. It can not be destroyed by any means you have if we do
not want it to. Goodbye, Emissary."
        With that, she disappeared. The only thing left was the
runabout. All three tried to call back the aliens, but they got no
response. Finally, Sisko gave up.
        "Well, there seems to be nothing more we can do here. Let's
get back to the Station."
        Dax and Kai Winn followed him to the runabout. As soon as it
lifted off, the ground, or whatever it had been sitting on, disappeared, 
and they emerged from the Wormhole in the Alpha Quadrant.
        Sisko put the aft view on the screen. The Wormhole seemed to
flare even bigger and brighter than before.
        "Do you think we will try to destroy it?", Dax said.
        Sisko knew she hated the idea, but they all knew sometimes 
things of great beauty and purpose had to be destroyed. If the war 
in the Quadrant was allowed to continue to escalate much more 
destruction would follow.
        "I don't know that we can.", Sisko said. He went over the
people of their little 'council' in his mind. The vote the previous
day had been close, and now the talks with the Prophets had proved
unsuccessful. "But I think we will end up trying."
        They docked the runabout at the Station in silence.

        Julie went to check the housing area by herself. She noticed
immediately the house was watched, but as the boys came out to go to
school they were not followed. Neither did anyone follow Ziyal when
she went out to go to the store. On Cardassia, as on many planets
where real meat was preferred over replicated matter, there were stores 
in addition to the replicators.
        Julie stayed around to make sure the agents only watched the
house. She could not distinguish any other activity. Obviously they
were not interested in Ziyal or the kids. She wondered if they really
thought Dukat would try to come back to the house. She sure wasn't
planning on it.
        She checked out the school the boys attended, and the
surrounding neighborhood. They would have to time it pretty close, as
the agents at the house did take note of the time Ziyal left, and when
the boys came home they checked their chronometers as well.
        *So if they don't come back when expected, they'll probably go
out and look for them*, Julie thought. They must not have enough
personnel to keep tabs on everyone all the time. These guys looked
young and inexperienced to her, probably came right out of training,
or were not even finished when the coup pulled them into real duty.
She'd spotted them with no trouble at all. But she would not make the
mistake of underestimating them. Young security personnel could be
really thorough at times.

        The next day she approached Ziyal in the store. She stood
behind her as she selected a cut of meat.
        "Ziyal? Don't look around. It's Julie. When you get out of the
store, go around to the back. I'll be waiting for you.", she said
softly but urgently.
        Ziyal recognized Julie's voice, as she had spoken with the
same accent she had used during her previous stay on the planet. She
did not question the instructions. She tried not to hurry as she paid
for the meat and the eggs.
        A few minutes later she walked into the alley behind the
store. Julie emerged from in between some containers. Ziyal, of
course, did not recognize her.
        "Julie?", she asked. "Here? Is... is my father here, too?"
        Dukat had never discussed politics at home, but she had a
pretty good idea of what he had been working on, and when he had not
come home after the coup she had worried. No one had come to tell her
anything, and she had not been able to find out.
        Julie nodded, but also held her hand up to her lips in the
universal sign for 'quiet'. She moved to the mouth of the alley and
cautiously looked around. After a few moments, she was satisfied. She
stepped back from the alley entrance and motioned to Ziyal to come
along. As they moved through the small back streets of the town, she
briefed Ziyal.
        "Yeah, he's here,", Julie answered Ziyal's question. "We're
getting you out of here. Don't call me Julie -I'm Rhyanna until we're
off the planet. Your father goes by Enek."
        She swiftly wound her way through town, to a storage shed
close to the boys' school. Dukat was waiting for them. Even though he
was disguised as well, Julie had vetoed his offer to come along. The
port district was one thing, the neighborhood where many people knew
him was another.
        She grinned when father and daughter fell into each others
arms. Moments like these were why she kept taking on these
hare-brained missions. But she did not allow herself to relax just
yet. She had taken a simple make-up kit for Ziyal, as there were not
many half-Bajorans on Cardassia Prime. "Just make sure I find two 
Cardassians when I get back.", she said as she went off in the
direction of the school.
        She checked her chronometer, and the sensors on the ship.
Good. Nobody had touched or scanned the Thalys since they came in. 
She also liked the timing. About half an hour before school got out.
Much more, and she would think the agents at the house would get
suspicious; much less, and there would be no time for Ziyal to put the
disguise on. Not that half an hour was much to do a good make-up job,
but it would only have to hold to the Port, not for several days like
hers and Dukat's.
        The school went out right on time. She knew she could not
approach the boys without being seen, but she did pick a place a
couple of blocks away from the school. This time, she did not drop her
accent, she simply walked up to them and said someone wanted to see
        On many planets, kids are warned not to go with strangers, or
to speak to them on the streets. But whatever you want to say about
Cardassia, its streets are safe. So the boys shrugged.
        "Sure.", Mikor said, half curious, half irritated.
        By the time they got to the shed, Julie was checking for
activity from the direction of the house. Ziyal had been gone for well
over an hour, and while that would not be unreasonably long for a trip
to the store, she thought the agents would notice when the boys did
not return after school either.
        The kids blinked in surprise, but they did recognize their 
father. Julie was glad she had decided to make him stay out of the 
residential area.
        While Balet and Zeno would be sure to return with them, Dukat
had decided to talk to Mikor and see if the boy wanted to come along.
He was twelve, after all, and he frequently disagreed with his father
on political issues.
        Julie remained outside the storage shed, where she had a good
view of the road leading to the school and beyond that, the house.
The alley they were in was somewhat higher, giving her a good vantage 
point, but also, she thought, the first place the agents would come
look for someone if they decided to find out why the boys were late
coming home. She would start to check here if the situation were 

        Mikor was glad to see his father, but Julie did not think he
would come with them to Deep Space Nine.
        "Father, why are you here? They are looking for you.", Mikor
        "I came to get Ziyal, and Balet, and Zeno. And you, if you
want to come.", Dukat said.
        Mikor looked puzzled. "Come to where?"
        "To Deep Space Nine, and Bajor.", Dukat answered.
        "Bajor?", the boy echoed. "Dad, why did you do this? Why did
you fight against Gul Bukel, why are you against war?"

        Julie tried not to listen -she felt like an eavesdropper. But
she could not help but hear all that was said on the other side of the
thin wall. She checked her chronometer again.

        "War destroys more than it is worth. Especially an all-out war
against every other power in the Quadrant.", Dukat explained. "Oh, I
was like you once. When I was your age, I thought war was this
glorious thing. To conquer other worlds would make Cardassia bigger and 
stronger than any other planet. But a conquered world never stops
fighting. It will never support you, and if you turn it will stab you
in the back. And what the Founders are trying to do now is to make
everybody fight one another. With the whole Quadrant at war, there
will be no glory, no conquest. There will only be destruction and

        Julie spotted some movement in the direction of the housing
area. She fingered her disruptor. Were that the agents, or just normal
people going about their business? No, it was the agents alright,
she'd seen that shuttle vehicle this morning. It was headed for the
school. She rested with her back against the shed, where she could see 
around the corner without being seen herself, and waited. She'ld give 
Dukat and Mikor as much time as she could.

        "That's what Julie said. You sound just like her.", Mikor said.
        "Julie?", Dukat asked. She'd never told him about the
conversation she had with Mikor that one afternoon.
        "Yeah. I was reading 'First: Cardassia', and she commented on
it. My teacher saw I was reading it today. He was really impressed,
asked me to do my next essay about it.", Mikor said enthusiastically.
Then his face fell. "Dad? Will you ever be able to come back?"
        Dukat sadly shook his head. "Not as long as Bukel rules."

        And probably not ever, as many people from other factions
would look upon Dukat's actions of the past few days as betrayal, not
just Bukel's people. Julie glanced around the corner of the shed.
The agents came out of the school and walked toward their shuttle.
She could not wait much longer.

        Mikor looked at his father. "I can not come with you. I will
stay here with mother. I'm sorry, dad."

        The agents closed the shuttle vehicle's doors and it started
to move. This was it -there was no more time. Julie had her disruptor
out. She slunk back to the door of the shed and pushed it partially
        "We gotta go _now_.", she said urgently.
        Dukat immediately rose from the crates he had been sitting on.
        "If you ever change your mind, you will always be welcome.
Greet your mother from me.", he told his son.
        The boy nodded. He threw his arms around his father.
        "I love you, dad."
        Dukat held the boy close. "I love you too, son."
        Julie glanced nervously at the road. She hated to break this
up, but...  Fortunately, Dukat and Mikor broke their hug themselves.
As they left the shed, Mikor went one way, they went another. Neither
looked back again.
        Julie led them through a few small streets, suddenly emerging 
on a slidewalk near the city center. From there they walked, outwardly
calm, to the space port.
        As they approached the port she checked her equipment. It
would tell her instantly if the Thalys had been scanned or was held
under surveillance by any electronic means. Everything checked out
        To avoid being too obviously together, they went onto the
landing pad in two groups. Julie took the two boys ahead -she'd let
slip 'Rhyanna' had two little nephews, for anyone who was interested-
and Dukat followed with Ziyal.
        She started up the ship's systems, filed a flight plan, and
was cleared for take-off within minutes. She lifted off, and they took
in the same direction they had come in from, heading for Ferengal.
        Nothing gave any indication the agents on the ground had
made the connection between Dukat's missing family and the Thalys,
but Julie did not let her guard down until they were well outside
Cardassian space, on a new course for Deep Space Nine. Finally,
with the Station on long-range sensors, she relaxed.

        Although it was late night, Station time, when they docked,
there was still quite a bit of activity going on in the docking bay.
        One of Dukat's officers who was working on some repairs jumped
up from where he had been working on an open panel.
        "Captain Sisko has requested to speak with you both as soon as
you came in.", he reported.
        Dukat and Julie looked at each other.
        "I bet the Prophets didn't want to close the Wormhole.", Julie
        "That could be it.", Dukat agreed.
        Dukat walked over to a wall panel. None of them wore any
communicators yet. They were all still in make-up, too. Julie could
help Ziyal out of hers in minutes, but the full disguises of Dukat and
her would take well over an hour, and sickbay's facilities. Oh well,
at least they had taken care to arrange for quarters on the Station
before they left. The ships were not pleasant to stay on while being 
repaired, and no place at all for the boys and Ziyal.
        "Dukat to Sisko."
        "Sisko here.", the reply came immediately. Obviously, Sisko
was not asleep, either. "Glad you made it back. Did you bring your
family with you?"
        "Ziyal and two of my boys are here.", Dukat told him. "You
wanted to speak with us -I take it the Prophets did not offer their
assistance in closing the Wormhole?"
        "That's right. I want a new meeting as soon as possible. Can
you both be there at 0700?", Sisko asked. He assumed correctly Julie
was there, as well.
        A quick calculation in her head made Julie estimate they'ld
actually get about one hour of sleep that way, but it wouldn't be the
first time that happened, and she'ld feel better the sooner this
Wormhole matter was resolved. She shrugged. "I suppose."
        "We'll be there.", Dukat told Sisko. "Dukat out."
        "Well, let's get to Sickbay and get this off," Julie
suggested. "I'll ask Sabi to give you a hand.", she said to Ziyal.
        Julian was in sickbay as they came in and Sabi came in after
only a few minutes. Didn't anyone on the Station ever sleep?
        Balet and Zeno looked at the station with wide eyes. They had
never been off Cardassia, and even though Deep Space Nine was a
Cardassian built station over the years quite a few changes had been
made. Also, there were lots of people from races they had never seen.
Even before the coup not many aliens had visited Cardassia, and those
who did usually stayed in the Port district.
        Actually, removing the disguises went pretty quickly. As Julie
and Dukat came out of Sickbay, they ran into Garak on the Promenade.
        "Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.", Garak said as a
        "Of course, you crawled in here all by yourself. No cat would
touch you.", Dukat retorted.
        Garak looked at Ziyal, and then at Julie. "There is no
accounting for taste.", he said, pointedly.
        "Actually, I am kind of surprised to find you're still here.",
Julie said in a sweet voice. She smiled and added, "I had expected
that now your friends Bukel and Nerel are in charge, you would be back
on Cardassia by now."
        Garak blinked. "Nerel?", he said, before he could stop
himself. How had she found out the name of one of his contacts? "No
really, I am just a plain and simple tailor, and I have no interests
in politics."
        "Of course not. And voles don't bite.", Dukat said. Now if
you'll excuse us, we really have no time to be chatting with a mere
        "Of course.", Garak said, and bowed.
        As they walked on, Julie looked back over her shoulder at
Garak, who stood watching them with that typical slight smile on his
        "I can't seem to figure him out. I really hate that.", she
said, frustrated.
        "This Nerel, I take it he was one of Garak's contacts?", Dukat
        Julie nodded. "The one I have been able to find. He was killed
in the invasion, that is why I let his name slip. I wanted to see
Garak's reaction as I told him I knew one of his contacts. I only
wish I knew more. I still do not know whose side he really is on, or
who he supports."
        "Garak is on Garak's side. It might not always be clear what
side that is -maybe sometimes he doesn't even know himself. But that's
where he stands, always.", Dukat said.
        "Yeah," Julie agreed. "You're probably right. I just hate it
when I can't put my finger on someone."
        They walked on to where the guest quarters were located, and
managed to get almost an hour's worth of rest before the meeting

        Everyone who had been at the previous meeting was there. Sisko
started with a quick briefing of their visit with the Prophets, for
Julie's and Dukat's sake, as they had not heard of it yet.
        Sisko ended with the Prophet's statement that the Wormhole
would prove indestructible.
        "Still, we have to try. They could tell us anything.", Kulak
        "I have no reason not to believe them.", Sisko said. "But we
will vote on this again. We can either leave the wormhole open, and 
have the Founders come through, or we can make an attempt to make it
        This time, only the Bajorans voted against closing the
Wormhole. Even Kira, after a long pause, added her vote to those in
favor of the collapse. She had been in the resistance long enough to
know sometimes sacrifices had to be made, and she did not see how
else they could stop the Founders.

        An hour later, the Defiant swung around the Station and headed
for the entrance of the Wormhole. Sisko, Dax, Kira and O'Brien were on
board, while the others watched from Ops.
        As the Defiant came close to the Wormhole it flared open. All
those in Ops and on the Defiant's bridge held their breath. Two
torpedoes streaked out from the Defiant's bow and disappeared into the
        For a long moment everyone was silent.
        "Torpedoes have no effect.", Worf reported in Ops, while Dax
said the same thing simultaneously on the bridge of the Defiant.
        "Prepare to beam antimatter charge into the Wormhole.", Sisko
        "Ready for transport.", O'Brien said.
        There followed only a small flash of light, far into the
        "No effect. It appears as if the charge went through to the
Gamma Quadrant, and exploded in open space.", Dax reported.
        "We're not gonna be able to destroy it.", Kira stated, feeling
somewhat relieved, but at the same time anxious about the future 
of Bajor on what could easily become the front line if the war between 
the Quadrants really broke loose.
        "Take her back to her docking pylon.", Sisko told the helm
officer. "Everybody, we meet again in an hour."

        In Ops, they saw the Defiant turn back toward the Station. The
Wormhole closed in its normal manner when the ship moved away from
its mouth, but everyone knew it would open as soon as another vessel 
approached it.
        "Now what do we do?", Tre'Vore asked Julie.
        "Now, we dig in.", she answered.

The End -for now.
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