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by Brahma
Rated: 13+ · Serial · Fanfiction · #1945474
pending opon completion
It had been a day since confirmation of the Borg, and in that time the entire civilian population had been evacuated off the station to Bajor or other places out of harm’s way. All the shops on the promenade were closed save for the shrine and Quarks bar.

When Kira told Quark to leave he stubbornly replied, "Are you kidding? You can always count on imminent destruction to bring in the most profit. Besides, if I leave then who's going to keep their minds off of what's coming. Dread may loosen the latinum from their pockets but it also breaks expensive tables if you let it go unchecked."

Up on the second level Bashir and Ezri were just sitting down for lunch with the Phoenix Clan woman.

"So, Julian was telling me that you don't have a name," Ezri said with curiosity and surprise in her voice.

"That is correct. In fact the name "Phoenix Clan" was what your counterpart humans decided to call my people since long ago we have forgotten the name of our species."

"But not having a name... Doesn't that get confusing when you're in a group and you want to talk to an individual? I mean it's not as if you can say, "Hey you!", and the person you want to talk to turns around."

The Phoenix woman smiled and sipped from her glass of water a Feringi waiter just set down, "It is hard to describe using terms that you would understand. The language my people speak is incredibly complex in comparison to other species that it is easier for us to learn and speak another’s language than it is for others to learn ours even with computers to guide them."

Bashir leaned back in his chair, "I was wondering why you were speaking English."

Ezri leaned forward, "Alright, now I have to hear what your language sounds like."

"If you insist," the Phoenix Clan woman said before speaking again in her native language.

Both Bashir and Ezri listened while their universal translators kicked in trying to translate the Phoenix Clan woman’s words. At first they could hear the words as she said them, then her words began to sound like a jumbled mess then a high-pitched tone screeched in Bashir and Ezri's ears as their universal translators malfunctioned then shut down and rebooted.

"Wow. The universal translator never did that before. Usually it either comes out jumbled mess or just doesn't translate," Bashir said rubbing his ears while Ezri nodded in agreement.

"So," Ezri began, "What can you tell us about in your culture? Like why don't you have your own names?"

The Phoenix Clan woman smiled again while she rubbed the rim of her glass with her finger, "It has a lot to do with how my people live as a species. We... Age differently from the rest of you."

Bashir nodded intrigued and urged her to continue.

"Mentally we only live to our seventies or late eighties of your human years. But physically we can live far longer. When we get to a certain age our bodies undergo a metamorphosis. The energy from the cells closest to the skin is drawn inwards till the thermilitic stress of this action causes the outermost layer of our bodies to be "shucked" as a dry husk leaving us several years younger. This repeats over the course several days until we regress to the age of what you would call toddlerhood. And by that time the person we used to be would cease to exist. Our "biological clocks" are essentially reseted to use a term you would understand."

After a minute of silence Bashir spoke up, "That's... quite remarkable," he said obviously impressed.

Ezri leaned forward, "But what does that have to do with not giving yourselves names?"

The Phoenix woman smiled again, "Imagine a person of great historical importance had died recently," Bashir and Ezri shifted in their seats slightly, "And a newborn child was given the same full name as the one who died. The child would live a stressful life having to live up to the expectations of the name he was given. Or he will be shunned because their predecessor had done some unfavorable action."

"Why don't you just give them a new name when they're reborn?" Bashir asked.

"Because that would be considered a great insult to the person they were. To be given a name would define that person and then to suddenly erase that when they are reborn is to say they were never important to begin with."

Ezri and Bashir gave their heads a shake trying to make sense of what she said.

"I can understand how this can seem confusing but simply put, my people have no use for personal names for ourselves."

Ezri seemed to immediately light up, "How about this: why don't we just call you by the name the humans in your universe have given to your species. When we need to talk to you we'll call out Phoenix Clan or Phoenix for short. Don't think of it as a personal name but a request to talk to one of the Phoenix Clan species."

The Phoenix Clan women paused and looked off into space, a serious expression on her face seemingly for the first time since arrival to the station. "Very well," she said with a smile returning, "I will cherish the honor of representing my people in this fashion."

----------------

Meanwhile, Kira sat in the boardroom along with General Dorn, Captain Avries, the commanding officer of the Bajoran defense force and the representative captain of the recently arriving Federation fleet. Everyone was talking back and forth save for Avries and Kira. The Bajoran Major wanted command of the combined fleets since the battle would most likely take place in Bajoran space. The Starfleet captain wanted command since Starfleet had the most experience in fighting the Borg. And while general Dorn wasn't as interested in leading the fleets as the other two, he insisted his tactics would lead them to victory. Avries sat back in seeming disinterest watching the three argue in circles while Kira was seething in her chair trying to think of a way to get everyone to work together.

Just then, Kira's combadge chirped, "Ops to Kira," said a male voice. Kira turned her chair away and slapped the infernal device, "What!?"

"We are receiving a transmission from Admiral Ross ma'am. He says he has some vital information in regards to the Borg."

"Put it through here then," Kira said then turned back to the still arguing trio, "Excuse me people, and I say this with all respect intended, but shut up! Admiral Ross has some information he'd like to share with us."

The bickering trio quieted down and looked at Kira expectantly. Kira turned in her chair facing a screen on the wall of the board room, the others soon turned as well.

"Put the admiral through," Kira told the person at ops.

An instant later the screen changed to show the admiral at the command station at the star base he presided over, "Hello. First of all, colonel, I'd like to apologies for not being able to send more ships as I like. We unfortunately had our hands full taking care of war "profiteers" left over from the war. I'll have more ships sent as soon as they are available."

"Thank You admiral," Kira replied.

"Yes, now for the information we've obtained, thanks to your guest captain Avries and his crew, we have been able to ascertain two possibilities on the threat you'll be facing. I'll turn this over to Commander Shelby."

The screen blinked and showed Shelby in an office with a view of the San Francisco Bridge. Shelby started forgoing pleasantries, "Thanks to the information retrieved and talking to some of the crew from Voyager we have come up with two possibilities." She tapped a few controls beside her, "The first, a tactical cube, approximately half the size of the previous cubes that have invaded Federation space. These are designed to target heavy resistance paving the way for larger vessels to begin the assimilation process. The second possibility according to Seven may be a "super dreadnaught". It's roughly the same size as the cubes that have attacked the Federation before. However, this ship is armored like the tactical cubes and has three times the firepower compared to other Borg ships its size."

The Starfleet captain spoke up, "Why would the Borg need a ship like that? Just one regular cube ship can do the same job."

"According to Seven, they're designed to "pacify" a heavily resistant species. Lucky for us, only three were made. One was lost on the rim of the Delta quadrant and the second was destroyed by species 8472. The third one was per portably roaming the Gamma quadrant where we have this unfortunate possibility," Shelby finished grimly.

"What can we expect if it is this super-dreadnaught?" the Starfleet captain asked.

"According to Seven, the one that lost to species 8472 only lost because it was incredibly outnumbered."

Everyone in the room was silent until Avries finally broke it, "I have been authorized the use of an orbital defense platform. I can assure you all that these platforms are quite capable of taking on a sizable fleet and while I can't guarantee total success, it may give us the edge we need to hold out long enough to at least ward this "cube" thing off."

The Starfleet captain leaned forward in his chair, his hands clasped tightly together," Thank you captain, but I'd rather not rely on the arrogance of your ego. I don't think a little defense platform will give us the "edge" that you're thinking of," he said in a condescending tone.

Kira leaned back rubbing her temples, "At any rate, we've deployed some probes at the other end to give us some warning if they come our way. And the Defiant is mining the entrance as we speak." She silently added "again" to herself before continuing, "Now all I want to hear is what tactics will work best. And just so we're clear! If the Borg does show up, then as long as they're in proximity to the station AND the wormhole then I am in charge got it? Once they leave then I'll gladly give up command to whoever wants it. Now let’s figure this out before we run out of time and then it won't matter who's in charge," she said sternly.

The truth of what she said hit them all and after a short second they began discussing battle plans about how best to accentuate their strengths while covering for the others weakness.

Avries looked at the tactical map of DS9 and the wormhole on the wall staring at it for a minute until, "Does the wormhole entrance open on the other side?"

Everyone stopped talking and stared at Avries.

"What do you mean?" Kira asked wondering where he was going with his rather unusual question. "Of course it opens from the other side," she said matter-of-factly.

"I know the entrance can be opened from inside the wormhole but has anyone tried to enter it from the side facing away from the station?"

"...No..." Kira said finally while looking out the window where the entrance would be.

The others looked out the window until general Dorn turned back to Avries, "Just what are you thinking captain?" the tone in his voice held an inkling of his suspicions of a growled approval.

"Assuming the wormhole entrance doesn't open if approached from the other side, we have a significant portion of our forces waiting there. I'm hoping that while it's opened it will keep us hidden it will keep us hidden from there sensors. Assuming this works they should have most of their defenses pointed towards the station, and once the wormhole closes, we open up and fire on whatever weak spot we can find," Avries said looking around gauging the others reaction.

The Starfleet captain spoke first, "...That might actually work. If we can hit them where the shield isn't as strongest then we might have a sizable hole to target instead of trying to wear down their defenses the hard way."

General Dorn chuckled in his Klingon way, "A cunning plan to be sure. I will have my ships wait behind the entrance."

The Bajoran major just nodded to Kira indicating he'll go with whatever she decided. With a heavy sigh Kira shook her head and clapped her hands, "Alright, lets figure out the best way to do this."

Avries nodded while pointing to a region on the map that was a slight distance from the station, "I'll need that area cleared of all traffic to make room for the defense platform," he looked to the others, "Just a warning. In case we fail to cripple or force them to retreat from the initial strike, the platform will need roughly two minutes to charge before it can fire."

"That's going to end up being a long wait," said the Starfleet captain who was still unconvinced about the platforms effectiveness.

Kira adjusted herself in her chair, "Well I'm not going to turn down an asset because of a small problem like that," the Starfleet captain tried to interject but Kira cut him off, "If it's being offered than I'll take what I can get. Now, does anyone else have any ideas?"

-------------

Terry Schottrof, the senior communications officer on the Hathaway, had just finished a double shift and was on his way to his cabin. He had just finished decoding and sifting through the alien translation program as well as an information packet that they included for anything that looked like a virus or hidden program. He was glad he didn't find any as that probably would have added another shift just so he could figure out what they were supposed to do. He was in awe of how efficient the translation program looked in relation to their own surmising that it could translate in real time after a few spoken sentences. A work of art if there ever was one.

"But it'll have to wait till later," he thought to himself as he walked down the corridor, for now, he needed sleep.

As he walked he passed some of the currently off-duty personnel and overheard them going on about their visit to the alien station. Only hearing a few seconds of their conversation he shrugged it off as he arrived at his cabin and entered. Landing unceremoniously on his bed he tried desperately to fall asleep but felt far too wired from either his double-shift or from overhearing the off-duty officers practically glamorizing the station, he didn't know.

Against his better judgment he pulled his weary body up and rechecked to make sure his katana was secure in its holster before making his way to the airlock. The station commander had granted them permission, as well as the other aliens that had arrived, to wear personnel weapons in case these "Borg" things attacked when they had their pants down so to speak. After exiting the airlock with a few others, they were greeted by a Bajoran person that would guide them through the station to the promenade where the only place open was some place called "Corks".

Walking onwards to "Corks" he passed several groups of Klingons, some he heard say "Pataq" which was immediately followed by a chorus of laughter. Thinking nothing of it he soon entered "Corks" which turned out to be an alien pub with a bar dominating one side of the room and was a little surprised to see a couple of roulette tables. Sliding up to the bar he ordered a cup of coffee from an alien that had freakishly large ears. Terry looked around the pub and could see a dozen different alien species which reminded him of a zoo. He looked up at the second level and noticed the Phoenix Clan woman talking to a woman that seemed to have a strip of tattooed spots running down the sides of her face and under the collar of her uniform below. The man nest to them looked to be a human from this universe. And judging from the way they were acting it was a pleasant conversation.

Turning back to finally drink his coffee he was bumped from behind by an exited Klingon. "Hey watch it!" He told the Klingon.

The Klingon turned to him and sized Terry up, "Apologies human. I didn't realize your kind were so... delicate. I hope I did not injure you," he said before laughing with his comrades, evidence enough he wasn't sorry at all.

Terry breathed out his annoyance and turned back to his coffee uttering "Pataq" over his shoulder. As he was about to drink he felt a hand roughly grab his collar pulling him backwards out of his seat and through the air landing on a table causing it to collapse. Terry sat dazed sitting in various cold liquids and looked up to see a raging Klingon storming toward him with a dagger in his hand.

"I'll teach you not to insult my honor again," he growled with an outstretched hand ready to grab him. Terry began frantically trying to pull his katana out of its holster but it refused to budge. He then remembered the strap that kept it secure and fumbled trying to unfasten it but the Klingon was already upon him. "Let's see how much I have to take to make sure you won’t make this mistake again," he said with a grin as he slowly waved his dagger over Terry's body.

Just then a blade shot past the left side of the Klingons head giving him an impromptu minor haircut as a few gnarled strands fell to the floor, small strings of electricity could be seen dancing up and down the blade.

"Just what are you planning to do to my communications officer?" a low but commanding voice asked.

The Klingon slowly looked back over his shoulder to see Arthur Noel as the owner of the blade near his neck. He looked on and saw the two others he had come in with were laid flat out on the floor. He sheathed his dagger and slowly rosed to his feet keeping eye contact with Noel as he did so. He was taller than Noel by a good ten centimeters but could see no fear in the human's eyes. Instead there was only a coldness that began to make him uneasy.

"I was only.. Advising your subordinate of the dangers of a careless tongue."

The bar had grown quiet and all eyes were focused on the two and the blade between them.

"He has insulted me and my honor demands I "correct" him."

Noel retracted the blade back into the handle and holstered it still keeping his left hand on it expectantly, "I will take his place," Noel told the Klingon flatly.

The Klingon bared his teeth, "Impossible. My honor will accept no substitutions."

"I am his senior officer, if he offended you than the fault is with me since I was the one who trained him. It would stand to reason that it was ultimately I who tarnished your honor."

"Ha! Pretty words, but your subordinate still has to answer for his mistake."

"Is your "honor" afraid I might pose too great a challenge for it?"

The Klingon let out a growl as he grabbed his dagger and stepped forward only to be stopped by Quark who rushed in between them, "Gentlemen please!"

"Out of my way little man," the Klingon growled.

"Believe me, the last thing I want to do is get between you two but the tables your breaking aren't mine which means I'll have to be the one to pay to have them fixed. Now would it be too much trouble to convince you to move this into the holosuite where you can break as many tables as you like. Otherwise I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

The Klingon looked at Quark and then to Noel before shouting a Klingon curse and stomped off towards the holosuite.

After Noel followed him in, Quark moved to the center of the room and turned facing the bar, "If I could have everyone's attention please. As you have no doubt noticed the disruption earlier, a Klingon and a hue-man from an alternate reality are about to..." he paused, thinking of the right word, "... Spar. And through my generosity I'll have the fight projected free of charge. However if any of you decide to bet on the outcome then you'll have to allow me to officiate as I won't allow any unregulated gambling in my bar. Now hurry up and get your bets in before the match starts."

Every Klingon in the bar flocked to Quark putting their latinum on their fellow soldier. Even some Starfleet and Bajoran officers placed some bets. And while the few other DES officers wanted to bet on their commander but they refrained and contented themselves to rooting for him.

Inside the holosuite Noel and the Klingon were sizing the other up.

The Klingon sneered, "I am Karn, son of Tark! And it will be my pleasure to reduce you to a quivering child," he said with a laugh.

"We'll see," Noel replied showing no emotion.

Karn frowned disappointed that he wasn't able to rile the human. A few seconds later the holosuite room faded into a dojo-esqe sparring room, various weapons lined the walls separated by an intermittent pillar. Karn grabbed a bat'leth from the wall with a predatory grin. Noel pulled his Katana from its holster and switched it to "stun" mode. He extended the blade which now had a thin "sheath" that covered the blades sharp edge. The two began to circle each other.

Karn twirled his bat'leth between each hand, "If you leave now human, you may be able to salvage some honor before I take it," he jeered.

Noel grunted before replying, "You keep talking about how important honor is but I haven't seen you show any yet."

Karn roared and swung his bat'leth in an overhand strike with enough power to force Noel to block with both his katana and his right bracer. Noel was able to shift the angle sideways making the bat'leth hit the ground with a solid *clang*. Karn countered by head butting Noel and following up with a fisted backhand causing Noel to fall backwards spinning to the floor. The Klingons in the now crowded bar cheered while the rest grimaced empathizing with Noel's painfully received blow. Noel quickly got to his feet shaking his dead still dizzy from the blow and brought his katana back up.

"I'm sorry, was that too hard for you? Or perhaps you are not accustomed to fighting hand to hand," Karn taunted, again twirling the bat'leth between each hand.

"I've spent ten years fighting an enemy with twice your strength and they never resorted to hiding their ships with stealth technology or using underhanded tricks to gain the upper hand in a fight like you. I saw the ships you came in on, is that what you do? Hide at the sight of your enemy's and strike when their back is turned? That's not honor, that's cowardice. And if that's the way you fight then I won’t hold back," Noel said as he ran forward and swung his katana aiming for Karn's midsection. Karn easily brought his bat'leth in front to block but before the two blades collided, the blade of the katana suddenly retracted into the hilt and extended again once it passed the bat'leth scoring a hit to Karn's stomach. Since the blade was "sheathed" Karn wasn't cut but instead the top of his body twitched downward as the electrified blade caused his stomach muscles to contract. Noel followed up his attack by retracting the blade again and firing a stun pulse into Karn's back as he bent over. Noel then finished his attack by kneeing Karn in the face regretting it as his knee connected with Karn's ridged forehead.

The Klingons in the bar roared their disapproval, many citing Noel's dishonor in his tactics. The DES officers and some others who had bet on the commander clapped and pumped their fists.

Karn slowly stood up and glared at Noel, "I have felt pain sticks with more bite than your puny weapon."

Noel stood back with his katana ready to defend, "What are you pissed off about? That it wasn't painful enough or that you let those two attacks through?"

Karn roared and charged forward swinging his bat'leth wildly leaving Noel only enough time to block or parry. Under Karn's relentless assault Noel was forced back and down to one knee. Karn swung again for Noel's head who blocked with his bracer and katana. Karn pushed with his bat'leth forcing Noel to use both hands to hold onto his katana, with a final push Karn knocked the katana to the side leaving Noel completely open. He then flipped his bat'leth over and rammed the center handle of it into Noel's face snapping his head back and followed up by booting him in the chest sending him sprawling to the floor where he laid still.

The Klingons in the bar let out a triumphant roar cheering Karn's name. Those who had bet on Karn flocked to Quark to collect their winnings. Terry who was watching the fight and flinching every time Noel got hit suddenly pointed to the holoprojector, "Look!"

In the holosuite Karn had thrown up his hands in victory but stopped when he saw Noel moving. Noel turned onto his stomach before pushing himself to his knees and shakingly rising to his feet. He was breathing hard from literally having the wind kicked out of him and his face was bruised from the head butt earlier as well as sporting a bleeding split lip and spat out a bloody glob of saliva on the floor before holding his katana before him defiantly, "You lost your chance to make sure I was out," he said in an eerily calm voice.

Karn looked Noel up and down, "What are you talking about? How do you expect to fight when you can barely stand now?"

"Would you like me to show you how we apparently lowly humans fight and alien race that's trying to wipe us out?" his voice remained calm.

Karn snorted, "If you continue your foolishness then I may forget not to kill you. Go back to your ship human, it's clear you pose no further danger to anyone except yourself."

"We'll see," Noel replied before breaking into a sudden sprint readying his katana for an upward strike.

Surprised, Karn quickly recovered and moved his bat'leth to block. Before the blades connected, Noel retracted his while continuing his upward swing. As Karn's bat'leth hit the ground with a loud clang Noel fired a pulse of energy from the bottom of his katana, when it hit, Karn spasmed inward nearly dropping his bat'leth Noel then extended the blade as he swung it down onto Karn's shoulder. Karn stifled a cry as he felt the force of the hit and the feeling of the blade itself as it was once again electrified causing his arm to jerk. Karn swung the bat'leth hitting Noel in the calf muscle with enough force to knock his leg out from under him causing him to fall.

Karn used the opportunity to rise to his feet to begin his attack anew. Noel didn't wait for Karn's next attack and kicked Karn in both knees before rolling back and firing two pulses from his katana hitting Karn's legs causing him to fall again. Both slowly rossed to their feet eyeing the other.

Noel had suffered a few direct hits to the head but was still standing. "And fighting," Karn thought. He himself didn't suffer as much threatening blows but the electrified attacks have begun to wear on his body evident by his trembling muscles. Karn ran forward attacking in an overhand strike.

But Noel was ready and parried with his right bracer while he spun around. With his back to Karn he planted his feet and braced his katana with the palm of his right hand and jack hammered the blade in and out into Karn’s chest with rapid repeated strikes each made more potent as the blade was still electrified. It was all Karn could do to weather the repeated strikes and he swore he could feel his heart stop and start more than once. Noel retracted the blade once more and swung his katana striking Karn in the left side of his face forcing his head to snap to the side.

Karn cricked his head neck and snarled dropping his bat'leth and pulling out his dagger. Karn thrusts forward with the dagger while Noel tried to parry with his katana however Karn was ready and used his dagger to hook the katana and kept his forward momentum. Karn tried to hit Noel in the face with his left fist but Noel was able to block. Undeterred, Karn then used the studded butt of his dagger to attempt another strike. It connected. Noel swayed a moment before stumbling backwards but remained standing although his handling of the katana was noticeably less precise.

Karn lunged forward aiming to sink his dagger into Noel's shoulder. At the last second Noel brought his katana up to block the dagger, stopping it from hitting its target by eight centimeters. There, each had become locked in a deadly embrace. Karn, using both hands, he began to push his dagger down while Noel used his to keep the dagger up.

The stalemate seemed to last for an eternity even the patrons in the bar were silent. They remained locked until, little by little, Karn's dagger began to move down. Just as the point of the dagger touched Noel's shoulder Noel let out a bemused grunt. Confused but still determined to finish the fight, Karn asked Noel a question, "Do you find your defeat amusing"

"No, it's just that..." The dagger began to cut through the cloth of his uniform.

"Just what human!?"

"You let your guard down," and with that he fire four pulses of blue energy from his katana which was now pointed squarely at Karn's face.

Karn lost all feeling in his head then the rest of his body, the kinetic force from each shot knocked him back. Not being able to control himself at the moment Karn fell backwards and landed on his back. Noel stumbled as he walked forward but stopped as he saw Karn begin to move again, the sudden jolt from hitting the floor seemed to be enough to wake him from his stunned disposition. Noel took a defensive stance as Karn got to his feet and shook his head once before charging, his dagger aimed for Noels gut. He blocked with his katana but let Karn continue to push him back. A few seconds later Noel pushed the dagger downwards and letting Karn push back up.

Using Karn's forward momentum Noel was able to walk backwards up the pillar behind him and flip over Karn. Now standing behind and facing away from Karn, Noel reached behind with his katana and extended the blade under Karn’s chin. Had a less experienced attempted this the blade might have went clean through Karn's throat. Noel grabbed the other end of his katana and lurched forward lifting Karn off his feet. Karn struggled and flailed trying to break free but it only seemed to help Noel in being flipped over. Karn landed on his front with a heavy thud and a low groan. Before he could recover Noel fired several energy pulses into Karn’s limbs, torso, and head. Noel then reached down and picked up Karn's dagger and used his katana to burn a scorch mark on the dagger where the blade met the hilt then tossed it out of reach of Karn. Noel then used his foot to push Karn over who looked up at him with dazed but alert eyes.

Noel extended the katana blade and rested the now unsheathed blade on the collar of Karn’s uniform and said in a low threatening voice," Your honor now belongs to me. When you are ready, you can ask for it back. But, if any of your friends tries to get it for you, then consider your "honor" gone forever. And one last thing," he said as he stood up to leave, "If I find out you or any of your kind threaten any of my crew like that again then I'll take whatever passes for their honor like I did to you here and I'll never give it back."

Noel turned away for the last time and walked out the holosuite where he was met by Bashir with an emergency med kit taken from behind the bar and behind him stood Ezri, the Phoenix woman and Terry. Bashir moved to support Noel but was shrugged off before Noel said, "Not yet."

Bashir balked, "But I need to treat your injuries. And I'll have to check to see if you have a concussion."

"I know I have a concussion doctor but wait until I'm outside the bar. If I understand what I read about your Klingons then despite how much I embarrassed Karn in beating him, if I walk out of here without help then I'll earn some respect in their eyes. At least enough to keep them from lynching me," Noel told him plainly.

Bashir pursed his lips in thought, "Alright," he said before stepping aside and falling in behind Noel as he passed.

The entire bar was silent as they made their way down the spiral staircase. Every Klingon stared at Noel as he made his way out letting slip the odd murmur between them. Once Noel left the bar the usual ruckus returned. Bashir moved ahead to lead them to the infirmary. Once inside, Noel practically collapsed on the offered biobed. Although he wasn't visibly shaking Bashir could feel low tremors from the commander giving the effect he was vibrating. Bashir pulled out his medical tricorder and began waving the sensor over Noel's body.

"Will you do have a concussion, there's some bruising of the ribs from the kick you received there and there's a hairline fracture in your right knee cap. Just how the hell were you able to walk here? Most would be lucky to just sit up straight," Bashir said in astonishment as he closed the tricorder.

"Sheer stubborn will I suppose. During the war we couldn't afford to wait for a medic. Either a Jikoran would get to you first or the wait would end up costing lives," Noel said begrudgingly.

Bashir grunted slightly as he begun Noel's treatment, "There is an upside to this," Bashir said as he administered a hypospray, "If it's any consolation, against Quarks advise, I "foolishly" betted that you would win."

Noel let out a half chuckle and looked to Terry, "Lieutenant Schottroff, as punishment, you are to complete four hours of level-three Katana training on your own time."

Terry started then stopped before attempting to speak, "But commander..."

"But nothing! If that Klingon wasn't playing around with you, you would've been dead minutes ago. And had that been a Jikoran you would've been gutted sooner than that! You're out of practice and in a real situation that could put the whole crew at risk!"

"Yes commander sir!" Terry said as he instinctively stood at attention.

"You are dismissed lieutenant. Return to the ship," Noel ordered.

"Yes commander sir!" Terry said then about faced and walked out the infirmary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The meeting in the boardroom had come to a close. Kira had left for Ops and the Bajoran major joined her to convey the plan to the Bajoran fleet. Avries was looking out the window watching various Federation ships arrive and the arrival of his own escort fleet by way of zero-space transit. Dorn walked up beside him, "Impressive looking ship’s captain. Some of them remind me of Klingon designs."

Avries looked at the smaller ones that remind him of a bird from the red paint "wings", "I can see where you're coming from, and the command sections do look similar."

Darn grunted, "Interesting technology as well. Do all of your ships have this ability for travel?"

"Not all our ships. But further details on that technology are classified. Do all the ships in your fleet have stealth technology?"

Dorn chuckled in his Klingon way showing a toothy grin, "We all have our military secrets captain."

"Of course general. Excuse me, I need to get back to my ship to coordinate the battle plan with my fleet," and with that Avries exited the boardroom where he was greeted by a Bajoran deputy who escorted him back to the airlock the Hathaway was docked at. After cycling through, Avries made his way to the bridge. Upon entering he made a beeline for his office telling the communications officer on duty to set up a conference call with the captains of the escort fleet. The female officer acknowledged the order and soon after Avries was in his office sitting at his desk staring expectantly at the holowindow across from him. He was about to debate whether or not to grab a cup of coffee when thirteen captains and one commander appeared on the holowindow.

"Welcome, before we get started, does anyone have anything to say before we get started?" Avries asked. No one said anything. "All right then. As all of you are aware, command wants us to explore whatever universe we managed to travel to. As to why, I haven't the damndest idea." There were some chuckles. Avries continued, "For better or worse we have entered a universe where the galaxy is teeming with life and the Jikoran do not seem to exist, at least not as we know them. However, to curry favor, we will have to assist the local governments in the area against their universal threat. The information concerning the immediate engagement should already be on your desks."

"Just a moment Avries," said Don Wait, the captain of the infamous Marigold, "With all due respect, why are we sticking our necks out for some aliens? In fact, why do we care at all about what happens to them?"

"Well for one thing, it's not a god idea to piss off the locals. These aren't just some angry species we can avoid just by leaving the planet. They have FTL capabilities and they have a more diverse coalition than we do. So, if we leave them here and now, we will be on our own and no one will want to help us if the time ever comes. This is not up for debate anyways. Does anyone else have a disagreement with our orders?" No one said anything. "Alright, the plan is simple. The escort fleet will wait for the enemy ship to come through the "wormhole" as they call it, once the aperture closes the escort fleet will open fire with all weapons bearing. Essentially this will be a pincer maneuver. The goal will be to destroy, or failing that, force the ship back through the wormhole. As this is going on, a Blade-class orbital defense platform will be brought in via zero-space transit. If we fail to cripple it or force it back, the new goal will be to keep the enemy ship distracted long enough for the platform to charge and fire."

The captain of the other Discovery-class "Stream's Isle", currently fitted for carrier ops, spoke up, "What about the other ships not in the escort fleet?"

"The Absolon will be with the escort fleet and the Hathaway and Stream's Isle will stay by the alien station to provide support by whatever means including cyber warfare support."

The others acknowledged and Avries dismissed them and got up from his desk and left his office. Just as he entered the bridge, commander Noel had entered as well. Avries noticed a lingering bruise on Noel's forehead, "Anything I should know commander?" Avries asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Rectifying a cultural difference lieutenant Schottrof caused," replied the XO.

Avries nodded deciding to ask about it later, "All right then, have tactical deploy the combat-type ArtForms. Once they're ready we'll send them to assist in the stations defense in case they're boarded."

"Yes sir," Noel said and then went to the tactical station to relay the orders.

~~~~~~~~~~


Twenty minutes later in Ops, Kira was in her office talking to Admiral Ross. "Are you sure you want to allow a still unknown force to help with security?"

"The station's pretty big and since we evacuated everyone but essential personal we're stretched pretty thin so we can use all the help we can get. We won’t let them near any of the more sensitive areas though if that's what you’re worried about."

"The admiral gave a dismissive look, "It's your show colonel, just be careful," he said and cut the transmission.

A Starfleet lieutenant came into her office, "Excuse me ma’am, the, um, people from the alternate universe ship just signaled us that they're ready to transport over their security forces."

"Thank you lieutenant," she gave him a padd, "These are the coordinates they're to be sent to."

The lieutenant took the padd and replied with a quick, "Yes ma’am," and left.

Kira took a moment to stare at Sisko's baseball as if hoping it would impart wisdom to help her. The comm. unit on her desk chirped, "Yes?"

"Colonel, we just received telemetry from the probes. The Borg have arrived at the Gamma quadrant entrance."

Kira practically leapt out of her office and marched to the turbolift, "Inform the fleets to get into position and go to red alert!"

"Yes ma’am,"

Red lights began flashing in time to the warning klaxons.

"Defiant!" Kira told the computer once she was in the turbolift.
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