Station log, stardate 48807.5: The Time Lord known as the Doctor has arrived on DS9 and persuaded me that it's urgent we take Defiant into the so-called mirror universe. Chief O'Brien is working to create a simulation for Defiant of the plasma leak that first transported Major Kira and Dr. Bashir's runabout there through the wormhole.
Ace sat cradling her head on her forearms on Defiant's communications console. Every once in awhile she'd pass on a report from below to Major Kira, the only other person on the bridge, who was sitting in Defiant's command chair. Both were bored out of their skulls and not troubling to hide it from each other. "Of course it's the boys who get to play with the engines," Ace had griped. Well, Dax was down there with the Doctor and O'Brien; but so was Sisko, who wasn't an engineer, but couldn't be shooed off 'cos he outranked anyone. Kira hadn't disagreed with Ace's comment.
"I'da thought Sisko woulda cried Prime Directive and told the Doctor to go leap," Ace said finally to break the monotony. The Prime Directive was the cause of most of the shouting on Starfleet installations during visits from the Doctor.
"Prime Directive doesn't apply to the Terran rebellion against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance in the alternate universe," said Kira with all the enthusiasm of someone reciting her sums for school. "Prime Directive applies only to intraplanet affairs." The Bajoran officer was only a little more impressed with Starfleet than the Doctor and Ace.
"Then why didn't Sisko want to help them out when Smiley asked last month?"
"Because they didn't ask. Smiley O'Brien took Commander Sisko across at gunpoint. I suppose the commander might have gone voluntarily if he'd been asked nicely."
"Mmm," mumbled Ace into her right elbow. "Asking nicely isn't much the fashion over there."
A smidgen of interest wandered into Kira's tone. "How do you know so much about it? ... How do you know anything about it?"
"Well, we just came from there, didn't we. In the TARDIS."
"You did?" Kira, Ace saw when she turned around, was sitting up straight in the command chair. "No one told me!"
Ace remembered that Kira hadn't been in Ops when the time travelers had arrived. "It was from the rebels that we found out that the Master's all chummy with the Intendent. The Doctor likes to land in hotbeds of insurrection you see - sometimes he blames it on the TARDIS, and he's almost got me convinced -"
"So what happened?" Kira was leaning forward, elbows on her knees.
Ace herself was feeling absurdly grateful just to have something to talk about. "Well, we thought we'd landed on DS9, but then we got caught up in a firefight between Terek Nor security and Smiley ..."
"The Master?" the Doctor blurted. "Here?"
"Get down, Professor!" Ace pulled the Doctor by the front of his collar down behind the rack of cargo containers that protected the time travelers and the Terran rebel from the incoming disruptor fire.
"He's been popping up on Terek Nor for a couple of years now, since about the same time I came here," said Smiley, changing the power pack on his hand blaster. "My trip back to the station was to find out what he's up to this time."
"Nothing good, I'll wager," said the Doctor. He pointed. "There they are!" A battered excuse for a runabout was entering the docking bay where they were pinned down. "I don't know how long my sabotage will keep the bay open."
"Let's get going then," Smiley suggested casually. Ace joined him in laying a barrage of covering fire and the three dashed for the runabout. The hatch opened and they were pulled inside by Dax. This universe's Jadzia was just as meticulous in her grooming as the other, Ace noted, but their Bashir at the pilot's controls was positively grundgy.
"Let's get out of here before any patrols get back!" Bashir bellowed. They had been decoyed away so that Smiley could attempt his intrusive intelligence gathering. Bashir lifted off again before Jadzia had the hatch shut.
"We must beam the TARDIS aboard!" said the Doctor, making his way to the transporter console in the back of the runabout.
"The Master's TARDIS?" Jadzia strapped herself in the copilot's seat.
"And who the hell are you?" Bashir introduced himself. The runabout cleared the bay door.
"He's another Time Lord," said Smiley. "We can't leave his time machine for the Alliance."
"How are you going to beam through shields?" Jadzia demanded. Still the scientist, despite the total lack of any formal training whatsoever, Ace thought.
"I know a trick or two," the Doctor muttered. "This one," he added to Smiley, "is yours, sort of."
"Frequency window?" Ace asked. The Doctor nodded.
The runabout rocked under fire from the station disruptors. "Better be quick!" Bashir said. Then he snarled at Ace, "What are you staring at?"
Ace hadn't realized she was staring at him. "I've just learned that someone I know perms his hair."
"So," said the Doctor conversationally, staring at the transporter readouts as Bashir dodged disruptor bolts, "what is the Master up to?"
"Couldn't find out exactly," said Smiley, hanging onto his seat. "Something big, though, really big. The whole sector fleet is massing at the Alliance docks at Forrester's World, where he's supervising some sort of modifications. When those are done the fleet's orders are to move out here, to Terek Nor."
"What, a fleet to go after you lot?" Ace said, smiling.
The runabout rocked again under a hit and Bashir swore.
"Hardly," said Jadzia.
"Are there any other Terran resistance groups in the Alpha Quadrant?" the Doctor asked.
"How would we know," Bashir complained distractedly, "when the Alliance propaganda machine controls the news?"
"If there are any, we'll probably never know," Jadzia agreed.
"Yes there are," said Smiley uncomfortably. "I used to be with one."
Bashir and Jadzia turned to glare at him, though Bashir couldn't let himself be distracted for very long. "You never said anything!" Jadzia accused.
"I sort of stopped thinking about it while I was on Terek Nor. It was their training," said Smiley. "I was caught by the Alliance during a minor operation. I wasn't very high up, and the group was organized in a cell system so I couldn't give much away. Designed that way, so I could tell all I knew if captured without doing a lot of damage. All I was ever involved in was intelligence gathering anyway, and I never saw what it was I was carrying. So for cooperating they only took me from my family and sent me to Terek Nor."
"What, they didn't even torture you?" Jadzia said with disbelief.
"I said they took me from my family." Smiley didn't look very smiley now. "I wonder what they told Keiko, if they told her anything at all."
"Well, it still doesn't sound like the rebel menace is anything they'd need a fleet for," said Ace.
"Thanks oh so much for the vote of confidence," said Bashir.
"Change of plan, Ace," said the Doctor, "get up on the transporter pad."
"What are you doing?" Smiley asked as Ace stepped up to the platform.
The Doctor had apparently watched the timing of both the station's shields' cycle and the runabout's long enough to plot convergent cycles of frequency windows, and then to preprogram the transporter controls; for he stepped up on the platform with Ace, answered Smiley, "Going for help," and tipped his hat, just as the transporter took them.
"...The Professor set us just outside the TARDIS, and we left Terek Nor for DS9," Ace finished. "Actually he landed here in Defiant because he knew we'd be wanting it."
"And have you figured out what the Master's plan is?" Kira asked.
"I haven't. 'Sbeen no time."
Kira stared off at the ceiling. "What could the Master be doing to a fleet of ships? And why move them to Terek Nor when he's done?"
"Well, what's at Terek Nor?" said Ace.
The answer to that occurred to both of them at the same moment, as the Doctor, Sisko, Dax, and O'Brien entered the bridge from the turbolift. "Finished," announced the Doctor.
"Somebody certainly is," said Kira, absently surrendering the command chair to Sisko. "And we think we know who."
"Too right," said Ace. She imagined her face looked as grim as the major's.
"What's the matter?" Sisko asked as he sat. The others looked up from their bridge posts as Kira displaced Ace at the comm board and sent a hail to the station for the starship's crew to report.
Ace looked at the Doctor. He was standing perfectly still at the lift door and staring at his shoes. He knew.
"What's at Terek Nor?" Ace said again. It was all the prompt the Starfleet officers needed, now that the distraction of the immediate task was past.
"But the Alliance doesn't know about their wormhole," said Dax.
"Only if the Master hasn't told them yet," snorted O'Brien.
"He may not have," said the Doctor, looking up. He might have been discussing the relative merits of cricket and baseball again. "He does like to keep his secrets, even from his allies." Look who's talking, Ace thought. "Especially from his allies," added the Doctor after a moment's consideration.
"He's helping the Alliance invade their Gamma Quadrant," said O'Brien.
"No," said the Doctor.
Sisko was shaking his head too. "They wouldn't need to modify their fleet for that."
Now Ace was confused. The other Starfleet officers, too, and Kira: "But their Dominion ..."
"Is an unknown to them, and vice versa," said the Doctor. "They have no interest in it. More importantly, the Master hasn't."
"You two sound like you've guessed what the Master's modifications are for," said Dax. "What?"
"What have we just modified Defiant for?" asked the Doctor softly.
"The Alliance," rumbled Sisko, "is going to invade the Federation."
END OF CHAPTER 2
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