Chapter 1

First hardly spared a look at the Cardassian man who lied motionless on the lab’s floor. All his attention was focused on the other man who stared at him, fear clearly written in his pleading eyes.

“You are a friend,” said the Jem’Hadar reassuringly. “You live.”

The middle-aged Cardassian slumped his shoulders, and sighed loudly in relief. However, utter panic showed again in his eyes when he saw the soldier raise its weapon and fire. He doubled his body and fell to the floor. Blood poured from the inflicted wound, and he looked up in shock.

The gun lowered now. As expressionless as ever, the Dominion warrior repeated, “You live. You are not suspect this way.”

The Cardassian scientist gazed again at his wound and realized the meaning of the Jem’Hadar’s actions and words: it was not fatal; he would survive. He tried to smile in gratitude, but he only returned a pained grimace. He collapsed against one of the examination tables.

First just turned and left the room.

All had left, but Fourth lingered in the detention area, looking intently at the only closed cell. It was not sure of what to do. Nobody had cared for the prisoner in that cell. Nobody had minded to leave her behind. But First had not said to do so. And Fourth did not want to. It doubted another instant, and then unlocked the cell’s door.

The older woman inside blinked when she saw the Jem’Hadar at the door, but she did not react in any other way. She gazed at the warrior with a dispassionate and somewhat haughty look. She was seated on the floor and did not make any attempt to get up.

Fourth stood still for some seconds, watching the woman. The first word that came to its mind to describe her was a disquieting one: Romulan. And a Romulan soldier, even if she had been stripped of her uniform; Fourth had seen it when she was brought in a few days ago. A high ranking officer too, it had noticed the rank insignia she wore proudly and let everybody know that she was an admiral.

In her underwear, clearly weakened by the imprisonment and unable to stand, she still held herself with an authoritative manner. Fourth appreciated that, but this also made it distrust her. Some of the people who had kept them captive were also Romulan; they wore that same uniform and they wore it with the same pride. Is she really any different?

Neither of them uttered a word as they looked and studied each other. Fourth, however, had already come to a decision. It was going to release her, as she had seemed to try to free them. Isn’t that the reason for her confinement?

It neared the Romulan woman and said simply, “You helped us. I help you.” And without more words, Fourth reached down and took the woman delicately.

The Romulan frowned, but made no comment; and in her debilitated state, she let the Jem’Hadar soldier carry her away.

The Cardassian scientist remained in the lab, trying only with his hands to prevent his open wound’s bleeding. It hurt and he did not attempt to conceal the pain. He was gripping a communicator and counted the seconds as they went by, waiting for the moment to call the authorities, once the former Jem’Hadar prisoners were safely away. He thought he was alone.

The other man in the corner, however, was not dead yet. A minute after the Jem’Hadar leader had exited the room, he moved with suffering difficulty. He slowly reached out to take his own communicator that lay not far from him, struggling against his pain and his blurring mind. His fingers touched it. He felt nausea again; unconsciousness called for him, he fought against it.

“Traitor,” he whispered in a very hoarse voice, directing all his hate and contempt to the one who only a few minutes ago had been his trusted colleague.

But these were his last words; that was his last move. Even if he tried with all his power, his fingers never opened the communicator, and his words were lost in an empty room. He died, just as the Jem’Hadar supposed he would, and the other scientist never even heard his insult.

Read Chapter 2