9364, Bajor (2362, Earth calendar)
Kee’s earring wobbled gently against her neck with each movement. She still wasn’t used to feeling it hanging from her ear even after having it there for two weeks. By Bajoran tradition, she shouldn’t even be wearing one yet, not until her fourteenth birthday, still almost three years off. But with the boot of the Cardassian Union so heavy on her people, many traditions just didn’t seem so important anymore. Her new friends in the Resistance had decided that if she was old enough to fire a phaser like them, she was old enough to wear an earring like them.
She caught her mind wandering again and refocused her attention on the task at hand. Their target was a small, six-man Cardassian post deep in the thick Joralla forest, the location where the sensor grid for this part of the Hill Provinces was operated. Their goal was to disable the hub, taking down this entire section of the grid for at least a couple of weeks until it could be rebuilt. It wasn’t much, but sometimes it was all the Resistance had.
The phaser rifle she’d been practicing with for the last month rested gently on the thick, moss-covered fallen tree trunk that she hid behind next to Walo. She gently traced the lines of the phaser’s grip with her thumb but forced herself to stop, she didn’t want him to see her fidget and report back to Ren that she couldn’t keep her cool. The same way she forced her breaths to come slow and steady even though her heart pounded.
The enemy was so close. She’d grown up fearing them as the ultimate authority. To cross their path was foolish. To stand up to them was dangerous. And to attack them was a death sentence. But when she’d had a chance to join the Resistance, she’d jumped at it. Demanded, even, that they let her join. If she failed today, if they realized what a scared little girl she really was, there was no way they’d let her stay with them. The boys that had joined the cell with her were all older than she was, when they got their first mission, she was sure they wouldn’t choke.
Once again, she returned her attention to the enemy at the bottom of the small slope. She focused on their uniforms. They, at least, were just objects, pieces of rubberized armor to shoot. They weren’t living beings, just uniforms. Uniforms she’d watched beat people to death, uniforms that had taken her father away. She consciously relaxed her shoulders, shifting her phaser rifle slightly to keep her target within the scope. Walo, on the other hand, was as motionless as a stone.
There was no reason to worry, so far everything had gone as planned. Oardoli had created a distraction while Ren used an access code Kee’s uncle, Joial, had lifted from a Cardassian computer, and slipped inside to plant three bombs. The two soldiers guarding the entrance were now back at their posts, unaware that there was an intruder inside. They were the ones Kee and Walo now held in their sights.
Kee flexed her fingers and fought to calm the anxiety that continued to build. How long did it take to plant a couple of bombs anyway? Of course, Kee knew it was more complicated than that. He had to avoid being detected until after the charges were in place. If anyone had a chance to send out a distress call, reinforcements would be on top of them before they could get away. Patience had never been her strong suit, but she was beginning to understand that she’d have to learn.
The Cardassians below moved around to keep warm. Not that it was all that cold, Kee wasn’t even wearing a jacket today, but Cardassians had such a narrow comfort range. One of them had found a spot to stand in where the sun was able to break through the forest canopy, but the other continued to roam. Even their own biology declared that they didn’t belong here.
Somewhere deep inside of her was the nagging little voice reminding her that the Prophets teach peace and nonviolence. It had been there ever since she joined, and this was the moment she was to cross the line. Violence begets violence. She’d been taught. The Prophets smile on those who remain peaceful despite adversity. Her throat tightened at the thought of becoming abhorrent in their eyes. But she silenced that voice by allowing hatred to bubble up within her and soon it was gone.
The Cardassians suddenly reacted to the sound of phaser fire inside. Kee’s heart pounded but she breathed slowly like Ren had taught her and pressed the trigger. An orange beam lanced forward but her aim was slightly off and she only hit the target in the leg. He dove for cover. Walo had already dispatched his target and turned to fire on the injured one. Kee moved quickly, firing repeatedly until she hit him before Walo had a chance to fix her mistake.
A small piece of her mind registered that she’d taken a life.
Don’t belong here. She reminded herself.
Just then Ren appeared, firing behind him into the building. As Kee and the other two laid down cover fire he bolted for the trees. Two more Cardassians returned fire from inside. The countless hours she’d spent training for this at Ren’s side took over and she held them off.
A blast hit the tree just below where Kee’s phaser rested, sending chunks of wood and splinters flying. She turned away, but immediately went back to fire again, together she and Walo pinned the Cardassians inside.
Ren’s voice came over the comm, “Burn!” That was the signal. She and Walo ducked down and covered their heads just as a wave of fire and debris washed over. The blast was so powerful, the tree trunk rolled toward them a little bit then settled back into its place.
After the fragments had stopped raining down on them and her hearing had returned, she heard Ren on the comm again, “Everybody still with us?”
Walo looked her over quickly and spoke for the two of them, “Yeah, we’re alright.”
Oardoli’s voice crackled over the comm, “I’m here.”
Kee looked back toward where the building had been, her heart still racing and ears ringing, to see nothing but charred rubble. Even the bodies were gone, vaporized by the explosion. Walo looked too, scanning the area for survivors. There were none.
She’d seen plenty of violence in her life. In the refugee camps there were murders and beatings on a daily basis, but that was all different from what she’d just been part of.
This was an organized strike.
This made a difference.
This was the Resistance.