NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM (short story)
Updated: Oct 24, 2019
By Nathan Warner
A mysterious wormhole on the edge of Dominion space makes Weyoun uneasy
All nature abhors a vacuum, Weyoun thought, gazing out over the known universe. And the wisdom of the Founders would fill it! He patted the console of the Dominion Battlecruiser beneath him. Outside in space, the ship lazily considered the horizon of its habitat. It was the sole apex predator of its realm, and it knew it. To an outside observer, the ship embodied the attitude of the Founders – ruling disinterested and secure over the heavens – like a Kovian Tiger that knows it has no contender for its title of “King of the Jungle” or a Tamarrian shark cruising disinterestedly through the sea. Weyoun stared out through his eyepiece on the universe before them. Every star he could see would sooner or later be brought out of chaos and into order by the mighty Dominion. It was the way of things – as immutable as the laws that governed faster-than-light travel. Yes, if there was one constant in existence, it was the will of the Founders – and that term dominated all the other variables in the Galaxy. Order was the Founders’ great export in their economy and obedience the only acceptable import. He looked down on the Jem’Hadar busying themselves at their posts – the model of perfect obedience – and then turned to his Vorta subordinate. “Moyoun, how long till we reach the Kiran nebula?” he asked, gesturing lazily towards the pink hues of a stellar cloud spread out before them. “2.573 days at present speed,” Moyoun answered. “Should I increase velocity?” “There is no rush,” Weyoun observed. “They aren’t going anywhere.” He was referring to the unrest on the Gorbin homeworld – their current destination. Independence was on their tongues again. And to keep this “disease” of rebellion from spreading, it had to be dealt a real disease to keep it preoccupied. Many worlds had been judged this way. Teplan and its Blight was one of the first examples that had been made, but certainly not the last. “Are the genetic weapons ready for deployment?” he asked. Moyoun hesitated. “We are still calibrating their parameters for maximum dispersal and effectiveness in the Gorbin Stratosphere,” he replied. Weyoun sighed. “Very well,” he replied. Keeping the locals in line – it was a full-time business these days. Weyoun could remember days of Dominion exploration – and of conquest that brought him to untamed and unexplored worlds in desperate need of the Founder’s guidance. Those were the days he missed the most. But his feelings meant nothing – his life – his entire purpose was to serve the Founders who had made him. “Sir, long-range sensors have detected a number of isolated verteron radiation surges,” Moyoun interrupted from his science station. “A wormhole?” Weyoun asked. “Location?” “Out past the Dosi homeworld.” “In the wild,” Weyoun observed. “Just beyond the Founder’s established order.” He frowned – he hated all that was unpredictable and unreliable. What was this phenomenon? Was it artificial? Was it stable? Artificial wormholes existed for some ship propulsion – and he’d heard rumors from the edges of the quadrant about an aggressive cybernetic species that trespassed into resource rich worlds through wormhole-type transportation. Weyoun took all rumors seriously. “Sir, I’m reading it again,” Moyoun reported as his console lit up. “Location now?” Weyoung asked. Moyoun analyzed the data from the sensors. “It is from the same exact coordinates as before,” he said. “So, it is stable!” Weyoun whispered. A stable wormhole meant only one thing – someone was planning an invasion or an exodus from somewhere into the Dominion’s backyard! He tensed and strode across the massive bridge of the ship, glancing through the bulkheads with his x-ray vision, straining his eyes to the coordinates of the wormhole. “Send a clandestine inter-spatial probe to keep observation on this area.” He ordered. “I want a direct link to all the data it receives. We will have to keep a close eye on this situation.” He turned for the door. “If you need me,” he said importantly, “I will be speaking to the Founders.” Moyoun nodded and launched the inter-spatial probe. It flared out from the ship and then accelerated out of sight into the blackness of space. At that moment, at the distant coordinates of the phenomenon, a flash of light lit the region and a rippling cascade of blue energy revealed the opening of a canal from beyond. Suddenly, a ship emerged through it, spat up into the Gamma Quadrant. Without ceremony, the wormhole vanished behind it in a flash. The ship listed – power failures flirting across its systems. It was a Cardassian Galor! On the Bridge, Gul Dukat sat showering in sparks.
“Report!” he bellowed, angered ever so slightly that Major Kira may have been right in warning him against entering the newly discovered phenomenon. “Sir, the computer does not register our location!” the helmsman exclaimed. Dukat considered him for a moment – Damar, wasn’t it? He was a good officer, eager and loyal, but lacking in the essential deviousness that made a Gul. “What do you mean?” Dukat scoffed. “Check again.” Damar reinitialized the sensors and then shook his head at their results. “As I said, Sir, we are not in known space,” he said evenly. Dukat rose from his seat and joined him at the console. “How can that be?” he asked in disbelief. Suddenly, the sensors lit up. A massive explosion of energy occurred behind them. “What…was that?” Dukat asked slowly, dreading the answer. “It appears…the wormhole has collapsed,” Damar replied uneasily and then turned to his commander. “We may be stranded here.” Dukat pounded the console as he struggled to keep his composure. How was it that everything always seemed to go badly for him? When was destiny going to recognize its duty to him? Fate owed him a suitable place for his talents!
And speaking of talent, where was the Federation Commander? This newcomer had discovered the wormhole first, but Major Kira warned of a hostile alien within the phenomenon that had trapped him inside - Dukat had seen no signs of him or any aliens as they passed through and there had been no evidence of a Federation ship.
With a sense of relief, Dukat thought that perhaps the wormhole had destroyed the Federation Commander - after all, the damage Dukat's own Galor had sustained was immense, and it was a full-sized cruiser - how could a small Runabout have survived? Dukat smiled. Yes, it was he who had survived! That was his special talent - fate's gift to him - his knack for survival and adaptation. But he wanted more - he wanted power, and he wanted permanence. "Sir?" Damar asked. "What are your orders?" Dukat turned to him slowly - his mood was substantially improved now that he felt distinguished as the sole survivor into this virgin frontier.
“We’ll,” he said, slowly, “we’ll just have to make the best of it!” Already, ambitions of Empire were swirling in his mind. He'd conquer the nearest planet and establish a Cardassian colony that would grow into a power in this unknown region - superseding even Cardassia itself! And it would be a new Cardassia in his own image, one without the turbid politics of home or the interfering Federation to contend with. And if the Federation found a way to fix the wormhole, Dukat would have established control of it on this side. That sounded like a call to glory. “Sir?” Damar asked confusedly in the pause filled by Dukat's silent scheming. Dukat gestured to the smoking consoles around them. “Let’s get this ship back in order!” he said. “We must lay claim to something here for Cardassian interests, should the Federation ever find a way to return!” Unfortunately for Dukat’s ambitions, the ship proved beyond repairing without a spacedock. Before thrusters had even been restored, a powerful surge of energy lit behind them. The wormhole had reopened! Dukat suppressed the dread he felt at being found helpless by whoever was coming through. If only they could get the thrusters working, they could put on a good face! Suddenly another ship appeared coming through the corridor of energy – a Federation Runabout! “Sir, we are being hailed!” Damar reported. Dukat took his seat and leveled his senses. This had to be the Bajoran Major with her Federation lackeys. He mentally prepared himself for her tiresome taunting. “Onscreen,” he said composedly. In an instant, the face of the new Federation Commander appeared. Dukat grasped for his name. “Sisko?” he asked in disbelief. Sisko nodded, knowingly. Dukat couldn't find the strength to hide his surprise. How had the Federation Commander survived the wormhole with his ship intact and where had he been all this time? Dukat's confidence was shaken.
“Need a lift?” Sisko asked with a wry smile. Dukat regained his composure. “That would be very gracious of you,” he said, gesturing around him. “Nothing seems to be working around here.” Sisko nodded. “I’m preparing to tractor you back through the wormhole,” he said. “How gracious!” Dukat replied. “But what makes you think we'll survive the trip back? Our first transit through almost destroyed my ship." Sisko let his knowing smile discompose the Cardassian.
"Oh, I've been assured that passage through this phenomenon will be smooth as Bajoran butter from now on," he replied coolly. "So, I wouldn't be worried about that." Dukat felt utterly at a disadvantage and it completely unnerved him.
"In that case, Commander," he said with a nod, "We accept your proposal." “You are welcome to join me over here,” Sisko added. It was a small gesture, but Dukat recognized it clearly - it would allow him to retain some pride if he was not produced back into the Alpha Quadrant being helplessly towed to his fleet, which by now had probably come looking for him.
"I accept," Dukat replied with as pleasant a smile as he could muster. Sisko nodded.
"Let me establish the tractor hold on your ship and then I’ll beam you over,” he smiled the same unnerving smile and then vanished from the screen. In the silence that followed, Dukat was troubled. This Federation Commander was clearly a power to be contended with, yet something seemed to tell him that his own future glory and his rightful place in history depended on this man. Perhaps he had finally found the proper foil to aid his advance. “I like him,” Dukat said aloud in the silence that followed. Damar looked up with surprise. “The Federation Commander?” he asked, in a voice shocked by a perceived disloyalty to Cardassia. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, Damar,” Dukat said slowly. “He is dangerous – a worthy adversary – but perhaps also an ally. I feel fate is winding us up together…somehow. Mark my words, great things are going to happen between us.” At that moment, they all felt the tug on the ship as the Runabout gripped the Galor, pulling it back the way it had come. In a cascading flash of light, the ships vanished from the Gamma Quadrant, on their way back towards home, completely ignorant of the contest that had just been put into motion – one that would forever change the Alpha Quadrant, for better and for worse, and in more ways than one.