The USS Bajor discovers an uncharted Class M planet in the Rolor Nebula with possible Preserver ruins on it, and Tess Phohl and Biri Riyannis beam down with an away team to investigate. But when the Bajor has to leave to protect a transport, the team is cut off from support and gets into trouble.
This work provides examples of the following tropes:
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Subverted. Orvis II is technically Class M, but it's in an ice age right now. Biri points out that Bajor looked about the same five million years ago.
- Agony Beam: Dalsh Ruul compares his painstick favorably to the Klingon version the Breen based it on, calling the latter "crude".
- Big Damn Heroes: The Bajor, twice. Once offscreen when it has to go save a Bajoran transport from the True Way, and a second time when it curbstomps Ruul's ship and deploys an assault unit to rescue the away team.
- Boom, Headshot!/Your Head Asplode: Inflicted on a couple of different Breen by Starfleet weapons fire. Tess at one point uses night-vision goggles and aims just above the heat bloom from a Breen's coolant suit.
- The Captain: Besides the obvious, Eleya, Dalsh Ruul's title translates as "shipmaster", making him the Breen equivalent.
- Captain's Log: Opens with a classical Star Trek log entry from from Tess."First Officer’s Log, Stardate 87234.2. The Bajor has been on patrol in the Rolor Nebula north of Deep Space 9 for the last week. Twelve hours ago our long-range sensors detected a previously uncharted Class M world orbiting Alpha Quinque Fratres, a G2V yellow dwarf star, same as Sol or B’hava’el. Per standard protocol we’re now on approach to investigate."
- Chekhov's Gun: After Dalsh Ruul's first interrogation scene, there's this line: "[Tess] paused and patted the small of her back, then smiled, reassured." She was checking to make sure the Breen missed a stiletto she eventually backstabs Dalsh Ruul with.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Dalsh Ruul is very calm and conversational most of the time she's torturing Tess, except when Tess' flat refusal to cooperate starts to get on his nerves.
- Continuity Nod: Ruul refers to having acquired the design for painsticks from the Klingons back in the time of Chancellor Mow'ga. Mow'ga was said in DS9: "'Til Death Do Us Part" to have sent a military expedition into Breen space that was never heard from again.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Made on behalf of Eleya:Ruul: Talk, or I'll kill [Senior Chief Athezra].
Athezra: Don't tell him anything, sir.
Tess: Yes, thank you, Senior Chief, I know how this works. (to Ruul) No, you won’t kill him, because A, it still won’t make me talk, and B, if you do, our captain will hunt you to the ends of the galaxy, and there won’t be a thing you can say or do that will stop her from personally strangling you with your own intestines.
- A Day in the Limelight: Eleya takes a backseat, with Tess and Birail as the viewpoint characters.
- Epigraph: "Blood on the Snow" by Erasure.
- Forced Orgasm: Exploited. Breen commander Ruul remarks to Tess Phohl while torturing her with a pain-stick that sometimes he sets the stick to arouse his victims instead, then switches it back to pain mode before they orgasm.
- Forced to Watch: Subverted. In the first interrogation scene Dalsh Ruul has Senior Chief Athezra Darrod brought in and tells Tess to talk or he'll kill Athezra. Tess tells him that not only will it not make her talk, but that if he follows through Eleya will strangle him with his own intestines. Ruul gives up on that approach and resorts to torturing Tess with a painstick.
- Mama Bear: Eleya, already established as A Mother to Her Men, when she finds out the Breen have most of the away team prisoner, to the point where her codename in her and Biri's radio conversation is quite literally "Mama Bear". She doesn't have much of a problem with jolting Ruul around to make the knife Tess stuck in the Breen's back move about.
- Oh, My Gods!: Tess at one point swears by "the forty hosts of Gaunt".
- Pardon My Klingon: Lampshaded. We get a couple of curses out of a Caitian petty officer, who then tells Biri to "pardon my Ferasan".
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: The last line of the fic:Eleya: What's a Christmas tree?
- The Reveal/Samus Is a Girl: Dalsh Ruul is described with male pronouns and as having a deep voice, until The Reveal at the end that she is human, and a soprano.
- Rudely Hanging Up: Eleya demands that Ruul surrender. When Ruul tries to bargain the hostages for safe passage out, Eleya just hangs up on him and beams in the assault unit.
- Sarcastic Devotee:
- A moment of this between Athezra and Tess.Athezra: Haven't [set up a tent] in a while, sir?
Tess: Shut it, Senior Chief.
Athezra: (grinning) Yes, sir.
- Also a bit where Biri tells Zasrassi that Eleya may be crazy but she's not an idiot.
- A moment of this between Athezra and Tess.
- There's a reference to a ship named the Norgh'a'Qun and a General Ssharki, both referring to a character in The War of the Masters Shared Universe.
- Dalsh Ruul thinks his painstick is very pretty. "The design. it's functional."
- One of Petty Officer Zasrassi's Ferasan curse words, "pierec'eay'khartoh", was borrowed from Cobra Bargain by Timothy Zahn.
- Tess is well aware that high orbit is the highest ground there is.
- Survival Mantra:Tess: Siritesjha sh’Phohlhi, Commander, Mike-Hotel-2404-2294-3037-9022.
- Teleporter Accident: Invoked, then subverted. Dalsh Ruul tries to prevent Eleya and an assault unit from beaming in to rescue her captured crewmen, but Ruul's men don't get the transporter scrambler running in time courtesy of Eleya ignoring Ruul's attempt to stall.
- Torture Is Ineffective: Ruul tortures Tess for several hours with a painstick but gets nothing from her but her name, rank, and serial number.
- Torture Technician: Dalsh Ruul, by his own admission.“I think this is very pretty. ... The design. It’s functional. Finely crafted to exacting specifications. Klingon ’oy’naQ are so crude. We acquired the design from them, of course, back in the reign of their Chancellor Mow’ga, but we refined it far in advance of their pathetic efforts. It won’t kill you, but the amount of pain or pleasure you feel is entirely up to me. I find it is particularly effective to give akhvet—I believe the human term is ‘humanoids’, such a self-centered word—a powerful arousal, and then immediately before they peak, trigger their pain center as I did to you just now.”
- Your Mom: Tess asks the other captured members of the away team if they said anything.SPC. Atti: I called his mother a whore. Does that count?