“Assuming standard orbit around Ekos,” Lavelle announced as Captain Shelby came on to the bridge.
“Receiving a hail from Ekosian Space Control,” Lieutenant Atoa then reported from his post at tactical.
“Put them on the main viewscreen,” Liz ordered as the Earthlike form of Ekos was replaced by the image of a young dark-haired woman wearing a beige tunic and bearing the rank insignia of an Ekosian Space Forces sub-lieutenant.
“Greetings, Sutherland,” The junior officer said in a polite voice, “And welcome to Ekos. I have been instructed to inform you that a reception in honor of Ambassador Offenhouse and Professor Ledron Davin will be held at 1600 hours, Ekosian Mean Time, at the Eneg Pavilion—here are the coordinates. Of course, Captain, you and your senior staff are cordially invited.”
“Thank you, Sub-Lieutenant,” Captain Shelby replied with a smile, “Please express our thanks to the Foreign Ministry and inform them that we will be honored to attend.”
“Mr. Rysyl?” Liz requested after the Ekosian officer had terminated their transmission, “Please inform Ambassador Offenhouse that there will be a welcoming reception on the surface in two standard hours.” Turning towards her first officer, Shelby then said with a smile, “Commander, I’ll let you fetch Professor Davin—that’ll give you some time to spend with him…” She then added apologetically, “I’m afraid I’ve monopolized a good portion of the professor’s free time—I’m sorry…I know you were a student of his as well…”
“Thank you, sir,” Hobson replied, “I appreciate that.”
Turning her attention to Manuele and Sam, Liz smiled once again, “Mr. Atoa…Mr. Lavelle—you gentlemen need diplomatic experience if you’re going to advance—so you’ll accompany us to the reception—dress uniforms, of course.”
“Yes, sir,” Both officers replied in unison as the captain took her seat. Leaning over towards Sam, Ensign Django whispered, “Better you than me…”
Overhearing her tempestuous navigator, the captain quickly decided that another of her junior officers could use some diplomatic experience, “Oh…I almost forgot…Ensign Django—you’ll be joining us as well.”
“Yes, sir,” Maria acknowledged grudgingly as Sam and Manuele both tried without success to hide their smirks.
Standing outside the door of his former teacher’s guest quarters, Commander Hobson activated the intercom, “Professor Davin?”
“Yes,” As the door slid open, the wizened professor smiled, “Ah…Christopher…please come in.”
“Thank you, sir,” The first officer, ever formal, stated as he entered the guest suite. “Captain Shelby sends her compliments and says that the Ekosian Foreign Ministry will be holding a reception in yours and the ambassador’s honor in two standard hours.”
“Thank you, Christopher,” Ledron acknowledged with a chuckle as he appraised his former student, “Still the Alpha Squadron Leader, aren’t you Mr. Hobson?” He quipped, referring to the cadet squadron that Chris had led at the Academy.
“I guess so,” Hobson replied, this time managing a slight grin.
“Well…I’m glad to see you here!” The professor exclaimed with a grin as he motioned for the younger man to take a seat. “Sit down! Sit down, Christopher! We have plenty of time before the reception and I did so miss our chats.”
“Thank you, Professor.” Chris replied as he took his seat opposite the professor’s. “I too have missed our time together.”
“So…” The elderly professor asked as he handed his protégé a class of saurian brandy, “How have you been, Christopher?”
“Fine, Sir…” The diffident Hobson replied, taking a sip of his drink. “I’m…content…with my position here now…”
Chuckling softly, the wise old man retorted gently, “That’s not what I asked, Christopher.” His laughter vanishing, Davin gazed intently at his former student a mournful expression overcoming his formerly cheerful demeanor, “I know I’m late by several years, but I’m sorry about Natalie…”
Feeling a momentary pang in his heart as memories of his deceased wife flooded his mind, Chris confessed with a sad smile, “Thank you, Professor. I know it’s been a long time since the shuttle accident, but…”
“But sometimes it feels like yesterday,” The old man finished. “I know…even though my father loved my mother, sometimes…when he didn’t think she or I could see…I could tell that he was thinking about his former fiancé…Marta…who was killed by the Ekosians…you could see it in his face…” Davin said sadly, his voice trailing off.
“I know, sir,” Chris, placing his hand on the elderly scholar’s shoulder, lowered his head.
Laughing ironically, Ledron shook his head, “I’m getting old. Here I was trying to be a father figure to you and it’s the student who’s providing the comfort.” Then, squaring his shoulders, the Zeon academic flashed a sad smile, “I know you’d rather be in command of your own ship, Christopher, but, I’m glad you’re here. Elizabeth needs you.”
Shaking his head gently, Hobson replied, “She doesn’t need me, Professor. I’m just her first officer. The captain is most capable…”
“Yes…yes…I know.” Davin responded with a chuckle, “She is.” His laughter disappearing, the old man added, “She’s one of the most strong willed, stubborn, and determined people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. But I also know that she can be rash…emotional…impetuous. She needs someone like you…someone who is…”
“Cautious?” The younger man declared in a faintly disappointed tone.
“No.” The Professor responded, shaking his head. “Someone who is equally strong willed, stubborn and determined as she, but who is also more precise…grounded. Someone who can reach her when she does go out on what you Terrans call ‘a limb’ and pull her back to safety. Someone who can temper her fire with ice.” Sighing deeply, the elderly man continued, “There is so much you don’t know about Elizabeth, Christopher. When most people see her they either see the ambitious, driven—often to the point of recklessness—Starfleet officer…or they see the hedonistic pleasure seeker interested only in her own self gratification. But there’s far more to her than either of those images. She’s had to deal with so much heartache…so much pain. Chris…” The old man said his eyes boring into those of the younger man, “She needs someone she can trust…someone she can rely on…” Smiling, Davin patted the younger man on his shoulder, “That person…for now at least…is you, Christopher.
Shaking his head doubtfully, the former student replied, “I’ll try, Sir, but sometimes…”
“I know…” The older man laughed, “She doesn’t make it easy, does she? But…” Davin added as he escorted his protégé to the door, “I have faith in you…I have faith in both of you. And now…” He concluded as the door to his quarters whooshed open, “If you’ll excuse me, I have to get ready for the reception. I’ll see you there.”
While Commander Hobson was talking with his former teacher, another conversation was taking place in Ambassador Offenhouse’s quarters where Anara had arrived to fetch her charge for the reception.
“Ah…Ms. Rysyl…” The Ambassador greeted as his door slid open to reveal the presence of his temporary aide. “I assume we’re in orbit around Ekos now?”
“Yes, sir,” The Deltan woman said flashing a brief smile. “Captain Shelby wants me to inform you that there will be a reception in your honor in two standard hours.”
“Excellent!” Ralph exclaimed as he motioned for Anara to enter his quarters. “I was just finishing packing,” He said as he closed the lid on his valise. “I’ve been looking forward to this…”
Tilting her head to the left, Anara asked, “Why, sir? I got the impression that it was a simple introductory reception—what Lieutenant Lavelle calls a ‘meet and greet’ thing. I wouldn’t think any serious negotiations would take place there.”
“That’s exactly what it is,” Offenhouse agreed, “And you’re right…there probably won’t be any serious diplomatic negotiations going on at the reception.” He then flashed a sly grin, “But there’s a human saying that goes something like this—First impressions are lasting ones.” Motioning for his temporary student to take a seat, the businessman cum ambassador explained, “I like to size up my opponent as quickly as possible—to look him in the eye, you might say—that way I can determine his true measure and formulate my opening moves from that…”
“You make this sound like a war, ambassador,” Anara remarked dubiously.
“Not a war, Lieutenant,” Ralph said condescendingly, “Think of it more as a contest. Don’t ever kid yourself, Ms. Rysyl…” The ambassador lectured, “…behind all the polite words and gestures, diplomacy, like any other type of negotiation, is a battle or struggle where you’re trying to get an edge on the other guy. It doesn’t matter if you’re negotiating a labor settlement, a hostile takeover, or a mutual assistance treaty, your main goal is to always get the best deal possible for your side because that’s what your opponent will be doing.”
“But why does it have to be so…adversarial?” Lieutenant Rysyl inquired, not willing to let go of the subject, “Wouldn’t a mutually cooperative approach work much better? By assuming that your opposite number is working against you, aren’t you immediately putting yourself into a defensive posture, which in turn forces the other party into an adversarial mode—in other words turning the action into…what is it humans call it? A self-fulfilling prophecy?”
“Maybe,” Ralph conceded, “But still…I prefer negotiating from a position of strength. Like I told Picard once—I’ve spent my entire life making sure that I’m in control over any given situation—I don’t like it when I’m not able to do something to influence events—it makes me a little…crazy…” He chuckled, “Call it an atavistic human trait if you will.” Then, covering his mouth with his hand as he yawned, the ambassador said, “No…if you don’t mind, Lieutenant, I’d like to grab an hour’s nap before the reception—I want to be at my best when the games begin…”
Taking a deep breath, Captain Shelby quickly took in her new surroundings. She and the rest of the diplomatic party had materialized at a transporter pad at the north end of a circular covered area, the floor a mosaic representation of the planetary surface of Ekos while on the roof was a painting of the sky—complete with clouds and the sun. Inside the pavilion, guests and Ekosian governmental officials and functionaries were already mingling—some clustered around what was obviously a bar, while others were in small groups talking and laughing.
“Some things never change,” Ambassador Offenhouse muttered as he remembered similar gatherings he had attended as a businessman four hundred years ago. Nodding his head sagely as he saw a party of Ekosians, some in civilian clothing and others wearing uniforms drawing near, he leaned over and whispered into Shelby’s ear, “It’s show time, Captain.”
Smiling, Liz appraised the group approaching hers. A man, apparently middle aged, dark haired with a touch of grey around the temples and wearing a grey-green uniform led the procession which included both men and women. “Captain Shelby?” The man, noticing Liz’s rank pips and red uniform, inquired as he addressed the captain.
Nodding her head, Liz replied, “At your service.”
“I’m Colonel Regar of the Ekosian General Staff. And I have the honor of presenting Foreign Minister Tana, he introduced as a woman wearing a dark blue formal dress stepped forward.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Colonel…Foreign Minister,” Liz responded as she introduced the Federation and Zeon emissaries, “And please allow me to introduce Ambassador Ralph Offenhouse, representing the Federation; and Professor Ledron Davin, Professor Emeritus at Starfleet Academy, representing the Zeon academic community.
“Welcome,” The Foreign Minister, taking over for the Colonel, greeted. Then, addressing the ambassador, she smiled, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Ambassador. I am looking forward to working with you to facilitate Ekos’ entry into the Federation.”
Flashing a correct smile, Ralph smoothly and noncommittally responded, “Thank you, Minister. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the Ekosian people much better in the days ahead.” Opening move and counter move. Offenhouse thought, smiling inwardly. So far…no surprises…we’re seeing exactly what they want us to see. But that’s not good enough—before I sign off on Ekos’ entry into the Federation; I want to see what’s lying beneath the pretty mosaic…
Clearing her voice, Minister Tana then addressed the complete assembly. “In honor of the arrival of Federation Ambassador Offenhouse…” She announced as a musical fanfare blared from hidden speakers, “President Emerita Daras has agreed to make a rare personal appearance today.” As she finished her words, twelve members of Ekos’ elite Presidential Guard, resplendent in their blue and gold dress uniforms, marched smartly into the pavilion, taking station opposite each other, forming a corridor. Following the soldiers, an officer, carrying a dress saber, marched through the corridor, coming to a halt at the end, then, executing a smart left turn, he marched to a position next to the lead soldier before executing an about face. Carrying out their movements in complete silence, the guards immediately presented their arms as the fanfare grew in volume. The music reaching a crescendo, an elderly woman, dressed in a simple sky-blue dress and supported by guardsmen to either side of her, slowly and with great dignity made her way down the corridor to the waiting dignitaries.
“The Ekosians don’t do anything half way, do they?” Ensign Django said to Sam in an almost inaudible whisper as the spectacle unfolded.
“If you had bothered to do your research, Ensign…” Lieutenant Commander Varok chided in an equally low voice, “You would have known that ceremony and liturgy are very important elements in Ekosian culture.”
“Yes, sir,” Maria whispered back, muttering, “Damned Vulcan ears,” as Varok raised an eyebrow in response.
Finally reaching her destination, the Ekosian living legend smiled as a tear rolled down her cheeks, “Greetings, Ambassador. I have dedicated most of my life to this moment—Ekos’ entry into the United Federation of Planets. And now—that it has finally arrived…” She stammered, choking up momentarily as emotion overwhelmed her, “I find that words have escaped me.” Flashing a sad smile, she then finished, “I only wish that my beloved husband, President Eneg, could have lived to have seen this happen. This is truly a glorious day for the Federation…for Zeon…and for Ekos!”
The assembly cheering her presence and her words, the old woman, after a few brief moments of shaking hands, turned about and left the way she came, the thundering applause not ending until well after she had gone. Leaning over and whispering into Anara’s ear, Ralph remarked approvingly, “Very nicely played.”
“What do you mean, sir?” Anara whispered back.
“By bringing out Daras…probably the greatest living Ekosian and a direct link to the bad old days, Foreign Minister Tana has managed to put an emotional face to the negotiations,” Ralph explained to his pupil. “If the Federation denies Ekos’ petition, then it’s denying the life long dream of Ekos’ icon.”
“I see,” Lieutenant Rysyl replied and then asked, “Do you think Daras knows about her role in this?”
Chuckling softly, the ambassador answered back, “It wouldn’t surprise me if the old fox came up with the idea herself.” Then, flashing a smile, he addressed the Sutherland’s captain, speaking loud enough so that the Ekosian delegation could hear him, “Captain Shelby? I think it would be a good idea if the rest of your crew were to mingle—get to know the Ekosians…while you, the professor, I and my aide get to know the Foreign Minister and her people a little bit better.”
“An excellent idea, Ambassador!” Tana smiled back. “Please, Captain…Professor Davin…join us,” She exclaimed as she smoothly guided the diplomatic party to a quieter area of the pavilion.
As the senior diplomatic group split off from the others, Ralph whispered into Anara’s ear, “Now we start phase 2.”
“Phase 2?” Anara, once again confused, asked.
“Right,” Offenhouse whispered back. “We’re still in the prelims, but we’ve gotten the introductory gambits out of the way. Now we firm up our impressions of each other and begin the process of staking out our positions. I figure we’ll keep up the small talk here for about an hour or so…and then she’ll suggest that we go somewhere more private.” A predatory gleam then appeared in his eye, “That’s when the game really gets going.”
As Manuele Atoa surveyed the scenery before him, he sighed. Formal functions such as this were definitely not his thing. He much preferred more free wheeling, casual gatherings where he could cut loose and be himself rather than having to be, as Jadon Tol once remarked in jest, ‘The very model image of a model Starfleet officer.’ Well…I guess I’ll never make it in Command, Manuele sighed once again as he picked up his drink—a fragrant Ekosian nectar.
“I hope we’re not boring you…”
Surprised by the female voice coming from behind him, the security chief quickly turned about. Seeing a striking redheaded woman wearing a tan uniform, Manuele stammered, “Oh no…of course not…I mean…”
“It’s all right, Lieutenant…” Seeing Manuele’s nod confirming that she’d gotten his rank correct, the Ekosian officer continued to speak, “For what it’s worth, I find these functions painful too.”
“Some things are the same no matter where you go.” Atoa, recovering his equilibrium, quipped as he set his drink down. “My name’s Manuele…Manuele Atoa.”
“And I’m Mere Lindos…Captain…Internal Security Service,” The Ekosian woman answered back with a smile.
Chuckling, Manuele remarked, “Well, Captain…it looks like we’re more or less in the same line of work—I’m the tactical officer on board the Sutherland.”
“Small universe,” Manuele’s Ekosian counterpart quipped, adding, “By the way, you can call me Mere.” Then, flashing a grin, she said in a slightly flirtatious voice, “And I wouldn’t say no if you offered me one of those nectars.”
“All right then,” Atoa exclaimed with a wide grin as he called the bartender over to place his order. Settling down to talk with his new companion, the New Kauaian smiled inwardly, grateful to the deities that his ancestors worshiped that they had decided to not make his night a total wash after all.
“So…Sam…” Ensign Django remarked as she regarded her fellow conn officer, “Wanna blow this joint and go somewhere where we can some real fun?”
Taking a sip of his drink, Lavelle smirked, “What you got in mind, Maria?”
“Hmmm…” Ensign Django replied with smile, “I was thinking we could scope out the Ekosian night life. Maybe find a place where we can do some dancing and partying. Anything’s got to be better than this!”
“No argument there.” Sam agreed as a stately waltz tune played on the speakers. “I stay here any longer, and some paleontologist is going to pick me up as a fossil.”
“Tell me about it.” Maria agreed as she took the roguish Canadian’s arm. An impish grin on her face, she pointed towards an exit. “Let’s slip out of here.” However, before the couple could make it halfway to their destination, they were stopped in their tracks by a crisp, patrician voice that they immediately recognized as coming from the Sutherland’s first officer.
“Mr. Lavelle…Mr. Django…Leaving so soon?”
The couple coming to an abrupt halt on hearing their superior officer’s words, Lavelle immediately responded, “No, Sir!” Coming up with what he hoped would be an acceptable excuse, the roguish Canadian explained, “We were just wondering how the mosaics might look from a different angle.”
Secretly amused at the plight of the two junior officers, Commander Hobson nodded his head once, “I see. I didn’t know that the two of you had such an appreciation for the fine arts. You know…” He said, maintaining the formal tone in his voice, “The Captain and I were planning on attending Professor Davin’s seminar on the post-Nazi evolution of Ekosian art tomorrow. Why don’t you join us?”
“Ummm…” Sam floundered, “…we wouldn’t want to impose on you, sir…”
“No imposition at all.” Chris replied, “In fact, I insist that you attend and I’m sure the Captain would as well.”
Bowing down to the inevitable, the young couple responded with feigned enthusiasm, “We’d be glad to, Sir.”
“Excellent!” The first officer exclaimed as he pointed his errant junior officers back towards the gathering. “Now, Misters Lavelle and Django, I think we should be returning to the reception. After all, we wouldn’t want our hosts to think we were slipping away, would we now?”
“So, Ambassador Offenhouse, what do you think of our nectar?” Minister Tana, flashing a calculated grin, asked as she called for a waiter to bring over more glasses of the Ekosian liqueur.
Responding with a similar smile, Ralph took a sip of the sweet liqueur, and finding its taste most appealing, nodded his head approvingly, “I must say it’s quite good.”
“I’m pleased you like it,” The Foreign Minister said, maintaining her smile, “I’m sure that you’ll find the rest of Ekos to be equally agreeable.”
“I’m sure I will,” the ambassador, also keeping up his noncommittal grin, responded. “In fact, I was hoping that we could arrange a tour of the city before nightfall.” Giving his opposite number a meaningful look, he stated, “It would most definitely help me in gathering the facts for my report.”
Returning the ambassador’s look, Minister Tana countered smoothly, “I think that’s a most excellent idea. The Foreign Ministry offices are on the other side of the capital, so…if you want…instead of simply transporting there, we could arrange for a limousine to take you and the rest of your delegation to the Ministry.”
“And we would have free access to any Ekosians…” Ralph inquired with raised eyebrows.
“Of course, sir,” The Minister replied with a tilt of her head. “We have nothing to hide.” Her smile vanishing, she added, “We want you to see us for who we are now—not for what we were.”
“Thank you, Minister,” Ambassador Offenhouse said with a genuine smile as he permitted his opposite number to see his pleasure at her final statement. “When may we leave?”
Returning the ambassador’s smile, Minister Tana replied, “How does now sound?”
Laughing at a joke his new Ekosian companion had told, Manuele couldn’t remember the last time he’d had such an enjoyable conversation. As his eyes drank in the statuesque beauty of Mere, Manuele couldn’t help but smile.
“You seem to be in better spirits now than you were a few minutes ago,” Mere said coquettishly as she sipped her drink.
“The company’s a lot better,” Manuele replied as he looked into the Ekosian officer’s eyes.
“I know what you mean,” Mere said in response as she placed a gentle hand on that of the Starfleet officer’s, only to notice that her wrist communication device was blinking. “Sorry!” She apologized with an embarrassed grin, “But…can you excuse me for a moment?”
“I understand,” Manuele chuckled gently, “Occupational hazard…”
Stepping away from her new acquaintance, the Ekosian security officer activated her communicator. Nodding her head, she then responded, “Understood. Will do.” Returning to Manuele, Mere shook her head as she chuckled, “That was my superior—he wants me to return to headquarters to take care of some reports.” Then, giving the New Kauaian a meaningful look, she propositioned, “I’d like it if we could get together again…”
“I’d like that too,” Atoa replied with a meaningful look of his own. “Is there a way I can reach you?”
“Yes,” Mere, smiling broadly, handed Manuele a slip of paper. “This is my home comm. number. Give me a call and we’ll get together…” Flashing the New Kauaian a final smile, the lovely Ekosian turned around and walked away, deliberately allowing her hips to sway a little as she walked.
Shaking his head and letting out a breath of air as he watched Mere walk away, Manuele said in a low voice, “You can count on it!”
“I want to thank you for accompanying us, Captain—but it wasn’t really necessary,” Ralph, sitting next to Anara and across from Shelby and Ledron in the back of the large stretch hover-limo said as he glanced out the window at the busy Ekosian street scene.
“In other words,” Liz grinned, “I really wish you didn’t come, but now that you’re here, shut up and let the diplomats do all the talking—right?”
Chuckling in spite of himself, Ralph acknowledged, “You’re most perceptive, Captain.” His laughter vanishing, he then asked, “But tell me…why did you come?”
“Curiosity, mostly,” Liz admitted. “I wanted to see for myself how things had changed.” She then took a deep breath, “Also…I wanted to…I know this might sound somewhat strange…but I wanted to get a true feel of Ekos—and to do that, I need to do more than just read reports and see a bunch of video images. To really know Ekos and its people, I need to experience it and them.”
“That is why I’ve always considered both you and Christopher my two best students,” Ladron said with a smile. Addressing his next remarks to Offenhouse, he praised, “Elizabeth was always one who had to experience everything with all her senses.” Then he added with a smirk, flashing a glare of mock disapproval at his former pupil, “There are those who would say though, that she uses her senses a bit too much for her own good sometimes…”
“What can I say?” Liz rejoined, putting on an air of playful innocence, “I’m a sensualist.” Then, her tone turning serious, she added, “All too often we make decisions without truly getting the lay of the land—and almost always when that happens, things tend to go to hell in a hand basket.”
“You’re absolutely right, Captain,” Ralph agreed as the limo turned suddenly. Feeling the motion even through the grav compensators, the ambassador remarked, “That’s weird…I wonder why we turned like that…”
“Maybe it’s just a security precaution?” Anara speculated as the vehicle came to a stop.
“Or maybe not,” Liz cursed as the doors on either side suddenly flew open and as powerful hands pulled her and the other delegates out of the car. Drawing her arm to fight back against her assailants, she felt the needle in her neck and then very soon everything turned black.
“Hey Chris!” Jadon called out as he spotted the Sutherland’s first officer sitting at the bar nursing a drink as he watched the Ekosian news feed from a large monitor. “Stuck babysitting the junior officers while the Captain plays diplomat?”
“You might say that…” Chris responded with a shrug, his patrician voice betraying just the faintest note of irritation that his old friend immediately picked up on. “One of us needs to remain here in case something happens.”
“Yeah, I know…” The Trill engineer responded, knowing that the real reason for his friend’s irritation lay elsewhere. “Sucks, doesn’t it? She’s off seeing the sights with the Ambassador while you’re stuck here.”
Sipping his drink, Hobson answered back nonchalantly, “The Captain will fill me in on all the details later, I’m sure.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure she will.” Jadon smirked as he patted his friend on the shoulder, “But I wasn’t talking about the Captain just now.”
Just as an angry retort was forming on Hobson’s lips, the image on the news screen suddenly blanked out, to be replaced by another image—that of four Ekosians wearing stocking masks and dressed in the old Nazi Party uniforms standing before a large red, white, and black flag with the swastika.
“Attention people of Ekos!” The lead figure, apparently male, spoke through a voice scrambling device, “For too long our holy land has been subject to the pollution of the Zeon swine and their alien lapdogs—but no more! We, the Soldiers of Melakon, announce that we are retaking our home! We have taken prisoner the Zeon criminal and his Federation stooges and announce that if our demands are not meant they will all be executed as enemies of the Race.” Images played of Captain Shelby, Anara, Ambassador Offenhouse, and Ledron Davin, all lying flat on their backs, apparently drugged. “To prove that we are serious, sentence shall be immediately carried out on one of the prisoners!” Pointing his finger at something off the camera, two of the terrorists left the display, only to return moments later with a prisoner whose head had been covered by a hood. Forcing the hapless soul to his or her knees, the leader drew a slug-pistol from his holster.
Aiming the pistol at the back of the head of the prisoner, the terrorist shouted as he pulled the trigger, “Hail the Fuhrer!”