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Opening the door, Captain Shelby quickly determined that she had entered what must be the terrorist leader’s office. Spying instantly the large Nazi flag and the picture of Melakon hanging on the wall behind a wooden desk and the man sitting behind it, Liz tried her best to keep the revulsion she was feeling from becoming visible in her features, “Sturmfuhrer Merok…I presume you brought me here to tell me that this has all been a horrible mistake and that you are going to let me and the others go and that you are going to surrender to the proper authorities for the murder of a harmless old man.”

Laughing, the Nazi leader, standing up, motioned towards a wooden high backed chair sitting in front of his desk as he poured a clear liquid from a bottle into two glasses, “Very funny, Captain,” He said as he set the bottle down, “Do sit down…we have much to talk about.” As the captain sat down, Merok pushed one of the glasses towards her, “Drink, Captain Shelby…it’s only water.” Grinning maliciously, the Sturmfuhrer took a drink from his own glass, “Believe me…when we execute you, it won’t be by so clean a method as poisoning.”

“Well…” Liz drawled, “That’s a comfort to know.”

Laughing out loud, Merok exclaimed, “I really am going to miss you, Captain…”

“So…why am I here?” Shelby asked as she took a drink of water.

“I thought you’d like to know that we just gave the illegal government of Ekos and its Federation and Zeon masters six hours to accede to our demands,” Merok proclaimed, standing up once again.

“And those demands are…” Liz prompted, and then immediately laughed after the Sturmfuhrer had stated them, “You’ve got to know that those terms are completely and totally ridiculous!” She said, shaking her head, “There’s no way they’re going to be met.”

“Of course not!” Merok replied with a malevolent sneer. He continued to speak in a cold and calculating voice, “We intend to kill you and your friends as an example of our superiority and the Ekosian government’s incompetence and as a warning to all the other alien invaders to get the hells off our world.”

“You mean you brought me here just to tell me that you’re going to kill me?” Liz laughed, “Don’t you think you’re taking the mustache twirling villain role a little too seriously?”

Laughing as well, Merok, pushing a button on his desk, replied as a hidden door behind the desk slid open, “Actually…you…and your people…might not have to die. In fact, life could be made pretty…comfortable…for you.” Motioning for her to enter the hidden room, he said, “You see, Captain, I have a proposition for you.”

***************************************************

“Well…that could have gone better.” Manuele growled as the three officers exited the Senate Office Building. Addressing Commander Hobson, the New Kauaian tactical officer apologized, “I’m sorry I nearly lost it back there, Sir…”

“It’s all right, Mr. Atoa.” Hobson replied, accepting the junior officer’s apology. “Just be a bit more careful in the future.”

“Understood, Sir.” The tactical officer acknowledged sheepishly before adding, “However, I wouldn’t say the meeting was a total wash.”

“How so?” Mere asked as a slight grin crossed Hobson’s features.

“Go ahead, Mr. Atoa.” Chris encouraged, “I’m curious to see whether we are thinking along similar lines or not.”

“Senator Durkan…” Manuele began, “…laid a great deal of stress on how the Restoration Party—and by extension the Rebirth Movement—differed from and opposed the Nazis.”

“But…” Mere interjected, “All he’s doing here is stating what Internal Security has known for a long time.”

“Yes…” Atoa grinned, “But you picked up on how much he emphasized that point. He was trying to tell us something.”

“Agreed.” Hobson chimed in, “He was trying to tell us that we might be able to secure the Rebirth Movement’s cooperation against the Nazis in this matter at least.”

“I wonder what their price will be?” Manuele mused, “He’s not going to help us out of the goodness of his heart.”

“Definitely not.” Hobson agreed. “My guess is that he’s seeking to knock out some of the competition by having us do it for him. Also, he’ll use our intervention as political fodder.”

“How so?” Mere asked, curious as to how the Sutherland’s first officer reached his conclusion.

“He’ll cite this incident as an example of the dangers of increased alien contact…” Hobson explained, “…and then probably segue into his refrain about alien influence taking jobs away from native Ekosians and corrupting the Ekosian youth.”

“I see…” Mere replied as the three officers walked down the busy boulevard, their attention temporarily diverted by a small demonstration of youths demanding jobs, their picket line in front of the Senate Building being restrained by several Ekosian Internal Security troopers wielding truncheons.

“Hmmm…” The first officer vocalized as he drew his companions’ attention towards the demonstration. “This is interesting.”

“We see demonstrations like this every day.” Mere sighed, “The Senator is right about one thing—Ekos does have a serious problem with its youth. Unemployment is high and there is a strong sense of alienation and hostility amongst many of my generation.”

“A good source of recruits for both the Nazis and the Rebirth Movement…” Hobson observed as the police pushed back against the demonstrators. “Ekos’ problems seem to run far deeper than anyone had thought.”

“So…” Manuele asked as the trio reached a public transport pad, “What do we do now?”

“We go back to the ship…” Hobson answered back, “See what our people have come up with and wait for the Senator to make his move.”

“Well…” Mere interjected, “Whatever we do, it had better be quick. We only have a few hours before they execute another hostage.”

***********************************************************

“You observed?” Senator Durkan inquired, pressing a button after he was sure that his guests were safely away from his office.

“Of course.” A voice responded, the same one that had belonged to the shadowy figure the senator had talked to earlier. “You played your part well, Senator.” The voice praised.

“Thank you.” The senator replied with a sly grin. “So…what now?”

“We give them a few minutes to return to their ship.” The voice answered back, “Then instruct your operative to proceed. If all goes as it should…the entire matter should be resolved most satisfactorily.”

“Yes…” The Senator grinned as he contemplated the possibilities, “Merok will be dealt with…the Restoration Party will be seen by the Ekosian people as heroes…and relations with the Federation will be seriously damaged.”

“And you will have succeeded in maintaining the fiction of the Restoration Party, the Rebirth Movement, and the Nazi Party being separate entities.” The voice finished.

“And…” The senator added ending the conversation, “You will have what you want.”

“Not quite…” The voice replied as the shadowy figure emerged, revealing a Vorta female, “But we will have made an important step towards our goal of establishing order in the Alpha Quadrant with Ekos playing an important part in our Founders’ glorious mission. And you…” The Vorta concluded, smiling at the preening senator, “…as the one leading Ekos to its destiny will have an important part to play within the new order.”

********************************************************

“Before we begin this meeting…” Commander Hobson announced as the senior staff took their seats in the Sutherland’s main briefing room, “Captain Lindos has just informed me that we might have a major break. Turning towards the Ekosian security officer detailed as the planet’s liaison with the Sutherland, he gestured with his right hand, “The floor is yours, Captain.”

“Thank you, Commander.” The youthful security officer responded with a slight smile. Addressing the gathered officers, she cleared her throat. “My superiors have just informed me that a possible lead has been found.” After a few moments of relieved sighs from the senior staff, Mere continued her briefing, “Our lead’s name is Enad Gren. He’s a known sympathizer and enabler of the Rebirth Movement.”

“Has he been detained as yet?” Lieutenant Atoa asked.

“No.” Mere responded, shaking her head. “Unfortunately, the Rebirth Movement does have sympathizers within the ranks of Internal Security. If we attempt an arrest, the probability would be high that he would learn of it and go to ground before we could catch him.”

“We can’t run that risk.” Lieutenant Nyota Dryer interjected, shaking her head.

“Agreed.” Mere responded. “But there is a way we might be able to reach him.”

“How?” Chris asked, his ears pricking up as he picked up the scent of his quarry.

“He spends a great deal of time in a local nightclub popular with many younger Ekosians.” Lindos replied, “A small group could contact him…possibly gain his cooperation.”

“What gives you the idea that he would want to cooperate with us?” Sam Lavelle asked, suspicious at just how conveniently this lead had suddenly appeared. “What if this is a trap to get more hostages.”

“The Rebirth Movement…” Lieutenant Atoa interjected, coming to the defense of the youthful Ekosian officer, “...doesn’t like the Nazis. They view them as being just as corrupting an off-world influence as the Zeons and the Federation.”

“Mr. Atoa is somewhat correct.” Lieutenant Commander Varok asserted, weighing into the discussion. “While the Rebirth Movement is opposed to us and should be regarded warily, at this time, our interests do coincide. They see us as being a useful tool in removing the Nazis. The logical course then…” The Vulcan argued, “…would be for us…in this instance…to work with the Rebirth Movement in order to regain our people.”

Raising his hand, Commander Hobson interrupted, settling the issue, “While the risk does exist that this could be a trap…I think it’s worth it.” Turning his attention to Mere, Chris instructed, “Go ahead with the meeting. Mr. Atoa will accompany you.” Addressing the assistant tactical officer also attending the briefing, the first officer further ordered, “Lieutenant Dryer, monitor the situation through their comm badges and have a team ready to intervene should you have to.”

“Aye, Sir.” The ebony skinned lieutenant acknowledged as the Sutherland’s executive officer moved to the next item on his agenda. “How is work proceeding on modifying the tricorders, Dr. Murakawa?”

“The modifications have been completed…” the Japanese-Centauran doctor replied, “…and have been detailed to the search teams.”

“And the search teams’ progress?” Hobson followed up, turning towards the ship’s science officer, the Vulcan Lieutenant Commander Varok.

“We have searched 25.335% of the capital archopolis’ area, Sir.” Varok replied, the faintest note of regret in the voice of the older Vulcan, “Unfortunately, we have not been able to further narrow down the whereabouts of the Captain, Lieutenant Rysyl, or Ambassador Offenhouse.”

Turning towards Lieutenant Dryer, the first officer inquired, “Any luck in tracking any more leads from informers or governmental contacts?”

“None, Sir.” The ebony skinned security officer replied, shaking her head somberly. “Other than the lead Captain Lindos has provided us.” She noted, carefully hiding her suspicions regarding how easily and conveniently the Ekosian security officer had turned up this new lead.

“How much time until the deadline expires?” Hobson then asked, turning towards Lieutenant Atoa.

“Three hours, Sir.” The New Kauaian answered. “Not enough time for us to complete our search of the city—assuming they’re still within the city, that is.”

“Then…Captain Lindos…Lieutenant Atoa…” Commander Hobson pronounced as he got up out of his chair, signaling the end of the meeting, “Your lead has to pan out. Barring something unforeseen, you’re our best hope. Good hunting.” Turning towards Nyota, Hobson cleared his throat, “Lieutenant Dryer? Could you stay for a moment?”

“Yes, Sir.” The ebony skinned security officer replied, her face not revealing any fear at confronting the dreaded ‘Iceman’ as the rest of the officers filed out.

***********************************************

Entering the room, Liz first noted the door on the opposite side of the room and then the fresh fruit and decanters of liquors placed on a large table in the center. Her eyes also spotted at once the man and woman reclining on cushions near the table. The man, tall and well muscled first caught the hedonistic captain’s attention, but it didn’t take long for Liz’s appraising eyes to fall on the woman as well. Curvaceous and well proportioned, with pouty lips, deep blue eyes, and raven hair cascading down to her shoulders, Liz shook her head. Merok doesn’t miss a trick. Barely managing to keep her anger in check, Shelby fumed inwardly; this guy really is a tool. He honestly believes that all this would make me forget what he did to the Professor. Sorry, Jackass, she swore inwardly, as she saw out of the corner of her eye the Nazi leader gauging her reaction, but I’m not that sort of girl.

“So…” Shelby drawled, “I take it this is where you make me the offer I can’t refuse?”

Laughing, Merok replied, “Captain. I could get to like you! For an alien female, you have an almost Ekosian male’s set of stones on you. Here…” he tempted, pouring amber colored liquor into two goblets. Handing one of the goblets to Shelby, he took a sip out of the other. “The fruit you see on the table comes from the finest produce on the planet…and this brandy is a good twenty-five years old.” Giving the man and woman a subtle cue, a leer appeared on the Sturmfuhrer’s face as the couple walked seductively away, each of them giving Liz an alluring grin.

“Who are they?” Liz then asked innocently as the pair walked out the door.

“Beautiful creatures, aren’t they?” Merok enticed as he sat down behind his desk.

“Very nice, Sturmfuhrer.” Liz replied dryly. “I take it this…” She inquired waving her hand over the table, “…and those two who just left are what I get if I agree to whatever deal you’re wanting to make with me?”

Nodding his head, the Sturmfuhrer answered back, “That’s just the initial payment. There’s far more than that.” A sly grin crossing his face, he explained, “If you agree, you’ll have your heart’s desire. Fine art…wines…liquor…cigars…cigarettes—tobacco and otherwise…the best holo-programs…men…women…whatever you want!”

“And Lieutenant Rysyl and Ambassador Offenhouse?” Liz asked as she picked up a greenish-yellow Ekosian fruit vaguely resembling an apple, “What about them?”

“The same.” Merok replied.

“But…” Liz pointed out as she stalled for time, “…we’ll still be prisoners.”

“For now, yes.” The Sturmfuhrer confirmed, “But…it’ll be a gilded…a very…very…comfortably gilded cage—if you cooperate.”

“I see…” Liz drawled, “So…what does my ‘cooperation’ entail?”

The sly grin still on his face, Merok answered back, “To put it quite simply, we need someone with your wealth of experience to assist us when the time occurs—and it will—where we must defend ourselves against Zeon and Federation aggression. You can help us in the formation of our new navy. You see, while there are those who will help us once we’ve gained our independence, it would be better if we had someone who understood how the Federation and Starfleet think…and that someone could be you.”

A smirk appearing on her face, Shelby probed, “Why do you even need me—these anonymous allies of yours could do the job just as well as me and I’m sure you have starship captains of your own.”

Nodding his head, Merok replied, “There are a few captains in our movement, and you’re right, our allies do have experienced individuals. But, as I said, we have no one with your working knowledge of how Starfleet and the Federation work.”

“I see…” Liz answered back, still stalling for time. “So…who are these new allies of yours?”

Laughing loudly, Merok slapped his hand on the table, “I knew I could get to like you, Captain! His laughter vanishing, the Nazi shook his head, “But…I’m sorry…right now I can’t tell you. Maybe later…if you agree to my proposition…”

Seeing that the meeting was coming to an end, Shelby tried one last delaying tactic, “You understand I can’t give you an answer right now. I need to talk it over with my people…”

His grin vanishing, the Sturmfuhrer stood up, “Your people are rapidly running out of time, Captain. Regardless of what you decide, there will be an execution—whether it’s a real one or a staged one is of no concern to me, but surely your cooperation is worth a life of comfort for yourself—and the rest of your party? Go ahead…talk it over with your friends.” As he concluded his remarks, he pressed a button which immediately summoned the two guards waiting outside the office. “Take her back to her cell,” He ordered as he stood up and once again addressed the captain, “Think about my offer, Captain Shelby—but hurry, your time is limited.”

****************************

“Lieutenant Dryer…” Hobson inquired, his patrician voice not giving any hint as to his true emotions, “I’d appreciate your feedback as to our Ekosian liaison and the new information she just gave us…”

“What do you mean, Sir?” The deputy tactical officer asked, her voice tone reflecting her wariness.

“I want…” the first officer stated, maintaining the neutral expression on his face, “…your analysis as to both the possible validity of the information as well as the source.”

“If you’re asking whether Captain Lindos is working for the opposition, Sir…” Nyota carefully replied, “…then I’d have to say that I think it is a possibility. As to whether the lead she got is a good one or not—I’d have to say it’s a fifty/fifty chance of it being good.”

“Fifty/fifty?” Hobson asked with an amused look on his face.

“Yes, Sir.” The security officer answered back with a slight smile of her own. Then, her smile vanishing, she explained her answer, “If she’s on the up and up, then either she’s being duped, or the information is valid. If she’s with the Rebirth Movement, then it’s probably valid and they want us to do their dirty work getting rid of the Nazis.” Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, she concluded, “If she’s with the Nazis, then the information is definitely invalid and she’s leading Manny into a trap.”

“So…” Hobson probed, his icy expression returning, “Which way would you say the coin’s landing?”

Sighing, Nyota took several moments to consider her answer before carefully responding, “To be honest, Sir…I think the lead’s genuine. I don’t see how the Nazis acquiring more hostages could possibly aggravate the situation any more than it is already. I’d almost certainly say that it came from someone within the Rebirth Movement. As for Captain Lindos…” Pausing for several moments as she weighed both the evidence and her own instincts, Dryer cautiously ventured, “…while I don’t think she’s with the Nazis…I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t a Rebirth Movement plant. We know that they’ve infiltrated a good chunk of the Ekosian security services and the movement is especially popular amongst the young.”

“Good points, Lieutenant.” Hobson observed before inquiring, “In your estimation, Lieutenant…can we rely on Captain Lindos?”

“In this instance, Sir…” Nyota replied, nodding her head in the affirmative, “…yes…I believe we can. However, I wouldn’t trust her with anything sensitive.” Then, after several moments, she reluctantly added, “I’d also recommend that Lieutenant Atoa be cautioned as to her possibly shaky loyalties.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Chris acknowledged, giving no indication as to whether he accepted or rejected the final piece of advice his security officer had given him, “I’ll take your suggestion under advisement. For now though…” The first officer ordered, ending the interview, “…I’d suggest that you and your people coordinate with Lieutenant Atoa and Captain Lindos for the meeting. Dismissed.”

********************************************************

The booming bass from the recessed wall speakers drowning out his voice, Manuele Atoa put a hand on the dark haired Ekosian security officer who was his companion as they stood at the entranceway of the Ekosian nightspot where they were supposed to meet the Rebirth Movement contact. Leaning over, Atoa had to nearly shout to make himself heard, “Where is this guy?”

“Upstairs!” Mere shouted back, pointing towards the upper floor of the establishment.

“Gotcha!” Manuele shouted back as, hand in hand, the pair climbed the stairs. Feeling as well as seeing the hostile stares his presence was drawing from the young Ekosians in the bar, the New Kauaian, whispered once the sound of the music had died down, into his companion’s ear, “We’re attracting lots of eye tracks, Mere.”

“I was worried about that.” The young Ekosian sighed as the pair made their way to an empty table. “A lot of the younger Ekosians who go to this club are unemployed or unable to get good jobs and they blame the Federation and the Zeons for their problems.” Taking their seats, Mere cautioned, “We should be all right as long as we don’t do anything to attract any attention.”

Nodding his head as Manuele voiced his agreement to Mere’s words, “No argument from me there. I just want to get the info we need from our guy and then get out of here ASAP.” Then, as he spied four Ekosian males advancing slowly towards their table, the Sutherland tactical officer gently elbowed his companion in the side as he remarked, in a low tone, “I hope he’s with that group coming towards us…”

********************************************

As Shelby left with the two guards, Asil regarded her superior. “Do you really intend to keep your promise to her if she agrees to your terms?”

“Of course not.” Merok replied an evil grin and nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. “We’ll keep her and her people long enough to get whatever information they have off of them—and then they’ll be executed as enemies of Ekos.” Finishing his drink, the Nazi leader summoned his deputy to his side, “Come, Asil…it’s time now.” He declared as the pair made their way towards the mysterious door that Shelby had seen earlier. “There’s something I want to show you—something I think you’ll appreciate.”

Entering the secret chamber, Merok and his assistant both grinned in satisfaction as they set their eyes on the cloning chamber in the center of the room, attended by two individuals wearing white unitards with swastika armbands,

“You’re cloning someone!” Asil exclaimed. “Who?”

“Of course,” Merok grinned, “Now, I want you to look into the chamber…”

Drawing closer to the tube, the blonde Nazi woman gasped in astonishment as she gazed into the eyes of the clone. “Is that…is that who I think it is?” She asked in a hushed, almost reverential tone.

“Yes.” Merok replied triumphantly. You see, Asil…every movement must have someone larger than life to lead it—so who better to lead ours than the greatest of us all—Melakon himself! This is the true purpose of the Soldiers of Melakon—to bring back our true Fuhrer. Very soon the maturation process will be complete, and our Leader will be ready to appear before his people once again. Once they see him—they will rally to his side. Then, with Melakon restored to his rightful place, none will dare stand against us. Even Senator Durkan will have to bend his knee to our Fuhrer.”

“Durkan on his knees…” Asil snidely remarked. “That is a sight I would like to see.” Then, looking into the chamber, the blonde Ekosian Nazi observed, “How soon will our Leader be ready?”

“Not much longer,” Merok answered back. “While the Deputy Fuhrer has all but finished his physical maturation; mentally, he is still a blank slate.” Taking a deep breath, the Sturmfuhrer flashed a triumphant grin, “We will begin the process of implanting memory engrams very soon.”

“And then…” Asil concluded, her eyes blazing with the fire of the fanatic, “…we will have our Fuhrer back.”

***************************************************

As the gang of young Ekosians approached Manuele and Mere, the two security specialists got up out of their chairs. Both officers unobtrusively slipping into combat stances, Manuele, a friendly grin plastered on his face, asked in as genial tone as he could muster, “What can we do for you?”

One of the young men, whom Manuele judged to be the pack leader, replied with a sneer, ignoring Manuele as he addressed his remarks to Mere, “What are you doing with this off-worlder, Sister?” Flashing a brief leer, he mocked, “You should be with real men…”

“I already am…” Mere riposted, flashing a sweet smile as she glared at the lead male. “All I see here are four stoneless rintas honking and braying.”

Snarling with rage at Mere’s insult, the lead male suddenly lunged at her. Easily dodging his charge, the Ekosian security officer grappled the thug’s arm, twisting it as she brought it up behind his back, jerking it up.

“Uh…Uh…boys…” Manuele warned, brandishing his phaser at the other three toughs who looked ready to join the brawl. “You three stay right where you are unless you want headaches.”

Forcing the bully to his knees, Mere bent over and whispered in his ear, “Where is it?”

“In your hand…” He answered back, also in a whisper as he winced in pain.

Feeling the small piece of paper in the palm of her hand, Mere whispered back, “Very smooth…must have slipped it to me as I was taking you down.” Speaking louder now so that her voice carried, she mocked, twisting the man’s arm just enough to elicit another grimace, “Had enough, rinta?”

“Yeah…yeah…” He cried out, “Just let me go.”

“Get up.” Mere growled as she jerked the hapless would be tough to his feet. Shoving him back towards his compatriots, she sneered contemptuously, “Now…get out…all of you.”

“You heard the lady…” Manuele smirked as he motioned subtly with his phaser, “Now…scoot!” As the four young men quickly disappeared down the stairs, the Sutherland security chief flashed a grin at his companion, “You looked pretty good there, just now…”

“Thanks.” Mere replied simply, returning her partner’s smile.

“But…” Manuele then said, his smile turning into a frown, “I’m afraid we probably scared off our contact.”

“Oh…” His Ekosian companion responded, her smile growing wider as she held out the tiny piece of paper in her hand, “I wouldn’t be so sure of that. You see…that was our contact.”

Laughing, Manuele quipped, “Smooth, Mere…real smooth.” Then, taking the paper from the Ekosian security officer’s hand, he noted a series of numbers written, “These numbers…they look like they might be coordinates.”

“They are.” Mere confirmed. Taking out an Ekosian mini-comp from her purse, she entered in the numbers. A few seconds later, she showed the results to her partner. “It’s a location in the industrial district. It’s a good bet that that’s where your people are.”

Touching his comm badge, Manuele immediately spoke, “Atoa to Sutherland. I think we’ve found them.”

*************************************************************

As she walked back to her cell, accompanied by her two guards, Liz mentally processed her conversation with the Sturmfuhrer. Well, Merok, you’re not going to let me go regardless of what happens. Even if I were to agree to your ‘proposition’—which I have no intention of doing, once you’ve gotten everything I know out of me, I’m dead. And I don’t believe you for a moment when you say that Anara and the ambassador’s lives will be spared. So…what’s one tough, yet cute and sexy starship captain to do? Seeing that this time the guards had their phasers holstered and recognizing that they were approaching a section of the passageway which she remembered led to a series of branching tunnels, an evil grin crossed Liz’s features as a plan took shape.

*********************************************************

“Our agent reports success.” Senator Durkin gloated as the Vorta female smiled beatifically. “It shouldn’t be long until the Federation hostages are released and Merok and his group of thugs are dealt with once and for all.” His smile growing wider, the Ekosian senator quipped, “I had better get ready for my press conference.”

“What if the hostages are killed?” The Vorta asked, curious as to how her ally would respond to sudden changes. “I thought we agreed that the Ambassador should be rescued.”

“True.” The senator responded, “It would be best for Ambassador Offenhouse to survive the attempt. That’s why this is going to call for very careful timing on our part. We need to make sure our inside person in Merok’s camp understands that Offenhouse is to be spared—the others, as we already decided, are expendable. But…” Durkan qualified, “…we cannot give Merok enough time to escape the trap. We need him dead as much as we need Offenhouse alive.” Pausing for a moment, the senator added, “Also…we need to decide what to do about this new piece of information we’ve just obtained…”

“Yes…” The Vorta acknowledged, “…the clone of Melakon. That could be a threat to your position should the process be completed.”

“I’d thought of that.” The senator conceded, “But at the same time, it could be made to work to our advantage.”

“This requires more thought.” The Vorta replied, uncertain as to the new situation. “We should discuss it in more detail later…” The Vorta then added in an almost regretful tone, “However this turns out, it is a pity that you might lose two of your agents…”

“One…” Durkan acknowledged, “…almost surely. But the other…” A smile crossing his features, he demurred, “…she’s surprised me in the past with her abilities. I have a feeling she’ll surprise us again.”

“Perhaps.” The Vorta remarked. “In any event, this whole unpleasant affair should be over shortly with the Ekosian people not even realizing that the Restoration Party is nothing but Melakon’s Nazi Party under another guise.”

“Only in part.” Durkan corrected. “Yes…we are the true heirs of Melakon’s legacy. However, we also reject the legacy of John Gill and Earth’s Nazis. Our path to glory will be built on Ekosian purity.”

“And your Dominion allies…” The Vorta added in an unctuous voice, “…desire only for you to reach that goal with us at your side.”

***********************************************

Watching as Commander Hobson beamed down along with Dr. Murakawa, Lieutenant Atoa, with the Ekosian security officer, Mere Lindos, on one side of him and his assistant tactical officer, Lieutenant Nyota Dryer, on the other, reported, “Sir? We’re ready to begin.”

“Very good, Lieutenant,” The Iceman acknowledged in his usual clipped tone, “Time is of the essence. It won’t take long for the enemy to realize that we’re on to them.” Sweeping the area surrounding the entrance to the underground maintenance tunnels that were serving as the Nazis’ hideout, Hobson ordered, “We’ll try to catch the terrorists in a pincer. Mr. Atoa, you take Captain Lindos and Dr. Murakawa along with one security team and work your way towards grid coordinate 95 Alpha Green from the west; while I take Lieutenants Dryer and Talis and another team and work towards the east.”

“Rules of engagement, Sir?” The New Kauaian asked as he smoothly caught a photon grenade launcher tossed to him by Lieutenant Dryer.

“Standard rules.” Hobson answered back, noting out of the corner of his eye that Dryer was now cradling the other grenade launcher in her arms. “Set phasers to heavy stun. We don’t want casualties unless there’s no other choice.” His eyes now taking on a steely look, the stone-faced commander added, “But, the lives of our people come first. If there’s no other way—then you have my authorization to use deadly force.”

“Understood, sir.” Manuele replied, nodding his head once.

Motioning with his hand towards the entrance, Hobson quietly uttered a single word, “Now.”


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