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Feeling the vibration coming from the necklace she wore around her neck, Asil took a deep breath and then rushed into the Sturmfuhrer’s office. Seeing Merok sitting behind his desk, decanter of liqueur in hand, the blonde Nazi woman blurted out, “Intruders, Sturmfuhrer! Activating the wall monitor, Asil pointed at the combined Starfleet-Ekosian security force storming their hideout. “Somehow they must have discovered our positions.”

“That…” Merok growled as he holstered his pistol, “…or we’ve been betrayed.” His eyes narrowing into slits, the Nazi leader spoke in a low, dangerous voice. “But first…we deal with the Federation. We will discover the traitor soon enough.” Coming around the desk, he put his right arm on his subordinate’s shoulder, “Go now…execute the ambassador and the Deltan woman.”

“What about Captain Shelby?” Asil asked with a sneer.

Activating his wrist communicator, Merok spoke, “Naed? Now.” Turning back to the blonde woman, the Sturmfuhrer’s lips turned up into an evil grin, “Captain Shelby is being taken care of even as we speak. Now…go take care of the others.”

Her right arm coming up into a crisp salute, Asil acknowledged, “At once, my Sturmfuhrer!”

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

“Our agents have received their signals and are now playing their parts in our little drama.” Durkan declared with a smile as he addressed the Vorta woman standing before his desk. “Now…all we have to do is wait.”

“Excellent.” The Vorta replied. “But while we wait, there is so much more we need to discuss…about Ekos and how your new partners, the Dominion, can help you.”

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

Gradually slowing her pace as she and her captors entered the intersection that she had memorized earlier, Shelby heard the tell tale beep of an incoming call signal coming from the first escort’s wrist communicator. Motioning with his other hand for her and the other guard to come to a halt, the first guard activated his communicator, nodding his head as his hand went to the pistol holstered at his waist.

Immediately recognizing the probable content of the message that her escort had just received, Shelby moved quickly. Lashing out, she undercut the legs of the guard standing next to her with a kick to the knees. Snatching the downed guard’s phaser, she fired just as the other guard’s weapon cleared its holster. As the beam, set to maximum, totally disintegrated its target, Liz turned towards the other guard. A grim look on her face as she pointed the lethal weapon at the cringing terrorist, Liz growled, “You want the same thing your friend got?”

“No!” The guard cried, shaking his head violently.

“Good.” Shelby replied, her lips now turned up into a cold smile. “All you have to do is answer my questions. First question: How many guards between here and where the others are being held and where are they located?”

“Two.” The guard quickly responded. “One guard at the intersection three decons ahead. The other guard is a roving guard—his route is irregular…” Seeing the cold look in the eyes of the Starfleet captain, the guard pleaded, “I’m telling you the truth—honest! Please! Believe me!”

Trusting her judgment that the guard was telling the truth, Liz replied, “All right…I believe you.” Watching in satisfaction as the guard visibly relaxed, Liz continued her interrogation. “How many more guards have phasers up ahead?”

“No more.” The guard replied. “The only ones with phasers are the Sturmfuhrer, Asil, us, and a few others. The rest of us just have slug throwers.”

“Good.” Liz responded, nodding her head. “One more question—are there any special surprises or traps I should know about?”

“No.” The guard said, shaking his head. “This far back there aren’t any. The Sturmfuhrer didn’t think they’d be necessary.”

Dialing the setting on both of the phasers she had taken down to a heavy stun setting, Shelby smirked, “I’m going to let you take a nap now. But…if you lied to me…” she threatened, motioning with her phaser, “I’ll be back…and I promise you…what happened to your friend will be nothing compared to what I’ll do to you.” Pulling the trigger as the guard nodded his head, the Starfleet captain looked on as the would-be executioner slumped to the floor. “Ok, Liz…” the captain muttered, “Phase One accomplished. Now we go on to Phase Two.”

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

Motioning downward with his hand, Manuele Atoa crouched as his team neared a T-section in the corridor they’d been following. Creeping up to join him, Dr. Murakawa took out her tricorder. However, before she could activate it, she was stopped by a firm hand grasping her wrist. Turning her head in Manuele’s direction, she saw him shake his head firmly. Nodding her head in understanding, the doctor quietly replaced her tricorder as Mere Lindos joined them. Taking out a small hockey puck shaped object, the Ekosian security officer smiled as she pressed a button and then tossed it. “Eyes!” Lindos whispered urgently as she turned her head away. Averting their eyes immediately on hearing Mere’s warning, the two Starfleet officers’ vision was spared as the stun grenade went off in the center of the intersection.

“Now!” Atoa ordered as he and Mere rushed forward, with Dr. Murakawa and the rest of the team following close behind. Reaching the intersection, Manuele’s lips turned up into a triumphant grin as he spied the downed terrorists. Addressing a security trooper, he ordered, “Crewman Dunn…put restraints on these guys.”

Moving to follow his superior officer’s orders, Dunn smoothly went from one terrorist to the other, binding their hands behind their backs. “That’s the last of ‘em, sir.”

“So far…so good.” Manuele said in a cautious tone. “But I’ve got a feeling it’s going to get rougher from here on out.”

“I fear you’re right.” Mere replied as Doctor Murakawa went from one bound prisoner to the other, checking their vitals.

“They’re ok.” Denise reported. “They should be out for at least a half hour.”

“Good.” Manuele responded. Glancing first down one corridor and then the other, the security chief gritted his teeth. “I hate to do this…but we don’t have much choice. We’re going to have to split up. “Mere…” he directed, pointing in the direction of the corridor going to the left, “You take Dr. Murakawa and two troopers and go that way. “I’ll take the others and go the other way.”

“Right.” The Ekosian security officer acknowledged professionally. “Look out for yourself.” She added as she and her team began to move out.

“You too.” Manuele threw back with a wide grin, “Don’t forget—we’ve got a date!”

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

After first easily dispatching the first guard mentioned by her prisoner, and then evading the roving sentry, Shelby found herself crouched in an alcove ten meters from her former cell. Spotting the single sentinel at the door, Liz raised the antique phaser in her hand, and, taking careful aim, began to squeeze the trigger until the sound of footsteps coming in her direction caused her to lower the weapon as she withdrew deeper into the shadows.

The sound of her boots striking the deck echoing throughout the corridor, Asil approached the sentry guarding the cell containing the Federation prisoners. “The Federation and their lackeys are attacking us!” She declared as she drew her phaser from its holster. “Sturmfuhrer Merok has given orders for the Deltan prisoner to be executed at once!”

“What about the Federation ambassador?” The guard asked as he turned towards the keypad next to the door and began punching in numbers.

“Our leader…” Asil replied, an evil grin crossing her otherwise lovely features, “…thinks that he might be useful should we need a hostage to cover our retreat. I’m to take him…” the blonde smoothly lied, “…to the Sturmfuhrer.”

Listening intently to the terrorists’ conversation, Shelby grimaced as she weighed the odds against her. Not much choice. Liz sighed inwardly; I’m only going to get one shot here if we’re all going to get out of this alive, so I better get it right the first time.

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

“Damn, they’re putting up a fight!” Nyota shouted as she downed yet another of Merok’s terrorists.

“I know.” Hobson replied with a worried voice as he fired his phaser once again, causing yet another Nazi to slump down stunned to the deck. “How many does that make so far?”

“I counted six.” Dryer responded grimly, “We must be making a dent though…their fire’s starting to die down a little.”

“Unfortunately, they’re making a dent on us too.” Hobson declared with a frown as a high pierced shriek came from on of the Ekosian troopers accompanying the Starfleet party.

As the medic rushed to assist the wounded trooper, Nyota observed, her lips turning down into a worried frown, “We’re taking too long. I’m afraid that if Atoa’s run into similar problems…”

“We’ll get to them, Lieutenant.” Hobson quickly interjected, his face taking on a determined look. “But we’re going to need to flank these bastards.”

“Leave that to me, sir.” Nyota grinned as she spotted a debris pile out of the corner of her eye. Signaling a trooper to join her, Dryer called out, “Just keep those sons of bitches pinned down.

“Go.” Hobson ordered as he and the rest of his team laid down a withering covering fire with their phasers.

Moving swiftly, Nyota and her partner dashed towards a debris pile that she had spotted moments earlier. Diving under cover as the phaser fire between Hobson’s group and the terrorists picked up, Nyota cracked a sly grin as she took in her position. “Perfect!” The security officer exclaimed as she and her partner took careful aim at the remaining terrorists crouched under a hastily erected barricade. “Now!” Blue light lanced from their phasers, bringing down the surviving terrorists in one blow. Waving her hand towards Hobson, the ebony skinned lieutenant called out in an exultant tone, “We got ‘em.”

“Good.” Hobson called back. Then, after motioning for two of the Ekosian troopers accompanying them to carry their wounded comrade back to safety, the commander pointed down the recently cleared corridor. “Let’s move, people. Our time’s running out.”

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

Willing herself to relax as the door opened, Anara saw Merok’s blonde deputy standing next to the door guard, the blonde with her phaser drawn and pointed at the Deltan woman. “Where’s the Captain?”

“You’ll see her soon enough.” Asil responded with an evil grin. Seeing Ralph out of the corner of her eye, she then ordered, “You! Step towards the back of the cell and get on your knees. Following the blonde Nazi’s instructions, the ambassador did as he was told. “Now…” Asil gloated as she pointed her weapon at her female prisoner, “Your friends will see for themselves the cost of defying us.”

“You’re a fool.” Anara responded defiantly. “This isn’t going to accomplish anything.” Seeing the male guard’s weapon wavering ever so slightly in his hand, Anara smiled inwardly. Looking past her female captor, the Deltan operations officer addressed the rest of her remarks to the other guard, speaking in a low, seductive tone, “You don’t really want to hurt me…do you? I’m much more valuable to you alive…”

“Comrade Asil…” The guard stammered, beads of sweat on his brow, “Are you sure that the Sturmfuhrer…”

Wheeling about quickly, Asil backhanded the guard with her free hand, “Shut up, you fool! Can’t you tell that alien whore is influencing you with her pheromones?”

Seizing the opportunity provided by Anara’s distraction, Shelby fired her weapon, the blue beam lancing out from her phaser striking the blonde woman, stunning her at once. However, before she could fire on the other guard, Anara lashed out, her kick sending the hapless sentry’s weapon clattering across the cell as she struck again, this time with the flat of her hand, impacting on the bridge of the larger Ekosian’s nose, forcing him backwards in pain, the stun beam from the captain’s phaser soon rendering him unconscious as well.

“Good job, Lieutenant.” Liz complimented as she stepped out from her alcove.

“Thank you, sir.” Anara replied with a shaky grin as she turned towards the Federation diplomat cringing in the back, “Are you going to be ok, Ambassador?”

“I…I guess so…” Ralph groaned as he staggered to his feet. Shaking his head glumly, he said in a pitiful tone, “I’m sorry…I’m afraid I wasn’t much help to you just now. “

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, sir.” Anara replied in a compassionate tone. “I was afraid I was going to die as well.”

“But you…” The ambassador feebly protested, “At least you were able to do something! While I didn’t do anything but…”

“Ambassador…” Liz remarked encouragingly as she joined her newly freed companions, “You had two stone cold terrorists pointing phasers at you. We got lucky in that Anara’s pheromones were able to distract one of the guards long enough so that I could get in a shot and Anara could act. Otherwise…” She shook her head glumly as she remembered that most of the calculations that she had ran earlier had ended with at least one, and often with two, deaths, “…I’m not sure all of us would have gotten out of this.”

“Thank you, Captain…Anara…” The ambassador replied, grateful to the Starfleet officers for their face-saving gestures. “So…” he asked, looking out the cell into the corridor, “What do we do now?”

“We lock these two clowns up…” Shelby growled, barely overcoming the temptation to kick the female Nazi lying at her feet in her side as she had not so long ago done to her, “And then…” Liz concluded, her lips turning up into a grim smile, “We pay a certain Sturmfuhrer a visit.” Seeing the inquiring looks on both Anara’s and Ralph’s faces, Liz frowned, “I’ve got a score to settle with that bastard.”

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

Motioning with her right hand for her team to stop, Mere pointed towards a slender trip wire. Tracing the wire, the Ekosian security officer smirked triumphantly as she recognized the phaser emitters on either side of the corridor.

“Nasty.” Denise remarked as Mere disarmed the trap. “That would have gotten us all.”

“Yeah.” Mere acknowledged, “No question—they were ready for us.”

Taking out her tricorder, Dr. Murakawa gestured towards the activation button. Receiving Mere’s nod of consent, the doctor activated the device, prodding the Ekosian woman with her elbow as the tricorder began beeping, “I’m picking up traces of Deltan pheromones.”

“Can you get a location?” Mere asked as she looked curiously at the medical device.

“Yeah,” Denise replied. “It’s coming from about a hundred meters ahead.”

“Let’s go then but keep an eye out for any more surprises.” The Ekosian officer ordered as she and the rest of her party began to proceed down the corridor.

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

“Sir!” Lieutenant Dryer called out, pointing towards the floor beneath him. “An access panel!”

As Commander Hobson and the rest of his party clustered around the panel, their weapons drawn, the Sutherland’s executive officer addressed his subordinate, “Are you picking up any life signs, Lieutenant?”

“No sir,” Nyota reported and then added a note of caution, “But don’t forget sir, these materials do a pretty good job of blocking our scans.”

“Which means that we could be facing a small army in there,” The Iceman grimaced. Coming to a quick decision, the commander addressed his team, “Once we open that panel, we move smart and fast.” Addressing his security officer, Hobson said in a dry voice, “All right, Lieutenant Dryer…let’s see what’s inside.”

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

Hearing the sound of running feet, Liz put her right hand in the air, gesturing for her two companions to halt. Taking a quick peak around the corner, she quickly ducked back under cover as five Nazis ran down the corridor. “Looks like things are heating up.”

“Our people must be getting close.” Anara whispered as she clutched the phaser in her hand.

The sound of phaser fire ringing out from the end of the corridor the guards rushed down, Liz smiled back, “I’d say you’re right, Lieutenant.” Then, peering again around the corner, this time seeing only an empty passageway, Liz motioned with her hand, “Let’s go.”

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

“Sounds like we’re really screwing up their day!” A crewman shouted as Lieutenant Atoa brought down yet another Nazi terrorist with his phaser.

“Yeah, sir…” Another crewman called out. “Looks like their fire’s dying down.”

“I don’t think it’s just us,” Atoa replied, “I have a feeling they’re dealing with another problem.”

“You’re right, Lieutenant! Look!” The first crewman called out as Mere approached with her team from a side corridor.

“Told you!” Manuele chuckled as the beam from his phaser impacted on the body of a terrorist. “Hey, Mere!” The New Kauaian called out, “Fancy seeing you here!”

“Nice to see you too!” The Ekosian captain shouted back as her team drew closer. Smiling as she approached the New Kauaian, Mere reported, “Dr. Murakawa found signs of Deltan pheromones, but when we got there, all we found were two prisoners trussed up and locked in a cell.”

“They must have got away.” Manuele concluded with a smirk.

“That’d be my guess.” Mere replied, a grin forming on her own face. “So…what do you want done with the prisoners?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Atoa answered back “Leave them where they are—they’re not going anywhere.” Pausing for a moment to consider his options, the Sutherland security chief declared, “Right now we need to find our people and link up with Commander Hobson’s group.” Turning towards Dr. Murakawa who had also joined them, Manuele asked, “Can your tricorder pick up any signs of Deltan pheromones now?

Taking her tricorder out and activating it, Denise scanned the area, “Got it.” She announced triumphantly. “Faint traces moving in a north-northeasterly direction.”

“All right, people!” Manuele called out as he shouldered the photon grenade launcher, “Let’s move out.”

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

“Damn!” Ralph shouted as Anara shoved him to the floor, a phaser bolt passing through what would have been his midsection had he remained standing.

“Sorry, sir,” Anara apologized as she returned fire, “But there wasn’t time.”

“It’s ok,” Offenhouse said with a grimace as he crept back behind the Deltan woman’s position. “How many of them are there?”

“Too many,” Shelby replied grimly as another burst of phaser fire wracked their position. Seeing the terrorists preparing to rush their position, the petite starship captain took a deep breath. “Get ready, you two. Things are about to get dicey here.”

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

“Sturmfuhrer!” One of the terrorist’s underlings, panic growing in his eyes, called out as he rushed into the Nazi leader’s office, “The prisoners have escaped, and our defense perimeter has been breached.

Merok, his eyes showing not an ounce of panic, replied in a calm voice as he took hold of the messenger’s shoulder in vise like grip as he fixed his eyes on that of the frightened young man, “What does our leader, Melakon say in his Writings?”

Gaining strength from his superior’s confidence, the youth answered back, “That our victory is inevitable.”

“Why?” Merok prompted as he gazed into the younger man’s eyes, taking his measure.

“Because we are the Race!” The young man responded. Seeing his leader nodding his head approvingly, the young man finished, “Even though some might have to sacrifice for the good of all…”

“That’s right, my boy!” Merok grinned approvingly, deciding that he wouldn’t have to kill the young man for cowardice. “Now…get out there and show us all that our Leader was right.”

“Yes sir!” The young man, his flagging spirits buoyed by his leader’s pep talk, rushed back out into the corridor determined to give his life and soul for the party and the cause.

As the young man left, Merok, pushing the button hidden beneath his desk, walked into the cloning chamber as soon as the door slid open. Waiting until the door was securely closed and locked behind him, the Sturmfuhrer turned his attention to the lead scientist, “How long until the memory process is complete?”

“Fifteen minutes, Sturmfuhrer!” The scientist responded.

“We might not have fifteen minutes,” The terrorist leader replied, the grimace on his face reflecting his anger at this news. “You have five minutes or…” Pulling his pistol, Merok warned in a low, dangerous tone, “I’m going to get a new lead scientist.”

“Yes…Sturmfuhrer…” The scientist stammered as he immediately went back to work on his console.

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

“Dammit!” Nyota spat out as a green energy bolt slashed between her and Commander Hobson, bringing one of the Ekosian troopers to the deck screaming as he died. “They’ve got a frinxing disruptor cannon! Where the hell did they get a frinxing disruptor cannon?”

“Probably the same place they got all these damned hand phasers.” Hobson deadpanned as he plastered himself to the side of the corridor, another green bolt just missing him.

“Flash grenade?” One of the Ekosian troopers asked as he produced one of the hockey puck shaped devices.

“Not going to work this time…” Nyota sighed, “They’ve got helmets with full face anti-glare visors.” Taking a deep breath, she declared in a grim tone as she took the grenade launcher that she had slung earlier behind her back, “Only one way to take out that cannon and clear this corridor. It’s the lowest yield grenade we’ve got, sir.” She said as she loaded one of the round projectiles into the weapon’s chamber. “Still…it’ll kill everyone within a fifteen meter radius, trash that damned disruptor cannon, and knock those doors they’re guarding clean apart.”

“Agreed. But we’ve got to do this by the numbers, Lieutenant.” Hobson affirmed before calling out to the terrorists, giving them one last chance to give up, “Attention! This is the only warning you will receive! Cease firing! Drop your weapons and march out into the corridor with your hands up and none of you will be hurt!”

In response, the corridor lit up with disruptor bolts as a young man shouted out, “Hail to the Fuhrer!”

“Well…” Lieutenant Dryer remarked in a grim voice, “Looks like we got our answer.”

“Very well, Lieutenant Dryer…” Chris commanded in a cold voice as he received a confirming nod from his Ekosian liaison, “Kill the bastards.”

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

Hearing the tell tale sounds of a quick exchange of phaser fire and then silence, Ambassador Offenhouse asked, “What happened?”

“I’m not sure,” Liz responded in a hushed tone only to feel a tremendous weight lift when she heard a familiar voice calling out commands from the end of the corridor. Hearing the sound of footsteps approaching their position, the captain and her companions knelt down and aimed their weapons, ready to fire the moment a target appeared. Her finger on the trigger, Shelby breathed a sigh of relief as she recognized the gold and black clad form of her chief tactical officer. “Don’t shoot!” She called out, her words intended for her compatriots just as much as for the rescue team taking defensive positions. “We’re friendlies.”

“Captain?” Manuele called out. “Is that you? Is everyone safe?”

“Yeah!” Shelby called back. “Anara and the Ambassador are with me and we’re unhurt!”

“That’s good news!” Lieutenant Atoa replied as he and his team moved forward to join their lost shipmates.

As Dr. Murakawa quickly ran a medical tricorder over the rescued officers, the captain instructed, addressing Anara and the security officers in Atoa’s party, “Anara…I need you and the others to round up the prisoners we have and make sure the Ambassador gets back to the ship safe and sound. Dr. Murakawa, you go with them.” Turning towards Atoa, Shelby declared, “We’ve got to get to Merok’s office before that son of a bitch gets away.”

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

Rushing the Nazi redoubt, Nyota Dryer looked on at the destruction caused by the little photon grenade as her commanding officer, Commander Christopher Hobson, arrived on scene. “Damn.” The ebony skinned security officer swore as her eyes took in two massive doors literally blown off their housings, while the disruptor cannon that had caused them such grief just moments ago had been reduced to nothing more than a few shreds of twisted metal. As the medic approached, Nyota waved him off, “Don’t bother…” she said in a grim voice as she pointed at a set of shadowy figures on the wall, “That’s all that’s left of ‘em.”

“Let’s keep our wits about us.” Hobson urged in his usual nasal tone as he motioned forward with his hand. “Go.”

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

“This is the spot.” Shelby declared as they neared the Sturmfuhrer’s headquarters, surprised at the lack of guards at the entrance. “Looks like someone else got their attention.”

“Probably Commander Hobson and his team.” Manuele surmised. “Earlier we heard a large boom that I think might have come from one of these jewels.” He smirked as he held up a photon grenade.

“Serves the bastards right.” Liz spat out as the image of her fallen professor once again intruded on her consciousness. “Mr. Atoa…” She commanded, “…you’re with me.” Turning towards the Ekosian security officer, the captain further instructed, “Captain Lindos…you and the others cover us.”

“Understood.” Mere responded as the captain and her security chief crept forward into the corridor. Speaking softly, she pointed towards a junction. “Ok, there’s only one way in and that’s straight ahead.” Gritting her teeth, the captain turned towards her New Kauaian tactical officer, “You ready, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir.” Manuele responded, the adrenaline pumping through the system. “Just give the word.”

“Now! Liz whispered, the pair rushing through the door into the Sturmfuhrer’s office.

“Looks like the rat’s escaped.” Manuele cursed as his eyes scanned the room.

“Maybe…” Liz replied dubiously, “…but I have a feeling…” she muttered as she walked over to the area that she had spied the first time she was in this office. “Ah!” The petite starship captain cried out triumphantly as she traced out the lining of the secret door with her fingers, “Here it is!” Shaking her head as she looked for a control panel, Shelby asked rhetorically, “Now…all we’ve got to do is get the damned thing open.”

“Maybe Mere might have an idea.” Manuele suggested as he motioned with his hand for the Ekosian security officer and the rest of her group to come into the room.

Entering the office, Mere looked about, “Merok sure knows how to live well.” The raven haired Ekosian remarked, the contempt in her voice obvious to all.

“If my instincts are right…” Liz replied as she picked up an expensive looking vase, “…he’s got some powerful people backing him up so that he could afford all his little toys.” Hearing footsteps approaching, the captain held up a hand. “Shhh…company’s coming.” She whispered as she and the others crouched down behind the office furniture, ready to turn the entranceway to the office into an instant kill zone for anyone foolish enough to blunder into their trap. Listening closely as the footsteps and voices grew louder; a broad smile broke out on Shelby’s face as she heard Hobson’s nasal twang.

“Dryer…ready a flash grenade. On three…”

“Wait!” Elizabeth called out. “It’s Captain Shelby.”

“Captain?” Hobson’s voice rang out, a mixture of suspicion and relief. “If that is you, come out slowly so that we can see you.”

“All right, Commander, I’m coming out!” Liz shouted back as she emerged from the office with her hands up.

Seeing that it was in fact the captain standing before him, Hobson nodded his head, “It’s good to see you again, Captain.” Looking about and not spying Anara, the Sutherland first officer inquired, his normal nasal voice not able to completely hide his anxiety for the Deltan operations officer, “Where’s Anara…and the Ambassador?”

“She’s fine. They’re both fine.” Liz replied, a slight smile on her face as her senses picked up on the note of concern in her first officer’s voice towards the Deltan operations officer. “I sent them back to safety.”

Almost visibly sighing in relief, the normally stoic first officer then asked, his voice now taking on an almost acerbic quality. “Where is the leader of these ‘Soldiers of Melakon’?”

“In here, I think.” Liz, motioned with her hand as she went back into the office, followed rapidly behind by Manuele, Hobson, and Lieutenant Dryer. “There’s a door over there…” She said, pointing towards the location of the secret door, “Unfortunately…I haven’t been able to find a way in.”

Taking her tricorder, Nyota scanned the door. “That’s a solid duranium door. It’ll take us hours to phaser our way through,” she concluded, shaking her head in dismay.

“Damned.” Liz cursed. “Well…” The captain said as she considered various options, “…if we can’t go through, then we need to look for a key. Someone like Merok is sure to leave a way out for himself in case something happens, and he couldn’t get out by transporter…”

“Like the villain in a bad holonovel…” Manuele interjected with a grin.

“Exactly.” Shelby replied, nodding her head in assent.

The problem is…” Chris observed as he began feeling his way along the side corridor’s walls, “…the key might not be activated by touch—it could work via retinal scan or by a light signal…”

“Yeah…it could…but I don’t think so…” Liz demurred as she began to inspect the desk, picking objects up and setting them down and feeling about the desk with her fingers. “I’m betting that there’s a simple method—if nothing else as a fall back to the fall back.”

“I’ve found something!” Manuele called out as he pressed a recessed area of the wall to reveal a valve mechanism.

“So did I!” Liz grinned as her fingers rested on a small button located underneath the desk.

“It might not be a good idea to push that button, sir.” Chris warned as he approached the desk. “Assuming it is, in fact, an access button; it might be booby-trapped.”

“I agree, sir.” Manuele chimed in. “If Merok did use it to get that door opened, it makes sense that he’d make sure no one else could use it.”

“Good point, gentlemen.” Shelby conceded as she walked towards the valve that Atoa had discovered earlier. ““That’s our way in,” She said, turning the handle as the other two officers readied their weapons as, with a hiss of escaping air, the door slid open.

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

Readying a stun grenade, Liz tossed it into the secret room the moment the door opened wide enough to admit it. “Now!” She shouted as the grenade went off, she and the others rushing into the room, phasers drawn and ready.

“What is it?” Manuele asked, spying an empty cylinder with two men wearing white lab coats slumped down, stunned, next to it.

“I’m not sure.” Hobson answered, “But whatever was in it was taken out not so long ago.” He noted as he pointed at the fluid that had still not drained out of the chamber yet.

“Where’d they go?” Lieutenant Dryer asked as she and Manuele scanned the room looking for an alternative way out.

“I think I have an idea.” Liz replied glumly as she pointed at a transporter pad.

“Transporter console.” Atoa interjected as he examined the control console, “And…” he smiled, “…it seems the last coordinates are still in the system.”

“Could be a trap.” Chris pointed out, “We could end up materializing inside a cell or in the middle of a kill zone or in a wall.”

“Possibly.” Liz allowed, “But I don’t see as how we have a choice. But…” She smiled as her eyes fell upon the satchel containing photon grenades carried by Lieutenant Atoa, “…I think we can at least throw ‘em a little surprise.

Smiling slyly as his captain held out her hand, Manuele took out one of the little grenades, placing it in her hand. “Here you go, sir. You can set it for up to ten seconds by pushing here.” He instructed, pointing at one of two recessed buttons on the otherwise smooth service, “This button will…”

“Thanks, Manuele…” Shelby interrupted with a grin as she held the tiny explosive in her hand, “But I think I remember how to use one of these—it wasn’t that long ago that I was in security.”

Walking towards the transporter pad, the captain announced, “Ok…here’s the plan. After the grenade goes off, Manuele, I want you to transport me to the same coordinates.”

Interrupting, Commander Hobson cleared his throat, “Sir…”

“I know what you’re about to say, Chris…” Shelby steamrollered, cutting off her executive officer, “But the answer is no—I’ve got to do this alone.”

“Sir…” Hobson persisted, his icy veneer cracking as a pleading look appeared in his eyes, “Professor Davin was my friend too.”

Pausing for several moments as she and her first officer silently looked into each other’s eyes, Liz nodded her head slowly, sighing, “Very well, Commander Hobson…you can come along—we’ll let the court-martials sort themselves out later.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Chris replied, a rare smile appearing on his face.

“Don’t thank me yet, Commander.” Liz answered back, a wry grin on her face, “By the time Admiral Ross gets through with us, we’re both liable to be ensigns permanently assigned to waste disposal duty in a cargo freighter.” Setting the delay to the maximum ten seconds, Liz placed the grenade on the pad, “Energize!” She ordered as Manuele operated the transporter controls, sending the tiny package on its way to its detonation.

“Well…” Liz quipped as she and Commander Hobson took their places on the transporter pad, “…our little present should have said hello by now.” Addressing Manuele once again, the captain ordered, “Mr. Atoa, if you don’t hear from us after ten minutes, I want you to return to the ship and report back to Admiral Ross.”

“But sir…” The New Kauaian protested only to be silenced by Shelby’s raised hand.

“No buts, Lieutenant. And no rescues.” The captain emphasized, “If you don’t hear from us, follow your orders and get back to the ship. Understood?”

“Aye, Sir.” Manuele reluctantly acknowledged.

“Good.” Liz replied as she and Commander Hobson drew their weapons, “Energize.”

“Energizing.” Lieutenant Atoa acknowledged as he activated the transporter controls, saying a silent prayer as the captain and first officer both dematerialized before him.

Turning towards her superior, Lieutenant Dryer asked, “What now, Manny?”

“Now…” Manuele replied laconically, “We wait.”

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

Rematerializing in the empty room, both Shelby and Hobson noted with grim satisfaction the shadowy figures burnt on to the surrounding walls.

“Looks like Merok had a little greeting party set up for us.” Liz noted as she pointed with her weapon towards the closed door.

“So it would seem.” Hobson replied, nodding his head as he took position to the side of the door.

Seeing her first officer’s nod of the head, Liz moved to the other side of the door. Mouthing wordlessly a count to three, the captain pushed a button next to the door, guessing correctly that it was the door control. The door quickly sliding open, the two Starfleet officers stormed into the room.

“It’s all over, Merok!” Liz shouted, diving for cover as she stunned two of the terrorist’s lackeys as her partner quickly moved to a flanking position behind a control console, a phaser beam barely missing him.

“Not yet, Captain,” The terrorist replied as he returned fire, causing both Starfleet officers to duck behind cover, giving the Sturmfuhrer the time he needed to dart out a back opening.

Spitting out a curse as the murderer of her old mentor took off, Liz pursued, Commander Hobson close on her heels. “This way!” The captain called out as she pointed down a lengthy corridor. “It’s the only way he could have gone.

“Right, sir!” Chris agreed, but then, placing a hand on his commanding officer’s shoulder, he advised, “But first…” Picking up what looked like a padd, the first officer tossed it down the corridor. Both officers shielding their eyes as a torrent of sparks erupted from where the padd landed, Hobson observed, “The deck’s electrified.”

Pointing at what looked like a locker, Liz flashed a sly grin, “I bet we’ll find what we need in these…” She said as, opening a locker, she found a pair of rubber boots on the bottom. Finding a similar pair in the adjacent locker, both officers quickly changed into the safety boots. “Good catch.” Shelby complimented as the pair resumed their pursuit.

“Thank you.” Chris replied simply as they reached a closed door at the end of the corridor. “No sign of a lock or access panel.” Hobson muttered, shaking his head.

“We’ll burn our way through, then.” Liz responded as she pulled the trigger of her phaser only to have nothing happen. “Hand me your weapon.” She requested, taking Hobson’s phaser and firing it at the door, only to find that it didn’t work either. “Damned.” Shelby cursed, “He must have activated a dampening field.”

“We’ve come too far to be denied now.” Chris remarked, his expressionless face barely hiding his growing frustration at not being able to catch the elusive terrorist.

“We’re not done yet, Commander.” Shelby declared as she looked carefully around the door. “I don’t believe it!” She laughed, pointing at a small, almost imperceptible, imperfection on the far right side of the door. “It’s a magnetic seal,” She explained as she probed with her fingers, finding four tiny protrusions. “That’s our way in!” She proclaimed triumphantly.

“Are you sure, Captain?” Hobson asked, “This looks to be far too convenient for my tastes.”

“It could be a trap.” Liz admitted, “But…I don’t think we have a choice.” Motioning for her first officer to take the other side, the captain pressed the protrusions simultaneously, a smug smile crossing her face as the door slid open. Rushing in, Liz and Hobson, seeing Merok and a hooded man making for what appeared to be a transporter pad, lunged at the pair. Catching Merok by his knees in a flying tackle, Shelby brought the Nazi leader down, the impact of his hand hitting the deck causing the Sturmfuhrer to loosen his grip on his slugthrower.

Striking quickly, Liz pried the weapon from the Nazi’s grasp, sending it sliding across the floor. Her rage at the murder of her dear friend pouring out of her, Shelby pounded at the now prostrate Merok, striking him again and again.

His lunge missing his target, Hobson, picking himself from the floor, chased after the hooded figure, picking up Merok’s slugthrower in the process. Finally catching up to the hooded man, Chris cursed as the stranger disappeared in the transporter. Rushing to the control panel, the normally stoic first officer uttered an especially vile oath as he saw that the destination coordinates had been erased this time.

Dejected at his failure and with slugthrower in hand, Chris retraced his steps back to where he had left the captain, expecting her and the terrorist leader to still be locked in their struggle only to watch in stunned amazement as his captain had the now helpless Merok down on the deck, ferociously beating him with her fists. “Captain!” The first officer vainly called out, his voice having no effect as Shelby drew her hand back for what Hobson knew was a killing stroke at Merok’s windpipe. “Captain!” Chris called out even louder, finally getting Liz’s attention just before she launched the fatal blow.

“He killed Ledron!” Shelby cried out, her face moist with tears, her hand hovering dangerously over the Nazi’s windpipe.

“I know, Captain.” Chris replied in a low, soft voice, “But this isn’t the way.” He said, gently shaking his head, “The Professor wouldn’t want his death to be avenged. Not in this way. He wouldn’t want you to throw away your career…your life…for someone like this.”

Her hand wavering as she looked down on the cringing pathetic figure beneath her, the red haze slowly disappeared from Liz’s eyes. “You’re right, Chris. Thank you.” Liz sobbed as she rose off Merok’s prostrate form. “Take the bastard—he’s all yours.”

Exhaling in relief as Shelby rose to her feet; Hobson yanked the Nazi leader up. Ripping the Sturmfuhrer’s shirt off of him, the Sutherland first officer bound the Nazi leader’s hands behind his back with the torn fabric. “There’s a transporter room at the end of the corridor.” Chris remarked as he pushed Merok ahead of the pair. “The other man got away, I’m afraid, but we should be able to use it to beam back to the surface.”

“It’s all right, Commander.” Liz consoled as she placed her hand on her first officer’s shoulder, “The Ekosians will get him.”

“I’m sure, Captain.” Hobson answered back as he entered in the coordinates for the surface into the transporter console. Taking his place on the pad on the other side of Merok, the first officer asked as the transporter began the dematerialization process “I wonder who he was.”


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