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“Melakon!” Liz gasped in astonishment, “Are you sure?” Shaking her head, the blonde captain chuckled wryly at the expression on her Vulcan science officer’s face, “No…forget I asked.” Her laughter disappearing, Liz continued in a much grimmer tone, “I only wish you were wrong.”

“DNA analysis from the fluid remnant in the chamber was conclusive.” The elderly Vulcan affirmed from his seat on the other side of the conference table. “It matches the genetic drift one would expect from cloning.” Pausing for a moment, Varok added, “The cloning technique was also very advanced—more advanced than one would think that the Ekosians would be able to develop on their own.”

Nodding her head slowly, Captain Shelby continued the Vulcan’s chain of thought, “I think we’re following similar lines here, Mr. Varok.” Turning to Manuele, she asked, “Mr. Atoa? Remember when I told you and Captain Lindos that Merok had to have something backing him?” As the tactical officer nodded his head, Liz addressed the officers at the table, “With this new information regarding this clone of Melakon, I think it’s safe to assume that we know who this backer is…”

“The Dominion.” Commander Hobson concluded as Shelby nodded her head.

“The Dominion isn’t the only power capable of advanced cloning.” Manuele pointed out. “The Orion Syndicate…the Romulans…even disgruntled groups within and without the Federation…all either have or are capable of obtaining such advanced cloning technology.” Pressing on, the New Kauaian argued, “Who’s to say that Merok and his people didn’t just buy it from the Ferengi?”

“You raise some good points, Lieutenant.” Ambassador Offenhouse said, speaking for the first time, “But I’d have to go with Captain Shelby and Commander Hobson’s hunch.” Pausing for a moment to take a breath, the time displaced former businessman explained, “Ekos is too far away from the Romulan sphere of influence for them to want to really put out a whole lot of effort here. As for the Orions…” The ambassador continued, shaking his head, “…there’s no real gain for them here either.”

“What about the Ferengi?” Sam Lavelle asked, picking up for Lieutenant Atoa.

Nodding his head, the ambassador conceded, “Oh yes…the Ferengi would be more than willing to sell the technology to Merok and his people—provided they could afford it. But…” He demurred, raising his hand, “…it’s not just the technology…”

“It is also the trained personnel that are needed to successfully clone from DNA over one hundred years old.” Varok interjected, pointing out, “However, at this time we cannot prove Dominion involvement.”

Shaking his head somberly, Ambassador Offenhouse replied, “I concur, Mr. Varok. While I will state mine and the Captain and Commander Hobson’s suspicions concerning possible Dominion involvement, I’m afraid that will have little impact as regards Ekos’ status.”

“What do you mean?” Anara asked, speaking up for the first time.

Smiling beatifically at his temporary aide, the ambassador explained, “Until they show us they’ve gotten their Nazi problem under control, we can’t risk granting them full membership.” Shaking his head, Ralph continued somberly, “It’s as I expected. For years they’ve tried to deny the Nazis and how deeply they rooted themselves in Ekosian society rather than tackling them head on. Also, like it or not, Durkan and his people do have a point—the Ekosians have a large youth population that possesses deep feelings of alienation and rage—that has to be addressed before Ekos can even be considered for full Federation membership.”

“Have you informed the Ekosian Foreign Ministry as to your recommendations?” Captain Shelby asked.

Nodding his head, the ambassador responded, “Yes. As I expected, they didn’t take it at all well.”

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

“This was just the response I was looking for!” Senator Durkan gloated as he took a sip of Ekosian nectar. “The leaking of the Federation ambassador’s recommendation against full membership for Ekos due to ‘internal political instability’ and stating that Ekos has to deal with the ‘still present influence of Nazism’ has both thoroughly discredited the Unionists and antagonized the Ekosian population.” Beaming, the senator stood up as he addressed the female Vorta sitting in the plush chair on the other side of his desk, “And now, I have to give my speech in which I will be sure to stress not only the arrogance of the Federation, but also its hypocrisy.”

“By pointing out that it was the Federation in the form of John Gill who introduced that ideology in the first place. Very nicely done…” The Vorta praised as Durkan continued to enjoy his triumph. “But, there still seem to be some loose ends such as the possibility of either your agent Asil or Merok talking to the authorities” The Vorta qualified.

“Not to worry…” Durkan replied with a sly grin, “That has already been taken care of. Much as I hated to lose Asil, I’m afraid that she has died of a heart attack thanks to my other agent on the scene. And as for Merok…well, he was found hanging in his cell, apparently he decided to commit suicide rather than face up to his actions—courtesy of a few other agents of mine in the Security Service.”

“Ah…” The Vorta explained, pleased with the senator’s answer. “But there’s still the question of the clone of Melakon—I’m not really sure why you need him as a rallying figure—you seem to be accomplishing that task quite well on your own.”

Chuckling, the senator replied, “What better rallying figure can one ask for, my friend, than a martyr?”

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

24 Ekosian Hours Earlier

“We’ll take these people into custody now.” Captain Mere Lindos of the Ekosian Security Service told Lieutenant Anara Rysyl as the Ekosian officer took charge of the captured terrorists.

“That one there…” Anara said, pointing to where Asil, stood, amongst the other prisoners, “Was Merok’s deputy. You might want to keep a close eye on her.”

“Thank you,” Mere acknowledged with a grin as she motioned for the Ekosian security troopers to separate out the blonde woman from her fellow Nazis, “I’ll take charge of her personally. Tell Manny…” The raven-haired beauty requested with a warm smile on her face, “…that I’ll be in touch with him tomorrow or so to set up our date.”

Approaching Asil, the Ekosian captain took custody of her prisoner, checking her restraints, no one noticing as the barb in her ring penetrated the blonde Nazi’s shirt, stinging the flesh as it injected its poison. “This way!” Mere directed, guiding her charge into the waiting vehicle and then, before entering her vehicle, she pressed a button on her wrist communicator. Receiving an answering beep, Lindos pressed the same button again and then, entering her ground car, the Ekosian officer spoke to the car’s computer, “Central Holding Facilities. Our work here is done.”

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

10 Ekosian Hours Earlier

Ex-Sturmfuhrer Merok sat fuming in his cell. Betrayed by both his former allies, he decided that he would not go down alone. He would take Senator Durkan and his alien allies with him. Calling for the guard, Merok decided that now was as good a time as any to make his confession. The guard finally arriving, accompanied by another officer, Merok stood up. But, as his words formed on his lips, they were suddenly silenced as the first guard presented a stun pistol, firing it. Merok’s last bitter thoughts consisting of but a single word, Burn!

A short time later, the leader of the ‘Soldiers of Melakon’, the man who was to lead Ekos to its glorious future, was dead, hanged from the neck, strangled by a noose made from his bed sheet, his death officially recorded as a suicide.

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

Smiling warmly as he saw the image of the fountain near where they were seated reflected in the eyes of his lovely dinner companion, Manuele, ignoring the glares sent in his direction by Ekosians seated at the other tables, quipped, “This is a lot better place than those tunnels.”

Laughing gently, Mere, this time wearing, instead of her uniform, a striking dark blue evening gown with a plunging neckline decorated by a silver necklace, replied coyly, “I thought that you’d prefer having dinner out of doors underneath the stars.”

“Well…” Manuele, wearing civilian clothes as well—a beige long sleeve shirt with puffed sleeves and brown trousers with brown half boots, remarked, “…you guessed right.” Reminiscing for a moment, he said, “This place—the weather…the atmosphere…the stars…they sort of remind me of home.”

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” Mere said, her foot gently grazing that of the New Kauaian’s.

“Yes, it is,” The New Kauaian answered back, readily agreeing as he reciprocated his partner’s foot play.

“So…” The raven-haired beauty said as she sipped her wine, “How long can you stay?”

“Not long,” Atoa said with a sad shake of the head as a gentle lyric tune wafted through the breeze, “We’re warping out tomorrow morning.”

“Then…” Mere said as she stood up holding out her hand, “…we need to make the most of the time we have…dance with me?”

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

As she entered the Sutherland’s lounge, ‘Rick’s’, Anara immediately spotted Ambassador Offenhouse sitting next to the piano, nursing his drink. Approaching him, she could hear him order the piano player to, “Play it again, Sam.”

“Sam?” Anara asked, confused. “His name’s not Sam. He’s Alec Johannsen and he works in hydroponics.” Addressing the piano player, Anara grinned, “Hi Alec.”

“Hi yourself, Anara.” The pianist grinned back as he played the tune that the ambassador requested, ‘Time Goes By.’

Chuckling, Ralph downed his drink, and then pushed the glass forward for a refill. “I know. But that’s what you’re supposed to say in a place like this.”

Shaking her head, Anara asked as the bartender set out her usual drink on the bar, a Trillian aurea, “What’s going to happen to the Ekosians?”

“I don’t know,” Ralph replied honestly as he sipped his drink. “You caught the local news broadcasts?” As Anara nodded her head, the ambassador continued, “It doesn’t look good. It’s obvious Durkan has people high up—very high up—in the Foreign Ministry, that’s the only way that report could have been leaked. And with the holes in the Security Service…” the ambassador concluded, shaking his head, “I doubt the leaker will ever be discovered.”

“So…” Anara asked, “What can we do?”

“We’ll do everything we can to keep Ekos engaged, of course…” Ralph replied, “…but with the Unionist Party now in tatters and the Restoration Party making massive gains thanks to what happened…I would expect Senator Durkan to call for a vote of no confidence in the Ekosian Assembly in the near future.”

“Do you think they’ll renounce their associate status, then?” Anara asked as she sipped her drink

“Yeah,” The ambassador affirmed in a somber tone, “I think they will. And after that, we’ll have no choice but to honor their decision—after all, it is their world.”

“And then what?” Lieutenant Rysyl persisted.

Sighing, Ambassador Offenhouse finished his drink, “We’ll strengthen our presence on Zeon while keeping the door open for the Ekosians. But…” the ambassador continued, stifling a yawn, “I’m afraid the Dominion…or whoever else is behind this…has won this round. Shaking his head, the time displaced diplomat concluded, “The coming days and months…maybe even years…are going to be very dangerous—for Ekos and the Federation. If we’re going to get through them, we’re going to have to be very sure of what we’re doing because I don’t think we’re going to get too many do overs here.”

“I fear you are right, sir,” Anara agreed as the pair left the bar, “Still…I have faith…”

“Loan me some of yours then.” The ambassador joked grimly as they walked down the corridor together, “Because I seem to be a little short at the moment.”

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

“Where’s the captain?” Hobson, spotting his friend, Lieutenant Commander Jadon Tol, in the corridor, inquired in his usual nasal twang.

“She mentioned something about dancing and frinxing the night away in the holodeck,” Jadon answered back with a laugh. Placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder, the Trill engineer spoke in a low, earnest voice, “Chris…I’m glad Anara made it back safe and sound.” Seeing his old shipmate’s nod, the joined Trill continued to speak, now in a rare hesitating manner, “Look Chris…I know you’ve been more than a little irritated at how I’ve been…flirting…with Anara…”

“Jadon…” Commander Hobson quickly interjected, “You don’t have to apologize or explain anything to me. There’s nothing going on between me and Lieutenant Rysyl. In any event, she’s taken the Oath, so the whole ‘flirting’ issue is irrelevant…”

Chuckling, the worldly Trill answered back. “You’re not fooling me, Chris. I’ve known you for too long and I’ve had five lifetimes of experiences—as both a male and a female—in this sort of thing. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve got nothing to worry about from me.” Cracking a sly grin, the chief engineer jibed, “Besides, there are plenty of other ‘treasures’ in the sea.”

A slight smile momentarily crossing his features, Hobson rejoined, “Thank you, Jadon—although, as I told you, there’s nothing going on between the two of us.”

“Whatever!” The jovial Trill exclaimed in a teasing voice as he walked away laughing. “I’ll see you later!”

Shaking his head, Chris made his way to the holodeck feeling at least a little better than a few moments ago. But…there was still one more thing that needed to be taken care of…and talking to the captain would be the only way to resolve that issue—for both of them.

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

Standing before the holodeck door, Hobson debated as to whether he should enter. The reserved first officer was a private person and as a rule preferred to respect the privacy of others. But, as his mind flew back to that moment in the Sturmfuhrer’s hideout where he saw the captain, her rage overtaking her, poised to deal the death blow to the man who had killed their mentor and friend, Chris knew that he wanted to speak with her. He had to talk to her about that kindly, gentle old man. He knew that they both needed to grieve. The simple truth of the matter was, Hobson admitted to himself, that the Professor was right. The two of them needed each other. Just as she needed him in that hideout to pull her back from the brink, he needed her now so that he could feel. Making his decision, he ordered the door to open.

As the doors slid open, the commander was immediately assaulted by a cacophony of noises, sounds, and images. Allowing his eyes to adjust to the gyrating shapes and strobe lights as his ears adjusted to the loud music, Chris eventually spotted his captain on the dance floor, her movements primal…almost animalistic…even predatory. The normally standoffish first officer stood mouth agape as he saw his captain, wearing a tight tiger striped minidress move about the dance floor, first rubbing sinuously against a leather clad man, and then doing the same to a woman wearing jeans and a tight halter top. Momentarily tempted to turn and leave, Hobson shook his head as he called out, “Captain?”

Pulled from her revels, Shelby snapped back, her voice dripping with anger and rage, “What? Who the hell is it?”

“It’s me, Captain!” Chris called back, “We need to talk…about Professor Davin.”

The name of her old professor once again snapping Liz out of her frenzy, Shelby took a deep breath, “Ok, Commander.” Motioning to the balcony, she ordered, “Upstairs.”

As he reached the second level, Chris noticed, much to his relief, that the loud music had lost a considerable amount of its volume. “Over here…” Shelby said, pointing to an empty booth. Then, sitting down, she handed her first officer a drink. Taking out a pack of cigarettes from her purse, she lit one up as she sipped her drink. “The booze is real…” The captain warned, an amused grin on her face at the surprised look on Hobson’s face after he had taken a tentative sip, “…everything else is fake.” Exhaling a steady stream of smoke, the expression on the blonde captain’s face changed to one of great sadness as she placed one of her hands over that of her first officer’s, “Ok, Chris. Let’s talk about the Professor…I think I’d like that.”

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

After bidding Manuele a sleepy good-bye, Mere withdrew back to her sleeping quarters. Looking down at the recently occupied messed up bed; a warm smile crossed the dark haired Ekosian woman’s face. Turning towards her vanity, Mere sat down and took out a circular object approximately the size of a makeup compact. Opening the compact, The Ekosian security officer spoke, “Open Channel ‘D’.”

Moments later, an image of a distinguished looking mahogany skinned man appeared wearing the uniform of a Starfleet admiral. “How did it go, Mere?” Admiral Samson Glover asked of his ace intelligence operative.

“It’s a mixed bag, I’m afraid.” Mere reported back. “I can personally confirm that we are looking at Dominion involvement here—I got a look at the Vorta pulling Durkan’s strings myself. We also got the Ambassador and the others back safe and sound—although, to be honest…” her lips turned up into a wry grin, “…Captain Shelby and Lieutenant Rysyl did a pretty good job getting out on their own…”

“Still…” The Admiral pointed out, “…they wouldn’t have made it out without your help or that of the rescue teams.” After a momentary pause, Samson urged, “Go on with your report…”

Sighing, Mere continued her narrative, “While we got our people out ok, unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep either Asil or Merok alive.”

“What’s the story on them?” Glover inquired as he took a sip of coffee.

“I didn’t have a choice but to carry out the sanction on Asil.” Mere declared flatly. “Durkan personally ordered me to do it—if I didn’t, I would have risked blowing my cover.”

“It was a hard call, my dear…” the admiral remarked consolingly, “…and for what it’s worth, I think you made the right decision.” Taking a deep breath, he then asked, “What about Merok—I thought he was in a special security lockdown.”

“He was.” Mere confirmed. “He was in isolation and with supposedly politically reliable guards. Unfortunately…”

“Durkan found a way to get to him.” Samson completed, his lips turning down into a frown. “That’s too bad. His testimony in an open court or in a publicized confession would have proved invaluable—the good Senator must have had a fit when he discovered that Shelby and Hobson had taken him alive.”

“He did.” Mere chuckled, but then her laughter suddenly vanished, “For all of three seconds. Then he began making plans.” Her expression taking on a grim tone, the intelligence operative warned, “Don’t make the mistake of underestimating him, sir. He’s capable and he’s ruthless.”

“A dangerous combination.” Glover agreed with an equally somber expression as Mere continued her report.

“We also have another complication…” Mere began, pausing for a moment to catch her breath, “…we found a cloning chamber in Merok’s hideout. DNA analysis confirms that they were cloning Melakon…”

“Melakon?” The Admiral gasped; a look of astonishment on his face, “Now that’s an unwelcome name from the past if ever I heard one.”

“Right.” Mere agreed. “Durkan has apparently gotten to him—I’m not sure what the Senator has planned for him yet, though.

“You need to find out.” Samson directed, “Whatever it is…it can’t be good. You also might have to be ready to carry out either an extraction—or a sanction—if need be.”

“I understand, sir.” Mere acknowledged, “You realize that my cover will most likely definitely be blown here.”

“I know.” Glover replied, giving the young woman a grandfatherly smile, “I know it hasn’t been easy for you Mere. I can’t imagine doing what you’re doing—being a triple agent. Young lady—you’ve got guts to spare.”

Mere answered back with a snort, “More like I’m incredibly stupid…”

“I think that’s a job requirement for all of us going into this business…” Samson retorted with a slight chuckle of his own. “Still…” he asked, his expression taking on a much more serious aspect, “…do you understand why I might need you to do this?”

“Yeah.” Mere answered back equally solemnly. “We can’t have Melakon acting as either a rallying figure for Durkan’s movement—or as a martyr. I’ll do what I have to.”

“I know you will.” Samson replied confidently. Sighing, he concluded the conversation. “Don’t worry, Mere. Durkan and the Dominion might have won this round—but the bout’s not over yet. Just keep your chin down and your guard up.”

“I will…” Mere responded with a grin, “…and you do the same.”

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

Shaking her head in sadness as she watched Senator Durkan’s speech and the crowd of young Ekosians chanting, For Ekos! No…No…No…Federation…No…No…No…Zeon! in loud voices as they pushed against the police barricades, cheering their new spokesman; Daras sighed, grieving for her people. Tears rolling down her cheeks as her attendant helped her into her bed, the elderly Ekosian icon remained silent until after her attendant had left. Turning her head to the side, Daras saw the shades of her dead husband, Eneg, and the Zeon, Isak. “I’m sorry, my husband…my friend. I tried…I truly did…to realize our dreams—but I failed.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she continued her apology, “I failed you and I failed our people.” Sighing, she looked up at the ceiling, “Now…I fear for the future…”

Her breath coming slower and shallower, Daras closed her eyes, passing into sleep one last time. Soon, her chest rose and fell for the last time, Ekos’ living icon alive no more—her dream unfulfilled as the ghosts from the past resurfaced to once again unleash their hate.


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