Two Starfleet officers watched as the shuttlepods took off.
Captain Charlebois said: “Follow Vickers.”
The picture on the viewscreen zoomed out and panned right, following one of the two pods across the skies over south-central Sanjal.
Captain Brownridge, Starfleet Intelligence, blew on his coffee, sipped, and said: “Tell me more.”
Charlebois shrugged. “There’s not much more to tell,” he said. “Over the past six months, the Phalanx has become the largest, most powerful faction in the city. Forty per cent of the south-central district is under their control.”
“And you suspect Vickers of leaking classified information to the Phalangists?”
“Yes. Along with his racketeering, and other illegal activities.”
“Why would he do that?”
“Because they hate the New Order almost as much as they hate the provisional government. Dozens of known and suspected insurgents have been killed in this district since Vickers and his team arrived. I suspect they’ve been passing Target Information Packages to the Phalanx, and letting its death squads do the rest.”
Brownridge drank more coffee and considered. Finally, he said: “That’s pretty rough justice.”
“It’s cold-blooded murder,” said Charlebois, flatly.
The shuttlepod landed in a deserted parking lot, near an improvised armored vehicle and a small group of Cardassians. The pilot’s hatch opened, and Vickers got out. One Cardassian stepped forward to greet him.
“Commander Vickers,” he said.
“Gul Yurat,” said Vickers. He motioned for the Cardassian to follow him. “Come on around back. I’ve got something for you.”
Yurat followed Vickers around to the back of the shuttlepod. Vickers looked around, then banged on the cargo hatch with his fist. The hatch opened, revealing Lieutenant McKinley holding out a Cardassian disruptor rifle.
“Just fell off the truck this morning,” said Vickers.
Yurat accepted the rifle and examined it. “Excellent,” he said. “How many?”
“Six pistols, twelve rifles,” said Vickers. “Compliments of the New Order.”
Yurat looked up, smiled. “I look forward to thanking them for their generosity.” He waved his men over to the shuttlepod.
While Delvern and McKinley distributed weapons, Vickers held out a folded piece of paper. “I need a favor in the meantime,” he said. “A couple of black marketeers who think they don’t have to pay tax.”
Yurat accepted the paper, unfolded it, read it, and nodded. “These men are known to us,” he said. “We will remind them of their civic duty”
“I appreciate that,” said Vickers.
Gul Yurat slung his disruptor rifle and offered Vickers his hand. “Shoulder to shoulder, Commander Vickers.”
The Federation officer shook the Cardassian’s hand. “Shoulder to shoulder,” he said.
The shuttlepod on the viewscreen took off again, heading for district headquarters.
“What do you think?” said Captain Charlebois.
Captain Brownridge finished his coffee. “I think it’ll take a lot more than this to prove that Vickers has been colluding with Phalangist death squads.”
“I’ll get more,” said Charlebois. “I’ve got an informant, on the team.”
Brownridge’s eyes widened in surprise. “Are you serious?” he said. “Who?”
“Lewis to Vickers.”
“The cat is in the bag.”
“Nice work, Lew. We’re on our way back to civilization right now.”
“No problem. One thing: the target personality has a wife and young son. I brought them all in, like you said.”
“Good to hear it. I owe you one, buddy. Vickers out.”
The occupation authority’s district headquarters was a step pyramid of grey stone. Starfleet personnel called it “civilization.” They were discouraged from calling it that in official correspondence, for obvious reasons.
The interior lighting was low, the walls close and oppressive. The interrogation rooms were converted offices on the first floor. The detainees were in room 101. Vickers opened the door and walked in, followed by Delvern and McKinley.
There were three Cardassian civilians inside. The target personality was a mature male, sitting handcuffed to a metal table. A mature female and a very young male—the target personality’s wife and son—were sitting at the table as well. All three looked at the door when it opened. They looked scared, confused, and a little angry.
Vickers gave them a cold smile. “Mr. Atwar?” he said
The target personality said: “Yes—I’m Atwar.”
Vickers nodded. “This is your wife Rayal and your son Rishkat?” he said.
Warily, the handcuffed Cardassian said: “Yes.”
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Mack Vickers of Starfleet Security. We just need to ask you a few routine questions.” Vickers looked back at McKinley and Delvern. “Why don’t you guys take Mr. Atwar’s family next door?”
“Sure thing,” Delvern said. He opened the door, looked at the wife. “Ma’am?”
The female looked at the target personality. When he nodded, she took the child by the hand, and led him out of the room. Delvern and McKinley followed them out. The door closed behind them.
Vickers took a seat across from the target personality.
“I want to speak to a nestor,” the Cardassian said.
“In a moment,” said Vickers. “First, I want you to tell me the names and addresses of all your associates in the New Order.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said the Cardassian.
Vickers sighed, lowered his head, rubbed his scalp. Then he raised his head and looked the prisoner in the eye. “Why do you do make me do this?”
The Cardassian looked back. “Do what?” he said.
“You’ll talk,” said Vickers. “You know you’re going to talk. I’m going to make you talk. I always make you snakes talk. So why do you do this? Why?”
“I want a nestor,” said the Cardassian.
Vickers shook his head, then tapped his combadge. “Vickers to Delvern,” he said.
“Go to work on the wife,” said Vickers.
The Cardassian’s eyes widened. “What are you doing?” he said, uncertainly.
There was a moment of silence. Then, in the next room, a woman screamed.
“Rayal?” said the Cardassian. There was another scream next door. “Rayal!”
“Names and addresses, Mr. Atwar,” said Vickers.
The Cardassian shouted, swore, jumped to his feet, fought against the handcuff.
“Names and addresses.”
The Cardassian started to weep. “Stop it!” he cried, still struggling to pull his hand loose. “Stop it!
The screaming continued. “Give me some names, and the pain will stop,” said Vickers.
“Bastard!” the Cardassian shouted. “Federation bastard! Rayal!
Then, suddenly, the screaming stopped.
After a moment, Vickers’ combadge chirped. “Delvern to Vickers.”
“Mack…Mack, I’m sorry man…the guy’s wife…”
Vickers frowned. “What happened?”
The Cardassian looked stricken. Vickers jumped to his feet. “Dead?
” he shouted. “You idiot—you weren’t supposed to kill
her! What the hell did you do?
“I didn’t do anything, I swear! I was giving her electroshock, and she just…she just
“She must have had a weak heart, or something. I’m sorry, sir.”
The Cardassian collapsed back into his chair. “Yeah, okay,” said Vickers, disgustedly. “It’s not your fault. Go to work on the kid. But be careful
l this time.”
“What?” said Atwar.
“Vickers out.” The Starfleet officer sat back down and eyed his prisoner.
“Does your son
have any medical conditions we should know about?” he said.
Vickers and his teammates walked out of the detention area, laughing and joking. At the security station, Lieutenant Barbara Hardcastle scowled and lowered the force-field gate. “Vickers,” she said, “what the hell were you doing
Vickers grinned and waved his hand dismissively. “Relax, Hardcastle,” he said. “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.”
“Are you kidding?” said Hardcastle. “I could hear the screams from here! You guys are going to get me court-martialled!”
“Nah,” said Vickers. He held up an optolythic data rod. “What you heard was a recording of an old Obsidian-Order interrogation. We put the prisoner in one room, and played this in the next. Made him think we were torturing his wife and kid.”
Hardcastle stared, open-mouthed. Finally, she shook her head and held up her hands. “You guys are sick
,” she said.
The three SURGE officers laughed. “Let’s go, sickos,” said Vickers, pocketing the data rod. “We’ve got work to do.”
The group started to walk away when Hardcastle called after them. “Vickers!” They stopped, and Vickers looked back.
“I almost forgot. I have a message here for you. Your eyes only.”
Vickers looked back at his teammates, shrugged, and said: “Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.”
Delvern and McKinley left the detention area. Vickers went over to the security station, where Hardcastle was raising the force-field gate once again. “Who’s it from?” he said.
Hardcastle held out a padd. “Captain Brownridge, Starfleet Intelligence,” she said.
“Brownridge?” said Vickers. He took the padd, tapped a button on the screen, and read the message that came up. Then, for a moment, he just stood there.
The message read: MATHERS IS A RAT. HE’S WORKING FOR CHARLEBOIS. WATCH YOUR ASS. BROWNRIDGE.
“What does Intelligence want?” said Hardcastle.
Vickers glanced up, smiled. “Nothing,” he said. He blanked the screen, and handed the padd back. “Just a TIP. See you later, Lieutenant.”
It was another hot, humid night in the south-central district of Sanjal. Sheet lightning flashed and thunder rumbled in the distance. The power had not yet been fully restored, so the streets were dark, deserted.
Swiftly, silently, the SURGE team closed in on their objective—another nondescript house in one of the district’s poorest neighborhoods. Koenig and McKinley set up a ladder in the back yard, beneath a second-floor window. As they began to climb, Vickers, Delvern and Mathers crept around to the front of the house and stacked up next to the front door.
Vickers held up his left fist. Delvern hefted the battering ram. Mathers readied his weapon. Behind their balaclavas, their faces were tense with excitement.
They heard the sound of glass breaking in the rear of the house. Vickers pumped his fist. Delvern shouted “Starfleet!” and swung the ram. As the door splintered inward, Mathers charged in and moved left.
Vickers went in, moving right, Delvern close behind him. As they rounded a corner, a Cardassian opened fire with a disruptor pistol.
Vickers ducked back, under cover. Then both Delvern and Vickers leaned around the corner and returned fire. The Cardassian was hit and fell.
The Starfleet officers advanced into the room, covering the Cardassian on the floor. Vickers reached down and carefully removed the disruptor from the dead alien’s hand. Behind them, they heard Mathers say “Clear!”
Delvern and Vickers exchanged a look. Mathers entered the room. He lowered his weapon.
Then Vickers raised the disruptor, took aim, and shot Mathers in the face.
The Shield, Episode One: “Pilot”)