A team of security and medical officers reported to the ready room to investigate every centimeter of the room. Following the phaser sweeps of the entire ready room, the investigators conducted extensive scans for evidence that a Changeling had been there. Limis took a blood test to assure she was not a Changeling. One security officer stood on an anti-gravity lift to scan the part of the ceiling from which the gelatinous material came. Other security officers were using different scanning devices to check for cellular residue and traces of Changeling DNA.
Doctor Aurellan Markalis and a male Denobulan medical technician, meanwhile, slowly transferred the gelatinous material into a sample container. All Limis could do was stand behind her desk and trust these officers knew how to operate all the different scanning devices. Markalis handed off the container to the med-tech and then reported to Limis.
“It’s definitely the remains of a Changeling,” the doctor stated.
“If it’s dead,” Limis replied, “wouldn’t it have turned to ash?”
“The working theory is that Changeling’s have a genetically implanted suicide gland turning the dead body to ash. This sample does not contain enough mass to constitute a whole body. It’s more like a humanoid’s dead skin cells.”
After conferring with one of the security deputies, Ra Hoth then walked over Limis’s desk. “From what we can tell,” he stated. “We can find no other evidence of a Changeling.”
“Passing that blood test should have told you that,” Limis quipped. “At least we’re a step closer in the investigation. Round up the engineering crew to conduct blood screenings on each of them.”
Members of the gamma shift engineering staff walked into sickbay one at a time to submit a blood sample. Tarlazzi was the first as de facto
chief engineer. He passed. Saul Mavik was next. He shot a hostile glare at Ra Hoth as Markalis applied the hypo-syringe. Markalis shook the small vial, but the blood stayed red. The glare transformed into a triumphant grin though Ra Hoth’s expression remained neutral.
Willem Margose followed. Markalis slowly applied a hypo-syringe. Blood trickled into the vial. Once Markalis held it in front of her eyes, the blood morphed into Changeling protoplasm. Ra Hoth and the two human security guards flanking him raised their raised their phaser rifles. Margose’s eyes widened in disbelief.
Margose was confined to the brig despite his insistence that he would put up more of a fight if he actually was a Changeling. That often was the modus operandi
of a spy. On her way to the detention, Limis contemplated how easy apprehending the saboteur was. She had a gut feeling that whoever was the real saboteur was trying to throw off ship’s security.
“He hasn’t been very cooperative,” Ra Hoth told Limis, upon her arrival. “He won’t even give his name.”
Limis raised a hand asking the Triexian security officer to step aside. She stepped in front of the cell entrance shooting the prisoner a cold stare. “What did you hope to accomplish?” she asked “Were you hoping see how easily you could trigger a warp core breach?”
Margose remained silent, leaving his interrogators to wonder if that was an indication of guilt.
“What were you hoping to accomplish?” Limis continued. “To destroy this ship and other ships in the Seventh Fleet?”
“I will not answer any questions without the benefit of legal counsel,” Margose angrily hissed.
“You think hiding behind the rights of Federation citizens is going to get you off the hook? I’ll put a stop to whatever it is you are planning, with or without your cooperation. And then I’ll make sure you never see the light of day again.”
Margose wanted to lunge at the forcefield that was incarcerating him. He chose not to act on that impulse, as that would make him appear guilty of sabotage. “My homeworld was invaded by the Dominion three months ago,” he said. “And now you are no better than they are.”
Limis turned to look at Ra Hoth. “Walk with me, Lieutenant,” she whispered.
The two officers stepped out into the corridor to discuss the next course of action. “With all due respect,” Ra Hoth stated, “that was rather harsh. Even if he is really a Changeling, we are still obligated to observe due process.”
“It was a tactic,” Limis replied. “I wanted to see how he’d react; if I would be giving credibility to the Founders’ fear of ‘solids.’ Instead evoked feelings about the invasion of Betazed.
“The real saboteur may have let his guard down,” Limis continued, as they stopped in front of a turbolift door. “But we want him to think we’re still looking for a Changeling.”
“So do I set Margose free?” Ra Hoth inquired.
“Hell no! My gut tells me we have the wrong man. I could still be wrong. I can’t take that chance. Luckily that core breach fixed itself. What if next time lives are lost?”
Ra Hoth nodded slowly. He turned headed back for the brig without a word, while Limis stepped onto the arriving turbolift.
Erhlich Tarlazzi and Rebecca Sullivan sat at a table together in the mess hall after their respective shifts. While it was morning by the ship’s clock, this time of day was dinnertime for those officers on the night shift. Tarlazzi stared at barely eaten chicken curry and rice, while Sullivan was quickly eating from a bowl of egg salad. She did not care that the food was really replicated protein molecules as her late husband Michael Eddington complained. She did not even take the time to notice her friend’s lack of eating.
Rebecca did notice Erhlich’s somber mood when she saw Saul Mavik and blond human male engineering technician walk through the port entrance. She motioned them over to her table. The two young men walked over to the replicator to order their meals. “I would think you would more hungry after crawling around in Jeffries tubes for eight hours,” Rebecca remarked to Tarlazzi.
“Being a chief means a lot more paper work,” Tarlazzi replied. “And security threw one of my crew in the brig.”
“Did they find the person who nearly blew up the ship?” Saul asked, taking a seat at Sullivan’s left. The human accompanying him, Marc Ekbern, sat across from her.
“Margose is a Changeling,” Tarlazzi replied. “What gets me how easy catching him was.”
“Those blood screenings aren’t always accurate,” Saul offered.
“How do we know the captain wasn’t by replaced by a Changeling?” grumbled Ekbern, who spoke with a light Scandinavian accent.
“She was clean,” Sullivan insisted. “And we don’t know how many of those things are on board, if any.” She hesitated to use the word shape-shifter knowing that her late husband served alongside a Changeling on Deep Space 9. Many on that station trusted Odo with their lives. But after the Dominion did such a thorough job in trying to eradicate the Maquis, she couldn’t help but be a little more paranoid.
“Plus whatever was in her ready room was already dead,” Tarlazzi added.
“Maybe she’s not a shape-shifter,” Ekbern replied. “Maybe she’s like her husband.”
Rebecca looked around to see that no one was watching them. “What do you know about her ex-husband?” she whispered, leaning over the table.
“He was here about a year ago,” Ekbern quietly answered. “After we were spared the Jem’Hadar’s slaughter, I heard a rumor that he turned to their side. Maybe that’s why she and the rest of us were spared.”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear,” Tarlazzi cautioned with a hint of hostility in his voice.
“Yeah, well I would expect you guys to defend her,” Ekbern huffed. He threw his napkin down, stood up, and whisked his food tray off the table.
In a fit of rage, Sullivan shoved the table in front of Ekbern. She walked towards him with Saul and Tarlazzi in stepping in front of her. “How dare you suggest some of our brethren are on their side,” Rebecca hissed. “Very few of us are left thanks to those monsters. And Michael gave his life to make sure some of us survived.”
“Calm down, Becca,” Tarlazzi suggested calmly, while noticing that people stood up to see what all the commotion was about.
Ekbern sauntered over to another table, Sullivan helped Tarlazzi and Saul clean up the mess she had made when knocking over the table.
Saul later recalled the incident when he met with Kelsen in a vacant and poorly lit cargo bay on the starbase. They were awaiting the arrival of a cargo ship delivering supplies to carry out what they were planning. Kelsen was not even listening, while pacing back and forth impatiently.
“She’s a feisty one,” Saul remarked, his cheeks blushing. “Too bad I’ll have to kill her and so many others.”
“It’s a small price to pay if it will end hostilities,” Kelsen replied. “We must be willing to do what most of our brothers and sisters are too afraid to do. Bek Gillen has seen the light, and we must act.”
A middle-aged Bajoran man in scraggly leather clothing materialized in the cargo bay. He was surrounded by nearly a dozen different cargo containers. “Thank the Prophets you arrived,” Kelsen exclaimed.
“That’s assuming they were still with us,” replied Tahna Los, the blond-haired Bajoran delivering the supplies Kelsen had requested.
“Is it all here?” Kelsen inquired.
“Courtesy of the Son’a,” Tahna replied. “You’ll have all the supplies you need to create an explosion brighter than ignited metreon gas pockets in the Briar Patch.”