Commander Donatra stared at the shipboard status reports on the monitor in her private chamber off the bridge. It was all she could do to pass the time while waiting on Suran’s next move.
had tracked the Tiralihaan
to the Baber Nebula. Perhaps he was meeting with one of his contacts in a Tal Shiar operation. Donatra had known of Suran’s affiliation with the Tal Shiar since her first training days at the Imperial War College. Because she had never been recruited into the intelligence agency, she kept this knowledge quiet and accepted that any actions Suran had taken as member of the Tal Shiar were taken in the best interests of the Star Empire. That was until after the Dominion War and the suspicious death of Praetor Neral when Suran started rumors that the Federation manufactured evidence of a planned Dominion attack on Romulus and arranged the late Senator Vreenak’s death to prevent him from revealing that the evidence was fraudulent. More often than not, such stories were just propaganda to spur the military. Furthermore, Donatra was among the first to learn that Vreenak’s shuttle was destroyed during its return trip from the Dominion outpost on Soukara.
Donatra saw in the Romulan people a race that had lost its way. Ambition was a trait encouraged in all Romulan citizens, but that soon came to mean assassinating ones way up the political and military hierarchies. Assassination was an accepted last resort when a leader was deemed ineffective. Such a tactic had been overused in the last three centuries by soldiers and politicians putting their own ambitions ahead the honor of the people. The current praetor Hiren might have achieved his position this way given that the sitting praetor wouldn’t just be pecked to death by poisonous birds. Donatra could not prove that Hiren was responsible, so she had hoped to undermine him by digging up dirt on Suran.
The comm chimed catching Donatra by surprise. The usually mundane reports had nearly lulled her to sleep. She gazed eagerly at the message from Murot aboard the Tiralihaan
. The printout message indicated that Suran transmitted specifications for a harmonic resonance chamber to Nimbus Three. Such a device was often used to stabilize a volatile substance such as trilithium or the Omega molecule. Whatever Suran was up to would be a recipe for danger, especially on a planet that was a hotbed for terrorists and smugglers.
“Bridge,” she said, tapping the comm-panel. “Set a course for Nimbus Three.”
Kira entered the cellblock behind the security office just as Zeyner was escorted into a cell. Escobar accompanied her, holding a padd containing the official profile on the latest prisoner. Once the security deputies activated the forcefield, Kira nodded to them and to Escobar to step outside for a few minutes to have a word in private with Zeyner.
“Like the new uniform,” he remarked, “though I could never get used to the comm-badge on the wrong side. Seems like a demotion though.”
Kira smirked, trying not to get swept up in Zeyner’s usual charming manner that Ro fooled for years. He was right, though, that as both a major and a colonel in the Bajoran Militia, Kira did outrank captains in that same military organization. But because Starfleet used traditional naval ranks, Starfleet captains did still outrank her. “Tell me,” she plainly began, “does the name Turan Getz ring a bell?”
His eyes widened at the mention of a name he had not heard in nearly a decade. He paused for a moment to consider his answer. His hesitation was enough indication to Kira that any answer he did give would be a lie. “Of course not,” he attempted.
“You don’t remember the name of the leader of your resistance cell,” Kira retorted. “Even though he was a fellow collaborator?”
“I didn’t start sleeping with him after the Occupation ended.”
Kira rolled her eyes but chose dignify that jab at her brief romance with former First Minister and former Resistance leader Shakaar Edon with any verbal response.
“So were all the former members of that resistance group collaborators?” he continued. “Guilty by association is hardly sufficient proof.”
“After you were caught trying to impede our investigation two years ago,” Kira blithely replied, “I checked with the Intelligence Ministry. They had no record of a Zeyner Antis or anyone remotely fitting your description.”
“The names of agents are not available to just anyone. You know that, Nerys.”
“No, but the names of Dukat’s network of Bajoran sympathizers became available after a list of eight names was confiscated from the Vaatrik widow, including
Zeyner gave a wry grin when he heard the name Vaatrik. Realizing he was letting his guard down, he turned away from Kira’s gaze. “There’s another name I haven’t heard in ten years,” he quipped, referring to the man who served as intermediary between Dukat and his spies within the Bajoran Resistance. Zeyner did not want Kira to see his expression of pride that no Bajoran during the Occupation suspected him of selling attack plans to various Cardassian military units and that his former leader was courageously willing to give himself up if any other cell suspected a member of the Turan Resistance of selling them out to their Cardassian oppressors. “I understand not even Odo was able to prove that you killed him.”
“He was on the side of justice,” Kira replied fondly of the station’s former chief of security, whose first assignment as constable under the Cardassian regime was to investigate the murder of Vaatrik. In fact, Odo never identified the killer until nearly a year after the Occupation ended. “He knew how harsh the Cardassian system of justice was, and he didn’t want implicate anyone without solid proof.”
“Or it was love at first sight,” Zeyner taunted, recalling Kira’s relationship with Odo prior to his departure to rejoin the Founders of the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant. “Dukat might have suspected Kira Meru’s daughter the second you entered the picture. Or was her name by that time Tora Naprem?”
Nerys’s blood boiled the instant she heard the name of the now deceased Tora Ziyal’s mother. Ziyal was the illegitimate daughter of Dukat with another Bajoran mistress, born the same year that Meru died. Nerys wanted to go in the cell and deck Zeyner for suggesting that one of Dukat’s half-Bajoran children was her half-sister. Not that she ever held Ziyal’s paternity against her, but the thought just planted in her mind was utterly disturbing. Such an act, however, would not appropriate for the station CO, especially after not wanting to take a chance that Ro would lose her temper. She took a deep breath and stormed out of the room.
Escobar was waiting in the office with Ro when Kira entered. She told Jonas and the two Bajoran guards they could go back in and proceed with the interrogation, doing her best to keep her own emotions in check. “He’s a practiced liar, so no type of autonomic response analysis would be that accurate,” she said to Ro. “I thought I’d get under his skin to get a baseline comparison.”
“Sounds like he got under your skin more than you got under his,” Laren replied with a hint of sympathy.
“Don’t worry about me,” Nerys somberly answered. “Just make sure everything goes smoothly.”
Back in the cellblock, Escobar took sat down at the center table and opened a file on the padd. Zeyner stared in his direction trying to remember if he had seen him before, perhaps when he was in the Maquis. But it was a very long time ago, and his colleague in the Maquis were just people he spied on. The cause rarely mattered. “Weren’t you once in the Maquis?” he asked feigning interest in his interrogator.
“I’m going to be asking the questions around here,” Escobar answered plainly, without even glancing at the prisoner.
“Who is your primary contact in the Ku-Vok-leth
“Why isn’t Laren conducting the interrogation? I know she’s still the station’s head of security.”
“Your contact?” Escobar persisted, trying not to show annoyance.
“She’s probably watching on the surveillance monitors,” Zeyner continued, looking up at the ceiling where a camera might be. “You like having that kind of power, don’t you?”
Ro viewed the interrogation on a monitor in the office, letting out a disgusted scoff. He continued to taunt her, questioning whether she was fit to be a security officer when he had pulled the wool over her eyes for so long. Trying to contain all of her cumulative anger at Zeyner, Ro got up and stormed into the cellblock.
Escobar barely had any time to react to seeing his superior make a beeline towards Zeyner’s cell. Kira was close behind, but not making much of an effort to coax Ro back into the office. Ro quickly lowered the forcefield and grabbed her ex-lover by the collar to force him upright. She then tugged his hair and slammed his head against the cell’s bench. “We’re not fooling around,” she snarled. “Give us a name.”
“You always liked it rough,” Zeyner teased. “He’s on Nimbus Three. That’s all I’ll say right now.”
Ro flung him on the deck and pulled her phaser. She slowly raised the setting to maximum stun, so that he could see that, even on stun, a point-blank shot to the chest could still kill him. “It’s a big planet last I checked,” she retorted. “We need a name.”
“Holster your weapon, Lieutenant,” Kira called out, grabbing the handle of her own phaser. “That’s an order.”
“That’s the Ro Laren I remember,” said Zeyner, barely containing a giggle. “He’ll kill himself before giving himself up to Starfleet. He believes in his cause that much. You want any information out of him, you’ll have to let to speak with him.”
“No way in hell that’s happening. How do we know you won’t use this opportunity to escape?”
“The pardon is only valid if I provide accurate information.”
“He’s got us there,” Kira offered.
After a momentary stare-down between Ro and Zeyner, Ro holstered her weapon, then stepped out of the cell and reactivated the forcefield. Kira shot Ro a slack-jawed glare as they both slowly stepped out of the cellblock. Escobar gave shocked stares at everyone else in the room as he whisked his padd off the table.