That Vircona was assigned to work the loading docks at the factory on the same day she got a ransom note was hardly a coincidence. The factory had just gotten a new shipment of rhodium nitrite, so Starfleet Intelligence must have made arrangements for her to be there for the off-loading. Part of Vircona’s job was to make sure the seals on the refrigeration units were intact. The rhodium nitrite needed to be held at a very low temperature. Otherwise, it would be rendered inert.
Each of the inspectors held hand scanners to the refrigeration units. If the unit passed inspection, it was carried on an anti-gravity harness. The ones that failed were left behind to be disposed later. The first of the units Vircona scanned passed inspection. As other factory workers were bringing in the harnesses, Vircona surreptitiously placed a transporter tag on the unit. Rebecca’s kidnappers had included specifications for replicating a device in their ransom note.
I should not have told Becca about the bio-weapon,
Vircona thought to herself. The bottom line now was she felt responsible for Rebecca’s situation and only she could rectify the situation. What worried Vircona the most was how Rebecca’s crazy mother would react to her kidnapping.
Vircona arrived at an abandoned warehouse at 1700 hours as instructed. She stood near two different rows of cargo containers waiting for Rebecca’s captors to show themselves. During a wait that seemed to take an eternity, she secured a phaser pistol in a holster on her right hip and a control pad in a holster on her left hip. As she was hearing footsteps near the main cargo door, she fidgeted at something hanging from a back pocket on her trousers, and then untucked her black tank top make sure that object was concealed.
Two middle aged human males in black leather jumpsuits sauntered into view at the other end of the rows of cargo containers. They were flanked by two burly Orion guards armed with phaser rifles. Vircona made sure the control pad was still accounted for, not wanting to show her hand until she knew that the innocent victim in this whole affair was safe.
“Throw down the gun and kick it over to us,” the agent on Vircona’s left instructed.
She did as instructed, anxiously waiting for the next move.
“Do you have our merchandise?” the other agent asked.
“Let me see Rebecca first,” Vircona firmly replied.
The agent on the left looked to his right and nodded. Rebecca was shoved into view, her wrists in shackles. Now that Vircona was satisfied, she grabbed the control pad in her other holster. The pushed an activate key and the refrigeration unit materialized between her and the agents. One of the agents then walked over to the container, scanned the unit, and nodded to his colleague.
The agents removed the shackles from Rebecca’s wrists, allowing her to go free. Rebecca hurriedly ran towards Vircona. Fighting back tears, she wrapped her arms around Vircona’s shoulders. They held each other in a long embrace; giving the human agents and the Orion guards the impression the two women were something other than friends. That impression was validated when they kissed on the lips. Vircona then quickly pulled away when she remembered that gawking men were watching them.
One agent was in the process of securing an anti-gravity harness on the refrigeration unit when Vircona slowly walked towards the container, with Rebecca clasping her left hand. “What exactly is this for?” she demanded. “Rhodium nitrite is harmless. It’s of very little value. You can find it anywhere.”
“We have someone here who can answer,” the agent replied. He looked to his right and motioned someone towards him.
A tall heavy-set human male with gray hair sauntered over. He was none other than Agent Chadwick grinning smugly. Vircona knew almost immediately from various clues from her meeting earlier that day that he was lying about having her infiltrate this rogue agency. He was in on the plan all along.
His grin became a smile when he came face-to-face with Vircona. “You’ve certainly done your homework on this,” he answered. “It’s not your concern. Just take your Lolita and get out of here.”
Vircona had vaguely recognized the name Lolita as a character in old Earth literature, but she was uncertain how that name applied to Rebecca. “But why put me through all this?” she impatiently asked.
“Rhodium nitrite by itself is harmless,” Chadwick said slowly.
Vircona gritted her teeth impatiently, ready to deck the man in the face if did not make his point very soon.
“To humans,” Chadwick continued. “And Bajorans, and most mammalian humanoids. But mixed with selenium, it produces a gas deadly to Cardassians. We learned that much from the DNA samples we got off of you. Your little trick forced us to move up our plans.”
“Good for me,” Vircona sarcastically replied.
“You’re not afraid we’ll report you to the authorities?” Rebecca asked. From her understanding of these situations in fictional tales, the bad guys were determined to make no one who could rat them out was left alive. Perhaps that was a difference between fiction and reality.
“As far as Starfleet is concerned,” Chadwick triumphantly replied, “we don’t exist. But we are everywhere, Vircona. This whole ransom demand was to let you know that once you join Section 31, you join for life.”
Vircona suddenly felt chills from Chadwick’s cold stare. She said nothing else and walked away with Rebecca. Chadwick and his group headed off in the other direction. Once she reached the door through which she came, she stopped. “Agent Chadwick,” she called.
Chadwick turned around with a pensive stare wondering what else his newest recruit wanted to say.
“You forgot about the backup gun,” Vircona replied. She removed a pistol from her back pocket and fired a lethal energy projectile into Chadwick’s chest. Rebecca reacted with horror at seeing her Bajoran friend take a life. The other agents and the guards began shooting back. Rebecca grabbed a few lighter containers one at a time and throwing them at the shooters. Vircona laid down cover fire and managed to hit the two guards. Then fired another blast at the refrigeration unit. Gas seeped out of the container. Its exposure to room temperature, as expected, made it inert. They would certainly find rhodium nitrite somewhere else, but at least Vircona’s conscience was at ease knowing she wasn’t a part of it.
Rebecca was still shaken up about an hour later over Vircona having killed Chadwick. Of course, she knew about Vircona’s long history of murdering Cardassians in the name of freeing her planet. But Rebecca had never seen one person take the life of another until now.
Meeting Vircona’s son did calm Rebecca’s nerves for a time. Vircona did tell her child Rebecca was a friend. She was still hesitant to say they were anything more at this point. Rebecca did admit to being romantically attracted to women as well as men. Vircona was by no means willing to say the same just yet with the idea never having really occurred to her until meeting Rebecca. Maybe these feelings were the product of anger towards the male gender.
Rebecca stood outside the back of the house staring at the sunset and ruminating over the day’s events. She wondered if this day would forever influence how she viewed the universe. Her own idealism was certainly humbled today. She felt two hands stroke both her shoulders. She smiled at the sight of Vircona holding her for a moment. Then she sighed walked away from the woman’s grasp.
“What’s wrong, Becca?” Vircona anxiously inquired.
“Just how you killed that man in cold blood,” Rebecca replied. “I know you killed Cardassians in self-defense and in defense of your homeworld. But killing people is still wrong.”
“Who says?!” Vircona bellowed.
Rebecca saw a cold anger in Vircona that she had never seen before. Even when Vircona killed Chadwick, it looked very precise and methodical. “People all over this universe go around killing, Becca,” she continued in a hushed tone. “Killing. Raping. Stealing. And they don’t all get what’s coming to them. The Cardassians think it’s all in the name of a manifest destiny or some shit like that.”
“And Section 31 is just as deluded. They think they hold the power of life and death, which is way too much power for any mere mortal. At least the Cardassians admit to feeling entitled to doing whatever the fuck they want for the glory of their ‘great empire’. But that an organization just as cold and calculating as those spoonheads has weaved it’s way into the righteous Federation. That’s unacceptable.”
Rebecca was shell-shocked. She had never seen a person display this type of anger. Vircona had a lot of good reasons for it. She had kept it bottled up for many years, and it was now boiling to the surface. Rebecca stroked Vircona’s dark hair before resting her head on her shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” Vircona said humbly. “I shouldn’t take this out on you.”
“No, it’s quite all right.”
Vircona patted Rebecca’s hand that was on her shoulder. They both sat quietly for a few minutes. Rebecca soon wondered if her parents learned that she was abducted. The police would be out searching for her and her mother would probably be blaming Vircona. “My parents want to meet you,” Rebecca said quietly.
“Isn’t your mother worried about my ‘backwards superstitions’?” Vircona retorted.
“She’s only human,” Rebecca answered with a smile. “But we can still strive to do better everyday.”
“What about this business about going with a girl for some school dance?”
Rebecca raised her head to face Vircona. Maybe it was jealousy, but she knew the gist of the question. “My parents are traditionalists of sorts, “ she explained. “A few of us still believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But not to the point where governments make laws saying a man can’t marry another man or woman can’t marry another woman.”
Vircona nodded with a smile. Maybe these Terrans were as great as once advertised after all.