Note: Contains a tie-in to DS9 episode "Extreme Measures". Special thanks to Rush Limborg's "Sloan Lives Theory".
Chapter Seventeen (continued)
Deep Space Nine
Escobar stood outside Verad’s cell awaiting a signal from the prison ship. Ensign th’Helek and Petty Officer Yndar accompanied the acting head of security to the main cellblock, all with phasers in hand. The chances of Verad escaping were almost nothing. On the other hand, Verad had faked his death according to Sisko and Dax, so nothing was impossible with this prisoner. As a security officer, Escobar knew to expect the unexpected.
“We’re ready to begin the transport,”
the male pilot said over comm-line.
“We’re ready on this end as well,” Escobar replied with a tap of his combadge.
As planned, the cell’s forcefield shut down and Verad dematerialized within a fraction of a second. “Transport complete,” said Escobar, once Verad was gone.
“We don’t have him though. Are you sure you programmed correct coordinates?”
“Stand by,” Escobar replied. “Escobar to Ops. Kalon beamed away as expected. But the transport doesn’t have him.”
“Put the station on Level One security,” Dax replied from Ops, “Lock down the docking ring and the landing pads.” Dax then sprung from the main console up the stairs to Ensign Pendleton’s station. “Did he at least rematerialize somewhere on the station?”
Pendleton fingers stumbled they pushing buttons. Dax wanted to voice her frustrations at the ensign, but then felt now was not the time to place blame for any slip-ups. She found the right controls that allowed her to see if the transporter carried out its expected function. “The rematerialization did happen,” she stuttered. “But, but…” She then sighed in frustration as if her mind was going blank.
Ezri began to wonder why a more competent officer was not on duty. Again, this was not the time. She, herself, had gone through a phase of intense security prior to being joined. But Emiko had been in Starfleet longer than Ezri, yet was fumbling around the controls like a first year cadet. Given how much more urgent Verad’s escape was, Ezri decided to lend a hand with the controls. “Energy consumption logs indicate power was rerouted from the Ops transporter to transporter room six,” she said. “How did you miss that?”
“I’m sorry,” Pendleton replied repentantly.
“Don’t worry about it,” Dax assured, quietly chastising herself.
“Where the hell is he?” Runold demanded upon seeing the transporter pad was still vacant.
“I’m not sure,” Sisko disingenuously replied leaning over the control console. He looked away from Runold momentarily, and then kicked the burly Trill in the abdomen.
Runold quickly recovered and lunged at Sisko pointing a phaser pistol at him.
“How’s the shoulder?” Sisko taunted, slapping the pistol out of the Trill’s hand. He dove after the weapon as Runold grabbed him by ankle forgetting that his shoulder that Sisko had dislocated was still sore. Sisko spun back and incapacitated Runold with one shot.
Knowing that hostage takers were instructed to kill the hostage if a colleague failed to report back after a set time interval, Sisko removed the communication device from the right side of Runold’s waist. He entered a set of commands to send a message to his son’s Nausicaan captor. Hopefully, that would keep Jake alive and keep Kasidy and Rebecca safe.
That was all he was concerned about, even more than his former Starfleet career. He had given up Starfleet nearly two years ago. He had faced many dangers and he had lived among the entities within the wormhole. Benjamin did not fear the consequences of his latest actions whether they were in the form of criminal charges or reprisals from the Orion Syndicate. At least his family was safe.
For right now, though, he had to locate Verad. The component he had removed from the transporter pad was a key piece of the rematerialization buffer. Without that component, a subject would rematerialize within a hundred meter radius of the programmed coordinates. Sisko opened a storage locker and removed a phaser and a tricorder. He then locked down the transporter with a random encryption and locked the door once he stepped out into the corridor.
Sauntering into the corridor, Benjamin entered commands on the tricorder to locate Trill life signs within a hundred meters. While that scan was in progress, he programmed the tricorder to emit a locator signal to draw the attention of station security.
A red indicator flashed on a schematic of the station on the Ops table. “It’s a locator signal from a Federation issue tricorder,” reported Thelev, a portly Tellarite lieutenant junior grade manning one of the main Ops consoles “Habitat ring, level fourteen, section twenty-three alpha just outside transporter six.”
“Any Trill life signs?” Dax asked.
“Affirmative,” Thelev replied. “I can’t an exact fix though. The surveillance sensors are still a little erratic.”
“Dax to security,” Dax called over comm, “Concentrate your search on level fourteen, section twenty-three alpha and all adjacent sections of the habitat ring. You have Ops, Mister Thelev.”
Thelev nodded as Ezri removed a phaser from the storage in the Ops table and headed for the starboard turbolift.
Verad awoke in a corridor still feeling dizzy from as result of Sisko’s transporter modifications, as well as the partially functional rematerialization buffer dropping him off in a random venue. He groaned while feeling his forehead. He looked around with confusion, knowing this was not an escape he had planned. He was even more startled when he heard a familiar voice call his name.
“Verad,” Sisko called. “We have to get out of here.”
“Benjamin?” he gasped, helping himself upright. “What happened? Where are we going?”
“Just follow me. One of your colleagues tracked me down and coerced me to break you out.”
“Was it Runold?” Verad asked coyly. “He was suspicious of you from the start.”
“I would guess the Orion Syndicate has a bounty out on you after you cost them plenty of money.”
“Who can blame them? I promised some of their bosses a few thousand credits if they could spare a few assassins. Are you still sending me to prison.”
“You’ll a hell of a lot safer in a Federation penal colony.”
“Until one of the Syndicate’s moles finds me, at least. What about you, Benjamin?”
“As if you care about my well-being. All that matters is that my wife and children are safe.”
“Whatever little part of me that’s still Dax cares. This little experience should demonstrate how relentless they are.”
Now that’s reassuring,
Sisko wanted to say as he rolled his eyes. Their banter was interrupted when a forcefield appeared in front of them. Sisko and Verad looked back the way they came, but another forcefield appeared right on cue. They could hear footsteps in an adjoining corridor getting louder. Dax and Yndar then stepped before the two fugitives on the other side of the forcefield up ahead armed with hand phasers.
“Benjamin,” Ezri gasped. “What’s going on? Why are you helping Verad escape?”
“It’s a long story, Dax,” Benjamin replied, raising a hand. “Right now, I trust you’ll want Verad on the prison ship. You’ll find my ‘co-conspirator’ locked in transporter room six.”
Dax tapped her combadge to hail security. “Drop forcefields on corridor J.”
The forcefields quickly fizzled out while two additional Bajoran security officers-- one male, one female-- arrived at the scene. They walked over to Verad ready to escort him back to the prison ship. He suddenly dematerialized. The other two raised their rifles, while Dax was ready to draw her hand phaser. It was an instinctive, yet futile move.
Dax tapped her comm-badge. “Dax to Ops. Kalon has beamed away. Can you locate him?”
“We’re running a full sensor sweep now, sir,”
“Keep all outgoing ships locked down,” Dax instructed.
“Ops,” Sisko added. “Scan our position for residual electro-static charges. I’m willing to bet you won’t find any such evidence.”
The security officers shot Sisko confused glances, mostly wondering what he was getting at rather than the former Starfleet officer’s request.
“Do it,” Dax said to confirm the request.
“You couldn’t have got me out any sooner?”
Verad materialized in a dark chamber. A Vulcan woman with hair in a short coiffure sauntered up to him. She was flanked by two male human agents. All three of them were dressed in black leather jumpsuits. Verad sat down in a silver-colored metal chair. “I thought for sure I was dead.”
“We did not count on Sisko breaking you out,” L’Haan calmly replied. “Otherwise, we would have extracted you in a more clandestine manner.”
The two humans applied laser devices to the Trill’s spots on both sides of his face. Slowly, the markings disappeared. With the lasers trained on the rest of his face, his features slowly changed. His skin was less scrunched and wrinkled. Rather than projecting a reserved and withdrawn demeanor, he now projected self-assuredness. He was no longer Verad Kalon. He was now Luther Sloan, a senior agent of Section 31.
Sloan placed his hand over the former locations of the Trill markings. “Glad to be rid of those spots,” he said. “They really left my skin itchy. But I can safely say mission accomplished. Everything is in motion to stop the Omega device, I assume?”
“You assume correctly, Sloan,” L’Haan replied, nodding to the medical technicians. They slowly walked out of the room leaving the two senior agents to confer privately. “The Defiant
is on course to Nimbus to intercept the Ku-Vok-leth
. This seemed liked an overly elaborate plan to elicit the attention of Doctor Bashir and his colleagues. Perhaps if you had contacted the good doctor yourself…"
“No,” Sloan interrupted. “He has to think I am dead; that I killed myself rather than divulge the antidote for the Changeling virus. Besides, as much as he may dislike our methods, this will help him see that we exist to preserve
His voice did not give off a hint of doubt that Section 31’s operation would succeed. In his mind, though, Sloan knew too many things could go wrong. That was also the case on a very delicate mission inside the Romulan Neutral Zone during the Dominion War.