All right. With this chapter and the next, we will wrap things up.
Readers of "Passing Of Value" will remember my creation of Sorak, the v'tosh ka'tur who unintentionally recruited Sloan--and becomes his friend and confidant.
This chapter also ties together all the post-WYLB encounters we've seen between Bashir and Section 31, complete with the big nod to ZSG I promised you all. It's this sequence, more than anything else, that makes this tale my "prequel" to Mack's novel.
Note: the way Sorak reflects on Cole and L'Haan is part of my theory, stemming from Sloan's description of "a few select" in "Extreme Measures", that Section 31 is organized in a set group of "divisions", each with a "director", who interact with one another when necessary. Directors we've encountered in canon and TrekLit include Sloan, Cole (Abyss
), L'Haan, and Zeitsev (A Time To Kill/Heal
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"From Risa With Love"
Sorak, Director of Division Seven, Section 31—as far as nearly everyone else in the Bureau were concerned, anyhow—sat at his table at the Andorian Blues Café.
He would never admit it to anyone—least of all, a fellow Vulcan—but he had, over the years, developed a particular liking to Risa.
Such pleasure the inhabitants, and the tourists, take in the release of emotion…a pleasure he, as a closet v’tosh ka’tur
, could only partake in internally. Nonetheless, he partook, such as it was.
It can be most…stressful, at times, to pose as I must—as a typical calculating machine, as my fellow Vulcans do.
Any opportunity for release, however subtle, was therefore welcome.
He drank a blend of Vulcan tea the waitress had provided for him. It sufficed.
He looked up, to see Agent Holland approach the table…accompanied by a most welcome addition.
“Dr. Julian Bashir, I presume,” Sorak said.
Bashir stiffened, and nodded. “Yes.”
Holland cleared her throat. “It’s…quite warm today, even for Risa.”
Sorak raised an eyebrow. “On Vulcan, this is winter’s weather.”
Bashir shook his head in what appeared to be amusement. “Is it, now?”
Sorak frowned. “Doctor—”
“I know, I know,” Bashir muttered, “It’s a spy code. I’m well versed in that….”
Sorak nodded. “Of course. Please, sit down.”
Holland sat down, handing him a bag, which he saw contained the mechanism. Sorak acknowledged it with a nod, and turned to Bashir, noting that the doctor did not
“I trust you did not encounter any unnecessary difficulties?” Sorak asked.
“So, you did
intend for me to assist Holland.”
“Of course. We became aware of the nature of your leave…and we saw it as an opportunity to, as you humans would say, ‘kill two birds with one stone’.”
Bashir crossed his arms. “Really?”
“Doctor, I can see this discussion will not be over quickly. You’d best sit down, to relax yourself.”
Bashir rolled his eyes, and sat down. “So, instead of giving this assignment to a team of more experienced agents—a team
, mind you—you sent Miss Holland here, by herself, with no backup—”
“Correction: she did have ‘backup’—you.”
Bashir’s lip tightened. “You sent her here, by herself…as part of an attempt of yours to—what? Recruit me, once again?”
“Why would we wish to recruit you again, Doctor? You were already recruited by my predecessor…Director Sloan.”
Bashir spoke through clenched teeth. “I don’t…work…for you.”
“And yet you assisted Miss Holland.”
I assisted her! She was the perfect lure—a beautiful, innocent young spy on a glamorous assignment, the kind you’d know I fantasize about—of course I’d jump at the chance.”
Sorak nodded. “Which was precisely what we intended.”
Holland spoke up. “Director, if I may?”
He nodded to her. “Agent.”
Holland swallowed, gathered herself, and said, “Sir…it is my professional opinion that Dr. Bashir is too unstable to conduct further missions to this effect.”
Bashir looked to her in mild astonishment, which, Sorak admitted, he felt himself.
“Indeed,” Sorak asked. “Why?”
Holland’s look intensified. “After we foiled Crolin’s operation, Bashir became suspicious, and, to be brief, he deduced my true affiliations. As a result, he…” her gaze fell, and her face flushed a slight shade of red, “He resolved to meddle with my assignment.”
Though her vagueness implied something personal, Sorak knew he needed more information. “Oh?”
She said nothing, briefly glancing in Bashir’s direction.
The doctor cleared his throat, a barely suppressed look of shame on his own face. “I injected her with a homing device, so I would be able to...to keep an eye on her. As a result—well, to make a long story shorter, Crolin was able to locate her, and the device we’d apprehended.”
Indeed. This was fascinating. “They were shadowing you, Doctor?”
“They were watching my suite.”
“Because you had given them your real name, instead of an alias.”
“He was under the impression that an alias for him would have been useless,” Holland explained.
Sorak nodded. “I see. And yet…despite all of that, you are both here, with the device—indicating that you, Doctor, were successful in rescuing both it and Miss Holland—and, I assume, in defeating Mr. Crolin…?”
Bashir nodded. “You won’t have to worry about him
, at least.”
“Director,” Holland interjected, “The point is—the doctor shows signs of an obsession over gaining control of whatever situation he faces. Now, whether that is due to his training as a doctor, or something more personal, I’m not sure. However—”
“Thank you, Agent,” Sorak nodded. “Your…concerns are noted.”
Holland and Bashir exchanged a look following this. It didn’t appear to contain any bitterness. In the Doctor’s case, he looked…grateful.
Of course. He possesses no particular desire to join the Bureau. He clearly must have accepted this as a gesture of compassion, on Holland’s part.
“Doctor,” Sorak resumed, “Understand that, as a rule, we would not give you an assignment that we did not believe required your particular services—nor one that you would not have a…vested interest in.”
Bashir snorted. “So you’ll just create
a ‘vested interest’, now, whenever you ‘need’ me?”
Sorak nodded. “If necessary—yes.”
Bashir scoffed, shaking his head.
“Frankly, Doctor, you should consider yourself fortunate that you are under my
supervision. I sincerely doubt that any of my fellow directors—such as Mr. Cole, whom I believe you have met—”
“Yes, yes…” Bashir muttered.
“…I doubt the other directors would be as…restrained…as I am, in their efforts to create such a ‘vested interest’.”
Holland turned to Sorak with a questioning look at this.
Of course, it’s not necessary to explain at this time
. L’Haan would not care to have the agents in my division aware of her plans concerning her own
Bashir apparently failed to notice, as he leaned forward, the frustration burning clear in his eyes. “Why can’t you people just leave me alone
Sorak permitted himself a small hint of a smile. “Sadly, Doctor, you left us little choice—particularly when you accepted one Commander Vaughn’s recruitment into the…the ‘Kirk Cabal’, I believe it is called?”
“Yes, Doctor,” Sorak nodded, “We know he recruited you, in the immediate aftermath of your assignment on Sindorin. Did you really think we wouldn’t notice?”
Bashir leaned back in his seat, and shook his head. “No…I suppose not.”
“Once that occurred, we made sure to increase our watching of you. As it were, I myself am most grateful for the intelligence you have unwittingly provided on the members of the Cabal. As a result…we have been able to more efficiently anticipate their attempts to meddle with and expose our activities.”
“It’s not necessary to go into detail. But the point is…we simply cannot
leave you alone. You yourself have made it quite impossible.”
“Director,” Holland said, “That does not mean we must—”
“Unfortunately, Agent…it does.”
Sorak turned back to Bashir. “Doctor…your services are no longer required, as of now. I trust you will enjoy the remainder of your vacation here, on Risa.”
Bashir rose to his feet, an expression of dejected defeat on his face. And then, he stormed off, leaving the café without looking back.
Sorak turned to Holland, whose gaze was fixed in the direction the Doctor had left.
“If you wish,” he said, “You can move to a different resort for the remainder of your stay here—”
“That would be ideal, Director.”
Sorak frowned. “Agent, I apologize for any inconveniences—”
“Director,” Holland turned to him, “I have no one to blame but myself for what occurred. If I hadn’t kept from him the full extent of the mis—”
Sorak gently held up a hand. “You were uncertain if you could trust him.”
She sighed, and nodded.
“Understandable: paranoia, for all its faults, is essential to our line of work. However…are you certain of his trustworthiness, now?”
Holland stiffened. After a moment, she replied, “Concerning…everything that happened…I’m frankly less certain.”
Sorak nodded. “Also understandable.”
She said nothing more. Sorak found his own gaze turn back to where Bashir had left.
There is so much we persist in keeping from him. Such is both an asset…and a liability. He cannot bring himself to trust us…in part, because we have never seen fit to trust him, in turn.
And such, he know, was the order of things—and would continue to be, in the foreseeable future.
* * *