Sloan nodded, a small smile forming. As he returned to his own seat, he said, “You did the right thing, Chairman. Not that it matters—but I’m being monitored, as we speak. Were you to try and shoot me…I’d have been beamed away, and you wouldn’t have known.”
“Now…as to our deal…”
,” Koval replied, allowing the contempt he was feeling to manifest in his voice.
“All we want, Chairman—in return for your achieving what is rightfully yours…is information.”
Koval frowned. “What sort of information?”
sorts of information. From this day forward…you are to be our chief ‘mole’. Do you know what a ‘mole’ is, Chairman?”
Koval nodded. “A permanent spy…to report on the activities of the organization in question.”
“Essentially, yes. You will regularly report to us the information we so desire about the goings-on in the Romulan government…and the activities of the Tal Shiar.”
Koval’s featured hardened. “You do not honestly expect me to betray
Romulus so thoroughly—”
“Don’t be so melodramatic, Chairman. All we want is to maintain for the Federation what you want to maintain for Romulus—stability, peace…and order.”
“I will not
“Let me put it this way: we want this alliance to work. It needs
to work, if the Dominion is to be defeated. The last thing we want is for something to happen in the Romulan government to threaten our…relationship. Therefore, by working with us, you won’t be ‘betraying’ your people…you’ll be preserving them.”
Koval paused for a moment longer. Finally content that he had regained his composure, he replied, “Assuming, of course…an alliance with the Federation
is the most effective means to that end.”
“You don’t think so.”
Koval permitted himself a smile. “Mr. Sloan…if you are as aware of my activities as you claim—”
“I would know you’ve been an outspoken opponent of the alliance since it was first brought to the table—yes, I know. And as far as everyone else is concerned…that won’t change—until after
you secure your seat on the Committee. Given time, you’ll announce your change of heart. Should make it more effective.”
Koval felt his smile vanish.
“Good,” Sloan replied. “I’m glad we understand each other.”
He rose to his feet, and announced, “I’ll send a contact to you, at regular intervals—a Romulan. A Tal Shiar agent, as far as everyone else is concerned. You’ll know it’s them, when they come. They’ll tell you what information we want at that given time—and you’ll provide it, when they come back for it. They’ll also provide you with the proper instructions.”
Sloan’s smile finally grew. “For your rise to power, Koval.”
He extended his hand. “Chairman…it is a pleasure, doing business with you.”
Koval stared at the hand, a feeling of sickness churning within.
Perhaps he is right. Perhaps…I never
was in control. Perhaps, in order to manipulate others…you must allow yourself to be manipulated, in turn—and to accept the truth, with no denials from base emotion.
And so…Koval, Chairman of the Tal Shiar—the most feared, revered, respected
man in the Romulan Star Empire…rose to his feet, suppressed what remnants of his pride remained in his soul—
—and clasped the hand of the human agent Luther Sloan, of Section 31, who from that day forth, held Koval’s fate within his grasp.
Sloan gave the hand a firm shake. He then released it, gave Koval a nod, and said, “Until next time, Koval….”
And then he turned…and walked out of the room. The door closed behind him.
Koval didn’t know what force compelled him to follow—to rush to the door.
All he knew was that, when the door opened, and Koval looked out into the hall, which contained no doors for a significant distance…that it was empty.
Luther Sloan was gone.
And Chairman Koval…was alone.