Alpha Zone One Headquarters, Sector 84-A, Sol III (formerly known as Starfleet Command, San Francisco, Earth)
Stardate 57144.5 (September 27, 2380)
“Founder?” Weyoun entered the room that served as the temporary quarters for his changeling master. No matter how many times he’d attended to a Founder in their living spaces, he was always surprised at the Spartan quality of the rooms the Founders chose to inhabit when not in the Great Link. The furniture and décor were so…sparse. Surely the rulers of such a great interstellar empire could install some lavish carpeting at the very least!
‘Come in, Weyoun,” the Founder called out. Weyoun looked up at the ceiling, where a large Utretrian moth fluttered towards the floor, gracefully shifting shape back into that of a humanoid.
Weyoun bowed his head. “How may I be of service, Founder?”
The Founder pointed to a couch in a corner of the room. “Tell me, Weyoun,” the changeling said as they sat, “how are things really
going on this world?”
Weyoun sized up the situation. A week had passed since the Founder had arrived on Sol III, and all of the information provided to the changeling had been in the form of action reports, mission briefings, and Dukat’s interminable lectures. Here now was an opportunity to finally be of some use to his master—and if he could settle some scores of his own while doing so, well, all the better!
Weyoun smiled pleasantly and said, “Founder, as you well know, we have experienced many triumphs over the course of this past year. However, I would like to personally express some concern over Legate Dukat’s plan to convert the human species into a race of…simple farmers.” Weyoun adopted a regretful look. “As you wisely stated…the process is simply taking too long.”
The Founder did not change expression, which always offset Weyoun somewhat. He was a master of reading nonverbal language, and could adjust his tone or delivery as needed or required; but when talking to a Founder, one could never be sure what they were thinking. It made his job slightly more difficult, he found.
At last, the Founder responded. “I agree. Share your reservations with me, Weyoun.”
“As you wish, Founder. You see…I believe that Legate Dukat may be…a bit too restrained in his approach to dealing with the humans,” Weyoun said. “It seems to pain him greatly when we must liquidate large groups of humans for criminal behavior. I fear his commitment to the task at hand may be somewhat…compromised.”
The Founder trusted Weyoun as much as a changeling could trust any solid, but one flaw in the Vorta’s genetic programming was a complete inability to simply get to the point.
“Compromised by what, Weyoun? Not compassion, I hope.”
The Vorta took care to look as pained as possible. “I do not believe Dukat could ever be accused of compassion. Instead, Founder, I believe the legate restrains his behavior based on an egocentric desire to be admired by his subjects…perhaps even loved.”
The Founder blinked. “Weyoun, we knew that about Dukat from the moment he approached us with a plan to ally Cardassia with the Dominion. His behavior during the Bajoran occupation is all the proof of your theory that one would ever need.”
“Indeed, Founder. That is quite
an astute analysis,” Weyoun simpered. “However, I feel this time that the situation is very different.”
“Different how? Are you suggesting Dukat is dragging his feet on completely pacifying this planet?”
“With all due respect, Founder, I simply do not feel qualified to judge Dukat’s performance in that regard,” Weyoun lied. “All I can tell you is that where a heavy hand is required, Dukat will often choose a less punitive measure. Where an opportunity arises to stamp out some troublesome element of human culture, Dukat seeks to appropriate it for his own uses, although he is quick to claim it is in the Dominion’s best interests. It is…a troublesome pattern.”
The Founder nodded. “We have indulged Dukat in implementing his philosophy regarding the treatment of conquered enemies on Sol III, and we will continue to do so as long as it is useful to us. I suppose the question is, then: has this plan’s usefulness run its course?”
Weyoun bowed his head deeply and did not answer; he recognized the question as rhetorical.
The Founder recalled the Vorta’s previous comment. “You mentioned there was a difference between Dukat’s approach towards the Bajorans, as opposed to the humans. Tell me, Weyoun, how are the humans different from the Bajorans in this particular case?”
Weyoun sighed. “Founder, Dukat looked at the Bajorans as his children—as a father might look upon a wayward child, that is.” Weyoun leaned in towards the Founder and said in a conspiratorial whisper, “But the humans are different. I believe he sees them—and this whole unpleasant business of occupation--as a challenge which ended before it could truly begin.”
“Because organized resistance folded so quickly,” the Founder surmised.
Weyoun was relieved. The Founder understood
. “Yes, Founder. I believe that is very much the case. I feel Legate Dukat may be prolonging the process of assimilating the humans into the Dominion so that he is not denied his chance to…effectively subjugate them. Dukat could never exercise the kind of control over Bajor which you have seen fit to grant him here on Sol III. So rest assured that it pains me greatly that he does not seem to be willing to take advantage of such an…ideal situation.” Weyoun spread his hands out. “But what can I do? I am only an adviser, after all!”
The changeling felt the stirrings of alarm. This was not orderly. But before the Founder could press the issue, the room’s comm system beeped. A Jem’Hadar’s gravelly voice said, “Founder. A message from Jupiter Station. Priority One.”
Weyoun made as if to leave but the Founder said, “No, Weyoun, stay. This will only take a moment.” The changeling pressed a button on the table beside the couch. “Patch it through.”
The wall in front of the couch shimmered and was replaced by an image of Legate Madred.
“Ah, Madred,” Weyoun greeted the Cardassian. The Founder merely stated, “What is it, Legate?”
Madred looked as if he had just seen a ghost. “Founder…” he stuttered. “The Voyager…the crew…the captain’s body….they’re gone.”
The Founder stood up. “Gone? Gone where?”
Madred held up both of his hands. “They…their…their remains…they lost molecular cohesion—but the ship--the ship…the ship simply...” Madred ran out of words. “They melted, Founder!”