"Willow Rosenberg out."
Note: This was the last chapter I finished. Part 12 trails off halfway through.
X X X X X
Sisko met Villahermosa on the approach to Quark's quarters. At times it seemed the Ferengi never slept, so concerned was he with maintaining the profit level of his bar, but here he was . . .
not asleep. Sisko wasn't surprised. "Captain," Quark said expansively. Then, "Lieutenant," with an approving leer in his voice.
"Quark," Sisko began politely, "the Lieutenant and I would like to talk with you." Though the words were polite, the tone in Sisko's voice made it clear that it wasn't a request.
"I'm trying to find some items for a customer -- all perfectly legal, I assure you," he said, protesting just a bit too much.
"Quark," Sisko said, shouldering his way into the room, "Right now I'm not interested in your petty thievery. I need to know what your connection is with a man named Spike."
The Ferengi's eyes narrowed. "Why do you need to know?" he said, a trace of panic in his voice.
Then, uncharacteristically, the Lieutenant spat out, "Because he's a va -- because he's a murderer."
Quark said nothing, but looked wildly about the room.
"Well, Quark?" Sisko said.
In response, Quark went over to the door and pressed a few buttons. First Sisko heard the door lock; then Sisko heard other locks and security devices click on. Nothing, by his guess, that Starfleet couldn't overcome if necessary, but certainly well-designed to discourage any casual eavesdropper.
"I know who you're talking about, Captain," Quark said as seriously as Sisko had ever seen him. "I had my suspicions about him and his twisted little girlfriend the first time I saw them."
'Then why didn't you bring this to our attention?" Villahermosa demanded.
"I'm not like you," Quark answered. "I'm a coward by trade, remember? -- though if you repeat that outside this room I'll deny it. Oh, I've had my share of heroic acts; why, I've saved the station singlehandedly any number of times."
And Quark indeed had done more than any reasonable Ferengi could ever have been asked to do. No matter what the profits coming, 95% would have cut and run a dozen times over the years. Still -- "And your point?"
"Have you ever had your life threatened, seriously, by someone you could tell in your lobes was telling the absolute truth? And further, by someone who you knew wouldn't hesitate to carry it out if you didn't do what you said?"
"Still, Quark, Security --"
The Ferengi exploded. "Security hasn't been able to do a damn thing about them. These are the people who're respsonsible for the vanishing of those five people around the station, right? And how much success has Security had so far in tracking them down? It's not like Odo's here-- and I'll deny this, too, but there's no one alive I'd trust more in tracking someone like this man down. Why, he's even caught me a few times . . . doing perfectly legal things, but that's not the point. The point is, I knew if I betrayed Spike I'd wind up having my heart pulled out through my rib cage.”
"Still, that's never stopped you before -- from either making a profit or trying to run them off."
"Captain, I figured that the sooner I gave him what he wanted, the faster he and his . . . admittedly gorgeous . . . girlfriend would get off this station and away from me. And Nog, and Rom, and the rest of us," Quark added. "Do you realize I wasn't even really going to make a profit on this?"
Sisko guessed that in his own short-sighted way the Ferengi may have actually have been trying to help, though he recognized the line about profit for the blatant lie that it was.
Villahermosa had a thought. "Quark, what DID Spike want?"
In answer, Quark pulled out a datapadd and handed it to Sisko. The top two items were emphasized. Sisko read the list, frowned, and handed it to Villahermosa, whose reaction was a bit more dramatic: She growled a growl Worf would have been proud of and threw it across the room, narrowly missing a garish piece of statuary.
"Watch out!" Quark said. "Do you know how much that cost me?"
If Quark hadn't gotten change back from a strip of latinum, he was overcharged. "Tell me you haven't gotten any of these items!" Sisko said, raising his voice. No answer from the Ferengi, as the Captain had feared. "Do you know why he wanted these? Willow is a computer genius. With just the computer and the decoder -- well, it'd take some time, but they might be able to do significant damage to the station if they were of a mind to."
Villahermosa threw Quark up against the wall. "I will hold you personally responsible if --" Sisko grabbed her arm.
"No, Lieutenant. Now is not the time for recriminations, and we're lucky in one sense that it was Quark and not someone else. In any event, we don't have the time." He pressed his commbadge. "Sisko to Ops."
"Dax h--" Ezri's voice -- Ezri's voice? But he'd left Worf in charge -- began, but then was cut off and replaced with a teasing female voice. "Uh-uh-uh, Captain Sisko. Using the communications system without permission is a big no-no. You didn't say 'mother may I.' And Quark, you better not have told on us . . ."
Self-preservation instinct in full swing, the Ferengi sputtered. "I never --"
Villahermosa rushed to the door and tried to open it; seconds later, Quark did the same, with similar lack of success.
"Sorry, Captain," Willow's voice came through. "Nothing personal, really. But we just can't let you out right now. I'm sure you understand." After a brief pause, she said, laughing, "Willow Rosenberg out. Buh-bye now . . . "
X X X X X
Worf paced around Ops and scowled a lot, unwittingly scaring the other Starfleet personnel on duty on a regular basis, but not caring. Not only did he know he was being kept out of the action . . . there was something being kept from him, and while he was forced to assume that Captain Sisko knew exactly what he was doing, that did not mean he had to like it.
Suddenly a chime indicated an interstation communication. "Ops," Worf said.
"Commander," came Captain Sisko's voice. "I need you to do something for me."
"There is someone in Dr. Bashir's office who represents a grave danger to this station. His name is Angel --"
"The bounty hunter?" Worf broke in.
After a short pause, "The same. Round up a couple of Security Officers and escort Mr. Summers to the brig. If he resists, use any means necessary to get him there. Am I understood?"
"Sisko out." And the communication shut off.
Finally! A chance to be part of whatever was going on. Half of Worf hoped that Mr. Summers would go along quietly.
The other half, of course, hoped no such thing.
X X X X X
"Sisko out," Spike said as he shut off the communicator. Then he turned and said, "This is superb, my love, superb. What else can you do?"
Willow looked at Spike and said, "Well, now . . . pretty much anything. I wouldn't want to try to patch together a conversation like that again, though."
"Damn," Spike said, not really unhappy. "So no having Sisko order everyone off the station?"
"Too much of a chance of being caught. We have to pick and choose carefully who we, well, throw other people's voices to." She grinned wickedly. "How about, instead, a little sunlight in the Doctor's office? I think the decoder can stand that strain too."
"Have I told you recently that I like the way you think, dark princess?"
"Yes . .. but flattery will get you," she licked her lips and said breathily, "absolutely everywhere."
"Even into the Gamma Quadrant?"
"And beyond," Willow answered.