"Finding a Flaw"
(Continued from "Flabbergasted"

Setting: MASQUERADE DREAMS, Room 22-004 (Eve)
Stardate: 30153.0525

Hostile situations, terrorist procedures, and hostage protocols flashed in Eve's head, perhaps in the same way the inside of a warp coil did for the Chief Engineer. She saw possibilities. Her mouth drew in a thin, grim line as the outcomes also came to mind; very few of them were pleasant.

"Counsellor, report," Erik Morningstar said crisply.

"Sir," she responded evenly, but not without an intense desire to help. Her gray eyes were wide with urgency. "We know Fenix is fond of destructive displays to get his point across. Until now, bombs have been his known means of outreach. But this time, he's taken hostages."

"Starfleet does not negotiate with terrorists." The CO punctuated his words with an absoluteness.

Dalziel sighed. "That's not a problem. I really don't think we have anything to bargain with. I mean, other than the ship itself, which is definitely off the table, what do we have that Fenix would want more than the hostages he has right now?"

The CO of the ANUBIS tried to dissect the workings of a madman's mind. "With the bombing, I thought he was aiming for destruction, to create a scene of some kind or direct attention to his cause. We could just mount a direct strike and neutralize him." Morningstar wrestled with the idea.

"But if you were willing to sacrifice the few for the many, you would have already done it. You didn't call 'Shadow Protocol' on a whim. So I'm guessing you'd prefer other options?"

Erik nodded. That was exactly what he wanted.

"The plans that Fenix so carefully orchestrated did not have their intended result. But rather than retreat and cut his losses, he continued to work aboard the MASQUERADE DREAMS."

"Why do you think he did that?" the Native American inquired, knowing from experience that the Cardassian born Counselor had a way to get into other people's heads.

"He shows trademarks of being a highly organized criminal. I suspect he had contingency plans or at the very least some kind of backup plan."

Apparently it was a backup plan that included two of his senior staff. "What do you think his intentions are towards Stark and Doyanne?"

Eve tilted her head to one side. "I don't think he means to harm them, Captain... but I don't think he wants to let them leave either."

"Explain, please." Erik's voice was dry, his mind rushing through the endless possibilities that he would have to deal with in one form or another.

"In his delusional state, my opinion is that he thinks he's found two more members to add to his terrorist ranks. He sees them both as pawns, but highly skilled and formidable ones he can make into his henchman and henchwoman. He seems to have genuine affection for Lillie as well, as if she reminds him of someone or something he once lost." Lillie's exposed 'secret' hung in the back of the Counsellor's mind. If she truly was Tarellian, why wasn't she showing any obvious signs of illness?

"Not bad," Erik said. "Perhaps there is a family member or friend we can uncover from his past to use as leverage."

"I don't know if we have that kind of time," Eve countered. "But maybe we can use some of his own medicine against him."

"What do you mean?"

"Mind control and suggestion are some kind of vocation to this man. Maybe we can create a type of energy pulse similar to what was embedded in that mirror. Something that would incapacitate him long enough to get our people out."

A faint smile flashed over the Native American's features. Eve had provided him with what he had hoped for; an alternative that held a solid chance of both containing the situation and saving Doctor Doyanne and Ensign Stark.

Susan Ledbetter

Lieutenant JG Eve Dalziel