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Ziminske Aris stood in a dark room that had nothing but a computer console near the tall metal double door. As each second passed, she became more and more nervous, not sure where she was and who had whisked her off the shuttle just in the nick of time.

Then the doors slid open and made a loud crashing noise once they had fully parted. A middle-aged human male of average height stepped into the chamber accompanied by two taller human male guards. All of them were dressed in the black leather jumpsuits that were the uniforms of Section 31. The lead agent had short golden blond hair and showed very few visible signs of aging other than around his eyes.

“Welcome back, Miss Huberstock,” Luther Sloan enthusiastically greeted.

Ziminske rolled her eyes, annoyed by this man’s inappropriately jovial attitude. “That’s all you have to say after I barely got out of there alive, Director Sloan? Just ‘welcome back’?”

“It was necessary to fake your death so we could maintain our plausible deniability,” Sloan explained with a more stoic business-as-usual expression on his face. “Captain Limis, Commander Kozar, Doctor Markalis can make all the accusations they want, but Starfleet Headquarters will just deny everything. You have the cure, I assume. And the DNA sample?”

Ziminske sighed before removing a vial from her right sleeve, and then one from her left. “Right here,” she said while rolling her eyes, not sure what exactly these agents wanted with the genetic sample she was providing or what would happen to her afterwards.

“Good,” Sloan replied as he read the labels on the two vials. “This will only take a minute.” He placed the vial with the green label in a slot on a computer terminal. The service record of Aurellan Markalis appeared on the right hand side of the screen while other biographical profiles appeared on the left hand side, flashing at lightning speed. Next, he tucked away the vial with the blue label in his belt while motioning the two other men towards Ziminske. “In the meantime, we will delete the pertinent information from your cortical implant.”

The computer chirped, catching Sloan’s attention. He nodded approvingly, as if what was on the screen confirmed something he had already known. “Our business with Aurellan Markalis is at an end for now,” he remarked as he kept his gaze on the screen a few more seconds. Then looking at Ziminske, he smirked. “Cole had his objections,” he continued, “and understandably so. But you were right to seek a second opinion from one of our, should we say, guns-for-hire. She will be a useful asset in the future, while I intend to recommend you for a promotion.”

Ziminske scoffed, certain that Sloan wasn’t serious. “After all that went wrong?”

“Of course not,” Sloan said with a wicked grin. “Guards! Take her away!”

The two guards grabbed Ziminske by her arms to coax her out of the room. And she barely put up much of a fight despite an expression of fear in her eyes as if she was afraid for her life.

On the computer screen, next to the Starfleet service record of Aurellan, was the biographical profile of Sarina Douglas. Both had the same face with long and straight blond hair. In red letters on the top of the screen read the words: “99.99998 percent genetic match.” And under both their names on the two respective capsules were: “Father: George Samuel Douglas” and “Mother: Lorena Markalis.”

Chapter End Notes: The name Ziminske is derived from the name of a 29th century temporal investigator in the Star Trek: Hidden Frontier episode "Two Hours", portrayed by Renee Huberstock, who would later portray Admiral Alynna Nechayev throughout that online fan-film series. This Ziminske (aka Huberstock) will later be revealed as a former pupil of Nechayev's when the admiral oversaw an undercover surveillance mission to Bajor during the last years of the Occupation.

When first writing the character of Aurellan Markalis, I began to envision DS9-alum Faith Coley Salie in that role (see Character bios), who portrayed Sarina Douglas simply because of the similarities in the two characters. Initially, I had planned it to simply be a coincidence-- where not even the eidetic memory of the genetically enhanced Julian Bashir could see a resemblance-- until the novel Zero Sum Game where Sarina had become an operative for Starfleet Intelligence caught up in the machinations of Section 31.

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