Disclaimer: All Star Trek people, places, things, and ideas belong to Paramount Studios. Vedek Lani Zora is mine. (A/N: Sorry this chapter took so long in coming. My muse ran off and it took me a while to catch it again).
Chapter 15: Secret Agent
Winn closed her eyes for a moment, summoning up the courage to turn around. If she did, she knew that her condition would almost certainly be revealed. I should have pretended not to hear that, she mentally scolded herself. She turned slowly and spotted a smiling woman in a vedek's garb. The woman walked toward her.
"Vedek Lani?" Winn inquired. The brown-eyed woman nodded.
"I'm surprised to find you here. After you resigned, they wouldn't say were you'd gone," Vedek Lani Zora mentioned.
"I'm here for medical purposes," Winn admitted.
Vedek Lani chewed her lip. "I'm sorry. Will you be alright?"
Winn nodded. "I should be in time. I've been the kai long enough. It's time for someone with a fresh perspective."
The other woman nodded and followed Winn as she began walking to the security office where she had left her robe. "I've been on a retreat for the last two months and I haven't heard anything about the nominees. Were any of them recommended by you?"
"Just one, Colonel Kira Nerys," Winn stated, noting the look of relief in the vedek's face. Lani had been happy to remain a vedek. She could minister to the Bajoran people without the burdens of politics or any other aliens.
"Ah, the resistance fighter. She's an interesting choice," Lani assessed.
"I don't mean to be abrupt, but I do need to be somewhere, if you will excuse me," Winn informed her.
"Oh, of course. I didn't mean to keep you," Lani responded.
Without further interruption, Winn returned to the security office and donned her robe again. After she reached her quarters and the door had closed, Dukat approached her. "What took so long?"
"You sound worried," she commented with a smirk.
"Call it that if you want," he teased.
"I ran into a vedek who recognized me. We talked for a while and fortunately she is the same height as I am. She mostly watched my face, not noticing anything suspicious," she paused, gesturing toward her abdomen. "But I won't be forgetting my robe again."
Sisko and Kira called Winn and Dukat into the security office several times over the next few days in hopes of catching more Maquis. After noticing that they were only finding a few people at a time, Kira decided to pay a certain Ferengi another visit. She sauntered into the bar and found Quark off to the side arranging a new shipment of Bajoran spring wine.
He looked over as she approached. "Colonel, what can I do for you this time?"
She leaned closed, whispering, "I need more information if you've got it. We suspect that several Maquis are here, but we're not seeing them."
A patron approached, asking for a glass of Earth gin. He spoke to Kira first. "I'm sorry, we're all out of that." Then he turned to his customer.
"Perhaps you've got something else then," she stated as the man left.
Looking from one side of the room to the other, he moved closer to her. "Someone as a dermal regenerator and they're using it on people for a fee. That's all I've heard. However, I'd be willing to hear more if you'll let my next shipment pass through."
Kira rolled her eyes. "Nice try, Quark. This is serious. I need to know if anything suspicious is going on. Ro Laren and several Maquis are still in the loose."
"Alright, I get the point. Just don't let the rest of the station know about it," he grumbled.
She smirked. "Of course not. I've got better things to do than ruin your miserly reputation," she teased as she left, heading in the direction of the tailor's shop.
Oriel greeted her with a smile. "Colonel Kira, nice to see you back. Is there anything I can do for you?"
"I won't take up much of your time. I was looking for-"
"Your friend. Yes, she's here today," Oriel mentioned, pointing toward the back room.
Kira headed toward the table where she found Winn busily checking the row of buttons down the backs of three costume dresses that a group of young women wanted to use for a holosuit program version of Little Women. She looked up and smiled at the Colonel. "Hello, Nerys."
"Kai Winn- I mean…," for once Kira was unsure as to what to call the former Kai.
"Adami," the blonde woman substituted.
"Adami. I was wondering if you knew anything about a dermal regenerator that the Maquis might be using to disguise themselves," the colonel explained.
"I'm afraid I can't help you with that one," Winn replied.
Kira ran a hand through her hair. "Security just can't seem to keep up with them. I just haven't been able to replace Odo."
Winn folded one dress to move on to the next. "Don' t you have people who work under cover, child?"
"I should. I can't get volunteers lately," the colonel answered.
The blonde woman thought for a moment as she finished a button. "Come find me after my shift. I may have some ideas." Kira nodded and left.
When she returned later, she found Dukat in his robe walking with Winn. "You said you might have an idea?"
"Adami, what's this about?" Dukat inquired.
Winn smiled calmly. "Both of you, follow me," she instructed.
They continued walking until they reached Winn and Dukat's quarters. After entering, the three of them sat down on the couch. Winn first addressed Dukat. "The colonel needs someone to work under cover because the Maquis are using a dermal regenerator to hide from security."
"And you want to volunteer me?" he asked with a smirk.
Winn then looked at Kira. "You could alter Dukat to appear differently, not necessarily Bajoran, and also give him something that will alter his voice while he talks to them."
Dukat sat back in thought. "It's an interesting plan, but what are you and I getting out of this?"
She smiled genuinely at their shared need to trade one favor for another. This is so simple. I can't believe neither one of us thought of this sooner. "You told me that the Emissary said he would think about marrying us. If you spied for him, perhaps we could use it as something to bargain with."
He grinned. "I do believe I like this plan of yours."
Kira spoke up. "I think that you'd better talk to Sisko about the rest."
The three of them met with Sisko in his office. Sisko glanced up as the three entered. "Is there a problem, Colonel?" he asked, looking directly at Kira.
"First of all, the reason we haven't been able to catch many Maquis operatives is because someone is using a dermal regenerator. Winn and Dukat have offered to help find whoever's behind it," Kira explained. Sisko glanced at his folded hands, then back at the others.
"I can promise you that we don't have it, before you have the urge to interrogate us over the matter," Dukat stated. "If you would allow your doctor to alter my appearance and my voice temporarily, I could spy for you."
Sisko sighed and eyed the Cardassian with scrutiny. "How do I know this isn't some sort of trick to let you be Bajoran again?"
"You'll have to trust me for once," Dukat replied.
"Why should I agree to this? What did you want out of it?" Sisko probed.
Winn sat forward and spoke. "We only wish to be married under Bajoran ceremony. He'll find your Maquis agents if you agree to the wedding."
Sisko sat back and looked from one to the other, gauging their sincerity. After a long pause, he spoke again. "You two have yourselves a deal."
The following day, Dr. Bashir altered Dukat's appearance, changing it to that of a Bolian. Altering Dukat's voice was a simple as placing a bridge in someone's mouth. A small device that fit over his upper incisors contained a filter to change the voice of the user, altering the tone and the pitch.
Winn eyed his Bolian appearance with curiosity. "It really is a good disguise. I would never have recognized you."
"Let's hope that our Maquis acquaintances are of the same perception," Dukat mentioned, his voice sounding so foreign to her.
Kira had called and informed Talos that 'Dakin Solan' had to be called away for a week to inspect a few ships that she had found personally questionable. Dukat in his Bolian disguise wandered into Quark's bar, looking casually at the people around him. Quark was not working the bar that day, instead it was a dark-haired Bajoran woman in clothes only slightly more conservative than the Dabo girls.
There was a group of Bolians discussing whatever was on a few electronic data pads. Humans and Bajorans sat and chatted with drinks in their hands. Some Ferengi lingered at the Dabo tables, still trying to change their luck. However, Dukat also noticed several Cardassians eating and drinking. Since the war had ended and the Federation had volunteered to help the Cardassians rebuild some of their society, he had noticed more Cardassians aboard the station. To hide from the enemy, they become the enemy. I suppose they did learn from the best, Dukat thought smugly.
He watched them quietly, wondering why so many would be on the station at the same time. As he sat at the bar drinking a glass of Romulan ale, he looked at what the Cardassians were drinking and got his answer. None of them were drinking Kanar. They were all sipping either Bajoran spring wine or various human beverages. He moved to approach one of them when a Bolian tapped him on the shoulder.
"Did you have business with the Ferengi too?" the Bolian inquired.
Dukat shook his blue head. "No, actually I'm looking for someone willing to help with a few cosmetic concerns I've been having."
The Bolian shook his head and laughed. "Don't tell me, you want hair. I tell you the other humanoids here are fools. Hair is too much of a bother."
"Perhaps, but you wouldn't happen to know of anyone with a dermal regenerator, would you?" Dukat probed.
Looking from left to right, the Bolian leaned closer to Dukat. "You might ask one of the Cardassians here. I'm certain that most of them aren't Cardassians."
"Thank you," Dukat responded before leaving the bar.
As he was deciding which Cardassian to approach, he noticed a Cardassian woman sitting by herself, eating hasperat. "That doesn't look like a very Cardassian lunch," he said from behind her.
"A leftover preference from the Occupation," she replied in a voice Dukat found oddly familiar.
He stepped into her view and pulled out the chair across from her. "You should at least include a glass of Kanar then. The flavor goes reasonably well with hasperat," he remarked as he sat down.
She glared at him, as if berating him for having the audacity to sit by her. "I don't remember asking for your opinion on my meal."
"I'm just saying that it would look more Cardassian if you were eating sem'hal stew," Dukat relayed.
The woman raised an eyebrow and looked at him incredulously. "And what would a Bolian know about Cardassian food?"
He folded his hands on the table in front of him. "That would depend on what you know about a dermal regenerator."
Leaning closer, the woman whispered, "There is a man who used to be a surgeon. He's the one who has what you're looking for. If you can find me a few fake identification cards, then I'll take you to him. I'll be here tomorrow."
"Done," Dukat responded.
He left Quark's bar and headed to the temporary quarters that he had been assigned to. Then using a secure channel, he contacted Kira. "I have the information you wanted. I think we were on the right track, thinking that the Maquis have all changed their appearances. I spoke to a Cardassian woman whom I believe to be Ro Laren."
Kira's eyes widened. "Sounds like you've had a busy day. Have you found out who has the dermal regenerator yet?"
"She said if I would bring her false identification, then she would take me to him," Dukat relayed.
"You believe her?" Kira questioned.
"I'll make sure she follows through on this deal," he said with calm conviction.
Kira paused for a moment on her end, drumming her fingers on the desk. Then she turned back to him. "I'll give the papers to Adami and ask her to leave them in the tailor's shop. You can go in and pretend to be shopping," she suggested.
"That's not a bad idea," he responded.
After Dukat had ended the transmission, Kira went to work, making false identification documents. As she checked the time on the computer screen, she realized that Winn would be off work by then and decided to head toward the former kai's quarters. Winn heard the door chime and opened it to let in Kira.
"Hello, Nerys. What brings you by?" she inquired, hoping that perhaps the colonel had word regarding Dukat.
Kira stepped in, allowing the doors to swish closed behind her. "Dukat's under-cover plan is working, but he needs these documents in order to follow this further. You can leave them somewhere in the tailor's shop and he can get them tomorrow."
Winn nodded. "I'll do that. How is he? Will he be finished soon?"
She offered the younger woman a place on the couch and both women sat. "He shouldn't be much longer if his contact is legitimate."
The blonde woman raised an eyebrow. "And if the contact isn't?"
"I plan on having a security team out of uniform in the area, following him at a distance," Kira revealed.
Winn nodded. "He doesn't know that though, does he?"
Kira fiddled with her hands for a moment. "Let's just say that it's better for his cover if he doesn't."
The former kai took time to study the woman in front of her. Kira had accepted the nomination as kai and the voting had continued on Bajor. The younger woman would be helping Dukat, whom she publicly hated, as part of this assignment to catch the Maquis. It is a strange universe we live in, Winn mused. "How have you been lately?" Winn questioned.
Kira shrugged. "I'm fine. Though, if I do for end up elected kai, as unlikely as I think that is, I'll have to train someone to take my job as head of security."
"And you will need training as well, child. I have a few people on Bajor who might be willing to help you," Winn relayed.
"I appreciate the thought, but the 'if' I win is a pretty big 'if,'" Kira said with a smirk.
In the morning as Oriel was looking through a few inventory lists, Winn left the documents underneath a pile of folded sweaters. Later that day, a familiar Bolian wandered in as other people were looking through the shop's products. Not knowing where Winn had placed the documents, Dukat began looking through the folded pants.
Oriel noticed the newcomer and walked over to him. "Hello, can I help you with something?"
He turned and smiled politely at her. "No thank you, this is my first stay on the station and I was seeing what products it had to offer."
"Well, let me know if I can help you. We also do repair work," she mentioned.
Problem solved. "Do you? I'm glad you mentioned that. Is there anyone here who could give me advice on how to fix a few buttons?"
Oriel nodded. "Sure. My assistant is in the back room at the moment, but I'm sure she'd be happy to help you."
Dukat entered the back room to find Winn busily sewing zippers onto dresses. She looked up and blinked in surprise as he entered. "I'm looking for advice on how to fix a button."
"Is it on a shirt or a jacket?" she inquired, catching his eye.
"A jacket," he responded.
Pretending that he was a customer, she motioned for him to come closer as she brought out a sweater with buttons. Once they were standing side by side, the game stopped. "It isn't that I'm not glad to see you, but what are you doing here?" she probed.
"I can't find the documents," he relayed, pausing to give her hand a squeeze.
Oriel passed by and Dukat moved toward the door. "You really should look at our new stock in sweaters," Winn told him.
He smiled sadly, knowing that any further interaction could blow his cover. Then he left her and headed toward the sweaters. As Oriel worked at the register, Dukat removed the documents from underneath the sweaters. Then he left the tailor's shop and proceeded to Quark's bar.
Quickly he spotted the same Cardassian woman. Today she was sipping a glass of Kanar, but frowning deeply after each sip. "That's not very convincing either," he remarked from behind her. She jumped and then turned to face him.
"It's just a bad year of Kanar," she responded.
He sat across from her and produced the documents. She looked through them and smiled. As she put them in a brown handbag that she had placed on the floor, he spoke again. "You have what you wanted. Now it's your turn."
She grinned mischievously. "Yes it is, but suddenly I'm not so sure if he's still on the station."
They both stood and she turned as if to leave. He caught her sharply by the elbow. "I know people here who could make your life miserable. A couple of Nausican friends won't care what papers you have. I suggest you follow through with your end, or you'll get to meet my friends."
A moment of genuine panic flickered in her eyes, but it was replaced by cold steel. "I thought Bolians could take a joke. Follow me," she spat in a whisper.
The two left the bar and walked down the Promenade for a while, until they were standing in a slightly more deserted end of the station. She led Dukat to a doorway blocked by a thick green curtain. The glow from a yellow light trickled out from underneath into the hall. "He's in there," she told him. Then she turned to leave him.
He grabbed the upper portion of her arm near her shoulder. "I'm not letting you go until I see his face."
"I brought you here. I don't owe you anything," she snapped.
"Let's go inside, Ro Laren," he stated.
Dukat drew back the curtain with one hand while the other kept a firm grip on her. A man was seated at a round table, a med-kit in front of him. He looked up, his gaze on the woman. "Back again? Was something wrong with the makeup?" the small Bajoran man asked.
Ro glared at Dukat. "This man wanted to see you."
As the man studied him, Dukat realized that he had also been physically altered. However, an object on the shelf behind the man reminded Dukat of something he had seen. The small blue kneeling figurine was made of a particular stone on Cardassia. "Dr. Merick," Dukat said.
The man looked at him, wide-eyed. "You know me? How could you know me? I worked for the Dominion until Cardassia was freed."
"Let's just say you have a reputation," the Bolian in disguise stated.
Merick then focused only on the other man's eyes. A macabre smirk spread over his face. "Federation doesn't do half as good a job. The should've made your eyes look Bolian."
"If he's not a Bolian, than who is he?" Ro asked.
"Gul Dukat, of course," the doctor replied.
Ro jerked free of him and began to look for a weapon. She grabbed an old curtain rod that had been sitting on the floor. "I don't know what you're trying to do, but you're not going to fool me anymore!" she seethed, raising the rod to strike Dukat.
Suddenly the curtain was yanked back and Kira's security team stood, wearing plain clothes, phasers poised to shoot. "Somebody here's under arrest. Until I figure out who, all of you are coming with me," the man at the front said.
The three were placed in separate cells until Kira appeared to sort the matter out. She let Dukat go without a word. Then she turned to the other two. "War's over, Ro. Peacetime is here whether we want it or not."
Ro crossed her arms indignantly. "You just let Gul Dukat walk out of here."
"Right now you two are the only witnesses and neither of you is all that credible at this point," Kira mentioned. Then she turned toward Merick. "Along with helping to disguise members of the Maquis, you were also working for the Dominion. If you can give me a list of names of the Maquis you've done work on, then your sentence might be less severe."
Merick, being a pragmatic man, nodded in compliance. Ro turned to Kira. "I notice you didn't make me the same offer."
"I know my enemies," Kira remarked as she left the room.
Dukat had gone over to sickbay and after a few hours had his usual face back. Kira entered as Bashir finished. "Colonel, what a surprise to see you here," he stated, his voice alteration having been removed also.
She rolled her eyes. "Much as it pains me to tell you this, the Maquis on the station are as good as caught and we have you to thank for it."
Dukat smirked. "Glad to help, Colonel. Though I must admit that your team had fantastic timing, coming from all over the station in a matter of seconds. It wasn't as if I was being followed," he said smoothly.
Both adversaries shook hands as Dr. Bashir released him. Soon he was at his own quarters. Winn heard the chime and opened the door. Seeing him enter, she smiled broadly and hugged him. "I'm glad you're alright."
He kissed the top of her head as they walked further into the room. "So you've missed me," he teased.
She smiled slyly, looking over at the replicator. "I would've had to resort to the maintenance crew of you hadn't shown up to fix the replicator."
Laughing heartily, he let her go and went in search of the toolbox he had used the last time it had malfunctioned. "So how did the mission turn out?" she asked as he worked.
"I'll have to tell you over dinner," he replied, turning to face her. Seeing her smile at him he thought, Perhaps 'normal' isn't so bad after all.
(My thanks to RedSkyAtDawn for reviewing :D)