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Author: Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Dean Wesley Smith
Publisher: Pocket Books, 1999
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Double Helix: Book 2
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Like a strand of mutating DNA, a deadly conspiracy winds its way through the entire Alpha Quadrant, just as it stretches across several years of Starfleet history -- even to the Cardassian space station that will someday be known as Deep Space Nine.

A virulent plague has stricken Terok Nor, striking down both the enslaved Bajorans and Cardassian oppressors, who blame each other for the growing epidemic. Dr. Katherine Pulaski, late of the Starship Enterprise, must work with the tyrannical Gul Dukat, as well as a rebel spy named Kira Nerys, to discover the true source of an infection that threatens them all!


Chapter One

Terok Nor. Its name was as dark as its corridors. He actually found himself seeking the light, but carefully. Oh, so carefully. Sometimes his cloak malfunctioned, and he was seen. Partially, like a heat shimmer across desert sand, or an electronic memory buried in an old computer. But he was seen.

He didn't dare make that mistake here. The General didn't tolerate mistakes from his agents.

He stood in the shadows just to the left of the main entrance to a place called Quark's Bar. The area the Ferengi bartender had called the Promenade lay before him, turning away to the right, bending with the shape of the station design. The walls were gray, the floors gray, everything was gray. The Cardassians had made no effort to decorate this place. Even the bar seemed dismal.

He shuddered and drew his cape around his body. He was glad he wouldn't have to stay here too long. This Terok Nor reminded him of his prison cell. He had lost too many years of his life there. He had spent too much time staring at gray metal walls, dreaming of escape. The metal walls, the ringing sound of boots against hard surfaces, the stench of fear -- impossible to hide, even though the Cardassians kept their Bajoran prisoners separate from the rest of the population -- permeated the place. If he shut his eyes, his other senses would find nothing to distinguish Terok Nor from that hideous cell, from that prison he had finally left. The prison had changed him -- made him bitter, made him wiser, made him more careful.

Oh, so careful.

Two Cardassian guards walked the wide passage. Their gray skin matched the depressing decor. The only thing that seemed wrong to him was the heat. By rights this station should have been as cold as its walls, but it wasn't. The heat was thick and nearly unbearable. He didn't know how anyone could stand being here for long. The heat also accentuated the smells: the processed air, the unwashed bodies, the Rokassa juice wafting out from the bar. The sensations were almost too much for him.

He reminded himself that Terok Nor was the perfect testing ground. Two races, living in close proximity, with others coming and going. Their petty differences didn't matter. That one race kept the other prisoner, that one made the other labor in uridium processing were merely details. The important factor was much larger.

Terok Nor was the perfect testing ground for the General. A closed system, for the most part. But anyone entering the system -- or departing the system -- would leave a record. A trail he could follow, should he so choose.

He didn't choose at the moment.

Now he was most interested in Terok Nor itself.

To his right in the bar, crowds of uridium freighter pilots and crews shouted and laughed, the sounds echoing off the high ceilings. A few moments before, he'd been in there sitting at the bar, watching.


Trying to stay cool and block out the uridium smell with the odor of one of the pilots' Gamzian wine. But it hadn't helped, and besides, he couldn't see that well or hear that clearly with his cloak on.

A clang from the far end of the Promenade caught his attention. One of the Cardassian guards had dropped his phaser pistol, then grabbed the wall as if for support. The other guard bent over him, then glanced from side to side, as if worried that a Bajoran might see and take advantage.

He was too far away to hear their words. The first guard shrugged the other off. The second guard picked up the pistol and spoke on his communicator. Two guards who had apparently been patrolling just out of his line of sight ran toward the far end of the Promenade.

The first guard put an arm around the second, who again shrugged him off. The second tried to stand, and nearly collapsed. The first guard supported him, and together they walked along the walls, keeping as far out of sight as possible.

He felt excitement flash through him, and he tamped it down. He couldn't let his emotions interfere with his observations. This might be nothing. It was a bit early to see results. He hadn't expected anything so soon.

The guards passed him. He had to press himself against the gray metal so that they wouldn't brush him. They weren't conversing, although he wished they would. He wanted to know exactly what had happened.

He needed to know.

He had moved to follow the guards, but the Promenade gave him no cover. So he remained in the shadows.

He would wait here, in the heat and the stench, just as he had done in his cell. He was good at waiting, especially when he knew it would end. And it would end.

Soon he would get his answer.

Copyright © 1999 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Copyright © 1999 by Dean Wesley Smith


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