Welcome back to another edition of Tuesdays at Quark’s! We’re closing out our exploration of the Operations Division with a character from everybody’s favorite clandestine black-ops division: Section 31.
Section 31 first appeared in Deep Space Nine, specifically the episode “Inquisition” which also saw the appearance of the man synonymous with Section 31 for many fans: Luther Sloan. Ostensibly a deputy director in Starfleet Intelligence, this man has proven himself a deft and manipulative spy who keeps everyone guessing and orchestrates everything from assassination to biowarfare. The agency later appears in a series of episodes from the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise which shows that the agency is older than the Federation itself.
There are a lot of different ways to use Section 31 but in this post I want to talk about one that isn’t regularly seen. Julian Vasquez is a member of Section 31 who wants to leave and is in a precarious position as a result. Malcolm Reed reveals in the Enterprise episode “Divergence” that he joined and wants to thwart Section 31 now, but he is a junior member (it’s, in fact, his first mission for Section 31) so he doesn’t know much. Vasquez knows a lot, he was an active member with inner secrets. His change of heart could give Starfleet the tools it needs to root out Section 31… if he’s telling the truth. Misdirection and confusion are regular tools of Section 31 so Vasquez’s “defection” might actually be a calculated plot for some other means. Still, can the crew afford not to hear him out?
Obviously, there are as many ways to use this character as there are Robert Ludlum novels but here are a few plot hooks to get you started.
- Julian Vasquez is arrested along with a band of Maquis in Bajoran space. The band’s mission went wrong at a critical time and Vasquez steps forward to say that he is responsible. He specifically joined the group, according to Vasquez, so that he could be arrested by an ally of the Federation instead of Starfleet where Section 31 might find him immediately. The trouble is that the crew has been sent to extradite the whole group, so what do they make of his story?
- One of the bridge crew wakes while on shore leave to find two agents of Section 31 in their quarters. This might be the first contact they’ve had with the group or just another point of contact, but it’s certainly memorable when, mid-monologue, Vasquez steps forward and subdues his superior with an injection of something. When Vasquez’s story comes out it could be genuine or part of a test for the crew member that Section 31 came to see.
- When a package is delivered to the ship for the captain, it seems at first to be a beautiful piece of art. They quickly find a hidden message, though, from Julian Vasquez who says he is contacting them because he knows they are honorable and loyal. The message leads to another and another until the ship is warping throughout the Alpha Quadrant to find the evidence to expose Section 31. What will they find at the end? And is Julian Vasquez as dead as he claims?