The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

Chapter Ten

Doctor Tracy Sorge was a Human Professor of Genetic Sciences in his eighties with an imposing bearing and neatly trimmed beard. For the last few years he had been on loan from Starfleet Medical Academy to the Bajoran Government to assist in keeping their medical system up to a minimal standard.

"Have to do something when you retire," he apprised Janice when Dax called him out from the isolation of the morgue to introduce them. "My wife and I were with that group at the airlock waiting for the shuttle when that officer, or whoever he was, attempted to abduct that little girl -- you catch up with him yet?" he checked with Dax. "You can say no. Certain if you don't, someone else will. Things have a way of coming back around…That's what we believe, anyway. Starfleet?" he nodded to Janice. "Or some other academy? Doesn't have to be Federation."

"Oh." His abrupt way of mixing questions with answers caught Janice slightly off guard. "Well, I attended the Medical Academy, yes."

"Think you're familiar with the systems then. That's the question. The Vulcan Science Academy rivals our own -- in a few years so will Bajor's."

"Why do I believe you?" Janice laughed.

"Because you're a smart girl. They have us working through the engineering console. The underlying matrix is Cardassian. That mean anything to you?"

"Oh," Janice said. "Well, I don't know. Does it make a difference? I haven't noticed any with the replicators -- other than some of the signage."

"In principle I'm told it should," Sorge snorted with a nod for that dress of hers. "That wasn't a friend of yours, was it?"

"The Cardassian representative Gul Dukat was injured in the attack," Dax explained.

"Heard about it," he preempted her. "Well, one of these days we're bound to figure out wishing someone dead does little to change anything. There's always another one right behind them -- you were saying something?"

Dax smiled. "Only that Doctor Lange is the Bajoran representative -- not to advertise, simply to inform. Captain Sisko would appreciate it if that were not a topic of conversation among your assigned staff."

"What assigned staff," Sorge snorted again. "I sent them back to the Infirmary where they belong. These people don't need doctors or nurses, they're dead. They need me -- and you," he assured Janice. "So you're another one of the troublemakers. Funny, but you don't look particularly dangerous to me -- neither does that Mister Paq of yours. Not anymore. He's in there with about a hundred others so far. That going to be a problem?"

"Well, no," Janice said. "I can't see why it would be."

"That's the answer," Sorge pointed her towards the door. "Nothing fancy to this. We're just doing some routine screenings to get identifications on these people for now. DNA, if we have it. Docking passes, if we don't and on down the line. If something unusual shows up in the initial analysis, we'll take it from there. Depending on what it is, it might have to wait its turn. There's a multitude of cultural considerations among others. They're not all Bajoran…"

That was the last Dax heard as the door closed behind them. It was 2300. Seven hours later Bashir found Janice and Sorge working diligently over the Klingon cadavers.

Bashir tried to calculate the odds of someone still managing to look so devastatingly feminine attired in a bio-suit and surrounded by Klingon gore. "Like pieces of some gruesome jigsaw puzzle," he smiled from the assortment of body parts on the table to the computer generated compilation on the display. "Is this him?"

"That's him," Sorge agreed. "If you overlay the first graphic you'll see the points of impact."

"Yes, I see that." Bashir answered from the console. "Nearest the blast, I take it?"

"Three meters, no more," Janice offered. "That's not what killed him though… may I?"

"Go ahead," Sorge waved permission.

"Engineering gave us a schematic outline of the bridge…" Janice reset the graphics to show the origin of the explosion and probable locations of the five Klingon officers with the principal subject slumped against the communications console just prior to being torn limb from limb from the disruptor blast. "Internal scans show a series of erratic stab wounds to the breast region of the torso -- three of which could have proved fatal. The pattern is consistent with a struggle where you just keeping hitting and hitting to get the person off of you."

"Quite. Until the person actually falls, you wouldn't necessarily realize they were dead or dying -- especially with a Klingon."

"Oh, there was redundancy to the attack. But that's not the determining cause of death. Someone was holding him from behind. He was stabbed in the lower quadrant of his back, straight through a heart -- and just to be sure…" she punched in a second overlay.

"His throat was cut," Bashir nodded. "It does make the number of wounds to the chest area somewhat unnecessary, doesn't it?"

"There are a couple of other interesting ones…May I?"

"Go ahead," Sorge agreed. "Just entering the last of this data and I'll be right with you."

"We were finishing the vascular study to determine if any of the chest wounds were inflicted after death…" Janice moved to a Bajoran Special Forces officer that Bashir recognized as the subject of his psychological review; Captain Rhome Kirst.

"After which we're going to breakfast and move a couple of these fellows aside to take a deserved rest," Sorge assured. "My wife's threatened forcible entry and removal if we don't, twice. Usually means what she says around the third time."

"Veronica," Janice laughed. "She's been working with the Counseling team over at the Temple."

"She has her specialty, I have mine…" Sorge rejoined them at the Bajoran, data padd in hand. "Care to make it a foursome?"

"For the Replimat or the nap?" Bashir grinned. "Probably yes to both."

"Good. We can talk about the morons who let this one escape from our clutches." He meant Janice and Starfleet Medical Academy, not the Bajoran. "We were right," he handed her the padd to see for herself with a nod for Bashir. "Consistent with a struggle. That was the key. Two chest wounds were inflicted prior to death, the rest of them afterwards -- not by his assailant. Far stronger hand. Klingon. No one else comes immediately to mind, and I don't see any evidence of Cardassian DNA anywhere. I do see Bajoran. But that seems to be troubling everyone for some reason. Of the assailant's blows, one of them was relatively superficial, the other deep enough to cause even a Klingon to momentarily react."

"Really," Bashir borrowed the padd. "Critical then at least I take it, if it wasn't a fatal strike."

"Critical enough the Klingon should have sought medical treatment if given the chance -- which he wasn't. How large do you think this Bajoran was? Is that the trouble? Want him bigger than he was, or do you want the Klingons smaller? Which is it? I can tell you there's a measurable degree of strength, but there's also indications of agility and just plain skill."

Bashir smiled. "My understanding around the statue of Commander Dax. With his age being more in question than his size. Initial analysis of a kut'luch identifies him to be approximately sixty."

"Then we'll keep him my year or two younger," Sorge snorted. "Sixty isn't old. I'm eighty-three and I'm not old. If you want to use Commander Dax as a measuring tool, he'd be a little taller than the average Bajoran male -- that's also consistent with my analysis. Within reason, somewhat stronger than average also -- call him athletically inclined. How's that?"

"Consistent with witness accounts," Bashir agreed.

"Yes," Sorge grunted. "With the determining factor being what he actually was, was a great deal smarter than average. Not willing to gamble his strength against a Klingon. Given the edge, he took it and struck the fatal blow -- from the back," he assured. "Subjectively that was the last man he killed. Won't know it for a fact until we're done. In the meantime I read a combination of needed time available to defend himself and the throat cutting. I wouldn't say it was necessarily so much an insurance policy as it marked the point of the accomplishment. Battle's end. A release of pent-up energy. Like slamming a ball after a tournament."

"Thank you. I'll take this."

"Good," Sorge waved his way between him and the head of the table. "It's the only one we've completed on the Klingons…apart from determining those three over there were killed by a Federation phase-disruptor."

"Three?" Bashir interjected. "Well, that helps in recreating a more realistic picture of what happened, doesn't it? Not that defending oneself against even two Klingons isn't impressive; it certainly is."

"Interesting choice of words," Sorge's snort brought Bashir up short. "The Bajoran didn't defend anything or anyone. He attacked and killed…Two of them at a reasonable distance, the other at close range -- likely coming towards him. The only reason they didn't vaporize was the phaser rifle was starting to drain. Of the remaining two we sorted out the pieces, determined who was who, started with the worst looking one and got lucky."

"Are you sure you want to do this for a living?" Bashir grinned at Janice. "Not that's it not appreciated, I'm actually pleasantly surprised you're still here."

"She's sure," Sorge patted the table. "Let's talk about this one. There's some personal interest here aside from medical. He's one of the officers who attacked her partner in crime. Dukat."

"Really," Bashir looked the Bajoran over. "That's wonderful -- I don't mean wonderful that he's lying here dead, but wonderful that we have him. I have Garak waiting in the changing area. He's been looking through the logs of injured and those being held by security in hopes of identifying the second man. I understand we did know one of them was definitely killed -- is this he? The one Morn hit? What happened?" he accessed the padd. "I realize Morn's quite powerful, but that looks to be a massive intracerebral hemorrhage from the distortion of the face…"

"There was. But not from any cranial fracture. Someone short-circuited his neurons with a rather potent burst of neuro-electric energy."

"What?" Bashir said.

Sorge nodded. "This man was murdered -- not that they all weren't. But he had a little more attention paid to him than most of them. You can see the point of entry at the base of the skull. There's a small puncture wound straight into the inferior portion of the brain stem -- see it?"

"Yes, I do," Bashir straightened up to resume checking the data. "Immediate disruption of the central and peripheral nervous systems…Somatic…Autonomic…Better than seventy-five percent of the neuro pathways were destroyed…."

"Collapse of synoptic patterns was complete and violent…." Sorge nodded along. "Death was instantaneous. Powerful little gadget to say the least. Discounting the skull, the bruising and scrapes along the body are from being stepped on and kicked along the floor -- we have another interesting one who went through a similar form of abuse after death, complete with a positive DNA match -- what we don't have for this one. No identification. Not that we've been able to find -- "

"Wait a minute," Bashir stopped him. "Something's wrong there. I recognize this man myself -- not as Dukat's assailant, but I reviewed his psychological profile for Captain Sisko not an hour before dinner. He's Special Forces Captain Rhome Kirst. Formally assigned as Deputy Task leader to the Cardassian corridor, and reassigned to standard duty in Quark's -- I clearly remember all of this."

"Rhome Kirst," Sorge was looking at Janice. "Who's that fellow you have waiting in the toilet? Garak, you said?"

"Yes," Bashir smiled. "A Cardassian tailor by trade, a spy at heart."

"Photographic memory," Sorge had the point. "All right. Bring him in; it's your morgue. Have him look around, see if he can identify the second assailant. All Janice can remember is someone riding his back, and someone else -- Dukat, was it?"

"Yes, it was Anon," she agreed.

"Splitting the Bajoran's face open with a phaser rifle."

"Who was riding his back?" Bashir had missed hearing about that one.

"Leeta," Janice smiled. "What's this about Captain Rhome?"

"We'll tell you why we're asking…" Sorge moved to another Bajoran about three tables away with a greeting nod for Garak attired in his bio-suit like the rest of them.

"Doctors," Garak returned with a beam for the dead Bajoran. "Ah. Our Captain Rhome -- "

"Wrong," Sorge assured brusquely.

"I beg your pardon?" Garak blinked.

"Let's hope you can do better identifying the second one…" Sorge directed Bashir to his padd and the new fellow he was about to introduce. "This is Captain Rhome."

"I see…" Garak read over Julian's shoulder. "Q86BSF16 -- Quark's #86 Bajoran Special Forces #16…Rhome Kirst. Isn't that interesting?" he smiled at Sorge. "And of great relief to Julian, I've no doubt."

"Not exactly," Bashir corrected. "I would have preferred to have been wrong about my psychiatric analysis. This man's been dead an hour and a half longer than his impostor -- that puts it just about an hour before dinner. Equally that means not only did he have to die somewhere other than Quark's, at lunch hour there were two Captains Rhome. The real one somewhere. The impostor at his post in the conference room -- My guess, place of death would be the Cardassian corridor where Rhome showed for duty rotation while the impostor's assignment was being held in suspension pending rotation change. Rhome didn't receive the change of orders, because he couldn't. By that time he was dead."

Garak contemplated the theory. "Oh, but Julian, if the duty assignments were altered to account for the infiltrator at lunch, it's reasonable to presume they were also altered to account for the infiltrator at dinner."

"Except there would be little reason to kill him if he wasn't on that corridor -- " Bashir scanned through the analysis. "Execution style, I see -- similar to the other. Pressed to the back of the neck."

"Less sophisticated, that's all," Sorge nodded. "Phaser. Not some gadget. Charring of the larynx caught her eye."

"Good catch," Bashir complimented Janice. "A bit uncommon, but it can happen, especially at that close range…it's definitely a hand phaser. Not a rifle. Impossible. It would have taken his head off…all right. Any others?"

"Not yet," Sorge eyed Garak yet to move beyond the table. "If you want numbers you have them. One hundred and sixteen civilians, sixty-three personnel -- that includes the Klingon officers and Cardassian diplomatic aide Mister Paq."

"Yes, I see that…Twenty-eight screenings, nineteen positive identifications…four and a half hours? That's better than I had hoped for…is that the point Martok's bridge crew was brought in?"

"Sounds about right…what about you?" Sorge reminded Garak. "Locate your second suspect, or are you waiting for him to come to you?"

"In a manner so to speak…" Garak smugly wet his lips, "yes. Access file identification Garak, if you will. I took the liberty of requesting a medical screening of Leeta from the triage unit in Quark's. Anticipating potential difficulty with visual identification if the second officer likewise happened to turn up dead."

Sorge snorted. "Is there a reason why you just didn't say so?"

"Of course," Garak continued his smile, "I'm Cardassian."

"You said it, not me…Doctor?"

"Checking…" Janice scanned quickly through the logs. "Much of this is coming up Anon -- no, wait a minute. We have him -- Garak, you're a peach. Q91BSF08…Death consistent with extensive disruptor effects. Secondary analysis revealed inconsistent with multiple fractures of the face…minor fracture of the cervical spine. Question consistent with a fall…I remember this one."

"Upper levels," Sorge waved Garak aside. "They cleared those areas first -- this is him, right behind us -- identification?"

"No, we don't have an identification on him," Janice rejoined them. "He's scheduled for composite screening…Garak? I realize it's difficult to tell without a graphic."

"As neither were we on the upper levels, my dear," Garak studied the mutilated corpse of the right height and size. "That's not saying the man couldn't have gotten up in an attempt to get away -- could he have?"

"Physically, yes, definitely,” Sorge assured. “The cervical fracture is a result of a twisting injury -- such as what could happen with a jarring blow to the face. But it wasn't life threatening."

"No…" Garak said slowly. "The Disruptor, however, clearly was…Interesting the way they managed to destroy his face…I would have to say, yes. This is he. Certainly the right size, and, of course, there's Leeta. I don't recall her attempting to claw anyone else's eyes out."

"Was there evidence other than Leeta's fingernails?" Bashir asked.

"Yes…" Janice resumed scanning through the data. "Additional samples were positive in several areas including her hair, bodice and palms of both hands."

"Then this is clearly him, my dear," Garak smiled. "Fascinating coincidence that he's also dead. Vicious and unwarranted -- I believe that is the premise behind Sentinel Dukat's incarceration -- to kill an obviously injured man rather than simply arrest him."

His offhand revelation of Pfrann's arrest confused her. "Pfrann's being held in security? Why?"

For stealing a Bajoran's heart, somewhat more literally than his father. Garak had to bite his tongue. "He took his brother's orders to assist Captain Sisko a little too seriously for the liking of Constable Odo -- I wouldn't be concerned. It's my understanding -- at the time I left the security holding area -- from Major Kira's expressive outrage that Commander Worf is in full agreement with her. It was self-defense."

"Then I don't understand why he's being held."

"The nature of the attack, as I said, my dear. We're Cardassian, not Klingon. If we remove someone's heart with the splintered end of a table leg it's vicious and unwarranted."

"Unidentified -- over there," Sorge pointed as Janice shook her head.

"Yes, I realize who he's talking about. I just can't believe Pfrann would assault anyone. He had to at least think he was acting in his own defense."

"That's a lot of faith to place in people you've only known a day." Sorge preempted Bashir from unnecessarily going on. He had just spent seven hours locked up in a morgue with the young woman with only the dead and the walls to impress him other than her. He liked her rose-colored glasses; not about to take them off and hand them to her. "Have a tendency to do that myself. Who doesn't like to believe they're a good judge of character? As Mister Garak says, I'm sure it will be straightened out."

"Oh, I know that," Janice agreed. "It's hardly something personal against Pfrann. It's all just to do with everything's that's happened. Odo has to follow protocol like everyone else -- like we do. Initial screening. Further analysis when, where and if warranted."

"That's exactly the way it should be," Sorge steered her towards the changing room with a comforting pat of her shoulder. "Breakfast. Veronica will help you plan a picket if this Major Kira can't get this fellow Odo to see the light -- you're welcome to join us, Mister Garak."

"Oh, how kind of you," Garak gushed.

"Not really. I prefer snakes where I can see them; not in the grass. Civilized is denoted by respect and appreciation for life. Not technological ability. Culture is not an excuse. Ask the Mayans."

"An ancient culture of Earth -- extremely advanced for the period," Bashir explained for Garak. "Whose practices included Human sacrifice to their gods."

"Obviously not as advanced as they would like to think," Sorge underscored.

"Oh, I get the point," Garak nodded.

"And I get yours," Sorge assured. "Bigotry is bigotry. They can try all they want to lay this at Damar's doorstep. It doesn't belong at his doorstep, and they know it doesn't belong there. I've less tolerance for that sort of thing than I do for fools, politicians and bleeding heart liberals who embrace them -- Not meaning you…" he handed Janice a standard medical jumpsuit. "Meaning the Federation who promoted what Shakaar agreed to and Damar asked for. That's the order of responsibility…we'll leave it at that before I join you in that picket. Five minutes, we'll meet you outside."

"Maybe ten?" Janice turned hopefully to Bashir. "I was going to ask if it would be all right if I stopped by to say hello to Anon?"

Sorge sniffed. "Doctor checking on her patient, or to snitch about this brother of his?"

Janice laughed. "Oh, let me think…"

"Gesture of good will either way," Sorge upheld. "What about it?"

Bashir wasn't quite sure if he was being challenged or asked. It wasn't important really, actually he agreed with him; it was the Human thing to do. "I can't see why not," he activated his com badge to confirm the request with Sisko.

Bashir's interruption couldn't have come at a better time. The high level meeting in progress in the conference room was much more than a study in mere political rhetoric. It was a farce. Discounting Chancellor Gowron of the Klingon Empire's evening long attempt to be included in the Federation, Bajoran and Cardassian triangle, the hastily assembled Federation panel and First Minister Shakaar strove to outdo each other not to implicate themselves, while striving to placate the Cardassian Council on screen somewhere in the background at the UFP; their position as simple as the Federation's or Bajor's. They wanted the conference to continue. For all the complaints, lengthy list of demands, Cardassia didn't really care about anything, any more than anyone else cared. The Federation equally gracious in sparing itself, Cardassia or Shakaar of any need for having to say so by shouldering the responsibility, less any blame, in requesting the conference resume on schedule as quickly as possible following the resolve of the minor breech of security -- the words screeched down Sisko's spine. The resolve as clear and simple as the bottom line. Sweep it under the rug, damn the horde of militants presumed still at large; there wasn't one unidentifiable Bajoran Special Forces officer in the security holding area. What happened to them? Odo didn't know. Shakaar, the UFP, nor Cardassia were interested. Gowron, they ignored. General Martok's invitation to the meeting extended only for the purpose of notifying him of that point. One the Federation Admiral Kawasaki hadn't yet addressed in her hour long commentary.

"Yes, Doctor?" Sisko answered Bashir's call, his voice testy, his patience strained by his effort to keep his temper.

"I'm in the morgue. Janice is asking for permission to extend Dukat a message of good will from the Bajoran and Federation representatives. I don't see any harm, but I wanted to check with you."

"That will be fine, Doctor," Sisko rubbed his face, trying to massage away some of the tension. "If you would thank Doctor Lange for me for her consideration and assistance, as well as Doctors Sorge for theirs. It is all very much appreciated."

"She's in the morgue?" Kira's annoyance generated a glance from Sisko and a smile from Dax.

"Apparently still, yes."

"Doctor?" Sisko said.

"Yes, I'm here. Did you have something else? I was going to grab a quick bite to eat and then see when you might have a chance to go over some of these reports -- a couple of things are reasonably urgent. I hesitate to use the word."

"Actually, if you could join us in the main conference room now."

"Oh," Bashir said. "All right. Let me just collect my notes and I'll be right there."

"Thank you," Sisko signed off with a nod for Shakaar and Admiral Kawasaki on their respective screens. "My apologies. I neglected to mention to help relieve the station's medical personnel for other duties, Doctor Lange volunteered her skills to aid in identifying victims of the terrorist assault. She has been in the morgue since late last evening acting as assistant to Federation Geneticist Doctor Tracy Sorge, also a volunteer, who was visiting the station from Bajor at the time." He paused there in his own lengthy explanatory asides before finishing. "It is my understanding Doctor Veronica Sorge has been working with the counseling team."

"Not at all, Captain," Shakaar was not shy about accepting the credit for his representative, or using it. "Just another example, Admiral, of Bajor's willingness to assist in any way."

"What?" Kira's hand hit the table in anger as she jumped up. "You didn't even know anything about it until Bashir called!"

"Major!" Sisko warned.

"Lange's in the morgue, not him!"

"That is irrelevant! Sit down!"

"All right fine, I'll sit," she waved, disgusted with the whole business, particularly Shakaar. A man she thought she knew, and did know was lying. Why, or about what exactly she could not fathom. What she could imagine, she did not want to. It had to be Winn he was covering for, not protecting. Why he then was not at least seeking Sisko's advice even if he was hesitant about involving the Federation made no sense at all, especially when he knew who was responsible. He did know. She knew he knew.

"Doctor Lange is my representative, Kira," Shakaar reminded calmly.

"I know who she is," Kira snapped. "And I know exactly the reason why you chose her."

"Major!" Sisko insisted as Damar chuckled.

"Doctor Lange's compassion is just one of her many attributes," Shakaar ignored Kira to continue with a straight face to Admiral Kawasaki. "All keynotes in her choice as representative."

"We are quite comfortable with Doctor Lange, First Minister," the Admiral conveyed her panel's equal appreciation. "Confident in her forensic talents as well as her diplomatic skills -- to reiterate, Captain Sisko, we are likewise well satisfied with your security measures taken as they have been detailed to us, and the immediate response of you and your staff to put this unfortunate incident behind us -- "

"Admiral, if you would please!" Sisko's voice held more tolerance than he felt, and it didn't hold much. "There is no reason for you to reiterate anything. The truth of the matter remains that nothing can be behind us when I can't tell you who these men are… At best estimate their numbers -- or even!" he slammed Odo's report down on the table, "what happened to the suspects we believe we remanded to the station's security force."

"Excuse me, Captain, but I remain confused," Shakaar went so far as to shake his head, and didn't Sisko wish he had the ability to shake it for him. "You have 200 Bajoran security personnel presently being detained in your security holding area -- "

"I have four hundred and three!" Sisko picked up the padd to slam it back down.

"I was speaking of the Special Forces," Shakaar replied all too quietly for Sisko's liking.

"Then let's speak about them," Sisko agreed. "Because, quite frankly, First Minister, if I am going to be forced to agree with you that no member of your 'hand-picked' unit is responsible for the massacre of 150 people -- "

"One hundred and seventy-nine," Bashir submitted from the doorway; Sisko hadn't even heard it slide open.

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