The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

Chapter Thirteen

It was 0800 in the commissary aboard Anon's battle cruiser. The conference aboard the station between Sisko, Shakaar and the Federation, had ended an hour ago. Anar walked off the bridge in disgust when the communication link was severed. Tan let him go. He knew Bajorans; they like to think. An hour later he found him.

"What is your training?" Tan set one of two hot mugs down at Anar's elbow.

"Formally? Federation," Anar rubbed his tired eyes with a smile for the offering. "Other than that -- experience and learning. Cardassians, mostly."

Tan chuckled. "We make good teachers."

"Some of the best I've ever seen," Anar eased the steaming juice back to Tan. "No thank you, really. It's appreciated, but -- "

"It's coffee," Tan nodded. "Klingon. Raktajino. Go ahead, drink it. Don't ask. Just drink it."

"It's his father's ship," Anar supposed as the explanation. Knowing that he should refuse to eat or drink anything for principle alone.

Tan shrugged. "You think he would command a different one?"

"No," Anar picked up the mug, for some reason envisioning Dukat more with a bottle of wine in his hand. "Still doesn't explain the Klingon coffee."

"Don't ask," Tan reiterated.

He wasn't going to. "For four months I tried to talk Shakaar out of involving Janice. I would say it was all by accident. A coincidence." Except he knew it wasn't. The Prophets had their plan. It wasn't the stubbornness of Shakaar Adon of Bajor he was powerless against, it was them. He handed the padd he had been working with to Tan. "I could go on every communication channel there is in the quadrant and destroy Shakaar in moments."

"Is that what this is?"

"No. That's detailed instructions in how to access the files at the UFP -- since they won't be conducting Sisko's counter-search for him. This way you can. The truth is in there somewhere."

"What about Bajor?" Tan asked as if he didn't know the answer.

Anar smiled. "I'll take care of infiltrating Shakaar's file. Have we heard from Anon?"

"Cardassia Prime. Five, ten minutes ago? I took it. It was nothing. Notifying us about the ten authorized sentries -- which we already knew. Better than what you hoped. Less than I wanted."

Anar stood up to exit in annoyance. "Have any of them even bothered to talk to Anon?"

"Soon we'll hear something," Tan followed, unperturbed by the slight. "It won't be Damar who signals us."

So it wouldn't be. Major Kira was on screen arguing with Anon when Anar entered the bridge. It wasn't Anon's naked chest that entranced him; he presumed they were in the Infirmary. It was Kira's insistent dictatorial address to the hesitant helmsman who she apparently knew from Dukat's days aboard some Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Anar thought of the coffee in his hand as he stepped to the communications console for a quick, authoritative call for Anon's attention before the argument turned physical, which it did with Anon's exasperated shove of Kira. Anon heard his name though, recognized the voice calling him, relieving the vexation of his bridge officer by severing the link.

"What did she want?" Tan attacked the helmsman.

"For the Security Task Leader to report."

Tan snorted. He was the Task Leader and he would report when told to report. Not by Kira of Shakaar.

"Do you know her?" Anar wondered.

"No," Tan denied, though in service to his Emperor Dukat for the last quarter of a century which included a year's turn of duty aboard the Bird-of-Prey. "Seen her, who hasn't? Know of her -- the same as all of them. Sisko. The Klingon -- why?" he looked Anar up and down sharply. "Do you know her?"

Anar smiled. "Never had the pleasure."

Tan snorted again. Pleasure was not what came to his mind.

Defiant was the word to describe Anon when he reappeared on screen a few moments later; dressed and flexing his power rather than his bare muscles. There was temptation in his announcement that he was aborting the conference and leaving, especially since Anar agreed it was by far the simplest and best idea. For Janice. However, unless Anon was willing to abandon his career and adopt his father's renegade ways, it was not the best idea for him. Damar was the Emperor. Anar did not dispute that Anon wielded power; he did. Simply somewhat less than his arrogant belief in his own omnipotence. A familiar affliction Anar could appreciate; he suffered from it himself. As he said, it was extraordinarily difficult not to encourage Anon's defiance. Anar was a loner, or he had been. A leader, he had been a leader of those who could take care of themselves. Until after the strong had died and only the weak survived, and suddenly he had thirty-five people solely reliant on him. He had their vulnerability on his mind as well as Janice's. The eminent danger to his tiny colony in the middle of nowhere if they focused on distractions like defying Damar, smearing Shakaar, instead of taking control where they needed to take control; that was in stopping his maniacal brother Hawk.

"Leave for where, Anon?" Anar proposed common sense instead as the viable alternative to a life on the run.

"Cardassia Prime!" Anon's fist struck the console. That was his youth. By his father's age, even his father understood with certain actions came certain repercussions, such as exile. "What are you talking about, leave for where? Where do you think?"

Actually Anar was thinking how he would welcome Anon and his troop to his village, if that was what Anon wanted to do; he knew it wasn't. They had just come full circle back to common sense.

"I have been stabbed!" Anon brandished the Federation's analysis with its listing of dead and injured. "That idiot Bashir doesn't know what he's talking about, nor what he's doing. I never hurt like this when Janice took care of me; no one did. Ask them! I didn't hurt like this when the knife was still inside me. You don't find something wrong with the security arrangements of Sisko's? I do!"

They weren't Sisko's arrangements, they were Shakaar's, and there was a great deal wrong with them. "You look fine." Anar was being truthful, not callous. Trying hard not to laugh at the claim of Janice's divine healing powers; one that he remembered to be very different at the time. That was all right. He had his suspicions Anon was trying equally hard to skirt an issue difficult to avoid. Janice. The plausible root to his defiance; certainly his defensive posture.

"No, I am not fine," Anon snapped. "Neither is Janice. They attacked her, not me. I was simply there. What do you think about that? Why is she even here? Why are you?"

He was either attempting to shed a feeling of guilt he felt, or he was telling the truth about the attack being directed against Janice. Anar did not appreciate the words either way. "Don't attempt to coerce me, Anon," he warned. "You know exactly why I am here."

"No, I don't," he insisted. "I know that was Dak'jar, that's what I know."

"And Assura," Anar agreed. "Hawk's deputy. Both silenced. One by Sian, one by me. Now, answer me. Is that true? Was their intent Janice?"

Anon waited. Digesting the confirmation of Hawk and his Maquis. Thinking about his own agenda and reasons for being there. The Cardassians were not going to go unchallenged. If it wasn't from the Maquis, it would have been someone else. "It's the way I saw it, yes. Janice was too frightened to see anything."

"Startled perhaps," Anar sighed, in part because he believed him. In part because if Anon's assumption was true, he knew Hawk's singling Janice out was a challenge to him.

"She was terrified!" Anon sputtered. "You put her in this situation, not me. You can't blame me -- or Central Command! You! That's who you blame. You!"

"Anon?" Anar suggested. "Would it help if I said I know about Janice and you?"

Anon shifted, bristling against the notice, not shrinking away. "Know, what do you know? Janice is my wife. Don't tell me not to be upset about my wife. Two hundred dead, 300 injured!" The padd struck the console. "Everything in here is wrong. Lies. From Martok, to Dak'jar, -- to the stupid analysis of my quarters. It was me. Damar. Pfrann. That's supposed to make me feel better Sisko thinks it was Bajorans? It doesn't!"

"Then why are you refusing to install a security squad?"

"I'm not refusing!" Anon groaned. "I'm telling you it's not necessary. We're leaving. Me. Janice! Pfrann. Everyone. You, too!"

"With no guarantee we’ll make it, or even live to try," Anar replied. "I, or you, could sever Martok's head and hand it to him. I, or you, could rock the foundation of the Bajoran Provisional Government, destroying Shakaar with an image of my face before I ever opened my mouth. For what purpose? Hawk's threat remains very much alive on that station where you and Janice are. That's what I'm doing here. Janice isn't in the middle between you and I, don't try and put her there. She is between us and Hawk. If Hawk has backing beyond Winn, it's Gowron with a squad of Klingon battle cruisers waiting a thousand kilometers from Terok Nor to destroy us long before we reach the borders of Cardassian Space. Look at the whole picture, Anon. Defying Damar accomplishes one thing. Your alienation, not his. That isn't going to protect Janice or you -- Or Cardassia from some believed threat of Klingon invasion. Which is what Central Command and the Civilian Council is going to look at, and the only thing they will see. Call it what you want to. Resistance. Maquis. True Way. You may as well take off that uniform right now if you're going to pick up my discarded sword."

"Hm," Odo ogled the imposing Cardassian giant Tan an hour or so later from behind his resurrected desk in the middle of the open confines of the remnants of his office. For some reason the rank Sentinel seemed to be misplaced.

Vintage Dukat was on Dax's mind when she drifted in to introduce herself and apologize for Worf's absence. "Sentinel Tan? We've completed the analysis of Gul Dukat's quarters. Commander Worf's in the conference room with Captain Sisko and Legate Damar. I can show you the way."

"No. The Changeling can -- to the Infirmary," Tan read the report confirming Bajoran sabotage with a scowl. "My calculations place it on the Promenade."

"Calculations…" Dax glanced at Odo.

"Yes," Odo offered. "Sentinel Tan is not personally familiar with the station."

"With the Federation changes," Tan corrected, promoting the basic design of all the Cardassian mining stations of the era to be the same. He walked out to the Promenade to establish his position among what should be the workers quarters and wasn't. Any longer.

"Here I always thought we were unique," Dax grinned.

Odo grunted. "Yes, well, I always believed it was send us your best not your biggest."

"It can't be both?"

"Suppose." Odo verified the results of his analysis that showed no security record of any Sentinel Tan either in the Federation or the Cardassian archives.

"Should there be?"

"Palace guard," Odo decided. "Either that or a former nanny."

"I'll go along with that."

"Now we just need to find a place to put them,” Odo agreed as the choices of where to house his Legate and the Dukats were beginning to become somewhat restricted. This would make the third change of quarters. He meandered out to the Sentinel puzzling over his whereabouts with the assistance of a schematic of the station's layout despite its similarities to all the others.

"I don't suppose you'd want to be quartered in the same section as the Emperor -- and Dukat," Odo added as an intentional afterthought.

"We would insist," Tan assured.

"Makes life a little easier," Odo chanced including his Legate in that assessment who they never went near. Their quest ended with securing Pfrann. Interestingly enough, removing Pfrann from the care of his brother wasn't to effect his continued protection, it was to obtain his approval of the proposed quarter change. So much for innocence, vulnerability and seventeen year olds. If this Tan was a Sentinel, he was their father's. Charged with insuring the rightful position of the youthful heirs alongside the latest of their father's greatest enemies; Damar. Odo supposed Tan's duties could be expanded to include their wellbeing even though as disinterested as he appeared to be in saying hello to his Emperor, he likewise held little interest in discussing the terrorist organization. Apparently what had happened was less consequential to this Cardassian than what was going to happen from here on. Odo could see himself agreeing with that. As long as the Sentinel Tan remained within the boundaries of his granted authority, Odo didn't mind agreeing with that.

"Make that both Sentinels," Odo muttered under his breath to Dax who had tagged along. Thinking about those Cardassian phaser rifles suddenly so readily available to the youngest of the Dukats who now knew of his brother's attack, and had as much information available to him as the Legate.

Dax wasn't so sure Odo wanted her input. It was plausible Tan was little more than a stooge. Dukat's way of securing details to the summaries issued to the representatives. The only other available access to the ponderous number of reports was through Damar, not likely to be cooperative. But did either of those possibilities really make the sharing of information wrong? The details were so dramatically removed from the fundamental findings, Tan or Dukat, or whoever was actually controlling the Cardassian security, greatly ran the risk of making some irretractable error if they weren't presented with all the facts rather than only the approved conclusions.

There was only one conclusion preying on Odo's mind. "None of the representatives are allowed to carry arms of any kind -- as soon as Major Kira resumes her diplomatic status, that regulation will apply to her," he preempted Pfrann's disclosure of Kira currently being armed to the teeth, to drive that point home to Tan. "As well as Captain Sisko and Chief O'Brien. Any questions that arise, I will be asking you."

Tan did have a question. He directed it to Dax in her position as Head of Bajoran Security. "Where are the quarter reassignments for the Bajoran representatives Doctor Lange and Major Kira? I don't see them listed here."

Dax recovered from her surprise. "I'm not quite sure I understand why you think you would."

"Then I'm not quite sure I understand why you seem to think you should have an interest in the security affairs of the Cardassian Union."

Touché, Dax declined to say as Tan and Pfrann walked away, leaving two of their sentries to post guard over Dukat's room. She smiled at them. "A general interest in the security of everyone? No," she shook her head at their dead-pan, silent faces. "You're right. Old habits die hard."

Yes, they certainly did. Odo emerged from the Infirmary to find Tan and his group waiting for them not twenty meters away. "Lost already?"

Not exactly. "What is this nonsense about some reputed leader?"

"Oh, him," Odo grunted. "Yes, well, apart from much of the evidence of his existence has been largely discounted -- "

"You can't identify this terrorist?" Tan accused Dax. "Not even his face? What he looked like?"

"Unfortunately, no," Dax admitted. "We haven't been able to locate anyone -- "

"Actually, we do have one potential witness who may be able to," Odo interrupted. "He's been interviewed and he's thinking about it. Claims a familiarity that he hasn't been able to place -- but he will. For now he's positive he saw the same man the evening before -- that would be Sunday. Shortly after Emperor Dukat -- sorry, Emperor Damar," he apologized, "arrived."

"Garak," Pfrann sneered.

That same bell went off in Dax's mind. Reasonable, just wrong. "Quark," Odo identified wishing it had been Garak. Who was apologetic, a little too as usual, that he had been too preoccupied with assisting Doctor Lange to really notice too much of anything else. Odo believed him. Up to and including the excessive drooling for failing to notice what he should have noticed, if anyone noticed anything He believed Quark also. Up to and including the excessive spitting over Odo's badgering for information.

"The Ferengi bartender," Pfrann explained to Tan.

That, Odo did not believe. The galaxy knew Quark. Of Quark and about Quark. "Owner," he clarified Quark's position. "You don't get out much, do you?"

He couldn't have known how right he was. How Tan was Dukat's Chief Engineer with an assignment extending far beyond that of merely securing information otherwise reserved for Damar. Data Tan did collect was for the purpose of comparison to that which they had already siphoned from the communications links to the assortment of ruling governments. This introduction of Garak and Quark were new. Not mentioned in the summary or the detailed analyses. The refuted evidence of a leader meant nothing. The unidentified Bajoran credited with killing the Klingons was Anar. The individual Sisko was associating with the name Anar was Hawk. There was as much confusion in the details of the Federation's reports as was suggested by their summary.

Tan had no intention of setting the confusion straight. Hawk's malicious implicating hints, clearly disturbing, supported Anar's warning that time was short between the time his brother struck and would strike again. They had to find Hawk and his men, ideally before the next strike. If not, Tan would settle for aborting it. Anar was doubtful about anything like a bomb. Claiming such covert activities were against his brother's flagrant nature. Tan wasn't so sure. In his experience, the principal goal of the Bajoran terrorist was to glean attention. Tan's proclamation all Cardassian mining stations were similar in structure and design on a superficial level was true. His act of confusion was a ploy to obtain a schematic of the Federation's version of Terok Nor. To identify the extent of the facades cloaking the undeveloped and unknown areas that Sisko and his staff had learned to approach with extreme caution over the years, and that Tan knew were there. Many of them mined and armed from the simplest booby-trap to the most intricate and sophisticated computer weapons and defense programs. Those were what concerned Tan the most, next to locating the potential hiding places of the terrorist faction. His itinerary was full. Anon was a good engineer. Skilled and focused and lacking only Tan's years of experience. Priorities had both of them far too busy to have to think about Garak and Quark and the potential of Federation interference spreading to endanger Anar and his colony. Tan believed Quark's scattered and cluttered Ferengi brain could not immediately identify Anar as a likeness of Shakaar Adon. He did not believe for a moment that same principle applied to the Cardassian tailor Garak.

"I want a report of those interviews," Tan demanded. "Central Command and the Civilian Council denounces the claim of the Bajoran leader as Klingon exaggerations -- supported by the Federation and Bajor. It states so right here."

"It's an open investigation," Odo replied. "Discounting the theory of leadership, it doesn't hurt to gather what facts we can about any of this group."

"Then give me your report of facts," Tan insisted. "If there is credence to additional information as it is collected, I will want to know. Correct?"

"It's a reasonable request," Dax mentioned as the Cardassians moved off.

Odo grunted. It was reasonable until they had a line of middle-aged Bajorans stretched out in the morgue.

"Well…" There was only one thing Dax could say as far as that. "If we do, we know where to look first."

True. With a little luck they would find one unidentifiable guilty one among the row of identifiable innocent.

By mid-afternoon Anon was impatient and disgruntled with being the invalid. Effecting a clean link with the Tir somewhere in the middle of his priorities he begrudgingly accepted Tan's notice of a few hours necessary for reestablishing their control over the station's security network and the resulting improvement in transporter ability. That was several hours ago. Bashir returned to the Infirmary around 1500 in time to find him leaving.

"I think I know if I'm well enough to resume my command," Anon interrupted Bashir's liberal medical protest with a turn on his heel for the door.

"Oh," Bashir said. "Well, yes, I'm quite sure you do believe you are. However, I'm also quite serious when I say how you feel, and what you think does have a direct influence on your well-being -- as does your age." He followed Anon to the doorway where the Gul paused to look past his sentries to the Federation squad straightening to attention in their line down the corridor. "Which is young? The strength and foolishness of youth? Simply a matter of how best to convey that to you tactfully. I'm not exactly old myself. So, yes, I can assure you, I do understand your frustration with being confined even if I don't agree with you. In this instance I do know better -- than you?" he smiled.

The Gul sighed, resigned to having to debate what wasn't a debate. He was stubborn, quite unrealistically so, and clearly uncooperative. Bashir was as stubborn, however; wrestle with Anon was another story. He was not going to wrestle Anon, any more than he was going to allow Federation, Bajoran, and anyone else's security to wrestle with him. Anon Dukat had a strip of synthetic grafting protecting the repair of his traumatized artery whether he cared to admit it or not. That was his status, and his status was not scheduled to change for several hours.

"Doctor?" Anon proposed. "I am going to say something to you that I have sworn I would never say to anyone. Do you really think they call me my father's son for no reason?"

Hardly what Bashir expected him to say, he'd grant him that. "I don't suppose the reason would be your father and mother were mates and you are a result of that union?"

"No," Anon shook his head. "That's not the reason."

Bashir didn't think so. "Well," he took a deep breath. "So we're at a standoff. Where do we go from here? Any ideas?"

Anon glanced over his shoulder towards security, thinking of Janice and not confident with anyone's ability to protect her other than himself. "If I rest in my quarters…"

"Definitely," Bashir approved.

"Sauna," Anon decided. "If I do anything, that's what I'll do."

"For health reasons?" Bashir verified. Anon looked at him; he nodded again. "I would be inclined to agree with that as well. I'll obtain permission from Captain Sisko. Quark's remains closed to the public. I can't see where there should be a problem; certainly private and secure enough."

"That's what I was thinking," Anon assured. Ten minutes later he was in Quark's attempting to convince him of the same thing.

"Uh, huh," Quark was listening. "So let me see if I have this straight…we're under siege and the only thing you can think of doing is soaking in a tub of hot fish oil."

"You say that as if I were planning something criminal! I have permission from Sisko -- Bashir! Do you really think I would be standing here if I didn't?"

He couldn't be serious. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

"No! What I want is holosuite four at 1900!"

"What's the matter with number three at 21?"

The Ferengi was as irritating as his father's Bajorans. What did he care really about where or which suite? "I'll take them all."

"All?" Quark's jaw slackened. "What are you? Made out of latinum? I'm looking at having to make up two days receipts -- that's if I'm lucky and the doors will be here to reopen tomorrow. I just can't hand over the holosuites. I don't care who you are."

"I want them all!" Anon loomed dangerously over the freshly polished bar. His words and breath almost as intimidating as his chest.

"Strike that," Quark agreed, no fool, "they're yours. Which ones do you want on the record, and which one do you want off?"

That generated a strained look. It was all right. Quark had an idea it was probably best not to press for details. "All. All of them on the record, all Cardassian saunas -- that's a lot of health, but who am I? If anyone asks -- which I'm not planning on happening, I don't know about you -- we'll blame it on your genes. Where were we? Any preference for the program? Don't be shy, I ask all my customers the same question…maybe I should explain why," he nodded to the frown. "You say sauna, I say which one? You say come again, I say let me try it this way. I've got a Library of Cardassian sauna programs. One is for health. Your sister's. Two, and need I say the more popular, you supply the girl. Three, the program supplies her. Four, it gets better from there. Five, I'm starting to lose you…look, just tell me what you want. Trust me. Your secret's safe with me."

"Health," Anon sputtered, confused, Quark might add until he turned surly. "I said health. I've been stabbed! I need to relax!"

"Definitely safe with me," Quark promised. "If I wasn't there to see it with my own eyes, I might even believe you."

"I don't care what you believe. I want a Cardassian sauna at 1900 like it says in Bashir's recommendations. You have questions, talk to him, not me."

"On the other hand…" Quark examined Garak when Anon left with his two sentries. "There's no saying you couldn't be lying, and I couldn't have been hallucinating. Maybe we just thought he kissed her. Maybe it just looked like he did. Maybe he just tripped and fell and her face got stuck on his…I don't know. I do know installing a Cardassian Intelligence network on the planet surface, I buy. Attitude, he has. In the meantime, this guy's a lover like his father's his mother. She has to be a spy. Read my lips, she's a spy. No one would date the guy. Repeat. No one. She would date you first. You would date me. There's no reason to get carried away."

"Oh, I've no doubt Julian did make the recommendation," Garak cooed, cleverly having decided it was advantageous to protest Doctor Lange's innocence and allow Quark to intimidate himself with his own conclusions. "However, I wouldn't be so quick to discount Gul Dukat's shrewd manipulation of the opportunity. He and Doctor Lange will be rendezvousing in the holosuites."

"Uh, huh. So what you're saying is you're right and I'm wrong. Great. Just what I need. Another dead body lying around. Like I haven't had enough of them."

"Body?" Garak repeated, apparently not having thought of the repercussions to spending the night in a sauna. Why should he? He was Cardassian. To him hot was cold. Need Quark have to point out what it was to everyone else?

"Death," Quark assured. "She's Human. How long do you think she's going to last in a Cardassian sauna?"

"You have a point," Garak agreed.

"That much I know. I'm waiting for ideas."

"'Warning…'" Leeta read from Quark's carefully prepared script. "'You are approaching the maximum length of exposure recommended for beings comprised of 65% percent water…and other living things'…What is this?" she squeaked, finding something more than odd with more than Quark's sense of public health and awareness.

"Just read," Quark insisted. "It's a public service announcement. What do you think it is?"

"Uh, huh. Since when have you become so publicly aware?"

"Better question. What do you think the chances are of surviving eight hours in a Cardassian sauna?"

"Don't be stupid," she sneered. "Who would want to spend eight hours in a Cardassian sauna?"

"A Cardassian. Now read. Skip to the part…for an additional modest fee we have carefully prepared a preview of select holo programs available for your continued pleasure…et cetera, et cetera -- what do you think?"

"I…" Garak said at a loss otherwise.

"A picture paints a thousand words." Quark was satisfied.

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