"We need Nerys," Pfrann watched his brother's retreat.
Rather than Major Kira. Tan was not the only one who spoke of the Major in familiar, occasionally cloaked ways. Anar should be suspicious of Kira's background before he was interested; he was slightly mystified. The face of Kira Nerys was attractive, strikingly so with her brutal military hair. Her slender form, feminine. Her temper, searing and hot. She had not escaped Anar's attention, any more than he understood she had escaped his nephew Adon's, or would have escaped Dukat's. "Janice's belief also apparently," he agreed with Pfrann. "I know little about Kira Nerys; other than a name."
Pfrann eyed him. "Nerys would talk to me. For whatever reasons you care to believe or imagine."
"Less interest in even attempting," Anar promised. "What I do know is your father would howl his demands through the halls of Terok Nor with no regard for the welfare of anyone. Anon can't do that. Are you telling me you can?"
"No, I can't do that," Pfrann shook his head. "I care for Janice even if I don't love her like you or Anon. I think it's Garak, not Hawk behind the attack."
His father's enemy rather than his tramp Leeta or the Ferengi Quark who would sell his mother's soul. "Your reasoning is sound, merely wrong. It's Hawk."
"Revenge for Ziyal," no one would ever convince Pfrann otherwise. "Garak would see an opportunity in Hawk to destroy Dukat; he would not let it pass."
"Garak's revenge would be misplaced. Damar killed Ziyal, not your father -- I know a little, yes," Anar acknowledged, "about your sister Ziyal. Who doesn't?"
Pfrann shrugged. "Pain is pain. We inflict pain; you should know that. Anon has his father's pain."
"And Garak is now satisfied," Anar mused. "Interesting."
Pfrann looked at him. "We are also never satisfied."
"No," Anar smiled. "But you are occasionally wrong; it's Hawk."
"Then explain O'Brien."
Anar couldn't. Other than as somehow having gotten in the way.
"I can," Pfrann assured. "Garak's tool. A bastard from the old wars. He killed her; Janice. The Human tramp of the Cardassian Dukat. Anon saw the interest in Bashir's eyes looking at Janice. I saw the hate in O'Brien's looking at us. Bashir made Janice laugh. O'Brien made her apprehensive -- perhaps for Anon," he shrugged suddenly. "I don't know. I know she avoided eye contact. Cardassians avoid eye contact because we are lying. As we make it to challenge; that's what the Humans say. Who knows why the Humans do anything."
"You make eye contact also just to talk," Anar replied slowly. "I have never known Janice to be apprehensive of anyone."
"Not even Garak," Pfrann nodded sourly.
"As it must be my age that finds such worldliness in someone as young as you are to be disturbing."
Pfrann shrugged again. "I'm seventeen." He moved away to lend his strength and assistance to his brother; Anon would need it. Deciphering Sisko's signal to the UFP placed Janice in the operating theater. An early suspect in custody and awaiting questioning; Chief O'Brien. The conference was canceled.
"No!" Panicked, enraged, Anon lunged for the door.
A sharp, swift strike from Tan brought him sharply down on his knees where he gagged on the nausea filling up inside of him and the convulsion of tears threatening to drown him. The phaser rifle in Tan's hand was fixed on Anar and Sian, daring them to move in the direction of Anon or the door. Pfrann, Tan allowed to attend to his brother warning the child's outraged curses with a thunderous "Silence!"
"Guardian, Anar," Anar repeated three times to himself, his eyes as fixed on Tan's phaser rifle fixed on him before calling out into the silent air for the child Ziyal. "Understand, child, I cannot help them if I cannot help them."
There was no answer, just a strange and inexplicable sensation of calmness floating down over him that he didn't begin to feel in his heart.
"Who are you talking to?" Sian was not alone in his question.
"No one apparently," Anar agreed with a reassuring nod for Tan. "We've come this far in our mutual trust of each other, shall we turn our backs now?"
"You hit your head in your fall for freedom," Tan lowered his rifle with a chuckle, explaining to his satisfaction the Bajoran's strange cry out for some child; Prophet or spirit, no doubt.
"It's entirely possible I did," Anar admitted. "If not entirely possible I struck it once too often and once too hard quite some time ago…" he approached Anon with the offer of a hand up and a shake of his head. "Tan's right. You can't, no more than I can."
"I would think you would be maddened…" Anon stared coldly at the door, spoke harshly through his clenched teeth.
"To the point of insanity," Anar agreed.
"Yes!" Anon said, both of his fists clenched tightly to his stomach in the agony of emotion, not the agony of pain. "Like me! Exactly like me!"
"I am," Anar promised. "As I will have their throats; Shakaar's included. Whose neck I remain unwilling to risk is Janice's. Yours -- and yours," a faint trace of a smile found its way over to Pfrann; his father's soul, so desperately in love with his father's heart that right now was breaking.
"What you talk about, we do," Pfrann's thin lips twisted cruelly in reply.
"No, I don't talk," Anar assured. "What I do, and have done among so many other things, is aid and abet in the destruction of my brother's soul. Misinterpreting the ferocity he exhibited as a child as an uncommon strength. The fact that he would one day return to harm those I love, should surprise no one; myself, least of all. I'm not quite sure what else I would have expected him to do…and, no," his smile spread a little fuller with the confounded expression on the child's face, "you don't have to understand everything I'm saying. Anon takes good care of that, as well as good care of you. The only part you have to understand is about rash actions doing both Janice and Anon a far greater harm than good."
"Then what do we do?" Pfrann insisted in the impatience of his youth.
Anar would have to think about that for all his advancing years and the wisdom that was supposed to accompany them.
"His reasoning is sound," Sian expressed a plausible belief in Pfrann's analogy of where the blame may actually lay as Pfrann resumed the task of assisting Anon in monitoring communication channels alongside Tan.
"Actually I was thinking," Anar replied distantly, "how upright the mother must be in her soundness of mind and being to begin to dilute the madness of Dukat and have her sons grow to be functional; which they are."
Sian was silent; Anar couldn't say as he blamed him. He smiled tenderly that time for his son. "I didn't strike my head. The vision of their sister Ziyal has plagued me since shortly after we arrived; here aboard Terok Nor, as well as aboard the Tir. I am uncertain as to why. As it is possible I may never fully understand. In the meantime, if there is a flaw to Pfrann's reasoning, it is only in believing the snake is Garak rather than Hawk. Get into the Infirmary somehow, if not, into the ranks of security."
"You think Hawk is still here."
No. Anar was certain more than before Hawk was on that shuttle and on his way home. He stared at his phaser rifle set to the side. If he had the means he would destroy the shuttle; damn the hundred innocent souls aboard. Whose plan was not flawed by anyone's standards was the Prophets. "Hawk has left and there are no markers I can think of to call in who would swarm to avenge the sons of Dukat; we are alone."
"Then what is the point of risking discovery when we will know soon enough without having to infiltrate -- don't misunderstand me. My rage and grief is as all-encompassing as yours."
"The point is Anon's peace of mind and also ours," Anar activated his field unit. "Beyond that the knowledge Sisko may have of Janice, the colony, and just where those pictures may be -- good luck," he wished his son's image fading away. He turned around to Tan's chuckle.
Anar winked back with a humor and calmness he continued not to feel. "You know of an easier way to penetrate Sisko's shields and be in more than one place at a time? I'm still nursing the bruises from my last encounter with the Federation. This way I can not only heal, I can work at assisting you -- as I can attempt to signal Shakaar from the bridge of the Tir. He may ignore the hail or answer it. As he may heed the instructions to intercept the shuttle or he may refuse. I can try until I fail, in other words. But at least I am not sitting idly by."
Sisko issued the order to Dax to signal the UFP with what little information they had at the moment upon entering Lange's quarters.
"Reality," Odo offered what impressed itself upon the Captain.
"Indeed, Constable," Sisko stepped for the console. Reality was much more than the scattered articles of clothing and intoxicating aroma of spilled whiskey.
"Can't smell," Odo reminded. "Bottle's over there…Lange was over there. The Chief…well…he ended up over there. Not quite sure where he started out."
"Here, Constable," Sisko assured. That was the reality he couldn't shake or deny. A direct violation, not only of conference protocol, but also his orders. "Unacceptable. Damn the reasons."
"Apparently." What Odo could do was hear. And the word he heard Sisko use to describe O'Brien in his orders to Dax was suspect; Lange remained a victim.
"To be treated as such, Constable," Sisko insisted. "No excuses, none."
"You said that," Odo nodded.
He would say it again. Until he made sense of what happened in here. "I can't imagine…" Sisko looked around at what he couldn't help but imagine.
"Yes, well," Odo offered, "Major Kira's probably quite capable of conducting the analyses -- under supervision of Commanders Dax or Worf -- "
"Under supervision of yourself," Sisko corrected. "I'll not walk in blind, Constable. I will know precisely what I am talking about, and the Chief will answer to my satisfaction."
"Or he'll hang," Odo agreed as the Captain left to wait in the Infirmary for Bashir. "Damn the UFP…Interesting your trust in my objectivity." He ogled Worf. "I'd still pick you or Dax over me. Something to do with your honor code, her seven lifetimes of wisdom, and my having seen just about all there is to see six years with the Federation and ten years with Dukat. Humanoids are as cruel and vicious with themselves and their own never mind anyone else, regardless of the species."
"I am warned," Worf replied. "If I suspect your treatment or disregard of evidence as bias, I will let you know."
"Good," Odo approved. "Because it's also something to do with personally liking Lange. Not that I don't like the Chief; I believe I do. I just know a victim when I see one. As I know a viable suspect when I -- well, hear of one, actually," he grunted. "As far as seeing, O'Brien wouldn't be the first one find himself in a position he had little or anything to do with personally, appearances aside."
"I can tell you now this is not the work of any Klingon," Worf submitted, subjectively, that was true.
"Nor any Cardassian," Odo nodded. "Agree with that myself. There's too much left intact; including Lange. Dead or not, the body was still recognizable as a body, if not generally recognizable as Lange. That leaves the Chief and two hundred and seventy-five Special Forces as the prime suspects. Bashir's analyses will likely tell us which; if not possibly who. On that note, probably should get started seeing what we can do about supporting or disputing him."
"She's alive," Bashir surely doubted if anyone would want to dispute that when he joined Sisko waiting with Kira in the privacy of his office in the Infirmary.
"That's good news, yes, Doctor," Sisko agreed quietly from where he sat at his station behind Bashir's desk. Kira looked away, towards one of the walls, nowhere else in particular, thinking no doubt about Bareil.
"Extraordinary news, actually," Bashir sat down on the wrong side of his desk, not troubling the Captain with asking him to relinquish his chair. A mildly nervous shake to Bashir's hand, a far-away look in his eyes, his brain racing to assimilate the staggering amount of data and organize it into coherent thoughts and speech; the Captain was no exception to the stress of the emotions running rampant through them all. A scattered number of data padds on the desk suggested some early preliminary reports of Odo's investigation, and possibly some initial definitive ones of Dax. Bashir held two padds in his hand as well, both having to do with Janice Lange.
"And, well, where do I begin?" Bashir agreed with a clearing of his throat. "Possibly with defining what I mean by alive -- and by alive, I mean Janice is alive. Viably alive," he nodded to Kira releasing the wall to gaze fixed and unemotional at him. "Vibrant, if you prefer. The reconstruction of her larynx has been utterly successful…the cervical fracture is stable and fused. She'll have somewhat of a stiff neck for the next several weeks, but then while there was no actual damage to the spinal cord, there was significant irritation. I've implanted two neural transducers to insure the transmission of nerve impulses to her extremities remain uninterrupted and smooth while allowing the spinal cord time to rest. She will require some intensive physical therapy to maintain and regain her optimum physical strength throughout her convalescence and afterwards. As there may be some minor, residual weakness which may preclude her participation in endurance events. I'm unfamiliar with Janice's actual schedule of physical activity --if she has an actual organized schedule apart from her general life style, not excluding the physical requirements of archeology. By my examination, I would say no, she hasn't. Her muscle density and development is uniform. Leading me to the conclusion Janice is young, healthy in her life style, and therefore strong…which, yes, brings us to the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex region of Janice's brain," he looked away briefly for a moment.
"Clinically Janice was dead approximately forty minutes -- I hate that word, don't you?” he said. “Clinically? It's ambiguous, and so grossly inaccurate to say the least. Nevertheless, in a very general explanation, the cerebral cortex in a Human can be divided into three primary groups of functions; motor, sensory and association -- association being things like intuition, intelligence, memory, personality. Together with the hypothalamus which governs much of a Human's emotional responses, damage in these regions can have significant repercussions…" he was focused on Kira transfixed on him. "Not that damage to other areas can't; of course they can."
"She's brain dead," Kira read between the lines; inaccurately thank God.
"Hardly," the hint of Bashir's smile was fragile. "Another stock phrase I positively loathe. If Janice were brain dead, she would be dead. Which she isn't. As neither is she mindless. What she very likely is, or will be, is average -- possibly slightly above or below. All of this is highly subjective at the moment, of course; remaining to be seen. As naturally, it's not that brain cells don't regenerate, of course they do. As they can be stimulated to generate or regenerate; I'm certainly evidence of that -- as it might be something you may want to ask the UFP," he proposed to Sisko. "Even if there is no ultimate decision to pursue genetic re-enhancement in this instance. No less risky or controversial, I'm certain, than actual enhancement, the horror of this story is, Janice was hardly average. So astoundingly above average, into the realm of utter physical superiority, with three times the number of primary brain cells one normally expects to find in a Human."
"Are you saying Doctor Lange was a genetically enhanced Human, as in the express instance of yourself?" Sisko questioned.
"Hardly," Bashir assured. "I see no evidence of it. To the contrary, I'm saying by Nature Janice is, or was, a superior Human. And that is not only humbling, it is so far beyond upsetting given the circumstances, I can't even think of a word to describe it, nor how I feel personally about it at the moment. That sort of intelligence is fragile. Proven to be so utterly fragile by the genetic enhancement experiments of the 20th and 21st centuries, to where it truly is a flip of a coin if one is going to end up with a hopelessly maddened Kahn, or simply a brilliant and arrogant me. Indeed, the early and long-term, if not constant, mental programming and conditioning practices of the Romulan and Cardassian races further support the astounding risks of creating little more than emotional and mental Frankenstein monsters, regardless of the species -- "
"Yes, Doctor," Sisko waved, not impatiently in response to Bashir's increasingly, heaving breath. "We are discussing Doctor Lange."
"So we are," Bashir took a deep breath in an effort to relax. "And it would be something far more than a medical miracle to expect no irreparable change in a brain that has been starved of oxygen for forty minutes; modern medical science aside. The intricacies of associative brain functions are precisely that. Intricate. Memory, a key factor in one's ability to retain information. As has short-term memory been proven countless times to be the most fragile of all. I doubt very much, in other words, if Janice will be of much, if any assistance, in relaying how and what happened, obviously to her. I'm far less concerned with, or upset by that inconvenience, than I am by the equally probable fact who is dead, is Doctor Lange. Who isn't dead, is Janice." He stood up. "I'd like a short time to review my own analyses. As I would naturally like some time to review whatever forensic evidence -- Odo?" he reached for one of the conspicuous padds of information waiting to be read. "Has managed to compile?"
"Constable Odo, yes, Doctor," Sisko nodded as quietly as he had been since Bashir first walked in. "He and Mister Worf are conducting the last of the physical examination of Doctor Lange's quarters."
"I'll want to read it," Bashir reiterated, well within his authority to ask and expect to be granted the opportunity. "As I'll want to review Dax's and Michelle's preliminary evaluations of the Chief -- where is Miles? Michelle said something about security."
"Security isolation for the time being, yes, Doctor," Sisko agreed. "Recommended, together with the assurance of Commander Dax such action would pose no threat to the accuracy of any analyses, forensic or otherwise."
"Well, Dax is certainly a scientist herself of the highest caliber. I have no difficulty respecting or accepting her judgment."
"Neither do I, Doctor," Sisko assured.
"Though I retain the right to conduct any additional examination of Miles, or analyses of my own."
"Of course," Sisko granted.
"As I request permission to obtain a second, expert opinion regarding all forensic determinations, including my own. To that end, who comes immediately to mind is Doctor Tracy Sorge. An expert certainly in the field of forensic sciences; he taught half of us for God's sake."
"Permission granted," Sisko agreed.
"As," Bashir took another desperately needed deep breath, "I would like to obtain a recommendation for an expert in the field of counseling. Specifically someone who is skilled in the areas of post-traumatic stress and the psychological impact of sexual assault. Lower on the list of Janice's numerous injuries is that of a particularly brutal forced sexual encounter. Not that all such encounters aren't brutal, of course they are. And this one was certainly brutal; particularly. I'm not sure if you were aware of that, if you weren't, you certainly are now."
"I was aware, yes, Doctor," Sisko agreed. "The probable nature of Doctor Lange's assault was an early and likely determination, together with the attempt at strangulation."
"The definitive nature," Bashir assured. "And what I mean to say in regards to that is Janice is Human. Not that means anything really other than Humans, as with all other species, have specific acceptable or unacceptable rules of conduct…As that is not to say no Human has ever found themselves to be the victim of someone else's acceptable versus our unacceptable conduct; of course we have. As we certainly have as a race strayed beyond our own code of ethics."
"With deadly and dangerous results, yes, Doctor," Sisko upheld the acceptable morality of his species.
"Precisely," Bashir said. "As with all other instances of Janice's retained or lost memory, what she doesn't remember consciously, in no way determines what she will retain subconsciously. In turn the cause and effect such retention would, could, or will have on her emotional responses, together with the damage to her hypothalamus; your guess is as good as mine. For now. Until we see. Subjectively, in the instance of pure, limited observation, Janice, while she may have been assertive in some respects, was hardly aggressive. Will she suddenly become aggressive? I doubt it. I'm far more concerned that what she doesn't become is severely withdrawn. No more than I would consider consenting to anyone other than myself acting as Janice's medical caretaker, would I presume to promote myself as qualified to undertake the role of counselor. To the contrary, I discourage myself from even attempting on the basis it would be highly inappropriate given the circumstances. Miles is a friend of mine. Therefore, if you have no objections, I'd like permission to fully explain the situation in its entirety to Doctors Sorge. Veronica Sorge is a counselor. Retired herself from practice, she may have a recommendation as far as who may constitute 'the best' the UFP has to offer."
"I have no objections, Doctor," Sisko assured, "to your intent to extend Doctor Lange the best of any necessary medical or psychological treatment or care."
"Thank you," Bashir turned to leave. "It is after all, the least we can do."
"The very least, Doctor," Sisko preempted his exit. "To that end, I do have a question or two."
"Of course," Bashir turned back. "What I can tell you -- what I'm willing to tell you at this point is Janice's assailant was not Cardassian or Klingon. Lacking any hint of either such DNA evidence aside, the ferocity in which Janice was attacked and beaten would have found her quite literally torn limb from limb."
"I respect that determination. I am however, much more interested in the DNA evidence you have found, rather in what you have not."
"A chemically distorted version of Human; remarkably so for any number of reasons why. I'll have to do a complete chemical analysis before I can begin to tell you why."
"I'll take an educated guess for now, Doctor," Sisko moistened his dry lips.
"Alcohol or any number of related narcotics or drugs; not excluding the presence of high levels of ryetalyn in Janice's blood stream. Some method of external introduction. Some acute and immediate allergic reaction that sought to repel and destroy the invader; it's not unheard of. As a matter of fact it stands as the reason behind any number of infertility complaints."
"You're avoiding my question, Doctor," Sisko nodded.
"Only to the extent that I'm avoiding accusing Miles of being the only plausible and possible suspect until all of the facts are in; and even then, yes, likely I will continue having difficulty believing any of this."
"You're not alone," Sisko assured. "Please, by all means, review your analyses and all others as many times as you like. Obtaining a second opinion from whomever you like; as I will nevertheless require a determination from you within a reasonable length of time…As I will require both you and Commander Dax to speak with Odo concerning this issue of alcohol."
"Yes," Bashir nodded. "Along with Garak and Quark. I can tell you now in short what transpired from my perspective. We were in Quark's; the four of us. Dax, Garak, the Chief and myself. Miles was drinking Bajoran ale. Quark's tabulation can certainly tell you how much the Chief actually had. During the course of time we were actually together, roughly twenty minutes, he had two, in rapid succession to each other…"