The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

By GDunbarGiles

Scifi / Action

Chapter Twenty-One

"You're alone," Veronica Sorge rejoined her husband absorbed in studying some confusing looking molecular display on Bashir's console.

"Bashir was called away for some conference with Sisko. Sure the Federation isn't any quicker or slower than anyone else in drawing conclusions they don't want to draw."

He was talking about himself and the disturbing loss of a young doctor who should have had her career and life ahead of her; Veronica knew that. She eyed the display. "What conclusions are they drawing?"

"Ryetalyn," Sorge defined what was obvious in the chemical profile Bashir insisted upon labeling as mysterious or suspicious.

Veronica smiled. "Yes. The one part that's fairly obvious to me."

Sorge grunted. "Obvious that it's a wonder it didn't kill who it was trying to cure."

"Janice?" Veronica guessed.

"Who either suffered a particular severe case of Rigelian fever that she was able to assimilate the overdose -- lethal overdose -- or an acute hypersensitivity to the serum; either way she clearly did survive."

"With the high levels of antibodies potentially masking whatever Bashir hopes to find, that he can't find in O'Brien's screenings." Veronica had the idea.

"He can find it," Sorge corrected. "Same as I can. If he looks for it; he's not looking for it."

"Does he have a reason to?" Veronica asked quietly.

Sorge was silent. Clicking off the display and clicking on a new one; a particularly grisly one of Janice in death. "Should have been postmortem. As it turned out, it wasn't. How did you make out?"

"Well, she certainly looks far better than that," Veronica turned from the picture to approach the desk. "Confused, certainly. Frightened, to an extent -- "

"And with a little luck," Sorge said, "up to being spared the prognosis of 15% brain damage -- or brain change, as Bashir prefers to call it; who knows why. I wouldn't count on it. Bashir's an artist in his own right; who he isn't, is God."

"Arrogance earned?" Veronica smiled, toying with the arrangement of choices on the desk console.

Her suggestion ruffled his Federation background. "To an extent. In my day genetic enhancement was frowned upon as not being worth the risk; who knows about nowadays."

"And what would they say in your day?" Veronica asked, though his day was the same as hers. "Of a Human mating with a Cardassian?"

"Well…" Sorge turned back to his studies, "if they had the good sense of their God, and what their parents should have taught them, they'd say exactly what I'd say."

"And what's that?"

"It's fine until one shows up at your dinner table." Sorge reengaged his chemical analysis along with a picture of Gul Anon Dukat in life, though in an expected degree of unconscious pain as he lay waiting on Bashir's operating table in preparation of having his abdomen repaired rather than his brain jarred awake.

Veronica laughed, not at the image, but at the claim. "That has to be one of the silliest things I've ever heard you say."

"Doubt it," Sorge did. "The same as I wouldn't doubt it to be true of most -- not because of his race; spare me your liberal outrage. Because of his affinities and his affiliations."

"Affinities." The word pricked at Veronica like a needle pricking her skin. "I'm not so sure I'm as liberal-minded as I've thought," her nod for the scan of Janice was contained. "Do you think Anon did that to her? Either in anger or some bizarre demonstration of affection?"

"No," Sorge assured. "Anon's last interlude was more than twelve hours before Lange's assault -- don't have to take my word for it," his nod for the chemical analysis was firm. "It's right here. What Bashir's overlooking in his fascination with the destructive properties of ryetalyn is there's one thing Human and Cardassian males can't do, and that's produce an offspring together. They can carry one; Humans that is. Would be somewhat more difficult for a Cardassian, but it wouldn't be impossible -- save for these two. Anon's the one allergic to O'Brien, not Janice. Put that together with a double dosage of ryetalyn antibodies -- Janice's and Anon's -- and the evidence of Anon's earlier participation is all but destroyed." He turned around to his wife. "The next dissertation is yours. Other than to say if Janice and Anon ever do intend to attempt to propagate sometime within the next millennium, they'll need an antidote for their antidote. The man was inept who dispensed the serum. If he still has a license; he shouldn't."

"What makes you think it was a man?" Veronica smiled. "Inept, rather than unfamiliar, desperate, and severely limited by the lack of available -- toys," her hand fluttered over the console, "you talking heads take for granted?"

"Janice tell you that?"

"She mentioned something of how they met, yes. Not too much more than that. She's exhausted. Quite reasonably so. Far more perplexed and absorbed with wondering where Anon might be, other than at her bedside where she clearly wants him to be, even if she isn't quite willing to admit that. Also quite reasonable; the wondering. And the reasons behind it."

"Typical," Sorge snorted. "Not to take the devil's side, but does it ever occur to any of you we might not be where you'd prefer us to be for reasons apart from treachery and deceit?"

"Now you sound like some stuffed shirt from some forgotten generation in some ancient past," Veronica strode forward. "Of course it occurs to us. The same as it occurs to me a plausible reason for Anon's absence could very well be -- that!" the fury in her hand flashed from the screening of Janice, to pushing back the grey waves of her hair. "Unthinkable the cause and reason behind a woman's assault could be a disgruntled animal -- yes, animal," she insisted. "An animal did that. A barbarian -- is that what we've become? Is that who we are? You're quite right when you say it's an entirely different matter when it's one of your own." She stopped abruptly upon noticing Bashir in the doorway.

"I'm not sure if I'm happy to hear that," Bashir apologized, not meaning to intrude, and of course, he wasn't intruding. "If I understand correctly, your anger has to do with the analysis proposing to be as conclusive as my own; the Chief is responsible?"

"Little early for that determination," Sorge reset the displays, not quickly enough for Bashir not to notice the screening of the ponderous looking Cardassian sprawled on the operating table.

"What's this?" Bashir frowned in mild curiosity. "Gul Dukat? Why Dukat?"

"I think it's more that he's Cardassian," Sorge explained as the image vanished along with that of Janice. "A little experiment in verifying the effects of ryetalyn antibodies on various DNA strains. Your medical banks are ample in their supply of Bajoran and Human samples; somewhat restricted in its offer of Cardassian or Klingon. Dukat seemed like a good model as any for my purpose, what with his information being more extensive than most others; doubt if he'd mind either way."

Bashir smiled. "Well, if he's anything like his father, I'd have to agree. I had the same idea, as a matter of fact. Your little experiment?" he clarified as Sorge looked him over as if he had quite clearly lost his mind in suggesting Dukat, or any Cardassian, for that matter, would ultimately be found accountable; which they would not be. "The effects of ryetalyn antibodies on a host of DNA strains? Daresay your efforts proved as worthless as my own?"

"Have they?" Veronica Sorge added her inquiry to the record.

"Depends on what you deem as worthless," Sorge replied. "The chemical distortion I lay to elevated levels of ryetalyn in tissue and other samples taken from Lange, also suggest a possible doubt in determining the presence of O'Brien's DNA to be a conclusive case of rape rather than introduced by some other method or means."

"It does?" Bashir blinked. "I mean, it clearly does? That was my determination. Concerned that I may have just been reading something into the analysis -- "

"I said possible doubt, Doctor," Sorge cautioned. "Not reasonable. Alongside the other evidence I've just begun sifting through it's not much on which to try and build a case."

"No, but it's something," Bashir scrambled for his desk to begin downloading the profile to wave as precisely that; evidence. "Until now there's been absolutely nothing -- unless one believes in the boasts of Advocate Ch'Pok."

"Who?" Sorge said, more in an effort to shrug away the entranced gaze of his wife.

"Why, haven't you ever heard of him?" Bashir teased. "None other than Gowron's finest. Self-appointed legal counselor to Chief O'Brien -- that's where I was. In conference with the Chief's lawyer, my jaw gaping right along with the rest of us, I'm not ashamed to say…yes, here it is," the chemical profile finally loaded onto the screen. "Take that, Magistrate T’Lara. If you've doubts to Ch'Pok's claims, and who could blame you if you have, what do you say about this?" He was gone five minutes later wishing Sorge the best of continuing good luck while he brought, and explained, the results of the comparison medical analyses thus far to Sisko; he collided with Dax two steps outside the Infirmary on the Promenade.


"Oh, good," Dax grabbed him, preparing to thrust him into the turbolift, "I need you."

"Yes, well," Bashir said, startled only to find himself literally swept off his feet, "as much as I may have been wanting to hear that, right now, I'm afraid it's going to have to wait."

She let go of him immediately, as immediately he was apologizing for being needlessly crass, and being forgiven. To the extent that she was handing him her data padd that she apparently wished him to review and taking his in exchange; that was a mistake. Not her taking his log, what she handed him. A precise and unappetizing detailing of some rather base ritualistic shaming acts she had begun compiling.

"What is this, your dairy?" Bashir commented for some reason other than the thought entered his head, and that reason was probably that he found the subject as a whole disquieting. "Would think you had enough of this -- " She was already gone, not exactly in a flash, but she was certainly gone taking her data padd away from him and keeping his.

"Dax…" Bashir was after her on a fast race down the Promenade. Not really interested in demanding the right to read the degrading study, but certainly interested in retrieving his chemical analysis; she flung it at him. So he ended up spending ten minutes arguing, rather than spend it having to download the analysis again.

"It's not a competition, Julian," Dax said coldly.

"Competition?" he gaped at her. "Who said anything about a competition? I'm just saying I understand why you might be looking to psychiatric anthropology for answers, and, yes, a ritualistic connection could exclude the Chief as a viable suspect."

"I simply wanted your opinion."

"I understand that," he said, his voice growing strained, his hand slapping the padd in frustrated emphasis. "A medical opinion."

"You would know if Lange meets the criteria," she insisted.

"I understand that," he snapped. "I also understand I can't tell you if Lange's assault has any ritualistic imprint unless you let me review the data, do you understand that?"

Apparently not because she walked off again with her data padd. He let her go, assuming they'd pick up the discussion again some time later.


"Is that even true -- " Veronica hated to accuse her husband of sixty years of intentionally lying to protect some Human who could very well be guilty. "Is it true, Tracy?" she demanded. "Look at me. Is there a doubt to O'Brien's involvement, or are you just saying that because you don't like the idea of some Cardassian sitting at your dinner table?"

"Potentially yes," he said. “There is a doubt.”

"They'll rip that profile apart to prove you wrong, and you know it."

"Why?" he asked. "There's a hundred times the evidence to support the Federation charges against O'Brien."

"Why?" she said. "Because they will. And when they do, do you think you are the only one who will realize the distortion is an allergic reaction due to a lingering presence of Cardassian DNA?"

"A risk Anon takes and took," Sorge assured. "With O'Brien no more or less guilty than Anon for putting Janice in the position to be maimed by some animal, yes. Clearly the man, or men, who did that, is, or are animals. In the meantime," he reengaged Dukat's ungainly portrait. "Do you realize who that young man is?"

"Her fiancé," Veronica insisted. "In our language. Husband, in his. Yes, I realize who that man is, and, no, I don't agree with it any more than you do. Damn him to his hell and ours if he is deceiving her. Damn him to hell for putting her in the position, and, yes, damn him to hell if he is in any way accountable for what happened. But who I damn to hell most of all is the man who did this to her! Oh, Tracy," she implored, "if anyone needs anything from you, it's Janice who needs your protection, not your misplaced vengeance. What do you think is going to happen to her if they find out about her association with Anon? That's what's going to happen to her," her cutting nod indicated the doorway to the Infirmary to the corridors beyond to the isolation suites. "What did happen to her and worse. Are you suggesting some Cardassian knows that better than you do? Well enough to stay away -- hopefully far and forever away from her?"

"Who's asking who to lie?" Sorge verified.

"I am," she assured. "I'm asking you to lie by omission to the Federation and everyone else. If there's evidence to support O'Brien's innocence, look for it and find it someplace else. Not along the avenues that will implicate an intimate liaison with Dukat -- who's innocent, Tracy. He is innocent of that."

"How is Janice?" Sorge changed the subject to an extent. "Truthfully? How does she look? Feel? Am I prepared, or aren't I?"

Veronica softened. Her eighty year old hand gently stroking his eighty-three year old face. "No, of course you're not prepared. Whoever is prepared? She's gone, Tracy. That brilliant young doctor you admired so ardently is gone." Tears brimmed in his eyes, or perhaps they brimmed in hers, clouding the definitions of her husband's features. "She's coherent. Quite coherent. There's much to be said for that. She's still beautiful?" she smiled. "But the eyes are different. A little distant perhaps? Too distant not to know something is either missing or lost? I found myself wondering once or twice if she was aware of that. Of something being different somehow, changed."

"Yes, yes, all right," Sorge patted her shoulder. "She's alive is what matters most. By some combined miracle of God and Bashir. I'm told the Cardassians prefer their mates to be docile anyway, as they prefer them to be domestic."

"Who told you that?" Veronica's hand was on her hip.

"You did. In the middle of some lecture or other -- not this one. Some other one. You missed your calling. The same as Lange is destined to miss hers…it's all right," he nodded. "One of our traditional wedding vows include a line about for better or for worse. There's no saying the Cardassians don't have a similar one -- do they?"

"How do I know?" her hand walloped his tunic lovingly.

"Just asking," he grunted. "There's no harm in asking."


"Come again?" O'Brien said. "Could you come again?" he requested looking from the round, moon face of Ch'Pok beaming down on him to the less effervescent one of Sisko.

"The decision is yours, Chief," Sisko repeated. "Advocate Ch'Pok is willing to offer his services to you as legal counselor."

"I got that part. I heard it -- oh, help me," O'Brien dropped back on the bench, covering his face with his hands. "Someone help me." It was too much. It was just too much. And now this? Ch'Pok? It was definitely too much. He started to laugh. He couldn't help himself. He laughed and laughed, and when he finished laughing Sisko was still standing there along with Ch'Pok.

"I'm sorry," O'Brien apologized to Sisko. "But it's just -- it's just -- "

Yes. Sisko understood how it was. He turned to Ch'Pok. "If you could excuse us for a moment, Advocate."

"By all means." Ch'Pok was gracious in his exit, and he was grand.

O'Brien wasn't falling for it either way. "Ch'Pok? As in Ch'Pok?" The lawyer who lost the Klingon bid for Worf's extradition to his home world; as in, did not win? Despite all his ardent efforts and hair-brained scheme?

"Yes," Sisko said.

"Oh, please," O'Brien fell back on his bench. "Tell me you believe him." He already knew Sisko didn't. What was there to believe?

"I'm not sure." Sisko could only say. "There has to be more to the equation."

"Of course there's more," O'Brien scoffed. "There's a lot more."

"All Klingon, yes," Sisko agreed. "In the meantime, Chief, there's also you."

Yeah, there was him. O'Brien sat there staring off into space. "What could he know? What could he know that I don't know -- that you don't know. Because believe me, I don't know anything."

Neither did Sisko really, other than he wasn't willing not to take a chance; any chance.

"Oh, yeah, right," O'Brien scoffed. "In the meantime I could still end up on Elba II."

"Is that your final word?"

"No, of course it's not my final word," O'Brien assured. "I'm just saying that's the way it could be…and so, yeah, I guess we'll find out. Won't we?"

"I imagine we will," Sisko agreed.


Magistrate T’Lara of the Federation had all the indications of being of a different opinion when she arrived promptly at 2100 to meet with Sisko and several of his senior staff together with the prisoner O'Brien and his Advocate Ch'Pok in the security conference room. Sisko remembered the stoic Vulcan officer who had presided over Worf's hearing as clearly as he remembered everything else. Her petite, slight, frame misleading in its suggestion that she could be lost or overlooked in a sea of giants stretching their power over hers. Her strength of will, a mind stronger still, empathy was not a word in T’Lara's vocabulary. Her cool logic had been cold and judgmental at times, startlingly faulty at others, her strict doctrinal code occasionally inflicted with an undercurrent of intolerance. T’Lara carried that air now. Her memory as crisp as anyone else's. Advocate Ch'Pok had been a nuisance. Flagrant in his attempting to take control of her courtroom. Logic dictated he would threaten such attempts again. She acknowledged her recollection of DS9 with the notification of how the last time she was aboard the station it was to preside over another extradition hearing. A different senior officer of Sisko's awaiting her judgment rather than this one, Engineer O'Brien. There was an accusation in the Magistrate's notice, a condemnation of Sisko and his staff.

A muttered "Okay…" slipped from between O'Brien's lips. Now that she brought it to his attention he remembered Magistrate T’Lara as well; it wasn't fondly.

No fonder than Sisko. "That would have been Commander Worf, Magistrate, yes," he replied with an indicating nod of Mister Worf in attendance with Commander Dax, Constable Odo and Doctor Bashir; Major Kira had declined attending in deference to personally insuring the continued maximum security and comfort of Doctor Lange.

T’Lara was there to discuss O'Brien. She assumed her position of judge and jury at Odo's desk to hear and discuss the motions before her. "Chief Engineer O'Brien has been made aware of the charges against him?"

"Yes," Sisko said.

"Constable?" T’Lara was talking to Odo.

"That would be yes," Odo likewise agreed.

She still seemed unsatisfied. Her carved, unemotional features regarded O'Brien sitting before her. "As he understands the gravity?"

"I would have to say yes," Odo replied.

"To be sure he does," T’Lara apprised O'Brien. "Federation law requires the charged be informed violation of the interplanetary trusteeship system by a Starfleet officer to be a crime without defense. Simultaneous conviction of criminal charges imposed finds mandatory life internment without chance of parole at the Federation prison colony Elba II…Know," she elaborated for O'Brien's thorough and complete understanding, "that if the extradition order were to Vulcan, rather than the UFP, by Vulcan law, conviction would find the mandatory sentence imposed to be the penalty of death. We have no need to reevaluate legislation written to address archaic crimes of barbarism."

"Eh, heh," O'Brien answered. What else could he say that he hadn't said already; which was nothing? By order of his consul Ch'Pok, and in T’Lara's continued opinion as well.

"The claim of amnesia finds the court's determination of your entry of a plea of innocence to be one made without adequate defense," T’Lara moved on to inform Ch'Pok.

"Well, it may be inadequate alone -- " Bashir startled.

"An examination of the joint Federation and Bajoran investigation upholds reasonable belief of guilt," she aborted the interruption, "and dictates the defense motion for a hearing on the issue of extradition to be denied."

"If Madam Magistrate would please…" Ch'Pok set his attaché case down in front of her with a flourish.

"Adjustment to the plea to reflect one of insanity is not applicable to refuting an order of extradition, Advocate," she reminded coldly in anticipation.

"I anticipate no such adjustment to be necessary," Ch'Pok extended her a data padd. Sisko's interest flickered along with the blossoming attention of his staff.

T’Lara reviewed the padd for all of thirty seconds before an expressionless look up. "The court finds no relevancy."

Ch'Pok smiled. "If the court may, I am quite prepared to show much relevancy -- together with authenticity," he quickly added. "For the court to accept, or seek additional verification of its own…though quickly, Magistrate, I would require on my client's behalf. This matter of Chief O'Brien's internment has gone on far too long already."

"Indeed…" Sisko's intrigued step forward was accompanied by a reach for the padd. "If I may, Magistrate -- "

He may not, not just yet anyway. T’Lara kept the data padd and its contents to herself, accepting and reviewing Ch'Pok's list of witnesses. "Major Kira and Doctor Bashir stand ordered to appear as witnesses for the prosecution."

Ch'Pok graciously accepted the return of his padd but not the determination. "Motion is submitted for reconsideration. Major Kira and Doctor Bashir are vital to the defense."

"An opportunity to refute testimony exists upon cross examination, Advocate."

His smile broadened with an indication of the data padd she retained. "An opportunity exists only if the court has decided to reconsider the motion for hearing."

Not bad. Odo nodded to himself. So far Ch'Pok showed the same promise he had shown early on in the Worf fiasco, with T’Lara showing the same potential for weakness; of course it was the ending that mattered; the outcome. And if it hadn't been for the efforts of Sisko, or those of himself…Odo's glance trailed over the Captain disinterested in the legal rhetoric and wanting to know just what was on that data padd, the same as Odo wanted to know. He put in his bid to find out. "While the prosecution is prepared for there to be a hearing, or for there not to be one, it clearly objects to any evidence being allowed without an opportunity for due review -- and dispute. I believe that is also Federation law."

Ch'Pok's smile spread to expose his teeth. "In respect to a trial, Constable. Federation admissibility laws are far broader in the instance of a hearing -- or in the conveyance of a Grand Assembly…" he extended a third data padd to T’Lara. "Motion of an adjustment is made to the request for a hearing to include that of a Grand Assembly in the matter of extradition and admissibility of all evidence -- "

"And inadmissibility," Odo said. "The court stands notified of the prosecution's intent to dispute allowing any information as evidence that has not been duly recorded and verified."

"The point of the Grand Assembly, Constable," T’Lara replied. "As would the time required to order the conveyance of an assembly be contrary to your request of expediency, Advocate," she alerted Ch'Pok.

"It would be," he happily agreed.

She studied the data padd. "Motion for that of a Grand Assembly is denied. The court reverses its decision of a hearing in favor of the defense."

"Yes!" Escaped O'Brien's clenched teeth. Sisko would second that; T’Lara did not look up.

"Without prejudice to the prosecution or defense, the court reserves the decision of admissibility of information as evidence until the time of hearing -- relevancy must be clearly shown first, Advocate, without undue implication or reference," she forewarned Ch'Pok, "for the court to consider allowance. Exceed the boundaries of this order and you, together with your client will be cited with the charge of contempt of court."

"Oh, now, wait a minute…" O'Brien's elation plummeted.

"Relax, Chief," Sisko cautioned.

"What do you mean relax?" he jumped up. "There could be anything on there. What's he care about contempt -- "

"That's an order!" Sisko's hand preempted Worf's to slam O'Brien back down in his seat. "Come to order!"

Yeah, right. Come to order. Before what? More damage was done? Like there hadn't been enough damage done already. O'Brien pushed his hair back off his forehead. The Vulcan Ice Princess clear in her disdain of him and Sisko for flouting the Federation's right to railroad him as they saw fit. Like he cared. Like the Chief even cared; he cared. He cared so much he would probably agree to Morn representing him.

"With all due respect, Magistrate," Sisko dared to use the word, "I request to review Advocate Ch'Pok's information before this, or any other debate continues."

Ch'Pok cleared his throat; Sisko glared at him. "With all due respect, Magistrate," he requested, "I request Captain Sisko's request be denied -- with all due respect, Captain," he reassured Sisko, "as Chief O'Brien's commanding officer, I wouldn't dream of accusing you of attempted tampering -- "

"Tampering?" Sisko choked.

"No more than I would dream of accusing my illustrious opponent, Constable Odo," Ch'Pok swore in oath. "But as the court can plainly see for itself the nature of the information is extraordinarily sensitive. Surely any undue or unwarranted exposure would be clearly inappropriate prior to the court's decision of admissibility? Or relevancy?" he tempted T’Lara with a smile. "I doubt if even I can persuade the court to reconsider its decision now in favor of granting admissibility?"

"The decision of the court stands, Advocate," T’Lara stood up, data padd in hand. "Relevancy must be clearly demonstrated first. Until that time the court is obligated to declare the circulation of any information not duly recognized as evidence among any member of the defense or prosecution to be a flagrant attempt to prejudice the hearing's outcome, thereby undermining the sanctity of the court -- your request to review the data padd is denied, Captain Sisko, together with Constable Odo's motion."

"As would I never dream, Magistrate," Ch'Pok preempted her from securing the data padd in her attaché case rather than returning it to him, "of accusing the Federation et al of seeking an opportunity to tamper or destroy -- "

T’Lara looked at him; the slant of her finely drawn Vulcan brows arched in scorn. Ch'Pok was ready with his smile. "Nor to suggest the defense has any objections to granting the court sufficient opportunity to conduct its own determination of authenticity within the parameters of acceptable confidentiality and discretion."

T’Lara snapped her attaché shut; the data padd secured within. "The court recognizes the defense's intent to cite claims of attempted contamination or conspiracy in the event the Federation's analysis poses any question contrary to the Klingon claim of no adulteration."

"Federation claim Magistrate," Ch'Pok nodded. "As appointed counselor for Chief O'Brien, in this matter, I am as Federation as you. I foresee no differences or questions to arise between the results of our two analyses."

"The time of hearing is scheduled for 0900 the day after tomorrow," T’Lara ordered. "It is the court's will that Doctor Lange be in attendance, Constable. Chief O'Brien has the right to face his accuser."

"Yes, well," Odo said, "for the record, O'Brien's accuser is the Federation, the same as his defense. On behalf of the Neutral Doctor Lange, nevertheless…" he had his own data padd held ready. "Insofar as Lange's ability to appear, I will need to verify the feasibility with Doctor Bashir."

"I should say," Bashir blinked.

"By 2200 tomorrow, Constable," T’Lara ignored Bashir. "Advocate Ch'Pok is to be granted time for any necessary adjustments to his platform."

Odo nodded. "It's reasonable to presume if Lange is able to appear, it will be in attendance with appropriate medical personnel."

"Not excluding Counselor Veronica Sorge," Bashir insisted. "Damn anyone's right to confront anyone. Doctor Lange's rights include the right not to be further traumatized."

"To that end," Odo extended T’Lara his data padd, "if the court wouldn't mind reviewing my list of witnesses with its motion to refute the court's right to reverse the order of the Supreme Assembly by citing those previously mandated as witnesses for the prosecution to now appear as witnesses for the defense -- except in the instances of Captain Sisko or the Cardassian delegation," he granted. "Captain Sisko is Chief O'Brien's commanding officer. The prosecution respects his right to act as assistant defense council in the matter of the criminal charges posed against his officer. As far as the Cardassian delegation…yes, well," Odo grunted, "the prosecution is unaware of anyone ordering Damar or his representatives to appear anywhere on the behalf of anyone. That's the defense's idea solely. Who knows or cares why. Damar isn't involved. Can't be shown or proven to be involved without substantial adulteration of the facts, regardless of how much someone may want him to be involved; which, admittedly probably quite a lot of us do, or at least would far prefer it if he was. Additionally," he assured, "the prosecution anticipates any time soon the only thing Legate Damar is going to be requesting of anyone is clearance for the Tir to embark."

"To the contrary, Constable," T’Lara said, "Emperor Damar has agreed to abide by his Council's wishes that he remain aboard DS9 until the Threat Force has been satisfactorily identified to be Chief O'Brien acting alone; in turn removed from the station by Federation security marshals."

"I beg your pardon?" Sisko's cheeks pinched tightly under their darkened flush of anger. "To reiterate what Legate Damar has already been informed -- by myself! This matter, not now, or ever, has given any indication to be of any concern or interest to the Cardassian delegation whatsoever."

"It is the consensus of the Cardassian Civilian Council, Captain," T’Lara said, "together with Central Command, and the Federation Supreme Assembly, the severity of this latest security breech mandates absolute certainty that no further threat exists to any member of the conference delegation prior to departure; this is only logical. Emperor Damar's safe return to Cardassia Prime must be guaranteed. Central Command is en route to secure the Cardassian delegation. The Defiant stands ordered to act as escort of the Tir to the border of Cardassian Space, and will be held accountable."

"To repeat!" Sisko said.

"If not suggest Damar's envoy had better not cross the border," Dax's mutter found Odo.

"Hm," Odo was concentrating on Ch'Pok, thinking about that data padd and all it might have to offer. "If not hint there might be a Cardassian connection, after all."

"Hint?" Dax said.

"What have we been thinking?" Odo agreed.

T’Lara was thinking of nothing except salvaging the Federation-Cardassian Peace negotiations and the convenience of hanging O'Brien. "With the order of a hearing into the matter of extradition, Emperor Damar may wish to correspond with his government for their recommendation concerning the timeliness of his departure; which he may wish to postpone until the hearing verdict. This would be the Federation's recommendation as well. The court leaves you to discuss his options with the Emperor freely, Captain, together with Advocate Ch'Pok's suggestion of either Emperor Damar or his representatives agreeing to witness for the defense."

"Only in the most informal manner of helping to assist with the correct setting of the stage, Magistrate," Ch'Pok promised. "Only in the most informal manner."

"Stage is a logical choice of word, Advocate," she imparted, handing Sisko Odo's padd and exited.


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