The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

Chapter Twenty-Four

"Well," Dax mentioned to Worf as security fought to secure order, "it was a fair presumption Ch'Pok was talking about the Tir."

"Yes," Worf agreed.

"Which," Dax admitted, "Ch'Pok may still know something we don't know about the Klingon bridge."

"Yes," Worf agreed.

"He certainly knows something," Dax listened to Anon's screaming instructions to his brother.

"No, I'm all right…I'm all right!" Anon ripped the phaser rifle from Pfrann, shoving him away while he did what? Attempt to fight off the league of security attempting to hold him back from taking aim at Ch'Pok?

"That would be generally inadvisable," Worf halted Pfrann from going anywhere other than to his seat.

"Yes, it would be," Dax advised Anon finding his way blocked by the Trill. "Not to say Benjamin doesn't have the same idea as you."

He stared at her, the red eyes as angry as they were confused; she smiled again. "And not to say that data padd doesn't shed a whole new light, because it does."

"What is he talking about?"

Janice ignored the insistent demands of Kira clutching for her to stare straight ahead.

"Look at me!"

"That's enough," Odo was successful in prying Kira loose to where Bashir and the Sorges were clearly failing.

"Yes, please," Bashir insisted, "because he's mad -- they're all mad -- "

"A few madder than others," Odo observed.

"You heard what he said!" Kira shrieked.

"Yes, I heard him," Odo assured. Above the distortion of his translator and the valiant attempt of the station's universal translator to interpret and communicate the enraged outcry; 'son-of-a-bitch' apparently as close as the computer could get.

"Not Dukat!" Kira threatened to shred Odo's tunic with her nails.

"Ch'Pok also," Odo excused himself from her grip, preoccupied as he was at the moment with hearing, or listening to someone else.

"Sit down!" Sisko forced his will and his way into the melee, perspiring with the sweat and strength of rage as he tore at the assortment of arms and hands battling with each other; he turned back once. Hearing the repetitious pounding of T’Lara's hammer insisting upon order.

"Order," she droned. "There will be order -- or there will be sanctions, Captain," she warned Sisko bearing down on her bench.

"To the devil with your sanctions!" Sisko pulled the gavel from her hands to drive it again and again into the gilded bell. "If you can't control your courtroom, Madam, I can and shall!"

"All right! All right!" Bashir had him by the wrist. "We heard you! We heard you! Yes…we heard you," he took a breath, nodding to the waves of yellow and blackened silver-gray parting to reveal Ch'Pok being held at bay in one corner. The Dukats being held at bay in two others, and interestingly enough Damar being held back by the giant Tan in the last and final fourth; the aisle.

"Out of the question, Sisko," the Emperor seethed above the shoulders blocking him. "Gul Dukat has not been appropriately counseled."

"I don't need your stupid counsel!" Anon shouted back, continuing in his struggle to free himself of the Trill and her helpers.

"Entrapment, Dukat," Damar's head dropped back in disgust of the derelict's stupidity. "Do you understand the word entrapment?"

"I understand stupid, yes, like you! Stupid lies! Stupid Klingons -- let go of me!" he charged Dax.

"Explain it to him," Damar surrendered to Sisko with a push away from Tan; the giant didn't budge. The Emperor eyed him. "Dukat's fate waits on Cardassia Prime; no one can change that. Neither I, nor you."

Tan released him with a snort to turn and study the Federation's Sisko far below the tip of his head before he looked up to the Gul cornered by the podium and pairs of powerful hands; he took a step, Sisko's right there to match it. "Don't even think about," Sisko warned. "Or I'll bring you down, so help me, if it's the last thing I do."

"Quite," Bashir nodded dumbly as the giant showed distinct signs of hesitation, but not necessarily retreat. "Chances are it would be."

"Yes, thank you, Doctor," Sisko closed his eyes, his headache returning to pound like some judge's gavel. "Commander, release Gul Dukat to the responsibility of his own conduct."

"Thank you!" Anon jarred himself loose of Dax.

"Sentinel Tan?" Sisko waited.

The giant ogled him through his watery pupils, dilated, tearing and bloodshot from the intensity of the station's lighting. "It's engineer, Sisko," he sneered. "Chief Engineer. Your security systems are as faulty and flawed as Anon claims them to be."

"Apparently," Sisko's clenched jaw cracked as it shifted, stung by the brazen confession and truth in the Cardassian's words.

Tan snorted again with a dictating call for Pfrann to stand down and resume his station in the audience with his squad.

"Yes, well," Odo grunted as the last of the last disbanded. "I knew he wasn't a Sentinel."

"That's of little consolation, Constable," Sisko assured harshly. "Very little consolation, to say the least." He stopped in his retreat to scrutinize Lange, hardly appearing to be the type, if anyone cared to know the whole, cold truth.

"It should be interesting," Odo acknowledged.

"It had better be," Sisko walked away.

Easier for him to do than Kira. Her hand was on the table. Her weight leaning heavily. Her mouth speaking to the ear of the mottled brown head still refusing to acknowledge her. "A man's life is at stake, damn his career! If you know anything about that data padd…if there is one element of truth!"

"Which man?" Veronica Sorge requested; Kira stared at her.

"Point," Bashir spoke up from near Kira's shoulder, urging her to join him in the row behind the table. "There has to be an explanation. You know that as well as I do; of course there's an explanation…"

"Will you just shut up!" Kira shoved him aside to fling herself down in a seat.

"Quite all right," Bashir straightened his composure with a promise for Sorge; Tracy Sorge, that was. Veronica Sorge clearly suffering from the same faulty philosophy as many of her peers that upheld bad men weren't bad men, merely misunderstood, with that questioning comment of hers "Which man"? Which man's career and life were on the line? Dukat's or Miles Edward O'Brien? The Chief's quite obviously. Dukat no more misunderstood than his father before him and so on down the Dukat ancestral line.

"There is an explanation, definitely," Bashir maintained to Sorge. "For the data padd, as well as Kira's acute sensitivity to the idea of betrayal; she's Bajoran. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it certainly hath no fury like a Bajoran who believes she's been betrayed -- by a Bajoran to the Cardassians, no less," his hand patted Kira's knee, not in the manner of any form of overture, simply because it was conveniently there. "Which Janice isn't Bajoran," he pointed out to her in reminder. "Any more than you've been betrayed. It's a Klingon plot with likely a Cardassian hand or two in there for good measure; Damar's, I would suspect. Or Dukat's. Something else you know as well as I do."

"Advocate?" Magistrate T’Lara tolled her gilded bell in signal for the games to resume, break for a recess, or call it a draw; a draw wasn't likely. Left alone in their arena Dukat and Ch'Pok looked the part of two gladiators poised to circle one another, if anyone wanted to know Bashir's opinion.

"No," Sorge uncrossed his legs to recross them, one wouldn't think in a manner of continued and expressed boredom unless the man was so utterly callous. "Spare us, Doctor, and also yourself."

"Yes, well, perhaps spare aggravating Captain Sisko's headache," Bashir winced in sympathy for the Captain's grimace with the sound of the bell and prompt turn on his heel to return the gavel to its rightful owner.

"Thank you, Captain," T’Lara nodded stiffly.

"Not at all," Sisko strode for his seat and the Chief's smug grin.

"Now that took nerve," O'Brien chuckled in reference to the gavel. "That took nerve."

"Indeed," Sisko said. "I should have such nerve of a few others I can think of."

"Yeah, huh? But, heck. Come on. I mean, you don't believe him anymore than I do -- do you?"

"No," Sisko said. "No, I don't believe either of them." Not Gul Dukat, or for that matter Advocate Ch'Pok.

"That's what I'm saying," O'Brien nodded. "That's what I'm saying."

"Yes," Sisko's attention was on Dax.

"It would explain the Cardassian tension," she apologized for what could be the truth, Benjamin bruised with contained rage. The flesh of his face and neck, literally bruised by the ferocity of the anger strangling him. The smooth dark color of his skin mottled with blotches.

"Oh, yes, Commander," he agreed. "Yes, that it most certainly would -- somewhat better than expressed outrages over civilians and Quark's."

"Captain?" T’Lara requested from her judicial bench.

"Ready, yes, Magistrate," he assured. "Please."

"The court is in session," T’Lara tested her gavel. "Advocate Ch'Pok may resume questioning his witness…"

"In a moment," Sisko halted her immediately. "For the court's record, if Advocate Ch'Pok plans to pursue his line of questioning, he is to proceed with the utmost dignity. Keeping in mind Doctor Lange's neutral status and her position as representative to the Bajoran government."

"I'll second that," Odo called out like a contestant at a raffle. "And add a motion to review and analyze the contents of that data padd to my own satisfaction before these proceedings continue."

"Indeed," Sisko agreed. "That is acceptable to the defense."

"An unnecessary waste of the court's time, Magistrate," Ch'Pok protested. "The data padd has been thoroughly examined by your own appointed UFP authority prior to being granted admittance…" he smiled. "As both my honorable assistant Captain Sisko, and the honorable Constable Odo are aware."

"No threat, simple fact," Odo rose from his seat to advise T’Lara. "I'll go over your head if I have to First Minister Shakaar."

"First Minister Shakaar is also keenly aware, Constable, of all information," Ch'Pok interjected. Odo wouldn't go as far as to say gloated; he didn't have to. The implications were sufficient.

"What?" Kira's drained hiss seared the air.

"I'll also second that," Odo grunted with a second nod for T’Lara. "Make that the Federation Supreme Assembly. Or are you up to suggesting the UFP believes this nonsense as well?"

"It is logical, Constable, great diligence would have been shown in determining the authenticity of all data." She was cool under pressure O'Brien would grant the cold hearted witch that.

"No holographic enactment," Odo proposed what Dukat was likely poised to promote, if he had any brains to go along with his fantasies.

"Hardly, Constable," Ch'Pok shook his head. "Do you take us to be amateurs?"

"Yes, well, what I take you to be," Odo assured, "isn't the issue. There's more than a few questions surrounding that data padd; not excluding the how and where of its origin."

"Oh, yes," Ch'Pok would think those would only be two of hundreds. "Thousands, Constable. Where, of course, could be anywhere; including the possibility of Deep Space Nine. How, naturally, would likely depend somewhat upon who…"

"What about why?" Odo interjected.

"As when, of course," Ch'Pok smiled, "naturally also figures prominently in Chief O'Brien's defense; never to our detriment. Even if analysis can't confirm the production dating to be Wednesday? The date of Doctor Lange's supposed attack?"

"Why can't it?" Odo insisted. "There aren't too many alternative choices that come to mind, margin for error aside."

"I'm sure both Gul Dukat and Doctor Lange can tell us, Constable," Ch'Pok hinted, "if either feels so inclined. As I'm confident we can arrive at the correct and appropriate conclusion, aren't you? For the express benefit of Chief O'Brien?" He had this idea of pressuring Sisko into compliance.

The Captain was tempted to strike him. If Sisko was ever tempted to strike a man outside the field of combat, he was tempted to strike this one. "Not in exchange for another innocent victim!" he let loose for the official record.

"Innocent?" Ch'Pok's smile flickered. "Come now, Captain, it's hardly a broad jump to imagine Chief O'Brien inadvertently bumbling onto a love tryst; perhaps one having gotten mildly out of hand. Either way the Chief had to be silenced. By somewhat of a perverse method, I'll grant you. But then what may be perverse, or repugnant to you and I, isn't necessarily perverse or repugnant to Gul Dukat or any Cardassian."

"Innocent!" Sisko barked. "Look at the woman and tell me you can see anything but innocence!"

Ch'Pok looked. "To the contrary, I see a very clever and beguiling young Human well-rehearsed."

"Rehearsed to the point of death," Odo grunted. "But that's all right. It's also not a broad jump from excess of passion to conspiracy of murder and O'Brien's inadvertent interruption of said murder in progress; still doesn't explain the data padd or how it came to be in Klingon hands."

"I respect your version of jurisprudence, Constable," Ch'Pok hung his head with a troubled shake, "even if I don't entirely understand it. If a crime has been committed, someone has to be guilty. To impose this mandatory presumption of innocence is awkward and redundant in its application to a suspect already deemed suspect with reason, with the burden of proof falling to the victim, already deemed victim."

"The data padd," Odo said.

"It was given to us to insure justice, and also discretion," Ch'Pok smiled. "Anonymously, First Minister Shakaar would have preferred, and still does require any or all acknowledge of his involvement be stricken from any record, including this one. A point of discretion, to which the Empire respectfully concurs. Mistrust of Emperor Damar's intentions, Gul Dukat's, naturally, as well as the role of the Federation and his own Neutral representative in this conference assembly, First Minister may have employed security measures outside the boundaries of the UFP strict code of ethics, but he is, nevertheless, an honorable man. Unable to sit complacently by and allow an innocent man to pay for another's crime -- if there's been a crime; questionable. Certainly one has been committed against Chief O'Brien. But I remain skeptical if that same premise can be applied to Doctor Lange -- though we're open, Constable," he promised. "Certainly, Captain Sisko and I are both open to being shown otherwise. Trusting you understand, our first priority is to Chief O'Brien, presumed innocent until proven otherwise. With the burden of proof falling to you and Doctor Lange, not we."

"It's times like this I remember why I never filed an application for membership in the UFP," Odo sat down.

"Constable?" T’Lara requested, the computer apparently requiring clarification of his silent action for the court's record.

"No further questions," Odo waved. "Continue."

"Advocate," she directed.

"Yes, of course," Ch'Pok's hands tugged at the split breast of his tunic with brisk steps for Anon. "Your father would never dream of letting us down; try not to disappoint me."

"Objection," Odo cited from his seat, seeing no reason to rise, or look up from scanning his own assortment of notations. "The defense is badgering its own witness. If we've now decided Gul Dukat to be hostile, let it be so noted for the record."

"Sustained," T’Lara's gavel struck home. "Defense Council is instructed to refrain. The court is prepared to recognize Gul Dukat as a hostile witness."

"Thank you," Ch'Pok folded his hands, his smile smearing his Klingon face. "To resume, Gul Dukat. When you say the data padd is not what it appears to be…"

"Of course it isn't," Bashir muttered in insistence on behalf of the silent Dukat.

"Meaning?" Ch'Pok pressed Anon. "What? Meaning it is a holographic enactment as Constable Odo has suggested?" Anon sneered, Ch'Pok beamed. "No, of course it isn't. What it is, is you and Doctor Lange -- "

"In lies!" Anon interrupted, erupted actually. "Yes, lies! I don't even know Janice Lange. Only as Neutral representative for the Bajoran State."

"All lies; the data padd," Ch'Pok pivoted to the audience with his arms flung wide, his shoulders arching in a shrug. "So you would like to have us believe."

"Believe what you want to believe," the Gul's thin lips pursed tightly, stained red with anger, his neck expanding with the increased throbbing of his pulse. "I'm telling you it's false; contrived."

"Contrived?" the Klingon's head tipped to the side.

"Yes! Scheme! Plan! Design!"

"Order," T’Lara's gavel struck. "To order, Gul Dukat."

"Ordered!" Anon's fist answered with a strike down on the arm of the chair as he jumped back to his feet. "Yes, ordered, all right? That's the word. Forced! We were forced to comply. Ordered to pose!"

"Hold him," Odo instructed Tan without bothering to turn around, and before those Cardassian boots of Pfrann's went flying past again overhead; which they didn't to the collective sighs of relief of Commanders Worf and Dax. No onslaught of bodies rushing forward to be pushed back, leaving Dukat free to continue spewing forth his tale, obscene without the graphic details; which he skirted. Lucid or clever enough to skirt.

"What is the matter with you?" Anon insisted to the Klingon's back turned on him. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

"I'm looking," Ch'Pok claimed, by no means the only one.

"Good! Because do, or die! You understand? Against all will. My will!" his fist struck his chest. "Janice! I meant nothing; not to them. It could be Pfrann, Paq, Damar. They said that! 'What makes you think we're interested in you'? We're not. Stay, if you want to. Go, leave! It's up to you. The Bajoran representative cooperates or she dies!"

"Who said?" Odo interjected; Anon's glare flashing to stare him down.

"Yes, thank you, Constable," Ch'Pok said. "A reasonable question…"

"Security!" Anon barked. "Four of them, yes. Three with phaser rifles. Her face twisted like this!" he grabbed out and seized a sizable chunk of air.

That was too much for Bashir. He jumped back up; incensed by the whole damn tale. "Yes, well, that might explain the cervical fracture, but it hardly explains any reputed acts of fornication!"

"Doctor!" Sisko ordered long before T’Lara's gavel struck its pad.

"Precisely," Bashir insisted. "Doctor. The whole damn story's utterly preposterous. My medical analyses are precisely clear on who is responsible, and who is not -- no offense!" he assured O'Brien gaping at him like he was the one who had lost his mind rather than the lot of them.

"Oh, yeah, right!" O'Brien said. "No damn offense to you!"

"You're responsible," Bashir argued. "I don't want to believe it any more than anyone else. As no more than anyone else can I begin to explain how, or why -- "

"Ryetalyn," Sorge said in his ear.

Regardless, Bashir heard him, ignored him, ranting for another fifteen or so seconds about the impossibilities of Dukat quite clearly maddened himself if he thought he could capitalize on a security breech that had little, if utterly nothing to do with him. Seek to use it as some grotesque form of manipulation of the Bajoran state -- Bashir aborted his tirade mid-sentence. 'Ryetalyn' suddenly penetrating, Sorge's grayed head tipping in silent answer as all Bashir could do was stare at him, hearing his brain continuing to scream "Impossible" "It's impossible".

"So it is," Ch'Pok gleefully agreed to his witness. "For we are not talking about Wednesday, are we, Gul Dukat? But instead Tuesday. That forgotten evening. That quiet one in between the terrorist attack on Quark's and the proposed assault of Doctor Lange by Chief O'Brien…"

"Tuesday?" Bashir echoed, whispered barely, stammered.

"And so everything Doctor Bashir is saying about impossible is not only quite accurate," Ch'Pok advised Anon, "but entirely irrelevant if you insist upon our listening to you…"

"Tuesday?" Bashir repeated, not to Tracy Sorge, but rather Captain Sisko.

"Sit!" the Captain directed, "Down!"

"I'll do you one better than that -- excuse me," Bashir nodded and left to stand outside in the corridor protected by an equally dense wall of yellow statues; rather a station fixture like the Cardassian archways by this point in time.

"What was I thinking?" Bashir cursed himself. "What in God's name, was I thinking? Ryetalyn. Of course, the damn ryetalyn. It would distort everything; it clearly did distort everything…As clearly the Chief is quite innocent," he assured the one black and sympathetic eye of Martok; the General there to lend what support he could to his Empire, as well as his friend Captain Benjamin Sisko.

"Of course," Martok grunted, Human emotions occasionally finding their way to intriguing him; this Human's emotions, anyway, right now. Who they called 'the good Doctor Bashir' crumbled against his wall one moment, slapping at it the next; even to a Klingon so clearly distraught.

"Yes, of course he is," Bashir insisted from beneath the crushing, inelegant hand attempting to convey a message of consolation as it laid itself heavily upon his shoulder. "As, of course, is Janice."

"A black day," Martok agreed. "A very black day; now made right. I am late, but I am here."

Yes, Bashir could see that -- now he could see that once upon realizing who he was speaking to, and that was General Martok; the Klingon breast of General Martok. "I beg your pardon?" Bashir blinked, certainly he did. "You're here?"

"Hmm…" Martok's gloved hand clapped Bashir's shoulder one last time, gently as he could and still hard enough to bruise a bone. "Yes."

"As well as expected apparently," Bashir agreed with the security Task Leader granting the General entrance into the amphitheater.

"Yes, he is expected, Doctor," Sian answered, sourly, listening to his father's instructions to allow the Klingon to pass while he continued attempting to navigate his way around Sisko's shields.

"Yes, that's what I'm saying," Bashir curiously followed the General inside to find out why.

"Gul Dukat?" Ch'Pok's offer overlapped the thumping of T’Lara's gavel and Doctor Bashir's sudden departure, to extend Anon an opportunity to contradict him about much more than the simple verification of a date?

"Tuesday!" the Gul abruptly sat back down with a snarl. "Yes, Tuesday. I didn't harm her, I protected her. I told you that. I couldn't just stand there and allow them to kill her, any more than I could allow them to kill me. We were in fear for our lives. Put in fear for our lives. Do you understand me?"

"Interesting method of protection," Ch'Pok waggled the padd in cruel and jocular demonstration. "But, no, you're quite right. You didn't harm Doctor Lange, not that day -- or was it night by that point, Gul Dukat? Evening? The time you and Doctor Lange found yourselves beset by…four security officers, I believe you have said? Can you identify these four officers for us?"

"No," Anon snapped. "Of course, I can't identify them. I have no idea who they were."

"Well, you must have some idea," Ch'Pok shook his head.

"Bajoran! Species, yes that I can tell you. Males!"

"Of course!" Kira was up out of her seat, shouting and waving her hands in protest. "Who else?"

"Major!" Sisko demanded.

"The security team assigned to Lange was Federation," she insisted. "The security team assigned to Dukat was Cardassian. Check the logs!"

"To the contrary, Major," Sisko said, "the reliability of the security log data has been suspect from the beginning."

"Truth, Sisko!" Martok's voice boomed out over the amphitheater. "Who knows better than you or I what truth you speak?"

"General Martok…" Sisko's hand went to his head as T’Lara's gavel sought to bring order, the Chief's hand slapped down on the table behind Sisko with a disgusted "Oh, Jesus…"

"Just what we need," he nodded. "Oh, yes, just what we need. It's over. Forget it, it's over -- "

"That's enough!" Sisko reprimanded. "Get a hold of yourself!"

"And you!" Martok assured Kira. "Major Kira speaks as much the truth as her honorable commander Sisko!"

"Thank you!" she said.

"A little premature, Nerys," Anar corrected from safely aboard Anon's bridge where the courtly proceeding finally appeared, amid significant interference on the forward viewing screen.

"Martok," Anar's arm was struck by the helmsman.

"I see Martok," Anar worked to get Anon together with Janice and Pfrann in a secure transporter lock, briefly wondering why Anon was on the witness stand; having an uncomfortable feeling he might have an idea why. Not really important at the moment for the lock continued to repeatedly fail, while aboard the station security was already moving swiftly to attention with Martok's entrance to stand momentarily confused as far as how to respond. Who wasn't confused was Tan.

The giant rose to challenge the Klingon General posed for his march down the aisle; they met in the center. Martok with a grin for the Cardassian's scowl, Sisko's hand up to stop anyone from interfering, directing the Klingon Worf to insure the General's safe and immediate exit from the amphitheater.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.