"What?" Kira's shoulders slumped in a sagging posture.
Dax smiled. "Time to come back inside?"
Kira didn't want to go back inside; she couldn't. She felt like she was accusing Lange, and she didn't even know why she would be doing that.
Dax bit her lip contemplating Kira's concern. "Dukat, maybe? Hating, knowing, despising, loathing, mistrusting Dukat?"
Kira shuddered out a chuckle. "All of that?"
"And more probably," Dax believed. "You've seen her before. You know her name." Watched her walk along every causeway, level of the Promenade. This lifeless, trapped figure stationed at her master's side.
"That's not Lange," Kira shook her head and the memories from it.
"No," Dax agreed, "it's not Lange."
Kira walked away. "I just hate him so. I can't even -- see. Can you understand that? It's like I can't even see. I'm fine as long as I don't think…" she swallowed; the swallow actually hurting.
"About Ziyal?" Dax said softly.
"Yes!" Kira turned around. "Dukat cared nothing about her. He cared absolutely nothing about her."
"And you believed he did."
"Yes!" Kira said. "How stupid could I be? How stupid could I get? What was I looking at? What did I see?"
"You liked her?" Dax wondered to herself, knowing Kira had liked Ziyal, just not sure if that was the answer.
"Yes, I liked her. Very much."
"So why shouldn't Dukat?" Dax decided simple was the best answer and probably right.
Kira nodded after a while. "You're right. You know, you're right."
"After 400 years and seven lifetimes I'd better be right sometimes." It wasn't a boast, Dax said it joking even though it was true. "Ready to come home?"
Kira pouted. "Do I have a choice?"
"Well…" Dax said. "Not really? Benjamin sent me out to bring you back inside… not that we haven't just missed your company, but Lange's on the witness stand."
Kira's softening mood changed abruptly; Dax knew it would. "Why? I thought the whole point of the deposition was so she didn't have to go through any of this. The data padd doesn't change anything!"
"With the Chief's case, no," Dax agreed. "Not yet anyway."
"Now instead of just having to face O'Brien she also has to face Dukat. Which, she's always had to face him. First she had to face him!"
"Kira, Lange's on the stand in defense of Dukat." Dax hadn't meant it to come out as an interruption.
"What?" Kira said.
"She's not Ziyal," Dax said calmly, plainly. There were victims, and there were victims, and no two victims were the same. As there were superficial similarities between Lange and Ziyal. Age. A somewhat impaired social view and vision due to their restrictive or isolated upbringing. A degree of lacking structure, of displacement, of not belonging, hinting with Lange, as with Ziyal, family roots and home had probably been where family roots and home happened to be planted for a time. But other than that? Janice Lange and Tora Ziyal were two vastly different people. Much more so than one young woman just happened to be Human and the other just happened to be Bajoran-Cardassian.
"I know Lange's not Ziyal!" Kira screamed, threatening to explode.
And she just might explode emotionally. Dax could feel Kira's churning violence as she held Kira firmly by her shoulders. "Then is it possible Anon is not Dukat?"
"No! I know Dukat!"
That was true she did; far better than any of them. Dax released Kira with a sigh. "Maybe we are all deaf and blind -- Martok," she explained. "You missed that part. It's a little confusing, but basically we're foolish for questioning what we already know. That includes Ch'Pok's intent of besmirching the Cardassian Union?"
"What else do we know?" Kira was suspicious; not at all interested in Ch'Pok.
"Well…" Dax said. "Apart from Ch'Pok's strategy of attack really isn't the Klingon way, and what Martok really wanted was to be allowed to stay…Dukat's Dukat? Guilty only of being Dukat? And therefore innocent?"
"He choked the life out of her!"
Something Martok wouldn't even take into consideration other than to puzzle about the claim of assault in what was a clear case of seduction to him. Dax could feel Julian behind her. A lecture and condemnation of the Klingon way ready on the tip of his tongue. She turned around; Julian wasn't there. "Dukat or the Chief?" she asked Kira. "Actually, apart from Dukat's testimony the assault happened Tuesday, not Wednesday, Martok seemed to insinuate it was the Chief. Probably just responding in rage to either finding, or finding out about Dukat. Lange's innocent and therefore guilty of being innocent and allowing herself to be seduced…"
Kira stopped her. Dax nodded, admitting again, "It's a little confusing."
Maybe for her. "He's fat!"
"Fat?" Dax repeated. "Dukat? Fat, as in proportion of weight, or appetite?"
"You want to know what I see, that's what I see!"
"Gluttony," Dax started to chuckle. "I really wouldn't call Dukat fat. Any more than I would call Ch'Pok or Damar…or Worf, for that matter. They're broad, large men; Worf's just a little taller," she winked.
"He's fat," Kira insisted. "Gluttonous, yes, that, too. And I know Lange would never…never…"
"Succumb to being seduced by Dukat?" Dax offered. "No more than you? Kira, not to be cruel, but you don't know Lange. No more, or any better than any of us do."
"He choked her," Kira reminded coldly having apparently decided Dukat was guilty, regardless of the discrepancy between days. "That isn't seduction it's assault."
"Pain, not passion," Dax mentioned to the Bajoran Special Forces Task Leader as Kira turned to march back inside. "Depends really on where you're standing in the circle."
"You talk about things I do not know," Sian replied, coolly.
"That's all right," Dax agreed with an eye over the officer's insignia that was different.
"Special Intelligence liaison to the UFP," Sian identified. "Acting Commander of the Bajoran Special Forces. I arrived yesterday to insure the sanctity of the proceedings and Chief O'Brien's surrender to Starfleet Security Marshals."
Dax nodded. "I'd much rather talk about things you do know -- or should know. Why was General Martok granted entrance?"
Sian glanced at his Deputy Leader. "By authority of the Supreme Assembly."
"Claimed, or you saw the authority?" Dax smiled. "Or did you even bother to ask? You know, gentlemen, really, as specialists, you leave much to be desired. If I didn't know Shakaar Adon better, I'd have to say he planned it that way."
"He had authority," the deputy Task Leader insisted when the Trill took her leave, following the Major Kira back inside the auditorium. "I verified it."
"Yes," Sian agreed. "A clever forgery apparently. Order the General's internment and notify Starfleet we are detaining his crew as well as a precaution. It is advised at this time they extend that precaution and issue an order for all Klingon vessels in the sector between here and the Cardassian border to stand down under threat of force. First Minister Shakaar will not tolerate any further embarrassment of the Bajoran State. Gowron's argument with the Cardassian Union and the UFP is not our interest and will not be forced upon us; this is Bajoran Space, not Federation. Damar had our permission to enter, and he has our blessing to leave."
"Excellent," his father's voice congratulated Sian in his ear. "You have Adon's bearing; the UFP will heed the advice."
What about the Klingons? Sian wished to ask what his father was being asked by Anon's helmsman.
"If they're out there?" Anar agreed.
"They're out there," the helmsman assured.
"Probably," Anar concurred. "And if they're out there, resistive to the UFP's recommendation to stand down, then I guess Shakaar has no choice but to make good on his threat and order the Bajoran forces to respond with force."
"Shakaar…" the Cardassian studied the face that was Shakaar's but for the white hair, easily altered should public appearance become suddenly desirable or mandatory; that was the Bajoran's plan, obviously, not excluding a safe journey home. Anar smiled, the helmsman nodded in understanding. "We are not there yet, Bajoran."
"Not won yet," Anar acknowledged.
"And the Bajorans always fight battles they cannot win."
"True," the Cardassian assured.
"And yet somehow we do win," Anar winked with a pleasant, though arrogant chuckle. "You must be thinking of some other Shakaar Adon. As Anon says, some other Gul Dukat. United, I think even the Prophets would agree we are unstoppable."
It was more than an interesting thought simply for the helmsman to digest. Once again Anar found he was wondering if he had finally hit upon the correct interpretation of the child Ziyal; symbolic of a united world, rather than a divided one?
"The witness stand, Major, if you would," Sisko gestured as Kira came back down the aisle. "Magistrate?"
"Thank you, Captain," T’Lara tolled her bell. "Advocate Ch'Pok, you may resume questioning your witness of choice; Constable Odo is reminded to keep silent, or sanctions will be imposed."
"Thank you, Magistrate…" Ch'Pok eyed his selection with a wetted appetite. "For simplicity sake, the defense finds no objection to allowing Doctor Lange to either support or counter Gul Dukat's testimony -- when called upon to do so, Doctor," he smiled for her. "A simple yes or no should suffice on most occasions. When not, you will be granted time to consult with Constable Odo before responding, if so requested…The same applies to you, Major," his head tipped in Kira's direction. "Though the defense anticipates reserving any direct questioning of Major Kira for a later time. That may change, of course, depending upon what Gul Dukat has to say."
"So noted," T’Lara agreed.
"Thank you, again," Ch'Pok's broad steps approached Anon. "If we could return, Gul Dukat, to the question of when, and also where, your alleged encounter with this quartet of Bajorans occurred -- "
"Tuesday," Anon replied.
"Self-discipline, Gul Dukat," Ch'Pok raised his hand in invocation of patience. "A virtue among civilized races. As I was saying, this violent quartet of Bajorans, either disguised as, or truly members of First Minister Shakaar's Special Forces…Now you may answer the question, if you would so again, please."
Anon looked at him; Ch'Pok smiled. "When Tuesday? I believe you have already testified the time to be somewhere around 1600 or 1800. If we accept the recorded time you secured the holosuites from the owner and proprietor of Quark's to be 1545, would you say the approximate time of your terrorizing encounter to be closer to that of 1600 or 1800?"
"1800," Anon continued to look at him.
"And if we accept the security log of Doctor Lange's return to her quarters from assisting Doctors Bashir and Sorge in the station's morgue," Ch'Pok continued to smile, "to be that of 1700, would you continue to place the approximate time of your encounter at 1800? Or would it now be somewhat later?"
"Earlier," Anon corrected. "Approximately 1720. I met with Janice in her quarters to discuss canceling the conference; what I wanted to do. I had been in communication with Cardassia Prime for several hours; check the communication logs of the station. We were talking; it wasn't very long. Janice sent the Federation security officer away when she realized I was there, waiting for her. Now you know where, and now you know when."
"We certainly do," Ch'Pok's brow fluttered upwards in appreciation. "An interesting point however, beyond the obvious, is your suggestion the security officer assigned to Doctor Lange was Federation Special Forces, not Bajoran. That point agrees not only with Major Kira's advancement of testimony earlier that the duty assignment was Federation, it poses considerable question to you identifying your assailants to be Bajoran. How could they be both, Gul Dukat? How could they?"
"I don't know. You say they were both, not me."
"Well, where did they come from, if they didn't gain entrance to Doctor Lange's quarters and you from the corridor? Did they transport?"
"Ah, ha, transport," O'Brien's hand cracked Sisko's arm. "There's your transport, I told you I didn't transport. But believe me? Heck, no. That's illegal or something."
"Wrong day," Dax reminded before Benjamin.
"Huh?" O'Brien said.
"Wrong day," Dax nodded.
"No, it isn't the wrong day," O'Brien insisted. "He's lying, and I'm telling you I remember someone being there -- remember that? I told you someone was there, and it wasn't Kira."
"Julian maintains Lange's short term memory would have to be involved." Dax looked across toward Bashir clinging to Janice's side with his hand tightly on her wrist, his arm draped protectively behind her; he glanced up. Either sensing her attention or sensing Odo's sensing her attention before glancing at Bashir who straightened up slightly from his custodial slouch to think for a moment before rising to make his way across the aisle under T’Lara's disapproving notice.
"Dukat is prompting her," Worf agreed.
"Possibly why he is willing to continue testifying," Dax said. "But if Dukat is prompting Lange, so is Ch'Pok."
"Entrapment, Commander," Benjamin mentioned quietly what Damar had said.
"Likely illegal," Bashir's hand touched Dax's shoulder as he sat down behind her, the breath from his mouth brushing her hair and lobe of her ear. "I need you to do something for me…"
"Which I could be tempted to overlook, Doctor," Sisko acknowledged with a nod to T’Lara. "A brief conference, Magistrate, if the court would please…"
"Who couldn't?" Bashir stretched for Sisko's data padd with a grin, his arm firmly in place around Jadzia's shoulders still doing her best to ignore him. Who was probably having to work at it even harder was Mister Worf. Bashir's grin widened as he settled back. "Medical conference, of course," he clarified, squeezing Dax's hand around the padd he presented her.
Something T’Lara presumed though nevertheless verified with Odo. "Objections, Constable?"
"Yes, well, not really," Odo presumed himself Bashir had something on his mind other than choosing now to plight his trough, or whatever it was he was doing. "Doctor Bashir is the court's sanctioned medical authority, regardless of whose side."
"It is still inappropriate," Worf mentioned.
That prompted an immediate incensed "Hello!" from O'Brien. "What is this? I count, don't I? I at least count!"
"What do you want me to do?" Dax simply asked Bashir; Benjamin's interest as well.
Julian drew her even closer, breathing again in her ear. "Review the chemical analyses."
"For?" Dax asked.
Bashir smiled that time, no grin. "You tell me. I don't know why I didn't think of you before rather than troubling Sorge. Probably something to do with…" he was conscious of the muscles in her arms he could feel under the sleeves of her jumpsuit; their strength, density and size twice the size of what they were, had been, already twice the size of his when they first met.
"Exoarcheaology," Dax said.
"It doesn't matter," Bashir shook his head. "I have a conscience regardless of what even I might like to think. I can't prove Miles is innocent…To the contrary, I remain convinced he is not innocent; not entirely. But that isn't the point, is it? No. The only point is to cast enough reasonable doubt and, yes, with that I probably can help -- or the chemical analyses might," he agreed as Dax glanced over her shoulder at Benjamin.
"Permission granted," Sisko said.
"Quite. We'll deal with the admissibility arguments as they occur," Bashir sat back as Dax excused herself to exit and Sisko responded to T’Lara's questioning and Ch'Pok expression of general suspicion.
"Doctor Bashir feels it to be in Doctor Lange's best interest for her complete medical records to be included in the court's minutes, not excluding those currently under review by the appointed board of Physicians," Sisko tread carefully the line between telling the truth and not tipping his hand. "The defense has no objection; Commander Dax has been sent to secure the data."
"I'm fine," Janice said.
"Again, only in your best interest, Doctor," Sisko's head tipped.
"Constable?" T’Lara asked.
"No objections," Odo said, sure there was more to it and that was all right, too.
Who was also sure was Veronica Sorge. Her muttered confidence to her husband was an interesting one from Odo's point of view. "Tracy, if you don't take that young man aside and acquaint him with the facts of life, believe me, I shall."
"Yes, well," apart from Odo highly doubted if Bashir needed any such acquaintance made, the question on his mind was: "Why? Meaning?"
"Meaning precisely that," Veronica Sorge assured as Bashir returned to drape himself back around Lange. "Doctor Lange has already acknowledged Gul Dukat's claim of assault. I see no reason to continue belaboring the issue. If you need a professional opinion, kindly reacquaint yourself with my report."
"Yes, well," Odo grunted, "perhaps you should reacquaint yourself with a few facts of life, one of which is the acute fascination with sensationalism."
She stared at him, glared more accurately; he nodded. "Didn't say I agreed. Said, fact of life."
"What are you doing?" Janice asked Bashir.
"Doing?" he smiled. "Exactly what Captain Sisko said; insuring your rights."
"But I am all right," Janice maintained. "Anon is telling the truth."
"Now how can you say that?" he tried his hand at brushing the stubborn strands of snarled hair out from in front of her eyes. "When he hasn't even completed testimony?"
He confused her momentarily. "I was there…"
"Where?" Bashir urged her back to paying attention to him rather than Dukat. "You don't even know, do you? No, of course you don't, because you can't remember. Not the date, nor the place. Only what Dukat is telling you."
"No, you're wrong," she shook his head.
"Hardly," Bashir said. "Impossible even," he looked dead at Sorge; Tracy, that was. "Care to put it to the test? Because while I can understand someone endeavoring to protect Janice, I can't for the life me understand anyone striving to protect Dukat; it's what you're doing. Damn you, can't you see that for yourself? Unless you have another explanation for your fascination with comparing DNA profiles?"
"You're reaching, Doctor," Sorge cautioned.
For him perhaps, to be intercepted by Odo. "The devil I am," Bashir promised with a grooming run of his fingers through his hair as he sat back down. "To be seen, as I said. Jadzia's fairly brilliant in her own right; far less cynical and a great deal more open and fair-minded than I am."
"So you'll have proof of what Dukat's already admitted," Sorge snorted. "Congratulations."
"I'll have proof of what day," Bashir said tightly. "Unless you've gone as far as to actually taint the evidence, and even then -- "
"And even then," Sorge heard him the first time, "the woman is fairly brilliant in her own right; your words, Doctor, not mine. Don't come looking for me when they come right back at you."
"Yes, well, on that note," Odo nodded to T’Lara impatient tap-tap of her gavel. "A minor difference in professional medical opinion -- "
"As it's also entirely possible those 'stars and lights' Miles saw were transport beams," Bashir interrupted. Odo looked at him; he nodded sharply. "No, I'm not in competition with you either. Simply stating what could be a fact."
"So's modesty, humility, and general all 'round good manners," Odo held out hope for a few others, though he wouldn't hold his breath. Bashir looked at him; he nodded smartly. "Put some tape over it in other words. When I need help, I'll ask."
"I don't know where they came from," Anon repeated to Ch'Pok. "Corridor. Transport. One or the other. I was talking, not looking to be attacked. They were behind me, that's all I know."
"Well, you must know who granted you entrance," Ch'Pok smiled. "We'll forgo inquiring how or why for the moment…"
"Yes, well, perhaps you will," Odo rose in immediate objection. "I'll settle for nothing less than mandatory and immediate detainment pending arrest. The security force assigned to Doctor Lange at the time continues to serve as a security force; not as accessory to a security breech."
"Logical," T’Lara agreed with instructions to her deputy. "Secure the immediate detainment of all security teams appointed to Doctor Lange on the star date of mention."
"Thank you," Odo sat down.
T’Lara nodded. "The witness is instructed to answer how entrance was secured. If, to his ability, identify the security force in charge of Doctor Lange to be Federation or Bajoran."
"I don't know," Anon insisted. "The security officer Janice dismissed from her quarters was Federation. I have no idea who was in the corridor. I transported."
T’Lara wasn't the only one who didn't appreciate the answer; Sisko's disapproval shone brightly. "A logical avenue of questioning to be approached, Gul Dukat," T’Lara's nod to Ch'Pok was stiff. "The question of identity falls to Doctor Lange."
"If you would, Doctor," Ch'Pok sighed.
"Federation, yes," Janice agreed.
"And your perception of the intruders to your quarters? Were they of any known Federation species? Or do you concur with Gul Dukat's identification of the intruders appearing to be Bajoran?"
"May I confer with Constable Odo?"
"If necessary," Ch'Pok sighed again. "The question should be simple. Either the intruders appeared to you to be Bajoran, or they appeared to be some other species."
"No, they were Bajoran -- "
"Thank you," he turned his back.
"Objection," Odo rose. "Call for a review of the court's minutes that include Doctor Lange's request to confer, and Gul Dukat's testimony Doctor Lange could identify at least two of the alleged assailants beyond that of their alleged species."
"Sustained," T’Lara allowed. "Defense counsel is instructed to rephrase his question of identification and to allow Doctor Lange an opportunity to confer."
"In a moment," Odo halted Ch'Pok. "Prosecution further advises Gul Dukat that he's to consider himself under arrest for admitted violation of the station's security ordinances. Prosecution also requires the immediate detainment of Chief Engineer Tan pending investigation into his role in the same admitted security breach of Doctor Lange's quarters by transporter."
"Objection," Ch'Pok shook his head. "Prosecution assumes violation. It's entirely possible Doctor Lange invited Gul Dukat."
"In another universe, perhaps," Odo assured. "Unless Gul Dukat was forced to transport against his will, the charges of security violation stand."
"No, I wasn't forced," Anon scoffed. "Neither did Tan effect my transport; I effected it. I am an engineer. This is Terok Nor; what you like to call DS9. The systems are Cardassian. Sisko is mistaken in his identifying the control center in my quarters to be Bajoran, as he is mistaken in everything else. It's my control center. Ask Damar. I transported him as a test article when his whining got on my nerves."
Damar laughed out loud. "In your dreams, Dukat."
"Yes, well, he didn't dream that chair," Odo muttered to…well, Bashir, since he was the only one sitting there.
"Wrong day," Bashir quipped coldly.
"Make that tops when it comes to attitude." Odo cued Anon. "You were saying?"
"I am saying Tan's orders were to assist Pfrann in locating and extinguishing the Threat Force; that was Tuesday. I have been effecting control over the station's systems since late Sunday; were I not injured Monday, the Threat Force would have been stopped then."
"Or," Odo said, "were you not tampering with the station's systems, it's possible we could have stopped the Threat Force then and there."
"Indeed, Constable," Sisko's cheeks puffed in and out. "Indeed."
"The imposition of charges stand," Odo nodded tersely to T’Lara. "And expand to include detainment of Sentinel Pfrann Dukat."
"And I would think expand to include Doctor Lange, Constable," Ch'Pok pointed out. "Who willfully accepted Gul Dukat's illegal entry into her quarters, dismissing the appointed security matron to enable them to converse in private -- true or false, Doctor Lange? Or do you need a moment to confer?"
"Yes, that's true," Janice agreed.
"Constable?" Ch'Pok requested. Odo eyed him. Ch'Pok smiled, petitioning T’Lara. "Magistrate? I seriously doubt if Federation policy governing Neutrals extends to allowing conspiracy to commit espionage; by any other definition, nothing less."
"So ordered," her gavel struck. "Doctor Lange is likewise denied exit from these proceedings except under guard of Constable Odo and appointed security…Legate Damar is noted to be informed of the detainment and arrest of his representatives Gul and Sentinel Dukat, and of his officer Tan. Do you wish to register a protest, Legate at this time?"
"To the contrary," he said, "I and the Cardassian Civilian Council stand committed to respect the agreed security protocol of the conference committee, as we stood committed to the conference. I could be wrong, but I don't recall clandestine rendezvous with the Bajoran representative being on the agenda, or hacking our way into Sisko's security systems."
"Yeah, huh?" O'Brien snickered to Sisko. "I wonder if he recalls it's a long walk home? Give me a break, clandestine rendezvous. Dukat's testified six times they were held against their will, and whether he was or not, you going to tell me she wasn't?"
"No," Sisko was not going to tell him that.
"Then what's with imposing charges?" O'Brien sputtered. "Three guys with phaser rifles, another with a camera and Dukat breathing down her neck? Hello. You and I might not dance a jig if they told us to, but are you going to tell me she's not? She's a civilian for God's sake. I don't care how many doctorates she has, or had, she's a civilian!"
Sisko watched O'Brien as he rose to his feet in objection.
"Captain?" T’Lara recognized him.
"Thank you," Sisko said. "With due respect to Advocate Ch'Pok and Constable Odo, any charges against Doctor Lange are withdrawn as unsubstantiated -- protests, gentlemen, will get you nowhere. As a Neutral, Doctor Lange maintains specific rights and privileges under Federation law."
"It is logical you may anticipate protests from Starfleet Command, Captain," T’Lara forewarned.
"And the Supreme Assembly," Sisko was prepared. "To be addressed and settled at that time, not before."
"So ordered," her gavel struck. "The court recognizes Captain Sisko's rank and privilege as commander of Deep Space Nine to postpone indictment of Doctor Lange until he has had the opportunity to discuss the matter with his superiors."
"Yes!" Bashir cheered quietly with a healthy squeeze of Janice's hand. "His damn right and privilege to reign supreme, is what you mean -- excuse the vulgar speech."
"You're excused," Veronica said; Janice was simply quiet.
"The matter before the court is Doctor Lange's request to confer and the issue of identification of the alleged assailants," T’Lara's gavel struck again. "You may resume, Advocate, as previously instructed."
"Do you wish to confer?" Ch'Pok inquired.
"Answer?" Janice proposed.
"By all means," he gestured. "In your own words, Doctor Lange, do you find yourself in agreement with Gul Dukat's assessment of the intruders to be Bajoran, at least in appearance, and at least attired as Bajoran Special Forces?"
"Yes," Janice said.
"Thank you…" Ch'Pok caught Odo's waiting eye. "And do you, Doctor Lange, find yourself in agreement with Gul Dukat's testimony that it was you who proposed to identify two of the intruders to him? Either by name, or some other form of recognition or recollection?"
"Yes," Janice said.
"Would you mind sharing it with us?" Ch'Pok grit his teeth in an encouraging smile.
"I don't know if they are actually Special Forces. I recognized the leader Hawk, and Jin'Mir, the man with the camera, as two men previously identified to me as members of the Bajoran Maquis."