The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

Chapter Twenty-Nine

"Gul Dukat?" Ch'Pok pressed happily. "Come now, there's no reason to quibble about it, why don't you just tell us? Is Doctor Lange your wife, or isn't she?"

He was still confused by the question. "Anon is my fiancé. Leeta is correct. We are engaged to be married," Janice offered to set the computer's record straight.

"Engaged," Ch'Pok frowned.

"Similar to a pledge, Advocate," T’Lara identified from her forgotten role as judicial Magistrate.

"No, it's not a pledge," Anon interrupted annoyed. "Janice is Human, not Bajoran. I am Cardassian."

"The word is wife, Klingon," the Bajoran agreed. "Anon waits only for the acknowledgment of his petition for legal binding."

"Yes!" Anon pointed. "That's right. Check the logs. Tan will show you. I issued the petition Sunday, 2300."

"He speaks the truth, Sisko," Tan advised. "Janice is wife to Anon, daughter to the Emperor Dukat."

"My sister," Pfrann jeered at Worf.

"And mine," the Bajoran said. "I am Sian. Janice is daughter to my father Anar, elder of our village."

"I see…" Ch'Pok wandered his way back to his bench.

"A Bajoran-Cardassian township, perhaps?" Dax murmured to Sisko. "Could that have been Shakaar's reasoning behind Lange?"

"Possibly, Commander, yes. If not the reasoning behind the terrorist faction, if not the cause behind the surprise of General Martok's crew."

"What isn't possible at this point?" Dax understood.

"What isn't?" Sisko agreed, tiredly.

She nodded. "Other than one wouldn't think Dukat would knowingly protect the Maquis." Benjamin's head whipped around to her in shock. She smiled. "Far more likely Lange is a Cardassian agent."

"Given those two choices, I would have to say, yes, Commander."

She nodded again, thinking about the Bajoran Special Forces officer in Quark's. The one with the too-broad face. She stared up at the viewer screen. "If the Bajoran intruders were of Cardassian extraction…race isn't determined mathematically…"

"No, it isn't," Sisko said coldly. "By DNA, Commander. By DNA."

Sorge grunted. "The intruder aboard the Bird-of-Prey was Bajoran."

"I'll trust Doctor Bashir to make that determination, if you don't mind," Sisko turned his back with a sharp nod for Ch'Pok and the viewer screen. "I told you to shut it down, Advocate. There's no reason to further the humiliation of Doctor Lange; thoroughly uncalled for."

"Actually…" Odo cleared his throat. "For identification purposes, do you think we could briefly review that frame…the one where the Bajorans walk in?"

"Commander," Sisko finally directed Dax.

"Thank you," Odo turned to Lange as Dax reset and held the video in suspension. There were two Bajorans rather plainly visible, dressed in Shakaar's infamous yellow jumpsuits, and not at all camera shy about being recorded themselves. Both no older than their late twenties, one of them was doing the talking. The smaller of the two men, moving up to crouch pool side, with the second officer remaining in close proximity, a phaser rifle clearly trained on Lange.

"Which is one calling himself Hawk?" Odo asked, Pfrann's question of his brother also apparently; Dukat's answer the same as Lange.

"That one, yes," Anon pointed out to Pfrann. "The one talking. I don't know who the other one is."

But he would; the same as his brother. The Sentinel's head snapped back to the viewer screen. Two seconds, three, he studied it, a subtle squint evident to his left eye.

"Did you see that?" O'Brien muttered to Bashir.

He had. "Apparently someone has an interest in not only Dominion, but Obsidian technology."

"Yeah, huh?" O'Brien snorted. "So much for Garak's dissertation on the color of ocular lens."

"Yes, well, actually I believe that dissertation was yours…what?" he said to the Chief's immediate bristling bluster. "All I said…"

"Forget it," O'Brien snapped. "I'm not talking to you."

"Not talking to me," Bashir repeated. "Yes, of course, I forgot. 'Et tu Brute?' And all that sort of nonsense. Absurd really. I'm hardly inhuman. Merely calling them as I see them. There's no personal feelings involved…if I allowed personal feelings into the equation it would have been I, not Sorge, manipulating the data; certainly in favor of you."

"Jin'Mir had the camera," Lange supported Dukat's "I don't know" as far as the second guest star.

"That would stand to reason then why we can't see him," Odo agreed, "since he's the one filming…anyone else?" he trailed his way to the stands and Damar.

"Anar, Constable," the Legate assured. "That is the Task Leader Anar."

"No, it isn't Anar," Anon insisted. "That is the corridor Task Leader, yes. I told you Hawk. Janice told you Hawk."

"Hawk, Changeling," the Bajoran endeavored to spice things up. "The second man is Antel Lin of Gallitep. Kira will know that name."

"I know it," Odo assured. "For the record, Magistrate, the Bajoran identified as Hawk is the station security leader to whom five alleged Special Forces terrorists were remanded during the attack at Quark's."

"Yes," Worf concurred. "Captain Anar."

"Interesting," Odo agreed. "Commander?"

"He's also the Special Forces Task Leader General Martok and I approached to disarm and detain in Quark's. That would be several minutes before Mister Worf's encounter," Dax reported.

"Which would be only a few minutes after the Cardassian delegation's arrival," Odo nodded to Damar. "It looks like you win."

"Of course," Damar scoffed.

"And perhaps you," Odo referred that notice to their Bajoran guest Sian, "might have an idea as to why your countryman would insist on taking your father's name in vain?"

"Tell him," Anar hissed in Sian's ear. "Yes, tell him. Tell the bastards what they want to know."

"Perhaps because he is his brother," Sian shrugged. "Leader of the terrorist faction Anar and Anon sought to corral."

"Sibling rivalry," Odo offered facetiously. "Either that or something to do with this Anar and Anon business in general. The Bajoran world as a whole, not just the terrorist factions, have a tendency not to appreciate former or current Cardassian sympathizers."

The Bajoran didn't bite. Odo nodded. "In the meantime, this uncle of yours, brother to your father, must have a name. Something other than Hawk."

"Hawk," Sian maintained. "His name is Hawk."

"It's not possible?" Dax shrugged.

"It's not," Odo grunted to Sisko. "But it's probably all we're going to get."

His opinion also. "Disengage the recording, Dax and secure it."

"No, I want it destroyed!" Anon insisted.

"It will be destroyed, Dukat. Together with the data padd," Sisko seethed to T’Lara. "Utterly stricken from the record. Is that clear? Your interpretation of evidence is as interesting as Advocate Ch'Pok's!"

"Objection," Odo jumped in. "It is evidence -- as a motive for the Chief's actions if he was aware of the relationship between Doctor Lange and Gul Dukat."

"Hello!" O'Brien said. "No, I wasn't aware! Of course, I wasn't aware!"

"Prove it," Odo nodded to Sisko's burrowing glare. "For the record, Magistrate, at the time of Doctor Lange's Tuesday meeting with Gul Dukat in the holosuites, Quark's was not yet made available to the public. It was, in fact, under the direct control of the station's engineering force, specifically Chief Engineer Miles O'Brien. Who was on duty in Quark's between the hours of 1700 and 0400…what time were you there, Dukat? The truth, this time."

He huffed. "1900. As Ferengi said. Yes, 1900."

"I believe the Ferengi said 1920," Odo returned crisply. "Sure he'll be able to the think of a reason for his memory lapse…in the meantime, were you ever in Doctor Lange's quarters at all?"

"No. I transported Janice to the holosuite at 1900. I spoke with her, yes, on the communication system when I left the Infirmary, but I did not meet her until the sauna."

"How long were the two of you there?"

"Three hours?" he estimated.

"Time on the recording, Commander?" Odo checked.

"Not quite two," Dax said.

"From there where did you go?" Odo asked Anon. "Either you or Doctor Lange? Either together, or alone?"

"My quarters."

"With Tan and Pfrann and fifteen Cardassian sentries," Odo recalled.

"Janice is my wife!" Anon snapped.

"Betrothed to be your mate for life," Odo had the outline. "If your father isn’t already over the edge, I'm sure that will put him there…Objection stands to the recording being destroyed," his nod settled on T’Lara. "We've no interest in the contents, or in the data padd for that matter at all. As far as the recording, we have a distinct interest in the dating, time, placement and occupants of the holosuites, clearly shown to be within the time frame of Chief O'Brien's duty call."

"Logical, Constable," T’Lara accepted, still inclined to hang O'Brien over Dukat for the sake of those Federation-Cardassian peace negotiations. "Are you prepared for the defense of your client, Advocate, under this new evidence?"

"It's my evidence," Ch'Pok beamed.

"Accurate," she was forced to admit.

"Secured without permission of either Dukat or Doctor Lange, Advocate," Sisko reminded harshly. "If First Minister Shakaar felt he had a responsibility, it was to remand that recording to myself and Legate Damar, no one else."

"Also logical," T’Lara decided. "Constable Odo's request for dating, placement, timing, and occupants of the recording to be introduced as evidence for the prosecution is upheld. The recording and data padd are to be secured and remanded to Gul Dukat and Doctor Lange as their property, Commander Dax, upon the close of these proceedings."

"Understood," Dax said.

"Objection…" Ch'Pok shook his head.

She ignored him. "Sanctions are imposed, Captain. Major Kira is ordered arrested and detained under contempt of court."

"Arrest…" O'Brien gaped.

"Chief!" Sisko said.

"What Chief?" he insisted. "We're under siege for crying out loud. In the middle of a damn hostage situation. Why do you think she's agreeing to the tape being destroyed? Because she wants to live! That's why!"

"Are we hostages of the Cardassian Union, Emperor Damar?" T’Lara inquired. He snorted, she moved unemotionally on to Veronica Sorge. "Of Sian of Anar, Gul or Sentinel Dukat? Do you consider yourself to be a hostage, Counselor Sorge?"

"No," Veronica stated confidentially. "Janice's people are in fear for her life; I cannot say I blame them."

"In fear only because they have been exposed as her people, Counselor," Ch'Pok waggled his finger at her with a smile for Anon. "Among other things that would be a direct violation of the agreed protocol for this conference, wouldn't it, Gul Dukat? The Neutral Bajoran representative, in fact a partisan of the Cardassian government? Tainted, Gul Dukat. Tainted at the very least. Of course you and I both know it goes much deeper than that, doesn't it?"

Anon looked at him. "I had no relationship with Janice at the time the protocol was drawn."

Ch'Pok chuckled. "No relationship? None at all? Come now, do you really expect us to believe upon meeting Doctor Lange for what? A few hours? You fell so helplessly, and hopelessly in love you could think of nothing beyond petitioning your government for a legally binding union of marriage?"

The Klingon was clever, not necessarily funny. "No, of course I don't expect you to believe that."

"Good," Ch'Pok produced a new data padd from his attaché to wave. "Because neither does the Cardassian Union. Your petition for marriage has been denied. Something to do with residency requirements."

"What?" Anon blinked as Damar laughed..

"Duty, Dukat. You remember that, don't you? Duty? Loyalty? To the Union, above even me?"

"Oh, yeah, right," O'Brien scoffed. "Like I said -- "

"Chief!" Sisko was back at the bench, pressing him down into his seat.

"Does he recall it's a long walk home?" O'Brien insisted. "We're talking to Dukat. Am I the only one who realizes we're talking to Dukat? Am I the only one who gets it? I don't think so. He said as much himself. What's he care?"

"That won't detour us, Advocate," Janice assured Ch'Pok. "I am a Neutral. If I have to establish myself as citizen of any world to marry Anon, I will."

"Good luck in your quest, Doctor," Ch'Pok's smile strolled from her past Dax and Worf. "Begrudging acceptance of each other's differences is one thing. But I fear you'll find there are few states even within the Federation so comfortable with embracing integration of the species as to openly invite you into their fold. Insofar as the more conservative of governments? Well, that natural aversion is understandably a hundred fold."

"Do you think he means us?" Dax batted her eyes at Worf.

"Yes," his rolled.

"Therefore, if it wasn't less than a day you found yourself bewitched by Doctor Lange, and apparently it wasn't," Ch'Pok inclined his head to Anon, "would you mind telling us just how long you and Doctor Lange have known each other?"

"In other words it either was Sunday," Dax announced her return behind Sisko and the Chief, "or you and Lange are, and were, in violation of the conference's drawn protocol of no previous association."

"Yes, Commander," Sisko said quietly.

"He's foolish if he answers," Dax smiled at Bashir shifting in his seat beside her.

"He's foolish for sitting there," Bashir assured.

"True," Dax said. However Dukat was sitting there, had been sitting there now for over two hours. "Are we sure the Cardassian squadron is halted at the border?"

"That was the last word, Commander, yes," Sisko said.

"So that's not why," Dax shrugged.

"Gul Dukat?" the Klingon said.

"Months," Anon replied. "Eight months, yes. I met Janice in the outer colonies when I was forced to land my transport for repairs after an attempt by a Klingon squadron to destroy us. One of my engineers was killed in the attack. Janice and her village did not ask or care that we were Cardassian. They answered our distress signal, taking us to their home world for surgery and medical treatment. She saved my life and seven of my men. Operations. Ask her. Nine of them. Twelve hours. Janice with only Anar to assist her. She didn't know anything about Cardassians…Mummies," he nodded, "yes, she knows about them. Bajoran mummies. Rigelian fever. She gave us the serum too when we became ill; which she knew we would. Just like them. Everyone was sick with the fever. Tan, Pfrann, all of us; myself included. Thirty-five Cardassians, one Vorta. Twice she saved our lives. Not once. Twice. We were there for two months until the Bajoran government would agree to allow a new transport across the border to secure us and my cargo."

"Interesting," Ch'Pok's crest wrinkled, attempting to recall if he recalled hearing of any such event; if so when; if so where. "You admit then it was several months before the conception of the conference that your affair with Doctor Lange actually began."

"No, it wasn't an affair," Anon groaned, the station's computer struggling to coherently communicate the heated, rapid dialogue. "I knew Janice, yes. I met Janice, yes. Fell in love with her; I had nothing to do with her, no. Never. I did not want to complicate her life; my life. I have no interest in populating the galaxy with half-Human, half-Cardassian orphans, I have better things to do! When I met her again I realized I am not the one complicating anything. You are. You don't like it, too bad. You don't have to like it; I do. I love it; Janice. And she loves me. I did not want her here; I had no idea she would be here. I knew what would happen to her; what you would do to her. I tried to explain that to her -- look what you did to my wife!" he shrieked. "For three days I could not go to my wife, know anything about my wife, only what Tan, and Pfrann, and Anar could tell me; Infirmary, Anon. Janice is in the Infirmary. Dead Bajorans, Cardassians, Klingons ten thousand kilometers from Terok Nor…Mister Damar!" his rage turned on Damar. "Move, you will never even live, ever live to move in her direction!"

"Like I said a long walk home," O'Brien nodded. "A long walk home."

"Actually I'm more interested in the Klingons ten thousand kilometers from Terok Nor," Dax confessed.

"Indeed," Sisko said, transfixed on Anon. "Can you back up what you claim, Dukat?"

"We can," Sian interjected. "I have personally issued the order to the UFP for the Klingon squadrons in the sector to stand down by order of Shakaar. The path to the border is clear, and is to be clear; the Federation Assembly concurs. As is Gowron aware if they refuse they will be engaged by the combined forces of Starfleet and Bajor."

"A hell of a damn bluff to back up if it isn't," O'Brien confided.

To put it mildly. "Advocate?" Sisko insisted.

Ch’Pok smiled, his hands spreading in an innocent shrug. "Just another example of the reasoning behind Chancellor Gowron's insisting interest in the Alpha Quadrant. If we are there, we are there naturally only to insure sanctity of the sector…but then it is a frightening day, isn't it?" he addressed the audience. "When terrorists feel confident enough in their power to boast control…over who is it? The combined forces of Starfleet Command and First Minister Shakaar no less? A frightening day. A very frightening day… and, of course, while interesting, Gul Dukat, your admitted association with Doctor Lange…and your and her admitted association with one could say rival group of the terrorist faction responsible for the massacre at Quark's…"

"They had nothing…" Anon said tightly.

"Clearly some sort of rivalry," Ch'Pok's smile remained. "They're brothers, after all, I understand? By his son's own words. Brothers. This Bajoran Town Elder and terrorist leader calling himself Hawk?"

"Nothing," Anon insisted. "Their fields were dead, their people. The Klingons had taken everything from them."

"Of course we did," Ch'Pok nodded. "What haven't we done, Gul Dukat? What atrocity haven't we committed?"

"I gave them rations. Replicators. Phaser rifles. They refused them. They are a peaceable people. Anar is a farmer. Sian is a farmer…grapes, wine, vineyards."

"And their brother, uncle, is a terrorist. A proclaimed known scourge of the Bajoran outer colonies," Ch'Pok grinned. "Not very wise on your part, Gul Dukat, to put supplies and the potential of weapons within the reach of who very likely could have been Maquis. May have been Maquis at that time. You couldn't have known this Hawk and his troop weren't. At the time of your encounter with Doctor Lange and her village elder Anar, diligent though the Cardassian Union may have been in routing out Maquis cells, you hadn't yet succeeded in purging the galaxy of their numbers; you were close. But you hadn't yet completed your task -- of annihilation," his lips pursed, heavy and moist. "Annihilate them, Pfrann. Annihilate them, Tan. With the clearly willing and able assistance of his own brother Anar, annihilate the terrorist leader Hawk and his band of Bajoran Maquis…They are Maquis, aren't they?" he nodded. "Correctly identified by this Anar to Doctor Lange as Maquis; surviving obviously. And I would suspect, if we were to probe this story deeper, inadvertently aided, abetted, and supplied by you when you left your downed transport unattended, your men and you accompanying Doctor Lange to her troubled and ravaged home world."

"No," Anon said.

"I believe you mean yes that is what happened," Ch'Pok corrected. "Yes, why you know so much about this troop. Yes, why you were so concerned for Doctor Lange's safety from the moment of your arrival and alleged discovery of her involvement in the conference. Yes, why this town elder would even be here to offer you his assistance in routing out his brother and troop. You knew, Gul Dukat, you knew. As did Doctor Lange know. Clearly this elder Anar and his son Sian as well. And when it was all over…" he picked up his data padd. "'One hundred and sixteen innocent civilians lay dead with their forks still in hand' amid scores of security, Klingon officers, the Cardassian associate Mister Paq, and 350 additional wounded, by far the majority of them civilians as well. You knew, Gul Dukat, you knew. Both you and Doctor Lange, from the first moment of the first disruptor firing, without a doubt knew who was responsible, and yet both of you chose to remain silent…until the attack turned personal; not against you, but against your wife early Tuesday night. May your gods and prophets have mercy on your uncaring, selfish souls," he tossed the data padd back on the table in disgust. "I wouldn't think either of you will find much sympathy anywhere else. Certainly not here; certainly not from me…or any member of the Klingon Empire. For the record, Magistrate, Chancellor Gowron wishes me to convey how he is appalled by the events of this past week. To where Gul Dukat claims appalled, Chancellor Gowron is appalled and remains steadfast in his commitment of allegiance with the Federation, her Neutral brothers and sisters, and the preservation and protection of the Alpha Quadrant in general."

"So noted," T’Lara agreed.

"Thank you," Ch'Pok's head bowed in a moment of respectful silence. It snapped back up as quickly however with the announcement, "But that is not the point, is it? The massacre at Quark's? No. Hardly the point we have assembled here today to discuss. Not Monday, Tuesday, but rather Wednesday, and Chief O'Brien's alleged assault upon Doctor Lange. That is the reason we are all gathered here…and therefore I ask you, Gul Dukat," he nodded, "Doctor Lange, as well, feel free to comment if you so wish to. Did it ever occur to you? Either of you? That those responsible for Doctor Lange's ailments and ills may have in fact been those same Bajorans rather than Chief O'Brien?

"Could it have been they? Them?" he strode back and forth before Anon on the witness stand and Janice seated at the prosecution's bench. "Those responsible for Monday? For Tuesday? Is it such a reach to suspect them guilty of Wednesday as well? Chief O'Brien as much as victim as the two of you? Would it be a gamble? Little more than a guess to suspect Doctor Lange's assailant to be Hawk of the evening before, merely following through on his threats and mingling a little pleasure with punishment?"

Anon was staring at her. "I don't know…" Janice said haltingly, uncertain.

"Or," Ch'Pok was saying, "was it in fact you, Gul Dukat? Are you responsible for what happened to Doctor Lange, your wife? Either due to the unrestrained fervor of love, or anger when by Wednesday she, not you, had failed to secure that incriminating video from this Hawk, brother to this town elder Anar? We've only your word you never met with your wife on Wednesday… we've only your word on much of this, and please!" he demanded. "If there is a shred of common decency in either of you, if is possible for either of you to respect how an innocent man's life is at stake, I ask you, both of you, to think before you speak, and when you do speak, is it possible for it to be the truth?"

"The Bajorans…" Anon said slowly, letting the Klingons insults to Janice and himself slide, listening to Anar's hounding, pounding effort to convince him Hawk was responsible, not the Federation's O'Brien regardless of what the Federation said in their twisted, confusing version of justice and laws. "Yes, that's possible… accurate…"

"Move to dismiss!" Ch'Pok whirled on T’Lara with a shout, his audience thunderstruck to silence. "Any and all charges against Chief Engineer O'Brien! By the accuser's own words, by those of her mate's, Doctor Lange does not know, Gul Dukat clearly maintains his suspicions of others' involvement."

"Granted," T’Lara's gavel struck, and it was over. The charges dismissed. The hearing adjourned.

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