"Legate," Sisko respectfully stood up with the appearance of Damar and his assistant Mister Paq.
"They're coming," Damar stalked heavily across the floor of the dining area, Paq on his heels. "Down there somewhere…weaving their way along. If I didn't know you better, I'd say it was a Federation scheme."
"You have me at a disadvantage, Legate," Sisko admitted.
"Lange," Damar picked up his glass. "Is this it? Water?"
"No, hardly," Sisko reassured. "Wine, kanar…whatever you prefer. Quark will be along in a moment…I'm sorry you were saying something about Doctor Lange…"
Dax's terrorized scream for him pierced the distance a microsecond ahead of the searing blasts of phaser fire ripping through the crowded levels of Quark's restaurant.
"DOWN!" Sisko tackled Damar, bringing the Legate down onto the floor with him.
"Doctor Lange!" Garak moved up quickly through the ranks of Janice's security escort preparing to fade away now that their duty was complete in seeing her safely across the short area of the bar.
"Oh, I just love your dress!" Leeta's gushing squeal cut Garak off at the foot at the stairs to clamor up after Janice, seizing her by her trailing cords and spinning her around. "I do! Is it one of Garak's? Garak!" she hollered out into the air. "Is this one of yours?"
"Astounding." Garak regained his balance to gaze up at the exquisite splendor of the young doctor Lange with the unblinking green eyes staring down over the rail at him; so utterly oblivious to her own beauty and therefore herself.
"You can say that again." The tray eventually stopped rattling in Quark's hands. "Water. Somebody get me some water. Prune juice. Fish juice. I don't care what juice. Will somebody just get me something."
"Um…yup, okay," Rom picked a glass of water up off the tray. "Here's some water."
The tray hit the floor with a crash. "Thanks," Quark took a drink. "I needed that."
"Too much?" Janice sought Garak's opinion of her eye cream.
"My dear," Garak breathed, "if you only knew."
"Don't pay any attention to him -- any of them," Leeta spun Janice back to her with a quick glare for Dukat dallying two steps ahead on them on the stairs. "What does he know? They're perfect…maybe just a little smudge here in the corner…"
Dax's shout across the room for Sisko was lost to the sudden shrieking heat of phaser fire raining down on them from above.
"JUMP!" Anon screamed at his brother a level ahead of him with a lunge for Janice, his powerful shove sending her and Leeta sprawling back down the stairs.
"He pushed her down the stairs." Quark stood there paralyzed clutching his water. "He pushed her down the stairs. HE PUSHED HER DOWN THE STAIRS! And if that isn't enough!"
"Anon!" Pfrann was over the side of the platform rail and down on top of the screaming crowd pouring into the one cleared area, fighting his way through the stampede to get to his brother.
"I'm all right. Help Sisko!" Anon was over the side of the staircase, down on the floor and up on his knees, clawing and crawling his way out from under the broken, burned bodies and debris fallen from above to get to Janice lying at the foot of the stairs.
"You bastard!" Leeta attacked him.
"Get out of the way!" his vicious strike sent her flying, still cursing him in Bajoran as she landed over the back of an overturned chair.
"Anon…" Janice felt his hands pulling her away from staring into the lifeless charred face of her Vulcan Captain staring back at her.
"Don't look at him," he kissed her hair and cheek, his voice reassuring, his arms tight and comforting around her. "It's all right. Don't look at any of them. Talk to me. Are you all right?"
"I think so yes…" she clung to him.
"Good. I want you…" he sized up their immediate surroundings that included a silent, frozen picture of Leeta posed with a dinner knife in her hand framed against a backdrop of screaming patrons and security grid-locked; Red Alert blaring above the deafening turmoil.
"Really…" Garak flattened himself against the staircase, staring at the wave of yellow uniforms descending on the bar from every conceivable direction.
"Yamok sauce," Quark nodded from somewhere at his feet, under the stairwell. "Tell me that's yamok sauce."
"No…" Garak stared up at the dangling, torn body of some woman draped over the railing above them. "No, that isn't yamok sauce…"
"I hate Friday nights," Quark sighed.
"Those, too." Quark assured.
"Oh, yes…" Garak's stare nodded down on Gul Dukat apologizing to Doctor Lange crumbled at the foot of the stairs.
"He pushed her," Quark reminded.
"Oh, yes…" Garak agreed. "Yes, that's very true he did…Explains why he's kissing her now."
"Ow!" Quark hit his head on the step. "Give me that stupid thing!" he groped for his tray.
"Get her to the bar," Anon instructed Leeta. "Understand me? I want you to get her to the bar."
"Uh, huh," Quark's face appeared wearing some serving tray like a hat. "That much I got. It's the how I'm having a little trouble with."
"Crawl if you have to!" Anon's fist struck the tray; his point vibrating through Quark's four lobes.
"Um, yup, okay, we'll do that," Rom pulled the knife of Leeta's hand, tossing it aside.
"Rom!" Leeta snapped alive.
"It was a dinner knife?"
"I know it was a dinner knife! Never mind!" she seized Janice by the arm with a promise to Anon. "We've got her."
"Oh, but…" Janice protested.
"He'll be all right," Leeta assured.
"Famous last words," Quark nodded at the yellow pants legs breaking through the wall of people. "Friend or foe?"
"I would say…" Garak stared from the phaser rifles aimed, to the faces of Anar's treasonous sergeant Dak'jar and Hawk's deputy Assura, to the bottle in Morn's hand bouncing off the top of the deputy's skull.
"Why take chances, you're right," Quark agreed.
"True," Garak exhaled as Morn's strike proved sufficient in distracting the second security officer long enough for Doctor Lange to scream and Leeta to react in an attempt to disarm him before the first Bajoran could collect his wits.
"Leeta?" Quark said.
"Well…" Garak grimaced, not meaning to say Dukat did not react because he did.
"Get the rifle!" Leeta screamed, riding the officer's back bucking like a horse as he vainly tried to pry her off of him.
Anon had the rifle, ripping the Bajoran's cheek open as he smashed it across his face.
"Thanks a lot!" Leeta snapped as the officer staggered and dropped out from under her.
"Now, get her to the bar," Anon tossed the phaser rifle to Garak, feeling something like a punch in his stomach when he bent to retrieve the other one from the hand of the first officer. He stared for a moment at the smiling Bajoran and then down at the hilt of one of Quark's dinner knives protruding from his lower abdomen.
"Anon!" Janice gasped with a grab for him as he straightened up.
"Yamok sauce?" Quark swallowed at the blood starting to bubble out from around the handle.
"No…" Garak stared. "No, that wouldn't be yamok sauce either…"
The Bajoran jumped up with a laugh and a reach for his phaser rifle meeting Morn's fist coming down like a hammer on his head.
"Now let's see you get up," Leeta patted Morn's shoulder satisfied with a worried look over Anon and encouraging shove of Rom. "Run and get Julian!"
"Um…" Rom stared into the sea of bedlam. "Yup, okay, I'll get Julian."
"Intruder alert!" Sisko's fist struck his com badge. "Override Security protocol Alpha, Beta Zed, Sisko, Captain, Benjamin. Full riot squad, ladies and gentlemen. Make it damn quick -- Stay down!" he barked at Damar lifting his head up off the floor to eye his fallen assistant.
"Oh, please, Captain," Damar insisted. "I think I know -- "
"I said, down!" Sisko yanked him back down by the scruff of his collar. "Bashir? Chief?"
"Right here…" Bashir stared over the edge of the platform at the scene of utter pandemonium. Two thousand people trampling and killing each other and themselves as they jumped from the upper levels of the bar in a desperate attempt to get out of the way of the raging blasts of phaser fire. "DON'T PANIC! FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T PANIC!" he screamed helplessly, feeling his shaking hand hit his com badge. "Medical emergency -- Doctor Bashir. Full medical detail now -- Quark's bar -- on the double… combat situation. Repeat, combat situation…" the Chief's hand covered his mouth with a shake of his head.
"In a word," Sisko agreed from behind the overturned dining table. "Chief?"
"Here…" O'Brien answered quietly. "You've got two of them on the platform directly behind you….Your guess is as good as mine."
"Understood…" Sisko said.
"And a rifle waiting about half way down the stairs -- which way you want it? Patience was never a virtue of mine."
"Nor mine." Sisko was up like he was fired out a torpedo launcher and diving into a somersault down the stairs.
"Captain!" he heard someone call as he landed with a thud on his back at the bottom of the steps slick with blood, his hand closed tightly over the rifle.
"Wait a minute!" the Chief was stopping him as he came up the stairs three at a time. One of the 'bastards' on the dining platform behind them was swinging over an extra phaser rifle. O'Brien caught the bouquet a finger's reach ahead of Damar with a wink for Sisko. "Good thing you didn't come up firing."
"Yes," Sisko nodded with a deep breath. "Anymore?"
Sisko's expected question was inconvenient. The Bajoran Special Force's officer on the platform was Anar. The officer with him, his son Sian. Anar should thank the Prophets the commotion his brother Hawk caused had everyone far too busy to notice the face of Shakaar Adon appearing on the scene dressed in the yellow uniform of his Special Forces. Anar would thank the Prophets later when he prayed for their assistance in cultivating leniency. A request that at the moment seemed so outrageously absurd. Anar's eyes were on Damar feeling the Federation phaser rifle in his hands. The Cardassian Emperor disgusted and bored, no more emotional or feeling than that for the carnage surrounding him. Anar's thoughts should be on Sisko and his Chief Engineer O'Brien stunned by the brutality of the terrorist attack, their minds and eyes would soon clear well enough to realize that was the face of Shakaar Adon looking across at them. Fifteen years older. The hair white. The body slender and tight with muscles, the skin deeply tanned.
Young Doctor Julian Bashir on the other hand was stunned to utter silence, a nervous shake to his hand pushing his hair back off his forehead as he remained staring down on the building mayhem below them.
"No…" Anar looked away to briefly scan his area in response to Sisko's question. "Don't worry. We'll help cover you."
"It would be appreciated -- Next one's yours," Sisko promised Damar. "Bashir, see if there's anything we can do for Mister Paq…"
"Which one is that?" Anar asked Sisko to repeat, his tone benign, his son attempting to keep the expression on his face as neutral as his father's voice. Though the victim of Hawk's attack was clearly not Janice, but Cardassian, the uniform and body so badly burned he couldn't tell if it was Anon or Pfrann or who it was other than not his Emperor Damar.
"Was," Bashir replied. "Who this was, was Mister Paq." he stood up. "If you're wondering just how do we know the bad from the good -- they'll be the one's using disruptor force. This is murder. This is sheer, unadulterated murder."
O'Brien glanced at his rifle. "Heavy stun."
"Same here," Sisko activated his com badge. "Sisko to Constable Odo…Odo, can you read me?"
"I read you," Odo answered. "We're here…Major Kira. Dax…Martok." There was a definite pause. "Haven't seen Mister Worf…You've got a mess out on the Promenade as well."
"Understood. All Special Forces security personnel are to be disarmed immediately -- Chief, take their rifles. A precaution, gentlemen," Sisko explained to the two officers. "I'm sure you understand, and we may as well begin with you."
"No explanation necessary, Captain," Anar obligingly tossed his rifle across, reaching for his son's next to him. "How Cardassian of you and your Federation as always to bite the hand that feeds you…"
"Setting ten…" O'Brien gaped at the phaser rifle he caught.
"What?" All Sisko saw as he grabbed for the rifle was a blinding flash from the Bajoran's disruptor striking the steps. When he looked up he realized he was on the floor of the gambling area, the dining platform all but destroyed. Her connecting series of staircases vaporized by the power of the penetrating force.
"You were saying something about wanting to get down?" the voice sounded familiar; it wasn't the Chief.
"That wasn't a ten," O'Brien straightened his back with a shake of his head. "Maybe a seven. Not even an eight. If it was a ten the damn bar wouldn't be here."
"Ten!" Damar slammed the phaser rifle under his nose.
"He was just trying to make a point," O'Brien grinned up at Bashir hanging by his fingernails from the last square inches left. "Come on. Jump. You're halfway there."
"And it's been received loud and clear!" Sisko's bloodied hand groped for the Chief's shirt.
"Never better!" his fist borrowed the Chief's com badge. "Sisko to Constable Odo!"
"Drop them in their damn tracks! I want those men disarmed now. Get him down." He aimed the Chief towards Bashir, yanking the phaser rifle away from Damar. "No offense, Legate, but I know I won't use it."
"That's what you'd like to think." Damar picked up one of the others with a scoff. "Level three -- care to check?"
"I would indeed," Sisko assured. The safety-interlock was standard at level three. Sisko could feel the rebounding energy of his rage in his hand gripping the rifle. Its owner was either among the dead or the dying. There were thirty bodies, only two of them Special Forces security personnel, scattered in the immediate area, abandoned and eerily silent in contrast to the crushing mob a hundred yards away. The hail of phaser fire already slowing to detectable pockets of activity. Personal, individualized wars between the men and women dressed in yellow as their look-alike intruders found their positions momentarily exposed by the flight of the terrorized patrons. Either way the enemy had a guaranteed way out. Voluntarily or otherwise swept away into the shelter of the maddened crowd where in a wink of an eye they could turn from terrorist back into Federation or Bajoran Special Forces Security. It was going to be next to impossible to prove exactly who was whom unless the man or woman was caught with the phaser rifle in hand.
And even then. Sisko gripped the power to move heaven and earth in his right hand.
"Make that a massacre. I don't care if it's ten or ten hundred, it's a massacre just the same." Bashir was breathing heavily from his voluntary jump the equivalency of three stories as he ran his medical tricorder over Sisko right temporal bone. "Superficial laceration -- you'll be fine. Same as that hand. Couple of fractured knuckles, nothing more -- mind?"
"Not at all, Doctor," Sisko waved him onto the battlefield while he headed for that crowd impeding their own exit along with the much needed entrance of station security and medical personnel. Those people trying to work their way down through Quark's disrupted catwalks of stairs and platforms and landings weren't all security officers, some of them were doctors and nurses.
Dax listened to Benjamin's order for immediate assistance from the station's standard security force over Odo's com badge trying not to pay attention to the comment they hadn't seen Worf since the first few seconds of the attack; minutes ago now that seemed like hours.
"How's the ankle?" she verified with Kira lying next to her behind their hastily assembled barricade of two tables and a chair.
"It's fine." Kira's voice was throbbing in anger. "Playing sniper is not exactly what I had in mind."
"I told you to stay down," Dax reminded.
"I couldn't just stay down," Kira's phaser caught the security officer crossing the perimeter on the run off his shoulder; it was enough to bring him down.
"How do you know…" Dax was silent for a second.
"I don't," Kira assured. All she knew it was one more of them asleep for an hour and therefore one less. "Odo…"
"Believe so." Odo arm's cracked out like a whip, securing the fallen phaser rifle from wreaking any further havoc, good or bad.
"Excellent," Martok approved.
Odo grunted. "I learned that trick from you -- What?" he said to Kira's eyes glittering at him like some enraged demonic lifeform.
"Give me that thing!" she tore the rifle out of his hand. "If you must know, the ankle feels like it’s been run over six or seven times!"
"At least," Dax agreed.
"Right!" Kira said. And for all she knew, that security officer could have been one of them. "Now we're even." she thrust the rifle back at Odo. "Disruptor. Cuff him."
"I'm cuffing him," Odo's arm whipped forward, security bracelets in hand.
"How many does that make?" Martok sighed, tiring of the diversion.
"Three of each," Odo referenced his little stack of phaser rifles next to him. "And three sets of handcuffs left."
"Which we will use if we are lucky within the next hour. I should be fighting by the side of my men instead of sitting here playing with you -- I'm with you," he apprised Kira. "A warrior is a warrior, and we are warriors. If these were true warriors we were fighting they would put one of their disruptors on overload and bring this bar down around us."
"Yes, well, they're true enough for my liking," Odo grunted. "Let's not give them any ideas."
"Perhaps one to take with them into their next life," Martok nodded sharply to Dax. "Ready?"
"Only if I get to lead," Dax smiled. "I can't see where it hurts to ask first."
Benjamin read her mind, interjecting over Odo's com badge to immediately begin disarming all Special Forces security personnel without prejudice.
"Well, maybe just a little prejudice," Odo ogled his and Dax's respective yellow jumpsuit. "Not to be arrogant, but I'm confident I can hold my own. What about you?"
"I'll take my chances." Dax was gone with Martok to do battle, leaving Kira and Odo to hold down the fort.
"He didn't mean that," Odo reassured Kira. "Martok. About taking it into their next life. Not the way it sounded. They're not all Bajoran."
"No, just enough of them," Kira replied, sourly.
"Two thirds, approximately," Odo grunted.
"He's lucky I don't kill him."
"Shakaar." Kira eyed the brilliant evidence of disruptor technology being put to the test in the distant background of the dining room's upper tiers. "Sisko's area."
"Someone's playing with a little harder ball than most of them," Odo nodded. "That was a seven easily, maybe an eight. In any event, the Federation's going to love this repair bill."
"Odo, I just can't sit here like this!" Kira's angry cry was frustrated, thinking of Sisko and trying not to think of Lange who was probably dead.
"I was wondering when we were going to get around to that. All right. Wait a minute. I activated the rifles' safety interlocks, I didn't override the program -- "
"We don't have a minute," Kira trained her phaser on the pile of them. "Get back!"
"Seven?" Odo guessed as the rifles vanished, feeling the tingling charge of Kira's disruptor through his bio-electric nervous system.
"Eight," Kira reset her rifle to a more reasonable level three. "I didn't want to push it at nine."
"I won't tell if you won't tell," Odo agreed. "Not that destruction of evidence isn't a serious offense."
"What evidence?" Kira countered.
Sisko interrupted again over Odo's com badge with instructions to drop them in their tracks. Something had happened. Likely to do with that disruptor business in his area.
"Sorry," Dax apologized to the Special Forces Captain and his team of two as she requested their arms.
"No, we understand, Commander," Hawk reassured with the appropriate amount of frustration and concern. He was mildly unusual looking would be all Dax would have to say she noticed about him. An alien-looking alien? That didn't make any sense since she was an alien, too. Or at least not Human. Neither was he. He was Bajoran. An average-sized man around Julian's age. Perhaps it was the eyes that didn't quite match the face or the voice. He had a large face. Round. The eye sockets very pronounced. Actually, if someone told her someone had done a reasonably poor job of surgical alternation she wouldn't have been surprised. He looked Cardassian under his Bajoran face. The Cardassian skull was large and difficult to hide. Commonly all they had to do was pick a man in somewhat better proportions than this one.
"Here everyone was worried about you," Hawk turned away from Dax to address Martok; the Trill's glancing gaze over him lasting just a moment longer than he would have preferred.
Martok snatched the phaser rifle from him passing it to one of his two men. "I have yet to figure out why. I came to fight, not to enlist my men's assistance as prison guards."
Hawk laughed. "Where do you want us?"
Dax was thinking about the far side of the gambling area away from the wall of the mob where they were now. The security Captain must have been following her train of thought. He started out on his own only to stop.
"Disruptor," Hawk nodded. You could hear the crackling of the cascading energy vaporizing a supporting section of the tiers causing the immediate affected dining area to collapse. You could certainly see it spreading up almost to the ceiling like licking fingers.
The palms of Dax's hands were wet. "That's Benjamin's area." she struck herself in the chest, forgetting she had lost her com badge somewhere in the beginning. "Damn it!" she took off, tripping over Rom crawling on the floor.
"Um, sorry," Rom apologized as Dax came out of her stumble to catch her balance before she fell.
"It's all right," Dax started to give him a hand up when she realized he was covered with an awful lot of blood. "Rom…" she grabbed him.
"Um, no, it's not me…" Rom was shaking his head, pointing back at the crowd, his words tumbling over each other. "The floor…I had to crawl. And, yes, Dukat. Gul Dukat. He's hurt. Real bad maybe. Leeta told me to run and get Julian…Have you seen him?" he finished. By that time Dax had made her decision.
"General!" she whirled around. Martok and his men were gone. So were the three Bajorans and the phaser rifles, with a little luck to assist Martok in checking on Benjamin. She would have to worry about that later. "Where's Dukat?"
"At the bar," Rom nodded. "Maybe the stairs? He was at the stairs."
"Find Julian," she instructed, plunging into the crowd. "Check the gambling area …they're trying to clear it for triage…"
"Um, yup, okay," Rom agreed. "I'll find Julian."
"Captain…" Worf's head snapped up from requesting the Bajoran's phaser rifle with the sight and sound of the disruptor blast. "Excuse me," he snatched the officer's rifle, activating his com badge, "you are now disarmed…Commander Worf to Captain Sisko…"
The security officer had a different idea. He grabbed the phaser rifle back. Worf huffed. "You are obviously an infiltrator."
He was. Determined to get out of there, Klingon or no Klingon. Worf easily caught the butt of the phaser rifle aiming for his face. The Bajoran caught a strike from a hand phaser fired from out of bounds and dropped where he stood. Worf's momentary surprise dissolved into another huff. A second security officer he expected. Jadzia. Martok. He did not expect Sentinel Pfrann Dukat.
"Where did you get this?" Worf captured Pfrann attempting to fade back into the ruins of the rear of the upper dining area; the two of them suddenly having to duck for cover from an angry shower of phaser fire.
"It's almost drained," Pfrann snatched his hand phaser back to check its power cell.
"That is not the point," Worf insisted. "You are a diplomat. This sector has not yet been secured. We are in a crossfire between station security and two factions."
"They're trying to get through to the holosuites," Pfrann nodded.
"I am aware of what they are trying to do," Worf assured.
"Well!" Pfrann leered with a waggle of his hand phaser set to overload. "Let's see what we can do to help them! Get ready to jump!"
Worf stared at the phaser. "Give me that," he grabbed for it.
"Fine. You throw it," Pfrann shrugged, already on a run across the tiers of steps.
Worf hesitated. A heartbeat away from deactivating the phaser, he changed his mind and gave it a heave into the heart of the first faction. It exploded with the intensity of a grenade; sufficient in routing the enraged enemy into the open, eager to give chase, and easily overpowered by station security pouring down over the dining area. Martok burst into a broad smile below with the sound of the explosion and the sight of Worf and the Cardassian child on the run across the upper levels under fire from behind and below; Sisko forgotten, he couldn't find him anyway.
"Ah! Now we fight!" he urged his men quickly into the arena to assist his friend.