The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part Two

Chapter Nine

Benjamin looked as if he suddenly felt ill at ease expecting a blood grouping on a dagger in the middle of the chaos in the Infirmary where every examining bed was taken, in surgical intensive care, as well as the surgical theaters.

"Is there something I can help you with, Captain?" One of Julian's charge nurses, Michelle Faraday was at Dax's elbow.

"Yes…" Sisko stopped in his calculations of the injury count. "Is Doctor Bashir available?"

"He's in surgery with Gul Dukat. I would say half an hour? The vascular team could probably complete the closure…But… considering who he is?"

"Yes," Sisko agreed the issue was sensitive.

She smiled at the dagger in his hand. "Blood grouping? It looks Klingon, but you're right. You can't always tell."

"If that would be possible…"

"I can take it for you. It's nothing. Just a few seconds. Later…" she chuckled, setting the dagger up on the diagnostic console, "yes, then I might ask you to come back. Right now, I'm acting traffic director…it's Klingon," she nodded to the analysis appearing on screen. "But you have another…see this streak along the shadow of the blade? That's a different group. Bajoran. Let me quickly run a few other screenings and see if I can tell you anything else that may help you now -- some form of evidence, I take it?"

"Yes, actually," Dax smiled.

"What isn't?" Michelle shrugged. "We've had more security in here than injured. Finally, I just had to tell them. Please, I know you have your duty, but we also have ours. Trust us. We know what we're doing. I think that's when Doctor Bashir said you're hired…" she nodded again at the display. "Both male. The Bajoran is around sixty…the Klingon…I would say forties? It gets a little more complicated measuring Klingon years. Does that help?"

"Very much so, yes. Thank you," Sisko appreciated the information.

"It will be a while before you'll have a complete analysis -- DNA comparison and matching to see if we have a record. How urgent is this?"

"Urgent enough. But, no, I understand there are other priorities at the moment. I would like to keep the kut'luch for now. Is that possible without jeopardizing the analysis?"

"I'll get you a bio-pack," she patted his arm; he wasn't quite sure why. "Anything else I can do?"

"A question or two. Do you have any idea what the injury count might be?"

"At least 300 -- a lot of civilians. A lot. Fatalities? I'm guessing between one and one-fifty? I know they're still searching. We've set up the morgue in the passenger waiting room of the airlock next to us. It was the closest large area with system access."

"No, that's fine," Sisko stopped listening at hundreds. One fifth to one quarter the estimated occupancy of Quark's at the time between the bar, the gambling areas and restaurant.

"Whose idea was it to use the Temple for the survivors?"

"Mine. Why?"

"It gives people strength," she patted his arm again. "Doesn't matter the faith. If you're waiting to hear about friends or relatives, or just waiting for permission to go home. We have a counseling team there, and I believe two nurses -- my question. Unless you have another?"

"Just about the Bajoran child who was brought in from Promenade? The hostage?"

"Hatrem Ranit. Cute little girl -- bright, also. Very bright. I have her and her mother in Doctor Bashir's office for now. There's a nurse with her -- and also a security officer," she acknowledged what Dax already knew about the mother's caustic attitude. "The mother is pretty upset. Angry with you, angry with me -- I don't know. I would probably be angry, too. Again, it's going to be a while before Doctor Bashir meets with her…"

"No, that's fine. I want the child and her mother examined thoroughly for any trauma, and, yes, positive identification -- "

"Overnight observation for post traumatic symptomatic responses," Michelle interrupted him.

"I beg your pardon?"

"The mother will believe it," she promised. "We'll put Hatrem in a nice isolation room where it's quiet -- she can relax. Play if she wants to. Her mother can stay with her -- consider it taken care of."

He wouldn't dream of considering it otherwise. "You had a question?'

"Doctor Lange -- top of Doctor Bashir's list should you stop by. I understand she has a doctorate in forensic medicine?"

"Sciences, actually," Dax offered.

"Yes…" Sisko believed he had an idea where they might be heading without needing to take another look around. "However, I don't think…"

"The morgue," Michelle reassured him. "Not here -- goodness," she chuckled to Dax, "look at his face. It's just an idea Doctor Bashir had to free up a medical technician or two. It's completely secured. Absolutely no unauthorized personnel. Even once we begin identification process and know who we have."

"What do you think?" Dax asked him.

Sisko smiled at the dedicated, caring nurse. "I can't see where it hurts to ask."

"No, it doesn't," Michelle patted his arm one last time, handed him his bio-pack with the dagger careful preserved and a hypospray to calm his nerves. "Solid advice, difficult to follow. Try and relax. It will be all right."

Dax slung the strap of the bio-pack over her shoulder as they exited the Infirmary. "I can run the DNA analysis for you from the science lab to see if we can match the Bajoran to any of the Special Forces -- or even someone who's just been to the station."

"Actually, Nurse Faraday raised an interesting question with identification; the accuracy of our data files," Sisko contemplated. "Our intruders don't seem the type to leave too many stones unturned. Not only to assist them with their exit, but their infiltration."

"Good point. What do you want to do?"

"I'm not willing to risk a data link with the planet," Sisko decided. "I'd rather have the original files for comparison. Relieve Worf to take the Defiant to Bajor to secure them. I'll notify Shakaar he's en route."

"Along with the reasons why," Dax nodded. "I know Kira keeps a backup log of the station's Bajoran Security force for her own records. We can use that one instead of the system's. What about the UFP and the Federation squad?"

Sisko didn't want to say he highly doubted if those records would be necessary. "I'm not willing to wait three days. A data link is our only option. As far as asking for assistance from Doctor Lange…"

"It could be the perfect political coup," Dax smiled.

Something else Sisko didn't want to say. "Only if Doctor Lange feels comfortable with the request. I don't want any pressure put on her to perform beyond her diplomatic responsibilities. This isn't her problem, it's ours. But, yes, if you wouldn't mind asking. I'll be apprising the UFP of the situation and how it stands at the moment. We'll see how they wish to proceed from here."

"That'll be the day," Dax handed him back his bio-pack.

"Well, within reason," Sisko agreed with a shake of his head for the shoulder bag and dagger inside. Sixty years old? Not saying the Bajoran was old, but he was older. Close to fifteen years older than he was, and he would have a fight on his hands, likely to his own death. It didn't seem possible. Even for a Bajoran. Sisko didn't know what that meant as far as General Martok and his men.

"Something other than the element of surprise," Dax intruded on his thinking, almost sadly.

"I'm not quite sure what could surprise anyone to that extent, Commander," Sisko walked away.

"His age?" Dax tried to imagine what would prompt five Klingons into not immediately responding to the Bajoran's attack, ultimately giving him the edge to best them. "The fact that he was alone?" Laughter, over confidence, she ran the gamut. "Shock. His face -- Benjamin!"

"Yes?" Sisko turned around.

It sounded like such a silly question. "Did you happen to see the Bajoran's face?"

"No…" he had to think back. "A glimpse perhaps. In passing…"

"How much are you willing to gamble that's all anyone saw? And I don't think some form of disfigurement would stir a Klingon."

"Someone they didn't expect," Sisko frowned. "To excuse General Martok and his men the Bajoran would have to be more than an associate suddenly turning on them. Much more. A celebrity of some sort…I'm sorry, Commander, but I can't see where the Klingon Empire would be so keenly familiar with the Bajoran political or social scene to react unless the man was an extraordinarily known figure. Could it have been his ear cuff perhaps he didn't want you to see rather than his face?"

"His family mark," Dax sighed. "You could be right. It doesn't let Martok off the hook, but yes, it may have been the cuff he was actually attempting to hide."

"It's an idea though; both. I'll ask the UFP to run a counter search for suspected or known Bajoran extremists with political or social ties. Thank you."

"Don't thank me," Dax sighed again as Benjamin left. More than her instincts told her Martok's men were involved to the point of making matters appear worse than they actually had been. Upon completion of the scans and analysis, Benjamin would have proof of what he also knew. Presuming Martok innocent as the master mind behind the bloody assault on Quark's and his Bird-of-Prey did not erase the glaring contribution of the Klingon effort to save face. From destroying evidence of what the Bajoran had done, all the way to possibly who he was and where he transported to from the Klingon ship.

"Back to the station," Dax shrugged. Where else? Simply a matter of where. She relieved Worf at Quark's to take the Defiant to Bajor to obtain the data files on Shakaar's Special Forces. Easily securing Kira's permission to collect her logs of the station's Bajoran security force, she tactfully neglected to mention to Kira Benjamin's agreement to Julian's request for Lange to assist in the morgue, if acceptable to her.

Dax had an idea it would be acceptable to Lange. Scientists were scientists. Lange's inexperience under battle conditions did not stop her from responding to the best of her ability with the injured Dukat. Janice was calm and collected. Willing to wait the necessary minutes for assistance from qualified medical personnel, not attempting to take matters into her own hands. Even if Dax had witnessed Janice's sudden attack of weak knees following Julian's transporting Dukat to the Infirmary she would not have attributed any significance to it other than a normal reaction to the clear and present danger of her surroundings once the immediate emergency was over. That was where Lange's inexperience showed.

She was wrong, Commander Dax. Doctor Lange was extraordinarily experienced with performing under battle conditions, having survived two Klingon attacks on her small village and the more natural disaster, Rigelian fever. Garak didn't know about the Klingons, or the battle for survival against the Rigelian plague. Not the location, or size of Janice's home world. He did know Doctor Lange's treatment of Gul Anon Dukat surpassed the soothing, calm pat on the cheek from the hand of a concerned caregiver with her loving, light kisses and whispered commitments commingled with encouragement. He also knew the sudden attack of weak knees once Anon was transported was a result of Doctor Lange's personal concern and attachment to the Gul, not her surroundings. Odd, but if Garak ever anticipated getting answers to the questions his observation of Doctor Lange and Gul Dukat inspired, he had them and he wasn't even thinking about them.

No, of all the things Garak thought to think about over the last twenty-four hours, none came close in significance to the sudden and mysterious appearance of First Minister Shakaar Adon of Bajor. As blatantly so in appearance as Sentinel Dukat was in the image of his father. The terrorist had to be a relative. It was feasible he was merely a double to his advantage or disadvantage, depending upon the circumstances. To the other end, Garak couldn't see where any advantage would be granted First Minister Shakaar with the revelation of a look-a-like cutthroat terrorist on the loose, related or otherwise. He couldn't see it. He couldn't even think about it, or the Bajoran security officer. Convinced his eyes had to be playing tricks on him.

Therefore, Commander Dax was likely comfortable and safe in her error of presuming all anyone saw was the fleeting glimpse of a face attired in a yellow jumpsuit and white hair. That was not all everyone saw. Of all the people present in Quark's, on the Promenade, if there was to be that one individual who did manage to see the Bajoran's face, the individual would be Garak. Garak knew that. As did actually Commander Dax, and quite naturally Captain Sisko. It was with great relief Garak decided that Captain Sisko and his senior staff were far too busy to even think of it.

Quark was another issue, as was Doctor Lange. Garak studied Janice slumped over on the seat of her couch, absently picking at the material, worried about her lover and waiting to hear. He decided they were lovers. Discounting Anon's genetic link to his slippery father, the important questions were why and where Shakaar's double might fit in the scheme of things. Lange also had to see the Bajoran's face; he spoke directly to her. She was startled. A turn at the tongo table if she was startled by his face, or simply to find him there. The situation had all the components of an ambitious Cardassian plot of magnanimous proportions. Garak couldn't betray his home world before he knew what he was betraying; it had to be the Klingons. Everything had to do with the Klingons. His Emperor Dukat was the one who went off on a tangent with the Dominion, the Federation…

And Bajor. Garak hit upon a plausible purpose behind Shakaar's double. Support from the presiding Bajoran Government on Cardassia's position with the Federation against the Klingon Empire, if they had to replace First Minister Shakaar with himself. A remarkably simple matter of youthening the double. Not even dramatically. Fifteen, twenty years? Everything else was already there; tailor-made. Garak solved a piece of the puzzle, pleased he still had the knack. What an unlikely Cardassian operant, Doctor Lange. He never would have imagined the charming young woman to be anything but who she was. Her obvious value. How else could she have secured the position of Bajoran representative if she gave the slightest hint to her true identity? Her relationship with Anon Dukat was irrelevant placed alongside the full truth of the matter.

Or it should have been. It was instead, destined to be her undoing. Such a waste of such a talented individual. Garak wasn't quite sure what outcome Lange could have hoped for in her relationship with Dukat. Utterly foolish on her part; predictable on Dukat's. Little wonder Legate Damar was so brusque in his treatment of the Gul. He must know about the relationship beyond what was supposed to be the agenda; certainly an Intelligence network.

That realization of Garak's was by no means an extension of forgiveness to the new Emperor for his murder of Ziyal. Merely smug satisfaction of how ultimately the elder Dukat had the last laugh if he had to do it through his son. Failure of the Cardassian scheme was the furthest thing from Garak's mind. If it failed, there would always be another one. On that, the galaxy could rely. One of these days the Union would again require that same level of dependability from its spies. The Obsidian Order, Central Command certainly was not, nor would it ever be. Quark had a higher code of ethics and responsibility to duty than the most dutiful Gul. Garak's new task before him, now that everything else had been resolved, was to figure out how to translate the value of Quark keeping silent into something as tangible as latinum. Quark, too, saw the Bajoran close enough and long enough to know he should know the face, even if he couldn't place it immediately in that cluttered, unfocused Ferengi brain. He would eventually. Somewhere on the tip of his tongue, it would come blurting out at the most inopportune time. Another one of those galactical guarantees.

"Is Pfrann your boyfriend, too?" Leeta apparently had reached a quandary in her own puzzling analysis, dropping down on the couch next to Lange with a surrendering crack for Janice's hip.

Bewilderment registered on Lange's face; Garak could well appreciate that.

"No, of course he isn't," Leeta figured out the reason behind the friendly and familiar relationship between Janice and Pfrann to her satisfaction. "He's his brother…Here," she retrieved Pfrann's field unit from her bodice, obviously not quite as revealing as it might suggest. "Before I forget. I'm sure you'll see him before I do -- what?" she said to Garak's rattling cup of tea. "You have your uniform, I have mine. That's the extent of it."

"Oh, it wasn't your uniform I was questioning, my dear," Garak's attention was riveted on what came out of her bodice, not what was still in it.

"It's a field unit," Leeta scoffed. "Haven't you ever seen a field unit before?"

"Yes, well, no…" Janice was blinking.

"Oh, but of course," Garak agreed. "I mean, of course, naturally I have," he smiled at Janice, not above offering a little assistance to a fellow comrade, not that she appeared to need any assistance with her act.

"It's Pfrann's," Leeta squeezed Janice's hand tightly. "Julian did just show up from nowhere -- when you and Pfrann were talking about contacting the ship to transport Anon? That's what he had in his hand, trying to signal them. He didn't have a chance to do much else with it -- other than give it to me."

"Oh," Janice said. "No, I didn't realize…"

"It's okay," Leeta nodded. "Bigger things on your mind -- Tell me about it. Boy, you Humans sure bond quickly -- I mean, when you bond. I couldn't pry a commitment out of Julian. We're talking years."

"I'm not sure I know what you mean," Janice apologized, aware how she hadn't been paying attention, and still wasn't paying attention even though she was attempting to. It was just so difficult sitting and waiting instead of being where she could know exactly what was happening with Anon.

"Of course you don't," Leeta promised. "Like we agreed, it's just between you and me -- and you're right. Just because his father's a jerk, doesn't mean Anon has to be a jerk, too."

"Between…" Janice looked at Garak.

"Garak doesn't count," Leeta sneered. "Old Mister Know It All and his Cardassian saunas wasn't giving lectures on the structure and anatomy of the Union -- if he follows my drift."

"I do," Garak purred. "However, I fail to see where your lurid imagination has any bearing -- "

"Uh, huh," Leeta said. "Is this the same lurid imagination that had me doing more than sitting up all night listening to daddy talk?"

"No doubt whenever his Prefect felt the need to expound on the structure and anatomy of the Union," Garak smiled at Janice. "If I dare to make any sense out of what dear Leeta is attempting to convey, it would be how both she and I have had our own past experiences with the Dukat phenomenon. In turn, we can only express our sympathy and understanding to you."

"He's great in the sack," Leeta turned Janice back to her. "Ask him. He'll tell you."

"To put it crudely," Garak shivered at the candor. "Yes, that could be one explanation -- speaking for yourself. I maintain Ziyal was ardently interested in learning about her home world."

"Don't worry about it, is what I'm saying," Leeta nodded to Janice. "I had my reasons, you have yours. You do what you have to do -- which isn't true, by the way. I wasn't Dukat's mistress. But you'd never convince him of that -- "

"Him, naturally, being me," Garak moistened his already wet lips.

"So I don't even bother to try. We were just friends. Or friendly. He was anyway…"

"While you got to work in Quark's rather than the ore processing bays," Garak agreed. "Let's not bore Doctor Lange with the history of the occupation. Your point is well taken. There is no viable reason why either of us would seek to betray Doctor Lange's and Gul Dukat's liaison -- "

"You had a liaison?" Leeta was apparently thinking of some other meaning to the word, her Prophets only knew what.

"I would think involved in a liaison, my dear, yes," Garak's hand went to his brow. "Over a period of time…of more than a few hours," he clarified, not maliciously looking to destroy Leeta's romantic notions of love quite literally at first sight. More attempting to subtly inform Doctor Lange how he knew and understood everything, and would naturally keep it all to himself.

"Oh, but," Janice said, confused. A needless and potentially dangerous effort to keep up appearances of naiveté.

"No explanations necessary, my dear," Garak immediately stressed, his eyes glittering over her nightdress; a most clever and provocative disguise to perpetrate the notion of utter innocence. "Not even as to why you're wearing your nightgown…"

"She's doing what?" Leeta coughed as Janice glanced at her dress.

"I mean," Garak shook his head. "What am I saying? Irrelevant, of course. Other than stressing the senseless point of betrayal. Which, of course, we won't do. Either of us betray either of you."

"You're wearing your nightgown?" Leeta repeated to Janice. "Did you know you were wearing your nightgown?"

"Oh, well, no…" Janice touched the blood-soaked lap of her skirt.

"Me either," Leeta assured. "Don't worry about him. Anon, I mean. He'll be fine. If anyone knows anatomy, Julian knows anatomy, take it from me…He's a doctor," she clarified for the degenerate in the room. "You know what I mean. A very good one."

"I don't doubt that," Janice smiled slightly.

"That's better," Leeta approved. "So let me see this thing…" she scooped up the dangling, filthy straps of Janice's dress. "I can't believe this is a nightgown -- Garak, are you sure?"

"It's my design, my dear."

"I know it's your design. I just can't -- Oh, what does it matter? It's still nice -- or it was. Just have Garak make you a new one. That's what I would do."

"I would be delighted. At the moment, however, I think there is a more pressing matter to discuss -- "

"Quark's easy," Leeta insisted.

"I beg your pardon?"

"He's easy! Latinum's latinum. What's he care?"

"I realize the point about latinum. The question remains as to how? It's not easy to bribe a briber. Much more than Quark's night receipts have been cut to the barest minimum with the terrorist attack -- he doesn't even have a bar."

"The Federation will pay for it," Leeta promised Janice. "They always do."

"That's very true…not that we mean to suggest," Garak likewise assured her, "this happens once or twice a week. To the contrary…"

"Once or twice a year," Leeta said.

"Is something wrong?" Garak wondered of Janice just sitting there.

"No. Actually the two of you are being very nice. I just…" she hesitated. "I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me. I don't understand why you should have to bribe someone? Anon's my fiancé. We're just trying to fulfill our obligations to First Minister Shakaar and Anon's Council."

Leeta broke the silence first with a whispered hiss for Garak. "What's a fiancé?"

"Somewhere between a pledge and a marriage," Garak believed he replied, shocked by the announcement to say the least. "It's a Human term. You and Rom would have been fiancees at the time you were planning your wedding."

"You and Anon are getting married?" Leeta stared at Janice.


"Oh. Well, see?" Leeta's hand caught her in the shoulder. "I told you he didn't have to be a jerk."

"No, Anon's not a jerk," Janice smiled. "I think what I'm asking...I really want to talk with Anon first? If I have a chance to talk with him…" her hand touched her bloody skirt.

"You will," Leeta pulled her to her feet. "Come on. What you need to do is change. Quark will keep. We'll just have Garak tell him you're a spy. That'll shut him up until you and Anon decide what you want to do -- you're really getting married?"

"We're really getting married,” Janice nodded."

"What about the conference -- wait, don't tell me," Leeta stopped her. "You care, he doesn't. Boy, that's a shocker."

"No, Anon cares. He's already sent a transmission to Cardassia telling them about us and how he wants to continue the talks. He thinks it's nonsense all the requirements of neutrality -- I'm not sure I agree with that completely. But he wants me to wait before talking to Shakaar because…well, actually he wants Shakaar to be here. Not me. That's what he's telling his Council, and he's very concerned about something happening to me in the interim before it's all worked out and I'm replaced."

"With good reason," Leeta argued Anon's point. "Honey, he's not just some guy off a ship. He's Gul Dukat. The Gul Dukat now that his father's off in some Federation asylum. You have to understand that."

Did she? Garak was back to square one and reevaluating the motives of Doctor Janice Lange. His impression of Anon and the coincidental appearance of a stand in for Shakaar remained the same; altered only just slightly to account for the adjustment of Lange's now decided uninvolvement. Instead, the scheme reeked of bribery perhaps. Blackmail. If Shakaar continued to refuse the invitation to personally participate in the conference as he had in the beginning, Garak had little doubt witnesses would suddenly appear to place Shakaar himself at the scene of the crime -- or even better. Someone who looked a great deal like Shakaar, adding to the validity of the witness statements. A subsequent investigation would reveal what? That notion of some unsavory relative? The scandal would topple Shakaar, repaving the way for Kai Winn. Shakaar would never risk it. Garak would give his photographic memory to know what actually had been contained in that transmission from Anon to Cardassia Prime; little to do with marriage, he was sure.

"Do I?" Janice whispered at her dress. "I'm fine. Anon's the one in the Infirmary."

"Sheer luck," Leeta pulled her off into the other room, leaving Garak to resolve his newest quandary on his own of what to say, or not to say to whom, or at all.

"Your son does you justice," Garak acknowledged, possibly the greatest and only compliment he ever extended his personal nemesis, though hardly his alone, the elder Dukat. That didn't solve the matter as far as what to do about the abuse of such an innocent victim as Doctor Lange. Or the clear determination of Anon to proceed with this idea of a Consult, likely for a very good reason.

"I hate decisions like these," Garak answered the buzzing door with a sigh, presuming it to be the security relief for he and Leeta; it was Commander Dax.

"I come at a bad time?" Dax smiled at Garak's somewhat distant expression.

"Oh, no," Garak was quickly at his professional best. "No, we -- I mean, Doctor Lange was just -- "

"How is he?" Leeta tore out from the sleeping area in a classic example of Bajoran discretion at its very best.

"Gul Dukat," Garak explained brightly to Dax with an added offer of some herbal tea? "We have naturally wondered about this briefly."

"She's upset," Leeta nodded. "She is really upset."

"Doctor Lange," Garak identified smoothly. "Though, no, I wouldn't be alarmed. I'm sure much of her discomfort is drawn from her sheer lack of experience…I also would think there would be a degree of diplomatic concern, shall we say?" he mentioned discreetly for Dax's additional information. "Reasonable, of course. The situation doesn't exactly cast Bajor in a positive light."

"Well…" Dax hated to be the one to deflate Garak's thrill for political intrigue, but, "somehow Lange doesn't seem to be the type to care?"

"Of course she doesn't care!" Leeta gave Garak a thwack. "She's wearing him on her dress. I don't think it's what she had in mind."

"That's probably closer," Dax believed; convinced when Lange walked out from her sleeping area still wearing the blood drenched nightgown. She was pale and noticeably distracted.

"You're supposed to be changing," Leeta groaned.

"I know. I heard the door and I was wondering…is there any word yet about Anon?"

"He's in surgery," Dax smiled at Lange's unabashed and genuine interest, finding nothing out of the ordinary in the question. Wrong in his choice of representative, Shakaar clearly had his reasons. The benevolent characteristics of Lange's Human culture were glaring in her. Similar to Julian and his Nurse Faraday. Benjamin. For all his years of experiences, Benjamin still, upon occasion, could be caught very much by surprise by the ordained violence in others. This evening was definitely one of those occasions. "Everything's going to be fine."

"That's good news, isn't it?" Janice agreed. "I'm sorry, I'm having a difficult time absorbing all of this…All those people…"

"Yes," Dax understood. "I have a request from Benjamin. If you would be interested in assisting in the morgue, that would be acceptable. However, perhaps under the circumstances it might be a better idea if you just got some rest. I can order a mild sedative from the Infirmary -- "

"Oh, no." Lange perked up immediately. "I would like to help. Please, I would feel so much better if I could do something instead of just feeling so helpless -- and sorry for myself," she smiled suddenly. "How awful you must think I am. So many people have truly been injured and I'm the one in tears."

"We'll overlook it this one time," Dax proposed in jest. "Ready?"

"Oh, yes…oh, no, wait a minute," Janice halted in the doorway. "Is this a nightgown?"

"Actually…" Dax admitted, "yes."

"Oh. Well, I'm sure you have appropriate equipment." Janice rejected wasting time worrying about it by this point.

Dax could accept that. "We certainly do," her smile turned to Garak and Leeta; her parting words mainly for Garak. "I told Kira I knew of two volunteers to help Quark start with cleanup in the sections security and Engineering will be releasing, probably within the hour. Rom will be your Superintendent to make sure you don't accidentally interfere with the analyses -- personally? I'd obey Rom's every word. We really don't want to make Benjamin or Kira anymore upset than they already are."
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