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The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part One

By GDunbarGiles

Action / Scifi

The Anatomy of a Bajoran Prophecy as told by its butchers, makers, Guardians and friends

"In the time beyond the Time of Hagalaz…" From the extra dimensional realm of his Continuum, Q’s voice rang out across the four quadrants of the galaxy for anyone who wanted to listen, and listen well they should to what could be the tale of their own doom. "On a star date yet to be determined, but one which will come to pass…"

The Continuum took upon itself the aura of brilliant light. A kaleidoscope of every known color engulfed the Heavens that were, would be, and had once been. As quickly as the supernova exploded it dimmed to a far less blinding swirl of light where from its center a simple mobile of four gray globes emerged. Unequal in mass and awkward in position, they dangled proportionate in size to that of the Federation, Cardassian, Klingon and Romulan Empires, whom they represented in all their lifeless glory. The many colors of light merely a reflection off the dazzling robes of the divine and superior entity known to the worlds of worlds, men, beasts, voles and targs alike, as his Excellency, the royal, the regal, the Q.

Q grinned. A handsome figure in humanoid form, as in any other, he didn’t mind concurring with the thunderous round of applause greeting his entrance. Their cheers. Their tears. Their promised threats of suicide. The mobile carried by his omnipotent and powerful hand.

"Whoops!" Q could have dropped the mobile and that would have been the end of that but he did not. Benevolent, kind, he simply set the mobile to gently swaying in tune with the somber tolling of bells, continuing his horror story of death, devastation, blood, guts and gore, for the benefit of those who were interested, and in particular for the benefit those who were not, walking the mobile over to Humpty-Dumpty sitting on his low, stone wall. "The Klingon-Cardassian situation has once again achieved critical…"

Humpty eyed Q with mild apprehension. Q smiled to alleviate any fear, merely borrowing a spot beside Humpty to set the mobile down with a promise for the delicate little egg. "It is a prophetic story of action and adventure in which you play a major role."

This seemed to satisfy Humpty. He granted Q the opportunity and time needed to finish his long-winded piece.

"Escalating into several sectors of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants," Q resumed to referencing the future of a conflict to end all conflicts however tired and old that particular cliché. "Involving and alarming many. The Federation in response to a number of interested parties — principally Cardassia, and beyond her, Romulus — has proposed a bipartisan Committee assembly to review the issue and make recommendations…A committee, by any other name, a Task Force," he momentarily digressed to devilishly disclose. "But then beyond Cardassia’s interests, and those as always numerous petty complaints, there are the major points of the balance of power within the quadrants should the Klingon Empire prevail. As is," he shrugged, "the political stability of the Klingon Empire unto itself a question…

"As is," he assured, his voice dropping emphatic and low, "the position of those endearing twins Romulus and Remus. Rumor has it Cardassia has been in negotiations with the Romulan Star Empire for assistance. In response, rumblings from the Klingon home world span arrogant disinterest all the way to propositions of a Klingon-Romulan allegiance rather than a Cardassia-Romulan one. Either way Destiny might write the ending, a Cardassian-Romulan alignment would alter the balance of power within the quadrants. Not beyond the worry that if the Klingons are successfully routed from Cardassian Space, will the Romulans then leave? If not, or if so, where will the allegiance…

"Of Cardassia and the Romulans then go? O?" Q haughtily eyed the arguably timely appearance of a divine Organian disgustingly pure in his lavish white light and decrepit humanoid form.

"On the Klingon side of the line a Klingon-Romulan Empire would alter the balance of power, insure the final downfall of Cardassia, and where in turn, would their allegiance go from there…

I'm getting there," Q argued against the silent pressure of the Organian insufferably impatient as the rest of his uncompromisingly merciful race. "The Big Four distinctly in danger of becoming the Big Three, faces the ultimate reality of becoming the Big One. A Klingon-Romulan Empire or Klingon-Cardassian one would dwarf the Federation. A point it’s told, Cardassia has made repeatedly in her petitions to the Federation for assistance. Underscored by the fact Cardassia has no intentions of fading quietly into oblivion with or without the UFP’s help…and then there is, of course," Q waved, elaborating on the obvious for those who still refused to pay attention, "the aside issue of the newest fledgling Peoples Government of Cardassia. Instituted by a coup, it could find itself ousted by a coup. From there the resurgence of a Stratocractic Union overseen by the dreaded Obsidian Order and obnoxious Central Command. Furthermore," he nodded to the Organian nodding along with him, "there exists the ongoing threat of the Dominion. The Borg ever-hovering in the background, et cetera, et cetera. There are a multitude of problems and possibilities in other words and something has to be done about them…"

Q’s voice faded away as did he and his accompanying aura of light much to Humpty’s relief who pulled a pillow out from behind his wall, propped it against the mobile, and promptly went off to sleep.

Q reemerged in a desert, his dazzling robes and blazing crown subdued to a brightly gilded red, the divine Organian nowhere around. He sat at a table, square in shape, its four legs cut unevenly, balancing its weight precariously in the dusty sand. The entire top was a chessboard; its worn and troubled surface adorned with oddly shaped figures the unpleasant color of burnt wood and all so strikingly individual in size. Three vacant chairs of unrelated styles from rusted chrome to polished stone, sat waiting in vain for their occupants around the table’s empty sides. Q continued talking while playing with the figurines.

"And so it is not surprising the response to the Federation’s suggestion was overwhelming. From the farthest and the nearest regions they came. The Federation worlds. The friendly worlds, and even the hostile ones. Delegates, diplomats, their assistants and their aides. Their number into the hundreds, and all gathered together on a remote outpost by the name of Silas 4. A former Federation colony, since the time of the oldest Federation and Cardassian wars on the Cardassian side of the line. And where better to begin their journey from into this deepest part of space? Why, naturellement, Deep Space Nine…

"While, as far as the incident…?" Q picked up a chessman, the blinding aura of colors and light returning on a sweeping wave across the sand. "There were two. One was a matter of coincidence. The other was War." He set the chessman down in checkmate to the King. His props, setting, the last of his words, slowly fading into the light. "The committee’s Magistrate was Vulcan. The Romulans were there as observers…

"But, first," Q sighed, halted in his escape by the pressure of a hand pressing down on his wrist; the divine Organian had returned. "Something needs to be done in the not too distant present of future’s past otherwise chances are no one will live to die at Silas 4. How droll."

To the contrary, the incorporeal Organian was a being steeped in wisdom so far more advanced than his simple white robes and elderly flesh might suggest. He not only understood the Bajoran prophecy of utter doom waiting a mere five generations in the wind, he wanted to do something about it. But then he had stood on the worlds of the Federation and Klingon a century in Time ago in the auspicious age of Federation Captain James T. Kirk, and he would stand on them and others again throughout this millennia and on into the next, if the need arose, until the humanoids learned to stand on their own.

"The seeds of life," the Organian pressed the seeds of change, otherwise known as the seeds of Bajoran grapes, into Q’s unwilling and playful fist. "The fruits of the vine are bountiful and plenty. The juice of their harvest still far too bitter to drink. But if you kill the vine of vinegar…"

"I know, I know," Q didn’t necessarily mean to yell, "you’ll never drink the wine. The quaint symbolism of your prophecy has not escaped me…" He turned from the Organian sitting down to the glowing figure of the Bajoran Kai Opaka divine in her own omnipotent right, and parked at the head of the table across from him; the lingering fourth chair still unoccupied. "But then I, too, am divine. It’s not the future of the galaxy I debate, it is the question of the millennia I repeat. Your Prophets called upon me for assistance, I answered, now kindly expound on what you would like…the three of us to do…" The vacant seat to his left cried out for his attention. Q ignored it to toy with a remarkably grotesque chessman carved in the astounding likeness of one of the blackest of black Knights, Cardassia’s Gul Dukat, a seriously ugly man.

"When you say vinegar…" Q mused. "When you speak of all things dreary, dark, and vile wallowing in debauchery and everything else obscene…"

"She speaks of Chancellor Gowron as well." The Organian had this thing about the Klingons, he really did.

"You were saying?" Q's eyes rolled with an encouraging beam for Opaka.

"They come of their own accord," Opaka tipped her frail and ancient head. The weight of her world as light or as heavy as the crowning cap of the Bajoran Vedeks she wore.

"Do they?" With a flick of his fingers Q sent Dukat shooting into his next life and on into his next as he bounced across the sand finally coming to rest upside down, his feet where his head should be, and his head, of course, the other way around.

"Future’s guardians, I take you to mean," Q continued to deny any interest in the identity of their absent fourth guest be it a guest, a partner, or enemy of the universe with an egotistical smile for the all-enlightened Organian.  Someone, Q suspected, who would have preferred to have been given the opportunity to hold onto Dukat for safekeeping rather than leave him unattended regardless of how upside down he appeared to be with his head stuffed firmly in the sand.

"Yes," the Organian confessed.

"I’m sure there are few others who would even profess to care," Q smirked to Opaka. "Getting back to those guardians -- they better hurry up. Silas 4 is a year, no more than two Federation years in the distance, her destiny waiting, not going away. In another time, universe, galaxy, dimension or place, your cantankerous Prefect Dukat not only has the desire and means to destroy all that is and subsequently all that should have come after, he’s no doubt doing so as we speak.

"In this universe, however…" Q rose from his seat in all his immense power and glory, so much more than merely capable of defending a galaxy he occasionally, if not fondly, looked upon as Home from the likes of some far greater adversary than the ego of his putrid Dukat. "This galaxy, dimension, time and place, he’s the least of Q’s con -- gagh! Cerns!" he successfully managed to hack out above the strangling throat of his gown with a yank of its hem out from under the Organian trying his hand at stomping his foot down in a vain, though valiant effort to keep Q in line.

"Will you get a grip?" Q blasted the Organian. "Thank you!"

He returned to Opaka with a respectful tip of his gilded red crown. "Though we understand. Dukat’s tireless penchant for wreaking havoc while boring in Q’s opinion, is obnoxious in yours."

"Five harvests," Opaka nodded in agreement with her Prophets’ prophecy, before the grapes of vinegar became the grapes of wine. "The legacy of Prefect Dukat is not his past, nor his present, nor his future…" 

"But the unborn soul of an intra-galactical savior of mixed and unmentionable descent five generations and four centuries in Time…Two Federation years at best until the incident at Silas 4," Q’s interjection included a reminder, withdrawing a long and lengthy scroll from the breast of his voluminous robes. "First things first before none of us are here to drink the wine, erstwhile efforts of your Emissary and mon Capitaine Sisko aside. Now, the way I think we should proceed…"

The Organian’s hand clamped over his wrist. Q sighed with a second dignified nod of his regal bonnet to Opaka. "Fine. It’s your prophecy, we’ll try it your way first — though I insist," he stressed, "be it now and forever recorded in the official minutes of this historical tête-à-tête, unmindful of the infinite number of universes and their infinite possibilities, in this realm of existence there is no UFC. Merely a unified understanding of how we live here as well, and grumble and complain all they want, the lower lifeforms shall and will clean up their act, or we shall and will clean it up for them."

Silence fell over the small group of two, Q's words so profound. A day passed and then another in the mortal measurement of things. Here it wasn't very long at all before Q began tapping his toe, the Organian frowning, Opaka faceless with her blank Bajoran stare.

"Hello!" Q inclined forward. "C. Continuums. Get it? There may be a United Federation of P, Planets, but there is no UFC." 

"Agreed," Opaka called forth the soul of the child Tora Ziyal, half-Bajoran daughter of the Cardassian has-been Gul Dukat. A young woman of early twenties, in death as she had been in life, Ziyal was decidedly Cardassian in her physical appearance as well as her choice of dress. Her feminine frame healthy and strong, her ecto-skeleton softened just slightly by her mixed blood, the only thing even remotely Bajoran about her was the awkward addition of those ridges across the bridge of her nose. Nevertheless she was, and had been loved by someone, somewhere, in some and other points in time, and she was loved by her Prophets now. The divinity of their eternal eyes able to see beyond the superficial; if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be divine.

"The fate of the galaxy shall not be sealed in the graveyard of space between Terok Nor and the Cardassian outpost Silas 4," Opaka spoke candidly to Ziyal of the perilous state of things. "As it shall not be sealed along the borders of our worlds, the halls of Terok Nor, the trials of one or all, nor by the one called O’Brien. The Time of Hagalaz is one of hope and light, not the despair of darkness and death. Under the guidance of your eldest brother the contribution of the Cardassian Union to the galaxy shall be one of silence for twenty years, not war. But as the children of all your siblings and their mates cannot exist without their parents, neither can the soul of your youngest brother flourish and be born if his mother dies before your father or your father dies before her. Seek your father’s penance for his many sins and more than you shall fail. Seek the power and strength of his arrogance and the child of his eternal mate shall rise above the stench of his heritage. Though the adversaries of his parents are powerful and many, his fate is not only one of bigotry and hate, but that of a trusted friend and advisor to the Emissary Sisko in his twilight years. Do you understand?"

"I believe so, yes," Ziyal answered cautiously. A novice in her Bajoran heritage while living, Q understood, she was earnestly attempting to learn her role now that she was dead. "All I have to do is figure out a way to convince my father…unfortunately," she sighed heavily with the weighty knowledge of a daughter, "I don’t think preservation of the galaxy qualifies as one of my father’s deeper concerns. He’s a coward and a scoundrel, he really is. So much more so than even I have cared to think…oh, my," Ziyal’s watery Cardassian eyes blinked suddenly and wide. "Why, I believe I might have an idea after all. Yes, I believe I just might."

"Oh, good," Q yawned his approval. "Dare I profess to speak for Captain Sisko no doubt waiting to hear your idea with baited breath, the same as I…" he paused to gape at the unoccupied fourth chair. "The trials of the one called O’Brien? What, in the name of your Prophets’ wildest fantasies, does Chief Engineer Miles Edward O’Brien have to do with protecting and preserving the flesh of Dukat, and hence the galaxy, for the next four hundred years? Speak!"

"They come of their own accord," Opaka dipped her head.

"Future’s guardians," Ziyal clarified. "As do its adversaries."

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