The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part One

Chapter Thirteen

Damar parked himself firmly beside Garak at Bashir's main console in the station's Infirmary with a pasty smile for the display readout that wasn't reading anything; he had a reasonable idea as to why. "Now all we have to do is find her."

"What do you mean find her?" Kira sputtered. "She's right -- right -- " she peered at the blank screen.

"Over there," Garak agreed. Sitting as comfortably as one could expect anyone to sit on one of Julian's examining beds. "I wouldn't be alarmed. The Occupation has only been over eight months and Chief O'Brien has done remarkably well in working to reintegrate your Federation matrix with the station's Cardassian systems. The medical banks are no exception."

"It's not the matrix," Kira slapped him out of the way with a call for Dax's assistance. "Dukat wouldn't have known what to do with a medical bank if it was sitting on his lap."

"That's one way of putting it," Dax's smile joined her along with Benjamin's frown.

"Anon…" Pfrann took immediate advantage of the opportunity to worry his brother about the issues of Rigelian fever, Bajoran outer colonies, and transport crashes on remote home worlds.

"I told you what to do, Pfrann," Anon replied. "Avoid their questions until I have had the chance to instruct Tan to purge the files."

"The logs are a matter of record. Not only aboard the Tir. But here. With the Federation. Bajor. Home!"

"My life is a matter of record, so is yours. As my wife, Janice is your sister. Do it. That's an order."

"What?" his brother's voice fell softer than a whisper.

Anon shrugged. "You keep insisting I am our father, I keep trying to tell you I am not."

He left his brother standing there in a daze, moving to join Sisko and his puzzled group of self-appointed engineers at the medical console.

"Yes, I realize that," Bashir walked up to Kira with a laugh and a wave of his equally useless tricorder. "I'd say it has something to do with the seating of her implant, but I don't think that's it."

"Well, what it is?" Kira insisted. "We never had the technology…"

"To make yourself principally invisible?" Garak agreed. "Oh, yes, Major, I would have to concur. Otherwise chances are our Occupation of your world would have taken a somewhat different turn, fairly early on…You disagree apparently," he acknowledged Anon's snorting contribution behind him.

"Yes, I disagree."

"Yeah, well, given your father's penchant for fighting windmills, I'm not surprised," O'Brien pardoned his way through the crowd to have a look. "Do you mind? I mean, I am the Chief Engineer."

"And I'm the Chief Medical Officer," Bashir revised a few of his configurations to compensate for the computer banks' momentary inability to coherently assimilate the data. "Notwithstanding everyone's interest, I still have a job to do beyond embarrassing my patient…There you go," he smiled as Janice slowly took shape on the screen. "Intruder alert, you might say. I simply say unknown entity or mass. Sixty-seven percent water. Twenty-six percent additional fluids. A liberal sprinkling of common salt, a dash of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon…"

"And a rather interesting version of a DNA inhibitor…" Garak eyed the minute device visible as well.

"Oh, yes, that is interesting, isn't it?" Bashir agreed after a look. "Never seen one quite like that before…"

"Cardassian," Anon scoffed again. "It's Cardassian. Holographic transmitter, not a DNA inhibitor."

"I believe he may be right," Garak apologized to O'Brien. "The same as I am confident you'll find Doctor Lange's program to be contained within the root directories of her device, rather than amplified by an outside source…"

"Major?" Captain Sisko interjected.

"It's there," Kira said. "She's projecting a holographic field…"

"Again, if I may, Major…" Garak begged interrupting.

"It isn't projecting anything," Anon assured. "It's emitting a signal for your sensors to lock onto. They are interpreting the data of the program."

"Precisely," Garak smiled at Sisko. "How else would you explain Doctor Lange's ability to confuse not only Klingon or Cardassian scans, but also Federation? You may recall Gul Dukat employed a similar tactic…"

"Twenty years ago," Anon reminded O'Brien.

"On the contrary," Garak corrected, "three years ago when he defied the Civilian Council's order of no engagement and left with Mister Damar to do battle against the Klingon Empire…"

"And the Dominion," Kira sneered, remembering it all right.

"Also quite true, Major," Garak said. "Who knew where that liaison would lead at the time, you're right."

"As it is accurate," Worf said, "to say the holographic technology Dukat employed to deceive the Empire into believing he was Klingon, was Klingon."

"Only because the holographic transmitter available to him was Klingon," Garak maintained. "The technological concept, I insist is Cardassian."

"It's Cardassian," Dax nodded to Sisko.

"Regardless of its 'conceptual' origins," O'Brien assured.

"Of course," Damar's heavy hand waved its way to capturing Sisko's attention. "So now you are thinking what, Captain? The woman is our spy rather than Shakaar's?"

"On the contrary, Legate, I am thinking nothing of the sort," Sisko answered quietly, his hand out toward Odo in a request to review Doctor Lange's medical screening from Bajor.

"Yes, it's documented," Odo grunted in compliance. "A holographic transmitter of Cardassian design used in the manner of a DNA inhibitor. The Council of Ministers collectively agreed it would be a gross violation of Lange's neutral status to order the implant removed or deactivated…supported by the fact that she does reside in the outer colonies on the Cardassian border," he added for Kira's satisfaction and benefit.

"A matter of opinion, Constable," Sisko scanned the data.

"I beg your pardon?" Bashir startled. "I mean, I refuse -- Well, perhaps not refuse, exactly," he cleared his throat under Sisko's stare. "But, yes, it would be a gross violation of anyone's neutrality. The woman isn't hiding anything. It's not only documented, it's right there for the galaxy to see…Rather the same as she did have Rigelian fever," he nodded at his console. "A fairly classic and particularly deadly case. The levels of ryetalyn antibodies in her immune system are still extremely high, and there's evidence of minor lesions along her esophagus and upper intestine -- that, and she wears a size one average," he winked at Garak.

"What does that mean?" Anon insisted as Bashir walked away.

"It's a generic form of measurement," Dax offered. "You're probably a four tall."

"Commander," Sisko suggested as Anon's head whipped around to her.

"Or did you mean Julian's medical assessment?" Dax smiled at Anon.

"Yes, of course he means your doctor's medical assessment!" Pfrann erupted with a surprising and extremely angry snarl. "I had Rigelian fever; my brother. Sixteen members of our crew! Anon wants to know what Bashir means by antibodies and lesions a year after the fact. Is Janice still ill, or isn't she -- Contagious, Garak! Contagious!" his neck coiled in Garak's direction. The tailor's continual study not having escaped him, regardless of what may or may not have escaped Garak's observations.

"Oh, no, I hardly think…" Garak blinked.

"Julian would be so calm," Dax offered.

Pfrann eyed her. The head snaked forward, his amber yellow eyes bright. Kira caught him sharply by the arm. "That's enough!"

Pfrann's stare shifted to her. His father's nemesis. Emotional, if not physical. His brother's words ringing in his ears. If as his brother's wife Janice was his sister, as his sister Ziyal's guardian, what was Major Kira Nerys to him? His mother? At least there? Free to reprimand? Command?

"I said, that's enough," Kira repeated. "The lesions are all part of the infection -- you should know that!" she silenced any retort. "And maybe, just maybe the doctor, or medic, didn't have the equipment available to him to effect tissue regeneration."

"Actually," Dax said, "the high levels of antibodies suggests he didn't. He may have increased the dosage in an effort to abort the infection before permanent damage occurred. That can cause minor hemorrhaging of the affected internal organs -- commonly in a Human, the intestines and the lungs."

"If he was even a doctor or medic at all," O'Brien added. "The fact the woman resides in the outer colonies suggests he probably wasn't."

"A distinct possibility, Chief," Sisko agreed. "The Federation facilitators dispensed the ryetalyn antidote throughout the region, they did not necessarily administer it."

"Either that, or there was something wrong with the supply," O'Brien assured. "I seem to recall there were Maquis raiders swarming all over the sectors. Jem'Hadar. Klingons. Cardassians."

"Also true," Sisko inclined his head.

"So there you have it," O'Brien waved at the display. "Take your pick."

Damar did. His thin smile floated over the screen with its detailed graphic of the unknown mass Janice Lange and her sophisticated holographic transmitter. "Maquis…"

"Oh, please!" Kira's hands flew up in flailing anger. "Why don't we just accuse her of being Romulan and get it over with?"

"Or Klingon," Worf said firmly.

Dax looked at him. He sighed. "Jadzia, Major Kira is correct. It has been insinuated Doctor Lange is a Bajoran or Federation Intelligence agent, and now Maquis."

"Or at least insinuated that it's been insinuated," Dax nodded. "And I really think if Gowron was going to order surgical alteration for one of his agents, he would have included her hair, don't you?"

"What is your obsession with this woman's hair?" Worf insisted.

"I'm not obsessed. You are."

"Or Dominion!" Kira sputtered at Damar's taunting smirk. "The same as the rest of you!"

"In the meantime, it's you who must admit, Major, it's interesting your inept colonists could know so little about the appropriate administration of some serum and know so much about holographic implants…"

"I know!" Kira took a step closer to him, "that we used whatever we could get our hands on. From phasers, to rocks. And if you think that much has changed -- "

"Think again," O'Brien proposed. "While you're at it, underscore Cardassian on that list."

Damar scoffed. "Are you seriously suggesting we have employed one of our agents to argue our own point with ourselves?"

"You would," O'Brien nodded. "If anyone would, you would -- no, I'm not saying that. Of course I'm not saying that; the kid's no spy. You can tell she's not a spy. I'm just saying that if anyone would, you would."

"The technology is Cardassian," Dax smiled at Sisko turning from the Chief with a shake of his head.

"Or at least the technological concept," Garak beamed.

"Sixteen steps and they are all still standing in the same circle," Anon nodded to his brother. Pfrann just looked at him, aggravation scarring his face. Anon shrugged. Truth was truth, as fair was fair. They just spent two hours taking their turns with attempting to humiliate him. It seemed like a good time to reclaim a little of what they tried to take away from him, and secure some much wanted information from them at the same time. His eyes clicked over the group like a phaser relay setting its sights, settling on the Trill Dax; the one who employed humor as a mask for her intelligence. "What makes you think we had a doctor aboard my transport when we were beset by the Rigelian plague?"

"Did anyone ask?" O'Brien retorted. "Or better still, care?"

Anon ignored him, waiting for Dax.

"Did you?" she just asked him, no suspicion in her question or voice at all. He turned away satisfied the Federation had limited knowledge if any concerning his transport without accessing their files, and therefore no cause to suspect Janice of any involvement with him, regardless of everything else they suspected about her.

"Your point, Gul Dukat?" Sisko stopped him, keenly aware of the Cardassians' penchant for dancing, if he was aware of nothing else.

"We obtained the antidote," Anon granted, "from a squad of four Klingon raiders who attacked my transport following their attack of the Federation medical envoy whom they destroyed. The supply of serum was intended for a Bajoran outpost. It seems unlikely your Federation facilitators would distribute tainted serum potent enough to kill Bajorans rather than Cardassians."

"It does," Odo grunted. "The same as it seems unlikely the Klingons would be the attackers, being as they were the ones with the serum."

"Touché," O'Brien gloated. "Add to that, did you give it back?"

"Well, did you?" Kira asked when Anon turned from a silent Captain Sisko to eye her much in the same way as his brother had with thoughts similar to that of his brother. A head shorter than him, one quarter his heavy weight, at any time in ten years his father could have snapped her stubborn spine in half if he wanted to.

IF he wanted to. "I destroyed the Klingon squad of raiders," he assured. "The last face they saw before they died was mine. Not some holographic projection of their own." He held his breath waiting for her denial of her allegiance with his father throughout his Klingon campaign.

"What?" Kira's face contorted.

"Oh, big man!" The cantankerous and blustering O'Brien extolled, his hand twirling circles in the air above his head.

"Chief!" Sisko thundered, an angry flush spreading up from his neck, quickly filling his cheeks.

"Excuse me!" O'Brien said. "But while he's out waltzing along his own damn border -- "

"Your father was in the heart of Klingon Space," Dax replied without apology for her potentially controversial remark. "You really cannot compare the two."

"No, you cannot!" Sisko assured, enraged more by the cool and calculating effort of Anon to rekindle hostilities than by any affront directed to his father.

"And by being put in the position of having to defend Dukat," Dax suggested to Worf.

"Yes," Worf understood.

Except Sisko had no intentions of defending Dukat, damn the insolent, arrogant, inflammatory child standing in front of him to hell right along with his father.

"And damn Federation protocol," Dax winced.

"Yes," Worf agreed.

"No one has accused your father of cowardice, treachery, or any form of deceit!" Sisko seethed.

"Your point?" Anon interjected.

"Point?" Sisko choked in fury.

"Yes, well," Odo drawled, "chances are Captain Sisko's point is the same as that of First Minister Shakaar…Not to step on anyone's toes," he digressed for a moment to acknowledge Sisko firing him a look. "Or anyone's words. But being as much of this ongoing quarrel stems from and concerns a matter of security, any questions should be directed to me…

"As Chief of Security," he reminded Anon. "For the station, as well as this conference of yours. That's not my rule, or even my choice. You may recall my appointment to be a mutual agreement between your respective governments. Federation, Cardassian, as well as Bajoran. Reasonable, supposedly. I am Dominion. Previously and presently employed by the Bajoran Government to assist the Federation. Previously employed by your father during both his occupations to assist him."

"For the simple reason my father finds you weak," Anon said.

"Likewise," Odo assured. "Back to that theory of chances are if you can't find anyone less neutral than I am, you can't find anyone more impartial; you can't. You're all in violation of the agreed and mandated protocol. That all includes you and yours. Second only to Chief O'Brien…"

"Excuse me?" O'Brien reared.

"Second only to Doctor Lange," Odo ignored him. "Bashir, Major Kira, Commanders Dax and Worf, and so forth," he finished with his eyes on Sisko. "With all due respect, regardless of when this tête-à-tête was supposed to begin, it began the moment Lange walked through that airlock. Therefore so did the rules. Permission requested to assign everyone to their respective neutral corners as of now."

"Permission granted, Constable," Sisko agreed.

"Thank you. In the meantime, unless someone attacks the station between now and the end of the week, at which point I'll not only trust you to take care of it, I'll leave it to you to take care of it, consider yourself assigned. Corner of your choosing…A luxury," he returned to Anon, "not extended to you or any other guest of this station. Neutrals included. Back to that point of Captain Sisko's and First Minister Shakaar's you refuse to get. A simple one really. If the benefit of the doubt can be extended to your father that his situation, otherwise known as the heart of Klingon Space, warranted and explained his holographic transmitter as a necessary means of survival rather than treachery or deceit, so can, and will, that same benefit of the doubt be extended to Doctor Lange, with her holographic transmitter and situation defined as a necessary means of survival in the outer colonies of Bajoran Space."

"Agreed," Anon accepted as easily as he accepted the earlier idea of a proximity detector implant and walked away.

"Yes, well," Odo supposed finally, "I did say it was a simple point to understand… Mister Garak?" he invited Garak's opinion beyond the assortment of frowns and eyes round with confused amazement.

"Oh, yes," Garak breathed, a hint of a frown creasing his own brow, he suspected. His own eyes rounded with a degree of puzzled amazement. "Yes, you did say that, didn't you? Though, no, one would not anticipate it to be a point as simple to understand as all of that. You're so right."

"About what?" Odo grunted.

"In presuming young Gul Dukat to be an instigator, of course," Garak nodded. "A very good one. But then the art of instigation is an art. No less then knowing when to instigate, then when not to. Who, to instigate," he purred. "And who not to."

"What did you say was your point?" Odo verified.

"Precisely that, Constable," Garak promised. "Precisely that. I would keep a very close watch over young Gul Dukat. Yes, that I would."

"The point of the proximity detector," Commander Dax leaned over to whisper in his ear on her way to say her good-byes to Benjamin before retiring to her respective neutral corner.

"Is it? Garak smiled. “I never would have thought of that. Though now that you mention it, I certainly understand that. A proximity detector will tell you precisely where Gul Dukat is every minute of every hour of every day. The same as it will for everyone else…" he smiled down on Julian's medical console with its graphic display of the unknown entity or mass otherwise known as Doctor Janice Lange. "Or would, if one were required. That's elementary. As elementary to say that while such a situation might be difficult to circumvent, it's not impossible. Merely requiring a little ingenuity."

"Talking to someone in particular?" Chief O'Brien paused to say on his way to his respective neutral corner that just so happened to include the Captain.

"Myself," Garak assured. "Only myself."

"It's probably safer that way."

"She's a dangerous woman," Dax submitted for Sisko's consideration.

"Yes," Sisko answered before he realized what she had said.

"Or isn't that what you were thinking?" Dax smiled to his searching quizzical expression.

"No," Sisko acknowledged. "No, that isn't what I was thinking."

"Understandable," Dax accepted, thinking herself of the irony of a universe imperiled by the offering of peace. "One doesn't usually find the words radical or extremist…"

"Equated with pacifist," Sisko finished her thought. "You're right, of course."

"Maybe not," Dax patted his arm in attempted consolation. "She could just be the new Surak."

"And damn it all, Commander," Sisko swore a determined oath if that would help, "if I have anything to say about it, she will at least be given the opportunity!"

"Damn the Dukats, Shakaars and anyone else," Dax understood.

"Yes!" Sisko insisted. "Yes! With all due respect to First Minister's concerns over the Cardassian agenda he has systematically attempted to sabotage the conference, never mind anyone else. Giving Damar every conceivable reason to walk."

"Unless Damar wants it bad enough not to," Dax said. "Which obviously he does. I'm not so sure that's not an added reason for marked concern -- in the long run," she softened her dismal prognosis with another reassuring smile. "For the time being, I think it's probably safe to say it can't get any worse."

She spoke too soon. So did Benjamin when he agreed with her. No sooner than the words were out of his mouth, as if on cue, a loud and familiar growl rang out across the Infirmary, insistently demanding Sisko's immediate attention.

"Oh, Jeez…" O'Brien halted in his tracks with a groan. "Just what we need."

"Martok," Sisko covered his face with his hand.

"Perhaps I should try that again," Dax grimaced in sympathy.

"I doubt if it would make any difference," Sisko turned around to face the powerful Klingon bearing down on him across the floor.

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