The Time of Hagalaz, Presumed Guilty Part One

Chapter One

Stardate: 10…9…8…7…6…

The remote sector of Bajoran Space on the edge of her outermost colonies exploded with disruptors ripping through the eternal, silent blackness. Their brilliant flashes of might illuminating the immediate area surrounding the two Klingon Birds-of-Prey pitting themselves against the equally determined Cardassian transport a ghastly purplish-white.

"I thought the war was over!" The youthful face of Gul Dukat's sixteen year old son Pfrann, second eldest of the former Emperor of Cardassia's lengthy list of heirs, contorted in rage as he screamed at the elbow of his eldest brother manning the central weapons control station aboard the bridge of their transport where it was hardly quiet.

"I thought the war was over!" The youthful face of Gul Dukat's sixteen year old son Pfrann, second eldest of the former Emperor of Cardassia's lengthy list of heirs, contorted in rage as he screamed at the elbow of his eldest brother manning the central weapons control station aboard the bridge of their transport where it was hardly quiet.

Pfrann's scream then, their resident Vorta clone Weyoun made a silent and generally disinterested note, was solely meant in an effort to be heard above the head-pounding echo of the Klingon strikes. The bridge in imminent danger of disintegrating around them, the smell of burning plasma neared intoxicating levels as the scattered fires continued to spread quickly.

"Someone forgot to tell the Klingons." Gul Anon Dukat, the eldest, and commander of the transport, though only of the youthful age of twenty-three himself, was equally disinterested for the moment; both as to why his brother might be screaming, as well as the condition of his bridge. Instead, he stood intently focused on getting his weapons array to respond. The heated air around him intense even for a cold-blooded Cardassian, sweat stained his heavily boned face and corded neck. His watery red eyes steely in their concentrated frown when he glanced up from the console to the dimming forward screen with its distorted view of the enemy craft.

"Bring us around," he instructed his helmsman, his voice quiet in its authority. A personal trait that might be considered to be unusual by some being as he was the eldest son of one of the more flamboyant and emotionally charged personalities of the times.

"Attempting," his helm agreed.

"Don't attempt," Anon corrected, "do it."

Somehow they managed to. By the hand of some divine fate, they managed to maneuver the ponderous frame of their transport back around to face the far more lithe Birds-of-Prey at the same time Anon managed to coerce his weapons array into working. The phasers struck a direct and fatal hit, rocketing one of the Klingon battle cruisers and her crew of howling warriors into their spirit world.

"Yes!" Anon's fist struck the console in triumphant satisfaction. The radiance of the fiery debris blinding as it filled the viewer screen moments before the rippling waves of tormented energy abruptly released by the destruction of the Klingon warp core struck, knocking the transport a few thousand meters off their path, sending Anon and his crew flying.

It was pitch dark until the ship's emergency lighting flickered to half-light. The only sounds to be heard, the crackling angry snaps of the electrical fires.

"Damn." Anon remained lying on his back on the floor for another moment deeply breathing in the acidic air before shifting himself into a sitting position. The flesh of his left hand painfully charred and blistered, blood slowly stained the front of his uniform, seeping from around a shard of steel piercing the woven armor of his tunic and the leathery skin of his left breast. He stood up, working to pull the triangle hunk of shrapnel loose.

"Anon!" His brother was at his side, concern in his voice.

"Sire." The clown white face of the clone Weyoun was at his other side, ghoulish anticipation in his.

"No, I'm all right," Anon reassured his brother, ignoring Weyoun. "Get me an injury count."

"And a damage report," Weyoun added to that, not that he had been asked.

"I don't want a damage report," Anon corrected Weyoun's instructions, not quite as polite in his quiet authority.

"You don't want a report..." Weyoun stopped to duck in an effort to avoid the resulting thin spray of blood as Anon managed to pry the metal loose from his chest in the same manner as one would pop a cork from a bottle.

"No," Anon tossed his bloodied souvenir aside to resume his post at his weapons console. Weyoun stood there looking down on his splattered shirt. "The damage I can see. I want to know how many injured men I have -- and whether or not we have shields," he instructed his helm as he eyed his failing screen and the remaining Bird-of-Prey coming around for a final strike at them, prepared for the kill. "Don't worry about the engines --”

"Six injured," his brother joined him.

"Keep your fingers crossed it stays only six," Anon nodded. "Shields are down throughout."

"What?" The younger stared at his elder.

"Yes, well, your father, you certainly aren't," Weyoun agreed, not meaning to suggest his former Emperor would be crying in the corner over an injured shoulder, but he certainly would be screaming.

"Sorry to disappoint you." Anon's fist engaged his phasers with some timely advice for his brother as phasers charged at seventy-five percent struck the Klingon battle cruiser dead on less than a thousand meters off the transport's forward bow. "Prepare for impact."

"Not to say I know your father personally," Weyoun attempted to maintain his balance as the first of a staggering series of shock waves vibrated through the ship's unprotected hull with the force of hurricane winds. "Maybe you should have reconsidered that part about the engines."

"Maybe I should have," Anon acknowledged a second before everything whirled to black.

He regained consciousness fifteen minutes later to find himself miraculously still alive, as was his brother, the rest of his small bridge crew, and unfortunately the tiring Weyoun. Below decks the injured count had risen to eight, two of them critically.

"Forward engines are responding at impulse," Pfrann reported in relief.

"Good. Now you give me some good news, Tan," Anon hammered away at his console in search of his Chief Engineer, his breathing slightly labored.

"Oxygen's only at fifty percent," his brother nodded.

"Such as my life support systems, Tan. They're working, right?" Anon swiped annoyed at Weyoun's hand passing a field unit over his head for some reason.

"You're speaking with a rather annoying guttural accent," Weyoun informed him. "Trust me. I can hear it. You must have damaged your universal translator when you struck your head."

"Learn Cardassian and you won't have to be concerned about it," Anon settled that, the ship lurching as the engines suddenly failed and he moved to assist his brother.

"Orbit is beginning to deteriorate --”

"That might not be a bad idea," Anon agreed.

"What?" Pfrann stared at him.

The buckled door of the main docking bay of the transport finally popped free, landing with a dull thud on the sandy Bajoran terrain. Anon and his Cardassians emerged to stand shivering in the cool, orange sunlight, breathing in fresh air for the first time in several hours.

"So much for not being able to land one of these things," Weyoun cynically mentioned, dusting himself off.

"No one says you can't land 'one of these things'," Anon accepted a thin, insulated shirt tossed his way, tossing a second one to his brother. "It's just not recommended."

"I can't imagine why," Weyoun drawled. "Certainly it was one of the smoothest spins through the layers of a planet's atmosphere I have ever experienced -- Go on," he encouraged Anon pausing in his disrobing to eye the battle-scarred hull of his ship. "If you're cold, you're cold. To me, seventy degrees is seventy degrees. To you, I am aware it is something else entirely.

"Still, I wouldn't worry about it," he continued while Anon pulled off his tunic to pull on his shirt, briefly exposing a set of plated pectorals that would inspire fear in some, nausea in others, and at least a glance or two from the rest of the known species of the galaxy's four quadrants. "Not with a chest like that. No one's liable to say too much. Not out loud.

"Unless, of course, they're Klingon," he shrugged as Anon straightened his dignity along with his rank. "Bajoran. Jem'Hadar..." His cold, thin smile, met Anon's cold, glowering stare. "I know. You don't like me. You can't imagine what it is about my species your father might have begun to find amusing.

"Of course your father didn't find us amusing," he followed along behind Anon moving on to check with his men busy scanning the area for any Maquis cells hidden among Bajoran colonists sure to greet them with open arms. "Anymore than it's my understanding we found him particularly entertaining. He found us necessary. Somewhere along the line that became confused with bringing the Dominion to its knees...Bowing to him, of course," he inclined his head.

"You're right," Anon agreed, "I don't like you. Don't make me repeat it. I also hate repeating myself -- about as much as I hate inane banter," he stressed with a meaningful hint.

"You really aren't your father," Weyoun tittered in his irritating cackle. "Not that that's necessarily a criticism." But then he was privy to the same rumors as everyone else of a thoroughly disagreeable man now gone insane. As if there hadn't been a question regarding his Emperor Dukat's sanity for the past several years.

"And don't," Anon's field unit caught Weyoun on the tip on his nose, "try to flatter me."

"I'll keep it in mind," Weyoun lied. "While reminding you at this most inappropriate time of how the Dominion has officially withdrawn any support of your beloved Cardassia, leaving you to your own well deserved demise."

"I'll cry tomorrow," Anon scoffed.

"Yes," Weyoun supposed he would. "In the meantime…" he gave up his worthless attempt to read over the heavy shoulders of Anon's towering giant of a Chief Engineer, Tan. "What do we have, if I may ask? Aside from a weighty piece of salvage and a series of worthless engines?"

"A small village," Tan identified for Anon the whole of their immediate potential for trouble. "Thirty or so of them."

"About twenty kilometers," Anon nodded. "Energy readings are limited. I believe that don't you?"

Tan snorted. "About as much as I believe in their Prophets."

"Well..." Weyoun considered, "I don't suppose we can tell by their energy readings if they are farmers or militia?"

"I've never met anyone from the militia who wasn't a farmer, have you?" Anon tossed the field unit back to Tan with a wink for his brother striding up, ready to fight to protect, defend, whatever he needed to do. "Stay with Tan and our cargo. We need it as much as we need each other."

"Nor a farmer who wasn't in the militia," Weyoun agreed with Anon giving a shout for a round of phaser rifles fully charged and the men to go with them. "Yes, we probably could use a few of those, couldn't we? Or at least you could," he smiled at Anon surrendering to looking at him. "But then I believe your father's Advisor Weyoun repeatedly attempted to explain to him that to ostracize the Bajoran people was really not in his best interest."

"That," Anon acknowledged, checking his phaser rifle over before reaching to grab Weyoun up by the scruff of his collar, "is about the only thing I might find questionable about my father's actions."

"What?" Weyoun said as he was lifted up off the tip of his toes.

"What, what?" Anon smiled. "Do you really think I would leave you here? Do you really think I would ever trust you? Do you really think I am not at least my father's son?" he needlessly wondered last.

"Unfortunately no to all three," Weyoun sighed.

"Smart man," Anon approved with his increasingly irritating accent that he personally was beginning to like -- until he had to talk to someone he needed to talk to who didn't understand Cardassian any more than Weyoun did.

"No, we come as friends!" Anon and his armed troop of six descended down on the small farming township with phaser rifles fixed.

"Friends?" Weyoun startled along with the few Bajorans scattered in the village center. "You're pointing phaser rifles at them."

"Shut up." Anon waved his rifle at one particularly dangerous looking child standing with her pregnant mother. "Call your tribe in from the fields -- we want your Elder!"

He paused there, briefly for a moment, to exasperatedly hammer himself in the side of the head with his fist. "Tribe? Did I just say tribe? Yes, I heard myself say tribe."

"Oh, for pity's sake..." Weyoun flashed a welcoming smile for the obviously harmless group of two being joined by a few others. All of them understandably mesmerized by the Cardassian commander punching himself in the head. "I told you, your universal translator isn't working correctly."

"I know it isn't working," Anon sputtered, "I can hear it!"

"So can they," Weyoun assured, highly doubting if a universal translator would be found among the lowly troupe of peasants, and that was fine with him. His was working perfectly. "Advisor Weyoun of the Vorta," he gushed to the puzzled looks slowly releasing Anon to regard him with mild interest. "He's quite right. The Dominion is your friend...And, well…?" he said, as far as Anon standing there talking to himself and punching himself the head? "He's Cardassian. What else can I really say?"

"Not too much, apparently." One of the approaching Bajoran farmers chuckled, a tall man with a weather-worn smile creasing his face. His wife and daughter's stifled laughs agreeing with him as Anon stopped hammering at himself to hammer Weyoun back into line with the butt of his rifle.

The summoned Town Elder went a step further in capturing the Cardassians frowning attention than his amused townspeople as he moved forward, out from the ranks of the farmers to command center stage. It was a courageous act. Not so much the words the Bajoran spoke, or his provocative, relaxed stance, but his face. It was an aging one belonging to Bajor's illustrious First Minister Shakaar Adon being worn by someone else with white hair and blue eyes.

"No, please," he implored the annoyed and apparently injured young Gul faced off against them as if he were still in the heat of his battle. "Have mercy on yourself, Commander, not only us. We can understand you. Yes, completely. Without any difficulty at all."

"You speak Cardassian?" Anon recovered from the unexpected surprise to regard the smiling Elder suspiciously, wondering if that face of Shakaar's was joke the townspeople were laughing at; he knew it wasn't him. They wouldn't dare.

"Oh, yes." He was assured by the peasant in his worn cloak of rough cotton. "As most my age do...Even though you are speaking me." The Elder's nod moved thoughtfully from the tightened face of the broad and powerful looking Cardassian with his glittering red eyes to that tunic with its darkened purple stain that, to him, suggested a substantial loss of blood. "Klingons? They have been slow in communicating the cease fire to their troops. Something about trouble with their deep space relay stations."

"Militia..." Anon decided, meaning the Elder and what had to be his true identity. "Ridiculous. We have destroyed the Maquis."

"Universal translators, at least," the Bajoran smiled again. "I am Anar. Town Elder of our small settlement. If you will permit my granddaughter Nadya -- Again for your own benefit," he inclined his head when Anon stiffened in anticipating of stopping anyone from leaving, one harmless child or not. "We have a doctor with us. Janice..."

"We need a doctor," Anon insisted. "I have eight injured men."

"Not with you apparently," Anar agreed since all others appeared to be quite fine.

"No," Anon assured, "with my transport. You must have seen us."

"Probably," Anar shrugged. "Either that or heard. I'm sure someone did. I really wasn't paying attention."

"No, you were out in your fields," Anon silenced him with a wave of his rifle. "You confuse me with someone who cares."

No more than the Gul confused the ragged weeds in the distant background to be grain. Anar maintained his passive posture, daring to contradict calmly, "No one's out in the fields. They're all at the Temple with Janice...Meeting in prayer," he offered Anon continuing to eye him as if he were waiting for the face of Shakaar Adon to change into someone else; it wasn't going to.

"Yes, all right," Anon finally gave another wave with his rifle, granting permission. "Send your granddaughter for this -- Janice?" his stare crinkled into a frown.

"Janice Lange," Anar nodded after Nadya darting off in compliance. "She's...Well, obviously," he granted, "if she's a she, she's a woman."

"Sounds Human." The Vorta added to that with his dripping smile that Anar personally trusted less than the Cardassian's glower. "Or at least Federation. Is that what you were going to say?"

"You're half right," Anar acknowledged without clarifying which, his granddaughter rejoining them shortly with an interesting statement.

"Janice said to tell you she can't come right now."

Anar sighed. Convinced, that if there was anyone, never mind the Cardassians, destined to be the death of him, it would be the human Janice. One would think of all the things he had managed to learn over the past six months, she would have managed to learn one thing.

"Tell Janice she has to," he corrected his granddaughter gently, not to alarm her, or enrage their guests. "Gul…"

"Dukat," Weyoun supplied.

It was Anar's turn to pause. "Dukat?" he repeated to Anon. "Meaning you? Or meaning..?"

"No, meaning him," Weyoun nodded playfully. "You're quite right. It is quite a name to live up to -- or to live down."

"Actually," Anar offered Anon, "all I was going to say is it doesn't change anything if you have Gul Dukat or Jem'Hadar among your group. Janice would never stand for our apathy, I'm afraid. We gave up arguing with her about it quite some time ago."

"I am Gul Dukat," Anon assured. "Who are among my group are Cardassians."

"As is their commander among his own listing of wounded," Anar agreed with a nod for that bloody tunic.

"And what will not change," the young Gul inclined forward in an effort to look particularly dangerous and deadly for this poised and confident Bajoran who may have survived his father's Occupation, but wouldn't necessarily survive his, "is your assistance. Or I will kill your tribe, beginning with your pregnant daughter, and take your doctor."

As the Federation would say it was a flip of a coin if he would or he wouldn't. He might. But then again if Anar truly believed and trusted the infinite wisdom of the Prophets, it was always possible this Gul Dukat was as terrified of the prospect of having to kill a pregnant woman than he was of losing his position in front of his men.

"Elise," Anar identified his son's wife with a smile, comfortable with the secrets of the ages even if he wasn't comfortable with the reality of the age. "And, no, you won't. Not because you're not capable, simply because you won't have to."

Anar's granddaughter reemerged from the Temple with an athletic looking young woman in male dress and hiking boots. Her complexion reddened and tanned from the Bajoran sun. Her wildly wiry, long brown hair pulled back in a loose tail tied down by a primitive leather strap.

"She's Human?" Anon questioned with a puzzled scrutiny of the hair that looked traditionally Klingon to him.

"Yes," Anar replied. "The half that was right."

"What?" Anon's frown turned on him.

"Janice is a Neutral, not Federation," Anar explained. "Ardently so."

"Neutral," Anon turned back to the woman standing in front of him with a soft and pleasant expression on her face that he did not know was considered by Human standards to be attractive. A smile he understood, though dismissed it. "Our scans said only Bajorans are here."

"That can also be explained," Anar promised.

"I know it can be explained," Anon assured.

"Now?" Anar blinked.

"Later," Anon grunted, something else on his mind, anyway. "Why are you staring at me?" he irritably questioned the woman who had dropped her smile to peer at him curiously for some reason.

"Oh," Janice replied as pleasantly and curiously as the expression on her face. "Well, why are you shouting? I can hear you back at the Temple."

"Ah...well, yes, you are shouting," Anar diplomatically cleared his throat as Anon hesitated. "But that's all right."

"No, it isn't all right," Janice shook her head.

"Yes, it is all right," Anar quickly corrected her foolishness. "His universal translator isn't working correctly, Janice."

"Oh," Janice said that time with a frown for Anon's bloody tunic. "Is it in your chest? Nadya said something about you punching yourself in the head --”

He grabbed her wrist when she reached out to touch him.

"Ask his permission first…" Anar hinted through his tightly pursed lips with a casual look up and around.

"Permission?" Janice blinked into Anon's unblinking red eyes. "But you called me. I'm Doctor Lange."

"Gul Dukat," he informed her.

Who? She really wanted to ask him. He presented his name as if she should know him immediately. She didn't. Vaguely familiar, Anar knew, was as close as she could get. He sighed again.

Dukat read something else in the child's silence. "Anon Dukat," he groaned heavily in exasperation. The constant battle to establish his own identity outside his father's no more tiring than it was that day. "Yes, Anon Dukat. Gul Anon Dukat. Son to the Imperial Emperor --”

"Janice Lange," the woman interrupted him with emphasis and a light laugh; he returned to eyeing her. "Daughter to the Imperial Harrison Lange."

"Who?" Anon said.

"My father," Janice shrugged. "He could be a dictator too when he wanted to be."

"A dictator?" Anon repeated to Anar.

"A dictator," Janice promised. "May I have a look at your chest now, Anon? Or I'm just going to go back to the Temple -- not to be rude," she reassured Anar. "I really am very busy. I'm sure he can understand...If not respect that," she smiled again at Anon. "But then ryetalyn is an antidote, not a vaccine."

"Ryetalyn?" Anon had heard that word somewhere before.

"Yes, ryetalyn," Janice nodded. "You're below the fever line. Didn't you know that?"

Apparently not. "Did you just say fever line?" The Vorta Weyoun paled, paler than he already was as Anon and his men looked among themselves.

"Rigelian fever?" Janice offered Anon looking back at her. "You didn't know, did you? Half of the systems in this sector have been under quarantine for the last two months -- Not that that's detoured the Klingons," she admitted. "But you can't blame them, they're right. Where there's Rigelian fever, there's someone who has the antidote. You probably ran into a scouting party."

"I have a transport full of vital supplies I must get to Cardassia!" Anon dropped her hand to grasp her tightly by those frail shoulders she wore under her shirt, his face tight and pulsating with fury. Anar felt himself rear, ready to strike out in the child's defense but for some reason he wasn't moving. Neither was his son or any of them. The Prophets' will far more powerful than anyone's. "I don't have time for any stupid Federation games!"

"Federation games?" Janice wasn't trying to sound dense.

"Tricks! Ploys! Call them what you like, Janice Lange!"

"You have a hole in your chest, Anon," she reminded him. "Is that a stupid Cardassian game?"

"What?" he stopped.

"Bring your men to the Temple," she eased herself free of his loosening grip. "I'll do what I can to help you. I have a wonderful old mummy I found in the grotto last year if I get stuck with anything."

The Gul's expression was questioning. Confused. Anar cleared his throat again. "Actually, Janice's doctorate is in anthropology."

"With a second doctorate in forensic sciences," Janice grinned. "Not to brag. I'm an archaeologist."

It wasn't an answer Anon believed he wanted to hear distorted by his translator or otherwise. "Forensic," he took a faltering step back from her, listening to his heart starting to pound. "Forensic...That's dead. Death. After someone has died..."

"For heaven's sake, you're not afraid of me, are you?" The woman was peering at him again.

"No, I am not afraid of you," Anon insisted. "I just think you are too young to have..." He wiped at his perspiring face, feeling the ground sway.

"Two doctorates?" Janice said. "I'm twenty-three. Is that still too young?"

"To be a doctor, or to be a Gul?" Anar wondered as Anon stiffened, or tried to before he fainted. "Probably yes to both. But that's all right, he'll take it."

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