The Execution of Kira Nerys

The Execution of Kira Nerys

The Defiant hung in space, patrolling the new Cardassian border that now
enveloped its old home, space station Deep Space Nine. In the captain’s chair,
Benjamin Sisko stared at the starfield and tried not to let the bitterness take
another bite. It didn’t seem long ago that the station had been his home.
Everything was comfortable there. Now, suddenly, it had all been taken from
him. How? It didn’t seem possible. He knew there had been a fight, but it was
hard to remember it. Hard to accept that they had fought as hard as they could.
Now, it seemed to him that they had simply left and let them take it. Now the
Dominion were the comfortable ones. But the shortage of Tetracel White was
in Sisko’s favor. Jem ‘Hadar deaths from lack of the White had already been
reported. Many of them were weakening. In some areas, the soldiers were even
killing each other for the White. The Vorta were having a difficult time
controlling them without it. Rom’s self-replicating mine field that blocked the
wormhole, the only path to the Gamma Quadrant, home of the Dominion and
supplies of White, was succeeding. Unfortunately, intelligence was reporting
that the Cardassians were getting closer to a way to defeat them. If the mines
stopped working, he had to close the wormhole permanently with a high
intensity graviton beam before the Jem ‘Hadar reinforcements and supply ships
could make it through.
Sisko rubbed his hands over his tired face. His son was still on that station.
Was he still alive? Sisko didn’t even know. They hadn’t spoken in months. The
Cardassians no doubt were censoring communications, and he himself had
been on one covert mission after another. “Dax?” he asked for the fifth time
that hour.
“The mines are still functioning,” she replied. “No further reports from
intelligence, and no unexpected activity in the Bajoran sector. Sorry.” There
was activity, of course. Thousands of Dominion ships, including Cardassian,
Founder, Vorta, and Jem ‘Hadar, formed a floating barrier around the station.
Although Federation reinforcements were less than an hour away, Sisko knew
his part was basically a suicide mission. The Federation forces couldn’t gather
without risking a costly battle. One ship, the Defiant, floating nearby wouldn’t
raise a stir. But it would be that one ship at the front line when the fight began.
Sisko accepted Dax’s sympathetic expression with a sigh. He’d played the
waiting game before and it was never easy. Going to her con station, he looked
over her instruments. She looked up over her shoulder, “Don’t you trust me,
Benjamin?”
“With my life, Old Man,” he replied, still looking at the panel. “I
just wish I knew what was going on in there.”
“You’re worried about Jake.” His silence told her she was right. Her fingers
dabbled on the panel as she made minor course corrections. “He’ll be all right.
He’s the Emissary’s son and they can’t afford to upset the Bajoran government.”
“Can’t they?” Sisko didn’t need to explain that even with the Jem ‘Hadar
weakened by their lack of White, the Cardassians had no such limitation. At
the moment, they were held back only by the Jem ‘Hadar and the Vorta. The
old saying about too many cooks spoiling the soup came to Sisko’s mind.
Behind him, Dr. Julian Bashir stood leaning against the weapons station
where his friend Garak was sitting. Normally, as ship’s doctor, he wouldn’t be
on the bridge, but protocol was lax among this group of friends. The ship was
running with a minimal crew, all of whom had been poked and prodded
beyond endurance while Bashir ran physicals and calibrated every piece of
equipment in the sickbay. Sisko knew that Bashir wouldn’t be on the bridge if
sickbay wasn’t completely ready for action. And on the bridge, Bashir would
know beforehand when that action would begin, and could better prepare his
staff.
It was an odd friendship, Bashir and Garak. Both outcasts in some sense.
Garak, exiled from his Cardassian home world for reasons he had never shared
with anyone. Although his past was very much a mystery, he had proven
himself trustworthy. Originally thought to be a spy, Garak had actually come
to Starfleet’s aid on several occasions, often even risking his life. He now sat at
the weapons console, prepared to fire on his own people at Sisko’s command.
When Julian Bashir had first come to DS9, he’d been young, ambitious, and
adventurous. So when Garak, Cardassian Garak, sat at his table one morning
and began a conversation, Julian found himself drawn into Garak’s
mysteriousness. Over time, the tense, distrustful relationship had relaxed into a
warm friendship, although Bashir still didn’t know very much about Garak the
man. But Garak, and everyone else on the station, soon learned a great deal
about Julian. When it was revealed that he’d been genetically enhanced as a
child, Julian saw how true his friends at the station were. It was only his
unique skill as a physician, and his father’s willingness to serve a prison term,
that had kept Julian the station’s doctor. He knew that elsewhere people would
not be as forgiving. They saw him as having cheated in life, although it
certainly had not been his decision. It wasn’t like he was the superhuman
people feared such genetic engineering would produce. One could tell by
looking at him that his physical strength was not extraordinary. But his
intelligence, his brain functions were enhanced, including the parts of the
brain that handled body movement. So his coordination and endurance were
indeed exceptional. Very good qualities for a doctor to have.
Although Bashir and Garak had been friends before this revelation, it served
to deepen the relationship. Now Julian leaned on his friend’s instrument panel
and said, “Do you think you should inventory the torpedoes one more time?”
Garak glanced up at Julian, “Well, Doctor, you never know when one of
them could just disappear.” At the last word, he gestured with his right hand as
if to show something vanishing into thin air.
Julian laughed, “Seriously, I know how important this mission is. Timing is
critical. But what if intelligence was wrong? Are we wasting our time out
here?” He kept his voice low so that Sisko wouldn’t hear.
“Personally, I don’t think so. I’m surprised it took them this long to find a
way to disarm those mines. It’s not that difficult, if you think about it.” The
mines were designed to be self-replicating. If one was destroyed, a neighboring
mine created a new one. The solution of course was not to go after them one
by one, but as a group. The station’s large deflector dish had that ability.
“Then why don’t they do it? Let’s get this show on the road, as they say.”
“As who says?” Garak was unfamiliar with many Earth idioms. “Besides, I, for
one, am not in any hurry to begin the fighting. Not that I don’t want to see us
win, but because there are too many people on that station I’d rather not see get
hurt.” Although the Federation had abandoned the station, and Garak had
come along for his own protection, the Bajorans had not. Sisko’s son, Jake,
had stayed behind voluntarily as a war correspondent, but Major Kira, Odo,
Quark, and Rom were also there, trying to survive. And there was Ziyal,
Dukat’s half-Bajoran daughter. She, like Garak, was basically an exile from
Cardassia. Her Bajoran blood kept her from her home world. “I’d feel better if
we could get them off the station first.”
“You know that’s not possible.”
“Yes, I do. But I’d feel better if it were.”
“Captain?” Chief Miles O’Brien spoke up from his engineering station.
“We’re receiving a message from DS9.”
Dax checked her panel. “Confirmed. It’s a recorded message.” “On screen,”
Sisko ordered. All eyes turned to the large view screen in front of them. When
Bashir saw who it was he stopped leaning and stood straight. The Cardassian
symbol was followed by Major Kira Nerys appearing on the screen. Her face
showed almost no expression and she read as if from a script. “This message is
directed to Captain Benjamin Sisko, Lieutenant Commander Dax, Dr. Julian
Bashir, and Engineering Chief Miles O’Brien. You are hereby invited to DS9
to witness the execution of Major Kira Nerys. Terak Nor out.” The screen
went blank.

The bridge of the Defiant was silent. Only the beeps and clicks of the
machinery could be heard. “Dax,” Sisko said quietly, “plot a course to DS9 and
engage at impulse, full shields.”
“Impulse?” Dax asked. Shouldn’t they be speeding to her rescue?
“We’ve been invited to her execution.” Sisko explained, “They can’t very
well start without us. In the meantime, analyze that transmission. Maybe
there’s a coded message of some sort.” Dax nodded.
“Chief, can you acknowledge the message without disclosing our location?”
O’Brien understood immediately that a quick response time just didn’t go with
a delayed arrival. “Aye, sir. I’d also recommend delaying the acknowledgment
at least an hour.”
“Do it. Include our ETA at present speed.” Then he turned to go to his
command chair, when he noticed Garak. Garak had gone a slightly whiter shade of
pale. “Garak?”
Garak blinked, looking around at the faces now staring at him. “It’s not a
code, Captain. It’s real.”
“What makes you say that?” He sat in his chair and swivelled it toward the
back of the bridge.
Garak swallowed visibly, “She’s a war criminal. Public executions are
common among the Vorta.”
“How do you know so much about the Vorta?”
“Captain, I have a vested interest in knowing the legal system of any power
that has control over Cardassia. If I were ever captured, I’d like to know what
they probably wouldn’t tell me.” Garak stood and approached Sisko,
“According to what I’ve been able to find out about Vorta law, war criminals
are always executed publicly, after being forced to record an invitation just
like that. You see, the viewers like to see the reactions of family and friends as
much as the death of the condemned.”
“The viewers? You mean, it’s to be broadcast?”
Garak nodded, “Yes. Over subspace.”
Bashir found his voice, “What’s the method of execution?”
Turning at his waist, Garak answered, “That’s usually left up to the Vorta
overseeing the execution.”
“Weyoun.” Sisko muttered.

Weyoun walked around Dukat, smiling. But then, Weyoun was almost
always smiling. It was beginning to get on Dukat’s nerves. “I must
congratulate you, Dukat, on capturing such an inspiring Resistance leader.” He
put one hand on the Cardassian’s shoulder. “It’s just what I need to urge my
soldiers onward.”
“Pardon me?” Dukat wasn’t sure what Weyoun was talking about.
“Why, her execution, of course. The process is already under way.” He went
behind the desk that used to be Captain Sisko’s, and Dukat’s before that. “I’d
like to reward you. What would you like?”
Dukat couldn’t stop himself from saying it. “Don’t kill her.”
“What?!” The thought amazed Weyoun. “And throw away such a perfect
opportunity? The Jem ‘Hadar are beginning to fight over the remaining White.
They need a diversion. Entertainment. It’s perfect.”
“Entertainment.” Dukat said flatly, stressing each syllable. He faced the desk.
“I agree she should be punished, but she is still valuable to us. Her death would
be a waste. And it might anger Bajor, your new friends!” He pulled this last
argument out at the last second, and was very pleased by it.
“Ah, yes, let’s not upset Bajor.” Weyoun ridiculed. He began manipulating
the computer panel in the desktop. “I have a project for some of your men,
Dukat. We’ll need to convert one of the cargo bays for the execution.” He
brought up a schematic on a monitor screen, tossing aside all of Dukat’s
objections as meaningless. Reluctantly, Dukat moved in to look as Weyoun
continued, “There will be a centrally located ring, a box of seats for me and
our honored guests, and grandstands for everyone else. Nothing too elaborate.”
Dukat swallowed his arguments, unwilling to push his luck that far. “Am I
excused from attending?”
“No, of course not! You’ll be in the ring, with Kira.” He pointed to the center
circle. “We can display your various tools around the ring where everyone can
see them. And a table of refreshments. We can’t have her dying of thirst now,
can we?”
“I’ll be….in the ring?” Dukat felt slightly ill.
Weyoun’s bright blue eyes flashed, “You’re the one who discovered her
treachery. You will have the honor of conducting the execution.”
“I see. And the tools would be…?”
Weyoun sighed as if it should go without saying. “Whatever you prefer to
use. I can provide some whips of various types, some shackles…” He punched
some more buttons, changing the schematic, “would you prefer her bound to a
post or a chair? Never mind, we’ll install both and go where the mood sends
us.”
“You’re talking about torture.” Dukat swallowed thickly.
“Slow torture, to be specific. Yes.” Weyoun raised his eyes from the schematic
to Dukat’s face. “It’s my favorite.”
Dukat wondered how his eyes could sparkle like that.
Weyoun continued, “To the Jem ‘Hadar, a good, lingering death is almost as
good as the White. You do remember we are short of White? The
reinforcements aren’t the only thing being held back by the mine field, you
know.”
“Yes, I know.” Dukat was sick of Weyoun’s constant reminders. He was fully
aware that the wormhole was still blocked. At the moment, disabling the mine
field was the last thing on Dukat’s mind. “Are you forgetting that Kira is a very
important Bajoran liaison? There will undoubtedly be repercussions if you do
this.”
Weyoun sighed. “We control this station. Shortly, you keep assuring me, we
will control the wormhole. By then, mollifying Bajor will be irrelevant.” It
suddenly occurred to Weyoun that Dukat seemed to be objecting to the
execution. “Come now, Dukat. Kira and her rebel friends were a thorn in your
side long before they were in mine. Surely, her death would bring you
pleasure.”
“Yes, of course.” Dukat agreed, a little too quickly. “But slow torture…”
“All right,” Weyoun relented. “If she agrees to implicate her accomplices, I’ll
grant her a quick death.”
“She’d never agree to that.”
“Perhaps not now. After several hours of pain, she may be persuaded more
easily. Keep that in mind, Dukat.” Weyoun returned his attention to his
computer screen. “We can always extend the show to include anyone she
names. Start thinking about the best times to ask her. Between tools,
perhaps?” He smiled, imagining the unprecedented broadcast of several
consecutive executions, then noticed that Dukat wasn’t enjoying himself. “I
can have my Jem ‘Hadar First do it, if you prefer to watch.”
Dukat didn’t like the certainty of that idea. “No. It’s all right, Weyoun. We’ll
do it your way.”
Weyoun smiled. “I know I can count on you to provide a good show.”
Dukat smiled uncomfortably in return.

Kira sat in her holding cell, going over the past two days in her head. What
had gone wrong? The plan had seemed so air tight, but here she was, counting
what could be the last days of her life. She remembered the last Resistance
meeting, in Rom and Leeta’s quarters. Odo, Quark, and Jake Sisko had also
been there. They bounced ideas off of each other for awhile, developing plans
to create tension between the Cardassians and the Jem ‘Hadar and sabotaging
various station systems. They had had minor victories that seemed little more
than irritations to Damar and Gul Dukat. Kira wanted to do more. Rom and
Quark wanted to preserve their income and lives, in that order. Odo seemed
distracted and indifferent. Kira suspected that the presence of the female
Founder on the station had something to do with it. But at least Jake was
adventurous and optimistic, although Kira wasn’t sure if Jake really understood
the implications of what they were doing. She felt more than a little
responsible for his safety.
They had finally agreed on a plan of action in
which each of them could play a part. While she and Rom worked on
disabling weapons systems, Odo would override security warnings to hide
their progress. Much to Rom’s objections, Leeta would distract Dukat and
Damar by luring them to the Dabo tables. Quark would aid Leeta, if necessary,
and provide gratis unlimited kanar. And Jake would pretend to give interviews
to everyone on the governing council for a correspondent news report. He
intended to play up their victories, of course, and predict how quickly they
would overcome the enemy. This would be a difficult job for Jake, considering
the enemy was personified by his own father.
They left the meeting confident. If everyone did their part, the weapons
systems would soon be useless. But that wasn’t the way it had turned out. Kira
and Rom had crawled through several junctions to access secured weapons
circuitry, quietly bypassing checkpoint after checkpoint. They had begun to
disable a set of phaser banks when her highly tuned senses told her something
was wrong. There were no alarms, no shouts, no bursts of fire, but her gut
instinct warned her to cut and run. She pushed Rom ahead of her, then felt it
would be best to split up on the way out of the tunnel system. At the first
intersection, she sent Rom to the left, and she took the right tunnel. But it
turned out to be the wrong tunnel. Waiting at the exit into the corridor was Gul
Dukat, Cardassian blaster in hand. As she peeked out to check the hall, they
saw each other at the same time. Dukat smiled broadly.
“Major! It’s strange, but our port phaser bank just went off-line. I wonder
why that was?” With the weapon, he pointed to the tools she was carrying.
She looked down at the small box. The stolen power coupling was inside, along
with several hand tools.
At the point of the blaster, Dukat escorted her to a holding cell, then left to
report to Weyoun with the confiscated toolbox. Some time later, Weyoun had
come to coerce her into recording the invitation, pronouncing her guilt and
sentence of execution. That had been several hours ago. Since then, she’d been
left alone to think about her impending punishment.
She rose as Odo came in and stood in front of her cell. He had a food tray in
his hands, which he passed through a sliver of a door to one side of the force
field. She took it and thanked him.
“They’ve begun converting a cargo bay.” Odo told her.
“Tell them not to go to any trouble.” She replied as she took a bite out of the
sandwich. A cup of steaming coffee sat on the tray as well, and she sipped it.
Odo shifted his eyes shyly, “I’m….sorry, Nerys.”
She blinked at him. She knew he had strong feelings for her. They had a
solid friendship after all these years together, and she also felt a great deal for
him. But it wasn’t the right kind of feeling. She swallowed, but didn’t take
another bite right away. “It’s not your fault, Odo. This is the risk I took for
years during the last occupation. I guess my luck finally ran out.” Suddenly,
her appetite was gone and she set the tray aside. She wanted to ask him how
Dukat had known where to find her, but that kind of talk would implicate Odo
as well, and Kira knew the holding cell had to be under heavy surveillance.
“Any word from the Defiant?”
“That’s why I came down here. Ops just received an acknowledgment. Their ETA is
three point four days.”
“Three point four days,” she repeated.
Odo just stood there for a time, unable to speak, or at a loss for words. More,
as if he were embedding her appearance in his brain. To remember her.
“Thanks for the food, Odo.”
“You’re welcome.” His voice was a little rougher than usual. Did changelings
cry? Kira wondered. But Odo didn’t move. He continued to watch her. “Odo?”
“Hmmm?” It sounded close to a growl.
She tried to catch his eyes with hers, which should have been easy enough
with him staring like that, but she could tell he wasn’t seeing her, at least, not
paying attention to her. “You’re staring at me.”
Finally his eyes met hers and lingered there for a bit as well. She half
expected him to say something but then Odo turned and left.

When the chime sounded, Weyoun was at his desk reading reports on his
terminal. “Identify.” He said.
“Odo.”
“Come!” He rose, apparently forgetting about the reports, as he moved to
welcome the Founder into his office. “Founder, to what do I owe this
unexpected visit?” His smile stretched so wide Odo thought his head would
split.
Odo stepped in and allowed the door to close behind him. “I…” Odo said
uncomfortably.
“Oh, please, don’t hesitate.” He waved Odo to come further
into the room. “Can I offer you a beverage? A snack?”
“No. Thank you.” Odo said. “I’m here to ask you something.”
“Anything, Founder.” Somehow, Odo could never bring himself to take that
statement at face value. Although he was a Founder, who the Vorta treated as
gods, his power over Weyoun was limited. Odo did not linger over the notion that he
could stop the whole war with a simple request. Despite the Vorta’s
quiescence, Odo was not considered a real Founder. He was not in the Great
Link. Odo suspected that it was habit alone that dictated Weyoun’s words and
posturing.
Odo had no trouble keeping his barely formed face grim. “It’s about the
execution.”
“Yes, Founder. The plans are proceeding well. Do you wish to
see them?” Weyoun moved toward the terminal.
“No.” Odo said quickly. “I do not wish to see any of it. I wish to be excused
from attending.”
Weyoun was strongly disappointed, “I’m sorry to hear that, Founder. I had
hoped that attendance would be complete.”
“Then I may be excused?”
Weyoun bowed. “As you wish.” He straightened again. “If I may be so bold,
may I ask why?”
“Is a reason required?”
Weyoun’s eyes dropped in shame for having asked, “No, of course not. I beg
your pardon. That was far too forward of me.”
“Thank you for your time.” Odo left quickly, having accomplished what he
had come to do.
Moments after Odo left, the female Founder leader solidified into human
form, having been a chair a moment earlier. She approached Weyoun. “He
should not have been excused.”
“My apologies, Founder. I couldn’t very well
refuse his request.” Weyoun seemed worried about her wrath, moving his head
to avoid eye contact.
“I understand that. Do not worry.” She stared at the
doorway that Odo had just exited. “I will handle this matter.”

Sisko and Garak sat casually in his ready room, Sisko at a computer terminal
and Garak on a couch. Sisko was trying to find out more about what to expect
once they reached the station. The computer held very little information about
the Vorta. Sisko wondered where Garak had done his research. “What do you
think we can expect?” He asked.
“If you’re thinking of trying to rescue her,
forget it.” Garak said simply.
“You have a problem with positive thinking.
Let me hear it.” Sisko folded his hands and waited.
Garak sat straight, and met Sisko’s gaze. “Once we arrive at the station, those
named will be escorted to the execution arena, three guards per person. We
will not be allowed to leave their sight for anything for the duration of our
stay. As soon as death is declared, we will be escorted back and ordered to
leave immediately.” He moved his eyes to the floor in defeat. “There will be
no opportunity to even speak to each other about anything we wouldn’t want
them to hear.”
Sisko said nothing as he pictured it in his mind’s eye and considered his
options. “Then we’d all better know our parts before we get there.”
Now Garak stood and stepped closer, “Captain Sisko, that would be suicide.
Any suspicious move and the guards would shoot. They don’t have to ask
permission.”
“And what if we didn’t show up?” He asked.
“They would carry out the execution after a week, regardless. Unless we
were expected to arrive later. Of course, we’ve already sent an ETA, so that’s
not a possibility.” Garak began to pace, “And it would influence their
treatment of her. They would have no compunction to avoid excessive
brutality. No incentive to maintain any kind of decorum. I imagine, Weyoun
would prefer we didn’t arrive at all.”
Sisko was still deep in thought, his words coming out almost unconsciously,
“What about Kira, and the others? What can they expect?”
Garak considered the question, “Kira would have twice as many guards, with
her reputation. The others, I’m not sure. But there will be plenty of Jem ‘Hadar
soldiers, and probably Cardassian soldiers as well, in the room. What you
would probably call ‘overkill’, I believe.” He hesitated, placing his hands gently
on the desktop, “I really don’t think there’s anything we can do to prevent this
from happening.” In his most serious mode, he added, “Our best option would
be to find a way to end it sooner.”
That got Sisko’s attention. It ended with Kira’s death. He didn’t want to think
about what Garak was suggesting, but he couldn’t avoid it. He pressed the
comm button on his desk panel. “Sisko to Dr. Bashir. Please report to my
ready room immediately.”
“Acknowledged. On my way,” came Bashir’s voice.
Sisko and Garak stayed that way, Sisko sitting behind and Garak standing in
front of the desk, staring each other down over this idea. That’s how Bashir
found them when he entered. “Garak has an idea.” Sisko said quietly.
Bashir smiled, “Garak?” Then his smile fell when Garak didn’t return it.
Garak turned to his friend. “Doctor, there are several drugs which can paralyze
a humanoid nervous system–”
“Stop right there.” Bashir said, with one hand up like a traffic cop. “I’ve been
doing some research, and that strategy, revival of the dead, has been used on
previous Starfleet missions. I have one question, however. What is the Vorta
tradition regarding disposition of the body?”
Garak turned his head. He hadn’t considered revival an option. And as the
details came back to him, he still didn’t. “It is put on public display, in a
specially designed transparent container into which accelerants are pumped–”
“Enough,” Bashir said, once again cutting his friend off. He didn’t need to
hear the details. The body would rot in full view, the public safe from
contaminants and odor. “If we can’t retrieve her body, we can’t revive her.”
“I wasn’t talking about reviving her.” Garak flinched at Bashir’s angry look,
but continued, “I was talking about ending her suffering.”
Bashir glanced at Sisko, who simply shrugged. “You can’t be serious! I will
not end her life!”
“In my opinion, Julian, it’s our only option.” Garak argued. “It’s likely that
Weyoun will choose death by torture. He’ll try to prolong it as long as possible.
Death by inches, Julian. Can we let her go through that?”
“I can’t give up on her.”
Garak gripped Bashir by each shoulder, “Face the facts, Doctor. She’s been
sentenced by the Vorta. There will be a hundred armed guards, against the four
of you. You won’t have any weapons. Theirs will be set to kill. If Weyoun
suspects any of us of taking action, we could end up bound and gagged for the
duration. I’ve done research, too, Julian, and there is nothing we can do!”
“Garak!” Julian shook himself free and turned away, not wanting to listen to
his friend’s words.
“Gentlemen!” Sisko interrupted to calm them both down. He turned to
Bashir, “It’s one solution! Do you have a better one?” Bashir said nothing.
Sisko took a calming breath for himself. “Garak does have one point. If
anything can be done, you’ll be the one to do it. The rest of us won’t be able to
get near her.” He paused, watching the two of them calm down as well, “now,
Garak believes you might be requested to lend medical aid to prolong this
thing. If this happens, what can you do?”
Bashir eyed Garak suspiciously. He seemed far too willing to sacrifice Major
Kira, yet if it was as hopeless as Garak said, his plan just might be the only
humane thing to do. Bashir looked at the floor helplessly, “I don’t know. If I
give her stimulants or painkillers, it’ll only accomplish what Weyoun wants.”
He stood stock still, realizing his dilemma. “I can’t help her, and I can’t NOT
help her.”

Looking from side to side to make sure he had not been followed, Odo
pressed the chime to Jake Sisko’s quarters. When Jake gave the command, the
door opened and Odo entered quickly.
“Odo.” Jake said, “What’s wrong?” Something about the shapeshifter’s
attitude worried him. He was scanning the room almost as if Jake weren’t
present.
“I need to talk to you.” He took the boy by the arm and steered him
into the bedroom.

Nervously, Jake Sisko rode the turbolift up to Ops. He hadn’t been there in a
long time. He concentrated on making his eyes water, biting the inside of his
cheek. He succeeded in getting his eyes misty enough, without actual tears
rolling down his cheek. He probably could have talked himself into it, given
enough time, and avoided the sore cheek, but if this didn’t work, Odo would
need time to come up with something else. The lift stopped at the lower level
of Ops and of course he was approached by a Cardassian soldier. “You do not
have clearance.”
“Please,” he said, letting his voice choke a bit, “I need to
talk to Weyoun.”
“Wait here.” After Jake nodded and stepped off the lift and
to one side, the Cardassian left him there and climbed the short staircase to
Weyoun’s office. Other soldiers in Ops stared at Jake, who stood obediently,
blinking his teary eyes. After a few moments, the office door opened and the
soldier came out again, followed by Weyoun.
Weyoun stood at the top of
the steps for a moment and looked at Jake, then dismissed his soldier and
approached. “What can I do for you?”
Jake took a quivering breath, “Please, sir. I’ve heard that you want everyone
to watch. I….can’t. I’m just a kid.”
Weyoun raised an eyebrow. Just a kid? Jake was taller than *him*. But then
he *was* human. Weyoun wasn’t familiar with human growth patterns and
adolescence. He studied the boy’s face, seeing an impending lack of control
that touched him. But he would be wonderful in the audience. This was
exactly what his troops loved to see. “How long have you known Major Kira?”
“Six years,” he croaked, licking his lips. “She’s been like a mother to me. I’ve
already seen one mother die…” He feigned a controlling breath, “If you make
me be there, I’ll be disruptive. I won’t let you hurt her.” Determination cleared
his eyes, “I’ll stop you.”
Weyoun considered it. “Now, that would make a
good show, wouldn’t it?” The boy’s probable ineffective attempts to stop the
execution could add a measure of excitement. But on the other hand, if he was
at all successful in his threat, Weyoun would be humiliated.
Fear that his plan had backfired entered Jake’s mind. Would Weyoun call his
bluff? He concentrated on keeping the determination on his face and waited.
After weighing Jake’s sincerity, Weyoun allowed sympathy to sweep over his face,
his blue eyes moistening as well. These Federation people has a phrase, what
was it? Where there’s a will….He placed one hand softly on Jake’s shoulder,
“You’ll stay in your quarters?”
Holding back the sigh of relief, Jake nodded.
“You see,” he said, lifting Jake’s face with one finger under his chin, “I *do*
have a heart.”
Jake understood that his plea had been answered. “Thank you, sir. Thank
you.” He grasped the hand from under his chin and kissed it.
“You may go.” Weyoun smiled and motioned with his head for Jake to get
back on the lift.
As the lift lowered him below Ops level, Jake smiled. But the smile faded
quickly as he thought about his performance. While the tears had been forced,
the sentiments were real. He did indeed feel very close to Kira Nerys. He
couldn’t afford to let himself forget the danger she was in. That they were all
in.

The female Founder walked through Odo’s quarters as if they were her own.
Odo sat on the seat under his viewing port, looking extremely sad. “Weyoun
has informed me about your request,” she began. “And I know why you made
it. Your feelings for Kira could not be hidden from me.” She studied his face
for a moment, “No matter what, Odo, Kira will soon be gone. I can make it
easier for you. Link with me again.”
“No.”
“We are not impressed by your noble sacrifice. She is a solid. The longer you
are in the Link, the sooner you will see how insignificant she is.” She reached
one hand out to Odo, but he slid away. “Very well. Think about this, then. If
you do not attend, you will not say goodbye. I understand farewells are very
important to solids.”
“I’ve already said my farewells,” Odo lied.
“You’ve said goodbye to a living, healthy, Kira. She will not be so
tomorrow.”
“I prefer to remember her the way she is. Now, I ask you to
leave.” Odo stood and pointed to the door. “I’d like to be alone.”
She approached the door, but not close enough to make it open. She turned
toward him, “You are already alone, Odo. You’ve been alone ever since you
left the Great Link.” She tilted her head to one side, “In the Great Link, there is
no death. You need never feel sorrow, only unending joy. You came from the
Link. It is where you belong. If the solids knew what the Great Link was like,
they would envy us more than our changeling ability. Our community will
welcome you back, when you tire of the solid’s negativity.” She stepped
forward and the doors parted, but she turned again at the threshold. “If you do
not attend the execution, you will be required to stay here in your quarters.
You understand that?” At Odo’s short nod she left.

“Dax to Sisko,” Sisko heard over the Defiant’s comm system as he studied
Garak’s reports in his ready room early the next day.
“Sisko here.”
“We’re approaching the blockade.”
Sisko rose from his desk and entered the bridge. Moving swiftly to his
captain’s chair, he said, “Shields up.” On the view screen, still in the distance
but growing closer, he could see a veritable wall of ships. Thousands and
thousands, by the looks of it. Cardassian, Jem ‘Hadar, Founder, as well as
unidentified Dominion ships. They hovered within less than a kilometer of
each other. “Approach to one hundred thousand kilometers and hold position.”
“Aye, sir.” Dax replied, “Shields at maximum.” Her eyes scanned her
instrument panel. “I’m detecting transmissions. Directed at the station. We’re
being hailed.” She lifted her head to look at the view screen, anticipating
Sisko’s next order.
“On screen.”
Weyoun, the familiar Ops station as his backdrop, appeared on the screen.
“Welcome, Captain,” he said with his oily smile. “A passage will open for you.
Please proceed at impulse. If you attempt to go to warp, you will be fired
upon. We’ll expect you in,” he paused to check his reading, “just over six
hours. You will be docking at upper pylon two. Enjoy your stay.” He signed off
without further ado.
” ‘Enjoy your stay’?” Sisko quoted. The screen again showed the blockade of
ships in front of him. Suddenly, several ships broke formation and fell back
toward the inside, creating a tube like corridor. “You heard the man, Dax. At
impulse.” The ship moved forward, and slipped quietly through the line of
enemy ships. If this whole thing was a trap, now would be the time for them to
attack. But no attack came. As the Defiant passed through the tube, it closed
up again behind them as the ships returned to their positions. Sisko gave a sigh
of relief, “All right. Next stop, upper pylon two.”
On Terok Nor, Weyoun turned to Dukat, “They’re almost here. Have the
major prepared. And I’ll need guards on Odo’s quarters, and on Jake Sisko’s
quarters.”
Dukat nodded, “How many?”
Weyoun considered, then said, “Just one each should be sufficient. It’s only a
formality, really. What could they possibly do?” He was utterly confident.
“You’d be surprised,” muttered Dukat under his breath.
“Pardon me?”
Dukat sighed, “Weyoun, I’m getting very uncomfortable about this whole
thing. Sisko back on the station. Two of them excused. You’re being far too
lenient.” He kept his voice low.
“I understand,” Weyoun admitted. “But tradition must be upheld. The
Founders have so dictated. We have plenty of guards. Double them then. You
will be responsible for the security of this operation, Dukat. Take whatever
steps you wish to insure it.” With that, he turned and climbed the steps to his
office.

Kira sat nervously in the cell. It had to be soon. It had been nearly four days
since Odo had told her about the Defiant’s ETA. And she knew the execution
would take place as soon as they arrived. They would be fools to waste any
time. Bring them in, kill her, send them out. The sooner it was all finished the
safer the Dominion would be.
Her stomach tightened when she saw the
security door open and two Jem ‘Hadar soldiers entered. They came
immediately to her cell. With both holding their weapons trained on her, one
turned off the force field. “Come,” said the other.
Kira took a deep breath, and forced herself to her feet. Another, and she
stepped forward, over the threshold of the cell. A breath, a step, a breath, a
step. One guard in front of her, the other behind. This was it. The front guard
reached the security door and it slid open, revealing two more guards waiting
outside. Kira stopped, the unreality of it all taking hold. Even on her best day,
she wouldn’t be able to take on four Jem ‘Hadar soldiers. Oh, Prophets, she
thought. “Excuse me, I’m going to be sick,” she heard herself say.
“Move,” the guard nearest her said, prodding her with his weapon.
She saw the door to the bathroom to her right. “I mean it. And if you don’t
let me go in there, I’ll do it all over you.” She indicated the door. The guards
looked at each other uncertainly. Then, before they could object, Kira popped one
hand over her mouth and rushed through the door, the door closing again on the
sounds of retching.
The guards waited. They knew Weyoun also waited, and the longer
he waited the worse it would be for them. A few long minutes later, the door
finally opened and Kira slipped out, wiping her mouth with the back of her
hand. She was pale, and still shaking. “Thank you. I’m ready now.” Merging
with the growing number of guards, she left Security.

Weyoun met Sisko at the airlock, accompanied by several armed guards of
both Jem ‘Hadar and Cardassian descent. As the airlock opened, he bowed low.
“Welcome to Terok Nor, Captain Sisko.” He then bowed to each of his guests
in turn. “Commander Dax, Doctor Bashir, Chief O’Brien.” He then stood in
front of them, blindly waving to four guards, who frisked each guest, removing
weapons, tricorders, and communicator pins, and Bashir’s medical kit. Bashir
exchanged a “what now?” glance with Sisko, but said nothing. “These guards
will remain here. If anyone else tries to disembark, they will be shot on sight.
Do you need to contact anyone to inform them of this?”
Garak had also informed them of this contingency. “No,” Sisko replied. “No
one else will be leaving the Defiant.”
“Excellent. Then we both understand the terms of this arrangement. Follow
me.” And he led them, surrounded by the remaining guards, down the
promenade.
The cargo bay doors opened to reveal the somewhat elaborate
staging. A large ring with a low border was centered in the bay. Inside the ring
stood a tall pole with chains bolted at various intervals. Near the pole was a
chair, also equipped with chains and bindings. Just inside the ring, along the
circumference of the border, stood several tables on which rested a large array
of instruments that Sisko didn’t want to look at too closely. One table held a
large pitcher of water and a small glass, and a plate of non-perishable food
items. Two-thirds of the ring were surrounded by bleacher style seating, which
was already well populated by station residents. Sisko could see Quark, Rom,
and Leeta sitting uncomfortably in the crowd. The remaining section was
boxed in, with more comfortable seating. It was to this box that Weyoun led
the Defiant’s crewmembers. He entered the box first, taking the seat farthest
from the entry gate. The rest filed in and took their seats quietly. The last in
the box was the female Founder, who sat near the gate with a triumphant look
on her barely formed face.
From somewhere, a Cardassian entered the ring.
It was Gul Dukat. Weyoun motioned him over and he approached the box. “It’s
traditional to begin with ten lashes. After that, you may proceed as you wish.”
Dukat nodded, and quickly escaped Sisko’s angry glare. He went to find the
whip among the tables. He found it, and whipped the air, gaining the feel of it.
“I’m not sure I can do this,” Bashir whispered to Sisko. “It’s barbaric.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor. It’s not easy for any of us.” He turned to Weyoun on his other
side, “Will the doctor be allowed to render aid?”
“Only to prolong her suffering,” Weyoun stated. “Your doctor’s medical kit
will be returned to him after it has been inspected. But he will be required to
declare her dead. After which…”
“….we are to leave immediately, back to neutral space. I know.” Sisko wasn’t
satisfied at all with this arrangement. He saw Weyoun’s pleased smile only out
of the corner of his eye. It was frustrating to have his hands tied like this. He
looked around and saw at least thirty Cardassians armed with blasters, and as
many Jem ‘Hadar with phaser rifles. He doubted any of them were set on stun.
The tension was thick in the air. The crowd’s murmuring came to his ears as an
unsteady hum. He looked for Jake, but couldn’t find him, then realized Odo
was also missing.
“Where’s Jake?” He asked Weyoun.
“In his quarters, Captain,” Weyoun replied, “He asked to be excused, as did
Odo.”
Sisko raised an eyebrow. It was good to know his son was safe and
wouldn’t have to witness this, but he wondered what Jake had said to get
excused. According to Garak, attendance at these functions was mandatory. He
also wasn’t sure whether to take Odo’s absence as a good sign or a bad one.
There was a sudden commotion as the door opened again, and a group of
soldiers, surrounding Major Kira, entered the room. She was escorted roughly
to the ring and bound to the post, her arms forced high over her head. The
female Founder stood. “Strip her.”
Dukat turned to the Founder, but did nothing.
“I said strip her.” Obviously, she felt no explanation was necessary.
“With all due respect,” Dukat objected, “I refuse.”
The female Founder shifted her eyes and a Jem ‘Hadar guard moved forward.
Dukat moved between Kira and the guard. “I will not permit it.” He allowed no
uncertainty in his expression.
“Your insubordination will be remembered.” She nodded at the guard who
returned to his place, and she sat down again. “Begin.”
Dukat circled Kira, still only whipping the air. “Major, this could go on for a
long time, or I can give you a quick death. If you tell me who helped you
disable the phaser bank.” Kira said nothing. He moved in closer, his back to
Weyoun, and whispered, “you can prevent this, Major. It’s not too late. Please
say something.” Instead, she hid her face inside her upstretched arms, and
remained silent. “I’m sorry,” he said, then stepped back and gave her the first
lash.
It ate through her uniform and into her flesh, but she didn’t cry out. She
cringed against the pole, hugging it tightly. Another lash. And another. In the
box, Sisko, Bashir, Dax, and O’Brien jumped and cringed with each lash.
Kira’s back was criss-crossed with welts, her uniform torn into rags by the time
the tenth lash was reached. Kira kept her face tucked between her arms. No
one could see if the whipping had even produced tears. Dukat was impressed.
She hadn’t cried out, though she was breathing as if she had run a marathon.
“Name your accomplices.” He ordered her loudly, setting the whip on one of
the tables. He looked over the tables, taking his time to decide what to use
next. “I do have a knife here. I can cut your throat. It would be over in minutes.
If you tell me.”
In the box, Bashir was sweating. How could he just sit here? But the swarms
of armed guards gave him no choice. His own hands were shaking. It was
almost as if he himself were taking the punishment. He noticed O’Brien next to
him just as uncomfortable, trying not to look up from his own lap. Dax was
watching, though. He could see the sorrow in her eyes, but they looked on the
scene defiantly. He glanced the other way, back to Sisko and Weyoun.
Naturally, Weyoun was smiling. Sisko looked grim, but he also kept his head
up sternly. He wanted to ask if Weyoun would allow him to treat her now, but
he knew that would be pointless. She wasn’t close enough to death yet. He
kept the thought at the back of his mind as he resolutely tried to display the
same calm demeanor as Sisko and Dax.
Dukat unhooked Kira’s shackles from the pole and pulled her roughly over to
the chair. He threw her into the chair with no regard for the welts on her back.
She winced visibly and audibly, leaning forward to ease the pressure as much
as possible as guards strapped her legs and arms to the chair. “This is a very
interesting chair, Major. It’s electrified, of course. Not to lethal levels,
however. But electric shocks can be very unpleasant.” As an example, he made
a show out of pressing a button on a small remote control he held in his hand.
Kira’s body jerked. “Care to name your accomplices yet?” He seemed
frustrated by her continued silence. He moved a thumbdial slightly and pressed
the button again. A small cry escaped her lips as her head arched back, then
fell forward again.
Bashir couldn’t stand it. He rose in his seat, “Please!” All eyes turned to him.
He looked at Weyoun. “This is barbaric. I can’t watch it.”
Weyoun was stern, “You are not excused. Sit.”
“Give me my kit and let me treat her wounds.” He specifically remained
standing. “She’ll die that much quicker if you refuse me.”
Weyoun noticed the defiance, but was acutely aware of his position on the
broadcast. He decided to cover his bases, and he motioned to three guards,
“Has the medical kit been inspected?” The guard nodded. “Bring it.” Again, the
guard nodded. After the guard left, Weyoun smiled at Bashir. “I’ll decide later
if I shall let you use it.”
Dukat tired of the electrical chair very quickly and
had her removed and brought to stand before him. Again he asked for a name.
Answered by silence, he brought the back of his hand forcefully against her
right cheek. Kira remained silent and standing. He repeated the blow to the left
cheek.
The medical bag was delivered to Bashir. Immediately he opened it and took
inventory. Several things were missing. Damn, he thought. Below, Dukat
began to pummel Kira’s face and body as she crumpled to the floor, hands still
shackled together in front of her.
“Dukat!” The female Founder called as she rose. “This is not a boxing match.”
Dukat stopped what he was doing and nodded at the Founder, lowering his head
in apology.
While this was going on, Bashir whispered to Sisko, “Sir, they removed
virtually everything.”
Weyoun overheard and leaned past Sisko, “Doctor, I could have you
executed for some of the things you had in that bag. I suggest you make do.”
He straightened again in his seat and turned his attention back to the ring,
where Dukat was dragging Kira from table to table by the shackles, teasing
and taunting her with menacing instruments. Kira wasn’t resisting at all. Not
much of a show. At this rate, she’d be dead by the end of the day. Weyoun rose
in his seat, “There will be an intermission,” he said loudly, glancing at the
Founder, who nodded at his suggestion. “Doctor Bashir, tend to your patient.”
Julian stood, but didn’t move from his spot. “With what? Your men have left
me with nothing more than small sterile bandages. I need a medical tricorder. I
need hyposprays. This is useless!” He tossed the mostly empty bag on the
floor.
Weyoun’s eyes weren’t flashing anymore. They were dark clouds. Sisko had
one hand on Julian’s arm. He knew Bashir was frustrated, but he didn’t want an
outburst to cost them….he didn’t want to think of what it could cost them.
“Doctor Bashir, ” came a soft voice from beyond him. It was the female
Founder. “Calm yourself.” She asked the guard who had delivered the bag,
“Where are the rest of his instruments?”
The guard wouldn’t meet her eyes. “They were destroyed, Founder. Potential
weapons.”
“I feel an exception to tradition is in order here. Normally, our
own physicians would provide, but we feel your skill exceeds theirs. Our
knowledge of Bajoran physiology is understandably limited. It is far too soon
to end the execution, and the Major is obviously weak. She will rest while the
good doctor replenishes his ‘kit’.”
Weyoun looked irritated to have his decision overruled, but gritted his
teeth, “As you wish, Founder.”
Seemingly working by psychic commands, three guards came up to the box
gate and waited. Bashir slid himself past the Chief, Dax, and then the female
Founder to meet his escorts. One of them retrieved the thrown bag and handed
to him. As they left the bay, he could hear Dukat taunting Kira. “You’re so
weak, Major, they’re afraid you’ll ruin their show. I thought you were much
stronger than this. I’m actually disappointed.” Bashir was thankful to hear his
voice fade into nothing as he and his entourage walked away.
At the airlock, one of the guards waited outside the Defiant, joining the
guards posted to prevent unauthorized excursions onto the station. The
remaining two followed Bashir who was torn between hurrying for Kira’s sake
and going slowly for his own. Kira’s sake won out, and he stepped up his pace
as he neared sick bay. The guards posted themselves just inside the doorway.
He was surprised to find Garak already in sick bay. “Why aren’t you on the
bridge?”
“I was watching the broadcast. I knew you’d be coming here.” He
followed as Bashir rushed around gathering instruments and medicines and
throwing them into his medikit, conscious of the watchful eye of the Jem
‘Hadar guards.
“You missed me?” His mind was only half on the conversation. The other
half was involved in adjusting each instrument for Bajoran physiology as he
picked it up.
Garak placed a hand on Bashir’s shoulder to get his full
attention. He spoke extremely softly. “Doctor, I just want to warn you that the
best thing you can do for the Major is to kill her. If he lets you in the ring, do
it. Your skills would never be suspect.” Julian stared at his friend for a
moment. “But my honor would be. I could never do that, Garak. I would never
consider it.”
“Then you might as well not go in at all. She’ll die sooner, suffer less.”
If it weren’t for the obvious concern in Garak’s eyes, Bashir would have
tried to hit him with the bag. A brief silence told Garak that Bashir
understood. “I couldn’t do that, either. I’m a doctor.”
“I’ve seen a recorded execution like this, Doctor. A Vorta, oddly enough. She
lasted eighteen days.” The last two words hung in the air, as Bashir finished
packing, met Garak’s accusing gaze one last time, then ducked out of sick bay
and hurried back to the airlock, the guards latching on to him like leeches as
he left. Garak walked over to the monitor that showed the broadcast from the
cargo bay. He saw Ziyal, Dukat’s daughter, as he had seen her earlier, huddled
in the grandstands amongst dozens of Cardassian soldiers. She looked utterly
terrified. He wanted it to end as much for her sake as for Kira’s.

Entering the cargo bay, he stopped short as he neared the box, his eyes on the
ring. Kira lay on the ground, face down, the one eye he could see swollen shut.
She was breathing, but he couldn’t tell if she was conscious. Dukat was
hanging back, waiting for her to get up. Bashir looked at Weyoun, an
unspoken question on his lips. Weyoun nodded, “Heal nothing that is not a
vital organ.” Bashir stepped over the edge of the ring and knelt by Kira’s body.
He opened his bag and leaned over her, scanning her eye, then her back. His
brow furrowed. The readings were off. It took him only a split second to
realize why. Carefully, he took out a hypo and pressed it to her neck, placing a
hand on her shoulder and giving her a gentle pat. “Hang in there, Kira.” Then
he rose and returned to his seat with his bag, reporting to Weyoun, “I gave her
some fluids and nutritional supplements to help her exhaustion. She’ll come to
shortly.”
“Proceed.” Weyoun said to Dukat.
Dukat put down the large needle he’d been holding and instead went to the
table of food. He picked up a bottle of water and took it to Kira, holding her
unconscious face upward and forcing her lips open. He squirted a small
quantity into her mouth. She gagged at first, the water dripping down the sides
of her face, then swallowed hungrily. He poured a little more which she
swallowed completely, then returned the bottle to the table as Kira returned to
her prone position. She made no effort to move at all.
Dukat motioned to the guards to place her once again at the pole as he
gathered another whip into his hands. This one resembled a cat o’ nine tails,
with multiple whips coming from the handle, each one beaded elaborately.
Dukat waited for a sign that Kira was conscious. Just as Bashir had predicted,
it was less than a minute before her head nodded. Once again, Dukat asked his
question. “Who helped you, Major? Tell me. One name. That’s all I ask.” He
waited, but no answer was heard. He waved the whip backwards then brought
it forward again onto Kira’s already scarred back. She cried out, but after
arching in pain, her head fell forward weakly.
Sisko leaned toward Bashir, “That’s all? Fluids?”
“Fluids, sir.” He said quietly, but clearly, keeping his eyes forward.
Sisko had a sense that Bashir was dropping a hint of some kind, but couldn’t
understand it. He had expected Julian to do something, even the last resort
plan, but to have the opportunity and do basically nothing? He realized that
now was not the time to argue the point, but the expression on his face said it
all. Bashir only saw it out of the corner of his eye, but it twisted the invisible
knife in his chest all the same.
More lashes, the sound echoing in the bay. The original welts on Kira’s back
opened wider and oozed blood. Sisko noticed Bashir straighten and lean
forward in his seat and bite his bottom lip. Sisko followed his gaze and also
watched. He saw a drop of blood slide down her side, curving and
disappearing from view over her stomach. Droplet after droplet traced a course
around her side, or down a pant leg, always moving toward her hidden front
side.
Sisko and Bashir weren’t the only ones noticing this. Suddenly the
female Founder stood and shouted “Stop!”
She exited the box, unimpeded by the guards and moved toward the ring.
Weyoun watched her curiously. She unhooked the shackles, and lowered Kira’s
body to the ground solemnly, then turned it face up. The floor of the bay was
spotless underneath her.
Knowing he could hide no longer, he let go of Kira’s shape, let his natural
form ease out of the shackles and took his normal, unharmed humanoid form.
Odo.
Everyone in the box was standing now, and Weyoun’s jaw dropped. They’d
been torturing a Founder!
Sisko marveled. It must have taken incredible concentration, not only to
imitate Kira in unprecedented detail, but to control the drops of blood. Sisko
knew that had Odo allowed the blood to fall, as drops normally would from a
humanoid, each drop would have reverted to its natural state of gold colored
goo. Controlling them only postponed the inevitable however, but Odo had
little choice.
The female Founder was about to speak when Weyoun found his voice. “The
real Kira is loose. Find her!” He motioned to his Jem ‘Hadar guards.
A second later, there were no Jem ‘Hadar guards. They all vanished in dozens
of transporter beams.
Dukat recovered quickly, and signed to his Cardassian guards to follow
Weyoun’s order. But in the next instant, they too vanished, along with Dukat
himself. In the bleacher seats, Quark, Odo, Rom and Leeta huddled together
as the confusion started, then slowly rose from their suddenly roomy seating
and climbed down to join their friends.
“Captain Sisko, what have you done?” Weyoun asked, still horrified.
Sisko shrugged his shoulders, resisting the urge to smile. “Don’t ask me.
I’m as confused as you are.”
“I’m sure Odo can enlighten us.” The female Founder said as she confronted
Odo.
“Or I can.”
Everyone turned to the doorway to see Kira approach with Jake Sisko, both
armed with phaser rifles. Kira also carried a large cloth bag, which she tossed
to Sisko. He looked inside, then began handing out phasers to everyone except
Weyoun and the female Founder.
“It’s simple,” Kira explained. “Not long after Odo was confined to
quarters, he removed his combadge and shapeshifted his way through the
ductwork to a corridor outside Jake’s quarters, where he took out the
two guards posted there, allowing Jake to leavehis quarters.
Odo returned to the ductwork to make his way to the facilities in
the Security office. He was there waiting for me when I pretended to be sick.
As soon as Odo found out about the Vorta traditions, we started planning this.
One of us was supposed to be captured, it was just chance which one. He took
my place, while Jake and I modified the transporters. Jake raided the armory
while I finished up.” She faced Weyoun and added as an afterthought, “You
know, it’s very helpful having mandatory attendance.” She then turned back to
the female Founder, “I used a wide beam to lock onto Jem ‘Hadar life signs
first, then Cardassian.”
“Where did you send them?” Weyoun, still standing in the box, asked.
Kira smiled mysteriously, “I’ll send you the coordinates as
you and what’s left of your army leave the station. Intact. Or you’ll never find
them.”
Weyoun slowly left the box to stand next to the female Founder. They
exchanged meaningful glances, and the Founder nodded solemnly. “We will
go. But I assure you, this is only an inconvenience.”
“Don’t be so sure.” Odo said from behind her. “The whole quadrant watched
Dukat torture a Founder, by order of Weyoun. He punished his own god.”
Weyoun hung his head low as Odo continued, “The deception involved is
minor compared to his crime. He holds no more power in this quadrant. Nor, I
suspect, do any of the Vorta.”

Later, in Ops, Sisko gathered with all of his friends around the central
command console. Everyone was smiling. It felt good to be back. Weyoun and
the female Founder were prepared to depart, taking the wall of ships back with
them to Cardassian space.
“Dax, Chief,” Sisko addressed, “let’s look into dismantling the mine field.
I want to know how fast you can do it, and how fast you can put it up again
if we need it. We’ll wait awhile before opening the wormhole, though. They
can’t go home until we do, but let’s minimize the risks first.”
“Aye, sir.” They both replied, going to their Ops stations.
Sisko approached Bashir. “How’s Odo?”
“Exhausted,” Bashir replied. “But he’ll recover. He’ll be in his bucket for at
least a day.”
Kira added sotto voce, “Don’t tell Quark that.”
From behind a console, where Quark was happily observing the reunion,
they heard, “Don’t worry, Major. Whenever he’s in his bucket, I get triple
surveillance.” Quark spoke glumly, as if it were a major imposition on
Security’s part to do their job so well.
The rest of Ops shared a smile.
“They’re asking for clearance to depart, sir.” Kira said, “Coordinates
transmitting now. Energizing.”
“Energizing?” Sisko asked.
A second later, Ziyal stood on the Ops transporter pad. She breathed a deep
sigh of relief, and hurried to hug an astonished Garak. “You did think of
everything.” Garak said to Kira, hugging Ziyal tightly.
Kira grinned to herself and approached the young woman. “You all right?”
Ziyal nodded. “Transponders come in handy, don’t they? If you hadn’t let me
put one in, we wouldn’t have been able to pluck you out of there with all those
Cardassian life signs.”
Sisko was curious and moved to stand next to her.
“So, where *did* you send all those guards?”
Kira shifted her weight, “Well, it was Odo’s idea.”
Sisko turned toward Bashir at his other side, “Doctor, did he say anything?”
Bashir shook his head and shrugged, “No, sir. It would seem Major Kira
performed the actual engineering.”
Sisko again turned toward Kira, “Major?”
“Jake really came through for us.” Kira said, putting an enthusiastic arm
around the boy’s shoulders and pulling him closer.
Sisko leaned across Kira, “Jake, where are the guards?”
Jake was bashful, “I just did what Major Kira told me…” He ducked the
Major’s grip and moved back.
Sisko, heaving a frustrated sigh, again faced Kira, “Where?!”
“Remember when we had to evacuate that moon, the one Mullibok didn’t want to leave?”
Kira replied, finally.
Sisko hoped there was a connection here. “Jerrado. The surface was rendered
uninhabitable. You didn’t send them there?”
“Not exactly. You see, the mining facilities were abandoned when the
Cardassians took the station…”
“Ah, *inside*. You beamed them inside the moon!” He smiled broadly as
Kira nodded.
“You’ve never heard of the men in the moon?” Kira mused, as
she closed the communications channel.

THE END

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