There was one room on Gul Dukat’s starship that no one but he ever entered. Cardassians weren’t a particularly superstitious people, but Dukat’s crew had good reason to be uneasy about the gul’s private office.
Once or twice, a glinn had passed when the door was open. Odd stories had circulated among the crew of Dukat talking to himself. Even stranger were rumors that he had made some sort of pact with a Bajoran demon, and that he had been responsible for the recent unexpected closure of the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant.
One officer, walking past the door, could not resist looking in. He regretted it when Dukat turned and looked at him with glowing red eyes. The officer did not spread this story around. He spent most of his time in his quarters until they finally reached Cardassian space.
Shortly before the ship entered orbit around Cardassia Prime, Dukat once again spoke with his unseen companion.
“But why? It seems like a strange way to help our cause.”
“Hah! Weyoun won’t see it that way. Now that the Founders are cut off from their…”
“Ah. Of course. The Emissary is not as honorable as he appears.”
“They’re too small-minded to understand. But don’t worry. I will handle them.”
Kira really didn’t need to linger in the security office. It should have taken her only ten minutes to get the criminal activity reports from Odo, but she had managed to stretch the meeting out to an hour. And it wasn’t just for Odo’s company. In the months after Jadzia’s death and Sisko’s sudden departure, Kira found herself using the security office as a refuge from the strained atmosphere of Ops.
“I tried contacting Sisko on Earth again,” Kira said in a frustrated tone. “It’s been over three months since he left, and I thought he might want to talk about things – or at least tell me when he’s coming back! But he says he needs more time. He might leave Earth for a short trip, and we wouldn’t be able to reach him. I think that’s his way of telling me to stop pestering him.”
“Well, maybe you should let him come back in his own time,” Odo said.
“I don’t know if he is coming back! Running DS9 is no picnic…”
“It is stressful, with the war and all.”
“I can handle the Dominion fine!” Kira said. “But this place is like a morgue. Jadzia’s death has cast a pall over the whole station. And it’s my job to cheer everyone up. I’m sorry, but I make a lousy morale officer. Captain Sisko could be a real pain at times, but he always knew the right thing to say in a crisis.”
“Maybe you’re the one who needs cheering up,” Odo said. “You and Jadzia were close friends.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Kira said. “I’ve spent a lifetime losing family and friends. I’m better equipped to handle this than a lot of the others are.”
“Hmmph, well I still feel awful about the whole thing,” Odo said “I should have kept the station under tighter security.”
“Odo! It wasn’t your fault! You can’t stop a paghwraith when it’s been unleashed.”
“Nerys, you may consider that thing to be some sort of deity…”
“Demon! It’s a demon, but it’s still too powerful…”
“But to me, it’s just another security threat. And I fell down on the job! I’ve rechecked every system three times to make sure something like this doesn’t occur again.”
Kira took Odo’s hand. “If it makes you feel better, fine. But there was really nothing you could have done.”
“Tell that to Worf!” Odo said, ruefully.
“Worf’s taking it surprisingly well. All Klingons want a ‘glorious and honorable death in battle.’ Worf actually told me he was envious of Jadzia, and hopes he will die that well.”
“I still think Worf should have taken some leave.”
“In the middle of a war?” Kira said. “No Klingon would do that, no matter what! No, the one I’m worried about is Julian. You know he always finds any excuse for being ‘needed’ in Ops. But now he’s spending most of his work hours in his medical lab. And when I do see him, he just seems so…depressed…so unlike himself.”
“He might have the right idea. The best way to handle situations like this is to throw yourself into your work.”
“I suppose. But I’ll tell you, Odo. Jadzia’s death has reminded me that life is uncertain and short – and that I need to take care of unfinished business.”
“What ‘unfinished business?’”
Kira got up and started pacing around the room. “The fact that Garak got away with murdering my – I mean, an innocent person! It’s one of those things that gets under your skin and won’t go away, you know?”
“Yes, I do know,” Odo said. “Like that incident a few months ago. When that Romulan Senator Vreenak’s ship that blew up not far from here. That’s been bothering me – there’s something fishy about it.”
“Well, it wasn’t an accident, if that’s what you mean,” Kira said. “It’s pretty obvious that it was Dominion sabotage. Didn’t the Romulans find out that the bomb was planted on Cardassia, before Senator Vreenak left that conference?”
“Well, that’s what everyone thinks,” Odo said. “But I when I was checking the security systems, I ran into something very suspicious. Some of the docking logs have been erased!”
“Do you know what those docking logs were for?”
“That was the strange thing – all the ships we know to have docked are accounted for in the logs.”
“Maybe it was just a computer error? We could have O’Brien check the system.”
“No, it wasn’t a mistake,” Odo said. “Someone deliberately erased the logs. It was very cleverly done, which is the most disturbing thing. Whoever did it knows practically everything there is to know about the station’s computer security system.”
“That is disturbing,” Kira said.
“But whoever it was, doesn’t know I have my own subroutines in the system, for restoring any deleted data. It wasn’t perfect, but I managed to do a partial reconstruction of the logs.”
“What did you find?”
“It was hard to interpret. But it looked like the ship was cloaked when it docked.”
“A Klingon starship?”
“Perhaps,” Odo said. “Or – a Romulan starship.”
“Odo! You’re not implying that Vreenak’s ship docked at DS9 – secretly – before it was destroyed?”
“I don’t know. But the whole incident bothers me. I’m the security chief on this station, and things like this shouldn’t happen right under my nose!”
“Maybe the Romulans were here for some sort of secret diplomatic conference,” Kira said. “Captain Sisko can’t always tell us everything.”
“And maybe that bomb was planted on Vreenak’s ship on this station! That doesn’t sound very ‘diplomatic’ to me!”
“Why would anyone plant the bomb here?”
“Good question,” Odo said. “The only possible answer is that there is a Dominion spy on this station! Someone who’s had years to study the operations of this station up close, and knows the systems inside and out. And who is the most likely suspect?
Kira frowned, and then suddenly saw what Odo meant. “Garak! Odo, I think you’re onto something.”
“Hrmph. After you told me what happened in your Orb of Truth vision, it all started to come together. Garak has an engaging personality. Sometimes, you forget what he’s really capable of.”
“He’s been fooling us all along!” Kira said. “Garak has gradually wormed his way into Sisko’s confidence. Now Sisko actually trusts him enough to send him on Starfleet missions.”
“He’s put himself in the perfect position to be a Dominion spy,” Odo said. “I should have seen this long before now. Garak was on Romulus years ago, almost certainly working as an assassin. So it would make perfect sense for him to be given this assignment. I can’t believe I’ve allowed a security breach of this magnitude to go on for so long! I’ll get to the bottom of this.”
“Should I call Captain Sisko and tell him about this?” Kira said.
“No, we don’t have any evidence that Garak did it yet. I need to do a lot more investigation.”
“And Sisko seems to trust Garak,” Kira said. “I think we’ll need hard evidence before he’ll believe us.”
In their quarters that evening, Kira spent her usual hour in Kirdo’s room, talking to him and reciting Bajoran prayers. Odo was fairly certain that Kirdo was not paying attention to anything outside his jar. The Link was too compelling. But he couldn’t tell Kira that.
Relieved to have a distraction from Kirdo, Odo told Kira what he had learned during the day. “The investigation is going very well,” Odo said. “I’ve already made progress. My theory is that Vreenak somehow learned about the data rod that had evidence the Dominion planned to attack the Romulans. For some reason, the Senator docked secretly at DS9. I think it could have been to obtain the rod from a contact here. So the Dominion gave Garak the assignment of making sure the Senator did not make it back to Romulus with the data rod.”
“That sounds like the way it could have happened, all right,” Kira said. “How do we prove it?”
Odo outlined the necessary evidence. “First, we need to show that it was Vreenak’s ship that docked at the station. So, I went through the communications files just before stardate 51721, when the ship blew up, to see if I could uncover any more erased files. And there were several erased messages, transmitted from DS9 on frequencies matching those used by Romulan starships. I contacted someone on Romulus who owes me a favor, and that person confirmed that the transmission frequency specifically matched Vreenak’s ship.”
“Isn’t that evidence enough?” Kira said.
“No – the ship could have been here for any reason. We need to prove that Vreenak obtained the data rod here, on the station. That will establish a motive for his murder.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“Simple,” Odo said. “Who’s the one person on this station you’d turn to, if you wanted to obtain a hard-to-find item.”
“Quark. Do you think Quark was working for the Romulans?” Kira smiled. “That’s a strange thought.”
“Hrmph. It is hard to imagine. But Quark would work for anyone who paid him enough latinum.”
“I meant, it’s hard to imagine Romulans being able to stomach Quark long enough to work with him!”
“Don’t worry about the Romulans. They can be thick-skinned when it suits their purposes.”
“Are you going to question Quark?”
“Eventually. But first thing tomorrow, I’m going through all the surveillance tapes to see if I can find anything suspicious.”
“Odo! You still have surveillance devices on the station? I thought Captain Sisko told you to stop spying on people without their knowledge.”
“Federation regulations, hmph. What Captain Sisko doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
It was tedious work, but changelings are patient. Odo reviewed all the holo-recordings for Quark’s bar, and found only the usual incidents of petty crimes. The strange incident involving the forger Tolar and Quark was on the recording. But it was obviously just a drunken brawl, and Odo impatiently skipped over that part, looking for something relevant to the case.
Odo was disappointed to find that his recordings for Garak’s tailor shop were garbled. Evidently, the Cardassian tailor had installed scrambling devices in and around his shop. Which, to Odo, was simply more evidence of his guilt.
Giving up on visual searching, Odo uploaded a sophisticated security program into his computer. With it, he could automatically cross-reference the faces of everyone who passed through the station with the face-prints of known criminals. Odo narrowed the search by loading just the face-prints of criminals with high-level connections to Cardassian sources. Only an extraordinary criminal would have been able to steal the data rod.
After a few minutes, Odo had a match. He watched eagerly as the holo-recording showed a Xepolite named Gorred Taun entering the station at an airlock. According to Taun’s security file, he was under suspicion of trading in high-level Cardassian technology – including data rods – and was even known to have connections to the Obsidian Order.
The recording followed Taun as he boarded a turbolift. But as he stepped onto the promenade, he seemed to adjust his belt – or was it something on his belt? – and the recording abruptly stopped.
“Another jamming device!” Odo said in frustration. Odo supposed that Quark had tipped Taun off about the surveillance. The thought that Quark was finally getting smart after all this time did not sit well with the changeling.
But it was not lost on Odo that the turbolift exit was next to Quark’s bar. All Taun had to do was turn right and walk a few steps.
Unfortunately, it was lost on Odo that the turbolift was also near Garak’s tailor shop – all Taun had to do was turn left and walk a few steps. Which is what had actually occurred, but the holo-recorder had not captured.
Odo froze the last frame in which Taun appeared. “He was on the promenade at precisely 14:09:44 hours,” Odo muttered.
The Odo called up another security file – the radiation sensor logs. He pinpointed the logs for 14:09:44 hours and read the scans for the area around the turbolift.
As the radiation charts flashed onto the screen, Odo found what he had been looking for. He activated the comlink. “Nerys, I’ve got it – evidence that there was a stolen Cardassian data rod on the station!”
Kira wasted no time coming to the security office.
Odo told Kira about his discovery of Gorred Taun. “Look at this,” Odo said. “It’s a radiation scan from the area around Taun.”
“It looks normal to me.”
“But look at this spike in the Delta band. It’s subtle – not enough to set off the sensors – but it only occurs next to Taun. Nowhere else”
“Hmmm. That is odd. What could have caused it?” Kira asked.
“There aren’t many sources for Delta radiation. But I can think of one. The buffering liquid used in Cardassian data rods gives off a slight Delta-band signature.”
“That’s it, Odo!” Kira said. “Taun was here to hand off the data rod to Quark.”
“Who was going to pass it on to Senator Vreenak.”
“If he had made it back to Romulus with that evidence…”
“Right,” Odo said. “Disaster for the Dominion. So of course, they had Garak ‘take care of’ Vreenak. I wouldn’t put it past Quark and Garak to have set this whole thing up together, as a trap.”
“Let’s try to contact Sisko again. He should know about this!”
Kira and Odo reached an elderly sous-chef at Joseph Sisko’s restaurant named Mr. Desmond. He told them that all three Siskos had abruptly left the previous day, heading for ‘some planet called ‘Tyree’.” They left no flight plan, and neither Kira nor Odo had ever heard of the planet, or had any idea how to reach the Siskos.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with Joseph’s son,” Mr. Desmond said. “He’s getting stranger and stranger…”
“Thank you, Mr. Desmond,” Kira said. “We can handle things here. This isn’t something we need to bother Captain Sisko with.”
Kira paced around the office. “Now what do we do?”
“Hmmph. Contact Starfleet, I suppose. We’ll have to proceed cautiously. After all, we only have circumstantial evidence linking Garak with the bombing.”
“Pretty strong circumstantial evidence, if you ask me!” Kira said. “Vreenak’s ship docking here in secret – Garak’s history as an assassin – a known dealer in stolen Cardassian goods coming to the station – and that radiation signature could only have been a data rod!”
“You’re right. This can’t all be coincidence. But nonetheless, we shouldn’t be hasty. Let’s see what Starfleet says.”
Kira and Odo knew they had to talk with someone far up in the chain of command. After a few false starts, they reached Admiral Ross.
After hearing the evidence against Garak, Ross looked thoughtful. “Who else knows about this?”
“Well, not Captain Sisko,” Kira said. “We’ve tried to reach him, but he seems to have disappeared!”
“Hmm, yes, he left without leaving his flight plan with us, either,” Ross said. “But have you told the Romulans about this yet?”
“No,” Odo said. “We know it’s a sensitive diplomatic issue. We’ve been…discreet in our inquiries. If the Romulans hear about this, it should be from someone like you.”
“Admiral Ross,” Kira said. “Do you think the Romulans might blame the Federation that the bomb was planted on DS9?”
“No more than they blame us now,” Ross replied. “We’ve had intelligence reports that some of the Romulan Senate already believe that’s what happened. Evidently, the Romulans traced the path of Vreenak’s ship using the cloaking signature. They think he did detour from his route to dock at DS9. Vreenak’s friends in the Senate are even accusing Sisko of planting the bomb on DS9, and blaming the Dominion!”
Odo snorted in derision. “Typical Romulan thinking. They assume everyone is as devious as they are!”
“You two have done great work here,” Ross said. “If we can turn over the guilty party, and show he was working for the Dominion, it will defuse a potentially dangerous situation.”
Ross ended the transmission. Odo turned to Kira and said, “Now all that’s left it to link this crime with Garak. I think I know where to start.”
Quark was no stranger to the security office. But in all the years he’d known Odo, the constable hadn’t gotten many of the charges to stick. Quark leaned back in his chair comfortably. He wasn’t concerned about the interrogation. He was more worried about his waiters pocketing the day’s profits while he was gone.
“I won’t waste any time, Quark,” Odo said. “Who paid you to get the data rod?”
Quark put on a great show of indignation. “What data rod? Anyway, I never discuss business transactions.”
“Stop trying to be cute! Station security is at stake here.”
“How could any of my business transactions – which, by the way, are all perfectly legal – compromise station security?”
Odo became impatient. “We know what happened! You obtained a data rod from Cardassia for Senator Vreenak, and Garak assassinated him. Garak is a Dominion agent, and we need evidence to prove it. Now, cooperate!”
Quark was stunned, and asked Odo to repeat the accusation. Odo complied.
“You’re talking about that Romulan ship that exploded, right?” Quark said, nervously. “I don't really know what was happening, Odo. But I can tell you this much. You’ve got it all wrong! Sisko and Garak were working together.”
Odo rolled his eyes. Quark is really slipping if he thinks I’ll buy that story, he thought. “Oh come on, Quark. Do you really expect me to believe that Captain Sisko was conspiring with Garak? To commit murder? You're going to have to come up with a better lie than that.”
“Remember that incident with – what was his name? – Tolar! That lunatic who attacked me in the bar. Sisko bribed me to drop the charges. Bribed me, Odo. Does that sound like the Sisko you know?”
“No, it doesn’t. And I doubt it happened that way. Tolar probably attacked you for cheating him at dabo.”
“Listen, Odo. I know I've been less than honest in the past...”
“Nooooo - really?”
Now Quark was angry. “But this time I'm telling the truth! Odo, we Ferengi have...instincts! Lobes! And my lobes are SCREAMING at me now...LEAVE THIS ALONE! Odo, I'm telling you, don't investigate this any more. Something bad will happen.”
“The only bad thing that happens will be to you, when I find out that you and Garak committed murder. And now you’re trying to scare me off with these wild accusations about Captain Sisko. Who conveniently can't be reached right now to refute your ridiculous story.”
Realizing he would get nothing further out of Quark, Odo sent the confused Ferengi back to his bar.
Odo called Kira in Ops. “Meet me at Garak’s shop. I’m going to arrest him now.”
Garak was his usual, pleasant self when Odo, Kira and two Bajoran deputies made the arrest. He continued to be pleasant when he was thrown into a holding cell, but he was also perplexed and just slightly worried.
“We’re investigating the murder of Senator Vreenak,” Kira said. “But you’ve probably figured that out by now.”
Garak sighed. Somehow, Odo’s snooping ability – and Kira’s tenacity in her vendetta against him – had negated all the precautions he had taken to erase the regrettable incident with Vreenak. They obviously had learned part of the story.
And experience had taught Garak that a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing, especially in people whose thinking tends toward the fanatical. Garak briefly considered simply telling Kira and Odo the truth, but realized it would be pointless, without Sisko to back his story up.
“Don’t tell me, let me guess,” Odo said. “You and Captain Sisko were working together on some top secret plot to murder a poor, innocent Romulan Senator.”
“What would be the point of saying that?” Garak said. “Even if it were true – which, incidentally, it is – you wouldn’t believe me.”
“We certainly would not!” Kira said. “Why would Captain Sisko meet with a Romulan Senator on the station, and not tell either Odo or myself? Or Starfleet command!”
“Why, indeed?” Garak said, and paused as if he were considering this idea for the first time. “A very good question. And I could give you a very good answer, but it would mean that you would have to accept that your precious captain is not exactly the man you think he is. I’ve found that he’s much more…creative…in his approach to difficulties that is typical for humans. He’s almost Cardassian in that way.”
“Oh, that’s very nice,” Kira said. “Insulting the Captain to cover up for your crime!”
“And what crime might that be?” Garak said. “Oh yes – helping the Federation win a war – against my own home world! Which will probably be annihilated in the process.” Garak gestured at the holding cell around him. “I’m so touched by the gratitude you’ve shown me for my sacrifice!”
“You’re wasting your breath, Garak,” Odo said. “We’ve already contacted Starfleet. They are just as eager as we are to uncover the truth, and share it with their Romulan allies. Now would they do that, if they had something to hide? I don’t think anyone is going to believe your story.”
“Oh, I can think of at least one person who will,” Garak said. “Contact Captain Sisko, and ask him! Make sure to include the part about telling the Romulans everything. I think you’ll find his reaction…enlightening, to say the least.”
“Sisko’s not reachable, right now,” Kira said. “Which you probably know!”
“It’s obvious that Garak and Quark coordinated their stories in advance,” Odo said. “I only wish we had enough evidence to turn Quark over to the Romulans, too. But he seems to have been just a go-between.”
Garak grew a paler shade of gray than usual. “Turn me over to the – wait, you can’t be serious about this!”
Kira and Odo said nothing as they headed for the door.
Desperately, Garak shouted after them. “I need to talk to someone else!
Doctor Bashir! You have to let me talk to him! Before you tell the Romulans anything!”
Kira and Odo looked at each other. “Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt,” Odo said. “I’ll ask him to come by.”
Within five minutes, Bashir was in the holding cell area. He shocked and upset to hear that Odo had accused Garak of being a Dominion spy and a murderer.
Bashir could also tell that, despite his outward calm, Garak was panicked. The Doctor had a sickening feeling. What if it is true? What do I really know about Garak, anyway?
The doctor was about to learn quite a bit more about his Cardassian friend. Deciding that Bashir was the only person on the station who might believe him, Garak told him the whole story – that Sisko was desperate to bring the Romulans into the war on the Federation side; that he and Sisko faked evidence that the Dominion was planning to double-cross the Romulans; and that, when Senator Vreenak discovered the forgery, Garak had no choice but to destroy the evidence…
“And, unfortunately, the Senator as well,” Garak said.
Bashir was incredulous. “To be honest, I don’t know whether to believe all this. Usually, these wild stories of yours turn out to be, well, less than accurate.”
For the first time in his life, Garak regretted his talent for fabrication. “I know I make it a point never to tell the truth when a lie will do,” he said. “But this is one of those rare occasions when a lie won’t do.”
“Because the truth is fantastic enough. Garak, for as long as I’ve known you, you’ve never told the truth! I want to believe you – but how can I?”
Garak closed his eyes, his mind working desperately. Then he had it.
“What?” Bashir said.
“Sisko asked you to give him something called biomimetic gel, didn’t he?”
Bashir was astonished that Garak would know this. “Yes…yes, you’re right! He did.”
“And did he tell you what it was for?”
“He wouldn’t say!” Bashir said. “I told him the gel would be disastrous in the wrong hands. But he didn’t seem to care!”
“I hate to be the one to tell you, Doctor. But that gel is most definitely in the wrong hands. It was our payment to Taun for the data rod. I arranged for the rod, and Sisko – as you now know – arranged for the payment.”
Bashir was momentarily speechless. “Then Sisko…he did…”
Garak was relieved to see that Bashir understood. “Commit murder? Well, not quite. But the important part is – he was implicated, and I doubt the Romulans will take a charitable view if they find out what really happened!”
“Then they can’t find out,” Bashir said. “I’ll get everyone together and tell them what’s at stake here. Don’t worry, Garak, I’ll put a stop to this.”
Bashir left. To an empty room, Garak said, “I sincerely hope so, Doctor. For all our sakes.”
“I called you all here because – I’m sure you’ve all heard about Garak,” Bashir begin.
Bashir had hurriedly assembled the station’s senior staff in the wardroom. Worf and O’Brien nodded. Kira sat stone-faced. Odo folded his arms with a skeptical “mmph,” like he knew was Bashir was going to say next.
“Yes, everyone knows Garak’s ridiculous story,” Odo said. “To tell you the truth, I’m disappointed in Garak – his lies are usually more convincing.”
Bashir seized the point. “That’s right, they are! It would hurt Garak’s professional pride to make up a lie so unbelievable. I think he’s telling the truth.”
Kira and Odo started talking at once, but Kira was louder. “I can’t believe this! Are you trying to set some kind of record for gullibility? Do you really believe Captain Sisko was plotting with Garak?”
“Yes!” Bashir said.
“Oh come on, Doctor,” Odo said. “I know you’re upset. We’d all like to believe that someone who’s lived among us for so long…whom we’ve become friends with…is not capable of deception and murder. But you must admit, the evidence against Garak is very strong.”
“You’re not considering all the evidence!” Bashir said. “None of you know this, but – while Garak was supposedly plotting Vreenak’s murder, Captain Sisko asked me to provide him with a very large amount of biomimetic gel. And he wouldn’t give me an adequate explanation for why he needed the gel.”
Bashir looked around the room. All he saw were blank stares. Everyone there had heard of biomimetic gel, but no one besides Bashir had the medical background to fully appreciate how dangerous the gel could be.
“So?” O’Brien said. “Who says the Captain needed to give you an explanation?”
“I concur,” said Worf. “He is the Captain, and we do as he orders.”
Bashir was annoyed at Worf’s typically Klingon response. “No, no, no! You don’t understand! He should never have ordered me to turn over that gel. He knew it was against all medical ethics. And, it was more than that, it was his manner. He was behaving strangely, like he was hiding something! And Garak has just told me Sisko needed the gel as payment to the contact who provided the data rod. Garak’s story makes sense, don’t you see?”
Worf rose halfway out of his seat in a threatening manner. “Are you accusing the Captain of acting with dishonor?”
“Oh, sit down, Worf!” Bashir said. “No, of course not. I don’t think he’d willingly conspire in murder. But I can see him faking the data rod, and trying to pass it off to Senator Vreenak as real.”
This did not appease Worf. “Then you are accusing the Captain of, of acting like a Romulan!”
Now Bashir was angry, too. “No, I’m accusing the Captain of acting like a desperate man. He knew the situation was grave, and that the Romulans might be our only hope. He was trying to end the war quicker, before any more lives were…” Bashir’s voice was shaking, and he couldn’t go on. At that point, everyone in the room was thinking about Jadzia.
“Listen, Julian,” O’Brien said. “You’re not thinking rationally. Jadzia’s death has hit us all pretty hard. And now you’ve found out that a close friend is working for the enemy. I think all this has affected your judgement. You’re clutching at straws, trying to find some way to convince yourself that Garak is not guilty, when all the evidence says he is.”
Bashir slumped in his chair, defeated. “Maybe you’re right, Miles. But I just keep thinking – what if you’re wrong. What if Captain Sisko had something to do with the Senator’s death, after all? If the Romulans find out, the consequences could be…catastrophic!”
Kira was still angry. “And that is just what Garak hopes we’ll believe. He preys on people’s fears! I’m sorry, Doctor, but I don’t think you know the real Garak at all. But I do! And I’m not going to listen to any more of this nonsense about bio-whatever gel! I’m going to call Starfleet right now, and tell them we’ve apprehended the murderer of Senator Vreenak.”
Everyone got up and left the room, except Bashir. At the door, O’Brien turned around.
After the rest were out of earshot, O’Brien said, “If it’s any consolation, Julian, I would have believed your story. I really could see the Captain doing those things. In a desperate situation, you take desperate measures. I might have done the same thing in his place.”
“Well, then, why don’t you believe me?” Bashir said wearily.
O’Brien shrugged. “It’s not you I don’t believe. It’s Garak.”
Admiral Ross conveyed the news to the Romulan government with admirable delicacy. The Romulans were somewhat upset that a breach of Federation security had led to the Senator’s death, but they were willing to overlook it. This kind of carelessness – allowing a known assassin like Garak to remain on DS9 – was characteristic of the Federation in general and humans in particular. The Romulans were mollified by knowing that the Senator’s murderer would soon be turned over to them for justice.
Kira was satisfied. At long last, Garak’s crimes had caught up with him. And even better was the news that Captain Sisko was finally returning from Earth.
Kira and Odo waited impatiently at the transporter pad in Ops. As Sisko beamed in and stepped off the pad, Kira grabbed his arm before he could greet the others.
“I need to brief you immediately – there have been important new developments…” Kira said.
“I’m sorry, Major, it will have to wait,” Sisko said. “My ship was notified of a high-priority call from Romulus. That’s why I beamed in, rather than waiting for the ship to dock. I need to access the secured channel in my office.”
Sisko sat down at his desk, and put his baseball in its accustomed holder. He was glad to be resuming his duties, and curious what the Romulans wanted to talk about.
Senator Letant was on the viewscreen, all smiles. “I must congratulate you, Captain Sisko. A brilliant gambit, worthy of a Romulan! And you really did have us fooled there, for a while...”
“I'm sorry, Senator,” Sisko said. “I don't know what you mean.…”
“No false modesty, now! That bomb in Senator Vreenak's ship - when learned that the bomb had been planted while the ship was at your station, of course we re-examined the data rod. Turns out it was faked, after all, wasn't it? From there, it was very simple to deduce what happened. You manufactured the evidence of Dominion treachery, and then murdered poor Vreenak when he learned the truth.”
Sisko maintained his composure, but his voice betrayed his shock. “I don’t know who told you that, but I’m surprised you’d believe…”
“The news came from your own security chief and first officer,” Letant said evenly. “Really, that was your fatal mistake. We did believe your lies at first. It wasn't necessary to bolster your story by ‘turning over’ the guilty party to us. When we learned it was Garak! Well, we've known for some time that he's a Federation agent. Trying to pass him off as a Dominion spy...tsk, tsk, that wasn't very smart.”
“Wait, you have this all wrong!” Sisko said.
“No, Captain. We have it right now. Oh, no hard feelings, of course. But I think we will have to withdraw from our alliance with the Federation. And I suppose Proconsul Neral will want to join the Dominion, now. And now that we've gotten a close look at the Federation and Klingon military operations, I imagine we will be a considerable asset to our future allies.”
Sisko knew there was no sense arguing with Letant. It was all over.
“Nothing to say?” Letant said. “Pity, I usually find your opinions most intriguing. But don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to meet again.”