By Seema

Formalities first: all the characters and places belong to the powers that be at Paramount.
Delat Caron, Lieutenants Alvarez, Smith & Morrow, Arwin, Rong, Molig, Silvi Daria and Nokun are my own creations as is the story.

My inspiration this time around? The Titanic Soundtrack and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.

~ * ~

Dax whirled around from her console to face the Captain. He immediately read the urgency in her eyes.

"What is it, Old Man?" he asked.

"Klingon Bird of Prey decloacking off of starboard side," she answered. "And one Bajoran ship on the other side."

"Hail them."

"Aye, sir," Dax said. "The Bajorans are responding."

"Have them beam aboard," Sisko said. "Major?"

Kira tipped her head slightly in acknowledgement, "On my way, Captain."

"The Klingons would also like to meet with you, Captain," Dax said.

"Have them beam aboard also," Sisko said.

"Can I join you, Captain?" Dax asked. "Please?"

Sisko considered for a moment. He really wanted Dax to stay on the bridge and keep an eye on things. Chances were, once the Federation showed up, things could get a little messy. At the same time, he did not want to deny his old friend anything.

"On the other hand," Dax said, sensing Benjamin's inner turmoil. "Perhaps I should stay here and make sure nothing happens while you and Kira are in negotiations."

"I think that would be wise," Sisko said. "Contact me immediately if anything happens."

"I will, Benjamin. Don't worry about that."

Sisko noted the tension in Dax's jaw and knew that if that situation on Narada Prime changed in anyway, he would know about it immediately. He smiled at her and she returned the expression wanely.

"Wish me luck," he said.

"Good luck with the talks. They seem friendly," Dax said with a trace of her old humor.

"Friendly or not, I just hope they say something I want to hear."

With that last comment, Sisko exited the bridge.


Kira stood, arms behind her back, almost ashamed at the anticipation running through her veins. She tried not to betray her nervousness, but it was hard to control her shaking fingers and that annoying little facial tick that emerged whenever she was under stress.

In a moment, the Bajoran contingent, including Delat Caron, materialized.

"Welcome," Kira said warmly. "Welcome to the Defiant."

The Bajorans had sent one of the new members of the ruling council, a woman by the name of Silvi Daria along with Delat. Kira had never met Silvi before, but she had heard good things about Silvi from Shakaar. In fact, shortly before his death, Shakaar had recommended Silvi for a post on Deep Space Nine. After Shakaar was killed though, Silvi declined the post on DS9 and had instead opted for a position on the council.

"It's a fine ship you have here, Major," Delat said with a sparkle in his eye.

"It's not mine, actually. But I will pass your compliments on to Starfleet. I'm sure they will appreciate it," Kira said.
"How are you? You got here sooner than I expected."

"The chance to put the Dominion on trial is much too good to pass up," Silvi answered. Her voice was quiet and smooth with authority.

"No one knows or feels that more than I," Kira responded. The trio moved out of the transporter room. "Let me show you to your quarters. Perhaps you would like to rest."

"I will rest after the Dominion has answered for itself for its role in the Battle of Bajor. Frankly, Major, I would much prefer you tell us exactly what's going on here," Silvi said.

"Well, as you know, the officials on Narada want to execute a group of Klingons we recently rescued on Vlata III."

"You did make that clear," Silvi admitted.

"The Klingons are accused of destroying a base two years ago," Kira continued. "If they can accuse Klingons of that and execute them for that, well, I think Bajor has quite the claim on the Dominion."

"You're saying that we should make the Dominion answerable for what happened during the Battle of Bajor?" Delat asked.

"That and everything else," Kira said.

"How will that help the Klingons?"

"Hopefully by distracting the Dominion long enough for the Federation to get here and intervene."

"So you're merely using Bajor as a stalling device?" Silvi asked.

"Yes, no, well, sort of," Kira said. "This is just as important to me as it is to you, Minister."

"Very well. Who should we approach on our complaint?"

"A toad of a vorta called Arvin," Kira answered.

"Sounds charming," Delat said. "But, Major, you haven't really explained why I am here."br> "Your story touched me," Kira said with more honesty than she intended. "Not that I think the Vorta has a heart, but I believe you can lend credibility to Bajor's complaint against the Dominion."

"And who do you propose we put on trial for all this? The proverbial scapegoat, if you will?" Silvi asked.

"Arwin himself," Kira said with a smile. "We'll see then how he deals with justice, Bajoran style."


Sisko, despite his outward composure, rarely felt at ease around the Klingons. Not for the first time since he entered this room, he wished that the Federation would hurry up and send that negotiater he so desperately needed. Sitting at the head of the table with his fingers laced together, Sisko listened to the Klingons arguing and realized that the Klingons were even more reluctant for peace than the Dominion was. In fact, one of the Klingons, a burly fellow called Nokun, seemed determined to make sure that Worf and the others had a warrior's death.

"There is no dishonor in death," Nokun raged.

"We're not talking about death on the battlefield," Sisko said. "We're talking about twenty men who will be executed. Surely there is nothing honorable in execution."

Nokun and his comrades continued to rage, fortifying their will and desire to continue the war against the Dominion. Sisko closed his eyes for a long moment, trying to contain his own inner rage. Was this the best negotiating team the Klingon High Council could send?

"That's it," Sisko said, after listening to the group's battle plans. "You only want to perpetuate the war, I want to end it. For good, for everyone."

"There is much the Dominion must answer for," Nokun said. "And they still hold Klingon territory."

"That's not the issue," Sisko said. "The issue here is whether we can save twenty men from execution. I need to know if you are willing to help me. If you are not interested in peace, then I must ask you to leave."

"Peace! Pah!" Nokun spat the words out. "There will be no peace. Worf and the others shall take their place as glorious martyrs who died for the Klingon Empire."

"And their deaths will give you a perfect reason to continue the current hostilities," Sisko murmured.


That evening, Dax made another trip down to the planet to see Worf. Kira came with her, along with Silvi Daria and Delat Caron.

"A confrontation with a Vorta is not how I like to spend my evenings," Dax said to Kira as they parted ways.

"We'll see. We only want to stir him up enough to buy time for the Captain," Kira answered. "It would take months before an inter-planetary tribunal could be set up and even then, who knows if the Dominion will send any representatives?"

"True," Dax said.

The route to the prison was now disturbingly familiar to Jadzia and she walked it slowly, aware of the Jem'Hadar soldier behind her. She found Worf, sitting on his bunk, staring straight ahead.

"Hi," she said softly.

"You came back."

"Of course I did."

"I did not think you would return. You were angry when we last spoke."

"I forgive easily."

"I am glad," Worf stood and came to face her, cursing the thin barrier that separated them.

"Sisko was not successful with the Klingons. I'm sorry."

"What do you mean?"

Dax took a deep breath, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice, "It doesn't look as if they want peace with the Dominion. In fact, they have already canonized all of you as martyrs serving the greater glory of the Klingon Empire."

"I am not afraid to die."

"No, of course you're not," Dax said. "But this isn't a good day to die and you know that as well as I do."

"I have been preparing a defense in my head," Worf said. "We were attacked at Vlata III, while on our way back to the Klingon homeworld for supplies. General Martok discovered the base where the attack originated and sent a group of fifty down to the surface to destroy the base. In the ensuing battle, the Rotarran was destroyed. General Martok and at least one hundred warriors were killed. On the planet, I lost twenty-five men due to the attack on the base and six men to disease."

Dax's eyes opened wide, "You never told us that the Jem'Hadar attacked first. Worf, that's important!"

Worf offered a small smile, "It is but one version of the truth."

Dax gasped, "You will lie?"

"All truths are lies, depending on perspective," Worf answered vaguely. "My truth of what happened on Vlata III does not fit the Vorta's version. But then, Arwin has a different agenda than I, so it is necessary that our truths do not coincide."

Dax took a step back, almost stunned by Worf's words. She turned and surveyed the room slowly, taking in the

Klingons imprisoned in the cells around her. She saw Rong and was dismayed by how sick and weary the warrior appeared.

"You will tell that story?" she asked, her voice shaking.

"We will all tell that truth," Worf said quietly.

"If they attacked first," Dax breathed. She backed out of the room slowly, her gaze never wavering from Worf. "If
they attacked first..."

"I trust you will be able to prove it," Worf finished her sentence.

"I certainly can and will," Dax answered. She turned on her heel and rushed out of the room, almost colliding with the Jem'Hadar soldier on her way out.


The Vorta, Arwin, reminded Kira of another Vorta from long ago, that dreadful and insidious Weyoun. Like Weyoun, Arwin seemed to take a profound delight in the misery of others and more annoyingly, Arwin even shared that same, sly but condescending look that Weyoun had often worn. Kira pushed away her feelings of disgust as she introduced the Vorta to Silvi and Delat.

"I hear you have something to say to me, Minister," the Vorta said. Arwin took an informal pose, leaning back in
his chair and pressing his fingers together, in a style not unlike Sisko's own.

"I have a lot of somethings to say, Arwin," Silvi said briskly. "This man, Delat Caron, lost his family during the Battle of Bajor, a battle which I am informed, you took part in."

Arwin spread his hands, palms facing up, "It was a major battle, the decisive moment in the war. The losses were tremendous and of course, I sympathize with the man for his loss, but what can I do? I didn't lead the battle."

"But your participation," Kira said quietly. "That's enough."

"My participation? Really, Major. I now know why the Cardassians were so eager to wipe their hands off of you,"

Arwin said. "A bunch of pests all of you are."

Kira nearly lunged at the man, intent upon wiping the smug smile off of his face. but Delat's hand on her elbow restrained her. Good thing too, Kira thought grimly. She had had it with Arwin and would have killed him with her bare hands. Of course, the murder of a Vorta at the hands of a Bajoran could open another can of worms and Kira decided that in the future, she would try to contain her fury better.

"I lost my wife and child. They were innocent," Delat said quietly, his voice cracking with emotion. "They were on their way to Eviane Four, heading for what I thought would be safety. A Dominion ship opened fire and destroyed the transport, killing everyone on board."

"Causalities of war," Arwin said casually.

"A war in which you participated."

"As you're so fond of reminding me, Major."

"We're asking that you compensate Delat for his loss," Silvi said.

"Really," Arwin sat up straight. "You ask too much."

"No," Kira said. "We ask only for what you have taken. That is only fair."

"What do you want?" Arwin leaned forward.

Kira said quietly, "We plan to call an inter-planetary tribune to put the Dominion on trial for its actions during the war, especially during the Battle of Bajor."

"That would accomplish what, Major?" Arwin asked.

"The Dominion is not as strong as it used to be. As it is, fighting the Klingons is taxing the Dominion's
resources. We all know this," Silvi said. "But if you refuse our offer, then we will have no choice but to declare
war against you and this time, you cannot prevail."

"What do you say, Arwin?" Kira asked. "We're asking that you give a life for that life you have taken."

"A life for a life?" Arwin asked uncomfortably.

"We're asking that you release one Klingon for every life you took at the Battle of Bajor," Kira explained.

"I don't understand what Bajor's motives are," Arwin asked. "What does Bajor care for a raggedy bunch of Klingons?"

"It's not Bajor's motives, they are all mine," Delat said quietly. "I do not want war again, but this situation is tense and you know that it can explode any moment. The Federation is on its way and the Klingons are currently on the Defiant, negotiating a treaty in case you do not let these men go, there will be a war. Are these twenty men really worth another ten years of devastation?"

"Think," Kira urged. "Think about it."

"The Founders have insisted that there be justice in this matter," Arwin answered.

"There has been justice!" Kira cried out. "They were trapped on that planet for two long years, cut off from friends and family. That is the same as death to many. Please, let them go. If you let them go, the Klingons will take it as a gesture of goodwill. It is in your interest."

"What of the soldiers killed by your people?" Arwin asked, that malicious glint returning to his eye.

"Causalities of peace, I suppose," Kira answered. "As will be these Klingons. You need to stop all of this now. I know you can."

"What makes you think that you can succeed where the esteemed Sisko failed?"

"Because I don't care about the Federation or Starfleet. I am not bound by their rules or treaties. I only care about what's right and what's good," Kira answered. "And if there is war, Bajor will be ready, make no mistakes about it."

"You must give me time to think," Arwin said reluctantly.

"Very well. You have one hour," Kira said.

The trio exited and Kira leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. Delat stood very close to her ear and whispered, "I love the way you bluff."

Kira turned to him and smiled broadly, "You think it worked?"

"I hope so," Silvi said worriedly. "Because if Arwin thinks too much, he's going to find out that the Klingons want to continue the war and Bajor would not be able to mount a stand against the Dominion for the more than eight days."

"Then, we should hope for the best," Kira said, as they headed to the transporter room. "But we should be prepared for the worst," Delat answered.

"You took the words right out of my mouth."


Arwin stared out of his window, examining the skies above. His lieutenants had just informed him that three Federation ships had arrived in addition to the Klingon and Bajoran ships. Arwin began to feel nervous. He had been able to handle Sisko, but this Major Kira was someone else, a person utterly without nerves. And the things that mattered to the Federation, did not necessarily matter to Bajor. Arwin knew quite well that the Major had been bluffing about Bajor's strengths and resources. It didn't take a Ferengi to sniff out the information that Bajor could not defend itself against the Dominion, but what Arwin was unsure of were the sundry alliances or treaties Bajor might have with other worlds. And gauging the reaction to the threat of executing a group of twenty Klingons, Arwin wondered what sort of response actually executing the Klingons would bring. He touched his com panel and the First appeared almost instaneously.

"Execute one of the Klingons," Arwin said, his upper lip curling with malicious pleasure.

"Which one?" the First asked.

"Whichever you wish. Except for the Starfleet officer. Keep him for last," Arwin said.

"Very well."

"We will execute one Klingon every hour on the hour," Arwin ordered.

"Very good."

The First disappeared to carry out the Vorta's orders and Arwin smiled up at the skies, at the ships he could not see but knew were there.

"Let's see what happens now," Arwin mused.


Worf could feel the rage building within him as the three Jem'Hadar soldiers marched into the holding cell area. Ever since his imprisonment on that godforsaken prison years ago, Worf had been unable to stomach the sight of the Jem'Hadar. More than anything, his warrior instinct came through and he wanted desperately to break through the force field holding him prisoner and throttle the soldiers with his bare hands. He could hear Jadzia's voice in his head, telling him to calm down, telling him not to do anything foolish. But when honor was at stake, Worf could be persuaded by no one - not even Jadzia.

"You!" the First pointed a scaly reptilian finger at one of the cells to Worf's right. "You!"

The force field was lowered and the other two Jem'Hadar hauled a Klingon named Molig out of the cell. Molig had been one of the stronger warriors during the initial battle on Vlata III. But two years of malnutrition and disease had taken a toll on the warrior and now his armor hung loosely on his once muscular frame.

"Where are you taking him?" Worf demanded.

"He is to be tried for his crimes," the First replied stiffly.

"Tried?" Worf asked. "So soon? We were told that all proceedings would wait until the Klingon High Council arrived."

"The Council is here and has not yet made any attempt to contact us," the First answered. "We must proceed. Justice must be served."

"What will happen to him?"

"He will be sentenced and then we will hold a trial."

"What is his sentence?"


Worf's eyes caught Molig's in a moment of clarity.

"I do not accept the judgement of your court," Worf spat the words out. The First merely turned and directed his two lieutenants to take Molig out of the room.

"Molig!" Worf growled.

The Klingon turned to face his commander.

"This is a good day to die," Molig answered bravely.

"You have acted with honor during your time under my command," Worf said.

"Enough talk!" the First moved with amazing alacrity. Worf watched until Molig was out of sight and then he sat on his bunk, holding his head in his hands. He could not even look at his fellow comrades, knowing what they must be thinking. He only hoped that Jadzia would be fast, that she would return quickly with what he needed.

He had no intention of dying today - or any day - at the hands of the Jem'Hadar.


Kira entered Sisko's quarters with trepidation. He had basically allowed her to do as she pleased so she had very little concern about what she had accomplished during her meeting with Arwin. However, she had heard from Bashir that the meeting with the Klingons had not proceeded as Sisko had hoped and that had put the captain in a foul mood and to be honest, brave as she was, Kira did not want to face the captain when he was less than amiable. She stood in the door for a moment and then entered Sisko's quarters.

"Captain," Kira said.

Sisko was standing in front of his window, staring down at the planet below, his hands crossed behind his back.
The cabin was dark except for a single light emitting from the replicator.

"Julian told me about what happened with the Klingons," Kira said. "I am sorry."

"Not as sorry as I am, Major."

"I met with Arwin today," Kira said, hating the hollowness in her voice as she spoke. "I told him Bajor was willing to go to war over the Klingons."

"Bajor? War? Over a bunch of Klingons? Do you think Arwin is a fool?" Sisko turned to face her. If it were possible, his eyes would shoot sparks, and for a moment, Kira felt herself shrinking, as if Sisko's wrath could diminish her confidence.

"I think he believed us," Kira ventured cautiously. "I think he thinks Bajor could launch an attack if he didn't do as we asked."

"Then he's a bigger fool than I thought."

"He is supposed to respond to our request anytime now."

"And you think he's just going to hand the prisoners over?"

'During our conversation, sometimes I did get that feeling, yes."

Sisko sighed, "Major, did you think before you proposed such a thing to Arwin?"

"I discussed it at length with Silvi and Delat."

"I see. And if the Dominion decides to attack Bajor, then what? Do you expect the Federation to come to Bajor's assistance? Because I can promise you, Major, that won't happen."

Kira lifted her chin defiantly, "How can you be so sure?"

Sisko leaned forward, his eyes meeting Kira's in a steady glare, "Because the Federation does not want war. If the Federation wanted war, we could have gotten those men out a day or two ago. We're still here because we don't want war. You've put Bajor at a terrible risk, Major."

"That was my risk to make, wasn't it?"

"Perhaps. And did you consult Delat Caron, ask him how he would feel if indeed the Dominion attacked Bajor? Should you inflict even more loss on Delat, and others like him? Really, Major."

"We have confidence in the Federation."

"Then your confidence is misplaced!"

Kira felt the anger rising in her throat and she clenched her fists tightly at her sides.

"You said I could go ahead," she said, as the taste of bile filled her mouth.

"I said you could proceed in Bajor's best interests, not drag it into yet another war."

"Minister Silvi has agreed to this course of action."

"If it works... and if it doesn't? You've gone to war over a group of Klingons for whom Bajor cares nothing. Then what, Major? How will you explain that to Delat Caron?"

"I thought you wanted Worf -"

"I want Worf and all the rest out of that prison. But I would not gamble my planet for the lives of twenty men. There is a certain bravado in your actions, Major, but it is sadly out of place in this situation. You must consider what you have done and what Arwin's reaction will be."

At that moment, Dax's voice floated over the com system, "A priority one message for you, Captain, from Arwin."

"Ah, my favorite Vorta," Sisko said without a trace of irony in his voice. "Put it through."

“Do you want me to leave, sir?” Kira asked.

“No, stay,” Sisko said. “This could be interesting.”

Arwin's round face filled the small computer screen on Sisko's desk. Sisko leaned forward, placing one hand on either side of the small terminal. Kira watched him, marveling at the man's restraint.

“Ah, Captain,” the Vorta said with his customary cackle. “It’s always a pleasure to speak with you.”

"What do you want?" Sisko asked impatiently.

"I have just tried and executed one of the prisoners," Arwin said. "A Klingon called Molig. He died well and with honor. I’m sure his fellow Klingons would be pleased to know that.”

Sisko straightened and tried to compose his face for a moment. A vein behind his right eye began to throb, clouding his vision with flashes of light. He raised his head for a moment to meet Kira’s eye. She took a deep breath and held her palms out, open, to show that she had no idea of how to proceed. Sisko nodded briefly and turned his attention back to Arwin.

"Why? I thought we had agreed to wait until the Klingon High Council had contacted you," Sisko asked, his voice dangerously cool.

"Justice must be served and I could no longer wait without incurring the wrath of the Founders. Justice must be swift and clean.”

"You should have informed us of your plans beforehand," Sisko said. "This is not acceptable."

"I am telling you now, Captain. And I will continue to execute one Klingon every hour until justice is served. And don’t worry, your Starfleet officer, Commander Worf, will be the last to die. As you see, the Dominion is not without justice. You have nineteen hours to come up with something I can use. Otherwise,” Arwin offered up a sly smirk. Not for the first time, Sisko wished he could punch through the screen and smash up the Vorta’s face.

"No, wait. I will come to the surface," Sisko said. "We can discuss this in person."

"There is nothing to discuss. The decision has been made."

"This is ridiculous! A travesty!”

"Call it what you will, Captain. You cannot interfere in Dominion justice. Unless, of course, the Federation would like to declare war on us, in which case, we would be more than happy to execute all the Klingons within minutes and then return the favor by declaring war on you."

"You are looking for an excuse," Sisko realized. "You are looking for a reason for the war to continue."

"Captain, I do not like this random violence as much as you seem to think I do. But if war is what the Founders would like, well, I cannot disobey them, can I?"

“Is this what you have been looking for all the time? Were the Klingons only an excuse?” Sisko wondered. “And such a group of Klingons you found, including a Starfleet officer. What luck.”

“Of course your Lieutenant Alvarez helped us greatly. And I do have to thank your science officer, Commander
Dax, for leading us to the Klingons. Or rather, maybe I will thank her when we execute her husband.”

Kira watched the captain, certain that if it were humanly possible, smoke would be rising out of his nostrils and erupting out of his ears. The Vorta’s insolence was becoming increasingly unbearable.

“Executing Commander Worf would be considered an act of war,” even to his own ears, Sisko’s voice sounded hollow.

“Do I have to keep reminding you that an act of war has already be committed? I’m trying to be gracious and attribute the actions of one Lieutenant Alvarez as the will of one sadly misguided individual, rather than that of the Federation’s.”

"If it is war, then war it will be,” Sisko vowed.

“I am surprised at your alacrity, Captain,” the Vorta said. “I’m amazed at your determination to go to war over a bunch of ragtag Klingons. I do not understand your motivations. What is it in it for you?”

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“Well, it’s been pleasant speaking to you, as always. You now have forty-five standard minutes before we execute the next Klingon. I do hope he is as brave as the last one was.”

Sisko was on the verge of terminating the transmission when Arwin spoke again.

"And Captain? You can tell your Major that I decline her request. It was prettily put, but not at all convincing."

The Vorta ended the transmission with a cackle. Kira turned away from the captain, so he wouldn't see the red rising in her cheeks. Sisko came up from behind her and placed his hands squarely on her shoulders.
Somehow, the strength in his hands made Kira feel a little better.

“I am sorry, Captain.”

"It didn't hurt to try," Sisko said quietly. "Now, come. I’m tired of this war of words and there’s no time to stand
around feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to come up with a plan now."


The senior officers of the Defiant sat gloomily in Sisko's quarters. Sisko himself felt like putting his fist through something, a table, a chair, a wall - anything to vent his frustration at the situation. He had been at a dead end when he had begun but at least, at that point, he had thought that there might be a solution to be found. Now, As for Bashir and O'Brien, who had remained on the periphery of the situation, both men could feel the anxiety and tension in the room. Dax, the only one not sitting, was hunched over her PADD, working strenuously at something she was curiously tight-lipped about. Kira chose to fidget, knitting her fingers together in a manner that betrayed her nervousness.

"The question now is what to do?" Sisko's voice was low and the others had to strain to hear it. “Arwin has thrown down the gauntlet and we have to decide whether we accept or do we answer with one of our own?”

“What does Arwin have to say for himself?” O’Brien queried.

"He says he will execute one Klingon every hour," Kira continued. "Accompanied with all the trappings of Dominion style justice."

"`The mills of the Gods grind slowly,'" Bashir quoted, "`but they grind exceedingly fine.' Or something like that. Grinding bones into a fine powder is not unlike how the Dominion treats its prisoners, political or otherwise.”

"An apt description, doctor," Sisko said. "But now our concern is how to get those Klingons out of there before Arwin has them all executed. And for reasons I don't understand, the Klingon High Council seems very reluctant to help at all. And Kira's idea to get the Bajorans involved-"

"Please, Captain," Kira held up a hand. "No need to go into all that."

Sisko allowed himself a small smile at his second-in-command; no one understood better than he the pain of a bruised ego.

“There was a plan which failed,” Sisko said smoothly. “And now, I’m willing to entertain any ideas you may have.”

“I’m sorry, Captain. But I can’t see my way out of the forest,” O’Brien said apologetically. “It seems we might have had a shot if Arwin had not known about Alvarez, but now that he knows and the Klingons seem unwilling to help, the whole situation seems more complicated than a phase matrix schematic.”

“I understand, Chief,” Sisko answered. “I have the same feeling.”

All eyes turned toward the figure, hunched silently over her PADD. Only the beeping sounds emitting from the PADD offered any clue to Dax’s presence in the room.

"Jadzia," the doctor rose in concern. "You have been quiet."

Dax did not answer. Bashir moved to her side and placed a hand on her arm. Dax jumped at his touch.

"What, Julian?"

"Quiet. You have been awfully quiet."

"I'm thinking," the Trill snapped.

"Ah," the doctor retreated back to his seat. O'Brien lifted an inquisitive eyebrow. Bashir shrugged his response.

"I refuse to give up," Sisko said. "But until the Federation makes up its mind what it wants, my hands are tied."

"Not necessarily, Captain," Dax spoke up.

"Do you have something, Old Man?"

"If the Jem'Hadar attacked first, and the Klingons were merely defending themselves, then the Dominion would have to let the Klingons go, wouldn't they? There would have been no crime committed, right?"

"Are you saying that the Jem'Hadar attacked the Rotarran first?"

"I'm not saying anything at all. Worf is saying that."

Now all attention was focused on the Trill. She smiled as she turned her PADD so everyone could see what she was working on.

"The Rotarran was destroyed, of course, including all of the battle records. That same battle is recorded, from a
different perspective on the Jem'Hadar ship's logs," Dax said. "While I was down on the surface, I managed to upload those records to the Defiant."

"And Worf is telling the truth?" O'Brien asked, knowing that Worf would never lie.

"In a manner of speaking," Dax smiled. "As he told me, truth is a matter of perspective. The Jem'Hadar have their views on what happened, we have ours. Of course, it would be nice if they matched, wouldn't it?"

"Of course," Kira said impatiently. "But what do you intend to do?"

"Quite simple, really. I rewrote the logs."

"You rewrote the logs?" Kira asked increduously.

Sisko took a deep breath, "You tampered with Arwin's logs?"

"And it came out beautifully, if I do say so myself," Dax answered.

"If your plan fails, it could cause an interplanetary incident," Sisko warned. “And war.”

"I'm aware of that, but you have to let me try. At this point, anything and everything we try will lead to a war. I don’t see how it makes much difference anymore, because it doesn’t seem as if we will avert the inevitable."

“You think war is inevitable?” Kira asked.

“The Klingons are itching for it and so is the Dominion. As it is, those two groups are unwilling to cease their hostilities. Bajor is willing to get involved, for reasons on the Prophets know. Why should Arwin stop, when he has the opportunity to drag the Federation into the mix also?” Dax reasoned.

Sisko gazed into the distance for a moment, letting his eyes unfocus for a moment as he considered. He had allowed Kira to do as she pleased, with results that were nothing short of disastrous. He understood Dax's need to do something to help her husband, but he did not want to make the situation any worse than it already was.

Tampering with logs was a major felony and the last thing he wanted was Dax to be put on trial after Arwin had executed all of the Klingons. But then again, he thought, Dax was right. War, at this point seemed inevitable; it didn’t hurt to try.

But despite his gut feeling, Sisko still needed to answer to the Federation for all of his actions. Letting Dax proceed went against all of his Starfleet training, but then he considered: if it were Jennifer, would he do the same? He had once told Worf that if he had to choose between an important mission and Jennifer, he would always pick Jennifer. Concerning matters of the heart, there was only one decision that could be made without regret.

"All right," Sisko said finally. "Do it. But do it well. There should not be a question that these are the real logs."

"There won't be. I do real good work," Dax answered.

"How will you proceed?" Kira asked.

"When I visit Worf, the logs will need to be uploaded again. O'Brien can do that, I figure. But I will need Julian with me to create a diversion."

"A diversion," Julian licked his lips. "I like the sound of that."

"Nothing too cloak and dagger," Dax warned. "We don't want to make Arwin and the others suspicious. As it is, they've already let their guard down enough so that we can walk around freely. We don’t want to provoke them into watching our every step. That would hinder any plans we have.”

“When do we leave?” Bashir asked.

“On the hour. I have permission to visit Worf then and I want you to come with me and make a big deal about his health. He’s going to hate it, but it will buy O’Brien time to re-upload the new logs into Arwin’s terminal.”

"Sounds good then," Sisko said. "Keep me informed."

As his senior officers filed out, Sisko wondered if he was making a big mistake. Of course, with the Federation keeping curiously silent, what choice did he have? He would wait for the consequences and then do his best to explain them when the time came. Until then, he would have to have faith in his officers.


Kira returned to her quarters to find Delat Caron waiting for her. The man was lounging on her couch, but he immediately got to his feet when she entered the room.

“How did you get here?” she asked in surprise.

“Secret,” he smiled. “You weren’t the only one in the resistance, Major.”

“But you were a collaborator. There is a difference.”

“Merely details,” Delat answered. “Wasn’t it you who told me that the details didn’t matter?”

Kira circled around the man warily, trying to gauge his intentions.

“Perhaps. But that didn’t include breaking into my quarters,” she said.

“It’s a matter of interpretation.”

Kira headed towards the replicator, trying to figure out what to do next with her univited guest. She couldn’t say she was upset at Delat for breaking into her quarters, but she didn’t like surprises either.

“Anything to drink? We left our bartender back on the station, but the replicator makes a pretty good raktijino,” she said uneasily.

“Raktijino,” he said. “That’s a Klingon drink.”

“We like Klingons.”

“I’m starting to get that impression. You are all expending a curious amount of energy trying to free a group of twenty Klingons. It’s admirable, I think. But, no, thank you. I don’t want any.”

“I’m going to have some raktijino,” Kira declared. “And you still haven’t told me what you are doing here.”

“I’m thinking about kissing you.”

“What?” Kira whirled around. “You must be crazy.”

“Not crazy,” Delat said quietly. “Not crazy at all.”

Kira fetched her coffee from the replicator and held it to her lips, breathing in the heavy aroma of the Klingon beverage. Delat did not miss the shaking of her hands. He moved over to her side carefully and took the drink away from her.

“You might burn yourself,” he said softly.

“I’ve been burned before.”

“I know. What was his name?”


“The changeling.”

“You knew him?”

“Everyone knew of the changeling on Deep Space Nine. I am sorry, Nerys.”

It was the first time Delat had used her first name and there was something sweetly seductive about the way her name rolled off his tongue. Kira backed away.

“If you know about Odo... then you know why this is a bad idea.”

“Are you waiting for him to come home? Is that it?”

Kira stared at him, almost panicking. She could not understand how Delat could understand what she was thinking, feeling. His words washed over her, in an almost surreal fashion.

“I don’t think Odo is coming home,” she answered.

“Then what is your excuse?”

“This isn’t the time,” she said desperately. “It’s not right. Not now.”

Delat took her by the shoulders, “When would be?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you’re scared.”

“I’m not scared. There are things that scare me; you are not one of them.”

“I think you are. You are afraid of me. I can see the fear in your eyes.”

“You don’t know anything about me.”

“I know you,” Delat said seriously. “That is enough.”

“I don’t know if I care for you.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I know you care. Why else would you summon me all the way out here?”

“I needed your help. I had a plan.”

“A silly plan, if you don’t mind me saying so. And I know that you know that you knew your plan was a loser from the beginning. I think you wanted an excuse for me to be here. Didn’t you? Nerys?”

Her brown eyes filled with liquid and suddenly she felt herself go boneless.

“Yes,” she whispered as their lips met. “I did. Forgive me, but I did.”

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