Disclaimer: As always, I own none of the various works, worlds, and 'verses this tale shall wander through. I make no claim upon these characters. And I'm still way too poor to be worth suing. This is intended as entertainment and tribute.
Odo looked upon the gathered Maquis with a dour expression.
Oh, he knew they were 'ex' Maquis, and that they'd spent the last several years as part of a Starfleet crew on Voyager. But they were quite up-front and unapologetic about their roots in the quasi-terrorist group. There presence on the Promenade had brought a plurality of the station's ex-Bajoran Resistance types out of the woodwork, flooding Quark's and other, similar establishments with (so far) happy drunken people talking about the good old days against the Cardassians. Elim Garak, newly returned, had closed up early when he'd seen the crowd begin to gather, hoping to avoid tempting fate.
So far the gathering was loud but peaceful. Odo didn't expect it to last. These sort of gatherings never stayed peaceful. This many Maquis and Resistance types together being boisterous... Odo suspected he was going to be filling the holding cells tonight with drunk and disorderlies. He had extra security in place, ready to move in quickly if the party got out of hand. He hoped he wouldn't need them. Several of the Voyager people present were officers, and a number of cell-leaders from the Resistance had popped up as well. In theory, they could keep things from getting out of hand.
The Resistance leaders would have some incentive. They knew how... irritated... Odo could get about such things. He had little hope that the Starfleet ones would care, however. He'd met Voyager's security chief, and while he was sure the Vulcan was a fine tactician, he was far more spy than peace officer.
The gathering had drifted from the bars, now, and was moving towards the temporary shrines of the Gratitude Festival. Odo could already hear the complaints of the monks, not doubting for a moment that he'd have many official complaints to deal with in the morning. Had he a need to breath, he would probably be suppressing a sigh right about now.
Oh yes, tonight was bound to be interesting.
Gul Dukat felt as if he was floating. The power and will of the Pah Wraiths filled him; their song resonating in his soul. Their joy fairly burned within him. He was near to his objective, close to his goal. Perhaps better to say – close to their goal, but at the moment the distinction seemed... unimportant.
Even if he was little more than a passenger within his own body right now, he was still pleased with the situation. It was not every day a man got to participate in an attack on the gods.
Commander Chakotay's nerves were starting to play up, but he forced them to stay dormant. It was too close to showtime for him to get distracted.
The information about exactly what was about to happen was damnably vague, but they had the gist of it from records Starfleet had sent to Voyager. Tonight, in the next hour or so, Gul Dukat was going to show up on the station and attack the Gratitude Festival. He'd kill a few people in the process, among them Jadzia Dax, and do something to an Orb that destabilized the Wormhole.
Since it was Dukat who convinced the Dominion to all but wipe out his Maquis brethren, a chance to get his hands on the spoon-headded bastard was a gift from the Spirits themselves. The fact that they'd be able to save a few more lives in the process, and that circumstances could even give them an alibi when the inevitable investigation went down, was fine icing on an already delicious cake. He'd heard the old proverb – attributed to everyone from Shakespeare to some nameless Klingon philosopher – that revenge was a dish best served cold. There was some merit to that, but he doubted this was was going to be a cold revenge.
Say what you would about Odo; the Changeling knew his stuff. Some discrete checking of the Customs setup had convinced him that trying to sneak some weapons onto the Promenade wouldn't work very well, so his people were all but unarmed. He hadn't been so gauche as to ask, but he suspected most of the assembled Resistance types and Maquis sympathizers who made up their crowd were unarmed as well.
But they had a lot of bodies. And those selfsame bodies had Odo and his constables alert and out in force. He wasn't worried about any problems from that – enough of Deep Space Nine's security force was Bajoran that they wouldn't intervene unless his bunch started rioting.
Or if, say, a prominent Cardassian official showed his scaley mug.
He was looking forward to that, just as he worried about the various ways this could go wrong. For one; they needed to get to the Orb before Dukat showed up. They also needed to keep reasonably well behaved until then – the synthahol had started to flow early in the night and the group was getting rather... boisterous. And – nagging at the back of his mind – the information they had on the incident was rather sparse. There was nothing about how Dukat had accomplished his attack, simply that he had.
Still, unless the bastard had something utterly unprecedented up his sleeve, a little mob violence and (since a good chunk of station security were Bajoran, with their own host of reasons to hate him) police brutality would more than even things up.
Seven of Nine wasn't entirely sure how, or indeed, why she'd let herself get roped into this.
Oh, she too had taken the time to review their records and knew what was going to happen; knew that Jadzia Dax was 'destined' to die this night at the hands of Gul Dukat. She could even understand why her shipmates would consider this to be a sub-par outcome. And while she did not exactly follow the logic chain that they 'owed' Commander Worf for his assistance while he was on board, she could accept that this was an aspect of human behavior she still did not yet understand. There were an annoyingly great number of those.
But none of that explained why she'd agreed to help with what she could only term as a 'zany scheme' to save Dax's life without being caught doing so.
The three who had come to her with the plan – Torres, Paris, and Kim – were each unable to enact it. Torres' presence was expected at a party the Maquis were hosting, which was, apparently, also part of the plan. Paris and Kim had Bridge Watch this shift, and as a large part of their scheme – the 'getting away with it' part – depended on plausible deniability, they could not swap shifts or otherwise conspire to get out of bridge duty. The effort to do so could be construed as evidence of a plan. This, the others assured her, would be a Bad Thing. Given the reputation of Temporal Investigations, Seven could hardly deny that.
She still wasn't certain why she had let herself be swayed by their arguments, but she had. She was currently carrying several datapads, laden with years worth of Delta Quadrant surveys and assorted sensor logs of the final, universe-hopping leg of their trip home. It was all data that had been transmitted to the Federation Science Council already, but nothing in their orders prevented them from specifically sharing it with Deep Space Nine as well, and Lieutenant Dax had reportedly mentioned curiosity about it. In theory, it would serve as an adequate distraction to keep the Trill away from the Promenade for the duration of the evening.
The science lab opened at her approach, as Lieutenant Dax left it. The Trill blinked, seeming to be surprised by her presence. "Good evening, Lieutenant," said Seven, "I believe you requested some data from us?" she held out the Padd on top of the pile.
Dax took it, smiling. "I did. Thank you, I'd expected to wait for the Science Council to forward me a copy."
This felt like a good moment for a colloquialism. "As the saying goes, I was in the neighborhood."
Dax chuckled as she flipped through the files. She looked up, gaze focusing for a moment on Seven's ocular implant and then, like virtually everyone else, immediately glancing away. "I guess this is your first time on the station, isn't it?"
The former Borg blinked. "Yes."
Dax nodded. "I can't say I blame you for waiting 'till now. About the only thing Benjamin hates more than Maquis are..." she cut herself off, looking slightly awkward. The rest of the sentence hung unsaid but well heard.
"I... understand. That... was not the entire reason, but it was a factor."
The Trill smiled. "Well, since you're here, would you like the ten-credit tour?"
That was not part of the plan. "I had thought to offer to assist you in cataloging and analyzing the data." This was not ideal; the science lab would be safe and thus the best place for Lieutenant Dax to spend the evening.
Dax made a dismissive gesture. "I'll have plenty of time for that later. Right now, I want to head down to the Promenade and make a little offering at the Gratitude Festival, but I'll be happy to show you the scenic route."
This was not in the parameters of her plan. The attack had taken place at the Gratitude Festival, and avoiding it was a priority. Seven's mind raced. "I was unaware that you subscribed to Bajoran religious beliefs."
Dax shrugged and started walking. Seven fell in behind her. "I don't, really, but it can't hurt. Besides, you got home through the Wormhole, and we know that's where the Prophets live."
Any drastic action would violate the 'plausible deniability' portion of the plan. Seven quickly decided that her best bet would be to stay close to the Trill, in the hopes that she could protect her. "A... valid, if unusual interpretation."
Dax laughed. "Even us science types can give the spiritual realm a polite nod now and then."
The Pah Wraith's song surging within him, Gul Dukat walked onto the Promenade, turning towards the little shrine. Their fire filled him so much that he didn't consciously hear the first shouts. Even when they continued, enraged Bajoran profanities coming at him from all directions, they didn't really register as important.
The first bottle shattering against the side of his head registered, however. Slightly lethargic, he had only partially turned towards the source of the impact when two big Bajorans tackled him to the deck. At that point, everything became a confusing mass of impacts as fists and boots descended.
"The deck!" someone shouted, "He wants to taste the deck!"
The song and power of the Pah Wraiths left him in a rush that threw back the nearest Bajorans. He felt empty, drained, unable to move. More Bajorans rushed towards him. Oh. This is probably going to hurt, he thought, trying to brace himself for another booted onslaught.
It didn't help much.
Suddenly a familiar voice cut through the shouts. "That's enough! Back away everyone!" Odo. The smooth-faced Changeling cowed the pack of Bajorans, and, now that he looked, some Starfleet personnel too, and they gave him room. The Changeling turned towards him. "Gul Dukat. As an enemy combatant in time of war, I'll be placing you under arrest."
It took a moment for him to get his jaw working. "Understandable, Constable." Two Station Security men levered him roughly to his feet. Both were Bajoran, and neither seemed happy that he wasn't getting further pummeled. If he wasn't certain that smiling would make his face hurt even more – one eye was swelling shut already – the Cardassian would have grinned. Odo wouldn't let his people engage in any kind of brutality to a prisoner. Even when he'd run Terok Nor himself, the Changeling was adamant about such things. But where he had simply taken prisoners out of the lockup and into military custody, he rather doubted that Sisko would. A holding cell would be much less dangerous than just about anywhere else on the station right about now.
Now, if he could just figure out what he'd been thinking to come here of all places... his memory of the last week or so was sketchy, to say the least.
"I ought to throw you in the brig, Commander." Janeway sighed as she massaged her temples. "We've gone very far out of our way to avoid trouble with Temporal Investigations, and then you go and do this?"
Chakotay kept his face very straight. "We have a perfectly adequate cover story in place, Captain, and they don't have a way to prove that we knew anything about the events on DS9 last night ahead of time. We've properly purged our database of any future knowledge." He shrugged. "We knew Temporal Investigations was going to come after us anyway. I don't think they'll be able to do anything to us."
Janeway sighed again, took a deep drink of her black coffee. "I just hope you're right, Commander."
Chakotay smiled. "The worst thing they can do is throw me in prison for a few years. Isn't that what you were planning to do to me, when you came for Tuvok way back when this mess started?"
Janeway startled herself with a laugh. "Okay, I'll give you that one." She frowned again. "Still, try not to do anything else to give Temporal Investigations a justification to make our lives miserable."
"If you insist."