TITLE: Limited Options

Author: Valerie Shearer (thenightbird@earthlink.net)

Series: DS9

Part: Rev x/x (mostly typos)


Codes: Alternate resolution of "Inquisition"

Summary: A dark exploration of what might have been at the end of "Inquisition" if Sloan had found something "odd" in his implant. An alternate resolution to "Inquisition" containing psychological violence.

Note to archivist: Please archive this story.

Note on distribution: This story may be passed on to others provided this entire header is left intact and my name and e-mail address goes with the story. It may not be published or printed for fanzines without my permission. Please ask permission to include in fanfic websights (other than the official one) before doing so.

Note on feedback: Please send lots, but be constructive. Flames will be doused. Reply at thenightbird@earthlink.net. All reasonable mail will be answered.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Julian Bashir, Ben Sisko, Elim Garak, Odo, Miles O'Brien, Kira Nerys, Section 31, Sloan, and possibly other things are all the property of Paramount Studios. Macfarlane, Captain Todd Henderson, and Dr. Bertrum Cabbott are all mine.

Warning: This story contains psychological violence. No sex, or physical violence, however.



Valerie Shearer

The Test of Cold Water:

Consecration to be said over the Man:

May omnipotent God, who did order baptism to be made by water, and did grant remission of sins to men through baptism: may He, through His mercy, decree a right judgement through that water. If namely thou art guilty in that manner, may the water which received thee in baptism not receive thee now, if however thou art innocent may the water which received thee in baptism receive thee now. Through Christ our Lord.

From: Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages. (Those who floated and thus survived the test were then executed as witches, usually by burning or hanging.)

note: This is an alternative ending and continuation to Inquisition. The story begins immediately after Bashir removes the implant and gives it to Sloan.

Julian was too exhausted and stunned to be thinking entirely straight. He had removed the implant for them, still suspicious of their intentions. He couldn't quite believe Sloan when he said he believed him innocent. But he understood that his best chance of getting home in one piece to food and sleep was to cooperate.

He was watching Sloan when the man looked up at him. He remembered the same look when he'd been told, in the simulation, that he would find the truth and then lock up what was left of him. "Well, Doctor, it seems you won't be going home after all." The guards started towards him and he backed up without thinking. "Easy, Doctor. Your going to a holding cell." One of them had a set of irons. "Hold your hands out."

He was too tired to fight them. He complied. The cuffs were too tight again, this time for real (he assumed), and already hurt. But then they intended them to. "What happens now?" he asked, resigned.

Sloan stepped forward. "There is something odd about the results of the implant. I want to investigate. We'll do a few tests." Julian did not want to know what they had in mind. He wanted to be left alone, to sleep and get rid of the cuffs. He'd deal with the rest when it came.

He followed his guards out of the holodeck to a dark corridor where he stopped in front of an opening. He was waiting for them to release his hands. "Inside," ordered one of them, giving him a push when he still hesitated. The force field sealed and all he could see was a murky greyish wall. There was enough light to tell it was small, with nothing but the floor to sit on. But he leaned against the wall and slid down, trying not to hurt his wrists. Resting his hands the best he could on his knees, he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes and almost instantly fell asleep.

He woke up when he was grabbed by the arms, and the cuffs pulled at his wrists. He bit his lip a little, and didn't resist as they pulled him to his feet. He didn't know how long they'd left him, but his hands tingled and were half numb. They hadn't swollen any yet, though. Not long, he thought. He didn't think they'd let him sleep. He was half-dragged into a non-descript room where he was placed in a chair. Sloan entered, standing by the door. "Doctor, are you familiar with the effects of metaserazine on the human brain?"

He was shaken out of his mood. The drug was used in tiny doses for certain psychological problems as a last resort. He doubted they planned to use such small doses. In hefty amounts, it could break down implanted programming. The problem was it caused severe side effects, especially memory loss. Sometimes, after months of recovery, they came back. He said quietly, "Yes."

"You have a choice. You'll sign a document admitting that your behavior was influenced by involuntary enemy programming, and you'll go to a high security hospital. Or we use the drug."

Julian knew he lost either way, and was curious. "What did you find?" he asked.

"That's my business. As an unknown element you stay locked up as a potential security risk. But if we have to use the tests you know what happens. If you're innocent I'll send you to a hospital, but I doubt you'll even know who you are by then."

Julian knew his chances. If he wasn't judged "innocent" he didn't want to know what happened, though by then it would be without any real meaning after they'd used the drug. But he wouldn't sign their document either. He didn't believe there was anything to find. "I refuse to sign anything," he said.

He was taken back to the cell, and allowed to sleep for a little while, before Sloan had him dragged out again. But he'd said all he was going to. He was dumped back into the cell, still handcuffed, and taken out one last time. This time they pulled the cuffs off his now swollen hands. He'd had almost no water or food, his hands throbbed every time he moved them, and yet they finally let him sleep. By then he didn't care about the rest.

They had brought breakfast and he'd inhaled it, his wrists still sore but useable. He was much more clear headed now. Sloan had given up trying to force a confession. He was going to rip what he wanted out of his mind instead.

Julian had thought about it again. He didn't trust Sloan, but being locked up under high security for the foreseeable future didn't sound any more desirable than taking his chances with the drug. He considered Sloan and his people a disgrace, and wouldn't give them the satisfaction of winning. He was destined to lose however it came out.

Julian could feel the shuttle docking. He'd been fed and left alone in the small dark cell since they'd taken off the hand cuffs. He knew Sloan was in control of his life, but not entirely. He wanted one little act of resistance before they drugged him into oblivion.

He sat at the back of the cell, watching the grey curtain. He could hear them coming. He would not stand for them, or submit to the handcuffs. They would have to drag him out.

The grey wall vanished. There were four of them. He sat, back against the wall. They had on the black uniforms Sloan had been wearing. "Get up," one of them said. He didn't look at them. He ignored the order.

Feet came forward and his hands were stuffed ungently in the irons. He was jerked to his feet. "Now, move," said the voice. He stood where he was. Something touched his face and he saw the phaser. Reluctantly, unwilling to see if they'd fire, he moved.

Dressed in grey jail clothes, Julian sat in the small interview room. The humiliating process that had preceded the interview had been barely noticed. All he could think of was what they were planning, the oblivion they were going to send him to. Sloan was trying again, and it wasn't working. "Your certain, Doctor?" he asked.

Julian had decided to say nothing. But when Sloan ordered him prepared the panic hit. He was already strapped in. His hands, bound in front of him, were separated and snapped into the cuffs on the chair. He could see the hypo and tried to fight them. For a brief moment he considered agreeing to sign, but by then it was too late. He felt the cold touch of the hypo against his skin, and heard its hiss.

The effect wasn't immediate. He had time to contemplate what they had done to him. But the colors in the room started to blur and the sounds were muffled. He could tell they were words but couldn't understand them. He was so tired, and couldn't remember how he'd got here. Slowly the lights and sounds faded and he couldn't do anything but give into the weariness.

He came to sometime later, groggy and disoriented, lying flat on a bed. Vaguely, he realized he was restrained. He was dizzy and on the verge of being sick. The light was too bright and he closed his eyes to it. He repeated his name over and over to himself, trying to review his life but already finding gaps in his memory. He still knew what they were doing. He wondered why they'd let him wake up.

There were faces above him, but they were blurry. There was something on his head. He could feel faint tingles from it. They must have needed him conscious for something. They were talking, and he only understood some of the words. The longer ones were too complicated. He thought they might be worried. Maybe they would stop now, he thought, grabbing at any possibility of hope. They were talking about enhancements. Perhaps they'd thrown off the test. Maybe that is what they'd found. He tried to talk, to plead with them to stop, but couldn't remember the words. So much was already gone.

Then he felt the hypo, and the cold feel as it touched his skin. A familiar blurring and confusion took over and he knew he was lost.


Julian Bashir had virtually disappeared. It was not immediately noticed, as it was assumed he was at his conference, but when he didn't come back they had checked. He had never even arrived. The transport he was to take had no record of him leaving the station. He had left everything in his quarters intact, including the bag he'd packed to take with him. The only thing missing was him.

Sisko had contacted Starfleet, and should he appear anywhere else he'd be detained. Sisko didn't like the idea, but given the circumstances it was warranted. Bashir had been taken by someone. Sisko was almost certain it was the Dominion. It was only why that didn't make sense.

He'd asked for a temporary replacement. He refused to believe that Bashir was gone. But he was notified that his new CMO would be arriving in a week. There was a private warning, just to him, to leave the matter alone.

He'd said, when Julian's friends asked, that they didn't know anything either. It was probably true. He suspected they might never discover what had happened. But if they did, he would never be told. Whatever had come of him, Julian was entirely on his own now.

A week after his disappearance, his friends still in shock, Internal Affairs arrived without any warning. Deputy Director Macfarlan had been in conference with Sisko for several hours before anyone was notified to come to the conference room. It included the senior staff, as was normal in such situations, but others as well, civilians who were friends of Julian. They had been waiting, a little worried, when Sisko entered, looking gloomy. Macfarlan followed after him. Sisko took a seat.

Macfarlan studied the group. "Your attention, please," he said quietly. They looked up, more concerned than before. "I am Deputy Director Macfarlan of Starfleet Internal Affairs. Due to the recent unexplained disappearance of the Chief Medical Officer of this station a special security condition has been declared. Those of you in this room will be confined to your quarters until you can be interviewed. You will not discuss what is said in the interviews. We'll get this over as soon as possible, but due to the unusual nature of the disappearance this investigation has top priority at the moment. Do all of you understand this?"

There was a chorus of "yes, sir's". It was not unexpected. The only unusual thing was the inclusion of Garak among them, along with a few other civilians. People glanced around the room.

Macfarlan continued. "Now, if you will follow my people they will escort you back to your quarters. Those of you on shift will be relieved of duty for the time being. Please tell the escort what you want for lunch as your replicators have been shut off." The people in the room followed Macfarlan's people out glancing at each other silently. Garak hung back, with a most thoughtful look on his face.

Garak sat where he was told. The officer asking questions was different than the others he had seen in passing, middle aged, a little overweight, and looking like this was a true novelty, leading Garak to suspect he didn't get out of his office that often.

He didn't pace or attempt to intimidate. He didn't raise his voice. Instead he sat opposite Garak at the table, consulting a padd in front of him. Unexpectedly, he smiled. "Mr. Garak," he said with what sounded like genuine admiration. "You have no idea how pleased I am to actually meet you. It's something I've always wanted to do, seeing how interesting a man you are. My files on you are something like a mystery novel with half the chapters missing. Quite fascinating."

Garak nodded, equally pleasantly, "I am pleased I've managed to give you many hours of pleasure. I am rather at a loss as to why you're talking to me now, though," he finished innocently.

"Come now," said his admirer, chiding him. "Your best friend disappeared under very odd circumstances. You of all these people should have expected this visit. You could be of great help in finding him."

"I would very much like to help rescue Julian. Lunch is not the same without him." Garak sounded a little wistful at the end.

"You don't have many friends," said the man, a little sadly. "Nor do I, and I know I would miss those I have very much. You don't expect him back," he said suddenly, flatly.

"Julian foiled his double's plan to destroy this station, and the fleets around it. I am somewhat surprised that myself and Mr. Worf are still here," Garak said calmly.

"Interesting. So you believe his disappearance is due to the Dominion. Are you absolutely certain that the man you've been eating lunch with was Dr. Bashir? His double was here for five weeks and nobody knew. Who is to say this was simply not another double, put in the situation at the prison to spy on your activities."

"We would never have gotten home in that case," said Garak a small bit testily. The man was beginning to annoy him for missing the obvious.

"Or perhaps that is why you got home. Perhaps there were two plans. If it looked that one would fail they would put the second into effect. Should your ship have arrived late, they would have succeeded in two ways. The area around the wormhole and everyone alive in the vicinity would be gone, leaving the wormhole undefended, and they would have the second duplicate of Dr. Bashir, ready to continue on. Quite ingenious."

Garak found it equally interesting, but it wasn't the way things were. He had learned in his long and varied career when he was certain of something. The man he had met again in Internment Camp 371 was Julian Bashir. "Except Dr. Bashir was there, the real one." Garak peered at the man, annoyed.

He shrugged. "You are quite certain this time?" he asked.

"Yes," said Garak, firmly. "It was him. I could see how the false one was almost perfect, but not entirely."

"How was he wrong?" asked the man.

"Perhaps the simplest way to explain would be to say he was too cheerful. Julian tends to act that way, but now and then he has these moments ... "

The man was peering at him now, intensely. "Has he had more of these 'moments' since his return? Or are they different, somehow, than before?"

Garak was catching the idea and didn't like it. "He had problems," he said reluctantly. "He was their prisoner for five weeks. It must have been very hard on him. He keeps things to himself."

"Yes," said the man, thoughtfully, "as do you."

"Perhaps you'd like to explain," said Garak, not willing to admit that the man was getting to him. He didn't like the implications, especially about Julian.

"I just was surprised you're being so open. I thought you were more devious." The man was looking at him in an odd way, as if he were a strange curiosity to be studied. Garak did not appreciate it, but he kept that to himself.

"I have no reason to be, in this case. Julian had not quite been himself since his return, but it is quite understandable." But as he finished saying it, he saw his mistake. It was exactly what his interrogator wanted to hear. Garak felt humiliated had fallen for the trick. He was getting rusty.

"Not himself. How exactly?" Garak found he did not like being stared at.

"He has been depressed, and scared. He's been serving in a war, and had a lot of people die on him. He wasn't prepared for this." Garak spoke slowly, putting emphasis on the last part.

"Did his parents leave that out when he was enhanced?" asked the man.

Garak finally understood the core of the problem. He was glad Julian didn't have to have a conversation with this man. "And you would have driven him out of Starfleet if it was up to you, simply because he's genetically enhanced."

"My feelings have no bearing in this matter. The question we are examining is the doctor's behavior since his return in comparison to that before. We have reasons to believe he lost track of some time. We want to know what happened during that time." He glared at Garak. "It is a matter of state security. I believe you can understand that concept."

Garak had ruffled him a bit, and was pleased, but didn't care to push things. "Oh, yes, entirely," he said calmly. "But I also believe your suspicions are entirely wrong. Julian Bashir is not a spy, nor was he replaced."

"That wasn't the concern," said the man, calm again. "I don't think he knew what he was doing. We suspect something was implanted in his mind. He wouldn't get caught because he didn't know he was betraying anyone. It is guilt over the sense of betrayal that would give him away. They don't have to worry about that. I don't think even you would know. Yes, he's not been himself. He did spend five weeks as a Dominion prisoner and it's not surprising that he would be different afterwards. But perhaps some of that had a more sinister cause. Please, Mr. Garak, think about it. Just think how easily you escaped, for instance. I didn't think the Dominion was careless enough to leave a runabout within easy reach, unless they had a reason, and that is the core of this discussion. I don't care for the man, personally. I would have him out of the service. But that isn't why I suspect him."

Garak thought to himself that, despite a few good reasons to suspect Julian, the man had already made up his mind before he'd thought of them. Garak himself still believed in his friend. But he understood the way things worked, and it did make sense. Too much, in fact. There was just a grain of doubt, but it was there. "I suppose you think I'm part of this plan, somehow."

"Actually, no. No questions have been raised about your loyalty. In fact you have every reason to be loyal to us. You have a death sentence on your head. You are part of an escape which would condemn you in any case." He stopped, paused, focused on Garak. "And most of all you are a patriot for Cardassia. Not the Cardassia dominated by the Dominion but your home. They took it from you. They've killed your friends. They would kill you. You have every reason to want them destroyed and removed from what remains of Cardassia. You would be the last person I'd suspect of spying for them."

Garak, for once, didn't have anything to say. "If Julian was working for them or not, he is gone. You were right. I don't expect them to let him go this time."

The man nodded. "Personally, I do agree with you. Perhaps we'll be able to discuss things on a more friendly basis some time later. As far as I can see we're done. Go about you business and open up your shop. Before we leave I may buy something. Whatever else you are, Mr. Garak, you are an excellent tailor."

Garak nodded and left. But he could not deny that his faith in Julian was shaken a bit.

Miles listened to Garak, as he described, in general, his interview with the unnamed man. Internal Affairs had left, instructing them to not discuss what had been said, but Sisko had disregarded that order. A few of those closest to Julian were gathered to talk about what had been said and try to come to a conclusion.

Garak had tried hard to sound as if he disbelieved it, but even he had a small bit of doubt which came through in his words. Miles stared at the table. One of them, one of the underlings, had asked him question after endless question about Julian and the entire time he'd known him up until his return from the Dominion prison. It had been tiresome, but routine, even if the detail was a bit too much for him. But then he'd been sent back to his quarters, still confined there, and had a sleepless night. The next morning Macfarlan had asked the questions and all of them had been about Julian since his return from that place.

He'd demanded details when Miles said he was worried about his friend, and how he'd sometimes looked lost. He ask all the particulars of the nights Julian had showed up late, since they'd returned to the station, unable to sleep. Miles wasn't doing too well at it either, so it hadn't been a problem. He had denied more than once that Julian had told him about his nightmares. Julian was just not the type to talk about that. Eventually, disappointed, Macfarlan had relented, but Miles knew what he was getting at. It was evident from the other questions he'd ask in between.

He wanted to know if his friend had ever acted odd and then just snapped back to his old self, and the sort of circumstances when it happened. Miles had finally thought of a few times, mostly when Julian was under too much pressure from everything, but Macfarlan had taken a new tack, asking about his feelings about the station and the Federation and Starfleet. He had finally gotten around to his genetic status. Miles didn't know if anything he'd said had fed the man's belief that Julian was a danger, but he was sure he had made up his mind when Julian had been permitted to stay in Starfleet, and perhaps started a vendetta as well.

The problem was, there were questions unresolved about the camp, and by the time he'd gotten to them, (if Julian had ever mentioned it) Miles had been too tired to think about what he said. Well, yes, it was odd that they were allowed to escape. He hadn't meant to say it, but Macfarlan had simply nodded. He'd never discussed the problems he had following his return, even with his best friend. He hadn't seemed to be very upset that his double had gone undiscovered for so long. Julian was a private person, and Miles really hadn't expected it. But the man had raised a doubt or two, and even Miles had admitted to himself since that he wondered. It hurt, but then Miles expected Julian was dead and might have been luckier to be that way.


For a long time, there was nothing but existence. He had needs. He got hungry and ate. When he hurt he would cry. But no one came and he stopped. He drank when he was thirsty. He slept. He crawled inside his hole when he was cold. But he did not think. There was no sense of time, no past, no future, only now and what he needed. He always found it there and satisfied himself before retreating back into the safety of his hiding place and sleep.

But now he was hungry. He wasn't in the same place. He couldn't find his warm hole and he was cold. He rolled into a ball in the first dark enclosed space he could find and went to sleep.

He could hear noise. He could smell food. He unrolled but wasn't alone. He was afraid of the others. He didn't want them to hurt him. He retreated back into his hiding place and stayed very quiet until they left. Then he crawled out to see if there was any food. It was gone, but he heard another noise, and retreated back to safety and darkness and silence.

But the hunger was worse. He was thirsty too, and it was growing overpowering. He still wanted food, and along with the noise, he could still smell it. But the noise was too scary, and he hid. When it was quiet again he'd come out. He found something to drink and took it back to his hiding place. The thirst abated a little. The hunger was worse, almost bad enough to overcome the fear. But not enough. He waited and this time there was more water. He took it back into his new hole and drank in safety. Then he slept, curled into a ball. But he needed food, and the noises had some. He crawled out, slowly and silently, staring at them.

He watched carefully. They made sounds at each other but he didn't know what was said. All he saw, and heard, and smelled, was the food. He would take it, and run back to hide. The hunger was too great and had overcome the fear.

There was a new noise, and he froze. The others heard it to and walked away. He rushed forward, taking as much of the food as he could and ran. Before they saw him he was safely hidden again. He could hear movement, as they came near, but did not find him. No matter how bad the hunger, he waited until the noises stopped. Then he hurriedly ate the food. It made him sick, but sleepy too. He slept.

There were no noises when he woke. He crawled out, but was alone. He went a little further, but all there was was dark looming shapes and he got scared and went back to hide until there were more noises. But the next waking was silent as well. He was very hungry now, and desperately thirsty. He slept but not heavily. He kept listening for noise.

But it returned this time. He was too desperate to let the fear stop him. He crawled out, waiting for a noise to make them leave, but there was none. He could not take his eyes off the food. And they had something to drink. He could not resist that at all. Letting go the fear, he ran forward and grabbed as much of it as he could and ran, retreating into his hole and drinking out of desperation. But he grew quiet, holding the food close to him.

There was a lot of noise. The mouth sounds were loud. He heard a lot of movement. He was scared, even in his hole. He needed to find a new place, but the noises were still there.

But eventually they faded. He ate the food, and fell asleep. But it was still quiet when he woke. He could smell food. He unrolled, and crept out into the half-dark towards the water and food that was there.

He didn't make it. The others grabbed him, held him tight. He tried to fight them, and bit one hard, producing a yelp and temporary freedom. But others grabbed him, and he was held too tightly. Something cold touched his neck and a hiss which sent a stab of panic through him dropped him into blackness and oblivion.

Evans was bored. It was late in the day and he wanted to go home. He couldn't wait to finish this assignment and see more than sedated prisoners hauled into evaluation cells. It did not match the dreams of adventure he'd been sold by the stories. And the last place he wanted to be assigned was a high security loony bin.

The buzzer went off. They were bringing a new prisoner in, and he opened the door. This one was wrapped in a blanket, curled into a ball. "Where do I put it?" asked the guards, stopping the anti-grav.

That was another thing he didn't like about this assignment, the way the guards commonly referred to the prisoners as "it", and the way they never used names, just cell numbers. "What's the designation?" he asked, wishing they and their miserable cargo would go away.

"Evaluation," said the guard, and Evans started looking for an available cell. They would handle the paperwork once the prisoner was stored away.

"B-14 is empty," he said, and they started towards the door. Then they stopped.

"Wait. They want evaluation, but this one's IA."

"Ok," said Evans, getting out the long term storage list. This one would be here for quite a while. Security risks were rarely evaluated, though. This one must be important. "56 is clear."

"Ok, go ahead and start the paperwork," said the guard as they pushed their charge towards his new home.

He woke up terrified. He could still remember the hiss. It had sent images of terror through his mind, and had pushed him further into the dark recesses where he could safely hide. But now he was awake, and starting to look for what he needed.

He had food, he discovered. He ate, not particularly hungry, but if there was food he would eat it. He drank the water. He looked for a place to retreat, to sleep. There was no hole, but something soft and a blanket, and he curled into that. When he woke there was more food, and water. He ate again, and drank and slept. That filled his needs. If he could have understood the emotion, he would have called himself content as he curled into the blankets and retreated to the safety of sleep.

Dr. Cabbott was unhappy. He didn't like the conditions under which he was required to treat his patient. But this one belonged to internal affairs. He could not be allowed out of his cell by security regulations they had already quoted to him three times.

He had been found hiding in a cargo bay on a small Federation colony. He'd been without food for at least a week and water for several days. He was like an animal, reacting to little more than sounds and his own needs. There was no indication that he understood anything that was said to him. IA wanted him evaluated psychologically and brought out of his regressed state. He wasn't sure how they were going to do that if he couldn't be taken from the cell. But before they got to that, they had to get him in better physical condition.

Something had been done to him, and Cabbott didn't even want to guess. IA used his prisoner number on their documents, but Cabbott insisted on a name and background for his chart. The man had been a doctor, a rather brilliant one at that. And then he had just vanished one night. He had crawled out of the cargo to grab food some two months later, and whatever they had done hadn't left much to evaluate.

But he'd been stored somewhere first, before he was dumped. He hadn't been abused, so much as just neglected. He was dirty and fought being touched. Of course, after he'd bitten three people on the colony before being transferred he hadn't been treated all that gently. There were fresh bruises. He was afraid of everyone.

The mystery, though, was the way he'd reacted to the hypos. Cabbott had gone into his cell to give him several injections to boast his health, and he'd just frozen in terror at the sight of the hypos. He'd not moved at all when they were used. Then he'd fled to the corner, wrapped the blankets around himself and cowered in silence. Cabbott knew they suspected the Dominion had taken him. But they didn't use the same hypos the Federation did. Whoever had done this to him had used familiar equipment. Cabbott had decided to leave it out of the report. He was almost reluctant to try to bring him back to self-awareness. It would be kinder to leave him like this if all he had to look forward to was the cell he was in for as long as IA wanted to keep him.

Sisko didn't like his new CMO. It wasn't just that he wasn't Julian, but that was part of it. He still disliked the way the entire disappearance had been hidden and forgotten. It was wartime, he knew, but he didn't like that internal affairs was so certain that Julian was a security risk. That had been very plain from their questions. If he did come back and they had him he wouldn't be returning. He didn't even know if anything would be officially reported.

But Odo had friends. He didn't often bring up private matters, but three months after Julian's disappearance, Odo handed him a padd and left.

Julian had been dumped in a cargo bay, and transferred to a high security hospital. But he had also been placed in the long term custody of internal affairs under special emergency regulations, just as Sisko had feared. Now that he knew there was something for them to tell him, he would redouble his efforts to get the news officially from Starfleet headquarters.

But he was worried about Julian. He was in a total state of withdrawal when captured, and had to be sedated as he was violent. He didn't know his name. Ben Sisko wondered if he was already too far lost. They had ordered a psychological evaluation, probably so they could question him. He wondered if it might have been better for Julian to stay lost.

It had been four months since his patient had been brought in resembling an animal more than anything else. Cabbott had figured out early that he would eat whatever was there, even if it made him sick, so his meals were carefully portioned out. He was sedated occasionally in his sleep for examinations, but aside from that had been left alone.

He was hoping that the patient would start to come out of it on his own. It would be so much easier if he did that. Cabbott didn't want to use drugs, but was getting pressured to do so. He was worried they would splinter whatever was left of him even more.

He slept. There were no noises. When he woke there was food and drink. He was not afraid. The only lapses were dreams, with very vague images of fear. But even the dreams were shadowy. He retreated to safety in a cocoon of softness. He did not question anything, but had come to depend on his needs being met.

Beyond the most basic of needs was nothing but a foggy place he did not want to go. He sensed three was pain there and he did not want it to intrude into his contentment. But the fog had not been there long. Before there had simply been nothing but the moment. He had come to sleep with thoughts of the next feeding or to wake longing for the peace of sleep. His emotions were basic and strong, but he had come back a little and knew in a way he couldn't define about the fog and the hurt that waited there. He clung to the security of sleep and food and the serenity of his existence.

Cabbott watched as his patient was removed from the cell. He had finally given in to the pressure to use drugs, but only if he was brought into the hospital. His patient was tied down, the condition they had made for his release. He had to be restrained anytime he was out of his cell. Cabbott wasn't particularly opposed to it. He was afraid if the drug didn't work he would panic and probably hurt himself. If he had to do this he was going to protect the patient as much as he could.

He did not use a hypo, although it would have worked. He didn't want anyone to observe his patient's sudden terror at them. Instead, he would deliver the drug intravenously. Long before the patient woke, the needle was in place. If necessary, though, a hypo filled with a sedative was waiting in his pocket. If IA didn't like it he didn't care. He wouldn't make his patient suffer even if the process took longer than they liked.

Something was terribly wrong when he woke. He couldn't move. He was trapped in something, with noises all around him. He was afraid, but the noises scared him too much to react. He couldn't curl up and hide, but he did not move. He dared not look. He froze in a panic so total it drove away all else.

But he started to feel different. The panic abated. The fog drew him in and he found a welcome comfort in its vagueness. It was not his hole but it was close enough. He sensed things hiding in its mist, fears and joys, but could not touch them. He didn't want to know them. Danger lay that way. He ran from it by retreating to the mist where not even hunger or thirst could touch him.

But bit by bit the noises started to make sense. He remembered they were words. He didn't know what they meant but knew they had some sort of meanings. They sounded loud and strange, sometimes even pretty. He wanted to see if he could make them himself. But if he did the others would notice and he didn't want them to see him hiding in the fog. He was afraid of them. He worried they would hurt him.

He had been sleeping, and realized he was awake. There had not been a real difference before, but his fog was so thin now he knew they were watching. And they were waiting. He could feel them hover close, trapping him in their world as their words became real and the images that made up his world became intermixed with their words. He had not had a need to put a name to the images, but understood them with a great clarity. Now the purity was clouded with the labels that this outer world had trapped inside him. The fog was fading, and he was growing more and more lost, desiring only the security that he still found in sleep.

There were sounds, voices he vaguely understood, drifting in and out. One of them was near him and persisted in repeating the same thing over and over. "Can you understand me?" it said. He could make out the words fine, and had a vague idea of what he meant. He just couldn't remember what he was supposed to reply.

Finally, because the voice was bothering him and he wanted it to go away, he mumbled, "Um, think so." Each word was distinct because he had to remember how to say it first.

It didn't work. The words changed but the voice got closer and louder. "What is your name?" it insisted.

Name. He almost remembered ... jah something. "Jah, jah, Jules?" he stammered, not sure if it was right.

"Do you remember your full name?" asked the voice, still there. Must have been right, he though. But it wasn't all. Bah something. He tried to concentrate, dig out the memory, but was met with mostly fog. But there was a name. It might be his. "Jah-o-le-an Ba-sheer?"

The voice sounded happy. "Good. Now, Julian, I want you to count to ten. Will you try?" His voice was different, connected with something very old that was still there, and he tried. "One," said the voice.

"One," he repeated. He got up to five but had to have help on the next two. He remembered "eight" on his own, but forgot the last two.

The voice, now getting to be fun, continued. "Good, now let's see if you remember your alphabet. Can you start it yourself?"

He tried hard, but just couldn't remember. He repeated the letters the voice said, slowly, one by one. They didn't mean anything. He wanted to go back to sleep. He tried to remember the word, but found an older one. "Want night night," he mumbled.

"Sleep tight," said the voice. It was oddly comforting.

The next time he woke, the voice was different, but asked the same questions. He remembered his name, and got all the numbers right. He even remembered some of the letters, but there were so many of them. He hoped the voice would go away then, but was disappointed when it asked another, new question.

"Julian, you're in a hospital and you're very sick, but do you remember any of what happened before?"

Before. He thought it was like when the other voice had asked him the questions. He tried, but there was just fog. He was tired, and didn't want to talk anymore, but the voice asked him again, and he mumbled. "Don't know."

But the voice wouldn't leave. It asked more questions. At least the words were easier to remember now. Did he remember the station, the camp, the trouble at the end? But he had no idea what any of this was. "Said, don't know."

There was worry in the voice now. But it had the teasing, childlike tone again. "Try very hard to remember, Julian, anything at all you can remember."

He wanted it to be happy, and leave. He tried. But all that came through the fog was fear. He had been afraid. Had someone hurt him, he wondered? Had the voice hurt him? But the voice was soft and nice, and he trusted it. "Scared."

"Do you want to sleep now?" asked the voice.

"Tired," he mumbled, nearly asleep already.

"We'll talk later." But as he dropped back into the dreams, he worried. The voice was still worried. Who had hurt him? Would they hurt the voice too? He slept, but in less peace than before.

He had a headache. It was so bad he needed to tell the voice, but the clear feeling he got from the fog was fear. He didn't want them to know they were hurting him. He was afraid they would hurt him more. But he couldn't stand the pain anymore.

He hadn't opened his eyes yet. He didn't think he could stand the pain of trying to focus them, or the light. He just wanted it to stop. He could not sleep anymore it was so bad. "Head hurts," he said. "Make it stop, can't stand it." He didn't know why, but he trusted the voice. He didn't trust the other mingle of voices, but the one that spoke to him would not hurt him. He wanted to see the other who had that voice but couldn't bring himself to try to open his eyes.

"I'll give you something for it. It will help you sleep. When you wake up the pain should be a lot less." A cold touch, a hiss. He tensed with fear. "This won't hurt you. The others hurt with these but this will just make you sleep." It was so quietly spoken he almost could not hear it. But the voice was right. He was so tired. He fell into a deep sleep almost immediately.

When he woke, he felt different. The pain in his head was still there, but only minor. The fog was gone. He waited for the voice to come back, and did not respond to the others who spoke to him. But the voice did not return.

Others did. He could tell he was being moved, and his hands and feet were untied. He hadn't really been aware of being tied down before. His eyes were covered, and he was pulled to his feet and his hands tied again. He was bewildered by the sudden change, and could not walk when they tried to make him. They sat him in a chair and pushed it along. Lost, confused, and deeply afraid, he did not move at all. He was hauled to his feet and the blindfold removed as he was pushed into a small room.

But he knew where he was now. Home. His hole. His safety. He couldn't walk but crawled to the familiar place he'd slept and collapsed. He found the blanket he'd used before and wrapped it around him, preparing to retreat back to an old and sure place. He had just fallen asleep, just started to look for his hole in strange, confused dreams when they came and took him again, and dragged him away.


Internal Affairs Report

Interrogation of Detainee 56 - 340918k Captain Todd Henderson presiding.

General summary:

Prisoner was treated with romatzone prior to interrogation. After Dr. Bertrum Cabbott, the physician in charge, determined the drug had reached its maximum efficiency it was withdrawn on schedule. Prisoner had been fully withdrawn at the time of questioning.

Prisoner was questioned in a series of sessions approximately six hours apart for a time span of four days. Each session lasted between two and four hours. Prisoner appeared to have difficulty recognizing specific words, but when he spoke he could be clearly understood. Basic skills appear to have been restored, but memory has major gaps. It is speculated that some sort of intense questioning using some device or drug was employed on the prisoner before his return. He did not appear to understand many of the questions put to him.

As the interrogation proceeded, he became extremely confused. He did not appear to be able to recall even small details of his life before his abduction, aside from childhood memories. His recall of the time period from his abduction to the present appears to be totally missing. It is speculated that a deliberate mind wipe was applied to these memories. No useful information was obtained in the procedure.

A transcript of the entire interrogation follows.

General Recommendations:

It is believed that the level of mental manipulation by his captors was far more intense than suspected. Despite the belief of Dr. Cabbott that the drug treatment had reached its maximum efficiency, other medical views disagree. It is recommended that another full treatment using the drug be applied and the interrogation be repeated. If this is not successful, the recommendation is made for transfer to a long term detention facility.

Captain Todd Henderson


Odo had given him the padd before he went to bed, and Sisko had spent most of the night reading and reviewing the report, his anger building. Odo had noted that while Julian's name was not mentioned in the report, his file number matched. Sisko had been pushing Starfleet for news of Bashir for months, with no results. He wished the report had listed a location, and he might have been tempted to tell them where to look, but was afraid for Julian in that case. But he knew he had to continue to push. If he didn't someone might think he had been forgotten.

It hurt that they had forced the drug on him once. Odo had attached a note that the it was illegally used. The dry tone of the short summary did not convey the whole effect. He had read the summary over three times, and was deeply disturbed by the general lack of care and rough questioning they had used, even after it was quite clear he could tell them nothing.

At first, they had asked about his life before the abduction, and after numerous questions about the station and the war had been answered with a carefully repeated "I don't know," or "I don't understand," they had gone back to his childhood. They had verified that he could remember that part of his life. But somewhere before he'd joined Starfleet the memories became very vague, and he didn't remember any more of it at all.

He could excuse this. The way sleep was being used against him was improper, but he could even understand that. But once he was so disoriented he could not remember how long they'd been asking questions, they started to badger him. The transcript noted that he'd finally broken down into tears, and sobbed out that he didn't know and wanted to be left alone. When he wouldn't even listen to them, they had given up. For now, he thought. They were going to try again. Sisko was tempted to take a shuttle and rescue him himself, if Odo hadn't removed that from the report, or didn't know.

He had kept asking Starfleet about Julian's fate. He would never stop until they admitted where he was. If it would have helped, he would have waved the report in the admiral's face, but that would have endangered all of them. He didn't dare even tell any of the others. Most of them had already assumed he was dead. He hoped that someday he would be able to show them they were wrong.

Julian had retreated to the furthest part of the cell at the noise. He was afraid they'd come again. He knew they were going to eventually, but for now he needed to have the time to recover or he was afraid he'd be totally lost.

It had been easier before. He hadn't really known what happened. He wished he could crawl back into that time, and the measure of peace it afforded. The cell hadn't seemed so small. The food hadn't been so tasteless. He boredom hadn't been so overwhelming. He hadn't known much about his life, but it didn't matter then. Now, he looked at a large blank void and desperately wanted to know what had filled it.

He was afraid they would come again and use more drugs. But a little of him was hoping that somehow they'd work and he might get back a little of his life. If all they could salvage was a face or a name of someone that meant someone to him, it would be all right. He just couldn't live with the emptiness that was left.

But when they were done with the drugs, they'd interrogate him again. He knew he had mysteriously vanished, and come back broken, and that was what they were interested in. He had had a sense of that time in the fog, of fear and hurt, and that was all he cared to know, but he knew they would push until he told them. He needed to know about the rest, but he didn't know if he could stand to remember that part.


Official Protest of Action Under Duress

Concerning the treatment of Internal Affairs detainee 56-340918k, Dr. Bertrum Cabbott, filing for himself.

I, Dr. Bertrum Cabbott file this report in full knowledge that it may incriminate myself in an illegal act. Both instances discussed in this document were with the approval and behest of Internal Security; however I did not personally agree to the second treatment until I was directly ordered to proceed and threatened with disciplinary action if I did not. I did carry out the procedure, but I must stress it was under duress and with the knowledge that this official protest would be filed.

Two months ago, I was called upon to perform a drug treatment on a patient under Internal Affairs custody. This patient had been discovered after abduction to have no active memories and be extremely withdrawn. Normal procedures would have involved the use of various forms of counseling, but in this case that was impossible as the victim was under stringent security requirements. However, as it was authorized, and I used my own judgement on the limits of the drug, I agreed to use a careful regiment of romatzone to draw the patient out of his state of withdrawal. At the point I believed it to have done the most benefit without having done harm, I ended the treatment. As a result, the patient was able to remember childhood memories and had regained the use of language and many other "normal" skills.

However, at this point continued use of the drug, or subsequent use, would run the risk of causing potentially long term damage to the patient. I recommended no further drugs be used, and more conventional methods be relied upon. My report, however, was disregarded by the officer in charge of the case, Captain Todd Henderson, as he so noted in his own report.

I was subsequently ordered to give another round of the drug to the patient and refused, citing the reasons given above. My judgement was overridden, however, and I was directly ordered to begin the treatment. As I still refused, disciplinary action against myself and investigation by Internal Affairs was threatened. As the treatment would proceed with another doctor supervising it if I had not agreed, I made the personal judgement that it would serve no purpose to continue to refuse, and I began the treatment. However I stated and it was acknowledge that this official protest of the order would be filed as a condition of my completion of the treatment.

However, I still regret my participation in what I consider an illegal act. The patient was now quite aware of what was going to be done to him, and required sedation to be moved from his cell. The addition of the second drug complicated the treatment, and he became very ill from the start. I was ordered to restrain him fully and continue the treatment without the sedation. I consider it a personal failing that I complied with this order. I will always consider myself partly responsible for the suffering the patient was put through due to the treatment from that point on. He reacted badly to the drug several times but despite these problems I was forced to continue by direct order. At the point he lost consciousness and could not be revived I ended the treatment before further harm was done and filed this complaint. The patient has recovered physically at this point, but has shown no gain in his recall of memory.

If any further attempts are made at continuing this drug I will refuse to cooperate and further, do whatever is in my power to stop this and any other abuses which have come to be commonplace in this unit. This sort of expedient act does not represent the principles I was raised to believe in, and it is clearly time to draw a halt to this sort of illegal actions.

Dr. Bertrum Cabbott


Julian followed the guards back to his cell, silently watching as they dropped the field and the barred grid pulled back from the door. He waited while the handcuffs were removed and walked in on his own. The force field made a little hum as it activated after the physical barrier whooshed into place. It was the same cell as before. He stood in the middle, almost glad to be back. After they'd finished with the drugs, he'd been hospitalized for a month. He'd been under restraints the whole time, as required by security regulations that applied to all IA detainees. So despite the smallness of the cell, it was a relief to be able to move about.

But he came back a much different man than had left. He knew the doctor had filed a protest, and he felt a little better that someone had the nerve to stand up to them. But he still felt bitter over his treatment. He had been questioned very gently by the medical staff about what he remembered, and had been able to tell them nothing. His life was still largely a blank page. But even if he had had something to tell, he would have said nothing. He knew they would interrogate him, and when they did he would continue to say nothing. He had an occasional bit of memory, nothing terribly important that would interest them, but he would even lie about that. If they wanted to rip his mind open again like Section 31 had done he couldn't stop them, but as far as he was concerned they now deserved each other.

For the one thing he did remember was that. They had made him relive it. He would not forgive them, not then or ever. As far as he was concerned, Sloan and his secrets were quite safe.

It didn't surprise him when they took him the next day. He stared at them with bitterness, and remembered what they'd done when they pushed. They didn't let him sleep, but he was in much better health now, and fully in charge of his mind, even if he didn't remember much of what had sharpened it so well. They asked a lot of questions about his own life, questions which he quite honestly could not answer. It gave a lot of credence to his insistence that he couldn't remember the rest as well.

But the exhaustion still wore him down. His control started to slip. He let himself be filled with anger instead. He let it spill out at them as they pressed him, and he turned it into his advantage. He let himself lose control. He broke down, and in great emotional relief begged them to leave him alone and just put him away. He insisted, again, with all very real pain, that he couldn't remember his life, and they bought it. They sent him back to his cell, and two days later he was transferred to a high security cell in one of the Federation's most secure jails. But at least he would never have to look at Captain Henderson again.


Sisko was infuriated by the document. He had gotten nothing from Odo for months, but was handed the padd at breakfast that time, with a note he should read it later. It had been a long day, and he was tired, but when he finished the combined documents he was in no mood to sleep.

The first was the doctor's official protest. Sisko was incensed, and combined with the official report of the second interrogation was more determined than ever to do something to help Julian. He didn't know what; so much had already been done he thought his own efforts to be almost futile. But he read on. There had been a request to perform a third drug treatment, but it had been refused, largely due to the protest resulting from the previous one. Captain Henderson had been ordered to transfer his prisoner to standard detention. Bashir had been transferred to a high security prison. But he knew where Julian was now. If he had to he could slip that bit of information to the admiral. At the very least, it had to be easier on Julian.

But Sisko was not about to give up. His next contact with Admiral Potter was a little different.

"Hello, Ben," said the admiral, tired and resigned. "As I've said before, we have no more information than the last time you ask. I'm afraid he's still missing."

Sisko looked at him with disappointment. "I'm sorry to hear that. Then perhaps this document I received a copy of is erroneous."

The admiral frowned. "Document? I didn't send you anything."

"I'm not saying you did. But I've been making a lot of contacts with people and someone did." He was most understanding.

"What sort of document is this?" asked the admiral, curious.

"Part of the transfer document for an Internal Affairs detainee. He's been moved from somewhere, it doesn't say on this part, to a regular prison. High security and all that. I'm just wondering why I got it." Sisko didn't sound nearly as upset as he felt.

The admiral looked genuinely surprised, and Sisko suspected he didn't have any idea what had gone on. He wished he could send the whole packet of documents along. Perhaps when things settled down he would. He also looked worried, Sisko noticed. "I would like to see this document. Can you send me an encoded copy?"

Sisko was enthusiastic. "Certainly, I'll have it to you today. Perhaps you can make some sense of it."

The admiral had taken the bait. He was certain that Internal Affairs would discover it had been transmitted, code or not. But by then it wouldn't matter. The admiral would not let them get in the way. Sisko could see how curious he was already. "Is there a name on this document?" he asked.

"Not for the detainee. They used an internal file number. But there are a few names of the security people."

The admiral was already thinking about how to do it. It showed on his face. Sisko suspected that Internal Affairs and its detention policy was not universally popular. "It's a place to start." He stopped, thinking about something. He looked at Sisko with a peculiar expression. "If you should happen on any other documents relating to this case, or not, perhaps it would be safer for all involved if you could transmit a copy to me as well."

He wondered how much the admiral had figured out. Perhaps it might be wise for his "mysterious contact" to send a whole packet of documents in the near future that the admiral would need to see. He had caught the note of caution in his voice, and the expression. Sisko had some idea of the potential for disaster he had in his hand.


Julian glanced at the guards, watching their charges closely as they sat together talking quietly. He and the other detainees were housed in a special wing of the prison, by themselves. The security was so tight none of the other prisoners came near them. He viewed it with interest that they were always referred to as detainees, when they were just as much prisoners as the rest, even if none had ever had a trial or received an official sentence. They were allowed to spend the afternoons in the communal area, assuming there had been no problems. This meant about half the time he spent all day locked alone in his cell. But still this was preferable to being at the mercy of Captain Henderson.

Leaving their area was complicated and uncomfortable. An extensive personal search accompanied both leaving and entering the secured area. Unless it was a very good reason, he preferred staying put. Of course, the guards never bothered with reasons. Even here he was little more than a body to be watched. But at least they left him alone. He read a lot, trying to fill in the missing parts of his memory. He tended to have a lot of time to read.

It would not have been so bad had there been a time it would end, but except for the end of the war, and the emergency, there was nothing to look forward to. And that was dragging on forever. He and the others considered themselves as much prisoners of war as if the Dominion was holding them. It was nicer accommodations, but the force fields were the same.

He was grateful, in his own way, to the second drug treatment, even if it had made him sick. He remembered Section 31. He knew enough about them to know he should say nothing at all. As much as he despised anyone connected with Internal Affairs, he was afraid of Section 31. He knew they could take him out of here almost as easily as they had off the station. He just hoped they believed the documents.

He still had nothing but the vaguest of memories about his life. But he hoped that they might grow more clear in time. As far as he knew, that was the one thing he had plenty of.


A few weeks after his first sending of the document, Sisko had "found" the other documents, with Odo's notes edited out, and sent them too. He felt better afterwards. He had come to trust the admiral by then. He had confirmed that the transfer order was indeed for Bashir and he was being held under special security rules. That was the problem. The chances of obtaining his release were nil.

He had been classified as a security risk due to the kidnaping and memory loss. The key time was during the missing two months. They wanted to know who had taken him and what they had learned. Until Bashir remembered and reported the information he would continue to be detained. There was no requirement, but given the odd nature of his disappearance it was unlikely it would be overlooked.

Sisko had contacted the admiral privately about the problem. Now that he was being openly held, Internal Affairs was willing to allow him visitors, and Sisko wanted to see him. But once his family had been notified of his whereabouts, his mother had requested the admiral that she be allowed to visit. He wasn't permitted that many visits, spaced out periodically, and it was the admiral's view that she had priority. But he was worried about her reception.

Sisko had been leaked a private psychological review a little while before, discussing his possible recall of his past. He had reacted to his parents with cold resentment, which worried both men. They did not want her to travel that far and have to go through the security procedures only to be rejected by him. It was the admiral's idea to visit on his own first, and ask.


It had been several months since he had been taken from their own compound, and Julian forced himself to hold still while he was searched. He didn't leave the area often, never of his own volition, but then they didn't give him the option of saying no. He was familiar enough with standard security procedures to know that they were almost done and he'd get to get dressed and see who had disturbed his routine this time. The guards hadn't told him, just shoved him out the door when he hadn't gone willingly.

His only solace lay in the fact that his visitor had to go through an identical procedure, though he thought they were probably a lot more polite to outsiders. But it would be more embarrassing. He couldn't remember when he'd last felt that way. As long as he went untouched by Captain Henderson he didn't mind aberrations like this.

He was released and dressed quickly, following the guards through a secure door. His half of the room was sealed off with invisible fields, but there was no indication of them. He sat in the chair and waited as the guards disappeared.

The opposite door opened to reveal a uniform. Behind him were two other uniforms, all with some sort of records in hand. The head uniform, probably an admiral, sat while the others waited behind. He hadn't really looked at them, sitting together in a corner out of his direct view, but something about one of them drew his attention. He thought he knew him, but had no desire for them to guess so he gazed at the admiral instead.

He was aware that his gaze was making the man uncomfortable. But he also knew there was nothing he could do about it. Julian was owned by Internal Affairs, and the admiral had absolutely no authority over him. The guards might reward his attitude later during the security check in, but he didn't care if they got a little rough. It was worth conveying how little he wanted to be here to the uniforms of the world who had abandoned him.

"Bashir," said the admiral. "I have been asked to submit a request for a visit from your mother. You have no right to refuse, but I wanted to ask."

He didn't alter his gaze. The admiral was starting to squirm. He remembered the last time he had seen her, when he had made a quick visit to Earth before the war made that impossible. His father had still been in prison, and his last memory of him was there. He did not want to subject his mother to that. And that was if this wasn't a ruse. He didn't entirely believe that it was true. And he'd have to pretend to not remember any of it. He said, unemotionally, "I'd rather not."

The admiral wasn't ready to give up, despite his aggressive stare. "I spoke to her personally. Your father is ill, but she really wants to see you. Please reconsider."

He almost changed his mind, but was more convinced it was a trick with the mention of the illness. He was expected to ask how he was at least. They would be watching him closely. He decided to play their game. "No, I don't want to see either of them. It's too late to make up for things."

The admiral looked frustrated. But he persevered. "Don't you want to know how your father is doing?" he asked.

"You can tell me and save everyone a lot of trouble," he said letting the bitterness he felt about life in general color his tones.

The admiral shook his head sadly. "I suppose you don't remember making up with your parents. Your mother told me about it. She was worried you wouldn't remember, hence this personal request."

"I'd never forgive them," he said, again with much bitterness.

"Well, just for your information, he's had heart problems. But he is recovering and should be fine. Perhaps later you can talk to them on a screen. Would that be acceptable?"

Perfectly, he thought. But he would still wonder if it was a trick, or real. "No, if I ever get out of here I'll see them, but never here. Tell them to leave me alone."

The admiral had obviously given up. "I will. You won't be bothered again by me." The man looked hurt. Julian was just a tiny bit sorry, suspecting that he at least believed it was an honest request. Then, there was the security check out procedure they had to go through. But then so did he. He watched as the admiral stepped back and left the room.

It was then that he realized who the face was. Sloan stood with another man, probably a real uniform, who left the room also, leaving Sloan alone. He walked forward, Julian struggling to maintain his expression. He removed a small device and pushed a button. It made a whine and the light on it turned green.

"You really should have agreed. It was quite an honest request. He has been trying to help you and now I doubt he'd waste his time." Sloan was watching him closely.

Julian returned a look of loathing. "I don't know who you are, but I know what sort of tricks IA uses. It won't work."

"Ah, but you know I'm not a bug. You do remember, I'm sure. The drugs they used on you would have cleared that first. But you are smart. I like that."

Julian studied Sloan with interest. "You deserve each other. It's your drugs that started it."

"No, actually it was your faulty memory of the Internment camp. I'm sure they tricked you into miscounting the days. And most of all it was your parents desire for the perfect son. You should realize that you wouldn't be here if we'd determined you were guilty. Your enhancements threw off the trace. When we verified that we let you go, like I said we would. I keep my promises."

Julian stared at him in disbelief. "You let me go as a vegetable. And then you let me fall into IA's trap. Don't pretend it was some sort of favor."

Sloan's expression didn't change. "I didn't say it was a favor. But then, I might be able to do one for you now."

Julian shot him a look of disgust. "I don't need your kind of favors."

"Ah, but you do," said Sloan lightly. "You know they aren't going to let you go. You'll be allowed to rot in here. Your only way out is to tell them what they want, and you can't do that. I don't know if they'd even believe you if you did. But I can get you out in a way that they'll never find you. You can travel, live where you want, use the skills you are so skillfully pretending you don't have. In short, I offer you freedom."

Julian stared at him coldly. "Your kind of freedom, as one of your operatives, I suppose."

Sloan shrugged. "I'd think you would take any possible way out by now. But I have been premature in my assumptions before. I'll be back, and perhaps then you'll be ready. I believe the admiral has a few more words for you."

Sloan closed his device and only then did Julian realize that the force field had been deactivated. He sat in the chair, looking at the wall, impatiently glancing at the door. Sloan slipped back into his borrowed identity as the admiral reappeared.

"I spoke to your mother," said the admiral, slowly, eyeing Julian. "She seems to understand. I said you didn't want to see her here. But she is sending a transmission. You can watch it or not, it's up to you. But you can go back to your cell now like you're so impatient to do."

Julian was lost in his own thoughts and didn't look at the uniform. He heard the admiral ask Sloan if he'd behaved. Sloan replied that he had but he wasn't much for conversation. The guard motioned him to come and he did, unsurprised by the shove he got on the other side of the door and the way check in was made just a bit more unpleasant than it need be. But he didn't notice that. He was thinking of Sloan, and his offer. He thought of what the bastard had done to him, and yet there was a sense of the inevitable there he could not deny.


Sisko had felt better before the admiral had shared with him the entire experience, from the surprise of check-in to the great disappointment in Bashir's attitude. He did not like being glared at. If Sisko wanted to visit him he was free to do so, but the admiral was quite sure it was best his mother stay away. Reluctantly, Sisko agreed. But he was still determined to visit himself.

The best advise the admiral had been able to give was to not expect much, and perhaps he wouldn't be too disappointed in his visit. Somehow, though, Sisko held out the hope that it would be different, that Bashir would remember him. He was firmly trying to keep this in mind as he finally entered the small interview room where inmates were allowed to make their occasional visits to family.

The first clue that it wasn't going to be so easy was Bashir's entree into his half of the room. The door opened and he was shoved inside, almost losing his balance. He was glancing back at the door, glaring at whatever was behind it. He sat in the chair after a few minutes of just standing and glaring toward the now closed door.

Finally he looked at Sisko. Ben had rehearsed this moment in his mind half the trip but now that the time was here had no idea what to say. He thought Bashir was looking him over, and trying to remember something. "You're ... Sisko?" he asked.

Ben was flooded with hope. Bashir wasn't glaring or aggressive. Privately, he wondered what sort of punishment he'd gotten for his last performance. "Yes, I'm Captain Sisko," he said quietly.

"I've been looking at pictures," said Bashir softly. "I suppose I know you, or did."

Sisko's hopes sank. He'd hoped that he might at least remember something. Recognizing a face from a picture didn't count. "You were--are--a friend. We've all missed you, Doctor," he said after a pause.

Bashir stared at him, a little anger and a lot of sadness in his face. "I'm not a doctor."

"You were the best one in Starfleet." Sisko was fighting his own great sense of disappointment. He hadn't come here to make Bashir more depressed than he already was.

"I've heard." Bashir sounded like he'd rather not have. Sisko wondered how much it would hurt to have fallen so far and have people keep reminding you. He decided he wasn't going to be one of the tormentors.

"Ever since you disappeared I've been asking for news. I'm not sure how I got the information that you were here, but I did, and I don't want you to think of me as an enemy. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know." Sisko spoke slowly and clearly but very quietly as well. Bashir was cautiously looking him over. Sisko didn't push, waiting for him to talk.

You could keep me out of this area, thought Julian. After the admiral's visit, he'd been locked in his cell for the month. Aside from the guards, he hadn't talked to anyone. He knew of this visit in advance, though, thanks to Sloan, who had brought his dinner the night before. He hadn't seen the green light, but Sloan had warned him he was going to have a very familiar visitor the next day, so he ought to be ready. Julian also appreciated Sloan's demonstration of how easily he could get through the security. He didn't miss the hint they could still take him if they wanted.

When they'd taken him in the morning, and informed him he had a visitor he'd told them he didn't want to talk to anyone. It hadn't mattered. He'd been hustled through procedures with a little less regard than normal. But he'd already gotten the point in the last month, and was behaving. The only thing he'd had to read in the time was a book on DS9, with pictures and a history, so he could claim to recognize Sisko. But beyond that it was very delicate. The book had helped fill out his memory of the place. He remembered Sisko quite well. He just didn't dare show it. If IA suspected the trick had worked they would pounce on him instantly.

Sisko, of course, knew nothing of this. He'd heard of Sisko's efforts to help through unofficial channels, probably with Sloan's help, but hints from the guards as well. So he could respond with a little appreciation. Not that he felt much, though. All Sisko was doing now was making his life too complicated. Neither last month's admiral nor Sisko was going to over-rule Internal Affairs.

"I have heard about your efforts," Julian said cautiously, "and I do appreciate the thought. But if you are a friend I wouldn't want this to hurt you. It would be better if you'd leave it alone."

It was obvious that Sisko hadn't anticipated that response. But Julian had been honest. He knew how miserable IA could be and didn't want Sisko making himself or any of his other old friends targets. He hoped Sisko would see this and leave.

"I feel it's my obligation as your commander and you friend to keep trying." Sisko was disappointed. But Julian saw that he cared enough to listen. He would go away if Julian really wanted him to. "If all I do is just keep in touch, is that agreeable?" Sisko was being wary, picking up more from him than he was trying to show.

"That's agreeable," he said, a little reluctantly. "On the condition you don't come here. I really don't want any visitors." He glanced towards the door he'd been pushed through.

Sisko seemed to look right through him for a second, taking it all in. "I see what you mean. Letters would be fine." He sounded more confident than he looked. Julian wondered how much he'd guessed.

"You could tell me about this station, and these people I knew. Not the official bio's, I've read those, but real things. I really don't remember any of it," he said, recalling how empty he'd been when that was true, "but maybe some stories would make it less empty."

Sisko nodded, and Julian was sure he believed him, from the sadness in his eyes. Julian felt only a little guilty. The watchers would believe it too. Right now, that mattered more. "I'll write regularly," he said.

"I'd like that," said Julian, honestly. It would further complicate life, but make it easier to "remember" people too. And though he couldn't acknowledge it, it would help ease the loneliness."

Ben wrote letters to him as often as he could, all low key, filled with gossip and the unimportant events of the day. He had sensed that was what interested Julian, what might help fill the emptiness. Julian never wrote much back except to say he'd received them. And then the war ended, and it should have been time for him to come home.


Julian followed the guards back through the secure door into the only place he was allowed free movement, the several rooms that made up the communal area. It looked so empty. The war was finally over, and half of the detainees had been released with no strings attached. But not all, especially not for those like Julian who had never fully cooperated.

For him there was a price. He had to agree to a complete psychological and physical exam, including the use of drugs if warranted. If he managed to pass that, he would be required to cooperate fully in any other future investigations.

But he could not do this. They would discover his memory had returned, and he could not tell about Section 31. He would never allow any of their doctors to touch him if he could stop it. He would rather stay locked away than that.

Sisko had filed his first protest three days after the official policy of peacetime detention was established and under that policy only "qualified" detainees would be released. He was not protesting on Bashir's behalf alone, but on general principles. It did not feel like they had won if security came out more important than rights when survival was no longer at stake.

He was not the only one of that view, and in time internal affairs came to a compromise. Those that "qualified" (though there was no explanation of what they meant) would be allowed a "sponsor". The prisoner was to be placed in their custody. Certain security regulations would have to be followed, but they would allow release of some of their remaining detainees in this manner. He immediately asked about Bashir and was told he qualified. Sisko became his sponsor, and Julian finally was released.


Sisko stepped off the transport with Julian following close behind, nervous and edgy. He'd been locked up for years and the open space was scary. He'd been thinking about what to tell Sisko all the way back, if he could trust him, but had decided the man had defended him and deserved to know his secret.

He gazed around the docking ring, taking in the smells. It wasn't home. Home had been destroyed along with his life. He had lost everything, his career, his freedom, and medicine. But at long last internal affairs had let him go, and he was not going to complain to anyone. He would spend the rest of his life waiting for them to come back. He would never have the nerve to admit his secret to anyone but Sisko. They were in a deserted area, where there were no stray ears to hear. "It's nice to be back," he said quietly.

Sisko looked at him, intrigued. "I thought you didn't remember this place at all."

"Some," said Julian, leaving the rest for Sisko to guess.

"How much?" he asked, keeping his voice low.

"Most of it. I could probably even practice medicine. I had a lot of time with nothing to do but think," he said, the bitterness evident. Then he added, looking at Sisko in an odd way, "But I never have figured out what they did with me when I was taken off the station. I guess they wiped my memory."

Sisko nodded, and Julian stared at the corridor ahead, trying to push the emotion in him away. "I won't tell anyone. We'll make sure you remember your friends slowly."

But it was evident that Julian was scared. He stopped, hesitating before entering the corridor. "I won't let them take me again. Never."

Sisko looked down the corridor, wondering what they had paid to survive if his friend was so afraid, even now. "I can promise, I won't let them either."

Bashir looked at him, "I know you'll try," he said. But Sisko knew that Bashir didn't believe it would make any difference.

Julian paused in the middle of a bite, watching Kira as she walked down the Promenade toward Ops. Garak said quietly, "I know the feeling." Kira, like so many of the others he'd called friends had tried to maintain contact, but his activities were so restricted it was nearly impossible to do so. Everyone except Garak had drifted away. He glanced at the Cardassian, looking bitterly at the bracelet he had to wear. The slender piece went around his wrist, sealed into a solid ring. It allowed every movement he made on the station to be tracked. He could not go to any "official military" areas, which left out much of the station, or Odo was obliged to put him in a holding cell until Internal Affairs picked him up. It was better than being locked up, but between the restrictions and the way his old friends kept their distance he did not feel particularly welcome.

Garak had, alone of his old friends, maintained contact.

He was aware that they were not pleased, but he didn't care. Eventually IA would figure out some way to take him again, and he was going to eat lunch with Garak no matter what they thought. He would resist when they came, and it would be over.

It was better than at the prison, but hardly a life. Aside from Garak, he seldom saw any of those he'd known before, and most people, knowing who he was, made space for him. In a strange way he'd been more comfortable in prison, and far less lonesome. It wasn't Sisko's fault that it hadn't worked out, but often, unless he had arranged to meet Garak somewhere, he seldom ventured out of his small quarters. And even Garak was a reminder of his status, able to purchase what he wanted without anyone's approval. He still had to have anything brought in from off the station approved. And if it had been any other place it would have been easier, but he was constantly on his guard not to "remember" what he wasn't suppose to. All it would require for IA to take him away was the smallest hint that he was holding back a memory, any memory.

Julian didn't bother to disguise his contempt for the bug patrol, as he had nick-named them, the two internal affairs guards assigned to keep an eye on him on the station. He had been warned to stay away from Garak before, and had ignored the warning. They had awakened him from a sound sleep in his bed and dragged him to an interview room in the middle of the night to renew it.

The taller of the two, a dark haired bully named Amberson, was staring him in the face. "Bashir, you were told to stay away from the Cardassian. It was quite plain. But you persist in keeping his company. This man has been allowed to remain free because he was considered useful, but is most certainly not the sort of person you are allowed to associate with. Before I put you in a cell and call for transport, what do you have to say?"

Julian knew that this would not constitute the sort of grounds for that, at least not yet, but gave them plenty of opportunity to make his life more miserable than it already was. "Why don't you do that," he said, tersely. "Then I'd never have to look at your face again. It would be a fair trade."

Amberson fumed. Julian wondered if he was going to lose it and hit him. In a way he wouldn't mind. Amberson's partner, a tall, lean, young woman who seldom showed any expression, would call him on it and it might get rid of him. But he'd done it once when she wasn't around and had gotten away with the bruises, so Julian wasn't so sure about that. And when they'd awakened him in his quarters that night he'd tried to provoke them, and been sedated for his trouble. Once they got him there to the locked room he'd been revived. His stomach was queasy and he was still very dizzy from the combination. He didn't need a worse headache. He wanted them to be done with their show and let him go back to bed. He would lay low for a week or two until Amberson gave up trying. But he was getting very tired of this.

He backed off, as the woman approached. If he'd hoped for a reprieve he didn't get one. She sat in front of him, not crowding him nor using a threatening tone. If anything she had no inflection at all. "I just transmitted an official warning about your Cardassian friend. I have received permission to detain you pending transport should you persist in this behavior. I understand you have arranged to meet for lunch tomorrow. You may do so. I think it's only fair to tell this man you will not be associating with him again. After that your entry into a room where he is present will be considered a violation. And should he enter one where you are present and you don't leave, the same will apply. You may tell him about this tomorrow. Enjoy your lunch."

She got up, ignoring him, and left. Amberson gave him a little smile of anticipation. She left the room. Amberson said quietly, "Remember, I'll be watching." Then he picked up a hypo and with a hiss, Julian went to sleep.

He woke with a start, beginning to sit up before the dizziness hit. He laid back down, slowly counting to try to calm his enraged stomach. When it was settled enough he opened his eyes a little to see what had made the noise. He had another visitor in his room, one holding a small object glowing green. "If I were you I wouldn't overeat at lunch. Let your system clear out the drugs first at least. Perhaps Mr. Garak would understand if you waited a day."

Sloan was standing in front of him, looking rather sympathetic. "I wouldn't be surprised if you had something to do with this new policy," said Julian slowly.

"No, but they've been looking for an excuse. They know how much you've remembered here. They are itching to find out how much else. I would guess you'll go to the interrogation center first. I've been keeping close tabs on them, you see. You're getting sloppy. It must be hard to live a lie all the time."

Julian wasn't surprised. "I'm sure the only reason they let me out is to see what it brought back."

Sloan was thoughtful. "And you are just going to wait for them to haul you off to be questioned. I'm sure, now that they know there is something to remember, you'll have a much harder time fooling them."

Julian couldn't summon any real anger at Sloan. He had come to the conclusion Internal Affairs was more dangerous in the long run. And he had no doubts that Sloan's was telling the truth. "But if I tell them about you, I'm dead."

"Yes, it's quite a quandary. Of course, there is my solution. You get a new identity, and can be a doctor again. And I can assure you that the likes of Captain Todd Henderson or your 'bug squad' won't ever be a danger to you again."

He hadn't thought of the Captain. That he might be waiting made the nightmare worse. "You'd have me just disappear off this station again, raising all sorts of questions for people I don't want to be in trouble."

"You mean Captain Sisko. That is not a concern. I can assure you, should you opt for my choice it will be quite clean. Internal affairs won't have any excuse to bother your friends. They may even have some personal problems that keep them from bothering your friends ever again. Especially Captain Todd Henderson."

Julian wondered what that might be. As long as he never touched another victim again he would be happy. "So what do I do after that?" he asked Sloan.

"Ah, I have several interesting cases where your medical expertise would be quite useful. I believe you'll find it interesting." Sloan took out another of the devices, sitting it next to Julian. "Perhaps you'd like to have a more private farewell with your Cardassian friend and Captain Sisko. This will allow you to do that." Julian looked at the device, knowing what accepting it meant. But he knew there was no longer a choice. He picked it up. Sloan nodded. "Rest well, Doctor."

Garak had been surprised when Julian had come in the shop, since he seldom did. He had looked around at the clothes, finding a shirt. "I think I should try this one," he said non-committal.

"Certainly," said Garak, following him toward the fitting room, mystified. He'd sent a note he was ill and going to miss lunch. But he looked much improved this evening.

Julian was wearing the shirt when he called in Garak, "I think the sleeves are a bit long."

When Garak entered Julian pointed at the device in his hand, pushing the button. It glowed green. Garak looked at it with interest. "A new toy?" he asked.

"I was warned by IA to leave you alone. Instead I'll be leaving. With some help."

Garak looked at the device again, "Yes," he said, "Quite talented help."

Julian said quietly, "I don't seem to have much choice anymore."

Garak looked at him, thinking of the implications. "I will miss our lunches."

Julian said grimly. "You'd be missing those whatever I did. I just picked the least objectionable option."

Garak half-smiled. "I hope you find something better than recent times, then. It won't be like your holo programs. But then you know that already."

Julian didn't look terribly happy, but Garak knew how miserable he'd been since he was moved to the station. "I'm aware of what I'm getting myself into. At this point it sounds a lot better than it did." His expression softened, something that didn't happen often. "Garak, I'm grateful for the friendship you've offered. I will indeed miss our lunches." Looking at himself in the mirror, he added, "and I do like the shirt."

Garak nodded. "It looks good on you. Please, take it."

Julian looked scared and nervous, but resigned. "Thank you. Good bye, Garak."

Feeling more than he was willing to admit, Garak simply said good bye as his best friend walked out of both their lives.

It was late. Sisko had had a hectic day and wanted nothing more than a quiet evening alone. He was just preparing for dinner when his door chimed. Annoyed, he asked who it was. Julian stood before his door, in a new shirt, looking a little lost.

"Come in," he said. He hadn't seen much of Julian since his release to the station. He was allowed in few of the places Sisko frequented. Or perhaps he just wanted his privacy.

But there was something different about him. He wore the typical grim look he always did, but with a thoughtful resignation as well. For a second he stood near the door, gazing around the room as if taking in one last look. Walking towards Sisko he pulled a disk out of his pocket, and signaled silence. Sisko watched with curiosity. He sat it near Sisko and pulled out a chair for himself. "I'm not entirely sure of it's range," he said.

"I know things haven't worked out quite the way it was hoped," said Sisko.

"They are planning to take me off the station again, since I've remembered too much. Probably why I'm here in the first place." Bashir was serious, and deeply uncertain.

"So you've got some help," he guessed.

Bashir smiled unexpectedly, "Garak said they were talented help, but yes, I need to go."

Sisko understood. He hadn't anticipated all the regulations and was sorry it had been such a failure. "If you must. I won't ask any questions. I'm sorry it didn't work."

Bashir gave the impression he was not particularly comfortable with events. "You shouldn't feel that way. You didn't make all the problems. But let's just say I got an offer I couldn't refuse. There won't be any awkward questions either, not this time."

Sisko didn't like the implications of the phrase, but didn't ask. "Are you sure about this?"

"Well, sure it's the best option I have," replied Bashir. "A new identity and Internal Affairs won't ever find me. A fair trade."

He didn't look all that happy though. "And a price," added Sisko.

"Everything has a price," said Bashir softly, picking up the device.

Sisko studied him. "How long have you known?" he asked.

"A long time. I just can't tell them," replied Bashir.

Sisko tried to be calm about it. But he was worried. "Take care of yourself, Julian. Please."

Julian nodded as he stood by the door. "I promise."

Later that night, Julian walked into a very secure area and was immediately detained. The next day a transport arrived from Internal Affairs. Julian had been allowed to take his personal things, and left that night under guard. A week later he learned, via a padd slipped to him by Odo, that Julian was dead. He had been injected with a drug that had killed him by a Captain Todd Henderson, during unauthorized questioning. The Captain had been relieved of his job and mysteriously disappeared as well.

Then, several weeks later, Sisko received a package. It simply appeared in his quarters. There were no transporter traces and nobody had been there all day. Inside the box he discovered an old, brown, stuffed bear. There was a note written in Bajoran attached, "He got homesick. Please take care of him." He hoped whoever and wherever Julian was, he was keeping his promise.

The end?