Incredible Tails aka. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Space by Bluemeany
Summary: O’Brien and Bashir are caught up in the events of In The Pale Moonlight. And there’s nothing they can do about it.

Somewhere, Sisko is losing sleep over the finer points of morality. Somewhere, someone is telling Garak he can have a data-rod but only for eighty-five litres of bio-memetic gel. And far beyond all that... Benny Russell is dreaming about what people do when time rolls on, but change never comes.
Categories: Deep Space Nine Characters: Bashir, Julian, Garak, Elim, O'Brien, Miles, Sisko, Benjamin
Genre: Alternate Universe
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 11143 Read: 325 Published: 19 Feb 2018 Updated: 19 Mar 2018

1. Incredible Tails aka. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Space by Bluemeany

2. Chapter 2: In God We Trust by Bluemeany

3. Chapter 3: An Order in Writing by Bluemeany

4. Chapter 4: Dark Side Of The Moon by Bluemeany

5. Chapter 5: Somewhere I Read by Bluemeany

6. Chapter 6: Present Tense by Bluemeany

Incredible Tails aka. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Space by Bluemeany
1 INT. QUARKS:

At their usual table with the usual drinks, O’BRIEN and BASHIR are killing time.

The Doctor has a large pile of coins in front of him. The Chief has none. O’Brien takes a single coin from a bag. He flips it.

It lands tails.

O’BRIEN: Eighty-five.

O’Brien moves the coin to Bashir’s pile. He takes another coin from the bag, flips it. Tails again. This game lost its novelty long ago. And yet, here they still are.

O’BRIEN: Eighty-six.

BASHIR: (Aware but determined not to panic) List of possible explanations: someone is messing with the laws of probability. Again.

The sound of another coin landing.

O’BRIEN: Tails. (sliding the coin on to Bashir’s pile) Eighty-seven.

BASHIR: Or we’re trapped in a holoprogam. Again. Or it’s divine intervention. Or random fluctuations at the quantum level-

O’BRIEN: Or Quark fixing coins. Again.

BASHIR: (considering) Quark…

It’s not the explanation Bashir is pondering, but the Ferengi’s name.

O’Brien pats his pockets for a coin of his own to test the theory; one that hasn’t passed through Quark’s cash register. Despite living in a post-monetary utopia he finds one.

O’BRIEN: Ah! A Cardassian Lek! Forgot I had this.

He flips it. It lands.

Bashir doesn’t even bother to look. The Chief slides the Lek on to the Doctor’s pile.

O’Brien pats his pockets again. This time he finds one anachronistic box of matches (circa 1953) which he places absent minded on the table and, lo and behold, another smaller coin.

O’BRIEN: Where the hell did I pick this up?

He squints at the faded lettering.

O’BRIEN: 'E Pluribus Unum'…where’s that?

BASHIR: Moon of Rigel I think.

O’BRIEN: I’ve forgotten half the places I’ve been in this uniform.

O’Brien flips the coin. Tails again.

BASHIR: (To himself) There has to be an explanation. Some cause.

The rising sounds of an argument diverts Bashir’s attention momentarily.

QUARK: I said no. You've had three bottles already-

At the bar, Quark is wrestling a (presumably fourth) bottle of Whelan Bitters from GRATHON TOLAR, a weasel-faced alien - blue, oily and clearly inebriated. Bashir gives the confrontation only the briefest glance. He’s seen it before… it’s that kind of station, that kind of bar.

O’BRIEN: Eighty-nine, Love. Right we are then. (a beat) Best of two hundred?

A pause --

BASHIR: This is annoying you. Me winning all the time.

It’s taken Bashir eighty-nine victories to notice.

O’BRIEN: No, no.

BASHIR: It is.

O’BRIEN: No.

It is.

BASHIR: You can’t be mad at me. I’m not doing anything. I’m just sitting here. Show me how I could be doing anything? The chances of eighty-nine coin t-

O’Brien flips another coin.

O’BRIEN: (Checking the landed coin with irk) Ninety.

BASHIR: - ninety coin tosses coming down tails all in a row. The odds are incredible. You can’t be annoyed.

O’BRIEN: Julian. I told you. I’m not annoyed.

O’Brien, wound up, throws another coin with slightly too much force. It spins on its edge on the table. Bashir stops it with his hand, his palm covering the outcome. A beat. This is not a game anymore.

BASHIR: Are you surprised though? (pause) Are you?

O’Brien considers the question.

O’BRIEN: (Straightforward) No. I’m not.

BASHIR: No, me neither.

Bashir lifts his hand from the coin. It’s tails.

O’BRIEN: Ninety one.

Both men focus on their drinks.

BASHIR: We should be surprised.

The oily, weasel-faced alien stumbles behind them. Tolar has acquired and already nearly finished the fourth bottle. He exits in the direction of the Dabo Wheel.

O’BRIEN: I suppose… when you’ve been on the station as long as we have you become numb to the incredible.

BASHIR: How long?

O’BRIEN: Eh?

BASHIR: How long have we been here?

O’BRIEN: Years.

BASHIR: And before here? Before the station?

O’BRIEN: The Enterprise.

Bashir reacts. This is more background than he’s got.

O’BRIEN: Not much of that made a hell of a lot of sense either. Not when I was stuck standing-by the transporter.

Raised, unseen voices are now coming from the direction in which Tolar stumbled. M’Pella (a Dabo-girl) does not want to dance with the weasel-faced alien. He is insisting.

O’BRIEN: Something was always happening somewhere: up on the bridge or down on a planet.

But most of the time I didn’t have a clue what. Or why.

Bashir and O’Brien don’t notice the argument. Its background noise to them, part of the character of the bar – there to add colour.

Besides O’Brien is deep into the past now, reminiscing.

O’BRIEN: Picard setting off red alert all the damn time… or that bloody auto destruct with no explanation.

But you couldn’t let it get to you.

Quark crosses the room behind them. He’s heading toward the Dabo Wheel and M’Pella. Towards Tolar…

O’BRIEN: What was going to happen was going to happen. Nothing you could do about it.

The argument by the Dabo-Wheel is louder now.

O’BRIEN: All I could do was stand by the transporter and wait. Be there when called for. Do my job.

BASHIR: Hope for the best you mean? Hope someone did something.

O’Brien flips another coin. It lands tails.

BASHIR: (Agitated) I mean to say though! There’s only so long you can wait!

Quark moves into view behind them - hunched over, clutching his chest and heading their way.

BASHIR: Is a little change, a little action too much to ask?

Quark lands: on his back, slap bang in the middle of the table. A hail of coins and beer glasses hit the floor. He lays prostrate, not blinking – a knife stuck in his front.

The briefest silence then -- Quark let’s out an ear-splitting Ferengi scream.

And all hell breaks loose.

Both Bashir and O’Brien hit their comm badges at the same time.

BASHIR: Medical Emergency. Quark try not to move.

O’BRIEN: Security to Quarks. Odo!

On the floor, one of the coins set in motion pivots on its edge. The coin spins down. It settles…

...heads.

But both O’Brien and Bashir are too busy to notice it. Nor do they notice the next coin which has also landed heads. And the next. And the next. The grimy floor is carpeted with a sea of coins all showing heads. Every single one.

Bashir is treating Quark. Being a doctor. Doing his job.

O’Brien (aided by M’Pella and a heeled-shoe) is restraining Tolar and shouting for security.

They are caught up in the events of In The Pale Moonlight, Act 3. Scene 1. And there’s nothing they can do about it.

At this very moment, somewhere, Sisko is losing sleep over the finer points of morality. Somewhere, someone is telling Garak he can have a data-rod but only for eighty-five liters of bio-memetic gel.

And maybe, just maybe…

… far beyond all that a man in a white-washed room is wondering what you do when people are numb to the incredible. And nothing ever seems to change.
Chapter 2: In God We Trust by Bluemeany
ACT ONE

2. INT QUARKS:

From their usual table O’Brien watches the room. This is a crime scene: the aftermath of an attempted murder aka. In The Pale Moonlight, Act 3. Scene 1. By the bar Tolar, his hands in restraints, is guarded by a pair of Bajoran Deputies. M’Pella sits nearby: her dress torn and a high-heeled shoe within arm’s reach.

ODO is waiting by the door. In position.

The Doctor is attending to Quark, whose chest is covered with blood. O’Brien, lacking anything constructive to do, is nursing a drink.

He picks up the small, strange coin. He flips it. It lands on the table. Tails. Same old, same old. Faded lettering reading ‘E Pluribus Unum’.

And then SISKO ENTERS--

-- and it pops back up. The coin literally pops back up on to its edge.

O’Brien stares as it balances for a beat, as if it were held by a magnet. Then it falls towards Sisko…

…Heads. The Chief takes a closer look. This side is not as faded as the other. The word “LIBERTY” is clear… as is the embossed profile of a man O’Brien vaguely recognises but can’t quite name. The year minted is harder to make out: 1950. And fainter still is a motto across the top: “IN GOD WE TRUST".

O’BRIEN: (To himself) What the hell…? Julian, come and -

Bashir is busy with Quark, a tricorder and a med kit. O’Brien looks instead to Sisko and Odo. The Constable is gesturing the Captain through the various characters in the bar. He’s establishing the key players in the scene: the Chief isn’t one of them.

O’Brien can’t hear their hushed conversation. But he can hear music... very quiet at first, fading up. The haunting sounds of Charlie Parker’s saxophone over a tin radio. Louder now, masking the background noises of the 24th Century.

O’Brien can feel himself being drawn in toward Sisko. He watches his Captain with puzzlement.

BASHIR: (Muffled by the music) Chief?

Bashir has returned to the table. Behind him, momentarily, there is a blurred outline of a human where an injured Ferengi should be… a human in a grey flannel suit.

O’BRIEN: (Focused, entranced on Sisko) Yeah…

BASHIR: (Refined) Lend us a Lucifer would you?

Distracted, O’Brien picks up the anachronistic box of matches and offers it to Bashir. He looks back at Sisko… … who is now dressed in white hospital scrubs and wearing large, round glasses.

O’Brien doesn’t know it yet but this isn’t Sisko. This is BENNY RUSSELL. Two distinct people, although perhaps not as separate as they once were. It is becoming increasingly difficult to determine which one is actually present.

BASHIR: (O.S) Miles?

The sound of Charlie Parker ends abruptly as O’Brien looks at Bashir. Behind the Doctor, Quark is unmistakably a Ferengi. A quick puzzled glance around: the station’s inhabitants have returned to normal. Sisko is in uniform.

BASHIR: I said lend us your tricorder. Mines playing up. It keeps reading Quark as human.

O’Brien stares at Bashir. Then, he glances at the tricorder in the Doctor’s hand. He can see the problem. He gently reaches over and flips it around to point away from Bashir.

BASHIR Ah.

The two men share an awkward, confused pause. An upside down tricorder isn’t something the Doctor would fail to notice: not if he were himself.

Bashir turns around and heads back towards his patient. O’Brien follows him urgently.

O’BRIEN: It’s him Julian. It’s him. Sisko. He’s the key. He came in and the coin changed to heads.

That gets Bashir attention. He stops scanning Quark.

BASHIR: It landed heads?

O’BRIEN: It landed tails. Then Sisko came in and it tumbled over to heads. The room changed too…and the people. Didn’t you see it?

BASHIR: See what?

O’Brien studies Bashir expression - it’s clear he’s telling the truth.

O’BRIEN: I saw it. As if… as if everyone and everything had just been waiting for him to arrive. And when he did, it all starting moving. Warping.

BASHIR: Warping?

O’Brien: (With a nod) Warping. Warping reality.

Bashir considers this.

BASHIR: Well, we can’t have that! One of us must go talk to Sikso. Find out what’s going on. Ask questions. Get answers.

He subtly begins to usher O’Brien across the room towards Sisko.

BASHIR: Delve. Stride right up, cut straight to the heart of the matter and say, “Look here, Sisko: what’s all this warping reality nonsense?”

O’BRIEN: Right!

Bashir pats him on the back.

BASHIR: Good man.

O’BRIEN: Me!? Why me?

BASHIR: I’m the Doctor. I’m treating Quark.

O’BRIEN: Julian!

But the Doctor is already halfway towards his patient.

O’BRIEN: (hissed) You’re afraid of him.

BASHIR: That’s ridiculous. (beat) Well, maybe a little.

In truth so is O’Brien. He can’t explain why but he needs to muster his courage. Like an actor waiting in the wings for a cue to come on.

O’BRIEN: It’s only Sisko.

But O’Brien isn’t quite sure about that. He downs his drink.

O’BRIEN: Right. Come on O’Brien. You go over there. You delve. Ask questions. Get answers. Man to man. You say “Look here Sisko…er…Captain. Captain, what’s with all this warping reality nonsense?”

With determination, O’Brien strides towards Sisko and Odo. Just as he is about to reach them, the Captain breaks off the conversation and moves toward the Doctor and his patient…

Bashir is scanning Quark and doesn’t notice until Sisko is only a couple of meters away: too late to escape. He throws O’Brien a panic-stricken look. The Chief wildly gestures encouragement for him to take over.

SISKO: How is he?

Opening his mouth, Bashir is going to say something: ask questions, get answers --

QUARK: How do I look? I just had a brush with death.

-- but is sucked into the scene despite himself.

BASHIR: (Surprised by the words coming out of his mouth) He’ll be fine. His ribs deflected the knife from his vital organs. The bleeding was superficial.

QUARK: Superficial? Do you know how much this shirt cost?

SISKO: Doctor, will you excuse us for a moment.

A prince dismissing a courtier: not a request. The Doctor has his use. He’s played his part. He’s done here.

BASHIR: (to Quark – throwaway line) I’ll check on you again tomorrow.

Quark and Sisko’s muted conversation continues as Bashir walks out of In the Pale Moonlight, Act 3.1… …and back to O’Brien sat at their table. The Chief has got two beers from the bar. Bashir drops his med kit and sits glumly.

O’BRIEN: Terrific.

BASHIR: Alright.

O’BRIEN: You really had him on the back foot there I could see. Straight to the heart of the matter. Probing.

BASHIR: Alright.

O’BRIEN: I was waiting for you to delve. When is he going to start delving I kept asking myself?

BASHIR: I’m a doctor, not a detecti-(stopping himself deliberately). I tried to talk to Sisko. I did. But I had to say those other words. I couldn’t help it. It was what was expected...(a beat) Miles: ask me how Quark is.

O’BRIEN: What?

BASHIR: Ask me.

O’BRIEN: How is he?

BASHIR: (Automatic) He’ll be fine. His ribs deflected the knife from his vital organs. The bleeding was superficial.

O’BRIEN: Lucky break for Qu-

BASHIR: No! Ask me again.

O’BRIEN: How is he?

BASHIR: (Trying to fight it) He’ll be fine. His ribs deflected the knife from his vital organs. (Defeated) The bleeding was superficial. I can’t say anything else. What the hell is going on?

O’Brien has seen a silhouette approaching across the dark Promenade. Despite the shadow, he knows who it is.

O’BRIEN: Look-

GARAK ENTERS the bar. Totally aware, particularly of Sisko. He takes stock of the room and moves towards Odo. The two have a brief inaudible exchange.

O’BRIEN: Now what do you think he’s doing here?

Bashir has a grin on his face. The game’s afoot. Whatever is going on, Garak has the answer.

BASHIR: Garak.

Odo and his security men let Garak pass. He approaches Tolar, who visibly shrinks back as the Cardassian leans over him at the table.

GARAK: (With a smile, menacing) Hello, Grathon.

From behind him-

BASHIR: And hello Garak.

The Doctor has bounded over. The Chief has followed, drink in hand. Garak, momentarily astonished by their presence, regains his composure.

GARAK: Doctor. (Even more puzzled as to why O’Brien is here…) And with Chief O’Brien too, what a pleasant surprise. To find you both here.

Ever the good poker player Garak waits with an amiable smile. Bashir obliges and fills the silence.

BASHIR: Just dropping in to mend Quark’s shirt I suppose?

GARAK: A good tailor is always on call. Much like a doctor…

Garak’s eyes flick between the two men with curiosity. A pause…there’s a response he wants to test…

GARAK: Tell me: how is Quark…?

With a hand wave, the Cardassian cues Bashir in-

BASHIR: (Automatic) He’ll be fine. His ribs deflected the knife from his vital organs. The bleeding wa-

O’BRIEN: (Stopping him) Julian. Julian. (To Garak re. Tolar) He’s fine. No thanks to your friend.

Garak regards both of them. His expression lit with interest.

GARAK: He’s not my friend. (To O’Brien about Bashir) But you’re his. And you’re here. And that could be the difference…

He glances over to where Sisko is busy bribing Quark. He is aware of where they are standing; whose path O’Brien and Bashir will soon be in…

GARAK: There isn’t much time.

Garak attempts to usher the two men back to their table.

O’BRIEN: Hey, look out! Watch my drink.

BASHIR: Time for what? Garak! What’s going on?

GARAK: I do believe Captain Sisko has nearly finished convincing Quark.

BASHIR: Convincing him?

O’BRIEN: Of what?

GARAK: To drop the charges. what else.

BASHIR: Drop the charges! Why on earth would Sisko want Quark do that? He got stabbed through-

With urgency Garak shepherds them across the room.

GARAK: Gentlemen, I highly recommend you go back to your table. Now.

Garak propels Bashir into his seat and hurries back to the spot where they were just standing… back into the events of In The Pale Moonlight. Sisko strides towards him, a barely restrained fury behind his eyes.

SISKO: (Quietly boiling) Tolar is your responsibility. Keep him out of sight and under control or the next man needing medical attention will be you.

Sisko exits towards the doorway.

SISKO: (to Odo- without stopping) He's dropped the charges.

After he is sure Sisko has gone Garak joins O’Brien and Bashir at their table.

O’BRIEN: I’ve never seen Sisko so mad!

GARAK: No?

The Cardassian is far from his usually composed self. Bashir pushes his glass of whisky toward him with concern…

BASHIR: Or you so unnerved.

Garak reaches for the glass and their hands touch.

BASHIR: What’s going on Garak?

GARAK: Now, that is the question. I assure you Doctor, presently, I am as in the dark as you are.

BASHIR: I don’t believe you.

GARAK: It would be better if you did.

Garak retracts his hand and downs the drink. The younger man edges forward.

BASHIR: You knew Sisko was about to come over just then didn’t you? Just like you knew to ask me how Quark was –

Garak knows it's futile. But despite that, despite himself he is going to help his…friend. Bashir always did have a strange effect on him

GARAK: Tell me: are those things always on?

BASHIR: (blankly) What?

GARAK: Your combadges. Are they always on? Tracking where you are. Listening in. Oh, for your own safety, of course… but is everything on the record? Is that why Starfleet Officers always do what is right? Is that why you are good?

Bashir sighs. After five years of lunches, he’s more or less immune to Garak’s brand of analytical paranoia.

BASHIR: No one is ‘listening in’ Garak. This isn’t Cardassia. This is the Federation.

The Cardassian shifts; he knows something is about to happen. It’s nearly time to make an exit. He picks up the anachronistic box of 20th Century matches and turns it over and over in his palm.

GARAK: Doctor, I live in hope that one day, you’ll see this universe for what it truly is and not…

BASHIR: “… and not that which I’d wish it to be”. I’ve heard this speech before. Look gift horses squarely in the mouth et cetera, et cetera. Same old cynical Garak.

Garak gives Bashir his patented infuriating half-smile and stands.

GARAK: Cynicism? My dear Doctor, are you absolutely sure that’s what I’ve been trying to teach you?

BASHIR: What else would it be?

GARAK: Only to look… to listen. To observe. To notice the details, the background…

He looks pointedly at Bashir.

GARAK: … or in some cases the lack of them.

BASHIR: (alarmed) What’s that supposed to mean?

Garak spins a coin. It lands tails.

GARAK: You shouldn’t always win. You know that. Some part of you knows that. (beat) Now, if you will excuse me, there’s a prior engagement I really am compelled to keep. Doctor. Mr O’Brien.

Garak exits. O’Brien and Bashir sit at the table in silence. After a pause, the Chief picks up a coin again and goes to toss it.

The comm system chimes.

SISKO: (Com voice) Sisko to Bashir

Neither O’Brien nor Bashir move. The comm trills again.

O’BRIEN: That’s you. He’s calling you.

BASHIR: It was me last time.

O’BRIEN: And it is again this time.

BASHIR: Toss you for it?

O'Brien reaches over and hits Bashir's combadge.

BASHIR: (False confidence) Bashir here.

SISKO: Doctor, report to my office please.

Sisko signs off abruptly.

BASHIR: Well… I suppose I better… report to Sisko’s office.

O’BRIEN: Nothing to worry about. You’ll be fine.

The Doctor gets up and heads to the doorway. He turns to look back at his friend.

BASHIR: Miles—

O’BRIEN: I’ll be here. When you get back.

He gives Bashir a reassuring smile. The Doctor returns it-

BASHIR: Right.

He steps over the threshold… and onto the Promenade. Part of him is surprised he exists outside the bar. He walks towards the turbo-life, toward Sisko’s office and In The Pale Moonlight Act 3, Scene 4.

Toward an order to send eight-five litres of highly dangerous biomimetic gel to an unspecified destination.

O’Brien is alone. Bored.

Bashir has left his medi-PADD upside down on the table: it displays text and diagrams detailing Ferengi anatomy. O’Brien picks it up, turns it around—

-- to see the PADD has become an old fashioned tattered paper notebook. On the cover in handwritten pencil are the words: “What We Left Behind” by Benny Russell”, then underneath: “A STORY SUBMISSION FOR INCREDIBLE TALES, JULY 1969’.

O’Brien flicks through the pages. Everyone single one is covered in intricate writing. He's flicking too quick to read any of the text. Too quick to notice the name of the heroine..

As O’Brien discards the notebook open on the table and we get a glimpse of the text: ‘Captain Molly O’Brien stood on the burning bridge. “Emergency,” she cried. “This is the USS Tennyson issuing a planetary distress call on-‘

END OF ACT 1
Chapter 3: An Order in Writing by Bluemeany
ACT TWO

1. INT. QUARKS

Bashir ENTERS. He’s just exited Sisko’s office and In The Pale Moonlight Act 3.3. In his hand is a PADD - an order, in writing, that he can do little about. The Doctor throws his order onto the table. O’Brien glances at it getting as far as the first line-

O’BRIEN: (incredulous) Eighty-five litres of bio-memetic gel?

Bashir is so angry he doesn’t trust himself to speak. O’Brien scans the rest of the order.

O’BRIEN: To go where?

BASHIR: Cargo Bay Three.

O’BRIEN: And after that?

The Doctor doesn’t have an answer.

O’BRIEN: Eighty-five litres though. And Sisko didn’t tell you what it was for?

BASHIR: No.

Both men know the most likely use of that amount of gel: biogenic weapons. Mass destruction on a planetary scale.

O’BRIEN: The war has been going badly but I can’t believe Starfleet are considering…

The Chief checks the PADD again.

O’BRIEN: Top priority transport. That’s…fast. Very fast.

Bashir is only half listening. O’Brien sees his expression and the danger brewing.

O’BRIEN: (wary) Julian…

If it was anyone else signature on the order, Bashir would be in Sisko’s office right now - raising hell and asking his Captain how he gets out of this. Not an option, not this time.

BASHIR: It’s Sisko. Sisko. He’s a good man. He wouldn’t…

Bashir hesitates - torn between his principles and his loyalty to Sisko. He would die for both. Someone needs to make this choice for him. O’Brien has seen indecision in young officers before. With efficiency, almost as if unpacking a rifle, he sets up two more drinks--

O’BRIEN: It’s an order. We’re in uniform. We follow orders. That’s the way it is. ‘Theirs not to reason why…’

- and in the same continuous movement reaches over and takes Bashir’s combadge off his chest.

BASHIR: What are-?

O’Brien does the same with his own badge--

O’BRIEN: “Theirs is but to do…”

- and places both on the table. They’re off the record.

O’Brien and Bashir share a moment. It’s not a mutiny, not yet. But it is an understanding: whatever Sisko and Starfleet are up to, it’s feels wrong. To both of them. Bashir's words spill out.

BASHIR: That amount… (hushed by O’Brien)…that amount, that fast it has to be for biogenic weapons. Or else organic explosives. It has to be. If it was for medical replication then why risk transporting so much at once? It’s taken me five years of small consignments to stockpile that amount.

(Making up his mind) I can’t release it. I just can’t. Not without knowing where Sisko is sending it.

Maybe Bashir would have reached the same decision if O’Brien hadn’t been there. Then again maybe not. As The Doctor talks, O’Brien reacts to a sound. On the table the small, strange coin is shuddering. The Chief watches as it builds to propel itself up again…

BASHIR: Refined down it would kill an entire world in a matter of hours. Leave it uninhabitable for centuries-

… managing it the second Sisko ENTERS accompanied by GARAK and a nervous TOLAR.

Bashir falls silent as we watch the trio cross the bar toward the holosuite. Once they’ve entered, both men watch the suspended coin teeter and fall. Tails. Bashir reacts.

BASHIR: That’s remarkable.

The Chief is on his feet. He downs his drink, picks up his combadge and the coin and is on the move. Bashir follows.

BASHIR: Where are you going?

O’BRIEN: To find out what Sisko is up to.

BASHIR: Miles, wait. Miles…

They’re moving out of the bar and we…

CUT TO:

2. INT. CORRIDOR, DIRECTLY ABOVE THE HOLOSUITES

O’Brien is unfastening a panel from the wall.

O’BRIEN: This access tube runs right above the holosuites. You can look down into all of them from- oh Bollocks!

Behind the Starfleet grey panel… is another panel. This one is brightly painted and (more to the point) sealed with an elaborate lock. O’Brien inspects the contraption which whirs and flashes.

O’BRIEN: (frustrated) A Rom security special.

He reaches to get a wrench from his toolbox…

O’BRIEN: This is going to take a while to get through-

… turning back just as Bashir finishes picking the lock. It trills and the second panel slides opens. Bashir crouches and makes to clamber in.

O’BRIEN: Julian!

BASHIR: What?

O’BRIEN: How did you do that?

BASHIR: It’s not complicated.

O’BRIEN: The hell it isn’t!

Bashir takes a moment to digest this.

BASHIR: Must be to do with my genetic engineering.

O’BRIEN: Your what?

BASHIR: My genetic engineering. You know, all my superhuman abilities.

O’BRIEN: You’re genetically engineered?

BASHIR: Yes.

A pause.

O’BRIEN: You never mentioned it before.

BASHIR: Didn’t I?

O’BRIEN: No!

BASHIR: Oh. (Considers this) I’m not sure I knew before.

Bashir slides into the Jeffries Tube and pads away into the dark. O’Brien shakes his head in disbelief. Then follows his friend down the rabbit hole.

INT. JEFFRIES TUBE, DIRECTLY ABOVE THE HOLOSUITES
At the sound of muffled voices below, Bashir stops crawling. Very carefully, very quietly he lifts out a floor hatch to peer down on the frozen scene of a DOMINION MEETING ROOM. A graphic of Romulus fills the wall with the planet surrounded by ships.

The holograms of WEYOUN, DAMAR and two nameless Cardassian Legates are paused around the conference table. The real Sisko, Garak and Tolar move around them; already midway through ‘In The Pale Moonlight Act 3.4.

GARAK: (To Sisko) That’s all the new material. The rest of the program plays out just as you saw before.

He gestures to Tolar, who moves to a control panel. With a flick of a switch the Dominion Room vanishes, leaving behind an empty holosuite. From above Bashir watches Tolar hands Garak a unique looking DATA-ROD.

BASHIR: (Quiet) Curiouser and curiouser…

O’BRIEN: What is?

O’Brien has caught up with Bashir. He stretches, trying to see the action below. It’s cramped in the tube: not room for both of them.

SISKO: (O.S) It’s better. They seem more real.

GARAK: (O.S) All I had to do was add a little petty bickering and mutual loathing.

O’Brien puts his elbow - and most of his weight – on Bashir’s leg. The Doctor stifles a yell.

BASHIR: (hissed) Get off, you big lump-

O’BRIEN: Julian, for God’s sake-

BASHIR: Ow!

O’BRIEN: Would you get your leg out of my face?

BASHIR: You’re in the way-

O’BRIEN: I can’t see what -

SLAM. The noise stops O’Brien and Bashir struggling with each other for space and they look below. Sisko has Tolar pinned against the wall. The Captain’s new position gives a clear view of his face. Sisko’s eyes are burning with ferocity behind a set of round, gold framed glasses.

The two men watch with fascination as Sisko slowly relaxes his grip on the trembling alien and steps away. Released, Tolar slinks and exits.

4. INT. HOLOSUITE – CONTINUOUS

Garak smiles at Sisko pleasantly.

GARAK: Felt good, didn't it?

Sisko…or perhaps Benny… looks at him, taken off guard by the question.

GARAK: That moment of pure brute force. Must have been a… refreshing change of pace.

There may be an element of truth in what he is saying. But what Benny can't believe is the way Garak keeps poking and prodding at his psyche. Garak is getting too clever…too clever by half. He begins to smile at the absurdity of it all.

BENNY: Mister Garak. Why is it that no one has killed you yet?

This is not idle pondering. This is unmistakably a threat: a Shakespearean King who is growing tired of his Fool. Garak falters a little before recovering.

GARAK: My innate charm?

The Captain laughs. Reprieved, relieved - Garak manages a smile back.

KIRA'S COM VOICE: Ops to Captain Sisko.

SISKO: Go ahead.

KIRA'S COM VOICE: We've just received the coded Sub-space signal you were waiting for. Should I reply?

5. INT. JEFFRIES TUBE, DIRECTLY ABOVE THE HOLOSUITE - CONTINUOUS

Bashir and O’Brien listen in.

SISKO: (O.S) No reply, major. Sisko out. (To Garak) Senator Vreenak’s here.

BASHIR: (hushed) Vreenak!

O’BRIEN: You know him?

BASHIR: Of him. Secretary of the Romulan War Council. (starting to put pieces together) The man who negotiate the non- aggression pact with the Dominion…

6.) INT HOLOSUITE – CONTINUOUS

Sisko is at the point of no return. Vreenak’s arrived: the plot is in motion. He’s going to take a moment before he leaps. He closes his eyes, rests his head on the wall. Momentarily, despite his 24th Century surroundings and the uniform is undeniably Benny Russell.

BENNY: (To himself) This has to work, this fiction. They have to believe it. They have to act, come in on our side. Join the struggle. I have to make them believe… that it could be the truth. This has to work. Otherwise…

Sisko is back. He flexes his hand in and out of a fist.

SISKO: (pause) It did feel good.

Garak has moved into position behind him. He offers the data-rod. Sisko takes it.

GARAK: While you're entertaining the Senator in the wardroom, I'll take the opportunity to make a quick search of his ship's database.

SISKO: For what?

The Cardassian gives the Captain his patented infuriating half-smile.

GARAK: Information.

SISKO: Just make sure you don't get caught.

Sisko exits. It’s the end of In The Pale Moonlight Act 3.4. At least it is for Garak. The action’s moved elsewhere. He waits a moment then addresses the “empty” Holosuite.

GARAK: Could you hear alright?

7. INT. JEFFRIES TUBE, DIRECTLY ABOVE A HOLOSUITE - CONTINUOUS

In their cramped hiding place with limbs awkwardly positioned around one another, O’Brien and Bashir freeze.

BASHIR: (under his breath) Bastard.

8. INT. HOLOSUITE - CONTINUOUS

Garak affects an air of irritating nonchalance as the two men sheepishly emerge, climb through an open panel and down a wall ladder.

GARAK: Glad you could drop in.

Bashir strides toward Garak. No time for their usual cat and mouse game, this calls for the direct approach.

BASHIR: What's on the data-rod Garak? What’s Sisko’s passing on to Vreenak?

Garak takes a step to the side: trying to evade and move toward the exit. O’Brien blocks him.

GARAK: Oh just…greetings. From the Federation to Romulan High Command. Expressions of loyalty. Asking of favours, obscure promises balanced by vague threats. (pause) You know-- diplomacy.

BASHIR: Rubbish. It’s a holoprogram. Of Damar and Weyoon and… (The penny drops) … invasion plans. You’re trying to bring them into the war!

O’BRIEN: Bring the Romulans in to…?

Bashir advances on Garak.

BASHIR: With forged evidence of a Cardassian-Dominion plot against Romulus! Are you insane? You’re fabricating a conspiracy!

GARAK: Not me Doctor. Captain Sisko.

O’BRIEN: It could work.

BASHIR: Chief!

O’BRIEN: The Dominion aren’t going to pack up and head home to the Delta Quadrant once they’ve finished with us. The Romulans will join eventually. They’ll have to.

BASHIR: But trick them to war? Lie?

GARAK: “To thine ownself be true and you cannot be false to any man.”

BASHIR: Oh I think you would still manage it.

O’BRIEN: We're losing this war, you’ve told me often enough: the casualty lists, the front line reports…

Bashir can’t argue with reality nor with the opportunity.

BASHIR: This could tip the balance. (resigned) I know.

GARAK: I’m delighted we are all in agreement. Now if you will excuse me there is somewhere I really need to be.

Garak moves towards the door. Both men block his way.

BASHIR: And the gel?

GARAK: (Honestly unknowing) The gel?

BASHIR: The eighty-five litres. To cargo bay three. I want to know where it’s going.

GARAK: (recalling) The gel, yes. Forgive me Doctor, I have rather a lot on my mind at the moment.

I forget some of the more trivial details…

BASHIR: The more trivial details!? Eighty-five litres of a highly dangerous substance! (An appalling thought occurs) Don’t tell me we’re giving that to the Romulans as well?

GARAK: It’s going to an – associate - of mine.

BASHIR: An associate!? If you think for one moment-

Garak rubs his temples, more tired than usual.

GARAK: What is it that you want Doctor?

BASHIR: A clear conscience.

GARAK: And I thought your taste for luxuries stopped at Delavian chocolates.

BASHIR: (resolute) I’m not releasing the gel.

Garak stares at him blankly for a moment. Then realisation dawns and he starts to laugh.

BASHIR: Care to let us in on the joke?

GARAK: You actually believe you can change things! That something can be done! My dear Doctor, you will find that you’ve already released the gel. That right now eight-five litres are whizzing their way across the quadrant.

BASHIR: I didn’t release it.(to O’Brien) You’ve been with me… I didn’t!

GARAK: Computer, how much bio-memetic gel is currently in the medical holding bay?

COMPUTER: That information is classified for Starfleet officers only-

GARAK: Authorisation code O’Brien One, Sigma, Delta, Whisky.

Garak returns O’Brien affronted look with a shrug and a disarming smile.

COMPUTER: There are currently four litres of biomimetic gel in the medical holding bay.

BASHIR: What? No. That’s not right. Computer, how much bio-memetic gel is in the medical holding bay?

COMPUTER: That information is classified-

BASHIR: (impatient) Authorisation code Bashir, Seven, Delta, Omega

As his friend argues with the Computer, O’Brien takes out the small, strange coin from his pocket. Flips it…

COMPUTER: There are four litres of biomimetic gel in the medical holding bay.

The coin land tails. O’Brien flips it again…

BASHIR: And this morning?

Tails. O’Brien flips the coin again.

COMPUTER: Ninety one.

BASHIR: Eight-five litres have been released?

COMPUTER: Correct.

Tails. Again--

BASHIR: By who?

COMPUTER: Bashir, Julian. First Medical Officer.

Tails. O’Brien is grasping the futility of their situation.

BASHIR: I didn’t! (To O’Brien) Will you stop playing with that bloody coin!

GARAK: A data-rod capable of fooling the Romulans for eighty-five litres of bio-memetic gel: That was the deal. This entire plot depends on it. Now, Captain Sisko has the data rod. Therefore my associate has the gel. Therefore, you Doctor, released it. A chain of cause and effect.

It doesn’t matter what you do. Or don’t do. You cannot change what has happened… is happening. Not here.

Bashir isn’t going to listen to this.

BASHIR: Computer, open Holosuite doors.

Garak reaches out and grasps his arm.

GARAK: Try to see. Please. See this world for what it truly is. See yourself for what you truly are.

Bashir pulls away from Garak's touch, moving toward the exit. O’Brien follows.

O’BRIEN: Julian, wait -

O’Brien reaches the doorway, he takes the small step over the threshold and -

CUT TO:

END OF ACT TWO
Chapter 4: Dark Side Of The Moon by Bluemeany
1. HABITAT RING CORRIDOR - OUTSIDE SISKO’S QUARTERS

- into a completely different part of the station. O’Brien and Bashir look around, confused at the sudden change of setting. They try to regain their bearings: O’Brien manages it first.

O’BRIEN: The habitat ring.

BASHIR: How did we end up here?

O’BRIEN: Transporter?

Bashir encouraged by the thought, clutches the straw O’Brien’s offered.

BASHIR: You think so?

O’BRIEN: No not really.

BASHIR: Oh.

O’BRIEN: Didn’t feel like a beam. Too fast.

Deciding to explore, O’Brien walks further along the corridor and exits forwards. As he does, Bashir notices the corridor walls are covered with intricate writing. Moving closer, he scans the text and reads out loud.

BASHIR: “I need to talk about this. I have to justify what's happened. I can't talk to anyone else, not even… (pause) Not even Dax.”

O’Brien re-enters from behind. A straight corridor has led around in a loop: he’s right back where he started. Bashir reads on…

BASHIR: “Maybe if I just lay it all out, it’ll finally make sense…

A voice can be heard from inside Sisko’s quarters: it’s too faint to make out what is being said. O’Brien edges to the door and tilts his head to listen.

Speaking along with Bashir, the voice within picks up the story.

BASHIR & (O.S) SISKO: “And I’ll see where it all went wrong... Where I went wrong. I suppose it all started two weeks ago when I was-

O’BRIEN: Julian. He’s in there.

BASHIR: What’s he doing?

O’Brien returns to eavesdropping; he’s listening in on the Captain’s monologue from In the Pale Moonlight.

SISKO (O.S) :… for the past three months, I’ve posted the official list of Starfleet personnel killed, wounded or missing in the war…

Taking a laser spanner from his toolkit, O’Brien gently prise the door open… just an inch. He peers through.

O’BRIEN: Talking.

The Captain is sitting on his couch, the room is dark, moody. Sisko faces the blank, far wall and addresses it directly.

BASHIR: Talking? To himself?

O’BRIEN: I’m not sure.

BASHIR: Someone’s with him?

O’BRIEN: He’s alone.

BASHIR: (Impatient) Then he’s talking to himself isn’t he.

Bashir moves to see, knocking O’Brien’s hand as he does so. As the laser spanner goes to work, the door opens fully with an audible swish and a loud chime.

INT SISKO’S QUARTERS

In the Pale Moonlight: Sisko, drink in hand, is speaking directly to us. O’Brien and Bashir stand in the doorway looking guilty.

O’BRIEN: Ah. Er...just checking the doors sir…

But Sisko doesn’t look around. He continues to speak to a blank wall and an audience that isn’t there.

SISKO: …that’s the reason they’ll finally take action.

The Chief gestures authoritatively with the spanner.

O’BRIEN: We’ve been having some problems with the- override systems.

He trails off. Sisko continues to monolog to thin air. The Doctor moves gently toward Sisko, observing his patient: something is very wrong… who the hell is he speaking to? O’Brien follows.

BASHIR: Sir?

SISKO: I’d committed myself. I’d pay any price, got to any lengths. Because my cause was righteous.

BASHIR: (gently) Captain?

SISKO: My intentions were good. In the beginning, that seemed like enough.

Bashir crouches, touching the Captain’s arm.

BASHIR: Do you know who I am sir?

SISKO: (Distracted) Of course. You’re Julius.

BASHIR: Close.

Bashir gets out his medical tricorder and starts to scan. Sisko regards him properly for the first time.

SISKO: But no cigarette. I see. Julian. And with Miles O’Brien. Deep Space Nine’s Chief of Operations. (To O’Brien re. Bashir) I thought you couldn’t stand him?

Both men are taken aback by the directness of the question.

O’BRIEN: That was a long time ago. Things change. People change.

SISKO: Do they?

Momentarily, we see Bashir and O’Brien from a different point of view-

3. ISOLATION WARD - DAY

- standing in front of the padded white walls of a cell.

BENNY: What do you do when they don’t? When they never will?

He gets up suddenly, animated now. Pacing and moving about the cell. He recites from In The Pale Moonlight as if O’Brien and Bashir aren’t there.

BENNY: I waited. I’m not an impatient man. I got that from my father. The soufflé will either rise or it won’t-

O’BRIEN: Captain?

BENNY: There’s not a damn thing you can do about it. So you might as well sit back and wait. And see what happens. But there’s only so long you can wait.

Bashir and O’Brien watch him, puzzled. In uniform and in the 24th Century: they haven’t made the scene jump.

BENNY: People are dying out there. Every day. Struggling for their freedom and here I am…

MATCH CUT

4.) DEEP SPACE NINE - SISKO'S QUARTERS

We’re back in the 24th Century.

SISKO: Here I am…

Sisko sits down his head in his hands.

SISKO: …dreaming.

BASHIR: Captain, these neural readings are similar to those you had a few weeks ago. Are you having visions again?

SISKO: No.

Yeah, right.

BASHIR: We’re going to the infirmary. Right now.(Gesturing for help) Miles-

SISKO: Don’t touch me.

Sisko grabs Bashir’s arm and slams him against the bulkhead. O’Brien moves to help - the Doctor waves him to stay where he is.

BASHIR: Try to stay calm.

SISKO: I don’t want to be calm. I’ve been calm long enough. (Bitter) Doctors - you think you can fix everything. Think you know everything. You don’t even know who you’re trying to save.

BASHIR: I’m a Doctor. You’re my patient. That’s all I need to know…

Bashir’s trails off, his conviction lessened by a sense of déjà-vu. Sisko gives him a hollow smile: the Doctor is remembering past lines.

SISKO: Exactly. Just enough to play your part. Just what I need you to know.

Something in Sisko's voice makes Bashir back down; he allows him to take the medical tricorder out of his hand.

SISKO: Look at this place. To think that this is what my life has been reduced to.

He picks up the whisky glass from the coffee table.

SIKSO: This sterile nutshell... this prison!

Sisko throws the glass with force. It should shatter against the blank wall only-

5. INT. ISOLATION WARD - DAY

- it doesn’t. Instead, a plastic beaker bounces off a white wall. It lands with a soft thud at O’Brien’s feet on the floor of a 20th Century isolation ward. They’ve all made the trip this time.

O’BRIEN: What the hell!

O’Brien spins around, trying to grasp his new surroundings: bright light, bare walls, one chair. There is a smell of fresh paint. He fixes on Benny who is dressed all in white and stalking up and down muttering to himself.

BENNY: The temperature is always too cold.

Bashir is following: more concerned with his patient than the scene jump.

BASHIR: Just stop please. Let me help you.

BENNY: (ignoring him) The lights are always too bright.

There is a large bruise on Benny’s temple.

BASHIR: How did that happen?

BENNY: (directly to Bashir) And nothing ever changes. All those years, all the time in between. Everything that’s happened… And I’m still here. In this room. It’s too slow… too slow…

The cell door opens and DOCTOR SLOAN enters holding a newspaper and a medical folder. Benny abruptly breaks off the conversation with his doctor but it’s too late. Dr Sloan sees only a madman frantically talking to thin air.

BASHIR: (With disdain) Sloan. I might have known.

DR. SLOAN: Morning Benny.

This isn’t the Agent Sloan that Bashir and O’Brien know in the 24th Century. Doctor Sloan speaks in a thick, Texan accent and exudes an affable air. Nevertheless, Benny retreats to the cell’s farthest corner. An ORDERLY files in behind and locks the door.

O’BRIEN: Where are we?

BASHIR: We’ve no time for games Sloan.

Neither seeing nor hears O’Brien and Bashir, Sloan reaches out his hand to offer Benny the newspaper.

DR. SLOAN: Brought you something to read.

BASHIR: Never mind all that. What have you done to the Captain?

O’BRIEN: Julian. He can’t see us. Look.

O’Brien waves his hand in front of Sloan to demonstrate the point. Benny is still backed into the farthest corner.

BENNY: I don’t belong here.

DR. SLOAN: I’m afraid the American Psychiatric Association and the State of New York disagree.

He offers the newspaper again. Benny doesn’t take it. With a sigh, Sloan drops it onto the floor, the front page clearly visible. It’s the New York Times, July 24th 1969. Profile shots of Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong stare out in black and white. Above, the headline proclaims “MOON HEROES BACK: Apollo 11 splashes down in the Pacific.”

Benny can’t hide his interest. He’s dreamt of space since he was five years old. He moves to pick it up.

BENNY: They did it. They really did it.

DR. SLOAN: Yes they did.

BENNY: (Awed by the thought of it) Men on the moon.

O’Brien and Bashir move to his side to read: three Starfleet officers - momentarily all in uniform - looking at three Apollo astronauts.

DR. SLOAN: Just like in one of your stories.

BENNY: (reading, excited by the details) Yes.

Sloan gestures to the front page and the photographs.

DR. SLOAN: Only… what do you notice about the men on the moon Benny? (beat) Any coloreds up there?

Benny realises Sloan’s laid a trap and he’s taken the bait: he sits down and draws into himself.

BENNY: No.

BASHIR: There will be one day. (realising Sloan can’t hear him) Captain, tell him!

The rabid hostility hidden beneath Sloan’s amiable surface bubbles up.

DR. SLOAN: No. Because this is reality. Not some jumped up Negro fantasy…

BASHIR: Tell him!

DR. SLOAN: White men are on the moon… and where are you?

BASHIR: About the Federation, about Starfleet. What’s coming.

Sloan is standing over Benny now. O’Brien registers the threat and the orderly approaching behind. So does Benny.

O’BRIEN: This isn’t helping. (warning) Julian…

DR. SLOAN: I said where are you, boy?

BENNY: Here.

DR. SLOAN: That’s right.

Benny is perfectly still.

BASHIR: Tell him! There will be one day. That world exists. You’ve seen it! Captain! Tell him!

Benny considers Bashir: a young 24th Century doctor in his Starfleet uniform completely unaware of the colour of his skin. It’s never come up - not once in his life. He’s never given it a moment’s thought. Ever.

BENNY: There will be one day.

DR. SLOAN: What did you say?

BENNY: There will be one day. Millions of people of all creeds and colours living on the Moon.

And not just there. Everywhere. On every planet, every ship, around every star far out into deep space.

It’s coming. I can see it. And you’re afraid because you can too and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Sloan hits him: it’s a vicious blow. Benny offers little resistance. Its many years since he was a writer for Incredible Tales and he’s aged: a consequence of living in the real world.

O’BRIEN: You sonofabitch!

O’Brien lunges for Sloan but passes through him like ghost. As he does, the orderly moves toward Benny with a hypodermic needle. Bashir snatches for it… his hand fading through the plastic and metal. The two men watch with frantic frustration as the orderly rolls up Benny’s sleeve and prepares the injection.

O’BRIEN: This is useless. We’re useless. We need to help him!

BASHIR: What is that? What are they giving you? (reading the label, alarmed) Risperidone. No - that’s too much.

Benny’s speech starts to slur: the drug is already taking affect.

BENNY: Stop… it’s too much...

DR. SLOAN: Mothers milk this boy, makes you calm, takes the visions and dreams away.

O’BRIEN: (Futilely) Don’t you touch him!

BASHIR: Captain, stay with us: focus on my voice.

BENNY: It’s real: that station...

BASHIR: Keep your eyes open. No, stay awake. Benny.

BENNY: It doesn’t matter what you do. It’s coming. That future, I’ve seen it. It exists…

DR. SLOAN: No.

BENNY: It’s real.

DR. SLOAN: It isn’t. But I am.

Sloan lashes out again. In the 20th Century, Benny lapses into unconsciousness …

FADE OUT.

END OF ACT THREE.
Chapter 5: Somewhere I Read by Bluemeany
ACT FOUR:

1. INT. QUARKS

Right back where we started. The bar is darker than before and littered with empty bottles, coins, PADDS, paper, darts and tattered notebooks. Amid the mess are our heroes. An ashtray smoulders on the table: they are on the floor. The Chief narrates in the style of a holodeck epic.

O’BRIEN: O’Brien and Bashir sat on the floor: courage in their hearts, backs against the wall, beers in their hands -- plastered.

Their Captain sleeps nearby propped up against a table leg. In full uniform but with one sleeve rolled up, he’s still wearing glasses.

O’BRIEN: Is he Sisko or is he Benny?

BASHIR: Benny (changing his mind) Sisko (equally sure) Benny. (pause) What do you think?

O’BRIEN: He’s the Captain.

A bell rings from behind the bar.

QUARK: (O.S) Last orders please.

BASHIR: And us? Which parts of who we are… are really us? What we did or said or felt…

Quark enters holding a tray. Stepping over O’Brien and Bashir, he reacts to the mess with horror. Paying little attention to either barman or bell, the regulars continue their conversation.

BASHIR: Could we have changed any of it? Done something different? Been someone else?

In the foreground, Quark tidies up a few glasses. It’s a drop in the ocean considering the state of the bar… still it’s a start. Noticing the unconscious Sisko, he crouches down-

QUARK: Oh, look at you.

- transforming from Ferengi to HERBERT ROSSOFF - a feisty, elderly gentleman in a grey flannel suit.

HERBERT: (gently) Hey Benny. How are you? It’s me, your friend Herbert. Remember me? That no-good hack at Incredible Tales? The others all send their love. They wanted to come but… you know how it is.

The Captain’s eyes open but it’s his only reaction. Bashir and O’Brien stand and edge closer, wary of this new visitor.

HERBERT: I’ve brought you a surprise. That story you gave me last time… look.

Herbert takes something from inside his jacket. It’s Incredible Tales: a weekly sci-fi pulp magazine. It’s the edition of July 24th 1969. The title reads “What We Left Behind” by Benny Russell.

HERBERT: People have read it Benny. It’s out there. Beats chalk on the sidewalk. Finally got one through that invertebrate Pabst. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure Cassie gets the money.

O’Brien decides Herbert is a friend.

O’BRIEN: You have to do something. They’re hitting him-

But Herbert sees only Benny. He places the story in its author’s lap. The cover shows the angled bridge of a Starship. A woman sat in the Captain’s chair has nearly all of her face obscured by long, black hair.

HERBERT: I’m sorry about the illustration. We had to compromise. A woman captain was a big enough fight. Roy tried but… She could still be… (beat) You and I know what Molly O’Brien looks like. Who her parents were. What that means.

O’BRIEN: Molly?!

HERBERT: Where she grew up. Who her father’s Captain was.

O’BRIEN: My Molly?

Bashir and O’Brien react, grouping around Benny to see the magazine and read the text. Benny robotically turns to the first page.

O’BRIEN: It is! It is Molly! (proud) A Captain!

BASHIR: Yes Chief.

O’BRIEN: Look at her there in command of a Starship. An honest to God Starship!

BASHIR: Its wonderful Chief.

Herbert’s expression wrinkles in concern. He reaches toward the bruising on Benny’s face.

HERBERT: You been in the wars Benny?

BASHIR: (re. Herbert) Yes, yes… that’s it.

Lifting Benny’s arm Herbert inspects the needle marks - there are a lot.

BASHIR: Something’s wrong here…you know something wrong here.

HERBERT: Sonofa… (beat) Orderly! Orderly!

Herbert is on his feet, angry. Bashir and O’Brien are with him, in spirit if nothing else as he argues with an unseen orderly in another time and place.

HERBERT: What? (pause) No… no. Don’t give me any of that medical crap. (interrupting) This isn’t normal, don’t tell me this is normal.(pause) Go get a doctor. I want to see a doctor. Right now.

From far beyond the station there is the faint sound of a heavy door opening and closing. Herbert continues to shout in its direction.

HERBERT: You’ll be lucky if he doesn’t press charges! My cousin’s a lawyer! Benny I’ll get this sorted out-

Herbert turns to see Sisko - and it is undeniably Captain Benjamin Layfette Sisko - on his feet and holding Incredible Tales.

SISKO: They published it. The idea is out there. It’ll always be out there. In the minds of everyone who reads it.

The human in the grey flannel suit is gone. In his place, a Ferengi gives Sisko a toothy smile.

QUARK: It’s out there. I won’t be long. Just… just stay wherever it is you are.

Quark exits.

Immediately Sisko is back In The Pale Moonlight. His comm badge trills.

WORF (COMM) Captain, we’re just receiving word from Starfleet Intelligence that a Romulan senator has been assassinated. The Tal Shiar is investigating, but preliminary reports point to sabotage...

A chill goes down Sisko's back. He hands Incredible Tales to O’Brien.

SISKO: Which Senator?

A man of action again, Sisko’s already heading out the bar. Marching towards Garak’s shop with fury on his face, he exits. Bashir starts to follow him, then stops. He’s suddenly aware of a figure stood by the Dabo wheel.

Agent Sloan is here. Like his 20th Century counterpart he holds a folder – a bundle of documents, surveillance reports and background checks. The clothes may be different but the barely concealed hostility is the same.

SLOAN: An Englishman, an Irishman and a Black man walk out of a bar…

He smiles at Bashir.

SLOAN: Oh I’m sorry, am I wrong...you are English?

The Doctor isn’t naïve about the game Sloan is playing anymore.

BASHIR: Yes.

SLOAN: Really? English?

BASHIR: Yes.

SLOAN: That’s really where you’re from? Originally? Only your name, Bashir: it doesn’t sound very-

BASHIR: You don’t belong here Sloan. Your kind are finished: dead and buried. Go back to the 20th Century.

SLOAN: I’m not that easily left behind I’m afraid Doctor. You’ll find that out.

Bashir walks away from Sloan to the other side of the room. The Chief is still engrossed in Incredible Tales - midway through What We Left Behind and the adventures of Captain Molly O’Brien and the USS Tennyson.

O’BRIEN: You have to read this Julian! What she’s doing! It’s incredible.

O’Brien’s excitement dulls a little when he notices Agent Sloan… but only a little. He presses the open magazine into Bashir’s hands.

O'BRIEN: Here: read it. Makes Picard and the Enterprise look like a package tour of the Kuiper Belt!

Bashir takes the magazine. He is a conveniently quicker reader than O’Brien (it’s the genetic engineering). Unlike the Chief, he’s going to get to the last page. He’s about to find out how the story ends…

O’BRIEN: Molly O’Brien. Captain of a Starship.

SLOAN: It’s just a story. None of it is real.

O’BRIEN: (Slightly deflated) No… not now. Not yet. But it will be. When she grows up.

SLOAN: She won’t grow up. Even you must have figured that out by now. She’s not real. Neither are you. None of this is.

O’BRIEN: Molly is real.

SLOAN: What were her first words?

O’BRIEN: (faltering) I –

SLOAN: What’s her favourite ice cream? The name of the monster under her bed? You don’t know. You don’t know because she’s never had any of those things. She’s not important enough to need any of those things.

O’BRIEN: (Angry- physically) Molly is important.

SLOAN: A supporting character of a supporting character… there only to add a little motivation…

O’Brien grabs Sloan and slams him against the wall.

SLOAN: A little emotion.

O’BRIEN: She’s not a supporting character!

GARAK:(O.S) No one is.

The Cardassian is standing in the doorway. He’s just left In The Pale Moonlight Act 5. 2. Bashir reacts to the blood pouring from Garak’s lip.

BASHIR: Garak what-

O’Brien presses Sloan into the wall again.

O’BRIEN: I don’t give a damn about reality, you hear me? Whatever is really going on - I don’t care! Molly O’Brien matters. This is her world, her story as much as anyone else’s. She’s going to be Captain of a Starship and-

Sloan vaporizes in O’Brien’s hands. It takes a few seconds for him to disintegrate. It is not a painless death. O’Brien and Bashir look in the direction of the beam in shock.

Phaser still in his hand, Garak gives them his best enigmatic smile.

BASHIR: You just-. You killed him. In cold blood. Why did you do that?

GARAK: It’s my job. What the good captain has me around for. To do the things he can’t even dream of doing himself.

A pained expression and Garak half collapses. Bashir moves to catch him.

GARAK: He is very capable, however, of punching people.

Helping Garak to a seat, the Doctor grabs a medkit.

O’BRIEN: Julian?

The Chief is standing there, unable to find any more words. A moment passes between O’Brien and Bashir: they’re at the parting of the ways and they both realise it.

Bashir knows where O’Brien wants to be. Needs to be.

BASHIR: Go.

O’BRIEN: Right.

O’Brien exits. He’s going home. He’s going to see Molly. The Doctor is left alone with his patient.

GARAK: (bluntly) Vreenak and Tolar are dead.

BASHIR: Keep still.

GARAK: They’re dead. I killed them.

Garak waits for him to react. He wants Bashir to react - to condemn him or question him… even punch him out like Sisko. Anything to give him a cue to explain. Despite himself, Garak does needs to explain.

The Doctor continues to treat his patient without a word.

GARAK: Vreenak’s ship exploded and Tolar... the data-rod wouldn’t have held up under scrutiny and neither would’ve he.

This way, the Romulans have a murdered senator, fragmented evidence of a Dominion plot, an outraged public and no one to contradict the conclusion to which they will inevitably leap. They will enter the war. We’ve just saved the Alpha Quadrant. And all it cost was one senator, one criminal…

BASHIR: (finishing the diagnosis) A fractured jaw.

GARAK: … and Sisko’s self-respect. I'd call that a bargain. (pause) This is where you jump in with the ‘ends don’t justify the means’ speech. Indignant cries of ’we must always do what is right’.

Bashir is sat at the table. When he speaks, his voice is far away…

BASHIR: We must always do what is right.

Garak approaches him puzzled. As he reaches out, Bashir pulls away.

GARAK: Something’s happened.

As an answer, Bashir picks up Incredible Tales. It’s open on the last page, the ending of What We Left Behind. He starts to read out loud.

BASHIR: “Captain Molly O’Brien stood on the burning bridge. “Emergency,” she cried…

Very quietly at first, but fading up the sound of alarms and cries can be heard. Along with Bashir, a woman’s voice picks up the story.

MOLLY O’BRIEN (V.O): “This is the USS Tennyson issuing a planetary distress call on all frequencies… Earth has been attacked by a bio-genic weapon: origin unknown. Can anyone hear me? We can’t escape the fallout. It’s moving too fast…

The lights in the bar pulsate as if on red alert. From somewhere far beyond the station come the sounds of screaming and death.

Then there is nothing but silence. We snap back to Quarks. Back to the present. Bashir reads the last sentence, the end of the story:

BASHIR: “Pray for us.”

END OF ACT FOUR
Chapter 6: Present Tense by Bluemeany
ACT FIVE:

1. INT. THE O’BRIEN’S QUARTERS

The huge model of The Alamo dominates the room. MOLLY O'BRIEN, pigtails and aged 7½, plays with some miniature soldiers.

MOLLY: (singing) Eighty-five bottles of beer on the wall, eighty-five bottles of beer. You take one down and pass it around…

Molly O'Brien knows all about Travis and his heroic last stand. Her father and his best friend have told her the story often enough. They’ve told her all about The Battle of Britain too. And The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Once they even let her come with them to the holosuite and she flew in a Spitfire over the English Channel. She knows the importance of sacrifice and fighting on against the odds… even if it is all just make-believe.

The door opens and O’Brien enters.

O’BRIEN: Molly.

MOLLY: Daddy!

She gives her Dad the biggest smile and runs to hug him. O’Brien holds her tightly.

When he finally does let her go, it’s with reluctance.

O’BRIEN: Molly… what’s your favourite ice cream?

The little girl considers this: for slightly longer than she should do.

MOLLY: Ummmm…

O’Brien waits for her answer as if it’s the most important piece of information in the universe.

CUT TO:

2. INT. QUARKS

Bashir sits with his Starfleet badge in the palm of his hand.

BASHIR: I let eighty five litres of bio-memetic gel out into the universe. It was an order and I followed it. But I knew was wrong. I could have said no. I could have got more involved. Done something. But it wasn’t my story, wasn’t my fight. I played my part, covered myself with a written protest to Starfleet Medical and got on with my life.

GARAK: We can’t do much. Not here. It’s not your fault things are the way they are.

BASHIR: Everybody tells themselves that… and nothing ever changes...

Off Bashir despair, Garak puts the pieces together.

GARAK: You think that this bio-genic weapon comes from…? (laugh) Why the odds would be incredible! Doctor that gel could end up anywhere!

BASHIR: Used against a different ship, another world? Someone else’s daughter?

GARAK: You can’t possibly know.

BASHIR: No, I don’t know… didn’t know. That’s the most damning part. I was prepared to live with not knowing.

I sent bio-memetic gel out into the universe without the slightest clue of where it was going or who it might be used against. And if I hadn’t read the story… if it hadn’t been Molly…

I don’t think I would have thought about it again. Ever.

In fact I’m sure of it.

FADE OUT.

END OF ACT FIVE

THE END
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