"...Minister Jaro Essa spoke earlier to the media.
'Klon Ast does not represent the Bajoran government nor does he represent the Bajoran people. What our differences may be with the Federation and the Terrans, the answers will not come from terrorism. However, I do call upon a stronger response from the provisional government. Its actions here, as in other areas of late, do not inspire confidence in me nor in many others I have spoken with.'
Minister Jaro did not answer questions about Klon's alleged involvement with the First Order, nor did he address allegations of abandonment of his wife and children around the time he surfaced aboard the former Terok Nor station as 'Circ'. More on this story throughout the day and tonight on News at 2400. You're watching Bajor Information 26."
McGee couldn't get over how the Federation and Bajorans were more his own people than not, as evidenced by the cable news-like station he and his teammates had just seen, and by the goings-on inside Quark's.
The NCIS agent also found it harder than he thought to understand why someone would hate his people for who and what they were, even though that mindset had and still did plague his own planet. Hearing how Sisko and O'Brien's homeworld of Earth conquered its own demons gave him hope that Terra might do the same, perhaps in his own lifetime.
McGee looked around at the promenade and took in as much as possible; he had no idea if, and when, he could ever get back here. He saw DiNozzo and Sciuto having the time of their lives at the Dabo table; saw David and Kira talking over a drink; Ducky talking with Bashir and Dax; and Gibbs tossing a baseball with Sisko and the commander's son, Jake.
"Door's always unlocked, Commander," Gibbs said. "Get a schedule first to make sure the Nationals are at home. And a phone to call me and let me know you're in town."
"Agent Gibbs. A moment of your time, please." Gibbs turned around and saw a tall, plump Bajoran standing between he and McGee. "You too, young man," she said over her shoulder to McGee.
Gibbs nodded at his agent, as the Siskos and O'Brien joined them. "Alright," Gibbs said. "You are?"
"Vedek Winn, one of the spiritual leaders of the people of my homeworld Bajor, and someone who has sought to act as a symbol of strength and unity to them while Bajor rebuilds its society," she said somewhat piously.
"She is the equivalent to a cardinal within the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity on Earth and Terra, without some of the stricter obligations required of Catholic leadership," Commander Sisko added. "Vedek Winn, I assume you're here to meet our visitors?"
"You would be correct, Commander. I'm here to see them off, and to offer an apology," Kai Winn said.
"An apology?" Gibbs replied.
"Klon Ast, the man you knew to be Circ, as Minister Jaro said does not represent the views of the provisional government. Nor does he represent the majority of my people. I am sorry for the murders of the two Terran officers. Please pass along my sympathies to their loved ones."
"Alright," Gibbs said, "but shouldn't you be telling this to the ambassador?"
"It is my understanding that he and his staff are planetside in Ashalla meeting with First Minister Kalem and the Council of Ministers. Since the ambassador knows you, I thought it was most appropriate to pass a message through you."
"What kind of message?" Commander Sisko asked, his thin smile contrasting sharply with the terse look in his eyes. "I'm sure this is a message the Federation should hear as well."
"I trust you are already aware of the message that the Bajoran people have for the Federation, Commander Sisko," she said sanctimoniously. "This message is for Agent Gibbs and the rest of his people."
"I'm waiting," Gibbs said after several long moments of silence from Vedek Winn.
Annoyed at the remark, she put on a look of concern that came across as less sincere than she undoubtedly intended. "Klon Ast was correct about one thing: some of the Bajoran people see you as akin to the Pan-Wraiths. I believe your equivalent would be called demons."
"We aren't off to a promising start," Commander Sisko said.
"Please, Commander," Vedek Winn replied. "Agent Gibbs, there are many on Bajor -- myself among them -- concerned about the ideas coming from your world. Cultural concepts conflicting with the morals your people claim to hold dear; some of your people continually attempting to bring their own religious views to a world those ideas don't belong in; and the very idea of your world. Our sacred writings say nothing about parallel universes--"
"You don't believe in the concept of parallel universes, ma'am?" McGee interjected.
"Young man, I do not know what a 'ma'am' is, but you may refer to me as Vedek Winn," she said, turning back to Gibbs. "As Commander Sisko knows, I am not opposed to the teaching of science, when it doesn't conflict with our sacred texts. I have, and continue to, advocate for the teaching of truth to our people, especially our children."
She looked straight at O'Brien, who bristled at her gaze. Commander Sisko looked to Gibbs like he'd had his fill of the woman's rhetoric; though he personally would have liked to tell her to take a hike, Gibbs recognized he had been put in the position of de facto Ambassador from Terra.
The ex-Marine couldn't help but allow himself a smile when he saw McGee's expression of relief. "Well, I've come across a lot of bastards and met a few angels, Vedek Winn, but I won't go so far as claiming Terra's run by the devil."
"Is that supposed to be humor, Agent Gibbs?" she said politely, with a flash of anger in her eyes. "Excuse me for not comprehending the humor of a slightly more primitive people who undoubtedly live on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant."
"Way I understand it, my planet's in the same space as Earth in another dimension...ma'am," Gibbs said with a smirk. "So that's the message you want me to take back to Terra?"
Winn walked up to Gibbs and, although a couple of inches shorter, seemed to be looking down her nose at the Terran. "I'll overlook the error in etiquette, as you clearly are not a diplomat. My message, Agent Gibbs, is Terrans are not welcome on Bajor."
"And my undoubtedly unasked for response," Sisko said, "is your view is not shared by the Federation nor by the provisional government nor by any other than a TINY minority of the Bajoran people."
Winn walked up to Sisko, matching his tight smile and severe look. "Commander, you would be wise to be mindful that circumstances can drastically change at any time," she said. "Today, many of the Bajoran people may be curious, even enamored with your way of life. Tomorrow? They may see things very rather differently. You may even find yourself returning to your territory much sooner than you anticipated -- and woe to those who find themselves on the wrong side of the wormholes."
"Is that a threat, Vedek Winn?"
"Far be it for me to reduce myself to such thuggery, Commander. As a spiritual leader, I merely thought it critical -- even urgent -- to pass my concerns along. To you both."
"I'll let them know," Gibbs said in a sarcastic manner. Vedek Winn abruptly turned and, without saying another word, walked briskly away from the group.
"Wow. And I thought I had met some snooty people before," McGee said. "Commander, your obviously have some of the same problems we have back at home."
"Agent McGee, I've found people are the same no matter what species they are and what part of the galaxy they're from," Sisko said. "I guess you both imagined a more enlightened, advanced society when you saw the wormhole for the first time."
"The first time I saw it was in the country, stargazing with Abby," McGee said. "We thought it might have been some sort of bomb. When the President told us what it meant -- and what you told him at the White House -- that gave a lot of our people hope."
"Hope?" Sisko said.
"Hope that we wouldn't blow ourselves up. Three superpowers and a bunch of nations trying to achieve that status. We built ships that took us all the way to the farthest planet and have tens of thousands of rockets that could drop 50 megaton bombs and destroy us tens of thousands of times over.
"Things have changed since we met your people, Commander. Countries are talking to one another instead of fighting. Governments are talking cooperation on going out of our own solar system to explore our own galaxy. I consider myself lucky to have come here, and would like to explore your own reality someday. We have people on Terra who would like nothing more than to roll back the clock, but we all know that's impossible. You don't live in the past, you move forward, and make the best of it."
Gibbs clasped McGee's shoulder. "Well said, Tim."
"If I weren't on the clock, and were at that bar, I'd drink to what Tim here just said," O'Brien added.
"As would I," Sisko said. "Your people seem like they're trying to get past their differences. Maybe my people can help speed that up some."