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.
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.
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?”
Bashir pats him on the back.
BASHIR: Good man.
O’BRIEN: Me!? Why me?
BASHIR: I’m the Doctor. I’m treating Quark.
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: You really had him on the back foot there I could see. Straight to the heart of the matter. Probing.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
O’BRIEN: I’ll be here. When you get back.
He gives Bashir a reassuring smile. The Doctor returns it-
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