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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 na´ve 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


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