Chapter 6: Diversion

Chief of Security's Log, Addendum:

The suspicious individual I questioned at Quark's Bar this morning is, in fact, a Romulan. However, I believe there is far more at play here than a simple bit of smuggling or black-market trading. His questions to Quark about a Grathon Tolar are more than a little concerning. I have notified Captain Sisko who has instructed me to hold our guest for questioning.

"You know," Xakais muttered smugly. "If you Federation types weren't so determined to keep clearly decipherable logs on file, I would not have discovered your little secret."

He sat on the bench of the holding cell, legs tucked against his chest and a lazy hand rubbing his eyes. The Romulan attempted to look as bored as possible, a task made easier in contrast with his overly energized cellmate.

"And what am I doing in here?!" Quark demanded, standing right up beside the forcefield and waving an irritated fist. "I was conducting legitimate business and playing a friendly game of tongo with my pals-"

"Quark," Odo sighed impatiently; the cat playing with the mouse he'd caught. "You know I was there during the entire conversation, and you know you won't talk your way out of this one. I wonder exactly what Captain Sisko will suggest we do with you."

"You're leaving me in here with this Romulan animal. I'll be dead by morning!" Quark hissed.

"He is unarmed and there is a member of security personnel here around the clock, Quark. You'll be fine. I'd be more concerned about what your two cohorts are going to do to you when you get out," Odo smirked.

"Draza and Neraxa?" Quark asked.

"Have been extradited to Ferenginar to await the judgment of your, I'm sure, perfectly fair justice system. I expect they'll be back to their business before they even have time to take off their jacket," Odo grunted.

While Xakais was mildly fascinated by the way Odo delighted in tormenting the Ferengi scum, he had bigger concerns at the moment. So Plan's A and B had failed. But he prided himself on having a contingency for every situation. And right now, it was about time for Plan C to come through the door.

Sure enough, she entered. Somee was adorned in the traditional Romulan military uniform, the drab grey with stout, boxed shoulders. It was meant to make one look intimidating, but Xakais had always found it unnecessarily showy. She came in tandem with none other than Benjamin Sisko himself.

Plan C, mark 2 then, Xakais thought to himself, attempting to adjust his expectations accordingly.

The Captain of Deep Space Nine was a noted and respected figure even amongst Romulans. As far as adversaries went, there were none more dangerous. The man was resourceful, fearless, and most importantly influential. Between being the anointed Emissary of the Bajoran religion and commander of the most tactically vital space station in the Dominion War, the man simply "got things done".

The lion paced about the cage, hand rubbing his chin as he considered Xakais. Baldness was considered a sign of poor vitality among Romulans. Yet the smooth ebony skin made this human somehow look even more impressive than the file photo of a much younger officer.

"I think, I will just ask him myself if that is alright with you," Sisko said, in a dark voice that made it abundantly clear this was not a request. Before even waiting for a response from Somee, he made himself clear. "So my dear fellow, what exactly are you doing on Deep Space Nine and why have you been asking about Grathon Tolar?"

The words were polite, but the body language was some puerile attempt at intimidation. Then again, in close proximity to the Ferengi, all Xakais could think of was the rule of acquisition which went "the bigger the smile, the sharper the knife."

Somee would have, of course, at this point told Sisko the cover story they had worked out together. It was the best form of cover story: the truth.

"Very well. I suppose there is no point in hiding it from you anymore," Xakais said, standing up and approaching the force field. "I know you are lying about the death of Senator Vreenak. I have been transmitting my information to the Tal Shiar this entire time. I know about your little holoprogram and I know that you supplied some unknown person with 85 liters of biomimetic gel."

"And as I have explained you are taking circumstantial evidence and creating a false narrative," Somee chided, exactly as she was instructed. She turned to Sisko. "Captain, I assure you. This man does not represent the Tal Shiar or the will of the Romulan people. He is a lone wolf and it is urgent that we get him back to Romulus for trial."

"I would be more than happy to extradite him. But his crimes were committed on Deep Space Nine, not on Romulus. He will be dealt with here," Sisko explained.

This was the smart decision, of course. Xakais had considered that alternative, though at the moment he couldn't remember which contingency it was. Still, he had the ace in the hole; Somee.

"A trial, perhaps? Am I to receive counsel? Surely those are within your vaunted Federation ideals, is it not?" Xakais mocked.

"You are of course entitled to counsel," Odo replied. "But we are in the middle of a war and it could take some time to find somebody adequate to represent you."

"And there it is," Xakais sneered. "You see how easily the Federation twists its own belief. They are fighting on the side of justice and peace so if they have to bend the rules, what's the harm?"

Sisko's face darkened. He slowly approached the force field. "I'm fighting a war right now and I don't have time to deal with a conspiracy theorist."

"You see how painful it is when you twist the knife of conscience?" Xakais said, placing both hands on the archway and leaning in as close to Sisko as he could. "How about when you resorted to bio-terrorism all to catch one man? You think we don't know about your heroic exploits, Benjamin Sisko. No, I know all about the great Emissary who started a war with the Dominion and then when he couldn't clean up his own mess, he got the entire Alpha Quadrant involved."

"If this is an attempt to intimidate me, I'm not impressed Romulan," Sisko retorted.

"You know a trial is too much effort, Ben. And I'm too much of a security risk. Why don't you just skip the courtroom drama and execute me? That is your prerogative as Captain, is it not? This is a war, after all." Xakais grew louder with each sentence until he was practically shouting. "So why not? Why not show everybody what you truly are? All your skulking about in the shadows is about to be exposed by the light of day and I, for one, can die happy knowing that."

"You're deranged, and you'll be staying in this holding cell for a long time," Sisko threatened.

"You were sloppy, Captain," Xakais sighed, sitting back down on the bench. "And now our mutual friend will be leaving and be forced to report everything. Unless, of course, you want to come up with some trumped-up charge, lock her away and hope that this time nobody else notices."

"I can't leave without Xakais," Somee insisted, playing her part well.

Sisko could not do anything to jeopardize their relationship with the Romulans now. If he executed Xakais or unfairly tried him, it would be a matter of public record. He could potentially kill both of them, but somehow he doubted that was likely even without all the witnesses. Sisko would go to almost any length, even destroying a planet's atmosphere. But consigning people to death seemed to be the bar he wouldn't cross.

Not directly anyway.

A realization hit him. There was one more segment of the tapestry filled in. Sisko hadn't killed Vreenak. It was done without his approval and perhaps even without his knowledge. The question of who could pull off such a feat had only one sensible answer. As much as he wanted to indulge in this display further, divulging his knowledge about that particular individual did not seem appropriate yet. Then again, he had to admit he was unsure how to schedule a confrontation with Garak while he was confined to a holding cell.

"I will need some time to consider your request," Sisko replied finally, turning to Somee. "I would like to verify that you are a representative of your government for starters."

"Take all the time you need. Contact Chairman Koval himself if you like. You might have to go through Chairman Thokeem first though," Somee explained.

This was certainly news. Xakais was unaware his uncle had received such a noteworthy promotion. Somee's arrival had certainly been timely. Maybe there were other voices of dissent within the Tal Shiar after all.

"In the meantime, I have a Romulan warbird on its way here," Somee explained. "After all, if there is something going on here, we want to be aware of it."

Somee truly had gone above and beyond now. Contacting the Tal Shiar to send one of their vessels perhaps? Or was it a standard military vessel? For all Xakais knew, she was bluffing. This was her little game and did not figure into his calculations. But however she arranged his escape was irrelevant to him.

"Understood," Sisko nodded curtly, turning to Odo. "See to it that our Romulan guest is given an escort throughout the station."

"That won't be necessary, Captain," Somee replied firmly.

"I insist," Sisko growled, leaning in and towering over her.

Within moments, two members of station security showed up. Somee cast Xakais a fleeting look – was it remorse? – and then followed them out of the holding cells. Sisko turned back to Odo upon her departure and placed both his hands on his desk.

"We have a problem, Odo. You make sure that one doesn't go anywhere," Sisko ordered.

"Of course, Captain. What will you do?" Odo asked.

"Unfortunately," Sisko sighed, running his hand over his bald head. "It would seem I need some emergency tailoring done."