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Old October 6 2009, 03:28 AM   #63
PSGarak
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Welcome to London, Bashir thought dryly. He took full advantage of the time, poking and prodding into every nook and cranny. The designers of the program spared no expense or detail. He read through fascinating letters and manuscripts, discovered Holmes' drug stash, which he of course didn't touch, and had an enjoyable conversation with Holmes' landlady, Mrs. Hudson.


By evening, he was seated on the couch with pipe smoke heavy in the air and a large map in his lap. When Garak came in, the Cardassian immediately began to cough and wave his hands about. “Is this necessary?” the tailor asked testily.


“Open the window if you must,” Bashir said, enjoying the near identical reaction to Watson's in the book. At least some things weren't off script.


“I think not,” Garak retorted. “I'm done with being cold and wet.” He immediately backed up to the fire and put his hands behind him, trying to get warm.


“Here, come look at the map I've drawn of the area,” he said, “and tell me what you think of the account of our good Dr. Mortimer.”


Garak obliged reluctantly, taking a seat beside him and making the couch cushion and Bashir's right leg damp with rainwater. “Nicely drawn, Holmes,” he said. “Obviously, this Sir Charles person was running for his life. Nobody just walks around on tiptoe for no reason, and if they do, it doesn't leave deep enough impressions in the earth for any layman to observe accurately. His heart failed him due to the exertion. What I can't understand is why a man with so many health problems would be standing around in the dark and the damp smoking near an area that terrifies him, this moor Mortimer kept mentioning. Then a big dog came along and chased him. His imagination, already feverish with the ludicrous legend, drove him to a heightened state of agitation and terror. Now, was the dog owned by someone and set on him deliberately, or is this a feral beast roaming the countryside? Is that what we're to determine? If so, I vote the former, someone after the estate, probably a family member, as they'd be the only ones entitled to the inheritance if my understanding of Earth law of the time is accurate.”


Bashir ran his hand down his face. “Maybe I should've let you play Holmes,” he said with annoyance. “You keep drawing his conclusions. Are you quite certain you haven't read the book?”


“I'm very sorry, Doctor,” Garak said, sounding anything but. “You didn't tell me to behave as idiotically as Watson. Shall I dumb it down? I already told you I haven't read it. I didn't want to spoil the 'fun'.”


“Just...try to pace yourself, all right? There's a lot of story left. We haven't even met the Chief's character yet.”


“I can hardly wait,” Garak said drolly.


“Would you bring me my violin, Watson?” Bashir requested pointedly.


Garak did so but immediately moved toward the staircase. “I'm dreadfully sorry, Holmes, but the sound of that particular instrument reminds me of the piercing cries of hunting honges on Prime. I simply cannot bear it. I shall see you in the morning, hmm?”


Bashir was glad to be rid of him for the night, even if on some level he was amused. He wondered what Garak would make of an actual holographic Holmes and if the two would get along or find themselves at loggerheads. He entertained himself playing the violin for a time before retiring to the decadently comfortable feather bed.


The next morning, as they sat at the breakfast table awaiting Dr. Mortimer's return with “Sir Henry”, he wondered how the Chief had been enjoying his side of the program so far. He determined to ask him after it was all over. Garak sat across from him, reading yesterday's paper. He smiled slightly at the sight, so strangely homey and yet contextually odd. At precisely ten, Mortimer rang.


Bashir admitted him and the Chief, allowing himself another private smile at the sight of O'Brien in a country man's stout tweed suit. It suited him and his bluff Irish features all too well. He could imagine some distant forbear of O'Brien's looking exactly that way as he went about his business.


“I would've come anyway, even if my friend here hadn't told me,” O'Brien said. “I've got something for you.” He reached into his pocket and dug out an envelope, tossing it on the table. It was addressed to the hotel where he had been staying the night before and postmarked for that night.


“Did anyone know you'd be staying there?” Bashir asked, now paraphrasing both for Garak's and the Chief's sake.


O'Brien shook his head. “Only Mortimer here.”


“I was staying with friends,” Mortimer added, “so no one would have seen me at the hotel previously.”


“Someone is very interested in your movements,” Bashir said. He pulled a folded letter out of the envelope and laid it out on the table for all of them to see. The text, most of it cut out and pasted to the paper, read, “As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor.” The word “moor” was hand written in ink.


“Any idea what that's supposed to mean?” O'Brien asked, “Or who would send it? Is it some sort of bad joke?”


“It's no joke,” Bashir said. “As to what it tells us, well, that's another matter. Watson, do you have a copy of yesterday's Times?”


Garak pushed the paper toward Bashir. “The words were cut out of the article on the front page,” he said. “Not our copy, of course,” he added with an insouciant wink at Mortimer.


“Astonishing!” Mortimer said, glancing wide eyed from Garak to Bashir. “Mr. Holmes, I had no idea your companion was every bit as astute as you. You make a formidable team. How did you know, good sir?” he asked Garak.


“I was just reading the article,” Garak said modestly. “If you look at the words that are clipped together in the letter, you'll see them here, here, here, and here.” He pointed at each for Mortimer.


“Yes, well, fascinating, Watson,” Bashir said through gritted teeth. He steered things back on script until they came to the point where O'Brien talked about how one of his new boots had gone missing from the hallway the night before.


“Why did you put brand new boots in the hallway?” Garak asked. “Weren't you concerned someone might steal them?”


O'Brien glanced at Bashir questioningly, not sure how to answer that, as he had been following Bashir's prior instructions. Mortimer seemed appalled. “Who would steal a pair of boots?” he asked Garak. “It's a very indecent thing to do. Besides, they stole just one, not both.”


“I'm sure we'll see the boot again,” Bashir said firmly. “Not to worry.” He shot a warning look at Garak who shut his mouth in mock contrition. They conversed a bit more about the situation with O'Brien announcing he needed some time to decide whether he wanted to continue to the manor or not. Mortimer suggested they meet up at the hotel at two o'clock, and O'Brien agreed to the idea, insisting they walk back as the weather had turned nice.


No sooner had they left, than Bashir jumped up. “Your hat and boots, Watson, quick! Not a moment to lose!” He started to rush toward his dressing room but stopped cold at a sound that didn't fit the program, the sound of a gunshot.


Garak was in the process of getting his boots on and glanced up at Bashir when he stopped. “Is something wrong, Holmes?” he asked.


Ignoring the question, Bashir ran out the front door in his dressing-gown. The Chief lay in the street, blood coursing between the cobblestones and spreading from beneath him. Mortimer knelt at his side, his face contorted in distress. “Someone shot him!” he said. “I didn't see where it came from, or who did it!”


“Move aside,” Bashir said as he ran to the two and dropped to his knees. The rough cut stones bruised him, but he hardly felt it. He reached a hand to O'Brien's neck, feeling for a pulse, but felt nothing. “Computer,” he said, “end program!”


“What are you talking about?” Mortimer asked him, wide eyed.


Bashir ignored the holographic doctor. “Computer!” he said more sharply. Receiving no reply, he said, “Open doors, override code Bashir zeta three one two.”


“Have you lost your mind, Holmes?” Mortimer asked. “Sir Henry is dead! We must summon the police!”


Shoving the man aside, Bashir did his best to revive Chief O'Brien, performing CPR. “Come on, Miles,” he murmured. “Please!”


He had no idea how long he tried before Mortimer pulled him back, dizzy and close to fainting from the exertion. “It was a valiant effort, Holmes,” he said, “but I'm afraid he truly is dead.”


He looked up to see Garak standing off to the side, looking grim. “I take it we've moved off script, Doctor?” he asked.


“Bring me my comm badge. It's in my coat pocket at the door. I'm going to try to contact Ops and see if we can have him beamed out of here. I...I don't understand what's happening,” he said. Mortimer's panicked and confused expression mirrored how he felt inside. What could have possibly gone wrong? How were the program's failsafes deactivated? Why wasn't the computer responding?


Garak returned and offered him the small, metallic shield. He tried to activate it. “Bashir to Ops,” he said. Nothing. “Bashir to Security!” Still nothing.


“Perhaps someone is jamming the frequency?” Garak suggested.


“I don't know!” he said, springing to his feet. “Look, Dr. Mortimer,” he turned to the holographic character that wouldn't go away, “there's nothing you can do at the moment. I'd rather you didn't contact the authorities just yet. They'll...they'll contaminate the crime scene, you understand,” he said, thinking quickly. “It's best if you find somewhere safe to go. I'll...I'll contact you in the morning, first thing and tell you what I've found, all right?”


“All right, Holmes,” the man whispered, his face very pale. “I feel as though I'm to blame. I should have told him to leave the country the moment he arrived.”


Bashir's head still felt light, as much from stress as the failed CPR. “No,” he said hollowly, “you mustn't blame yourself. You should go now. The shooter could still be afoot.”


The man nodded, took a final sad look at O'Brien and hurried away. Bashir watched him go and turned wide eyes to Garak. “Help me get him into the house. I don't know who or what might come along out here. We're not safe.”


Garak nodded and moved to take O'Brien by the ankles. Bashir grabbed him under the arms and hefted the dead weight. The Chief's head dropped forward bonelessly. Did he not have his clinical detachment to fall back on, he thought he might be ill. What was he to tell Keiko? What of poor Molly!


They shuffled him inside the house. Mrs. Hudson saw the bloody body and fainted outright. He couldn't think about her at the moment. He reminded himself she wasn't even real. They laid the Chief's body atop the breakfast table. “Find...get me a knife from the kitchen,” he said, his voice sounding far away in his own ears. “I need to cut his clothing off of him so I can see what killed him.”


While Garak was out of the room, he allowed himself a moment of grief, squeezing tears from the corners of his eyes and letting them run unchecked down his cheeks. Miles was his friend, and somehow, he had just gotten him killed. He wiped his tears away quickly at the sound of the Cardassian's footsteps and took the sharp knife from his hand. It was difficult slicing through the tough, well made shirt beneath the unbuttoned tweed coat and vest. The bullet hole gaped right over O'Brien's heart slightly left of center. It seemed to have gone clean through.


He heard a soft hiss off to his left and glanced toward the door just in time to see a small, folded note come sailing under the gap between the door and the floor. Exchanging a glance with Garak, he rushed forward and picked it up. The envelope seemed to be the same kind as for “Sir Henry's” letter and was addressed not to Mr. Sherlock Holmes, but Doctor Julian Bashir. With shaking hands, he tore it open and pulled out the folded paper. The message was composed of newspaper clippings, the same as the other. “What moor could you want?” he read aloud. The word “moor” was written in splotchy ink. “'More' is misspelled,” he told Garak, holding the letter out to him.


Garak took the letter and examined it, turning it over to be sure there was nothing else on the back. “Correct me if I'm mistaken, Doctor,” he said, “but nothing like this is supposed to happen in the story? Sir Henry doesn't get shot?”


“No,” he said firmly. “Not at all. We were supposed to catch sight of somebody following him in a cab. Besides,” he added bitterly, “I don't show up anywhere in the novel, and the envelope is addressed to me.” He showed that to Garak as well.


“What do you make of this?” Garak asked, looking concerned.


“I don't know! I wish you'd stop asking me questions and just let me think. Obviously, somebody wanted Chief O'Brien dead, but who? And why? Why use a holoprogram? There are much easier ways to go about it. Also, who else knew we were coming here besides Quark?”


“You're joking, right?” Garak asked him incredulously. “You've been talking about this nonstop for nearly three weeks to anybody who would listen. Listen to me, Doctor. I understand you're upset about Chief O'Brien, but you have to let the emotion of that go. It's clouding your thinking.”


“How can you be so cold?” Bashir asked. “I know the Chief wasn't your favorite person on the station, but he's dead! For all we know, one of us could be next.”


“Exactly,” Garak said. “One of us could be next. We can do nothing else for the Chief, at least not until we can get out of here. Thrashing about this way and that because you're upset serves no purpose but to make you vulnerable.”


“As though you care,” he retorted. “You're just worried about yourself, aren't you, Garak? Isn't that how it always goes when push comes to shove? I'm not like you, and frankly, I don't want to be.”


He thought he saw a flicker of hurt in the Cardassian's eyes before he turned away from him. “Suit yourself, Doctor,” he said airily. “Tear your clothes and smear ashes on your face. I'm sure it will accomplish something, although I'm sure I don't know what.”


He sighed, feeling somehow defeated. “I'm sorry for what I said,” he offered. “I didn't mean it.”


“We both know that's not true, but thank you for saying it,” Garak replied.


“All right,” Bashir said, starting to pace. “Let's think this through.” As much as he hated to admit it, he knew Garak was right. Now wasn't the time to grieve for Miles. They might not be the only ones in danger. The entire station could be for all he knew. “Someone knew we were coming, and I admit, I wasn't exactly prudent with how many people I told about the program. I was just so excited about it.” He sighed. Had his enthusiasm gotten his friend killed? “Whoever it is, they have access to the programming or an ability to override it somehow. They've locked me out of the computer completely, or shut it down, and somehow, they're blocking comm transmissions.”


Garak nodded encouragingly as he listened. “Yes,” he said. “Now, who do you know that could do that?”


“Quark could alter the program, but he has no motive. Besides, he likes the Chief. He'd never do something to kill him, and he wouldn't be able to block me from accessing the computer. How can you be so sure it's someone I know?” he asked. Garak simply stared at him in reply. “The envelope addressed to me,” he answered his own question. “At least someone who knows of me, and someone who knew where I'd be at this point in the program.”


He felt a small shock move through him, shooting a harder look at the Cardassian. “You could alter the program, easily,” he said.


“How very paranoid of you, Doctor,” he said approvingly. “But could I lock you out of the computer and block your comm transmissions? Do you think I'd murder Chief O'Brien?”


He wiped shaking hands down his mouth, torn between fury and relief. “No, but Chief O'Brien could lock me out and jam the badge.”


At that moment, another note sailed under the door. Dr. Bashir stalked past Garak and picked it up, tearing open the envelope. In pasted newsprint, it read, “Isn't it moor fun when you don't know what's going to happen?” Again, the word “moor” was written in splotchy ink.


He jerked open the door only to see Chief O'Brien standing there, still in his Sir Henry costume, and grinning sheepishly. “I know it was in bad taste,” he said, “but you have to admit, it was a lot more interesting than acting out some old book you've already read dozens of times, wasn't it?”


“I've got just one thing to say to both of you,” Bashir said very severely, eying each in turn. “Paybacks are Hell.”


Chief O'Brien laughed, and Garak said, “Oh, my dear Doctor, I wouldn't have it any other way!”
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