Hypocratic Oath

HYPOCRATIC OATH

PROLOGUE

NOTE: This story contradicts the episode “Explorers” in which Bashir
meets Dr. Lens.

Ops was quiet. There was only one ship scheduled to depart, and none to
arrive for three days. Sisko looked out on Ops from the top stair to his
office, enjoying the efficiency below. He never really liked having his
office above everything else; it made him feel too patriarchal, but that was
what the Cardassians had liked about it. He knew why Gul Dukat, his
predecessor, wanted it higher, to lord over the underlings manning the
stations. The stairs made it seem somehow more menacing, more intimidating,
probably deterring the supervisors from boring Gul Dukat with anything other
than truly important matters. Sisko preferred having an open office. The
lowest ensign should not fear entering, but Cardassian architecture could be
difficult to overcome.
He looked at Dax at her science station, busy monitoring the sensors.
At times, it was still hard for him to believe that inside the slender,
beautiful woman was a parasite that contained the memories of seven other
beings, one of them being Curzon, his mentor, whom he referred to as The Old
Man. He liked Jadzia because she always knew when to let out a little Curzon
for him. Although she looked to be in her mid-twenties, she actually had
access to seven lifetimes of experience in interpersonal relationships. It
made her surprisingly mature and adept at handling any situation with grace
and diplomacy. She noticed him standing there and looked up. “Good
Morning, Benjamin.”
“Anything to report?”
“No. Everything’s quiet.”
He stepped down and stood behind her. “Report anyway.” He grinned.
She began, without hesitation, “Chief O’Brien reports that if he has at
least 16 more hours of peace and quiet, he should be able to get the station
functioning at eighty percent overall efficiency. Constable Odo reports that
if he spends any more time in his bucket he’ll scream, so he’s doing
redundant security sweeps through all the pylons and the promenade. And
Doctor Bashir reports two minor injuries due to an incident in one of Quark’s
holosuites. Quark denies any responsibility and insists that the safety of
his holosuites have never been guaranteed.” She ended her report with a
satisfied smile. Sisko had tried to catch her off guard. He should know
better by now.
Sisko resisted the urge to slap her on the back. “Thank you.” He told
her instead.
At that moment, an alarm began screeching.
Dax turned to her controls. “I’m reading a small ship approaching the
wormhole.”
“Confirmed.” Kira acknowledged. “Computer identifies it as Federation
shuttlecraft Pioneer. Her engines are down thirty percent, shields down
ninety percent. No visible external damage. Life support barely
functional.” She looked up at Sisko, ” One life sign aboard, very faint.”

“Can you hail?”
“No response, Sir. And her engines are not decelerating. She’s at warp
four.”
“Maybe they can hear, but not respond. Open a channel.” Sisko ordered.
When Kira nodded at him, he said, “To shuttlecraft Pioneer, this is Commander
Sisko of Deep Space Nine. You are approaching the wormhole unauthorized. Do
not enter. Alter course to dock with us immediately. If you have lost
navigational control, reduce your speed to impulse so we can transport you to
safety.”
They waited only a few seconds. “No response, Commander.” Kira said.
“She’ll be in tractor range in 24 seconds.”
Sisko knew that a transport at warp speeds could be dangerous without
matching velocity. He didn’t hesitate. “Tractor it to Shuttlebay One as
soon as it’s in range. Tell Bashir to meet me there.” Before he even
finished speaking, he was heading for the turbolift.

He would have tractored it to a docking pylon, but with no one aboard
capable of handling docking maneuvers it would have been pointless. Sisko
and Bashir watched while the shuttle was brought gently inside the large bay.
It was difficult for Bashir to wait for the bay to pressurize, as he watched
the life signs on his medical tricorder. But as soon as the computer allowed
it, he left the observation room and headed for the shuttle. He pressed the
emergency release and the back end of the shuttle came down, serving as a
ramp. He knew Sisko would follow him as he entered the shuttle and searched
for the occupant.
He found her in the pilot’s seat, unconscious. By the time Sisko caught
up, Bashir was already running his scanner, and injecting her with something.
“It looks like we got here in time, Sir. She’s suffering from malnutrition
and exhaustion; nothing serious, but I need to get her to the infirmary where
I can get fluids into her.”
“Beam directly there. I’ll get O’Brien to check out this shuttle.”
“Aye, Sir.” Bashir touched his communicator, “Bashir to ops. Two to
beam directly to the infirmary. Energize.” Bashir and his patient
disappeared.
Sisko patted his communicator, “Sisko to Chief O’Brien. Report to
Shuttlebay One.”
Less than five minutes later, O’Brien arrived in the bay, tool kit in
hand. He walked up to Sisko, who wandered around the exterior of the strange
shuttle. “What’s up, Sir?”
Sisko explained what had happened. “I need to know what happened to
this shuttle. It doesn’t appear to have been fired on, yet there’s
considerable damage.”
O’Brien gave it a quick glance, including a look inside from the open
back. “I’ll have a report for you in ten minutes.” And he climbed inside.
Sisko’s communicator beeped. “Sisko here.”
It was Dax. “I’ve traced the origin of the shuttle. The Pioneer was
assigned to a colony on Bithia VI, about 47 light years from here.”
“47 light years! At warp 4, how long would the travel time be?”
“Over two months, but the shuttle design is capable of higher speeds.
It was intended mainly for topographical mapping expeditions and planetary
survey missions. It may have started it’s journey at higher speeds, and
reduced speed as the engines required it. Still, it would appear the ship
has been out there an extended length of time. And shuttles where not meant
to cover this kind of distance.” Dax knew what Sisko was going to say next.
“See if you can contact Bithia VI. Maybe they know what happened to
their shuttle. And use long range scanners to look for any ships that may
have been in pursuit. I’ll be in the infirmary.”
“Aye, Sir. Dax out.”
O’Brien stuck his head out of the shuttle, obviously having overheard
everything Dax said. “Commander, it looks like these engines were pushed.
She seemed to be redirecting power as needed to keep going as fast as
possible. She wore out a few phase inducers, and fused some couplings, but
the warp core is close to critical with a hairline crack in the main crystal.
She was in an awful hurry to get somewhere.”
“Or away from something.” Sisko muttered. “How long will repairs
take?” He asked.
“Well, if I can go uninterrupted, which isn’t likely, at least 24 hours.
Do you want this a priority?”
Sisko thought a minute. He’d need to know more about this person and
her so-called emergency, and why she was so irresponsible in the care of
herself and her shuttle, before he could allow her to continue on the
journey. “No. Not right now, anyway.” He headed for the infirmary. He
knew he probably wouldn’t be able to talk to her yet. Medicine had come a
long way, but some things still took time; you just couldn’t speed up
recovery from exhaustion.

Sisko had been right. The patient was sleeping comfortably. She was
probably in her late twenties or early thirties, with shoulder length, wavy
brown hair. She still looked like death warmed over, with dark circles
around her slightly sunken eyes, clearly defined cheekbones, and a thinness
that was not quite anorexic, but certainly not normal for her body type. Her
breathing was slow and shallow, like she would probably be sleeping for quite
awhile.
As Sisko approached, Bashir closed his medical tricorder and came to
him. “She’s resting comfortably now. I’ve given her a sedative, and several
nutritional supplements. But it will take time for her body to absorb them.
Her metabolism has slowed considerably.”
Sisko could tell there was something else on Bashir’s mind. He didn’t
seem to be finished speaking, although he had gone silent. “And?” He
prompted. “There’s something else?”
Bashir took Sisko’s arm and led him away from the biobed. “There are
some anomalies I can’t account for yet. But they’re probably related to her
poor physical condition. But more importantly, I think I know who she is.”
It took a minute for Sisko to assimilate this information. “Who?”
“You know how I’ve always told you that I graduated second at the
Academy?”
“Yes.” Sisko waited for the connecting sentence to make some sense out
of this, half expecting to hear the old pre-ganglionic fiber vs.
post-ganglionic nerve story again.
“Well, she’s the one who graduated first.”

CHAPTER 1

Back at ops, Dax had established a channel to Bithia VI. “On screen.”
Sisko ordered.
A middle-aged Bajoran man appeared on the viewscreen. He was husky,
with wide shoulders and a thick neck. “Commander Sisko, I’m Taryn Vish,
leader of the colony on Bithia VI. You’ve found Dr. Radolfo?”
“We believe so. The shuttle the woman was in was registered to your
colony. What can you tell us about her?”
“She disappeared almost four weeks ago, now. I thought she must be
dead; that shuttle couldn’t have lasted this long. The prophets were with
her.” He lowered his eyes briefly. “I wish I could be of more help, but I
didn’t know her personally. My investigation has revealed little. I do get
the impression that some people were sworn to secrecy, but I could not force
them to break their silence.”
“I understand, Taryn Vish.” Sisko said, fighting to hide his
disappointment.
“Whatever you find out, would you please contact us again and share it?
Many of us are very worried about her.” Taryn Vish did seem genuinely
concerned.
“Of course. Thank you for your time. Sisko out.” Dax broke the
connection and the screen went dark. “Well, back to square one.” Sisko
muttered.
“Square one?” Kira asked, not understanding the reference.
“The starting point. We still have a mystery.”
“Oh. As long as it isn’t shap one.” She mumbled, mostly to herself,
remembering the virtual game she’d been forced to play with Sisko, Dax, and
Bashir. After fearing for their lives, the Wari had told them it was only a
game!
“Dax, anything on the long range scans?” Sisko asked, ready to jump at
any information.
Dax replied, “No, Sir. No vessels in pursuit.” Her fingers played on
her panel smoothly.
“Bashir to ops.” Came a disembodied voice.
“Sisko here. Go ahead.”
“Commander, she’s regaining consciousness.”
Sisko headed for the lift. Maybe he could get some answers now. “On my
way.”

Bashir met him at the doorway to the Infirmary. “She’s still weak, Sir.
But she wants to talk to you.”
Sisko raised his brows. She wanted to talk? He walked to the side of
the biobed. Her color had improved. And the circles under her eyes seemed
smaller. She blinked at him, obviously still tired. “Could I ask you a few
questions, Ms. Radolfo?” He asked, keeping his voice calm.
“Of course. It’s nice to meet you, Commander Sisko.” She raised her
hand, though it took effort. Sisko took it briefly, then placed it on her
stomach. She attempted to push herself up to a sitting position, but Bashir
gently pushed her down.
“Don’t get up yet, Galina.” He took some readings with the medical
tricorder, then looked up at Sisko. “Excuse me.” He said and went off to
consult the computer. Sisko wasn’t sure if he had something to do over
there, or was just giving them privacy.
Sisko decided to be direct. “Just what were you doing out there, Ms.
Radolfo?”
“Call me Leena; everyone does.” She replied, swiftly avoiding the
question. “I have to get to the Gamma Quadrant.” She almost seemed to be
talking to herself, she spoke so softly, and her eyes shifted tiredly.
Sisko explained, “All ships go through DS9. That’s well known. It’s an
agreement we have with the beings who created the wormhole. For everyone’s
safety.” It was a slight fib on Sisko’s part. He wasn’t quite sure how well
known that fact was, though most ship captain’s were happy for a place to
rest and have their engines checked before the trip. But it was true that
certain adjustments to engine emissions had to be made so as not to disturb
the beings living in the wormhole.
“I’m sorry, ” Leena apologized, “I haven’t been thinking clearly
lately. I’ve been traveling a long time….” She trailed off, as if she
didn’t want to go into specifics.
“In your current condition, you would not have survived the trip,
Leena.”
She got a strange half grin on her face, “I guess I owe you my thanks,
Commander.” She still did not maintain eye contact with him for more than a
second or two at a time. She kept her eyes lowered, or looked around the
Infirmary. Sisko was beginning to feel like she wasn’t taking this whole
thing very seriously.
“You could have died out there. You have not been eating properly, and
you severely strained your engines getting this far. Whatever you need in
the Gamma Quadrant, I can’t allow you to leave under these conditions.
You’ve shown extreme irresponsibility for someone in your profession, and I
prefer to believe you are not responsible.” He felt like he was lecturing,
so he provided an opening, “Now, tell me why you need to get to the Gamma
Quadrant.”
Her voice was very soft. “To stop a war.” It was almost humorous.
This frail, gaunt, exhausted person stop a war? She didn’t even have the
energy to walk.
Bashir approached from the other side of the room, looking extremely
concerned. Sisko supposed he’d been talking too long; one didn’t need to be
a physician to see that this person needed rest, but Sisko still had
questions. “I’m sorry.” He said, “She’s not going anywhere.” Sisko knew
he’d been listening in, then, but it didn’t bother him. Bashir was
concerned, too, he was sure. Afterall, he knew this woman from the Medical
Academy. Sisko wasn’t sure how well Bashir knew her, but right now, it
didn’t matter. In fact, in the condition she was in, she could have been a
perfect stranger, and Bashir would have worried just as much. “Commander,”
he added, motioning Sisko to follow him, “could I speak to you?”
Galina turned her head away.
Sisko followed Bashir out into his office. Bashir closed the door.
“Okay, doctor, what’s going on?” Sisko asked.
“You can’t let her go anywhere. Those anomalous readings … she has
Devereaux’s Disease, Sir.” It was hard for Bashir to even say it. He hoped
by some long shot that Sisko knew what he was talking about. But he could
tell by the look on Sisko’s face, that he understood the word disease only.
“Devereaux’s Disease?” Sisko repeated. “What is it?”
“It’s a neurological condition characterized by gradually increasing,
but constant stimulation of nerve endings. It’s one hundred percent fatal.”

Odo looked up from his reading when his security panel beeped. Another
disturbance at Quark’s. He sighed. Always when he was in the middle of a
good article. This one explored the possibility of security force fields
that could be programmed to respond to only the prisoners DNA, thus allowing
security personnel free access without risking an escape. He turned off his
monitor reluctantly and headed for Quark’s.
He found Quark just getting up from the floor, looking very disheveled.
Rom stood nearby. He looked agitated, but then Rom always looked agitated.
Quark looked at Odo disgustedly. “You’re too late, Odo. He already left.”
“Who left?”
“I don’t know his name. Some low life from a freighter. He ran up a
huge bar tab and then wouldn’t pay it.” Quark jerked his lower jaw back and
forth and rubbed his chin. He felt around inside his mouth with his tongue,
and then, after a moment, spit one small jagged tooth into his open palm. He
growled. “Deadbeats.”
Odo, only interested in justice, even if Quark was the injured party,
asked, “Can you describe him? I can track him down. Do you want to press
charges?”
Then Quark did something Odo never thought he’d see. He waved at Odo
absent mindedly, “Nevermind.” He was still massaging his jaw, and feeling
for any other loose dental work. “Besides, he won’t be coming back. He said
if he ever saw me again he’d put my lobes in a vice.”
” ‘Lobes in a vice,’ ” Odo quoted, “Hmmmmm”. He decided to have a
little fun. Almost without thinking, he morphed himself into a large
table-top vice, just briefly, then resumed his humanoid form, pleased with
himself.
Quark was not laughing. “Very funny, Odo.” He stumbled over to his bar
and reached over it, standing on tiptoe, to get a rag, which he used to dab
around inside his mouth. “You can go back to your spying, Odo.”
“I was reading.” Odo said, slightly offended. Then he turned and left,
looking forward to getting back to that article.
As soon as the door closed behind Odo, Quark turned to Rom. “Did you
get it?”
Rom held up the small money bag. “Yes, brother.” He smiled, too.
Quark was nice to him when he did something good.
Quark hefted the bag, “Aaaah. This should cover that bar bill, and the
tooth replacement.” If Rom had failed to get the money, Quark would have
gone back to Odo after a flash of memory, changing his mind about pressing
charges. Of course Quark knew the man. He made it a point to know, in some
reliable form or other, the identity of everyone who came into his bar on an
even semi-regular basis. This particular low life, was named Gant. Harvey
Gant, from the freighter Hell Raiser. And he was large enough that if Quark
thought Gant would be on the station long enough to miss his money bag, he
never would have taken it. But Gant had been foolish enough to tell Quark
that he was shipping out that very evening.

Sisko sat at his desk, facing Bashir and Dax and Kira. He was sure he
didn’t really want to hear about this, but his job entailed many things he
didn’t really want to do.
Bashir explained, “Devereaux’s Disease was first identified about a
hundred and fifty years ago. Since then, there have been only four
documented cases; Galina would be the fifth. There are three stages to the
disease. The first has few symptoms; intermittent tingling, occasional
numbness or itching, much like most people experience from time to time.
Stage two is when the pain begins, in the extremities, and then moving in.
Painkillers help, at first, but eventually a point is reached where no known
painkiller has any effect. Stage three is neurological burn-out, followed by
death.”
“Does she know about this?” Kira asked, horrified at the description of
the disease.
“She’s known about it for over a year.” Bashir replied to Kira. “And
she’s well aware of the progression of the disease, that there is no
effective treatment and no cure. All known neurological regenerative
procedures have proven ineffective.”
“She said she was going to stop a war.” Sisko muttered to himself. It
still didn’t make sense. “Is her current condition a result of Devereaux’s?”
“No, Commander.” Bashir replied, “the malnutrition and exhaustion are
not related, but they did make my diagnosis difficult. She is currently in
stage one.”
Kira asked quietly, not meaning any offense, “Could she be delusional?”
A neurological disease could affect the brain she thought, and would explain
why she would put off eating and push herself into exhaustion as well.
Dax spoke up, “No, Kira. Not Devereaux’s. It affects only nerve
endings, and there are none in the brain.” She raised her padd and scanned
it for more information, “The four other cases Julian mentioned are virtually
the same, just the timing differs. The first patient, a Nausican, did go
insane after being in stage two for three weeks, but it was listed as a
complication since no relationship to the disease could be established. He
died two days later. Patient two was a Klingon female. She survived in
stage two for nearly three months and continued teaching pre-adolescents in
Klingon history until just days before she died. Patient three was a human
male, and four was an Andorian male. They died after ten days and seventeen
days respectively.”
A shiver went down Sisko’s spine. A disease that could drive a Nausican
insane must cause considerable pain. “How long before we can speak to her,
Doctor?”
“I don’t –” He was interrupted by the door chime. He stopped talking
and allowed Sisko to answer it.
“Come.”
Galina Radolfo entered the room, one hand on the door frame and then
lightly touching the wall as she walked in. Bashir jumped up and went to her
side to steady her. “You should be in the infirmary.” He told her sternly.
Galina looked Julian in the eye. “I’m a doctor, too, Julian. This is
more important.” Julian gave her his seat and stood near her. “Commander
Sisko, it’s imperative that I get to the Gamma Quadrant as soon as possible.”
“I’ll need more information to go on.” Perhaps he could placate her by
hearing her story.
Bashir objected, “Ths is ridiculous. You’re ill.”
“I’m dying, Julian.” She scanned the room of people. They had to be
Julian’s friends. He obviously trusted them. But would they believe her
story? She had no choice. It was these people who would send her to the
Gamma Quadrant. “I was on Bithia when it started. About two years ago.”
Her eyes clouded over briefly, then she continued, “At first it was dreams,
or at least I dismissed them as dreams. Then it happened while I was awake.”
“What happened?” Kira wanted the short version.
Galina knew that if she condensed too much, it would be too much to
absorb all at once and she couldn’t risk it. But she answered, “Voices. Not
clear voices, actually. Just …. ” she hunted for words, “gut feelings.
Have you ever felt like something was going to happen but you didn’t know
what or when?” After some nods of understanding, she continued, “It was like
that at first. It was frustrating, because I didn’t understand, but over
time, it got stronger. Clearer. ‘Help’.” She stopped again, remembering
when she first understood that it was a call for help.
“Telepathy?” Bashir asked, “From the Gamma Quandrant?”
Galina nodded, “Yes, of a sort. Of course, I didn’t understand where it
was coming from then, or why they needed help. But I knew someone somewhere
needed help and I had to find out. I started to … meditate, try to open
myself for more. Sometimes it would be days in between, but more would come.
After about six months, when I took a routine physical, I found the
Devereaux’s.” She took a deep breath. “I suspect the two are somehow
related, but I can’t explain it. Anyway, after another four months I
understood enough. Whoever they are, they are fighting amongst themselves,
and they need — no, they want a third party to intervene. I’m not a
diplomat, but no one believed me when I tried to explain it to the
authorities. It was about then that the colony learned about the
Devereaux’s, and I believe they blame the disease for what I was
experiencing.”
“Do you sense them now?” Sisko asked.
Galina shook her head, “Not since about a week ago. I’ve been so weak.”
She put a hand over Julian’s on her shoulder, “I’m afraid I’ve been a little
foolish, Julian. There was such an urgency, everything else was put aside in
my efforts to get there. I’ll stay here and rest. But when they contact me,
I have to go. Please let me go. What’s the status of my ship?”
“It’s in Shuttlebay One. Our engineer is still working on it, but it
should be ready in another day or two.” He leaned a little over the desk at
her, “I’m afraid I can’t allow you to continue alone under these
circumstances.”
Galina was expecting this, “Commander, given my condition, I had planned
on a one-way trip –”
“I’m going with you.” Bashir said as if there were no question.
“You didn’t let me finish. I had planned on a one-way trip, but now
I’ve realized something. The contacts were weak on Bithia; the ones on the
shuttle felt stronger. I think it’s because of the distance I covered. If
I’m right, going through the wormhole will cause a sudden decrease in
proximity. I expect it will be quite a shock when I exit the other side,
assuming I’m in contact at the time, or it will be when they contact me
there. I’d *like* Julian to accompany me to ensure that I survive the
passage. I feel this is too important to come this far and fail because of
my own stupidity, the recent past notwithstanding.” She felt relieved that
at last someone was believing her. They were even going to help her. If she
could just accomplish this one thing, she could die satisfied. Her
accomplishments up to now had been enough, but then this had started and she
didn’t want to leave knowing she was the only one who could or would help
them. Perhaps, as she believed in things having a purpose, this was why she
had developed Devereaux’s in the first place.
“We contacted Taryn Vish while you were unconscious. He asked us to
keep him informed. What should we tell him?” Sisko would not have felt
comfortable telling Vish everything at this point, without her permission.
Galina thought about it for a few moments. She was sure Vish was very
worried about her disappearance. She was sorry to have left like that, but
time was running short. She knew it in her bones. And Vish had been about
to confine her, she was sure of it. He also knew that she was dying. But
she had many friends at the colony. Some she had confided in, others she
just couldn’t trust with something like this. “Tell him–” she started, then
paused, “Tell him, I’ve got the best doctor in the galaxy taking care of me.
That I love them all dearly, but I won’t be coming back to the colony.”
“Very well, Ms. Radolfo. Let us know when they contact you.”

“Do I have to stay here?” Galina complained from the biobed, “In the
infirmary?”
Bashir hadn’t even considered letting her stay anywhere else. “I think
it’s best. Who knows when you’ll start your next stage?”
“But I’m a doctor, too. My medical bag is on the shuttle, stocked with
the full array of painkillers. If I go get it, could I have guest quarters?”
She looked hopeful at him, like a small child pleading for a cookie. To
enhance the illusion, she added, “Please?” Not that the biobed wasn’t
comfortable, but she’d been in it for most of two days and she was tired of
the view, and the lack of privacy. While she lay there, other patients would
come and go, and they would look at her. They knew she was new on the
station. Rumors were probably already running rampant. It made her feel
like an exhibition, though none of them could have ever guessed the real
truth about her presence there, or her condition.
Bashir considered her request. He knew that many patients who were not
actually feeling ill objected to staying in the infirmary. Most of the time,
he put his foot down about it. If a patient needed monitoring, he needed
monitoring. That was it. He’d never really had a patient who could monitor
herself, though. She had a point. The only reason she was in the infirmary
was because he was worried about her. Despite the ill effects of her trip,
most of which had completely disappeared, there really was no reason to
confine her here indefinitely. He relented. “All right. I’ll request guest
quarters for you.” He shook a finger at her, “but you rest and eat
regularly!”
Galina smiled, knowing she had won. “Aye Aye, Sir.”
Bashir went off to make the request. He returned a few minutes later,
having finagled the guest quarters nearest the infirmary from a visiting
Bajoran vedek. He decided to accompany her to her shuttle, then to her
quarters. Knowing she really didn’t want help, he stood by as she got out of
the biobed. “Thank you, Julian,” she said as she touched his arm briefly.
“You don’t know what this means to me.” Together, they walked slowly down
the corridor to the turbolift that would take them to the shuttlebay. “I’ve
really been anxious to see my ship, too.” She told him, “After three and a
half weeks in it, it’ll be like going home. And if there is anyone there,
I’d like to ask about the repairs.”
“Of course. If no one is there working on it, I can have a report sent
to you at your quarters, if you like.”
“I’d appreciate that. Thank you.” They got in the lift.
At the same time, Quark came down the other end of the corridor and
entered the infirmary. He held his tooth in his closed fist. “Doctor?”
When there was no answer, he said, “Computer, where is Doctor Bashir?”
“Doctor Bashir is on turbolift six.”
“And where is turbolift six going?” Honestly, thought Quark, you’d think
they’d program these things with a little intelligence. If you’re asking a
person’s whereabouts, and they’re in a moving vehicle, it’s common sense to
include the destination of the vehicle.
“The destination of turbolift six is Shuttlebay One.”
Now, why would the doctor be going to a shuttlebay? Something strange
was going on, and Quark didn’t know about it. That always got his lobes
tingling. A mystery is often an unseen opportunity. Rule of Acquisition
#156. He decided to wait for the doctor to return.

Bashir left Galina at her quarters, one deck up from the infirmary, and
took lift 5 back down. He was surprised to see Quark waiting for him.
“What can I do for you?”
Quark opened his hand and showed him the tooth, then opened his mouth
and, with his free hand, pointed to it’s original spot. His mind was already
racing with ideas on how to steer Bashir’s idle chatter to something of
particular interest.
“I see,” Bashir told him, as he gathered the tools he would need. This
was not the first time Quark had needed a tooth replaced, and he didn’t even
have to ask how it had come out, but he did anyway, “How did it happen?
Another bar fight?”
“Unpaid bar tab.” Quark replied. They’d had this conversation before.
He wanted a new one. “So, where did you disappear to, anyway?”
Bashir looked up from preparing the tooth in his hand, “I had an
errand.” He knew better than to tell Quark anything. You might has well
post it in the daily newsnet.
“You might have left a message. I had no idea how long I’d be waiting.”
He pretended to be very upset about it. Ferengi were good at pretending to
be upset. Quark was reasonably sure that acting and acquisition had more
than just the first two letters in common. In fact, it was probably another
Rule of Acquisition, but he didn’t want to distract himself by trying to come
up with the number.
“I knew I wouldn’t be gone long. You could have called earlier and told
me you were coming.” Bashir held up the tooth, “The roots were nearly dead.
It must have been knocked out an hour ago.”
“Yeah, well, so was I.” Quark lied.
“You were unconscious? Do you have a headache? Dizziness? Double
vision?” Why couldn’t people tell Bashir the important stuff first?
“I’m fine, hew-man. Just put the tooth back.” Quark could tell he
wasn’t going to get any information out of the doctor. Next stop:
Shuttlebay One, he thought, as he opened wide.

Galina didn’t stay in her quarters for long. She was restless and
anxious. Why hadn’t they contacted her yet? And, remembering what Bashir
had said, when would stage two begin? She’d had over a year to deal with
this thing, but it was hard to prepare for something when you didn’t know
what was going to happen. It wasn’t that she was afraid of death. What
bothered her was knowing that it was coming soon, but there was no timetable
to go by. It was like trying to get a moon shuttle by waiting at the wrong
port. Because diagnosis was so difficult, the full length of stage one was
unknown. There just weren’t enough symptoms, and the disease was too rare.
She’s diagnosed herself eighteen months ago, almost nineteen months. And
even though she hadn’t been in contact with them for about a week, the
urgency remained in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t rest, so Bashir
would have to be satisfied with half his Rx. “Computer, where is Dax?” She
hoped that would be enough to get an answer. She wasn’t sure of the woman’s
rank or first name.
“Jadzia Dax is at Quark’s Bar.”
Galina got into the lift at the end of the corridor. “Promenade.” She
said.
Quark’s, like most bars, was buzzing. The lighting was dim, making it
hard to spot anyone. Then she heard that voice again, “Tongo!” she was
shouting. She followed the sound and found Dax at a card table with several
ferengi. The ferengi were grumbling unhappily, as Dax triumphantly scooped
latinum out of the bin at the top of the Tongo machine. She noticed Galina,
and quickly put her winnings away. “Sorry guys. I have company.”
Dax rounded the Tongo table, and guided Galina to a quiet corner to sit
down. “Ms. Radolfo, what can I do for you?”
“Leena, please.” God, she hated formality. All it did was build walls
between people. She had never even let her patients call her ‘Doctor’.
“All right. Leena.” She hesitated, seeing that Leena felt awkward
about something, she guessed the reason for the visit, “If you want to ask me
about Julian, we’re just friends.”
“What?” Galina was caught off guard, “Oh, nothing like that.” Though
the thought had crossed her mind, she’d had no idea that anyone would think
Dax and Julian were a couple. In any case, she knew she wouldn’t be having
that kind of relationship with Julian ever, so there really was no point in
thinking about it.
Rom interrupted them, “Can I get you ladies something?”
The two woman looked at each other a second, exchanging an ‘I will if
you will’ glance. Dax spoke first, “Roc de Jino.”
Galina looked at Dax, wanting to see her reaction, “Vareelian Thola
Juice.”
Dax raised an eyebrow. The drink sounded mild, but she knew it wasn’t.
Three or four Long Island Ice Teas contained less alcohol. And Vareelian
alcohol was more potent. “Are you sure that’s wise?”
“Mother’s milk.” Galina teased, and waved Rom off to get the drinks.
“But just one.”
“Now, you were saying…?” Dax prompted her. If it wasn’t about
Julian, what could it be?
The smile went off her face, and she searched for the words, “I hear
you’re a trill.”
“That’s right.”
“And this isn’t your first host …”
“That’s right, too.”
“Then, you’ve died before?”
Aha! Thought Dax. The death thing. She apparently wasn’t as
comfortable with the illness as she let on. Unfortunately, she didn’t think
she could help her on this one, “Not really. The symbiont is transplanted
before death actually occurs, normally. Though there have been exceptions,
none of them were any of my hosts.” Dax could see the disappointment in
Leena’s eyes, though she tried not to show it.
“I see.” Another possibility entered her mind, “But you must have had a
… close call, at least. What do you remember about … the transitions?”
The drinks arrived, but Rom hung around until both women said their
thank yous, and obviously were refusing to talk until he left. When he was
out of earshot, Dax replied, “I wasn’t afraid. But that goes with being a
trill. You know your memories will live on in another host.” She reached
across the table and put one hand on Galina’s, “I’m sorry I can’t give you
anything better.”
Galina took a sip of her thola juice and felt it burn a path to her
stomach. She felt embarrassed that she’d even asked. She knew she would
regret this later; her stomach was still empty. Maybe Julian would meet her
at the replimat. She looked up at Dax. What must it be like to have that
inside you? What about the others? What was it like to be inside someone
else?
“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Dax asked her, withdrawing
her hand and using it to take a drink.
“No.” Then she reconsidered, “Yes, there is.”
She and Dax sat there, nursed their drinks, and talked for a long time.

Quark arrived at Shuttlebay One half an hour later. O’Brien was working
on a shuttle in the middle of the bay, so Quark walked over. O’Brien did not
look pleased to see him. “What are you doing here, Quark?”
“I’m looking for Dr. Bashir. The computer told me he was here.” It was
half true, anyway.
“Well, he’s not.” O’Brien waved his arms to indicate the rest of the
bay.
“But he was here, wasn’t he?”
“Yes.” O’Brien walked to the other side of the shuttle and removed an
exterior panel. He took some kind of directed energy tool and started to
poke around inside. “He’s probably back at the infirmary now. If you hurry,
you might be able to catch him.” His voice carried that hint, hint quality
that should have told Quark to leave him alone.
“Was he alone?” Quark asked, knowing full well that O’Brien wanted him
to leave. He took the opportunity to get a look at the shuttle. He made a
mental note of the markings. He should have no trouble tracking it’s origin;
probably just have to break through three or four levels of security codes.
“Quark,” O’Brien stopped working and came toward him with the tool,
which looked dangerous even when it was off. “I have a lot of work to do.
And your replicators are sinking to the bottom of my list as we speak.”
“My replicators are working just fine, at the moment.” Quark answered,
knowing that that wasn’t the usual state of things. It was hard to run a bar
with unreliable replicators however, and O’Brien usually made good on his
threats of neglecting them. He decided to push his luck, “Nice shuttle.
Who’s is it?”
“Do I have to call security? You’re not even supposed to be in here.”
O’Brien, like most of the command personnel on DS9, knew enough about Quark.
He wasn’t a mean person, but he was a Ferengi. Ferengi had entirely
different priorities from any other species, so some of the things they did
seemed rude or uncaringly cold. It was hard to keep that in mind, when
Quark was on to something and he thought you had information. Maybe Keiko
could start adult education classes, too, thought O’Brien of his oriental
teacher wife. Dealing with Ferengi 101. He poised his hand over his
communicator. He wasn’t bluffing. Odo would be happy to come and escort him
out of here.
Quark, frustrated, growled and turned to go. O’Brien was right. He’d
bypassed a security checkpoint just to get in, and if Odo found out he’d get
put in the brig for sure. He didn’t need to be locked up right now. “Thank
you for your time.” He mumbled over his shoulder.
O’Brien watched him leave. As the door closed behind him, he touched
the communicator anyway. “O’Brien to Odo.”
“Odo here. What’s up, Chief O’Brien?”
“Quark was just here.”
“Passed a checkpoint?” You could almost hear the shapshifter smile,
“I’ll pick him up immediately.”
“No, I don’t think that’s necessary.” O’Brien really didn’t want to get
him into serious trouble. “I just thought he must be up to something, and
you could keep a closer eye on him.”
There was a brief silence. “Yes. I’ll do that.”

CHAPTER 2

Sisko looked out his window from his quarters. He liked this part of
the day. Things quieted down, he had some peace and quiet. Time with Jake,
he thought as he heard his son come out of the bathroom, padding barefoot in
his pajamas. “Tough day, Dad?”
“No. Not really. More than average, though.” Sometimes he was sorry
that he couldn’t share more details with Jake. Even if it were allowed, he
didn’t think he’d discuss this one, anyway. He sighed. Besides, this was
the time of day to let it all go, just for awhile. He put on a smile, “How
about a game of tri-D Chess? We haven’t played in a long time.” As soon as
he said it he could tell Jake wasn’t interested.
Jake wrinkled his nose, “Naw. I think I’ll read awhile and turn in.”
He paused, then added, “You sure you’re okay?”
“Fine, why?”
“I don’t know. You look …. worried about something.” He hated when
his Dad was like this. There was something going on on the station and he
couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about it. So he was just a kid, but he thought he
could be trusted. Should he ask? Should he tell him that he could be
discreet, and was there for him? His Dad was looking out the window again.
He probably thought Jake had gone to bed and didn’t even notice he was still
standing there.
Then, he heard him. “Jake?” His Dad was still facing the window.
“Here, Dad.” Well, he sort of said it.
“I love you, you know.” This thing with Ms. Radolfo and her Devereaux’s
Disease bothered him. How many other unknown diseases were out there? There
were so many ways to die, did we really need one more? He wondered about his
own mortality, and that of his friends. And Jake. We never know how or
when. What must it be like to know? How could she be so calm? But then,
she wasn’t calm, was she? She only appeared calm. That was part of the
problem. She’d been running on fumes by the time they found her. Was there
really something going on in the Gamma Quadrant, or was she just trying to
run away from everything? No. She didn’t seem the type to just be running.
He just wanted to understand. Sometimes, he wanted all the answers without
asking the questions. He just wanted — his thought was interrupted by an
arm around his middle. Jake’s arm. Another arm came around the other side
as Sisko turned within them to face his son. Jake tucked his head under his
father’s chin, and squeezed. Sisko squeezed back, and kissed the top of his
son’s head. “Thanks, Jake. I needed that.”
“Good night, Dad.”
” ‘night.” Jake let go, and went to his room. Sisko watched until he
was out of sight.
Moments later, the door chime sounded. “Come.” Sisko said.
Doctor Bashir entered. Sisko waved him to a seat, which he refused.
“What can I do for you, Doctor?”
“Don’t let her go.”
So. He wasn’t the only one having difficulty. “I’d need a reason.” He
really hoped Julian could give him one, too. But he’d been over it in his
head a thousand times. She had every right to go to the Gamma Quadrant if
she wanted to.
“She’s dying!” Julian insisted. But he knew that wasn’t a good reason.
Not according to the books.
“She’s well aware of that.” Sisko explained, “She feels she has a
mission to perform. There’s no reason not to believe her story. I have to
let her go.”
Bashir finally sat down, and Sisko followed suit. “I guess, ” Julian
said tiredly, “it’s just … I can’t let her go.”
Sisko leaned forward, “Doctor, you have a history with her. It’s got to
be more difficult to accept the facts. But they are the facts. There is
nothing that can be done for her. Until she asks for medical help, or needs
emergency medical care, there is nothing *you* can do, except be there. If
there’s a problem, I’m sure Dax or Kira would be happy to accompany her to
the Gamma Quadrant.” Sisko knew, of course, that there was no way Leena was
going without Julian, but if he let Julian think that she might be ….
“No.” Bashir said without hesitation, just as Sisko knew he would. He
rose confidently, “I’ll go. Sorry to have bothered you.”
“Anytime, Doctor.” Bashir left. But Sisko wasn’t happy. He’d seen out
of the corner of his eye, that Jake was watching. He probably could not have
heard the conversation, but he’d observed the entire exchange from just his
side of the doorway.
Knowing he’d been spotted, Jake emerged sheepishly, but remained
standing near the doorway. “Dad, why was the doctor here? Are you all
right?”
“I told you I’m fine, Jake.” Sisko said from his chair. “Just station
business. Go back to bed.”
He knew it was hard on Jake. Always out of the loop, with the most
important person in his life right in the middle of it. Sisko pushed himself
out of the chair and went to the replicator. God, he needed a drink.

The bar was finally closed, Quark had counted and logged the day’s
receipts, Rom and Nog had finished their cleaning, and Quark was alone. He
stood behind the counter and opened the panel that revealed his unauthorized
computer access. All he needed were a few isolinear chips. He brought out
his bag of chips and sorted through them until he found the three he needed.
He took each chip and carefully slipped it into the one of the slots that
would override the security codes. “Computer, I need to track the origin of
a ship.”
“Please state type of ship and registry markings.”
Quark supplied the information and the computer bleeped, “Working.”
He waited impatiently. It seemed to take forever. Then, “Shuttlecraft
Pioneer is registered to the freighter Hell Raiser, private ownership by Mr.
Harvey Gant.”
Quark’s heart nearly stopped.
How could that be? If Hell Raiser had a shuttle, it would be in it’s
own bay, not here. Unless they needed help with the repairs, he admitted.
Which did happen now and then. But why had O’Brien been so secretive if it
was just the usual shuttle repairs? And what did it have to do with Doctor
Bashir? Something didn’t sound right about this. But the computer’s words
still echoed in Quark’s large ears: private ownership by Mr. Harvey Gant.
Impossible, he thought. Gant said he was leaving this very night, but
that ship had not been ready to go. Besides, he felt reasonably sure that if
Gant owned his own ship, he would have been flaunting it all over the bar.
He certainly seemed that type. He’d been flaunting that money bag of his,
which was why Quark had known where on his person to send Rom while they
struggled. And that money bag would have been much bigger. It was a
sizable shuttle and must be very expensive. Quark asked the computer to
verify the given information, which it did seconds later. Then it *was*
possible that Gant was still here. “Computer, location of freighter Hell
Raiser.”
“Hell Raiser is not docked at DS9.” Would Gant have stayed behind, to
catch up later in the shuttle? After he had flattened Quark, of course.
“Location of Harvey Gant.” Quark mentally crossed his fingers.
“Harvey Gant is not on board the station.”
Safe. For the moment. But if his ship was here, he would be coming
back. He may have made a side trip on a Bajoran transport while his ship was
being repaired. Gant must have noticed his missing money bag. Panic began
to set in. Quark uttered a Ferengi swear word and pulled out the isolinear
chips. Hastily, he put them back in his bag and stuffed it into its hiding
place. He hurried to his quarters, and began throwing things into a
suitcase. Time for a little vacation.
Rom came in from his adjoining quarters to see what all the noise was.
Quark usually creeped in quietly after closing the bar, not dashing around
uttering ferengi curses under his breath. “‘Brother, what’s wrong?” He was
worried that perhaps he hadn’t cleaned properly, or that Quark was angry with
him for some other reason. Quark didn’t notice him right away, until Rom
kept repeating his question. “What is it? Is something wrong, Brother?”
Finally, rather loudly for Rom, he yelled, “Quark!”
Quark stopped in his tracks, pieces of clothing dripping from his arms.
Rom wasn’t supposed to call him by name, he knew that. But Quark wasn’t
concerned about the impropriety at the moment. “Rom, you’ll have to run the
bar for a few days. I’ve got to leave.”
“Leave? Brother, why?”
“My life is in danger. Gant is coming back.” He resumed stuffing
clothes and belongings into containers.
“How do you know? He said he was leaving, Brother.”
“He didn’t lie. He left, but he’s coming back. O’Brien is fixing his
shuttle. He’ll catch up to the Hell Raiser later.” He really didn’t want to
waste time explaining things. “Just run the bar until I get back, and if the
receipts aren’t what I think they should be, it’ll come out of your pay for
the next nine years. Now leave me alone; I have to pack.” He brushed passed
Rom to open another drawer.
Rom stood with his mouth open, then realized he would have control of
the bar, if even for a short time. “I run the bar?” He asked no one in
particular. “Okay.” And he happily returned to his quarters.

Galina Radolfo couldn’t sleep. She lay on her bed, in the dark, tired,
but not sleepy. Back on Bithia, she’d gone for days without any sleep, and
for over a week with very little. She didn’t understand why she hadn’t heard
from them yet. She was more or less recovered from her little indiscretion,
but still nothing. She took a deep breath and tried to meditate. Maybe the
tension was setting up some kind of block. But she couldn’t concentrate.
She suddenly realized her hands and feet were numb, again, so she sat up in
bed.
She shook her hands to stimulate circulation, then looked at them as
they tingled. It wasn’t really a circulation problem, of course. The nerve
endings were changing. Flexing the joints, she stretched her fingers, then
closed them into fists. Then she did it again, watching the movement to make
sure it reached completion. The pins and needles didn’t even bother her much
anymore; she was getting used to it. Usually just at night, and every
morning without fail, her hands and feet would do this. Just a reminder from
the Devereaux’s, she thought. Don’t worry, she told her body, I haven’t
forgotten about you.
When her hands came back to almost normal, she pulled her knees up so
she could massage her feet. She flexed those also, through the full range of
ankle movement. It was practically a regular exercise, morning and night,
this routine. She pulled the blanket aside so she could see her feet, though
dimly. She wiggled her toes. She’d spent a lot of time in the last few
months staring at her hands and feet. Lately, she’d been wishing she’d
gotten married, and had someone to rub for her. But then, she didn’t think
she’d be so sang-froid about this whole situation. If she’d been married, or
had children, or any of those emotional attachments most people accumulated
by this time in their lives, it would be very different. So she rubbed her
own feet.
Galina was startled to hear her door chime sound. “Who is it?” She
asked.
“Julian.”
“Come.”
The door slid open, and Julian stepped inside, hesitating at the
darkness. “Lights, 30 percent.” Galina said quietly. The light slowly rose
to a level that allowed him to see without blinding her at the same time.
“Couldn’t sleep?”
“No. You?”
She pointed to her feet and shook her hands again. “They’re numb
again.”
Julian immediately came to the bed and started rubbing her feet. “Does
this help?”
“Hmmmmmmm.” She couldn’t believe how good it felt. He rubbed, flexing
the ankle and the arch, even running his hands up her lower legs a little.
It felt way too good, and she knew why. She swallowed, determine to take
this at face value and nothing more. “Thank you, Julian.” She touched one
of his hands and stopped it at her knee.
Galina looked into Julian’s eyes, and was surprised to find him looking
back. Their gaze held for what she wished could be forever. She found she
was holding her breath. Then he broke the gaze and continued rubbing. She
straightened out her legs and lay down again flat, letting his hands go where
they would. “Hands, too?” He whispered.
All she could do was nod, as he took both hands in his and rubbed with
his thumbs. “I wish I could do more for you. Are you in any pain?”
“No. Not at all.” She replied sleepily. She felt there was no
resistance in her. She was weak again, unable to object. He continued to
massage, going from hands to legs and feet and back again, for a long time.
She was sound asleep when he left about an hour later. He went back to his
own quarters, had a small drink, and sat in a chair, staring out his window.
At least one of them would get some sleep.

Galina entered the replimat at 0800 the next morning, refreshed after
the first good natural sleep she’d had in a long time, and looked for Bashir.
He had said he would meet her for breakfast, if for no other reason than to
make sure she ate. She finally saw him, waiting for her by the bank of
replicators. She walked over. “Good Morning, Julian!” She hadn’t realized
before how great it was to see him again. She had always enjoyed his
company.
“Galina, you’re looking better.” Julian said with a hint of a smile.
“I’ll never forgive you for graduating above me.”
Galina’s grin widened. “Pre-ganglionic fiber.” She said. “Now, what
would you like. The usual?”
Bashir held her gaze while he spoke to the replicator, “Cryellian
waffles, black coffee …. and 2 large, uncut strawberries.” His meal
appeared seconds later, and Bashir removed the tray from the alcove.
“That’s pretty adventurous. I’ve heard about Cryellian waffles. Did
you know that they’re neither Cryellian nor waffles?” She’d heard this
little tidbit from one of her patients on Bithia. “They’re actually pancakes
from Grena IV.”
“Really?” Julian actually seemed interested in the small talk. “What
are you going to eat? No dietary restrictions, you know. Most women love
that.” He waved toward the replicator.
Galina lowered her eyes. She really didn’t have much of an appetite,
and wasn’t feeling very adventurous, either. “Terran bacon omelette, white
toast, coffee with cream.” She took her tray and followed Julian to a table,
where they sat facing each other.
They both began to eat, but there was an awkward silence. Galina knew
that Julian was probably calculating the caloric intake in each spoonful she
put in her mouth. He was watching her eat. Something had to be said, so
Galina paused to swallow, then, “I’ve missed you, Julian. You always made me
laugh at the Academy. And you challenged me, too. If you hadn’t been there,
I wouldn’t have done as well. I know it.”
“That’s not true.” Julian sipped his coffee. “You challenged me. And
you won.” He was proud of her. He’d never really been bitter about it,
though he occasionally sounded so.
“Funny, I don’t feel victorious.” Galina stopped eating. There was so
much on her mind. Part of her wasn’t even here. “I wish they’d contact me.”
She said mainly to herself, “It’s been too long. Maybe I’m too late.”
“You’re still recovering. Give it time.” Julian cut a large piece of
the waffle/pancake and put it in his mouth, chewing quickly, as if showing
Galina how to eat. “I’ve been meaning to ask you ….”
“Yes?”
He hesitated, “Would you like a strawberry?” He held one out to her.
“You’ve been meaning to ask me if I’d like a strawberry?” She asked
skeptically. But she took the strawberry, and bit into it. Some of the
juice came down her chin and she picked up her napkin to wipe it. Julian
picked up his strawberry, pulled off the greenery, and plopped the whole
thing in his mouth. It was a large strawberry, and the sudden sweetness
caused him to make a face. Galina laughed, and Julian smiled, trying hard to
chew and swallow without letting anything disgusting peek out of his mouth.
He finally gulped it down, and Galina laughed again. “Oh, Julian. Do you
always eat like that?”
He sipped his coffee to wash down the last of the strawberry, “No, of
course not. I only eat strawberries like that.”
After a minute, her smile faded. “What were you *really* going to ask
me?” If he expected her to forget about that, he’d better change his
expectations.
“Okay.” He said, his smile also fading. “How can you take everything
so …. casually?” She seemed worried, but still calm. Julian would be
jumping out of his skin, pacing the hallways; he wouldn’t be able to sit
still.
Galina tilted her head, “You mean the aliens or the Devereaux’s”
“Both. You seem to accept it so easily.”
“You forget. I’ve been dealing with it for nearly two years now.” She
blew on her coffee and took a sip. “I know it must be hard for you, Julian.
It’s only been days.” She lowered her eyes, “I wish I could make it easier.”
This was the opening he’d been waiting for. “You can. Don’t go on this
mission.”
That made her raise her eyes. In fact they became daggers. “Stay here?
I suppose you think if the two of us worked together we could find a
miraculous cure before it’s too late. Well that only happens in holonovels,
Julian. This is real life. What do you think I’ve been doing for the past
two years, anyway? Don’t you think I’ve tried every possibility? My
specialty was research, damn it. There’s nothing. Nothing!”
“But maybe –”
“No more maybes, Julian. I don’t want to die, but I’ve come to terms
with the fact that I’m going to. I only have one more thing to do.”
“Stop a war.” Julian supplied, “It seems so …. immaterial.”
Galina stared at him for a moment, disbelieving. “You wouldn’t say
that if you knew what I felt. Still feel, in a way. They’re desperate,
Julian. They don’t want to fight.”
“Why don’t they send someone? Communicate through normal channels?
Why did they choose you?”
The old why me gambit, but in reverse. He didn’t understand. She put
down her utensils and searched for the words to explain it better. It was
difficult. He had no frame of reference. “They didn’t choose me, Julian.
As far as I know, they don’t even know I exist.” She thought of an analogy.
“It’s like they’re sending out an SOS, and I received it, but I can’t
acknowledge it. They don’t know they got through to anyone. They don’t even
know I’m coming. They just need someone, and I happened to hear them.” She
paused, remembering the contacts, and how they had chilled her. “They’re so
afraid for themselves, Julian. If you’d felt it, you’d understand. They’re
hurting each other, and they don’t want to.”
“What are they fighting about? Who are they?”
Galina was a little upset now. She was so tired of being
misunderstood, or not understood at all. She knew how hard it was to believe
what she was saying, how little information she really had. “I don’t know!
And I don’t care! They need help; that’s all *I* need to know.”
“People are fighting all over the galaxy. We can’t just barge in on
every squabble. Stay here. Let me take care of you.”
Galina rose so quickly her chair fell over. “I don’t need to be taken
care of! Julian, of all people, I thought you’d understand. This is
serious. I can hear them! For awhile it was all the time! I can’t *not* do
this!” Julian started to rise, too, as she spouted off. She shouldn’t get so
agitated. He was trying to understand. “They’re on the brink of a civil
war, and if I can do something to stop –” She gasped, as if in sudden pain,
and her hands flew to her head. She sunk to her knees.
“Leena!” Julian shouted, going to her side. Remembering her words, he
stood by, just being there if she wanted to reach out. Then he couldn’t
remain idle for more than a second and bent down, one hand on her shoulder.
She had squeezed her eyes shut tight; all of her muscles were tightened,
and her breath was coming hard. Slowly, the spasm eased, and her muscles
relaxed. She opened her eyes, though they were distant, but remained on her
knees. “Leena?” Julian asked softly.
She swallowed and licked dry lips. “Two of them just killed each
other

Kira stepped into Sisko office. “Sir? Quark’s out here. He insists on
seeing you.” She almost wanted to apologize. A visit from Quark was about
par with …. oh …. Kai Winn having an errand for you. Still, if she had
to choose, the Kai would appreciate her help. But it was Sisko he wanted
today.
She was surprised to see him smile, and say “Send him in.” She raised
her eyebrow, but when she turned to face Ops to wave Quark in she was all
business. She returned to her station. Sisko would probably tell her all
about it, later.
Quark approached Sisko’s desk in grovel mode. “Commander, I need to ask
you a small favor.” He demonstrated the size of the favor with his fingers.
“I need to borrow a shuttle.”
“To go where?”
Quark hadn’t even thought about this. Caught off guard, he stumbled
over the words, “Uh, anywhere. Maybe Bajor.” Panic had been working for
almost eight hours now, and he had trouble resisting the Ferengi urge to
crumble. “I’m taking a sabbatical.” He decided to call it.
“A sabbatical? You?” Sisko knew why Quark had to leave, of course.
Odo had shared the whole scheme with him. He’d had to have Sisko’s
permission to pull off changing the registry, even though it was just a
temporary change. After a week, the files would revert automatically. Now,
it was his turn. “I’m sorry, Quark,” he said, trying to sound sorry, “as
much as I like to encourage religious awareness, I don’t have a shuttle to
give you. They’re all spoken for at the moment.” That much was true.
Except for Leena’s, the bay was empty.
“By whom? I’ll pay them to change their flight plan. I really have to
get off the station, Commander.” He stepped closer to Sisko’s desk as if
this action would help his plea. “It doesn’t have to even be a good shuttle.
Anything the least bit space worthy is just fine. I’m not choosy.”
“Of course you’re not choosy.” The hardest part of this had been making
sure Quark’s attempts to arrange private transport had failed. That had
taken calling in a few favors, and owing a few, too. Thankfully, Odo knew
pretty much all of Quark’s connections, and was able to gain their
cooperation with a little Security Office bribery. Most of which were
carefully worded so as to allow Odo wide jurisdiction in the event anyone
tried to make good on the deals. Sisko continued, “You’re life is at stake.”
“How did you know that?” Quark spouted quickly. Then, “It doesn’t
matter. What can you do about it? You can’t let him kill me!” That was
what Quark really liked about the Federation. No matter what he did, Sisko
pretty much had to protect him. He should have remembered this and come to
Sisko directly.
“I don’t know that I can do anything, Quark.” Sisko said, enjoying how
Quark was squirming in front of his desk. “*He* didn’t do anything wrong.
Yet. And we really can’t arrest him until he does. He has every right to
enter any non-secured area of the station, just like any other guest.”
Quark walked right in to the net. “You can arrest me.”
“What?” As if this thought had never occurred to him. “Quark don’t be
ridiculous. As much as Odo would like to put you in the brig, you know he
won’t without good reason.”
“Protective custody. What about that?” Quark thought this was not only
his idea, but very original.
“It would be fine, if there’s been an attempt on your life.”
“There was! He beat me up before he left the station. Knocked out a
tooth!”
“Did you report this?” Quark was making this too easy.
“Yes, I did. Odo came and —”
“And did he offer to come to your aid?”
“Yes, but –”
“And what did you ask him to do?”
“I … dropped the charges.” Quark admitted. There had to be a way to
get in the brig, he was thinking.
“I see.” Sisko was calm. On purpose. “Then I’m afraid I can’t hold
you in the brig.”
Quark couldn’t stand it anymore. “Yes, you can. I broke a law.”
Sisko feigned surprise. “Which law? Running in the promenade?”
“No, no, no.” He lowered his voice out of habit, “I stole a money
bag.”
“Aaahhhh.” Sisko pretended to be pleased about this, “Do you have any
evidence to convict you?”
“Evidence?” Quark’s voice squeaked and he cleared his throat. They
were going to make him do it, weren’t they. Somewhat reluctantly, he
produced the money bag from his interior pocket. “You mean this?” The cloth
bag was embroidered with the initials H.G.
Sisko picked it up, examining it, and looked inside at the contents.
He wouldn’t have put it passed Quark to give him a bag full of stones. But
the credits were in there. “Yes, I suppose this will do. I’ll have to
discuss this with Odo, of course.”
“I’ll report to Security immediately, Commander. When you see Mr.
Gant, give him the money bag with my apologies, and please contact Odo and
tell him I’m on my way.” Not giving Sisko the chance to say another word,
Quark hurried out of the office, pausing at the doorway only to look both
ways, presumably for Mr. Gant.
Sisko knew Kira was going to love this, and called her in. “What was
that all about?” She asked as she entered, one arm out to indicate Quark’s
rapidly disappearing form. Sisko waited for the door to close, then slowly
explained.
A few minutes later, Kira returned to her station with an unbearable
grin on her face. She snickered uncontrollably as she sent the communique to
the Hell Raiser, that the money bag had been recovered, and would be on their
next mail shuttle. She was about to let go and laugh out loud, but the
appearance of Galina and Dr. Bashir in Ops forced her to swallow and compose
herself. She touched her communicator, carefully controlling her voice.
“Commander, Doctor Bashir and Ms. Radolfo are here to see you.”
“Thank you, Kira. Send them in.”
She motioned them to go up the stairs. But even after they had gone
in, the hysteria was over. Seeing Ms. Radolfo abruptly stopped any feeling
of gaity. She would enjoy Quark’s situation later.

Sisko held the chair for Galina, before returning to his seat behind his
desk. Bashir sat in the other chair, “She’s had contact.”
“Tell me about it.” He said to Galina.
“We were at the replimat.” She began. “We were … discussing the
situation … when I felt this … I don’t know …. scream? inside my head.
It was,” her eyes clouded over for a moment, and she seemed to be in a
trance, then she forcefully cleared her head and began again, “It was
painful, but not like a headache.”
“You can sense them now?” Sisko’s voice was quiet. He was guessing,
but she did seem different now. Her attention was divided. Her eyes drifted
away from him now and then, and she appeared to be listening to something
that he couldn’t hear.
“Yes.” She sounded almost like she was in a hypnotic state. “Not as
strongly as then, but they’re still there, what’s left of them.” At his last
phrase, her voice cracked. She swallowed thickly, and took a quivering
breath, “I don’t know how many there are, but there is a distinct sense of
loss, of a void that they can’t fill. I think they’re in shock, but that’ll
wear off and they’ll go back to fighting. There’s still anger, and dissent.
I feel … I feel ….” Her voice drifted off, and then she was entranced.
Bashir leaned closer and put a hand on her shoulder, “Leena?”
Her eyes focused on him, and she blinked the fogginess away. “I’m
sorry.” She turned to Sisko, “How soon can we leave?”
“I’ll find out,” Sisko tapped his badge, “Sisko to O’Brien.”
“O’Brien here. Go ahead.” Came the disembodied voice, with just a hint
of Irish brogue.
“Is the Pioneer ready to go?”
“Not quite. I’m sorry, but the warp core hasn’t stablized. I need to
replace the antimatter flow valve, and adjust the intermix regulator. It’ll
take at least three hours, but that’s without test simulations. I’d really
prefer not to skip the simulations in this case. After what these engines
have been through, it would be a mistake to take any chances.”
“Four hours?”
“Aye, Sir. It’ll be ready in four. I guarantee it.”
“Sisko out.” He turned back to his guests. Galina was muttering to
herself. “Pardon?”
She was startled, and looked up. “I was just saying that it’s all my
fault that the engines are in such bad shape. I shouldn’t have pushed them.
If any more of them die in the next four hours, it’ll be my fault.” She was
torturing herself, even she knew that. She bit her bottom lip, then jumped
from her seat, spun around and slammed the flat of her hand against the wall.
“Four hours!” She nearly screamed the words. For a moment, she remained
facing the wall, her open hand still resting upon it, unable to face Bashir
and Sisko after her outburst. She was breathing too hard again, and forced
herself to calm down. Behind her, they were respectfully quiet. “Four
hours.” She said again, quieter.
Finally, she lowered her hand and turned. The quiet was absolute. It
seemed to her that the station itself had stopped it’s workings. Bashir
broke the silence, “Leena, you can’t blame yourself.”
Her eyes passed from Bashir to Sisko and back again. “What time is the
launch?”
Sisko checked his chronometer, “Fourteen hundred hours.”
“Julian, I’ll meet you in the shuttlebay. Excuse me.” She walked out
of the office.
Bashir stayed behind only long enough to exchange a meaningful look with
Sisko, then followed. She kept walking straight to the turbolift, and,
before Bashir could enter, she said, “Door close.”
Kira came up to Bashir from her station at Ops, “Is she all right?”
“Sure,” Bashir said absent-mindedly, although he was anything but sure.
“She’s just upset. Her shuttle isn’t ready yet.” As soon as the lift
indicated an empty car had arrived, Bashir took it.

Quark entered the Security outer office, calling for Odo. Odo emerged
from his private office and looked questioningly at his guest. “Can I do
something for you?”
“Didn’t Sisko contact you?”
“No. He did not.” Odo wasn’t lying, though he had been expecting a
call. Obviously, Sisko must have had business to attend to.
“Well, call him. He’ll explain everything.”
Odo did so. “Commander, Quark is here. He said you’d explain why.”
“Oh, yes.” The intense seen that had just taken place in his office had
caused him to forget, “My apologies to Quark. Station business.”
“You’re forgiven,” Quark interrupted, “Get on with it.”
“It seems he stole a money bag.” Sisko replied. “I have it here with
me. It belongs to a Mr. Harvey Gant from the freighter Hell Raiser that left
here yesterday. Quark confessed here in my office.”
“Were you recording?” Odo watched Quark fidget at the thought that his
confession might not be on record. Quark found it ironic that, though he
usually spent his time avoiding the brig, the one day he wanted in Odo seemed
almost reluctant to oblige. He would have thought Odo would help him set up
housekeeping in there.
“Of course,” Sisko replied.
“Is he pressing charges?” Odo calmly asked one question after another,
knowing that Quark was quietly being driven insane by all this.
“He hasn’t been contacted yet, but considering he’s already threatened
Quark, I’m reasonably sure that he will.”
“Didn’t you send a message to Hell Raiser immediately?” Quark was
jumping out of his skin.
“Yes, but it seems Mr. Gant was not on board.” This, of course, was a
direct lie. Kira, with Dax’s help, had managed to placate Mr. Gant, who had
agreed not to press charges providing the bag were returned intact.
Apparently, not all of the credits in the bag had been lawfully gained by Mr.
Gant, and he believed it would be best for all concerned to pretend the
incident never happened. But Quark knew none of this, and stood by anxiously
as Odo continued to interrogate the Commander.
“Have you been able to locate him?”
“No, not yet. But I think it’s best that we put Quark in custody. We
wouldn’t want Mr. Gant to take the law into his own hands. From Bashir’s
medical report, the man must have been very angry.”
“I see, Commander. Very well. Odo out.” He turned to Quark, “Right
this way.” Quark followed at Odo’s heels all the way to the holding cell.
Odo turned off the the force field, and watched Quark run inside and sit
down, a sigh of relief escaping his lips. But Odo didn’t turn the field
back on immediately.
“Odo. The force field?”
“Do you really feel that’s necessary? The entire Security complex is
actually very safe. And it won’t be like you’re trying to escape.”
“I’d feel better. Please?” Quark didn’t understand, and didn’t care,
why Odo was doing this. He just wanted that field up.
Odo sighed, as if all Quark’s worry was for nothing and he was being
entirely too foolish for words. “Oh, all right. Just be quiet in there, and
don’t disturb my reading.” He turned on the field, and Quark almost melted
in the cell.

“Computer, location of Galina Radolfo?” Bashir would have preferred to
keep moving, but the lift was still faster than hunting down Jeffries Tubes
to get from deck to deck. He had to keep telling himself that as he stood in
the center of the lift, waiting the mircoseconds for the reply.
“Galina Radolfo is on deck six, section J2.”
“Deck six.”
She was heading for her quarters. Bashir waited impatiently for the
lift to reach its destination. One thousand One, One thousand Two, One
thousand Three. But when the doors opened, Leena was no where in sight. He
went to her quarters and pressed the door chime.
Inside, Leena heard the door chime and chose to ignore it. She knew it
was him. It rung a second time, then he called through the door, “Leena,
please! I need to talk to you.” He couldn’t come in. She’d coded the lock
as soon as she got inside.
She stood in front of her mirror, looking at her hands. They were
shaking. And they hurt like hell. She sank down, finding the end of the
bed without knowing it was there. Her knees were shaking, too and her legs
ached. She sat there at the foot of her bed, looking in the mirror but not
seeing anything, terrified. Stage Two.

CHAPTER 3

Every fiber of Galina’s being was jangling. “They” were gnawing at her
senses, the Devereaux’s at her nerve endings. She stayed in her cabin,
trying to get control over everything. She fumbled through her medikit for
her hypo, then for something to put in it. She didn’t want to start with
something strong. There was no telling how long any particular painkiller
would provide relief. She finally decided on a dose of Propoxyphene
Hydrochloride. Almost unable to control her fingers, she loaded the hypo,
held it to her arm, and pressed the trigger. Fifteen seconds later, the pain
faded. She reloaded the hypo, then organized her medikit, arranging the
vials according to strength.
She needed to talk to Julian, but it was too soon. If she told him now,
he wouldn’t allow her to go. Even Sisko could be convinced to cancel the
trip, if he knew she’d entered stage two. There was no way around it. In
order to do this, she’d have to prevent either of them from finding out, and
if it came to ouright lying, she was prepared to do it.
Galina checked her chronometer. She’d been in here almost an hour. She
hadn’t even heard Julian stop calling from outside the door. Would he
suspect? She supposed she ought to talk to him, try to make it sound like
nothing important. “Computer, location of Dr. Bashir.”
“Dr. Bashir is in the infirmary.” She snapped her medikit shut and left
it on the bed.

After a slow morning, business was picking up in Quark’s Bar, and Rom
had his hands full. He ran back and forth behind the bar, putting drinks on
trays and giving them to his son to deliver to the proper tables. When at
last there was a lull, he decided to circulate among the tables, as Quark had
told him to. He was to listen for the name Gant or Hell Raiser, and get what
the hew-mans called the ‘low down’. He took a rag with, and pretended to
wipe down tables. While he wiped one, he heard Dax and Kira at the next
table.
“So Quark’s in a holding cell?” Dax said, “That’s a little cruel,
Kira.”
“Oh, don’t worry. He’ll never know the difference. Odo’ll let him out
in a day or two, saying that Gant is gone. He’ll think Odo saved his life.”
Kira was still laughing inside from this whole scenario. “Besides, he
wouldn’t be in this situation if he’d kept his nose where it belonged.”
“I know, but it’s not like Quark doesn’t mean well. He’s just trying to
make a living.”
“By stealing from people and cheating them? That doesn’t go in the
Federation.”
“But he’s not Federation, Kira. He’s Ferengi, and that’s the Ferengi
way. The problem with a lot of people, Kira, is that they can’t see beyond
their own culture. There are many different ways of doing things. Some seem
strange to us, but that doesn’t make them wrong.”
“Theft is wrong in every culture.” Kira hoped so, anyway. It made
perfect sense.
“Not to the Ferengi, not if it’s done with certain rules.” Dax sipped
her drink, “And the brawkdins on Greya XII steal from each other all the
time. It’s a way of life.”
“But Quark’s not on Ferengi, and he’s not on Greya XII. He’s on a
Federation run space station. And if Odo wants to scare Quark into not
snooping in our files anymore by making him think his life is in danger, I
don’t see any harm in it.” Kira never really liked the little troll in the
first place. Quark made her skin crawl. He was always hitting on them, and
every other female of every other species that came into the bar. He had no
scruples, no pride, and no redeeming qualities as far as she was concerned.
He’d only been asked to stay on the station to encourage commerce.
Rom had practically rubbed the finish off the table by the time Dax and
Kira’s conversation drifted on to something else. He hurried back to the
bar, and went into the back room to think. So Gant really was gone, and
Quark didn’t need their protective custody at all. He should tell his
brother about this. But if he did, then Quark would come back to the bar and
he wouldn’t be in charge anymore. This was one of those situations that
bothered Rom. If he went along with the lie, Quark would get mad at him
later, when he found out. And he would find out, of that Rom was sure. But,
if he told Quark the truth, Quark would take his bar back. Even though Rom
knew it was really Quark’s bar, he didn’t have the intelligence to
distinguish that when he was running the place. He thought of it as his bar
when he was in charge, and Quark’s Bar when Quark was in charge. And right
now, Rom was in charge. He liked it that way.
On the other hand, Quark was his brother. And family was important in
the Ferengi culture, especially male relatives. That’s why he was working
for Quark. And when Quark found out about the lie, he would probably reduce
Rom to cleaning out the holosuites, or something even worse. He might even
make Rom go back to the home world. Rom panicked at the thought. To go home
a financial failure would be too much of a disgrace.
After more thought on the subject, he decided to go down to Security.

Quark sat in the security cell. How long had he been in here? He’d
slept, and he wasn’t sure how long, but he was hungry. “Hey, Odo?” He
called experimentally. He may have gone out, or he could be in his bucket.
But in a moment, Odo’s tall slender figure entered the outer room and he
leaned one shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms.
“Yes?”
“I’m hungry. Could I get some food in here?” His stomach rumbled
loudly. “See?” Nice stomach, he thought. Rumbles on cue.
“I have a replicator out here.” Odo made it sound terribly
inconvenient, though he knew it was in fact way past time to ‘feed the
prisoners’. “What would you like?”
“Oh, whatever. A sandwich of some sort, and Ferengi vertz milk.”
Odo got the food and passed it through the slot to Quark, who began
eating. “Tell me, Odo. Have you heard from the Hell Raiser yet? Or from
Gant?”
“No. He is not aboard the Hell Raiser, but he is not answering his
personal mail.” It was a direct lie, of course. “Are you getting tired of
the cell?”
Quark spoke over a mouthful of sandwich, “No, I guess not.” He said,
sounding, in fact, utterly bored. There really wasn’t much to do in here.
The walls were bare, except for the built in bench along the rear wall. And
the view into the outer room held nothing of interest, either. “But maybe,
seeing as how I’m not really a prisoner, I could get a terminal in here?
Just to amuse myself? For my psychological well-being, of course.”
Odo considered the unexpected request. “Well, perhaps one from the
school. They have access to all the educational files and games.”
But just then, Rom came in. “Excuse me, Odo.” He said, “I’d like to
talk to my brother.”
“Of course,” Odo returned to his office. And turned on his external
monitor.
“Hello, Brother.” Rom said to Quark, who was still eating.
“Rom, you haven’t run the bar out of business, yet, have you?”
“No, Brother, but I have news for you.” Rom hesitated. What would his
mouth decide to do?
“Well?” Quark was not patient when it came to his brother. Odo had
once called Rom an idiot; that he couldn’t fix a straw if it was bent, and
sometimes Quark thought Odo was right. He’d never tell him that, of course,
but he knew he’d gotten the lobes in the family. He wasn’t sure what Rom had
gotten.
“Brother, I was working in the bar just now, and …. I heard …”
“What? What did you hear?” Quark put down what was left of his food
and stepped closer to the force field.
“Harvey Gant is expected back here tomorrow.” He lied. Rom’s Bar, he
kept thinking.
Quark was actually pleased about it. At least this incarceration was
justified. He didn’t want to think he’d been sitting in this boring cell for
who knows how long and Gant didn’t bother to show up. “Is he angry. What
was he saying?”
Rom thought quicker than he ever thought in his life. He hadn’t
expected questions, “Very angry. Yes. He wants to … pull your lobes off
… yes … and stomp on them.”
“Rom, listen to me.” Quark knew he had to do this, though it hurt to
say it, “Sisko has the money bag that belongs to Gant. When Gant gets here,
send him to Sisko. Maybe if he gets his bag back, he’ll leave me alone.”
“You’re giving his money back?” Rom couldn’t believe his lobes.
“That’s against the first rule!” This actually excited Rom. Any Ferengi who
broke the first rule had to be insane. And insane Ferengi couldn’t run bars.

“Just do it! Or Gant will have my liver for breakfast!” Quark wanted
to reach out there and knock some sense into his brother. He’d tried that
several dozen times over the years, however, and he’d seen no sign of
improvement.
“Yes, Brother. If you’re sure that’s what you want to do.” All Rom
would have to do is report all this to the Ferengi Acquisition Board, and he
was home free. He wasn’t sure if he could do that to his brother. He’d
really have to think about this one.
“No, I’d rather be fed my own lobes. Of course, I’m sure! Now get back
to the bar before your own son steals you blind!” Nog probably did have more
sense than his own father. Nog was quite the little schemer, in fact,
although it was usually against Quark. But Quark saw the technique, not the
intent. He could fix the intent. The boy was a natural.
Rom shuffled out of Security and headed back to the bar, his mind
buzzing with opportunity.

Galina came into the Infirmary to find Julian working on a small Bajoran
child with a skinned knee. He ran the growth stimulator over the knee and
soon it looked like no wound had ever been. He handed the child back to the
mother, who waited calmly, and accepted her thanks. Turning, he saw Galina
and smiled. “Well, look who’s come out from under the bushel!”
Galina smiled shyly, embarrassed at her previous behavior. “I’m sorry,
Julian. But I was so disappointed. I was hoping to leave immediately.”
He took her by the arm and led her into his office, where they could
have some privacy. “How are you feeling? Any more numbness? Any pain?”
“No,” she said, thankful that it was not a direct lie. Right now, there
wasn’t any pain. He didn’t ask if she’d had any pain recently, or anything
about stage two. “I just wanted to apologize for not answering when you were
at my door. I needed to calm down, that’s all. A time out.”
He nodded in understanding, “That’s perfectly all right. You’re
entitled to your privacy.” He did sound disappointed that she hadn’t been
able to confide in him. She would have, but not about this. Not yet.
He took out his medical scanner and started to run it over her. She
reached out, trying not to appear upset about it, and stopped him, “Julian,
please don’t.” The scanner would reveal the change in her condition.
He looked at her with concern. “Why not?” If she was hiding something,
he had a good suspicion what it was. And if it was, everything could change.
“I’m just tired of scans. I’m monitoring myself, Julian. I’m all
right.” Then, because he didn’t look like he believed her, “Really.” And
she put a hand on his arm, “I appreciate your concern, Julian. But don’t
forget, I’m a doctor. If I need a consult, I’ll ask for it. I’m not your
patient anymore. Allow me this much dignity.” That’s the right tack, she
thought. Make it sound like a respect issue. He’d buy that.
He sighed. He hated taking people’s word for their health status.
They were usually wrong. But she had the right to refuse the scan. And
without it, he couldn’t prove what he strongly suspected. He decided to
respect her wish. As long as he was going with her, and could at least keep
an eye on her visually, he could accept how important this trip was to her.
“Okay.” He didn’t usually use the vernacular, but it seemed appropriate.
“We only have two more hours. You’d better eat before we go.”
“Is that Doctor’s Orders?”
“Just good advice from a friend. Eat a good, healthy meal. Please.”
Galina was tempted to give him a peck on the cheek before she left, but
she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She never could. Not even back at the
Academy. Why was it so hard to show someone how she really felt? Well,
mainly this someone, but there really wasn’t anyone else she had ever felt
this way about. And now, there was no chance of a real relationship, no
future. It depressed her, but she kept telling herself that it couldn’t be
helped. It wasn’t meant to be. So she smiled encouragingly regarding his
request, then got up and left the office.
After she left, Julian looked at his scanner, but the scan hadn’t
progressed far enough for any conclusive readings. It bothered him. He’d
had patients with terminal illnesses before. It was never easy. But this
felt different. He remembered back at the Academy, when he’d been so
tempted, but then, not knowing where they were going to get posted, he
decided not to get involved. They’d probably get split up, and that would
make it all that much harder. Now he regretted it. She’d never gotten
married. Never had that special feeling for anyone, he supposed. He hoped
she’d found some happiness. He really didn’t want to see her life end this
way.
He went back to his study of Devereaux’s Disease, but what he had found
so far had not brought him much hope. There just weren’t enough cases to
make any assumptions about anything except it’s utter fatality. But it was
such a cruel disease. There had to be something he could do. He felt
helpless, and he always hated that. People didn’t become doctors to watch
others die horrible deaths. Especially people they felt …. well, he should
just forget about that. She had other things on her mind. Between these
communications of hers and the illness, he was sure she had more that enough
on her mind.

Finally, at long last, Galina sat in the pilot’s seat of the shuttle,
preparing for launch. Julian, ducking, stored more medical gear than they
would ever need toward the rear of the shuttle, then sat in the co-pilot’s
seat and checked his instruments. Galina smiled at him, “Your friend did a
wonderful job. It looks like she’s running better than when I left Bithia.
He even punched up the shields a little.” Her eyes and hands flowed over the
panel like a concert pianist’s over his keys.
“O’Brien is one of the best.” Julian said.
“We didn’t have a real engineer at the colony. Just some people that
tinkered with things. Hobbyists, really.” She was really feeling good. The
one dose was still effective. The fact that it lasted three hours without a
hitch was a good sign. She’d eaten a good, solid meal, and she almost felt
like she had before all this started. She took a deep breath in excitement.
“Pre-launch check complete.”
“Bashir to Ops. Are we cleared for launch?”
“Launch when ready, Doctor.” Kira’s voice came back.
Galina and Julian exchanged glances, then Galina started the engines.
Slowly, the shuttle lifted and moved forward. The next thing she knew, they
had cleared the station and she banked the shuttle toward the wormhole. She
slowed, then hovered.
“Something wrong?” Julian asked, after they hung in space for a few
moments. She’d been in such a hurry, and now here she hovered in front of
the wormhole.
“Julian,” She kept her eyes on her instruments, “There’s something I
have to tell you.” She knew she had to do it now, while they were alone,
before they made the jump to the Gamma Quadrant. It would have been easier
to avoid it all together, but it had to be said.
“Go ahead.” He kept his voice quiet, reassuring. He had suspicions.
He was fairly confident that she had entered stage two, and was about to
admit it. Why else would she have refused his scan earlier?
“Swear it.”
“What?”
“What I’m about to say doesn’t leave this shuttle. Swear it.” She kept
her eyes on her panel.
He understood that she meant what he was about to hear was for his ears
alone. “Go ahead.”
“Swear it, or I’ll take you back to the bay and go alone.” After she’d
said it, she looked hard at Julian. She was serious.
Julian blinked. “I swear.” Should he also cross his heart and hope to
die? He wondered. What could she possibly have to say that would require
this kind of secrecy? Sisko, Kira and Dax already knew all about her
situation. If she had entered stage two, she certainly wouldn’t be able to
hide it. She was probably afraid he’d call Ops immediately and abort the
mission. He was already prepared to continue on to the Gamma Quadrant, even
if that were the case. But whatever it was, he would keep his word.
“When this mission is over,” she began, then licked her lips, “I’m
going to die.”
Julian didn’t need a translation this time. “That’s not necessary.” He
said quickly.
She started to turn in her seat to face him, but out of the corner of
his eye, Bashir saw a light flashing on his panel. “Incoming transmission.”
He pressed the receive button.
“Kira to Bashir, is there a problem?” She sounded confused. He almost
heard the unspoken question ‘Why are you just sitting there?’
There was silence for a moment as Galina waited for him to answer.
“No, Kira. She’s just filling me in on some mission details. Thanks for
asking. Bashir out.” There, that should show her that he could be trusted.
“Thank you, Julian.” She had been afraid he would call off the
mission. He had the authority. He could say she was insane; what he’d just
heard would probably be enough evidence to at least postpone it. She felt a
tug in her chest that he would brush off Kira so convincingly, rather than
expose her.
“I’m not finished.” He said, ” Why do you want to do this? There are
options.” He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. He was
trying to convince a fellow doctor not to commit suicide.
She again turned in her seat to face him, as if settling in for a
discussion, “Please, Julian. Just listen.” She leaned forward, resting her
elbows on her knees and gesturing, “I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’m
only the fifth case of Devereaux’s in the last hundred years. It’s not even
worth it, economically, to look for an effective treatment, let alone a cure.
And there won’t be time for me.” She swallowed again, forcing herself to
add, “I entered stage two three hours ago. I’m on propoxyphene Hydrochloride
for now, but it’s just going to get worse. After this mission, I intend to
end it. On my own, if I can —”
“Now, wait a minute.” Julian interrupted, “You don’t want me to –”
“Yes.”
“I can’t — ”
She knew he was going to say this, and knew all her arguments by
heart. “You want me to go through it? You know what it does. After awhile
no amount of any pain killer will help, you know that.” She turned back to
her instruments, correcting the shuttle’s course for drift, “It wasn’t an
easy choice, but I might need your help.” She hesitated, and again faced
him, “Julian, I’m scared. I don’t know how bad it’ll get; how much control
I’ll have.” She remembered those few short hours ago, “It was just beginning
and I could barely stand it. I had trouble controlling my hands. God, the
hypo felt so good! It’s going to get bad, maybe before we get back. Promise
me, please.”
“Galina, I –” Julian wondered at his inability to complete a
sentence.
“Oh, don’t give me that ‘I’m a doctor’ crap!” She almost shouted,
“Devoted to healing and saving lives. I know what the Hypocratic Oath says.”
She quoted, ” ‘To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give
advice which may cause his death. But I will preserve the purity of my life
and art.’ I’m surprised they haven’t changed that to fit the times. No one
takes it literally. Doctor’s for centuries have been performing euthanasia
even at the risk of their own careers and lives. I’m hoping you won’t have
to, really I am. But I *need* a backup, in case I can’t. If I ask you to,
will you?”
Julian was quiet. They’d been sitting here a long time. He knew Ops
was watching them, wondering. How many mission details could she possibly
have? But if he agreed … He looked down at the floor of the shuttle,
feeling slightly ill himself. The word murder floated across his mind,
though he knew it wouldn’t be seen like that by anyone who knew the
circumstances. Did Starfleet know the circumstances? Did the Federation
know the circumstances? He admonished himself for even worrying about his
career. That wasn’t the real problem anyway. It was just that he’d never
seen anyone so alive be so willing to die. He had to keep reminding himself
that this was not news to her; that, as she said, she’d been dealing with it
for almost two years. Practically the whole time he’d been at DS9, he
thought. All this time I’d been living my life, all the things I’ve done, I
had no idea that far away, she was going through hell. He felt a little
guilty that he’d ever enjoyed himself. Then he stopped himself from
thinking like that. It was a useless line of reasoning. And she had her
mind made up. If she was going to do it, he wanted to be there for her. “I
promise.” How could he say otherwise? Could he doom her to weeks, possibly
months of such pain? He agreed with the idea, but he wasn’t sure if he could
do it. He was used to taking extreme measures to save lives, and possibly
lose them in the end, but at least he tried. But this? Maybe he could think
of something before they got back.
Galina put one hand to her head, as if she had a headache. “They’re
out there.” She winced, but he could tell it wasn’t from physical pain,
“Let’s go.” His promise accepted without acknowledgement, she reset the
controls.
She engaged the thrusters, and they saw the wormhole open like a
flower in front of them. Galina was surprised at how beautiful it was. But
she only saw it for a second, because then she was in it, and the beauty
surrounded the shuttle, and then the shuttle emerged in the Gamma Quadrant.
She gasped, and was thrown backwards from her seat, like she’d been hit
in the head with a brick …. or two. Bashir saw her fall, and went to her
side. She was unconscious, but even as he noticed that she began to come to.
She blinked, as if adjusting to bright light. “Are you all right?” Julian
asked. He tried to help her up, but she pushed him away and got on her feet
quickly.
She dashed back to her pilot’s seat, “I’m all right. And I have a
heading.” She wasn’t sure how she got the heading, but the numbers swirled
in her head. Instinctively, they fell into place. She felt confident that
they had meaning even as inside, she felt the pain returning. Oh no, she
thought. Not now. Her hands flying over the controls, she set the heading;
it would take about fifteen minutes to get there, then reached for her
medikit. She dropped it on the floor, and stared at her shaking hands. They
were throbbing, as if they’d been smashed. Taking deep breaths to avoid
crying out, she fumbled for the kit, only to have Julian beat her to it.
Wordlessly, he opened the kit, saw the prefilled hypo and took it out. He
checked the drug and dosage, then pressed it against her arm.
It took almost a full minute this time, but finally the pain faded
away. She made a conscious effort to calm herself. She couldn’t afford to
panic now. “Thank you, Julian.”
“Don’t mention it.” He felt he’d only been able to do it, because he
knew the drug in the hypo would not harm her. If it had been filled with,
say, 4 cc’s of cordrazine, would he still have been able to administer it?
He tried not to think about it. He dug in the bag for a slightly stronger
painkiller, and filled the hypo before putting it back in the bag.
Galina rubbed her hands against her thighs, then massaged each palm one
at a time. Next time, the pain would go up to her elbow, she knew. And then
her shoulders. She stomped her feet a few times, knowing it would be her
knees next. Before long, it would be everywhere. She couldn’t imagine it.
For a split second, Julian saw the fear in her eyes, and the effort it took
to pull it back inside and get on with her mission.
A glance at her panel revealed that the coordinates had been reached.
“We’re there.” She said, and looked up at the viewport. Julian also stared
out the window.
“Are you sure? There’s not even a planet here!”
Julian was right. In front of them floated a white-grayish cloud, like
a mist passing over the starfield. And nothing else.

Back on the station, Quark was getting extremely bored in the security
cell. Odo had ignored his earlier request for a computer terminal, so there
was nothing to do but eat, when Odo was kind enough to give him food, and
sleep. He’d thoroughly slept himself out; a rather enjoyable task but it was
done. He was wide awake now, and ready to pull out his imaginary hair.
“Odo!” He called toward the office. No reply. “Odo! I’m hungry!” Still,
no reply. He must be in his bucket, Quark thought. Of all the
inconsiderate, rude things to do. He could have at least warned Quark that
he would be indisposed. Or assigned one of his men to keep watch. He stood
inches from the force field, and, in frustration, he reached out. “Ow!” He
pulled in his hand and sucked the offending finger. “Come on, Odo! Wake up,
already!” He whined half-heartedly. He promised himself that he would never
do anything that would get him incarcerated. He wasn’t even a real prisoner,
but he felt thoroughly punished. Dejected, he crawled to the corner of the
bench, and sat hugging his knees, and nursing his sore finger.
Some time later, Rom came in again. He seemed unusually happy, and
Quark was immediately suspicious. “Well, Rom,” He said, rising and
approaching, but not quite as closely, the force field. “How’s the bar?”
“I’m turning a nice profit, Brother.”
“Did you see Gant?”
Rom hesitated, wondering just what would come out of his mouth this
time. “No, not yet.” He said.
Quark was impatient. Didn’t Rom know he’d want details? “Is he on the
station? Have you heard anything?” He prompted his ignoramous brother.
“I don’t know. No one’s talking.” Yes, Rom told himself. That’s
good. “At least, not about that.”
Quark tilted his head to put his best lobe closer to Rom, “What are
they talking about?”
Rom shrugged, “Oh, this and that. Everyday stuff. Boring.”
Rom didn’t know the meaning of the word boring. “What sounds boring,
could be important. What do you remember?” Nothing, Quark answered himself.
Rom concentrated, as if he was trying to remember when all he was
really doing was coming up with a lie, “Someone said the dabo wheel must be
rigged.” It was. Nothing new. “And someone else said that we water down
our drinks.” They did. Still nothing new.
“Rom, why did you come in here?” Quark asked angrily.
“To visit you, Brother.” Rom said matter-of-factly. As if it would
never have occurred to him to NOT visit his brother.
Quark looked at the black sheep of his family and shook his head.
“Visitors usually bring food.” He muttered, really hungry now.
Rom, used to taking unspoken orders from his brother, went to the
replicator and got his brother’s usual entree. He slid it through the food
slot at one side of the cell doorway, and stayed while Quark ate. He
wondered how long Odo was going to keep Quark in there. He didn’t quite
understand what was at the bottom of this, other than that Odo and Quark
never got along because Quark was always breaking Odo’s rules. Maybe Odo
thought this would get Quark to follow those rules, whatever they were. But
Odo just didn’t understand Ferengi. This wasn’t going to change Quark. As
soon as the danger had passed, everything would be back to normal. Rom got a
little sad, thinking about it. He liked things the way they were. He didn’t
want them to go back to normal. But he didn’t want to see Quark in that
holding cell, either. He was torn. He knew he’d have to make a decision one
way or the other, soon. Either tell Quark exactly what Dax and Kira had
said, or ….
“Brother?” He interrupted Quark’s meal, “I need to tell you
something.”
Quark looked up. This had better be good. “Yes?”
“I heard on the promenade that Gant…. beat up somebody on Bajor.”
Quark stopped eating, “And?” He asked without even swallowing what
was in his mouth.
“And …. ” Rom was getting sorry he’d ever started this, “And they
arrested him, but he escaped. He’s a fugitive! He wants to come back to the
station, but now he can’t take the public transport because the authorities
are watching for him. That’s why he hasn’t come yet.”
Now Quark swallowed. “How badly was the guy beat up?”
“He almost died, Brother. They said he lost an eye in the fight. It
was smashed and couldn’t be replaced.”
“An eye?” Quark’s hand went to his own face.
Just then, Odo finally emerged from his office, looking refreshed.
“Well, Quark, what is it you want, now? My records show you’ve been calling
for me for the last half hour.” Then he muttered under his breath, “I should
have stayed in the bucket.”
Quark moved to the rear of the cell. “Nevermind, Odo. I’m fine.
Thanks anyway.”

CHAPTER 4

“A collection of gases? There’s no place to land!” Julian said to
Galina. She must have gotten the coordinates wrong. He looked at her. She
was staring out the viewport at the cloud. Was it the cloud reflecting in
her eyes, or something else?
It was so close, Leena thought. Her heart was beating wildly; this was
the moment she’d been waiting for all this time. “We won’t need to.” She
replied to Julian’s comment. “Come with me.” Rising from her seat, she
moved to the rear of the shuttle where the sleeping quarters were. Julian
followed behind her. “Communications have been telepathic so far.” She
explained, sitting, then lying down on one of the beds, “Now, I’m not a
telepath, but something about the Devereaux’s is making this possible. I
know what to do now.” She began taking deep breaths to calm herself,
“Monitor me, Julian, though I’m not sure what kind of readings you’ll see.”
Julian adjusted his medical tricorder. She continued, “I need to meditate,
like I’ve done before. Maybe being this close, I’ll be able to break
through. Ready?”
Julian nodded. She closed her eyes, and he watched as the readings
slowly got lower. He sat in the most rearward seat, where he could see her,
and pulled his medikit near him. He wondered how long this would take.

It wasn’t easy. Oh, the meditation wasn’t difficult. She’d done it
often enough before. Bus as she let her mind go, and slowly felt her body go
completely numb, it was hard to release her body entirely. She’d never
gotten that deep before and it was somewhat frightening. Then she felt it,
a pull, and instinctively she resisted. It took a couple of tries before
she could resist the urge to pull herself back, to give the command to move a
finger slightly to reassure herself that it was still there. Then she was
gone. She had no body. She just was. She wondered if she was still
breathing, or if she had died right there.
But she didn’t have time to wonder very long. Suddenly, she was in the
middle of it. The minds, angry and shouting. Words. There were no words.
The images flashed at her. It was like being in the middle of a shouting
crowd, unable to distinguish what anyone was saying. Stop! she tought.
Then, more loudly, if loud were a proper term here at all, STOP! There was
silence. She got the sensation that they were all looking at her. They
hadn’t seen her come in.
*Who are you? Where did you come from?* Finally, a coherent thought.
The being was neither male nor female. Could have been an adult or child.
She wasn’t sure. *How did you get here?*
*I am called Galina. I came from outside you, to help you.*
*Outside? There is nothing outside.*
Another being, *Yes, there is. I told you.*
Then several voices, mingling just a little again, *There is no
intelligence outside* / *There are many intelligences outside. We cannot be
alone.* / *But why don’t they hear us?* / *We have been searching, calling,
but have never received an answer.* / *No one is there.*
*I am here.* Galina told them. *I came from far away. I heard you
many light years from here.*
*Impossible.* The first one again, she was sure of it. The skeptic.

*Is this why you are fighting? Why the two ceased to exist?* She
couldn’t believe it was such a small problem to cause so much anger. *The
argument is settled. I am here.*
*No,* the skeptic replied, *You are one of us who has been hiding. You
did not come from outside.*
*Do you see the small ship near us? The physical part of me is in
there.* She explained. Suddenly, the cloud shifted.
It turned toward the shuttle.

Julian kept looking from his patient, now barely breathing, to the
viewport. The cloud had changed recently. The little flashes of lightening
were were more rapid, piercing the cloud as the tiny bolts shot through it.
And now he saw it turn in space, and grow larger as it approached the
shuttle. A quick glance at Leena, and he rushed to the front, hoping to
steer away from the cloud, but by the time he got there whisps of it were
seeping through the viewport. He retreated to the back of the shuttle, his
heard pounding.
There was no escaping as the cloud passed through him, through Leena as
she lay there, and then out the back of the shuttle. He sighed in relief as
the last tendrils disappeared through the rear wall. In an instant, it was
back where it had been, floating in front of the shuttle. He checked the
readings on the tricorder, then felt for a pulse by hand. He almost had to
hold his breath to feel it. It was very slow, barely perceptible. Only
stasis could have slowed her systems down any further. But they had
stablized at about a tenth of normal values. He couldn’t help wondering what
was going on. In the silent stillness, he waited, and watched.

The cloud beings were curious. Intelligence, inside the metal box?
They had to see. They altered their course and circled through the box and
back to their old position. *There are two intelligences in the box.* One
voice admitted.
*It’s a trick.* The skeptic, of course. How to convince him? He
seemed to influence quite a few of the others.
*How could I trick you?* She asked. *You felt them, too.* She was
glad they’d done that, actually. It had scared the hell out of Julian, she
knew, but she’d sensed her old form, too. She knew she was still alive.
*How do I know the quiet one was you? You are like us, now.* She could
tell the others were waiting for him to be convinced. She had to convince
them all, or the fighting would probably resume. The skeptic was strong,
possibly a leader.
*I was like him a short while ago. You helped me join you, I think. Or
some of you did. It frightened me, but I wanted to help you.” She tried to
get some idea of how to approach them. What argument would be persuasive to
these beings? What common ground could she use? Then she got it, “The two
that ceased to exist, that should not have happened. How did they die?*
*You don’t know? If she was one of us, she would know.* Someone else
was trying to help her convince the skeptic.
*We have the ability to change our electrical charge. One of them
reversed its charge, causing the one nearest and itself to annihilate each
other. It was horrible.*
*Why did he/she do it?* She asked them, thinking of the one who had
changed, rather than using any particular pronoun.
*He/she was angry.* Came the answer.
*No,* someone contradicted the other, *more than that. He/she was
lonely. And desired something we could not give.*
*Desired what? What can you not give each other?*
*Something new. Nothing for us has been new for a long time. Until you
came.*
*A change?* That was it. Intelligence thrives on change and growth.
These beings have been isolated, unaffected for so long that change was no
longer perceived.
*Yes, a change.* Agreed one of them, *There is a change now. They are
gone.* The being referred to the two unfortunates. Galina felt a sadness
all around her. It was not a good change, and although the one may have
welcomed even this, the rest did not.
*It has never happened before. We would not think of it.* Others
joined in. The horror was still there. *We do not want it to happen again.
This change is not good. * A pause. Are you truly from outside?*
*Yes, I am. I am … different from the others. I have an illness that
is helping me to hear your voice. That is why no one has communicated with
you.* She felt the skeptic begin to accept, *I do not want to see that
happen again, either.*
*Why should you be so concerned about us? You know nothing about us.*
The skeptic had accepted her existence, but not her intelligence.
*My species believes all life is precious. When I heard you, I felt
sad. It is not right that beings should hurt each other.* She was beginning
to feel the tide turn. Anger dissipated. Concern, sadness over the loss,
and wonderment permeated the space around her.
*We are sorry you are ill.* One of the others piped in. *Will you
recover?*
Leena felt concern from this one, and it hurt her to say, *No. I will
not. I will cease to exist soon. But I had to make sure you were all right,
first.*
The skeptic had changed, too, *It is aware of its mortality?*
*Yes, we all are. That is why we treasure our lives, and those of all
around us.*
*And you put our welfare, before your own? It does not seem possible.*
It was just the skeptic and she now. The others were quiet.
*I had no choice.* She told it, *It is part of my being to help those
in distress, no matter how far away or how strange to me they seem.* She
felt a warmth around her now. The fighting had stopped.

Inside the shuttle, Julian was getting concerned. Her vital signs, low
as they had been, had dropped again. Not very much, and they had stablized
again, but how much more could her body take? If she didn’t come back soon,
there would be nothing to come back to. And outside, the cloud had quieted.
The little flashes of lightening had stopped. It just floated now. He
checked the chronometer, and was surprised to see that she’d been in there
nearly five hours. The Devereaux’s would be active again, but he was afraid
to administer anything to her body in this state. He kept the hypo ready.
And waited.

*You have made a sacrifice that means much to us.* The skeptic told
her. *How can we repay you?*
Galina did not feel she had made the sacrifice. She had just done what
she had to. *Just don’t fight anymore. There is intelligent life outside,
even though you probably won’t be able to talk to anyone. Someday, perhaps
their technology will provide a means to do so, but right now, after I leave
you, you will be in silence once again.* She almost hated to leave them.
*You are welcome to stay with us. We would like to learn more about
the outside.*
*Thank you, but I cannot stay. I do not belong here. Can you feel
it?* She was feeling the pull back, just as earlier mediations had ended
themselves; her body and mind coming out of it spontaneously after about 30
minutes. She wondered how long this had taken. It seemed only moments.
After a silence in which they tuned in to her sensations, the skeptic
replied, *Yes.* He seemed even more urgent than she felt, as if he could
read more into it, *You must return. We will not forget you. What did you
say you are called?*
*I am a human called Leena.*
*Human called Leena, we are the B’Par Miru. You are in our legends.*

Galina’s signs began going up, and Julian, who’d almost fallen asleep
himself, jumped up and went to the bedside with his medical tricorder in
hand. Yes, slowly, but steadily, she was returning to normal. Then,
suddenly, she cried out and her body arched. Hurriedly, he retrieved the
hypo and injected her with the new painkiller. Her body fell back to the
bed, and she opened her eyes. “I did it.” She gasped, utterly exhausted
once again. “Oh, Julian. It was amazing.”
Julian smiled at her. “I want to hear all about it. But you need to
rest.” Somehow, after watching her pretty much sleeping for the last almost
six hours, that seemed like a stupid request. Yet Julian knew that her body
was still fighting the disease, and could see that she herself looked tired.

Galina bit her bottom lip. The pain hadn’t entirely gone away, but it
was manageable. She wasn’t sure which painkiller Julian had given her, but
it didn’t really matter. She knew it wasn’t going to get any easier.
“I want you to do it, Julian. Now.” The pain coming back had been
unbelievable. She hadn’t been prepared for it. It was progressing much too
rapidly. Maybe, without her conscious fight, it had begun to take over.
Whatever the reason was, she felt it was time. If she could have gotten up,
she would have retreived her medikit and done it herself. “The mission is
over.”
Julian, “You just need to rest. Let’s not be hasty. Besides, you know
protocol. You have to report to Commander Sisko. The mission isn’t over
until he’s been debriefed.”
“I don’t have the energy to argue semantics, Julian.” She didn’t want
to run the risk of feeling that pain again, but she was so tired. She
thought he must have slipped her a sedative in that hypo, for she found
herself getting drowsy.
“Rest, Leena.” He told her semi-conscious form. “I’ll get us back to
DS9.”
She fought the sleepiness, “How long before we get there?” But she
didn’t even hear the answer.

She wasn’t aware of the shuttle docking back at DS9. She wasn’t aware
of the ride on the anti-grav sled that took her to the infirmary. And she
wasn’t aware of being moved from the sled to the biobed. She’d fallen asleep
on the shuttle, and woke up in the infirmary. That was all she knew. But
she did feel rested, when she finally woke. And the pain was there. The
pain that would be her constant companion for the rest of her life. She sat
up in bed and looked at her readings. She wanted to know what Julian had
given her, but didn’t dare ask the computer aloud. She slid quietly off the
bed and went to the computer terminal. After pushing a few buttons, she got
a list of meds. He had slipped her a sedative. And upped the painkiller.
She closed her eyes when a dizzy spell came briefly, and steadied herself on
the panel. She gritted her teeth against the pain in her joints, radiating
everywhere it seemed. Briefing or no briefing, she thought, I need to do it
while I still can. Julian wasn’t around, but she still doubted his ability
to follow through on this. Looking all around the infirmary, she tried to
guess where the drug storage was. There. That cabinet. Slowly, she pulled
herself hand over hand to the cabinet and chose a hypo. She read the labels
on the bottles, searching for the cordrazine, or maybe something stronger?
Before she could find it, Julian came in, “What are you doing?”
“You know what I’m doing, Julian.” She turned, using all her effort to
stand unassisted, then went back to the biobed empty handed. “All right.
Call Sisko down here and let’s get this over with.” She didn’t know how long
she’d been asleep, and it was tortuous waiting for the next wave of pain to
wash over her.
“Bashir to Sisko. She’s awake.” Julian said into the air.
“On my way.”
“I wish I could say I’d found something to help you,” He said. “But
you were right. I just don’t like being unable to do anything.”
“I understand. I feel helpless, too. That’s one of the reasons I want
to do this. At least *I’m* doing it.” She explained. “I’m in control. At
least, after I report to Sisko. You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”
“That you want me to help you die? No.” He wanted to. He wanted to
ask everyone to help him stop her, but he couldn’t do that. And in
principle, he supposed he agreed with her. But in practice, it just went
against everything he’d always been told medicine was about. And he
remembered his promise. How could he have ever agreed to such a thing?
“I’m sure they all assume that you’re going to hang in there, like all the
others tried to do. But Sisko, Kira and Dax know you’re in stage two.”
She ignored the ‘hang in there’ reference. Hang in for what? He made
it sound like she was taking the easy way out. If it was the easy way out,
why was it so hard to do? She’d put a lot of thought into it, and was
already comfortable with the idea, but she knew Julian was having a very hard
time reconciling this with what he’d been taught, with how he’d lived the
rest of his life. “I really want to thank you, Julian.” She put a hand on
his as he stood by the bed, “You’ve been … very helpful through all this.
I’m glad I ended up here, got to see you again. I needed someone to … I
don’t know. I just needed someone.” She hoped he’d understand, because she
didn’t know the words for what she wanted to say. Or, she knew the words,
but couldn’t say them.
It felt odd. Here she was. It was almost over. What had she done
with her life? No husband, no children. Sure, she saved hundreds of lives
in the passed few years, and she felt good about that. But she had nothing
to leave behind. No mark to leave. Then she remembered what the B’Par Miru
had said. She was in their legends. It might not seem like much to some.
But it meant a lot to her now. It wasn’t that she felt she would be
forgotten, exactly. She knew the colonists would remember her, especially
Verta, and Chris, whom she’d confided in about everything but this. She
remembered the colonists, the children she’d delivered. Their lives would go
on. Julian and all the people she’d met here. Their lives would go on.
She took a deep breath. No, it wasn’t easy. But she would do this. It was
time.
In a few minutes, Sisko strode through the door, looking serious. “You
have a report for me, Ms. Radolfo?”
She didn’t bother to correct him, tell him to call her Leena. “Yes. My
mission is accomplished.”
“I’m glad to hear your mission was a success. What exactly was the
problem?” He obviously had many questions. Of course, she’d been able to
tell him so little before. But could she explain what happened well enough
for him to really understand?
“They’re called the B’Par Miru.” She told him. She pushed herself up
to a sitting position, and when Julian objected she brushed him away, “It’s
all right, Julian.” Then she turned back to Sisko. “They were energy
beings, Commander. And for awhile, so was I. I communicated with them in
their own environment.”
“How did you accomplish this?” Sisko wondered.
“I’m not even sure. It has to be connected to the Devereaux’s. I
achieved an extremely deep meditative state, and had an out-of-body
experience.” She paused, realizing how ridiculous she sounded. But that’s
essentially what it was. She heard herself say it, and still didn’t believe
it. How could it be so matter-of-fact? But that was the best way to explain
it.
“I see. That must have been very strange for you. Can you describe
it?”
She thought for a minute. Describe it? “It was … liberating. I had
no body. But it was also frightening.” A wry smile crossed her lips, “It
was a nice place to visit, but …”
“Yes,” Sisko agreed, understanding the reference, “I suppose it was.
What about the war? How do energy beings go to war?”
“Their community was arguing over the existence of outside intelligent
life, because they’d never been able to communicate with any other life form.
They’d send electric charges through each other. It would temporarily
scramble the thought processes of whoever it hit. But after one recovered,
they’d retaliate. It was disrupting the group mind as well. There were
individuals, but together, there was also a group mind. It was the group
mind that was in danger, I believe. They were losing their cohesion.”
Explaining it was even helping her understand better, “For most of them, I
ended the argument just by showing up.”
“How many were there?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Several hundred, I believe.”
“What about the two that killed each other?”
“They …. cancelled each other out. One changed its electrical
charge, annihilating both itself and the one nearest it.”
“I find this fascinating, Ms. Radolfo. You should write a paper on
it.” Sisko was impressed. This whole experience had nuances he couldn’t
begin to guess at. A group mind created by individual energy beings who were
not aware of other intelligent life. Now that they knew, what would they do?
Who would break the communication barrier first? And, if they were in the
Gamma Quadrant, it was very possible that they would contact the Founders or
the Jem H’adar first. That could be a problem.
“I’m afraid I don’t have the luxury of time for that, Commander.
Didn’t Julian tell you?”
“Yes, he did. I’m sorry, …. Leena. Are you in pain?
“Not at the moment. Thank you for asking.” Not real pain, anyway.
Pain shadows drifted through her, waiting for the blinding white light of the
next wave.
“One more question, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course, what is it?” She felt very patient with Sisko. His voice
was soothing.
“Why did you come back?”
Now that was the last question she would have expected. “Pardon me?”
He repeated the question. “You could have remained there, I’m sure.
Your physical body would have died on the shuttle, but your spirit, or
whatever you choose to call it, could have stayed with them. Didn’t that
thought occur to you?”
“It occurred to them. They offered to take me in.” She admitted.
“So why did you come back?”
“I felt a … pull to come back. I didn’t think I should ignore it.
There must be something tying us to our physical bodies, until death releases
us.” She tilted her head. She hadn’t considered that possibility until just
now, as she said it. “They said I had to return, too. Maybe they know, or
could sense, this socalled tie. I guess I’ll find out if I’m right soon
enough.”
He leaned in close to Leena, and said quietly, “It might have been
worth taking a chance. Do you want to try going back?”
Julian couldn’t hear this part of the conversation. She had seen him
politely withdraw when Sisko leaned in. She thought about it. They had been
very nice, but she didn’t think she wanted to spend an indefinite period of
time there. She wouldn’t fit in there any more than a cave man would here.
Even if it were possible, and as much as the unknown of death frightened her,
“No.” She whispered. “Besides, I had to report back to you. This must go
on record.”
Sisko leaned back again. “I’m honored to have met you, Ms. Radolfo.
Leena.” He held out his hand, just as he had a week earlier when she’d first
arrived.
This time she took it firmly. “Thank you. Now if you’ll excuse us.
I have something to discuss with Julian.”
“Of course.” Sisko left.
“Julian.” Galina was already beginning to feel another wave and
gritted her teeth. It had really begun while she spoke to Sisko, but she’d
done well, she thought. It was like orbiting passed a terminator to the
bright side of a planet, but instead of light there was pain, getting
stronger and stronger, with no filter to make it bearable. Julian looked at
the readings on the biobed and knew.
Wordlessly, Julian went to the cabinet and got the hypo. He filled it
and brought it to her. She looked at it, and anger clouded her features.
She threw the hypo at Julian, “No more painkillers!” She almost doubled over
as pain radiated through her. “Do it, now! Please!” He didn’t even
remember deciding to try the painkiller. Habit, or disbelieve in what he was
about to do.
Julian couldn’t speak. For him, everything went into slow motion. He
went back to the cabinet and got a new hypo. “And don’t try that sedative
trick again, either. There’s no point in it. You going to sedate me for
three weeks?” He didn’t turn to look at her, as he prepared another hypo.
He seemed to be in a dream. “I’m a doctor, too. I know how to read the
hypo.” Her voice came in gasps.
Galina’s fist pounded the side of the bed. “Oh, God! Hurry, please!”
He came to her. “Are you sure you want this?”
She knew he had to ask, or she would have exploded at him again. She
looked him in the eyes. A solid, unbroken gaze. “Yes.” Then, to relieve
the tension of the moment, ” Is it on record now? Hey, recorder, he’s not
killing me. I want him to do this. Is that better?”
Julian put the hypo next to her arm. She looked at it, and swallowed.
It was cordrazine. 4 cc’s. But he couldn’t push it. She reached her other
arm across her body, looked him in the eyes with understanding, and pushed it
herself.
The hypo fell to the floor. Julian looked at her. No more pain.

Sisko sat in Odo’s security office, looking at the shapeshifter across
the desk. He’d also brought Kira with him. Sisko had heard that Quark was
still in holding, and needed help in getting through to Odo, who was enjoying
all this much too thoroughly. “Aren’t you going to let him out?”
“Of course.” Odo told him.
“When?” Sisko could order him to release Quark, of course. But he did
not want Quark to know that he’d had anything to do with this. The ruse was
supposed to have come to a satisfactory solution by now. Gant had been
contacted, all was well. Everything should be back to normal. Besides, Rom
was still running the bar and there’d been complaints. Orders mixed up,
drinks made incorrectly. Rom blamed the replicator whenever he could, but
O’Brien had checked it out twice since this started. And there’d been more
holosuite incidents as well. New programs loaded under misleading names.
Sisko knew what the holosuites were for, and there had been complaints that
the program called Position69 was actually an Andorian ballet.
“Oh,” Odo mused, “I might let him out in time to see Tor Nemis’
comet.”
“Constable,” Kira butted in, “Tor Nemis isn’t due for another 150
years.”
“Exactly.” He smiled.
They all had a good laugh before Sisko got serious. “Constable. Let
him out.”
Odo looked disappointed. “Yes, Sir.”
They all went out to the cell. Quark jumped up and approached the force
field on seeing his important visitors. “Did they get him, Odo? Have they
found Gant? Commander? Kira?”
Sisko looked at Odo, waiting. Odo shut off the force field. “Yes,
Quark. It’s safe to come out now. Gant got his money and he’s not pressing
charges.”
Quark exited the cell quickly. “Thank you! Thank you! Odo,” He
kissed Odo’s hand, “Commander,” He kissed Sisko’s hand, “You won’t regret
this.” He came to Kira, who watched him warily with arms crossed.
She stopped him before he could say anything, “Don’t say it. Don’t
kiss me. And I already do.”
Instead, he thanked her with his eyes, then exited the security office.
Free at last.

EPILOGUE

Quark went immediately to his bar, where he found Rom serving drinks.
“Rom, I’m back. Get out of there.” He chased his brother out, and grabbed a
bar rag. Wiping glasses, he smiled. It was good to be home.
Rom looked stunned. “What about Gant? He’s due to come back any
minute!”
“Gant is not pressing charges. He’s gone. Odo and Sisko told me.” He
waved Rom off to do his regular chores, and approached a customer that had
propped himself up on a barstool, “What can I get you?”
Rom grumbled, though he had known this day would come. So Odo and
Sisko had told him everything. He looked at Quark, wanting to ask, to verify
that the truth was known, but Quark shooed him back to work. Of course he
knows, Rom thought. But why wasn’t Quark angry? Quark was just happy to be
back behind his bar. He probably was quite angry at Sisko and Odo, but also
knew that there wasn’t much he could do about it. Ah, well. Rom shrugged
and began collecting dirty glasses from abandoned tables. Life goes on.

“My report, Sir.” Bashir handed the datapad to Sisko, who skimmed it.
It contained no mention of the cordrazine. She appeared to have succombed
very quickly, probably due to her extreme exhertion and poor physical
condition, his report speculated.
Sisko looked up from the report, “Are you all right, Doctor?”
“I will be.” He left the office and found Dax waiting for him at the
top of the stairs. She faced him directly, so he could not be fully seen
from anyone else in Ops. “I hadn’t realized that the Hypocratic Oath would
be so difficult to follow. You’d think relieving pain would be an easy thing
to do.” He muttered, more to himself really, than to Dax.
“Not when it means saying good-bye.” Dax said. She kept her voice
low, and put a hand on Bashir’s shoulder. “It’s taken mankind hundreds of
years to realize that sometimes it’s better to end life than to prolong it.
This was one of those times, but recognizing it doesn’t make it any easier.
Maybe this will.” She turned her body to further block what was happening
between them from view, “Leena asked me to give you something, after it was
over.”
She leaned in, and gave him a solid kiss on the lips.

THE END

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.