NOBODY’S CHILD: The Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter Five

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER FIVE – Celebrations at DS9

Patricia steps through the airlock of Deep Space Nine and looks about the Promenade. The place is bustling with activity in preparation for celebrating the anniversary of the Defeat of the Dominion. She is surprised to see Bajorans and Cardassians working side-by-side on various details and logistics. She continues walking down the Promenade, making note of what is located where…the Replimat, various shops and stalls selling JumJa sticks, jewelry and clothing. Suddenly, she hears someone shouting: “DABO!” With curiosity getting the better of her, she follows the sound. Eventually, she finds herself standing in front of Quark’s Bar and Ferengi Embassy. While she was posted on Ferenginar, attending to Zek’s illness, she had heard a lot about various Ferengis…some good, like Grand Nagus Rom, his mother, Ishka and his son, Nog, who is now a Star Fleet officer and a war veteran, earning Star Fleet’s Purple Heart. Other things she heard were not so good, like his cousin, Gaila who was involved with selling arms to both sides of various wars and Liquidator Brunt, formerly of the Ferengi Commerce Authority. As for Rom’s brother, Quark, he was his own unique shade of gray. While she is standing there, thinking to herself, she smells food and her stomach growls. She realizes it’s been too long since she’s eaten. She strolls into Quark’s and notices a bald alien sitting at the bar, nursing his drink. She looks around for an empty table so she can keep her duffel bag with her for the time being. Seeing none, she stands near the bar, waiting for an available seat. An officious-looking Ferengi sidles up to her.

“Do you have a reservation?”, he asks. She quirks an eyebrow at him. “Since when did Quark’s start requiring reservations?” The Ferengi strokes one of his ears while leering at her. “Since my establishment became the official embassy!” Patricia nods, “Then you must be the INFAMOUS Quark!” Quark takes umbrage at this. “Rumors! Exaggerations! Lies!” Patricia grins at him. “And I haven’t even stated what you’ve been accused of yet!” Quark gestures, “Rule of Acquisition 190 – Hear all, trust nothing! Anything you hear about me, you should not trust!” She shakes her head in bemusement. “That CAN backfire on you, you know! Especially, if I hear all that you say and trust none of it, or, your brother, the Grand Nagus, praises you and your business skills!” Quark pauses. “Good point! By the way, I didn’t catch your name!” Patricia crosses her arms. “Funny. That’s because I haven’t tossed it to you yet! Do you always greet your customers this way?” Quark leers at her. “Only the loveliest!” She throws her head back and give a belly laugh! “I haven’t had anyone flirt with me for the longest time! I didn’t think anyone would look past my age!” Quark continues to rub one of his ears. “Well, Rule of Acquisition 4 says: “A woman wearing clothes is like a man in the kitchen! How about I check you out?” She chuckles. “One good look at me and you would be BEGGING me to put my clothes back on! Besides, I’ve known some men who are GREAT cooks!” Quark gives her a quizzical look. “Name one!” She grins at him. “Captain Benjamin Sisko for one!”

Quark dials back his flirting. “You must be Star Fleet!” Patricia nods in confirmation. “Yup! I’m here on leave and came to enjoy the party! Aren’t you glad that you’re not under the thumb of the Dominion?” The Ferengi thinks about this for a few seconds. “Well, Rule of Acquisition 35 says that ‘War is good for business.” She looks around the room and indicates the crowd. “Judging from the activity here, Rule of Acquisition 34 is at play here … ‘Peace is good for business! Besides, look what almost happened to your Cousin Gaila. He could have suffered the same fate as his associate, Hagath!” Quark studies her more closely. “Are you sure you’re not a Trill with the Dax symbiot?” Patricia shakes her head. “Sorry, Quark. I’m just a mere Hoo-mahn female. Name’s McCoy, by the way.” Quark tilts his head. “Isn’t there a saying about the ‘Real McCoy’ among you Hoo-mahns?” Patricia quietly glares at him. Quark quickly gestures. “Forget I said that!” He laughs uneasily. She crosses her arms again as she gives him a stern look. “That last question is forgotten. Just don’t repeat it within my hearing as I have big ears of my own! Now, as for the original reason I came in here. I’m hungry! Can I get service here or do I take my business to the nearest replimat? As your 274th Rule of Acquisition states: ‘No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach’ and my empty stomach is bringing me closer to that door out of here if I can’t get any service!” She glares at Quark again.

Quark hesitates. “I was going to complete the quote of the 274th Rule but I get your point!” He points to the bald alien. “Morn! You’ve had enough! Go home!” Morn gives Quark a puzzled look, shrugs his shoulders, gets up and leaves. Quark ushers Patricia over to the seat that Morn has just vacated. She indicates with her thumb over her shoulder. “You don’t mind losing HIS business?” Quark waves a hand dismissively. “Morn? He practically LIVES here! He’ll be back as sure as I have my lobes! Now, what would you like to eat?” She thinks it over. “Can you program your food replicator for Pan-seared Salmon Filet, covered in mushroom/truffle sauce over spinach greens and Irish Colcannon potatoes?” Quark rubs his ear and grins. “For you, pretty lady, anything!” He heads over to the food replicator while Patricia shakes her head and chuckles. She mutters to herself, “I’m sure you say that to ALL the ladies who come through here!”

She digs through her duffel bag, pulls out a PADD, and begins scrolling through it. Quark returns with her meal. “I was so captured by your beauty that I forgot to ask … what you would like to drink, my dear? Some Synthehol, perhaps? Or maybe a Sumerian Sunset?” She looks over the top of her PADD. “I’ll have to look up which Rule of Acquisition refers to flattering women. For now, I’ll have the favorite beverage of the Federation … Root Beer!” Quark tries, unsuccessfully, not to make a face. “Coming right up!” Patricia ducks behind her PADD to hide her snickering. Quark returns with a glass Root Beer and sets it down beside her plate. She is working on her PADD while she is eating.

Quark observes her for a few moments then gestures toward her PADD. “Isn’t working while eating bad for your digestion?” Patricia glances up. “Yes. Unfortunately, in my line of work, sometimes it can be the only way I can get a bite to eat! It’s a hard habit to break while I’m on leave.” The Ferengi gives her a curious look. “And your line of work is …?” She glances up from her PADD, albeit briefly, before responding. “I’m a doctor.” Quark starts to ask another question but Patricia interrupts him. “And I’m not here to talk shop or give impromptu diagnoses. Now, I need to know … is there a program guide, somewhere, of what various activities are part of the festivities? My preliminary research indicates that there will be replicas of ancient Bajoran solar sailing ships flying between here and Cardassia and to other points in between, runabouts also providing transportation to various points of interest, performances by various space craft plus theatrical groups, and a variety of vendors hither and yon.” Quark grins in anticipation. “For two strips of gold-pressed latinum I can provide that.” Patricia scowls at him. “Or I can go to Ops, ask Captain Sisko, and obtain this information for free!” She puts down her PADD and huffs. “Quark, you ought to know Star Fleet better than THAT by now!” Quark holds up his hands in surrender. “The 61st Rule says: ‘I tried to cheat you and I lost, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up the game!’ Truce? Do we have a deal?” Patricia picks up then lowers the PADD as she considers this. “To which my answer is … the 29th Rule of Acquisition … ‘What’s in it for me?!’ I KNOW how Ferengi usually deal with FE-MALES!” Lowering his head in defeat, Quark grumbles as he walks away. “I need to remember the 94th Rule of Acquisition, ‘Females and finances don’t mix’, or I’ll be as bad as Rom!” Patricia snickers and shakes her head as she resumes eating and studying her PADD.

After she finishes her meal, Patricia packs up her PADD in her duffel bag, heads out of Quark’s and starts walking about the Promenade. She notices that the Infirmary is nearby and walks over there. As she walks in, various medical staff are bustling about, checking and double-checking their medical supplies in case anything should happen. One staff member notices her and approaches. “Do you have a medical emergency?”, the staff member inquires. Patricia responds with a shake of her head. “No. I’m a doctor. I’m visiting DS9 while I’m on leave. Is Dr. Bashir available?” She hears a voice call out. “Over here!” Patricia turns and walks in the direction of the voice. Spotting Dr. Bashir among numerous medical supplies, Patricia shifts her duffel bag and holds out her hand. “Good day, sir! I thought I would pay a courtesy call while I was in the neighborhood!” Dr. Bashir accepts her handshake. “And you are…?” Patricia adjusts her duffel bag again. “I’m Dr. Pat McCoy. You’re Dr. Bashir, I presume?” Dr. Bashir nods. “The one and the same. Are you related to…?” Patricia completes his sentence for him. “Dr. Leonard McCoy? Yes! He’s my great-grandfather.” She glances around the Infirmary. “Looks like you’re up to your eyeballs in preparing for any possible contingency during this celebration!”

Dr. Bashir follows her gaze. “Yes! Given the number of visitors from various planets on both sides of the wormhole, we have to plan for every possible accident, disease, injury, food-borne illness, alien metabolism, blood type, you name it!” She whistles in response. “I hope this celebration goes off without a hitch! From what I read about the Bicentennial Celebration of the War of 1812 in Baltimore, Maryland, during the 21st Century, it appears the only wrinkles they had were too many people drinking and not enough port-a-potties to go around!” Bashir gives her a quizzical look and she explains, “Port-a-potties were the ancient form of waste extraction during the 20th and 21st Centuries, by the way. My namesake ancestor wrote quite a description about her experiences at that city-wide party! She was stone-cold sober and observed everything!” Dr. Bashir looks curious. “What made you think of Baltimore, Maryland in particular?”

She responds, “Like Deep Space Nine, there were more ships arriving than docks available for them … plus their version of runabouts and shuttlecraft albeit on the water … sailors who got so drunk they were ‘legless’, so to speak, and VERY tight security. Besides, there’s also my ancestral history there. I couldn’t help but wonder if history would repeat itself here.” Bashir looks thoughtful. “Did your ancestor write about any violent incidents that might have occurred during their Bicentennial?” She thinks for a few moments. “If I remember correctly, there was only one close call of one person becoming drunk and disorderly. The security force clamped down on him fast before the situation got out of control. It was over before it started.” Bashir smiles. “I can only hope that we will fare as well without too many bumps and bruises!” Patricia nods in agreement. “Especially when the Klingons arrive with their kegs of Blood Wine and get rowdy! I’ve been around their parties a time or two and stayed sober. Good thing I did as I had to deal with the aftermath of their good natured brawls. Good practice for combat medicine skills! Patch them up, straighten out a few broken noses, then send them back into their sandbox to play some more!” Bashir chuckles. “I have to concede that the Klingons do know how to throw a party!” Patricia chuckles with him. “And keep us in business! Well, I better get out of your way and stop by Ops to let the Captain know I’m here. Even though I’m on leave, it would be polite to let him know I’m aboard.” Dr. Bashir shakes her hand again, she heads out of the Infirmary and over to the nearest turbolift.

As she enters the turbolift, she gives a command. “Ops!” The turbolift comes to a halt upon its arrival in Ops and Patricia steps out onto the deck. Several personnel look up from their work, noting her arrival, then return to their tasks. She walks toward the Captain’s office as the office doors slide open, revealing Captain Benjamin Sisko as he heads toward the stairs and descends. They meet at the bottom of the stairs and shake hands. Patricia grins. “It’s so good to see you again, Ben! I was just praising your cooking over at Quark’s.” Sisko chuckles. “I’m sure he appreciated that! What brings you to the neighborhood?” She readjusts her duffel bag on her shoulder. “I’m on leave and thought I’d join the celebration of the anniversary of defeating the Dominion. It’s really busy all over the station with the vendors, etc. I hope everything works out fine!” Sisko nods. “Compared to what we experienced during the War with the Dominion, I think this celebration will be a ‘piece of cake’!” Patricia winces at that. “Sorry to sound superstitious … I’m afraid that statement just jinxed us!”

Sisko gives her an odd look and she continues. “I’m looking at it from the perspective when the Klingons arrive to a ‘BYOB’ type of party with their countless kegs of Blood Wine! We both know how rowdy their parties can be!” Sisko nods again. “How well I know! That time I was disguised as Jud’mos, son of Kobar, attending their Order of the Bath’leth ceremony on Ty’Gokor, and then attending the wedding of Dax and Worf, here on DS9 were experiences never to be forgotten! To describe their parties as rowdy is a mild understatement! It’s difficult to describe to others who have never been there!” Patricia exclaims. “True that! I’m just hoping that there won’t be too much damage to sentient beings and/or property!” Sisko pauses. “Before we discuss the celebrations any further, Pat, I need to ask you … where are you staying? I presume that you have just arrived on the station not too long ago.” Patricia looks a little uncomfortable. “I was about to ask you where I could stay. I’m afraid everything is all booked up, both planet-side on Bajor, and elsewhere.” Sisko indicates his office. “Come on up. I’ll ask Kassidy if we could put you up in Jake’s old room. We could have the baby in our room.” They head up the stairs. “That reminds me, Ben. How is your daughter?”, Patricia asks. Sisko grins proudly. “Growing by leaps and bounds! Rebecca amazes me every day!”

Patricia shakes her head ruefully. “I’m terrible! I should have remembered her name!” Sisko waves off the comment. “Don’t worry about it! You haven’t had the opportunity to meet Rebecca Jae until now. I’ll be getting off duty soon so you can relax. Let me talk to Kass. Make yourself comfortable.” Patricia sits on a nearby sofa, setting her duffel bag beside her, while Captain Sisko calls his wife. She stretches. “I had no idea how much travel catches up with you until you have a chance to sit and relax!” Sisko, waiting for Kassidy to answer his call, chuckles. “Tell me about it!” The image of Kassidy appears onscreen and she grins at her husband. “Hello, Darling!” Sisko grins back. “Hi, Sweetheart! I need to ask a favor.” Kassidy quirks an eyebrow. “What is it?” Sisko glances in Patricia’s direction. “Dr. Pat McCoy has just arrived on the station and is looking for a place to stay during the Celebration. Everything else is already booked solid. Can she stay in Jake’s old room while we have Rebecca in our room?” Patricia calls out to Kassidy from the sofa. “I’m willing to earn my keep being the family doctor on-call and on-site!” Kassidy laughs. “Dr. Pat! It’s good to see you again! Of course, you can stay with us!” Patricia grins. “Fantastic! It’s been too long since I’ve seen y’all! I’m looking forward to meeting little Rebecca for the first time!” Sisko signs off from his wife and prepares to go off duty. Patricia slowly gets to her feet and picks up her duffel bag. They walk out of his office and down the steps into the Ops area, heading toward the turbolift. One of the staff looks up from her station. “Sir, sensor readings indicate a fleet of Klingon ships are approaching. Shall I hail them?” Sisko nods. “Go ahead!” The crewman hails the lead Klingon ship, the Rotarran, and the view-screen activates showing Chancellor Martok with Ambassador Worf standing beside him. Both Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat McCoy grin at the sight of them.

Sisko greets the arriving visitors. “Chancellor Martok! Worf! Q’Pla! It is good to see you both again!” Martok nods toward his view-screen. “Q’Pla, Captain Sisko! It is good to see you again as well, my friend! I see that Dr. Pat McCoy is there with you! How are you feeling, my adopted daughter? Are you well?” Patricia gives him the Klingon salute. “Q’Pla, my adopted father! I’m doing better! It is good to see both you and Worf!” Worf glowers at her. “Are you staying out of trouble, Dr. Pat?” Patricia chuckles. “You know me and my family, Worf! Wherever a McCoy goes, something usually happens!” Martok chuckles at that then turns his attention back to Captain Sisko. “We have brought several crates and kegs of Blood Wine for the party! Will that be enough?” Sisko looks thoughtful. “Sounds like it! What do you think, Pat?” Patricia rubs her chin. “Well, since I’ll be sticking to the other beverages of either Root Beer or Prune Juice, there should be enough Blood Wine to last throughout the week!” Martok gestures in her direction. “We understand why you cannot have the Blood Wine, Dr. Pat, and we respect that! As Worf has often told me, Prune Juice is a Warrior’s Drink as well so there is no shame in that! We’ve brought several bottles of Prune Juice in case we crossed paths with you!” Patricia salutes Martok again as she grins. “Thank you! I appreciate that!” Worf turns toward Captain Sisko. “Permission to dock at the station!” The Captain responds, “Permission granted! My staff will assign you your docking port.” He looks to one of his staff, who responds, “Docking Port 7 is available, sir, on the upper pylon.” Sisko nods. “Very good, Ensign.” He turns back to the view-screen. “I’ll be at the airlock shortly. Sisko out!” Worf and Martok acknowledge and the view-screen shuts off.

Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat McCoy enter the turbolift and he directs the turbolift to the habitat ring. He turns toward Patricia with curiosity. “You’ve been to Klingon parties but you can’t drink Blood Wine? How did you manage to avoid hostilities?” She responds, “Martok and I have a bit of a history. We first crossed paths during my initial assignment after I graduated from the Academy. I had an unfortunate encounter with a bully. During our scuffle, I broke his nose with a cast iron skillet and the bully was about to kill me. Martok happened to see that, commanded him to stop, then he knocked that bully on his butt! He dressed him down for acting dishonorably toward me and I haven’t seen that particular Klingon since. However, Martok was impressed that I wasn’t intimidated by a Klingon bigger and stronger than me. He offered me a drink from his jug of Blood Wine and I explained that, as a recovering alcoholic, I could not partake and maintain the safety of his crew, including him. He had difficulty, at first, understanding what it means to be an alcoholic until I shared my experience, strength, and hope with him. Once he understood that I cannot safely drink as my system is allergic to alcohol, and the potential consequences to future missions, his respect deepened. As it turned out, the Klingons had also brought along a supply of Prune Juice so we saluted each other with that! I didn’t find out, until much later that my commanding officer, Doctor Bob Smith, had requested that the Klingons bring along that supply of Warriors’ Juice!” Sisko chuckles. “That particular Klingon must have been surprised when you hit him!” Patricia nods. “I’m sure he was!” The Captain continues. “If anything, you earned respect by hitting him. That should make him pause the next time he attempts to bully anyone half his size!” Patricia chuckles. “He learned the hard way that big surprises can come in small packages!” Captain Sisko and Patricia arrive at the doorway to his quarters. He indicates his door. “Here we are! Home sweet home!”

The door slides open, Sisko and Patricia step through, and a toddler comes running as soon as she hears the door. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” She stops short as soon as she sees a stranger, Dr. Pat McCoy. The toddler looks up at her father, thumb in mouth, not certain what to do. Sisko grins, walks over to her and scoops her up, giving her a kiss. Patricia smiles at the child. “This must be Rebecca.” She waves at her shyly. “Hi there.” Rebecca buries her face in her Daddy’s neck and peeks out shyly, thumb still in her mouth, then smiles at Patricia. Patricia sits down, then sets her duffel bag on the floor. Sisko lowers Rebecca to the floor and watches what his daughter does in reaction to this new person. The toddler clings to her father’s pant leg but watches this new stranger with curiosity as Patricia rummages through her duffel bag. Finally, unable to contain herself, Rebecca toddles over to the duffel bag and peeks in. Sisko smiles broadly as he watches this silent exchange.

Patricia finds what she is looking for. “Ah! There she is!” She pulls out a teddy bear and holds it up for Rebecca’s inspection. “What do you think?” Rebecca grabs the teddy bear and hugs it tightly and Patricia grins. Before she could blink, Rebecca climbs into her lap and hugs her! “You’re welcome, Rebecca! I’m glad you like Theodora! You can give her another name if you’d like.” Sisko laughs gently. “I don’t think she can pronounce Theodora.” He turns to Rebecca. “What’s the name of your new friend?” Rebecca points to Patricia. “Bear!” Patricia laughs at this. “Now that’s a new nickname! I’ll have to add that to ‘Bones’!” Sisko laughs as he picks up his daughter. “I’m afraid that’s another nickname that is going to stick!” Patricia grins at the Captain. “Coming from Rebecca, I don’t mind at all!” Kassidy Yates-Sisko enters the room and Patricia gets up. They meet and hug each other. Kassidy steps back to look at her. “It’s good to see you again, Pat! We’ve missed you!” Patricia smiles back. “Yes! It’s been so long! The last time we saw each other, you were pregnant with Rebecca! I can’t get over how much she’s grown!” Kassidy beams as she gazes at her child. “Oh yes! It seems like only yesterday she was a newborn! Now she’s toddling around and it’s all I can do to keep up with her! If I blink, she’s into something!”

Patricia chuckles, “Very normal for her age! She’s insatiably curious about her environment, just mobile enough to explore and learn, just like us Star Fleet folks, but not quite old enough to understand and appreciate the danger that can lurk nearby! She’s still a baby and a highly mobile baby at that! Keeps us all on our toes!” Sisko grins at his little girl. “Sounds like Rebecca is in training to follow in her parents’ footsteps!” “Speaking of which”, Patricia responds, “Do you think Martok and Worf have docked by now?” Sisko nods as he hands Rebecca to her mother. “They probably are!” He gives a quick kiss to his wife and daughter. “Dr. Pat and I will be back shortly!”

Captain Sisko and Patricia leave his quarters and head to the docking ring. They arrive at the airlock just as it opens. Martok and Worf step out, both are wearing Klingon battle armor and Martok is wearing his Chancellor’s cloak atop his armor. Patricia looks them both over. “Are you coming for a party or to do battle?” Martok chuckles. “Both! You have been to our celebrations! You know what they are like!” Patricia chuckles and shakes her head. “Only too well! I’ve lost count as to how many times I had to patch y’all up before we went out on our next training mission! Just take it easy on the civilians here. They’re not used to THAT kind of partying!” Sisko laughs. “I’m sure Worf will take care of that!” Worf looks at Sisko, then at Patricia, and growls. Patricia walks over to him and gives him a big hug! “Love you too, Worf!” Martok chuckles. “McCoy, you have not changed a bit!” Patricia grins at him. “The older I get, the more mischief I can do! And you have to respect your elders!” Martok roars with laughter and Worf permits a smile. “It is good to see you again, my adopted daughter, and I’m looking forward to celebrating our victory over the Dominion!” Patricia raises an imaginary cup in the air. “Same here! I’m also looking forward to checking out the holosuites and getting some exercise, including water jogging!” Worf grimaces. “Swimming? That is too much like … bathing!”

Patricia tilts her head toward him, giving him a slight smile. “It might do you some good to practice military tactics in the water, Worf! I’ve been doing some family history research and learned that some of my ancestors fought ON water and IN water! They did not have any of the technology that we do today! They were victorious against all odds!” Martok looks thoughtful. “That would be a difficult challenge! I like that suggestion! There is always the possibility of being called to a mission where we must encounter water whether we like it or not! We must always be prepared for any battle anywhere in any environment!” Patricia turns toward Martok. “The challenge would be to adapt weapons for aquatic battle. Bath’leths and traditional weapons used on land may be useless if a warrior finds herself or himself battling an enemy in water!” “What did you learn about your ancestors, McCoy? How did they do battle?”, Martok asks.

Patricia thinks for a few moments. “Based on my research, during the War of 1812, some battles took place at sea, using cannons mounted in the sides of the tall ships. Other battles took place on land, such as the Battle of North Point at Baltimore, Maryland, where one of my ancestors, Lewis A. Pindell, and his brother, John, fought the British. Both sides used rifles that fired lead pellets and were affixed with bayonets. Those ancient weapons were just as deadly as phasers and Bath’leths. The 41st Maryland Regiment saved the city of Baltimore on September 11, 1814. In later wars, underwater ships called submarines, were used and they fired ballistic missiles called torpedoes. Humans also used self-contained breathing units, called scuba, to swim underwater and they carried various weapons on their persons. I can pull up this information from the computer and have it demonstrated in the holosuite so you can get a better idea of what took place back then. Seeing what these ancient weapons looked like might give you a better idea of how form followed function. History lessons can be invaluable. If you recall, I previously mentioned that back on Earth, the victory in the War of 1812 is commemorated in song called the National Anthem of the United States of America which was composed by Francis Scott Key, a very distant cousin of mine.” Martok grins. “This Francis Scott Key of yours sounds like he would do any Klingon proud!”

Worf does NOT look happy at the idea! “Being in water still sounds too much like … bathing!” Patricia smiles. “Or maybe you are reluctant about not being as agile in water as you are on land! Is your age catching up with you, my friend?” Worf growls at Patricia but says nothing more. Sisko indicates the corridor. “What say that we head over to the Promenade and join the festivities?” Patricia nods. “I’m all for that!” Martok grins while Worf solemnly nods. They all head toward the Promenade. Sisko turns toward Patricia. “I’m going to head over to my quarters to spend some quiet time with my family, then we’ll join you later. Try not to cause too much trouble while I’m gone.” He chuckles. Patricia gives him an innocent look. “With ME as their chaperone?! No trouble at all!” That comment brings a grin to both Martok’s and Worf’s faces.

Sisko heads over to the nearest turbolift to go to the habitat ring and his quarters. Patricia, Martok, and Worf head over to Quark’s. As soon as Quark sees them, he visibly cringes at first then puts on his best host attitude as he greets them. “Welcome to my establishment!” He shows them to a nearby table, that has just been vacated and cleaned, where they take their seats. “What can I get you?” Martok bellows, “BLOOD WINE!” Worf barks, “PRUNE JUICE!” Patricia gives Quark an evil grin and shouts, “ROOT BEER!” She tries not to snicker at Quark’s reaction as he hurries away to fill their orders. As soon as Quark is out of earshot, which is no small feat, McCoy starts to unsuccessfully stifle a laugh. “I can’t resist giving him a hard time ever since I first walked in here earlier today!”

Worf glares in Quark’s direction. “What did he do? Did he insult you?” Patricia continues to snicker. “Worse than that! He attempted to flirt with me!” Worf growls. “How dishonorable!” Patricia scowls at Worf. Dishonorable for whom?! Him or me? Are you insinuating that I’m that old and/or ugly?!” Worf starts to search for the right words to get himself out of what he just created while Patricia glowers at him. Martok tosses his head back and roars with laughter until Patricia is unable to keep a straight face and joins Martok in laughing as she bends double. Worf finally realizes that Patricia was sending him up and starts grinning.

Quark returns with their beverages. “Sounds like you are having too much fun over here and you haven’t begun to party yet!” Patricia manages to catch her breath. “It’s always possible to have a LOT of fun without drinking, Quark! Lighten up a little!” Quark is stunned. “ME?! I need to lighten up?! I have to live by the 57th Rule of Acquisition, otherwise I’m out of business!” Patricia bats her eyes at him. “AWWWWW! You treasure me like Latinum! I’m touched!” Quark straightens his jacket and responds with dignity. “Thank you!” Patricia continues. “But I’m still not going to date you!” Quark looks disappointed. “I had a feeling about that! Excuse me, I have another customer coming in the door!” He walks toward the door as Morn walks in, looking for his favorite bar-stool.

Worf turns toward Patricia. “He will not give up that easily!” Martok chimes in. “He is clearly smitten with you, McCoy!” Patricia shakes her head. “He needs to have Grilka back! I may be good-looking but I can’t fill her shoes!” Worf does a double-take. “You KNOW about Grilka and Quark!?” Patricia nods. “During my many travels, Grilka and I crossed paths. She shared with me about how Quark gave back her name, her family, and her property when D’Gor tried to lie, cheat, and steal everything from her. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet Quark’s family and his brother, Grand Nagus Rom, told me about their experiences on Q’onos. After meeting Quark today, I now have a face to connect to the name.” Martok gives her a thoughtful look. “McCoy, do you still have second thoughts about becoming a member of a noble Klingon family? When I first adopted you, you weren’t sure.” She shakes her head and places her hand on Martok’s arm. “Uncle Spock taught me IDIC when he was helping Gramps raise me. I don’t mind having both Vulcan and Klingon relatives! I just needed time to adjust, dear father.” Martok gives her an approving look. “Spock is very honored among the Klingons as well! You have a very diverse family!” Worf gives Patricia a quizzical look. “What about the Ferengi?”

Patricia glances in Quark’s direction. “After meeting Quark, I have a lot of mixed feelings about that. I’m not sure how much is genuine or how much is purely for show just to get Latinum.” Martok nods in agreement. “I believe you have an accurate assessment of Quark as he is a combination of both. After all, he DID risk his life to save Grilka! A brave Ferengi is a RARE Ferengi!” Patricia glowers at Martok. “Are you trying to fix me up with a date, or attempting an arranged marriage with Quark?!” This time it’s Worf’s turn to laugh out loud. Martok grins and raises his hands in surrender. “I know better than to do that to you, my adopted daughter!” Patricia laughs out loud then raises her glass of Root Beer in salute to her friends and comrades. Martok and Worf raise their glasses in salute to her. Each take a deep swig of their respective beverages then slam their glasses down.

Patricia gazes around Quark’s establishment, looking over the Dabo tables and the patrons walking about. “The 34th Rule of Acquisition is definitely operating here! We need to negotiate with Quark regarding the use of the Holosuites. I want to get my daily water jogging resumed plus we need to study the history and battle tactics I previously mentioned. Isn’t there a Klingon saying that such studies keeps the blade edge sharp?” Martok grins at her. “If not, then you have coined one for us!” Patricia bows her head. “I humbly accept your accolades!” Worf nods with approval. “You are becoming more like a Klingon every day, McCoy!” Patricia snickers. “Do you mean that as a compliment or an insult?” Worf hesitates for a few moments. “I think I better quit before I get into any more trouble with you!” Patricia laughs heartily. “I think you’re right!”

Quark returns to their table. “Anything else?” Martok turns to him. “Yes! We require the use of your Holosuites!” Patricia gives Quark a warning look. “I wouldn’t attempt to gouge, or cheat them, if I were you! Do you want TWO KLINGONS angry at you at the same time?!” Quark responds meekly. “No.” He pauses for a few seconds. “Tell you what, during this Celebration, the use of the Holosuites, for the three of you, is on the house!” Patricia is suspicious. “What’s the catch, Quark?” Quark leans toward her. “That I join you!” Patricia looks over at Martok and Worf with an expression that says “Uh-oh!” Worf looks mischievous. “This should get interesting!” Patricia gets up from the table. “You two can negotiate the details! I’m going for a walk!” She walks out onto the Promenade.

As she walks about, she is noting other sentient species arriving, greeting each other, shopping, when she suddenly collides with another being and nearly falls. “Oops! Sorry! I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going!” A familiar voice answers, “You often do that, McCoy!” Patricia’s head quickly turns to see who is speaking. “GRILKA!” They salute then hug each other. “I was just speaking about you to Martok and Worf a little while ago!” Grilka looks at her askance. “And why is that?” Patricia gestures toward Quark’s bar. “Because Quark has been flirting outrageously with me and I strongly believe he needs you and NOT me! I think he’s lonely!” Grilka resumes walking and Patricia falls in step with her. “I was just on my way to see Quark now. I’ve been wondering how my ex-husband has been faring since the War with the Dominion ended.” Patricia gets an evil grin on her face. “I have a BETTER idea! Come with me!” They walk off together as Patricia outlines her idea to Grilka.

Meanwhile, back at Quark’s, Martok and Worf are negotiating with the Ferengi about when they will have use of the Holosuites. Worf seems surprised at Quark’s suggestion. “We have the use of TWO Holosuites during our ENTIRE stay here?!” Quark grins. “Of course! As long as I get to stay close to the LOVELY Dr. Pat McCoy!” Martok shakes his head doubtfully. “We cannot control her and she may not agree to that!” Quark gestures. “She doesn’t have to know! I’ll just find ways to stay as close as possible! I doubt that she’ll notice.” Worf quirks an eyebrow. “You like to live dangerously, Quark!” Quark replies, “The 264th Rule of Acquisition! The bigger the risk, the bigger the win! And don’t forget the 62nd Rule: The riskier the road, the greater the profit!” Martok gives Quark a sly grin. “It should be interesting to see what McCoy does to YOU when she finds out your little scheme!” Worf also starts grinning. “Now THAT would be FUN to watch!” Quark leans toward both Klingons. “So … is it a deal?” Martok and Worf look at each other, nod, then turn back to Quark. “Yes! But don’t say we never warned you!” Quark grins happily then leaves to wait on other customers. Martok and Worf walk out of Quark’s to find a quiet place to send a communication to Patricia.

Worf touches his communicator. “Worf to Doctor McCoy!” Patricia is still walking with Grilka. “McCoy here!” Worf continues. “The negotiations with Quark are complete. We have use of two holosuites tomorrow morning beginning at 0900. Quark insisted he join us in order to permit us to have access. I take it you know what that means!” Patricia shakes her head even though she knows Worf cannot see her. “I recognize his type of drooling anywhere!” She turns to Grilka and puts a finger to her lips indicating to keep quiet. “He will have quite a surprise all right!” Grilka grins as Patricia continues her conversation. “I’ll see you two, at the Holosuites, at 0900 tomorrow! McCoy out!” Patricia turns to Grilka. “Are you up to it, Grilka? I know you have never done anything like THIS before!” Grilka continues smiling. “I like the challenge! Besides, I would enjoy watching Quark’s reaction!” Patricia gives her a sly grin. “Or maybe this would become one of his favorite fantasies coming true! Think about it! The two women he is lusting after giving him Oo-mox!” Grilka laughs heartily. “The last time THAT happened, he also ended up with some broken bones!” Patricia joins in her laughter, then continues. “From what you previously described, BOTH of you enjoyed that encounter! Klingon mating rituals are a bit too rough for me!” Grilka gives Patricia a thoughtful look. “Someday, you will find another mate who is perfect for you! There is no reason for you to simply exist, McCoy. Your late Par’Machai would have wanted you to live, not just exist. Life is for living to the fullest!” Patricia shakes her head. “At my age, I’ve become more realistic. When I’ve met other potential mates, these guys start out with lust, then when they get to really know me, they’re gone! I’m at the point that I tell them up front, ‘if you’re not interested in me as a being with feelings, then don’t waste my time!’ As for Quark, I’ve told him several times that I’m not interested in him but he won’t accept that. Besides, I’m aware of his connection with you. I don’t want to get in between the two of you!”

Grilka shakes her head. “I am not jealous, McCoy. He and I are divorced, remember?” Patricia persists. “But the feelings are still there between you two and you have a shared history.” Grilka nods in agreement. “That is true. He risked his life for me! He will always be my Warrior, my Kahless, in that regard!” Patricia gestures. “And he should be again! Come on! We need to prepare for what is to come tomorrow morning and you have to get your gear fitted.” They head to a nearby shop to find what they need. Later, Grilka and Dr. Pat McCoy walk to a nearby airlock with parcels and packages. Patricia indicates their purchases. “I think we got everything we need. What do you think?” Grilka looks at the packages. “I will need to get used to this. I can practice in private on my ship. I will see you in the morning.” She enters the airlock to board her ship. Patricia shifts her parcels around, walks to the nearest turbolift, goes to the habitat ring, and to Captain Sisko’s quarters.

Patricia enters Sisko’s quarters attempting to balance the parcels and packages in her hands. Just as the doors slide close behind her, one of the parcels falls to the floor. Baby Rebecca is playing nearby and comments, “Uh-oh!” Patricia smiles at the toddler. “Yep! I dropped something!” Captain Sisko enters from the kitchen area wiping his hands with a dish towel. “Did the party break up early?” Patricia shakes her head. “Not quite. We have plans for 0900 in one of two Holosuites. These packages are part of what I’ll be using when I get there.”
Kassidy Yates-Sisko enters the room behind her husband. “Sounds like you’ve had quite a day!” Patricia nods. “And I’ve set up a practice mission, involving water training, in the Holosuite in the morning! Martok and Worf may be here for a party but it never hurts to practice new situations and keep one’s edge!”

Kassidy looks concerned. “Doesn’t that conflict with your role as a doctor?” Patricia thinks for a few moments. “Yes and no. When I was assigned on my first mission with the Klingons, I quickly realized that some situations that I was familiar with, they had never encountered before. As a result, I had to deal with a lot of injuries that could have been easily avoided. By sharing my knowledge of history, plus my experiences, the more they learn how to respond to different and new situations … and the less injuries I have to patch up!” Sisko responds, “You sound like a good trainer, Pat!” Patricia shrugs. “I try my best. I don’t always succeed. This one is going to be a first!” Sisko gives her a curious look. “Did I hear you correctly about water training … with the Klingons!?”

Patricia grins. “That is correct! As I was talking with Martok and Worf about my water jogging, it suddenly occurred to me that I have NEVER seen a Klingon engage in a battle involving water! If they were ever called to a combat situation where the enemy has a distinct advantage in water, the Klingons would be unprepared and at risk of huge casualties. Presenting a drill situation under those possible conditions may be an eye-opening experience for everyone. Wouldn’t you agree?” Sisko grins back at her as he gestures. “I like how you think outside the box! That possibility had never occurred to me until you brought it up!” Patricia’s grin turns sly. “What’s going to make this drill even MORE interesting is that Quark is insisting on joining us! He has NO idea what he’s going to be facing!”

Sisko starts laughing. “Quark?! Joining a Klingon battle drill?! In water?! Now THAT will be a sight to see!” Patricia starts giggling. “You’re welcome to come and observe, if you’d like, Ben.” Sisko grins at this idea. “I can’t miss THIS!” Patricia continues while grinning. “Quark will be learning a new Rule of Acquisition – Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!” Sisko chuckles. “But not in the way he expects it!” Patricia adjusts the packages in her arms, then reaches for the one she dropped. “If it’s all right with both of you, I’m going to head off to bed as I have an early appointment at the Holosuites first thing in the morning and will need to prepare. Good night, y’all!” Both Sisko and Kassidy bid her good night. Patricia heads off to bed while still juggling her parcels and packages.

The next morning, Martok, Worf, and Quark are waiting in Holosuite #1. Patricia walks in, wearing a robe and carrying some mysterious items that are covered up. Quark leers at her and McCoy scowls back. “Don’t even think about it, Quark!” Quark gives her an innocent look. “What?! Me?!” “Yeah! You! I’ve heard quite a lot about you!”, Patricia shoots back. Quark protests. “I told you before! All lies and falsehoods!” Patricia shakes her head at him. “My guest, who should be arriving shortly, has PERSONAL knowledge and I doubt would appreciate your comments!” Quark gives her a questioning look. “Who?” Captain Sisko walks in and Quark starts to act obsequious. Patricia gives an evil grin. “Oh no! I didn’t mean Captain Sisko!” Quark looks flustered. “Don’t keep me in suspense! WHO?!” At that moment, Grilka walks in and the expression on Quark’s face is priceless! Patricia’s grin gets wider. Captain Sisko, Martok, and Worf are enjoying this! Grilka is wearing a Klingon robe that conceals everything. Quark looks at her, then at Patricia, then back at Grilka. He doesn’t know what to do with himself!

Grilka nods toward Patricia. “My crew will be joining us for this drill. They need to be as prepared as I am!” Quark’s expression starts to fill with dread. “Drill? As in Klingon Drill? As in MANY Klingons!?” Patricia continues her evil grin. “Oh, didn’t Martok and Worf tell you WHY we needed the Holosuites?” Quark shakes his head. “Uhhhhhhh, I didn’t think to ask.” Patricia nods. “Uh-huh! Thought so!” Grilka turns to Patricia. “I have been practicing with the equipment on board my ship. Now I will see how well I fare in water!” Quark looks puzzled. “Water!?” Patricia turns toward Quark. “Yes, Quark. Water! We are conducting a Klingon Battle Drill in WATER! Are you up to the challenge?” Captain Sisko is trying hard NOT to laugh! Martok is GRINNING and Worf is suppressing a grin but his eyes are dancing with amusement!

Sisko is thinking to himself, “This is BETTER than I expected!” Quark is completely flustered, starts shaking his head, holding up his hands, and backing away. “I-I-I-I was not expecting anything like this! I don’t have anything for a battle drill! With all the Glebbening on Ferenginar, we’ve never had any reason to learn how to swim!” Patricia is still grinning. “Given what I have learned about Ferenginar, after being assigned there, there’s no place to go swimming anyway!” Grilka chimes in. “And, until now, we Klingons had no need to be in water! But Dr. Pat helped me realize that should we ever face an enemy that fights better in water than on land, we would be at a disadvantage. We need to prepare our warriors for any possibility!” Patricia adds, “Which is why traditional Klingon battle armor could also be a disadvantage in water battles. The weight alone would cause warriors to sink and drown! Martok, Worf, are your crewmen prepared to dispense with their usual armor during this first stage of the drill?”

Martok responds, “They are complaining but have agreed to try this. Haven’t they, Worf?” Worf nods. “Once they realized the goal of this drill, they understood.” Patricia nods back. “Since I’m aware that no one knows how to swim, I have programmed the Holosuite to provide swim belts. I have my own as I go water-jogging on a regular basis. How long before the rest of the warriors arrive?” Grilka gestures toward the door. “My crew should be here momentarily.” “As well as my crew!”, Martok adds. The Holosuite doors slide open and several Klingon warriors enter. They are all looking distinctly uncomfortable without their battle armor and wearing concealing robes as everyone else who are participating in the drill. Patricia acknowledges the new arrivals. “Ah! Here they are! Q’Pla!” Various Klingon warriors grumble in response. Patricia walks among the warriors while speaking, “I take it that after last night’s partying, no one wants to be a morning person today, eh?” Grilka smiles as well as Martok and Worf. Sisko grins. Quark looks like he wants to escape as unobtrusively as possible.

Grilka and Patricia arrange the drill equipment to be used and McCoy provides an explanation of what each piece is and how it is used in water-related combat. The equipment appears to be antique-looking. Patricia continues her lecture. “As you may notice, these pieces of equipment are considered ‘low-tech’ in comparison to what you are used to. That is because high-tech equipment, such as phasers and tricorders, are not designed to work underwater. D’k Tahgs, Mek’leths, and Bath’leths MIGHT work, in close hand-to-hand combat, if you are able to maintain a firm footing as well as keep your balance. In water, you could easily lose your balance and your advantage. I purposely chose these antiques to give you a challenge to think about. After the first stage of our drill, during our rest period, each of you will have the opportunity to study this equipment up close, share your theories of how you think they are supposed to work, and one-by-one, test your theories. This Holosuite has the safeties on to ensure no one gets hurt. Then you will be shown, via a holographic re-creation, how my ancestors used these weapons in sea battles. The objective here is to learn how to operate in a battle within an aquatic environment where your opponent could, conceivably have the upper hand.”

A young Klingon growls menacingly and Patricia turns toward him addressing the young Klingon. “You have a problem with that, son?” The young Klingon shouts with derision, “I am Kempok! Son of Modor! I do NOT need to take a bath to do battle! And I will NOT demean myself by wearing this…this.. so-called ‘swim-belt’!”.” He ends his tirade with a contemptuous sneer. Patricia walks over to Kempok. “Oh really? Tell me, Kempok, are you willing to put your team-mates, your comrades, at risk of failing their mission because you place your ego above the mission’s objectives?” Kempok glares silently. Patricia continues, “and are you willing to endanger the mission, and your fellow warriors, by drowning yourself, when a single warrior could mean the difference between victory or defeat?” Kempok is clearly considering her words. “How is training in water going to do THAT!?” Patricia steps up and gets nose to nose with Kempok. “Listen and learn, son!” She turns to everyone within the Holosuite. “If you wish to participate in this first drill, put on your swim-belts now! If you choose to sit this one out, you can explain to Martok and Worf why you chose to do so…later. If you need assistance, ask and it will be given. There is no shame in doing so in this unfamiliar situation. I expect mistakes to be made. I want mistakes to be made because we can LEARN from those mistakes and survive them in an actual battle. Do I make myself clear?”

All Klingons shout out, “Yes, Dr. McCoy!” Captain Sisko is impressed. Quark is looking more scared by the minute. Quark turns to Patricia, gesturing with both hands. “I prefer to sit this one out, thank you very much!” Patricia grins back. “Suit yourself.” She turns toward Grilka. “Are you ready, Grilka?” Grilka grins back. “As ready as I can be!” She removes her robe, revealing aquatic-wear and wearing a swim-belt. Quark’s eyes nearly pop out of his head. Patricia whispers to Grilka, “I think Quark likes what he sees!” Grilka softly snickers. Patricia walks from warrior to warrior, checking the security of each swim-belt to make certain they don’t come loose at a crucial moment during the drill. “Does anyone have any questions before we begin the first stage of the drill?” No one says a word. Patricia looks at everyone. “Speak now if you have any questions! Don’t wait until you are in trouble because you didn’t ask questions!” Still no one says a word. Patricia nods with satisfaction. “All right! Let’s begin!” She calls out to the Holosuite computer. “Computer, an Olympic-size swimming pool with water three-feet deep at a temperature of … 75 degrees Fahrenheit!”

An Olympic-size pool appears with warm water at a depth of three feet. Patricia turns to the group. “I’m starting you off at a shallow depth, with warm temperatures, to help you understand the resistance water can give you when you attempt to run. The water will be cooled down as we progress in our training. Who wants to try this first?” Grilka steps forward. “I will be first!” Kempok steps forward. “I will be next!” Patricia acknowledges both. “Good! Let’s start with just you two and the rest observe. Grilka, Kempok, please enter the water!” Grilka and Kempok ease carefully into the water from the side of the pool. Kempok is unsure of this new situation. Grilka takes this in stride. Patricia smiles approvingly. “Good! Now, what I want you to do is try to race each other to the other side of the pool as fast as you can. Ready? Go!”

Both Grilka and Kempok try to run as fast as possible in the water and quickly discover it is not as easy as they thought it would be. Patricia shouts over the noise of the water. “You may have surmised that the harder you try to run, the more the water resists you.” Kempok slips, falls under the water, fights to get to his feet, quickly becomes exhausted and struggles to the side of the pool to catch his breath. Patricia leans down and pats him on the shoulder. “Good job, Kempok! You have reason to be proud!” She stands up. “Now … imagine you are in battle with an opponent who is adapted to an aquatic environment. As you can see, given that none of you have ever been conditioned for this, you will quickly become exhausted, at best, or mortally wounded at worst when fighting such an enemy. It may be a good day to die, but NOT under those circumstances! Becoming quickly exhausted is costly.” Patricia pauses, then continues while pacing before her audience. “And quickly exhausted could mean a failed mission.” She looks over at Grilka. “Grilka, how are you faring with this?” Grilka is trying to catch her breath. “I see what you mean! I had assumed that, as warriors, we were always in battle-ready condition no matter what. This exercise has opened my eyes! We need to work more on our strength training, stamina, and conditioning!” Patricia nods and turns toward Captain Sisko, Martok, and Worf. “What are your thoughts?”

Captain Sisko likes what he has seen. “I’m impressed and, you are right, a water-based battle presents challenges that I had never thought of before!” Worf nods in agreement. “I am prepared to participate in this exercise until I am ready for this type of battle!” Martok chimes in. “And I can do no less!” Patricia nods to the commanding officers then turns to the rest of the warriors. “Okay, who are the next two volunteers for this exercise? We will take turns in teams of two until everyone has had an opportunity to experience this!” She turns to Quark with an evil twinkle in her eye. “Ready to race me in the water, Quark?” Quark turns pale. “Uhh-h-h-h-h, I just remembered, I left something on the stove!” He runs out of the Holosuite.

Patricia turns back to the group as everyone roars with laughter. McCoy finally catches her breath. “His turn will come, sooner or later.” Grilka winks at Patricia. “I have plans for HIM!” Patricia snickers back. “Oh, yes! I know YOU will!” McCoy manages to regains her composure. “Now, who are the next two volunteers for the water race?” Two more Klingons raise their hands then jump into the water. They proceed to race each other, laughing and whooping. At the end of the day, Patricia is sitting on her bed, in the guest room of Sisko’s quarters, toweling her hair dry. She is EXHAUSTED. She hears a light tap at the door. She calls out, “Come!” The door slides open and Sisko enters the room. “I think your drill was a resounding success! It definitely raised everyone’s awareness, including mine!” Patricia continues drying her hair. “I think Grilka, Worf, and Martok are going to continue. I’d rather they pick up the baton and run with it. I’m at an age where it’s getting more difficult for me to physically keep up! At least, I can focus on medicine during any mission.”

Sisko nods. “I hear you! Have you ever considered a desk job at Star Fleet Academy?” Patricia puts the towel down. “Tried it once and HATED it! I was BORED out of my mind!” She gestures toward the stars outside the window. “I prefer to be out there, traveling among the stars, seeing other worlds!” Sisko smiles. “I agree! Not all of us are cut out for desk jobs! Staying active in the field, as much as possible, keeps us young.” Patricia looks thoughtful. “Not to change the subject too much, Ben. What’s on the agenda for tomorrow in connection with the ongoing celebration?” Sisko pauses for a moment. “Off the top of my head, there will be a flyover performance of various warships, there are rides available for people who want to experience being in ancient solar sailing ships similar to what Bajorans used to sail to Cardassia several centuries ago, other star-ships will be docked where people are allowed to tour them, and interstellar pyrotechnics.” Patricia grins. “Sounds like many opportunities for fun!”

Sisko continues, “Kass and I are trying to decide which activities would not be too much for Rebecca. At her age, she’s not old enough to understand what all the fuss is about and we both know how children tend to react if they become inundated with sensory overload or become overtired.” “Plus if she eats too much of the wrong food, then you’ll both be up all night with her!”, Patricia adds. Sisko nods in agreement. “That too!” Patricia attempts to stifle a yawn. “If it’s all right with you and Kass, I’m going to turn in early. After today’s aquatic battle drill with the Klingons, I am EXHAUSTED!” Sisko grins. “You’ve earned it! Good night, Pat.” Patricia rubs one of her eyes. “Good night, Ben.” Sisko leaves the room and the door slides shut behind him. Patricia puts the towel away, changes into night clothes, and climbs into bed. “Computer, lights off!” The lights in the room shut off, Patricia lays her head on the pillow and is fast asleep in a few minutes.

In the morning, Patricia is awakened when she hears a tiny hand smacking at her door and a baby voice calling out: “Bear! Bear!” Then hears Kassidy laughingly calling to her daughter. Patricia smiles in amusement at the baby’s attempt to open the door. She gets up, gets dressed, and picks up her PADD to check the day’s agenda. She continues to scroll through her day’s agenda as she opens the door and exits the guest bedroom. Baby Rebecca is sitting in her high chair having breakfast … or more accurately, throwing breakfast everywhere … coating the floor, the walls, Mom and Dad. The baby sees Patricia and starts calling out while waving her arms, splattering more food. “Bear! Bear!” Patricia surveys the mess and laughs. “I think I better stay out of range!” Kassidy and Captain Sisko laugh. “One of the joys of parenthood! Jake did the same thing at that age!” Patricia continues grinning. “I can imagine! I’ve also had the ‘luck’ of being the ‘bull’s eye’ when I was examining a baby boy or two shortly after delivery! You be surprised at how good they can aim!”

Sisko chuckles. “How well I know! Jake did that to me too the first time I changed his diaper! Right between the eyes!” Patricia laughs. “That’s why I try to stay out of range whenever a baby starts to launch anything!” Sisko chuckles again. “Understood! By the way, what’s on your agenda for today?” Patricia glances down at her PADD. “After my morning water-jogging, I’m going to check out those Bajoran Solar-sailing vessels. I want to experience what it’s like. What are you and Kass going to do during the Celebration?” Sisko looks over at Kassidy then back at Patricia. “We haven’t quite decided yet. There’s really not much that is designed for a young baby and Rebecca isn’t old enough to really appreciate experiences such as Solar-sailing. I’ve gone Solar-sailing with Jake after I built my own vessel and Jake was old enough to understand and appreciate the experience.” Kassidy adds, “Given that I worked as a freighter captain before I married Ben and had our daughter, solar-sailing would be too similar to work so it wouldn’t be that much fun for me. Plus, if Rebecca needed a diaper change during the voyage, there’s not enough room for a changing table.”

Patricia wrinkles her nose. “Not to mention that some of the other passengers, along with the pilot, might not be into that kind of an experience … especially if it is quite odoriferous!” Sisko and Kassidy chuckle. “Only another parent would appreciate it! Plus there is one other complication on replicas of ancient Bajoran Solar-sailing vessels … at least I didn’t see one in the blueprints that I worked from.”, Sisko adds. Patricia gives him a questioning look. “What’s that?” Sisko responds. “Where can one dispose of a smelly dirty diaper? There’s no waste extraction system or the usual reclamators that can accommodate dirty diapers aboard such a vessel!” Patricia makes a face. “EWWW! You’re right! Imagine being on such a voyage for several hours having to hold one’s nose!” Sisko laughs. “Now you understand our dilemma!” Patricia nods. “Yes, that would limit your choices. How long can you walk around the Promenade before Rebecca decides she has had enough of the crowds and the noise and gets fussy, not to mention what would be fun for you and Kass? What about a holo-program?”

Sisko looks doubtful. “I’m not certain if there are any baby-friendly holo-programs available that would be fun for us adults. Rebecca’s not old enough to enjoy, let alone appreciate, baseball. Besides, Kass and I use the holosuites from time to time when we go to hear Vic Fontaine sing. It wouldn’t really be tied in with the celebration as it wouldn’t be that special.” Patricia scratches her head for a few seconds. “Let me do some thinking while I’m water-jogging. Sometimes, I get my best ideas that way.” Sisko gives her a grateful look. “Any suggestion is better than nothing. Kass and I are fresh out of ideas.” Patricia starts to head toward the door. “I’ll try my best.” The door slides open and Patricia puts one foot out of Sisko’s quarters. Sisko gives her a quizzical look. “No breakfast?” Patricia shakes her head. “It’s best to exercise with an empty stomach. That way I won’t have any unpleasant surprises. I’ll eat when I get back.” She steps out the door. Sisko calls after her. “Enjoy!” The door closes behind Patricia and she heads down the habitat ring hallway to the nearest turbolift. She enters turbolift and calls out a command. “Promenade!” The turbolift takes her there. As Patricia walks along the Promenade, Grilka joins her.

Patricia smiles in greeting. “Morning, Grilka! How are you?” Grilka smiles back. “I am still recovering from yesterday’s water drill! And you?” They continue walking together as McCoy answers. “Taking things one day at a time. I’m going to do some water-jogging this morning. Care to join me?” Grilka grins. “Yes! I will join you! I need to build up my stamina. One drill is not enough!” Patricia nods in response and smiles. “I agree! Plus I need to brainstorm with someone.” Grilka looks puzzled. “Brainstorm? What do you mean?” Patricia continues. “You may not be aware but I’m a guest in Captain Sisko’s quarters while I’m here for the Celebration. I have the freedom to participate in the various Celebration activities. Captain Sisko and his wife, Kassidy, have to consider and plan for their daughter’s needs and there’s not much that is considered ‘baby-friendly’ to do. I feel bad that there’s so much fun stuff around but nothing really appropriate for a family with a young toddler.”

Grilka looks thoughtful. “I think I understand. Captain Sisko and his family want to participate in the Celebration but what activities can a baby enjoy?” Patricia gestures and nods. “Exactly my point! Rebecca is still only a toddler in diapers and isn’t old enough to understand what all of this is about. The noise and the crowds can become too much for her within a short span of time. I’m trying to think of ways that Captain Sisko, Kassidy, and Rebecca can enjoy the Celebration as a family without stressing them all out too much.” Grilka gestures ahead. “Maybe Quark can babysit for a little while?” Patricia shakes her head emphatically. “NO, Oh No! I don’t think so! Given his track record and what Captain Sisko knows about him, I doubt he can be trusted to take care of a young toddler even for a minute! Unfortunately, he has that reputation.” Grilka presses her point. “But he did risk his life for me.” Patricia gestures toward Grilka. “Because he has feelings for YOU. He doesn’t view babies as anything valuable. He treated both his brother, Rom, and his nephew, Nog, miserably and they’re family! Rebecca has no connection to him and she is a naturally shy child. I’m also concerned that he may exploit the fact that she’s the Emissary’s daughter, for latinum. I remember Rule of Acquisition Number 111: ‘Treat people in your debt like family … exploit them ruthlessly.’ I am NOT comfortable with Quark exploiting the Sisko family! She and I have managed to connect but I’m not in a position to babysit, especially if I’m called to a medical emergency.”

Grilka looks thoughtful. “Let’s go ahead with this ‘water-jogging’ and maybe we can think of something else while we are exercising.” Patricia nods. “Agreed!” They enter Quark’s together and Quark greets them. “And what will both you lovely ladies have today?” Patricia gestures with her thumb toward the upstairs. “Right at the moment, we have need of your holosuite for our morning water-jog.” Quark gets a gleam in his eye. “I’ve been re-thinking about our previous arrangement on that.” Grilka gives him a suspicious look. “You mean you want to back out of our agreement?” Quark gives both ladies an innocent look. “And which agreement is that?” Patricia narrows her eyes as she leans toward Quark. “The one you made with the Klingons, Quark! Remember Martok and Worf? Or do you prefer to be given a painful reminder of why you should never double-cross a Klingon!?” Quark grins at Patricia. “But, dear Doctor McCoy, YOU are not a Klingon!” Grilka leans in toward Quark. “But I am and she is part of THE deal! Or have you forgotten that, DEAR?”

Quark realizes his error. “Oops! Thanks for reminding me, Sweetheart! I had forgotten that! Go right on upstairs! Your holosuite is waiting!” The two women head for the spiral staircase leading to the holosuites. Grilka starts to head up first. Patricia pauses on the bottom rung, glances up at Grilka, then looks over at Quark. “If you’d like, you can watch two lovely mermaids in bathing suits have fun in the pool!” Grilka grins at Quark. “And you and I can have some private time, later, reciting romantic Klingon poetry! Like we did when you and I played Lukara and Kahless?” Quark is nearly swooning. “Okay! Okay! I’ll be there in a few minutes!” He heads out of sight. Patricia looks back at Grilka and snickers. “He better be careful not to get too close to me while I’m in the pool. I can get mischievous … or, more accurately, downright EVIL!” Grilka snickers back. “I know you will!” Patricia and Grilka are water-jogging in the pool when Quark enters the holosuite. He cautiously stays away from the edge to avoid getting splashed. At the end of the water-jogging session, Patricia and Grilka climb out of the pool, pick up their towels and begin to dry off. Grilka looks over at Quark. “What is wrong, Quark? Why not join us in the water?”

Quark shakes his head. “Exercise is bad for my health!” Patricia looks over at Grilka. “Meaning, if there’s no Latinum involved, then it’s not worth the effort! I believe that is the 13th Rule of Acquisition, ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing for money’.” Quark nods at Patricia. “You got the concept correctly, Dr. McCoy!” Patricia gives him an evil grin. “One of these days, we WILL get you in this pool!” Quarks backs away toward the door. “But NOT today!” Quark makes a quick exit while Grilka and Patricia laugh heartily. Patricia turns toward Grilka. “So, Grilka, have you thought of any other suggestions for Captain Sisko and his family?” Grilka pauses for a few seconds. “What say that I stop by Captain Sisko’s quarters and make their acquaintance? I’d like to meet this Rebecca.” Patricia nods. “I’m heading back over there for breakfast. I don’t think they would object to a visit from the Noble House of Grilka!” Grilka responds with a smile. “You mean the honored head of the Noble House of Grilka!” Patricia realizes she’s made a mistake. “Oops! Sorry! The words didn’t match the picture in my head!” Grilka smile grows wider. “I am not offended. I am looking forward to having breakfast as I have not eaten yet.” Patricia smiles in appreciation. “Let me call ahead to let Captain Sisko know.” She taps her Comm-badge. “McCoy to Captain Sisko!” Sisko’s voice can be heard over the Comm-badge. “Sisko here, go ahead.” Patricia continues. “I’ve concluded my morning exercise and I’m heading back for breakfast. My friend, Grilka, has joined me for the morning jog and she hasn’t eaten yet. Would that be all right, with you and Kass, if I bring her with me?” Sisko responds. “Kass and I would be honored to have Grilka visit us! Sisko out!” Patricia turns toward Grilka. “Now it remains to be seen how Rebecca will react upon meeting you. Don’t be offended if she gets scared or shies away from you. I don’t believe she’s ever met a Klingon before.” Grilka smiles with understanding. “She is still a baby. I will not be offended.”

They continue on to Sisko’s quarters. As Patricia and Grilka enter, they meet Sisko near the door. He is in uniform and preparing to leave for his office in Ops. “Grilka! Q’Pla! It is an honor to meet you!”, Sisko exclaims in greeting. Grilka bows her head. “Thank you, Captain. Dr. McCoy has spoken highly of you and your family.” Kassidy enters the room with baby Rebecca in her arms. Rebecca takes one look at the new stranger and hides her face in her mother’s neck. Kassidy greets the new visitor. “Hello, Grilka. I’m Kassidy, Captain Sisko’s wife.” Kassidy gestures toward the baby. “And this shy little girl is our daughter, Rebecca.” Grilka smiles. “I am honored to meet you both.” She softens her voice as she leans toward the child. “Hello, Rebecca.” Rebecca peeks out at her then buries her face in her mother’s neck again. Patricia smiles at everyone. “She’s being shy today.” Patricia walks over to Kassidy and Rebecca and playfully rubs Rebecca’s back.

Rebecca peeks out again, sees Patricia within reach and gleefully leaps into her arms, catching her off-guard. She quickly recovers as she catches Rebecca. Patricia reacts to the unexpected launch. “OOF! You’re getting to be a BIG girl!” Kassidy is embarrassed. “I am so sorry, Pat! I didn’t expect her to do that! Are you all right?” Patricia regains her balance. “I will recover!” She turns toward Grilka. “Rebecca, this is my friend, Grilka. Can you say ‘Hi’?” Rebecca sticks her thumb in her mouth and stares shyly at Grilka. Grilka smiles back at her. Patricia looks toward Rebecca. “Do you want to sit with us while we have breakfast?” Rebecca looks up at Patricia and nods. Pat turns to Kassidy and Captain Sisko. “Is that okay with both of you?” Sisko nods while Kassidy responds, “That’s fine! If you don’t mind, I can do some housework while you have breakfast. Rebecca made quite a mess this morning! Didn’t you, little girl?” Kassidy playfully touches Rebecca’s nose and the baby giggles. Patricia tries to redistribute the weight she is holding. “And she’s growing like a weed! Where’s her high chair?” Kassidy indicates toward the kitchen area. “Right over here. I just cleaned the floor around it. As you can see, I still have to clean the walls!” Grilka is surprised when she sees the splatter. “Oh!” Patricia grins at Grilka. “Rebecca LOVES to share her breakfast EVERYWHERE!” Kassidy chimes in, “That she does! If you’ll excuse me while I continue cleaning this up.” Patricia responds back to Kassidy. “I should be asking your pardon for intruding.”

Kassidy smiles as she continues to clean the walls while Patricia places Rebecca in her high chair. Dr. Pat then walks over to the food replicator. “Grilka, do you want anything in particular for breakfast?” Grilka pauses for a few moments. “I think, for this morning, I will try one of your favorite breakfasts … scrambled eggs and bacon. If I order the usual Klingon fare, the baby might get scared. I don’t think she’s ever seen Klingon cuisine before.” Patricia grins. “Good point! Scrambled eggs and bacon coming right up!” She programs the food replicator for two such plates plus a pitcher of orange juice. “I hope you don’t mind my getting orange juice too.” Grilka nods. “I am willing to try that too.” Patricia brings the items to the table, along with silverware, and sets them down. She sits down, pauses quietly for a few moments, then looks over at Grilka. “I hope everything is to your liking.” Grilka looks at her plate of food. “It looks delicious!” She takes a taste. “And it is delicious! I will include this on the food replicators on my ship!” Rebecca is watching all of this, wide-eyed. She is still not sure what to make of this new stranger. Kassidy continues to clean the walls nearby. When Kassidy turns a corner and is briefly out of sight, Rebecca starts to wail. Kassidy comes back around.

Kassidy walks over to where her daughter is seated in the high chair. “What’s the matter, baby girl?” Patricia nods toward the toddler. “I think she still has a little bit of separation anxiety. Perfectly normal for her age.” Kassidy sighs. “I know.” She leans toward Rebecca and kisses her daughter. “See, Mommy’s here.” She looks at Patricia and Grilka. “I’ve tried other babysitters before. She just got more and more upset. The only person she doesn’t mind staying with is Jake. She knows him. I wish he was able to come and join the Celebration but his job has him on the other side of the quadrant.” Patricia gives Kassidy a curious look. “I thought he is writing his next book.” Kassidy nods. “That too. His job includes researching his next book. He was hoping to be here this week but his schedule couldn’t permit it.” “I also heard, through the grapevine, that he got engaged.”, Patricia adds. Kassidy smiles. “Oh yes! A beautiful Bajoran girl! She’s helping him with his research. We haven’t had the opportunity, yet, to meet her.” “What will his book be about?”, Grilka asks. Kassidy responds, “He’s writing about how the Prophets helped us all. It also includes Ben’s discovery that his mother was influenced by one of the Prophets to ensure he would be born.”

Grilka looks intrigued. “The Prophets? You mean the Wormhole Aliens?” Patricia chimes in. “However each of us choose to label them, they are POWERFUL beings! The Dominion learned, the hard way, that they deserve respect!” Grilka is impressed. “I see!” Patricia continues, “And if memory serves me correctly, the Prophet that took human form and became Benjamin’s mother …. what was her name?” Kassidy answers. “Her name was Sarah, if I remember correctly.” Patricia nods, “Which, given the big picture and everything that has happened in his life, Ben was preordained to be the Emissary of the Prophets before he was born! Sounds like Jake is writing a book about family history, then. That would require a LOT of research!” Grilka looks at Patricia. “You believe in the Prophets?” “My form of spirituality has never fit any one particular faith or religion. I look at what happened and, yes, it is awe-inspiring!”, Patricia answers. Grilka takes a bite of her breakfast. “As the Vulcans might say … fascinating!”

Kassidy continues, “Which is one of the reasons why I’m a bit nervous taking Rebecca out into crowds or leaving her with just any babysitter. I don’t want to put her at risk of being exploited for being the daughter of the Emissary.” Patricia and Grilka look at each other as the same thought hits their brains … “Quark!” Kassidy resumes speaking, “Which is why I turned down Quark’s offer to babysit one time. He may have a heart but he’s still a Ferengi looking for a profitable opportunity!” Patricia chuckles. “You must have been reading my mind because I was just thinking that at this moment!” Kassidy chuckles with her. “Great minds think alike!” Grilka nods and smiles. “I too was thinking along the same lines. Have you tried walking around the Promenade with your daughter?” Kassidy turns toward Grilka. “Yes, I did, when she was just a newborn. I needed to get out for awhile and walk around. Too many people kept crowding in to get a look at the daughter of the Emissary! It was frightening!” Grilka looks concerned. “You and your daughter need a body guard!” Kassidy looks reluctant about that idea. “Isn’t that a little extreme?”

Patricia shakes her head. “Given the circumstances, no. There are more crowds here this week than usual. You shouldn’t have to be a prisoner in your own home during the Celebration, Kass.” Kassidy considers this. “You have a point. Ben can only do so much given that he is responsible for this entire station.” Patricia responds. “So, if you had a choice of anything you would like to do during this Celebration, what would it be?” Kassidy smiles at the thought. “I would love to be able to watch the star-ships flying in close formation!” Patricia and Grilka look at each other again. Grilka looks toward Kassidy. “Consider it done! I, and my crew, will be your bodyguards to ensure no one bothers you or your daughter!” Patricia finishes her breakfast and places her dirty dishes in the reclamator. The dirty dishes dematerialize. Patricia gestures. “How about I scout around the Promenade to get a feel for what’s going on today while the two of your work out a plan for attending the Celebration?” Kassidy looks reluctant and hesitates. “I don’t know …” Grilka speaks up. “It would be an honor being a body guard for Dr. Pat’s friends!” Patricia nods in agreement with Grilka. “Either way, let me do a bit of reconnaissance to see what’s going on around the station. I’ll be back shortly!” Patricia leaves Sisko’s quarters and enters the nearest turbolift. She gives it the command, “Ops!” and the turbolift deposits her at there. She walks through the area and up the stairs to Captain Sisko’s office.

Sisko looks up as Patricia enters his office and greets her. “Hi, Pat! What brings you to my office?” Patricia finds a chair and sits down in front of his desk. “Just wanted to run an idea by you. I understand that Kass is a bit reluctant to go out and about the Promenade on her own because of the crowds and as a result of an unpleasant experience she had shortly after Rebecca was born.” Sisko nods. “Yes. That is the biggest factor about why we are reluctant to take Rebecca out and into the crowds during this Celebration. There are those who see my child as the daughter of the Emissary and there has been some … unpleasantness … as a result. I’ve accepted my position as the Emissary to the Prophets and Kass understands what it means to be the wife of the Emissary. Until Rebecca is old enough … well, I tend to be overprotective of her …” Patricia gestures and smiles. “As any father should be! Wait until she gets old enough to start dating! I can see you standing at the door with a baseball bat … or a phaser … or BOTH!”

Sisko laughs as he holds up his hands. “Whoa! Give me some time to get used to THAT thought!” Patricia smiles and nods. “In the meantime, Grilka has volunteered herself and her crew to be bodyguards to make sure no one bothers them while they enjoy the Celebration. What are your thoughts on that?” Sisko smiles. “I like the idea. The detail would be small enough so it wouldn’t call too much attention, Rebecca could get used to more people being around her, and anyone who has designs on my daughter would have second thoughts if they had to tangle with a Klingon to get close to her! But I don’t want to impose on Grilka or her crew. They’re supposed to be having a good time here, not work for me!” Patricia smiles back. “Grilka is talking with Kass right now and I’m hoping Rebecca is becoming used to her as she has gotten used to me.” Sisko nods. “One thing I’ve come to know about my baby daughter … she is a SMART little cookie! Mind like a mousetrap!” Patricia grins. “She gets that from BOTH her parents!” Sisko laughs. “Right you are!” Patricia continues, “In the meantime, I’m going to walk around the station and get a feel for how the crowds are today. Then I’ll report back to Kass and Grilka and we can adjust our plans accordingly.” Sisko nods in agreement. “Sounds good to me! I’ll be here!”

Patricia gets up and heads out of Captain Sisko’s office, down the stairs, and over to the turbolift. She calls out, “Promenade!” and the turbolift takes her there. She gets out to walk around. As she passes by the Bajoran shrine, she sees a Vedek beckon to her. She walks over to speak to the Vedek. “Are you having a medical emergency?”, Patricia asks. The Vedek replies, “No, child. I wish to invite you into our Shrine.” Patricia looks at the doorway and back to the Vedek. “How very kind of you. Let me walk around first and then I will return to take you up on your offer.” The Vedek acquiesces to her suggestion. “Before you go … with your permission …” The Vedek indicates McCoy’s left ear and she pauses, uncertain. “Oka-a-ay …” The Vedek grasps her ear and Patricia winces in pain. The Vedek closes his eyes and breathes deeply for several seconds, then releases her ear. “When you return to the Shrine, you must consult the Tear of the Prophet!” McCoy gives him a confused look. “What? Why?” The Vedek smiles at her. “The Prophets will tell you!” He enters the shrine without another word. Patricia stands there, rubbing her ear, and feeling very confused. She walks on around the Promenade, making mental notes of the crowd and trying to make sense of her encounter with the Vedek at the Bajoran Shrine. She goes back to Captain Sisko’s quarters to report about the volume of the crowds to Kass and Grilka but keeps quiet about the Vedek. She does not want to upset Kass, who is already uneasy about any mention of the Prophets and is aware that Grilka perceives the Prophets as only Wormhole Aliens. As for informing Ben, she felt it would be a non-issue as he has had his own experiences as the Emissary.

Grilka states that she will discuss her plans with her crew and departs for her ship. Patricia informs Kass that there is an errand she needs to take care of and will return when it is completed. She leaves Sisko’s quarters and heads back to the Bajoran Shrine, feeling very nervous and anxious. Patricia approaches the doorway of the Bajoran Shrine, feeling fearful. She’s not certain what to expect. As she enters the Shrine, the Vedek she encountered before is there, waiting for her, smiling. “You have returned, as you have promised! Welcome! Do not be fearful, my child!” Patricia folds her hands behind her back to hide her nervousness. “Sorry if I seem anxious. I’ve never encountered anything like this before so I tend to react negatively until I understand what I’m dealing with.”

The Vedek nods. “The Prophets know what is in your heart, my child, and see you are sincere in what you do. Come, approach the Tear of the Prophet that we have here.” Patricia hangs back apprehensively. “Do you keep the same Orb here all the time?” The Vedek shakes his head. “Oh, no. Each Shrine takes a turn keeping each Orb. In the past, we have housed the Orb of Wisdom, the Orb of Prophecy and Change, the Orb of Contemplation, the Orb of Memory, the Orb of Destiny, the Orb of Truth, the Orb of Souls, and the Orb of Unity. We keep the Orb of Time and the Orb of the Emissary under tight security as it would be so easy to misuse them. Besides, the Orb of the Emissary is for the Emissary alone.”

Patricia shakes her head. “And I know that I am NOT the Emissary to the Prophets! Benjamin Sisko is.” The Vedek nods at this. “And you are close friends with the Emissary and his family.” She looks at him suspiciously. “How do you know that? We’ve never met before and I prefer to keep private things private.” The Vedek gestures toward her then toward the Orb nearby. “And the Prophets see that in your heart as well, which is why they have invited you to commune with them.” Patricia looks confused. “Excuse me? They want ME to commune with THEM?!” She points to the Orb. “And which Orb is this one?” The Vedek smiles enigmatically. “I cannot recall. I’ve lost track … After so many changes.” Patricia is still suspicious. “Doesn’t the writing, on the outside of its case, tell you?” The Vedek shrugs his shoulders. “The writing is very ancient and I am unable to decipher what it says.” She shakes her head. “No offense, Vedek, but I don’t find that very comforting.” The Vedek gestures again toward the nearby Orb. “The Prophets are await you. Come!”

She is unable to stall any longer, does not want to appear rude, and accepts she must go through with what she promised the Vedek. She approaches the Inner Sanctum of the Shrine, where the Orb is kept and sits in front of an elaborately decorated box. She indicates the box. “Is this where the Orb is always kept?” The Vedek nods. “Yes. I will leave you now. You may open it when you feel ready.” The Vedek leaves the room. Patricia waits until she is sure she is alone and begins to pray. “Oh Great Spirit, Shekhinah, and King of the Universe, you know what is in my heart and, right now, I’m scared! You have been with me since birth and through everything that I have survived. I hope I have the strength to face whatever these Prophets wish to share with me. Please guide my path as I commune with these beings that I have never met until now! Amen!” She leans forward and gently opens the box. Immediately, she is surrounded by light and energy that she has never encountered before. As her vision clears, she sees people that she knows from her past and present … Ambassador Spock, her adopted Vulcan Uncle that she loves dearly, Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, her beloved Great-Grandfather, her estranged brother, James Yuri, that she has not seen for several years, Kalinda Yuri, the woman who gave birth to her and then abandoned her, Captain Benjamin Sisko, Kassidy Yates-Sisko, Jake Sisko, Baby Rebecca, among several others from Star Fleet. Patricia feels her anxiety level ratchet up several notches. The last time she had seen Kalinda, the woman who abandoned her, was when the woman was in a nursing home, dying, screaming curses at her because she DARED to survive birth and succeed in spite of her attempts to destroy her. At once, she felt sorry for that creature who threw away a child. The being who resembled the woman stepped forward and confronts her.

The woman screams in Patricia’s face, “YOU feel sorry for ME?! Why?!” Patricia looks back calmly. “Because now I understand why you did what you did to me. You were unable to love yourself and attempted to sacrifice me to make yourself feel better. You had no way of knowing that love and acceptance comes from within, not from external stuff nor from other people. If you cannot love and accept yourself, how can you force others to love and accept you?” The woman considers this. “You are the McCoy, friend of the Sisko!” Patricia nods. “That is correct! And you are one of the Prophets of the Celestial Temple, choosing the image of she who gave birth to me. May I ask you a question, please?” The woman calmly replies, “I cannot guarantee an answer.” Patricia nods again. “Fair enough. The God of my understanding doesn’t always guarantee an immediate answer. That answer may be a ‘Yes’, a ‘No’, or a ‘Wait a While’ as I walk through linear time.” The woman tilts her head, gazing at Patricia with curiosity. “The Sisko has told you about us.” Patricia nods once more. “And you have the power to know what I cannot know. The question I have, at this moment, is: ‘Did you take the form of the woman who bore me to test my courage and resolve?’ The woman calmly gazes back at her. “What do you think?” The being resembling her estranged brother steps forward and physically threatens Patricia. “She is not intelligent enough to be allowed to live! She is defective GARBAGE that must be DESTROYED!”

Patricia looks “James Yuri”, her estranged brother straight in the eye. “Have you walked in my shoes, lived in my skin, experienced what I experienced, to qualify you to make that judgment of me?” The being resembling her estranged brother steps back, lowers his head, and falls silent. The woman nods. “You have gained courage through many painful experiences and continue to help others, whether or not they deserve help. You have forgiven those who abused and abandoned you even though they do not deserve forgiveness. She who bore you is dead. He, who is estranged from you, still lives. If you wish, we can end his life here and now!” Patricia sternly shakes her head. “Leave my brother alone! He does not know any other way because he never had the opportunity to learn the truth. She who bore me carefully taught him how to hate. There were no others available to negate that hateful teaching. She carefully saw to it that she was the only one to have absolute total control over his mind and heart until he was finally able to break away from her. But, by then, the damage was done and I was unable to undo that damage, no matter how hard I tried on my own. If you have that kind of power, and I suspect you do, I ask that you guide him with love and help him understand that I am NOT his enemy and that he need not live in hate. He has free will. I only hope that he is willing to open his mind and heart and understand that I was not born to harm him in any way.”

The woman nods at her. “We understand. He does have free will. We can open a path for him. Which path he chooses is up to him.” Then the beings resembling Captain Sisko and his family step forward. “Captain Sisko” begins speaking on behalf of Kassidy, Rebecca, and Jake. “We see your true intentions and know you mean no harm.” Patricia responds, “Many years ago, in linear time, I took an Oath to first do no harm. I take that Oath seriously!” The beings resembling the Sisko Family step back. Then the beings resembling various members of Star Fleet step forward. “Admiral Akaar” speaks first. “You are often afraid! Doesn’t that make you a coward?” Patricia shakes her head. “In my book, a coward is one who runs away in fear ALL the time, no matter what is happening … big or small. For what it’s worth, my understanding of courage is being afraid and doing what needs to be done even though the fear is still there!” The “Admiral” considers her words. “I see.” He turns to other Star Fleet figures. “What say you?” The other Star Fleet figures murmur and nod but say nothing more. The “Admiral” steps back and then the beings resembling Ambassador Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy step forward.

“Ambassador Spock” states unequivocally, “You often respond illogically.” Patricia smiles at him. “Because I was born an illogical human, Uncle Spock. Would it be logical to demand that a human become a Vulcan or vice versa?” The “Vulcan” asks, “What do you think?” Patricia continues, “I was born an illogical human, full of many emotions both positive and negative. That, plus everyone I’ve met and the sum of all of my experiences have shaped my personality. Illogical as it is, I have adopted and loved you as my Uncle since childhood and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You saved my life and I owe a debt to you for that. I have no idea how to repay you for what you have done for me since you and Gramps rescued me. You have taught me about IDIC … Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. I consider you family because you are Vulcan and have taught me many things I needed to learn, even though I am sure I taxed your patience. If that is illogical, then I accept that.” She sees a slight smile appear on the face of “Ambassador Spock”. “Flawlessly logical!” He steps back and “Dr. Leonard McCoy” steps up. “Isn’t family only related by blood?” She shakes her head at her “Great-Grandfather”. “People may be related by blood, but it doesn’t always transform them into a loving family. She who bore me was related by blood but she could not love me. She was never a family member to me otherwise she never would have abandoned me the way she did. Uncle Spock and I are not related by blood but he has accepted me as a member of his family and loves me in his own Vulcan way as a father would love a child. You rescued me, as a very young and traumatized child, and came to love me from that moment on. To me, a family is more than a blood-connection, it is how you feel towards someone and treat them as preciously as you would treat yourself.”

“Dr. Leonard McCoy” grins with approval. “Spoken like a true McCoy!” Then his face grows serious. “Watch for one who will love you, unconditionally, in spite of what you have been through.” He steps back. Patricia is puzzled at this and looks around at all the beings resembling everyone she knows. “Why have you called me here? What does this all mean? The Vedek said that you would know. Will you tell me?” Suddenly there is a flash of light and she finds herself sitting in front of the Orb again. As she rubs her eyes, she mutters to herself. “I guess the answer, to those questions, is to wait awhile. It wasn’t a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’! I wonder what is to be revealed to me when the time comes?” She reaches over, closes the case housing the Orb, and gets to her feet. As she is walking from the Inner Sanctum, the Vedek greets her. “Was the experience what you expected, my child?” Patricia steps back a pace. “No offense, but as I mentioned before … I prefer to keep private things private.” The Vedek nods in understanding. “As it should be with an Orb experience! May the Prophets continue to bless you!” She silently nods her thanks and leaves the Shrine. She walks swiftly to the nearest turbolift. “Ops!”

The turbolift takes her to Ops. She exits and walks straight toward the steps leading to Captain Sisko’s office. He is standing near the foot of the steps, speaking with a staff member. He looks up and sees Patricia approaching, starts to smile, then realizes that she seems troubled. He approaches her. “Pat, is everything all right? Kassidy!? Rebecca!?” Patricia gestures, “Your family is fine, Ben! Can we go into your office where we can speak privately?” He nods. “Of course!” They head up the steps and into his office. Patricia waits until the doors close behind them, then quickly heads over to the sofa and practically falls into it. She is clearly shaking. Captain Sisko quickly becomes very concerned.

“Pat, what is it? What’s wrong?!” Patricia finds herself struggling to find words before she is finally able to speak. “For the first time in my life, I have set foot inside a Bajoran Shrine!” Sisko’s expression reveals his understanding. “And you encountered an Orb! It has that effect on people when they are not truly prepared for it!” Patricia gets up and begins pacing nervously. “I know I can’t ask you for details as your Orb experiences are private to you. May I ask … the first time you encountered an Orb, did it scare the blankety-blank out of you?!” Sisko sits down on the sofa and indicates for her to sit back down beside him. “I can tell you this. The first time I encountered an Orb, it was right after I met Kai Opaka and, yes, it threw me for a loop. The next time I encountered the Prophets, it wasn’t with an Orb … it was within the Wormhole itself! And yes, those experiences were disorienting and frightening. Just as the Prophets chose to speak to me, they have chosen to speak to you for a reason. Try to keep an open mind and see where it leads.”

Patricia wrings her hands nervously. “I know I have to keep an open mind and keep praying about it to the God of my understanding. At the same time, I am SCARED!” Sisko nods with empathy. “Not long after my experience, Major Kira told me something that helped me a great deal. She said: ‘I don’t know that anyone fully understands an orb experience, not at first anyway. You have to live with it for a while, absorb it … and then, one day, it becomes a part of you, part of who you are.’ That comment has stuck with me ever since. And you want to know something? It did become a part of me!” Patricia considers this. “Just as people, places, things, and experiences has shaped my personality. I guess I have to sit with these feelings for awhile and wait for my Higher Power to lead me to wherever it needs to lead me. You know what is ironic? Years ago, in my younger days, my first reaction to these kinds of fears was to drink and drug at it, hoping to make them go away. My efforts didn’t work and I nearly killed myself as a result. I look back on what I attempted to do to myself and realize how much I nearly wasted my life and wasted the gifts that the God of my understanding gave me. I’m wondering, now, if the Prophets are asking me to share my gifts with them?”

Sisko gives her a concerned look. “Are you feeling the urge to pick up a drink or a drug now?” Patricia shakes her head. “No. I don’t have that craving at all! I understand that self-medicating never solved anything. It actually made a bad problem worse! I think it’s time to work on my 11th Step again!” Sisko is puzzled. “Eleventh Step? I don’t understand.” Patricia smiles. “As a recovering alcoholic and recovering drug addict, I try to work the 12 Steps to stay clean and sober just for today. In light of today’s experience in the Bajoran Shrine, I think the Step that will help me is the 11th Step: ‘Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.’ On a personal level, I will be trying to improve my conscious contact with God, as I understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out, no matter how scared I am, regarding what to do with this Orb experience!” Sisko nods in agreement. “Makes perfect sense!”

Patricia gives him a worried look. “However, when I return to your quarters, Kass will sense that something has happened, that something is different, and I don’t want to make her any more uncomfortable than she is about anything connected to the Prophets in the Celestial Temple. I understand that she went through a difficult time being pregnant while you were with the Prophets and she was very relieved when you were able to return in time for Rebecca’s birth. Then when I learned how some people tried to either crowd in on her and the baby and/or worse, tried to snatch Rebecca from her claiming that the Prophets wanted the child, I can’t say that I blame her for wanting to keep her distance from ANYTHING connected to the Prophets! Unfortunately, there are some ‘fringe’ elements who will use any excuse to harm a child for their own self-gratification! God help them if I catch them red-handed in the act! That will be the only time I will forget my Oath to ‘do no harm’!”

He nods in agreement. “And, as Kass’ husband and Rebecca’s father, I will do whatever is necessary to protect my family!” Patricia looks relieved. “I’m glad we agree on that, Ben! In the meantime, how do either of us broach this difficult subject if Kass senses what has happened to me? I have never mastered the ‘poker face’ completely and I don’t lie very well. My body language will be a dead give away!” Sisko pats her on the shoulder. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, Pat. In the meantime, just sit here and try to calm down the best you can. I’ll be getting off duty in a few hours.” Patricia gets up. “If it’s all the same to you, Ben, I’m going to go back to the Shrine and meditate on this. I’m feeling drawn there, if that makes any sense.” Sisko gets up and walks her to the door. “I understand. I’ll stop by the Shrine after I finish work here.” Patricia gives him a hug. “Thanks, Ben!” She leaves the office and returns to the turbolift. “Promenade!” The turbolift takes here there and she returns to the Shrine where she makes herself comfortable on one of the cushions. She begins to silently pray and meditate.

Another Vedek walks in and notices her sitting quietly with her eyes closed, then quietly walks out. Eventually, she opens her eyes and slowly gets to her feet. She seems calmer than she was before. The first Vedek that she met enters the room and approaches her. “You have returned after your Orb experience! How are you feeling, my child?” Patricia brushes herself off. “Much better, thank you! I needed time to contemplate what had occurred.” The Vedek nods. “And you received counsel from the Emissary, which is also wise. It is very rare for non-Bajorans to commune with the Prophets.” Patricia considers this. “And I get the sense that invitations from the Prophets are even rarer.” He nods. “That is true.” He indicates Patricia’s ear. “If I may, with your permission?” She reluctantly nods and prepares to have her ear grasped once again. “Go ahead.” This time, she is able to refrain from wincing as she did before. The Vedek nods after he releases her ear. “Your Pagh is strong, even stronger than from the first time I touched it. The Prophets have plans for you, the Emissary, and the Emissary’s family.” Patricia becomes defensive. “If anyone intends to do harm to my friends, in the name of the Prophets, they will have to answer to me!” The Vedek raises a restraining hand. “Please do not assume that I intend to harm anyone. I understand your suspicions given that unscrupulous people had misused the Prophets in the past for their own gain.” Patricia states flatly, “If you are truly sincere, I beg your pardon. Since I do not know you, I tend to view all strangers with suspicion until they can prove they are trustworthy. I can do no less!”

The Vedek nods sagely. “As well you should … especially when you are protecting a baby! That is what a Guardian should do!” Patricia is taken aback and puzzled. “Guardian?” “Yes.”, the Vedek replies, “You are acting in the role of Guardian to the Emissary and his family. The Prophets recognize that in you.” She is bemused at this. “I can only hope I can meet their standards. It is quite a responsibility.” She pauses. “I have been here long enough. I should go.” The Vedek raises his hand in blessing. “May the Prophets continue to bless you as you walk with Them!” Patricia bows her head. “Thank you.” She leaves the shrine and encounters Captain Sisko approaching from the Promenade. He observes her as she approaches. “You look a bit tired. Did stopping at the Shrine help?” Patricia sighs. “It helped to calm me down as I had a quiet place to pray and meditate. I’m not sure if the Vedeks understood what I was doing given that we were raised with different belief systems. But, from my point of view, if it works, and it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!”

Sisko smiles. “I don’t pretend to understand everything myself. After spending time with the Prophets, as you and I understand the concept of time, I think I have a better comprehension. It’s not perfect, but better.” “Were you able to explain things to Kass when you returned to linear time?”, Patricia asks. Sisko shrugs. “I think the operative word is ‘tried’ to explain things to Kass. She’s had that one experience with me and the Prophets and she found it very unnerving.” He begins walking down the Promenade and Patricia falls in step beside him. “I can relate to THAT!” Patricia comments, “It’s one thing for the Bajorans to have a face-to-face encounter with the Prophets. They have been raised in a religious system that reveres them the same way I revere the God of my understanding. I often hear them say the phrase: ‘Walk with the Prophets’. I don’t always understand what their concept means. But for you, me, Kass, and any other non-Bajoran who was raised in a different belief system to suddenly find ourselves in an environment where linear time doesn’t exist and the laws of physics doesn’t apply … YIKES!” Sisko laughs gently. “Yikes could sum it up quite nicely!” Patricia gestures questioningly. “So-o-o-o-o-o, where do we go from here, regarding talking to Kass, once she senses what has happened … again? We’re heading home and this can’t be ignored, like a pink elephant sitting in the middle of the living room!” Sisko laughs as he visualizes that analogy. “As if a pink elephant sitting in the middle of the living room CAN be ignored! But I see your point!” They walk down the Promenade in companionable silence, each one thinking on their own experiences with the Prophets. As they approach one of the turbo-lifts, Patricia notices that Kassidy is on the Promenade, alone, and looking worried. “Captain!”, she exclaims as she points to Kassidy. They both hurry over to her.

“Kass, what is it?”, he asks her with concern on his face. Kassidy is near tears. “It’s Rebecca! Somehow, she got out of our quarters. I don’t know where she went!” Patricia looks at both of them. “The only way I can think that could have happened is when the door to the corridor was open for any reason. Did anyone come and see you after Ben, Grilka, and I left?” Kassidy looks at both her husband and Patricia. “Quark came to the door, looking for you and Grilka. My back was turned for only a short time, talking to him. She must have quietly slipped out without either of us noticing she was near the door!” Sisko gently holds his wife’s arms. “I’ll notify Security!” He taps his Comm-badge. Patricia starts to walk. “And I’ll head over to Quark’s to question what he might have seen in the corridor after he left your quarters!” She hurries down the Promenade to Quark’s. When she arrives at Quark’s establishment, it is wall-to-wall customers everywhere, either standing at the Dabo tables, sitting at various tables, a line at the bar, and various Ferengi employees running to and fro waiting on them all. Quark is behind the bar, serving drinks and barking orders at his employees. Patricia walks up to the bar between Morn and a burly Klingon. “Quark!”, she shouts. Quark does not hear her over the noise in the bar and his attention is focused elsewhere. “QUARK!” She shouts again. Quark nods, absent-mindedly, in her direction then turns his attention elsewhere. She finally loses her temper and grabs Morn’s metal mug out of his hand, and slams it, HARD, on the bar several times! “QUARK! OVER! HERE! NOW!”

Morn sits there staring at Patricia bug-eyed. As Quark starts to head in her direction, she calmly returns Morn’s mug to him. “What can I get for you, lovely lady?”, Quark asks flirtatiously. “INFORMATION!”, she barks back. The Ferengi is flustered. “What?!” Patricia glares at him. “You stopped by Captain Sisko’s quarters earlier today, looking for me. Did you see a small child in the corridor as you were heading back to your bar?” Quark shrugs nonchalantly. “Now why would I pay attention to someone else’s children? As the … OWWWWWWWW!” Quark continues screaming as she grabs his ear HARD! Morn is shoved off his bar-stool in the process. The bar falls completely silent from other patrons as they stop and stare. Quark continues screaming in pain.

Patricia continues gripping his ear. “I know what the various Rules of Acquisition say about children and I know your view of them, given the way you have treated Nog in the past! Don’t forget the 87th Rule of Acquisition: ‘A friend in need means three times the profit’. After all that Captain Sisko has done for you since he first came to Deep Space Nine, THIS is how you repay him?!” Quark continues to scream. “OWWWWW! You’re torturing me! OWWWWWW! I don’t know what you’re talking about! OWWWWWW!” Patricia leans in as she snarls, “Quark, if you value your lobes, you will tell me whether or not you saw a small child in the habitat ring corridor after you left Captain Sisko’s quarters! Any more p’tak coming out of you and I will RIP your lobes off of your head! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!” Quark is at a loss. “What does any of this have to do with me?! She tightens her grip again. “DID. YOU. SEE. ANYTHING?!” “YES! YES! PLEEEEEASE! MY EAR!” She loosens her grip a little but does not completely let go. “I thought I saw something move in the corridor but I wasn’t really paying any attention.”, he continues, “What does Captain Sisko have to do with this?” Patricia is furious. “Captain Sisko’s little baby daughter is MISSING you tiny-lobed, self-centered IDIOT!” Quark starts to act obsequious. “Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place, my lovely…? OWWWWW!” Patricia tightens her grip on his ear again. “If ANYTHING has happened to that little baby, I am holding YOU PERSONALLY responsible, QUARK!” The burly Klingon, who is sitting nearby, speaks up. “I will have my crew search every parsec for this child!” He starts to get up and leave when Patricia grabs his armor with her free hand. “When and if you find this child, Warrior, you will bring her to Grilka and she will contact me!” The Klingon salutes her. “It will be done!” He quickly leaves Quark’s bar with several of his crew. Patricia turns her attention back to Quark as she continues to hold his ear. “Now, Quark, tell me, step by step, what you did and saw when you went to Captain Sisko’s quarters looking for me …”

Captain Sisko and Kassidy are frantically looking for their baby daughter. Security, both Bajoran and Star Fleet, are also searching every nook and cranny of the station. Rebecca is nowhere to be found. Kassidy is in tears. Dr. Pat McCoy leaves Quark’s establishment and is searching everywhere along the Promenade as she walks. As she approaches the Bajoran Shrine, she gets a STRONG feeling to look there even though there is no evidence that the baby had gotten that far. Patricia enters the shrine, looking about the outer room for anyone. After doing a visual sweep and finding no one, not even the Vedeks, she enters the Inner Sanctum, calling softly, “Rebecca! Rebecca! Are you playing Hide and Seek, baby? Come on out! You won the game, sweetie! Where are you?” She notices that the Orb container is open then suddenly she is surrounded by light and energy. She finds herself standing before the Vedeks she had met earlier plus other familiar people. The being resembling the first Vedek speaks, “You are the McCoy, Guardian for the Sisko!”

She tries to calm down by breathing. “Yes, I am the McCoy, Guardian for the Sisko. His daughter is missing!” The “Vedek” smiles. “The Sisko’s daughter is perfectly safe!” Patricia is trying hard not to panic. “Do you know where she has gone?! She’s not in her quarters! I need to find the child!” The “Vedek” repeats, “The Sisko’s daughter is perfectly safe!” Patricia is having difficulty controlling her anxiety. “Please! Direct me to her! I need to bring her back to the Sisko and his wife, the baby’s mother!” The being resembling the Vedek seems puzzled. “We do not understand the emotional upheaval over the Sisko’s child. The child is safe.” Patricia pauses to gather herself. “It’s hard to put into words the bond that should exist between a mother and her child; the strong bond that DOES EXIST between Kassidy and her daughter, along with a father’s love and protectiveness that exists between the Sisko and his little girl.” The being still does not understand. “Please explain.” By now, Patricia is trying hard not to weep. “The Sisko and wife of the Sisko, parents of Rebecca, deeply love their daughter. They are distraught as they don’t know where she is! There are many dangers that can befall a toddler. She’s only a BABY who doesn’t know any better! I don’t know how else to explain! PLEASE, help me FIND her!” The being resembling the Vedek looks back at Patricia. “You have never given birth to a child.” She shakes her head sadly. “No, I have never given birth. That doesn’t mean I have no maternal feelings. I don’t want anything to happen to Rebecca! She’s an INNOCENT BABY!”

The being looks back at her sagely. “You do not want her to experience the horrors that you experienced when you were her age!” By this point, tears are pouring down Patricia’s face. “Yes! Please help me find her and bring her safely home to the Sisko and his wife! PLEASE!” A baby’s voice comes out of nowhere. “Bear!” Patricia looks around frantically. She’s HERE!?” The “Vedek” smiles. “She is perfectly safe … with us!” She is dumbfounded. “How did she get in here?” “Vedek” smiles more broadly. “Only the Rebecca knows.” Patricia’s fears are starting to give way to impatience and anger. “I thought you told me that I am the Guardian for the Sisko and his family!” The “Vedek” responds, “You are the McCoy, Guardian for the Sisko!” Patricia answers back, “And Guardian for the Sisko’s wife and child?” The “Vedek” replies, “You are the McCoy, Guardian for the Sisko’s wife and child!” Patricia continues, “If I am the Guardian for the Sisko’s child, then how can I do my job properly if you are keeping her here?” The “Vedek” gently shakes his head. “No one is keeping the Rebecca here.” She hesitates as she takes in this new information. “Then she is free to go home to her mother and father? She is free to go home to the Sisko?” The “Vedek” nods. “The Rebecca is free to leave.” Patricia looks around then faces the being resembling the Vedek. “Which brings me back to my original question … where is she … in … here?”

The being resembling the “Vedek” gives her a questioning look. “What do you mean by ‘here’?” Patricia is flustered. “The semantics are getting difficult. Tangled verbs are bad enough but THIS?! I know that you are of Bajor and the Bajorans refer to your home as the Celestial Temple. You have sent Orbs, that Bajorans call ‘Tears of the Prophets’ that help guide them with wisdom, prophecy and change, and other virtues that I can’t recall at the moment. The Sisko visited you within the Celestial Temple and explained Linear Time as corporeal beings understand Linear Time. Where the Rebecca and I, who are corporeal beings, are physically standing does not have Linear Time and the Laws of Physics do not apply. You are not corporeal. The Rebecca, who is corporeal, needs her mother and father, she needs to be fed, loved, and taken care of by her family. As a corporeal child, a toddler, she cannot stay with you in the Celestial Temple the way her father, the Sisko did. The Rebecca needs to come home. I am the Guardian to the Rebecca and I need to bring her home to the Sisko. Please bring the Rebecca to me.”

Patricia feels a tug on the pants leg of her uniform. She looks down and sees Rebecca gazing up at her, grinning. “Bear!”, the toddler giggles. McCoy scoops the baby up in her arms and hugs her tightly. “Rebecca!”, she exclaims, “I was so worried about you! Don’t run off like that again!” The being resembling the “Vedek” gestures toward them. “The Rebecca is where she belongs!” Suddenly, there is a flash of light, the Vedek and the other Prophets vanish, and Dr. Pat McCoy finds herself, still holding Rebecca, standing before the Orb within the Shrine. Balancing the child on one arm, she uses her free hand to close the doors on the shining Orb. Patricia turns to Rebecca. “Let’s go home! Mommy and Daddy are looking all over for you!” She shifts Rebecca in her arms so she can easily reach her comm-badge. “Dr. McCoy to Captain Sisko!” Sisko’s voice is heard. “Sisko here!” Patricia continues, “Rebecca is with me! I found her in the Bajoran Shrine!” She can hear the relief in his voice. “Thank you, Pat, for finding her! How did she manage to get from our quarters to the Shrine without someone noticing a toddler all alone? She’s normally shy!” Patricia decides to refrain from mentioning the Prophets for fear of upsetting Kassidy, who must be within earshot of her husband. Instead, she responds, “Lord only knows! Rebecca is the only one who knows how she got here and she’s not talking!” Rebecca giggles at that. Sisko replies. “The important thing is that she is safe and sound! Stay at the Shrine! I’ll be right there! Sisko out!”

In what seems like a matter of moments, Captain Sisko, Kassidy, and several security personnel enter the Shrine. Kassidy practically runs to Dr. Pat McCoy and scoops Rebecca out of her arms, holding the baby tightly. Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat McCoy make eye contact with each other and she subtly nods in the direction of the Orb. Captain Sisko subtly nods his understanding. Kassidy is sobbing. “Rebecca! Baby! Where have you been?!” The toddler points toward the Orb, laughing. “Play! Magic people! Play!” Patricia and Sisko look at each other thinking: “Uh-oh! Here it comes!” Kassidy looks at the box containing the Orb then looks at the toddler. “You mean to tell me you opened THAT and were with the Wormhole Aliens?! But HOW could you get in here without anyone seeing you?!” Rebecca replies with laughter. “Play!” She claps her chubby hands in delight.

Patricia interjects. “From Rebecca’s perspective, she’s found new playmates. They did give her to me, unharmed.” Kassidy looks at Dr. Pat McCoy. “You went in THERE after her?” Patricia awkwardly scratches the back of her head. “Ummmm … yeah.” Kassidy is awe-struck. “Weren’t you terrified in there, your first time encountering those beings!?” Patricia looks over at Sisko, then back at Kassidy. “Well … to tell you the truth, while Ben and I were on the way to your quarters, I was trying to figure out how to explain that I had already had a prior visit … and Rebecca took care of that! I didn’t get the chance to tell you that I had a previous encounter, earlier today. A Vedek invited me into the Shrine … I accepted the invitation as part of my IDIC philosophy that Uncle Spock taught me … and … well … I had my first encounter with the Orb and learned some things about myself that I wasn’t consciously aware of before. It was both a frightening and learning experience at the same time.” Kassidy is both apprehensive and relieved. “I see …”

Sisko puts his arms around his wife and child. “Kass”, he gently tells her, “the Prophets don’t invite just anyone to drop in on them for a little visit. They have a purpose for each corporeal being they invite. We just don’t know, or understand, what that purpose is until much later. For instance, my coming to understand what my role of being the Emissary really means.” Patricia interjects. “And in answer to your question, Kass, my first encounter earlier today did scare the …” She glances quickly at the toddler to remind herself to watch her language. “You-know-what … out of me! Ben saw how I reacted afterwards, which is why I didn’t come straight back to your quarters after taking care of some other things. I needed time to process what I experienced even though I am not at liberty to discuss the details.” Kassidy is trying to take this all in. “And Rebecca wasn’t frightened at all?” Patricia gestures toward the baby. “Like I said a little while ago, from Rebecca’s point of view, she has found some new playmates and they seemed to delight in her. You don’t need to fear them.”

Kassidy shakes her head. “I’m just not ready to let her play with them again anytime soon!” Sisko speaks gently. “Kass, the important thing is that Rebecca is all right. She’s back with us, safe and sound. There is nothing to fear.” Rebecca points to the Orb. “”Wanna play!”, she laughs. Patricia takes Rebecca’s hand. “Not right now, Sweetie. You played so much with them that they’re very tired. They’re taking a nap.” Rebecca happily chirps, “Okay!” Kassidy, Sisko, and Patricia try to keep a straight face at that. Sisko picks up Rebecca from Kassidy. “Well, little girl, it’s time for your nap too!” Rebecca starts to pout. “No! Wanna play!” “How about we take her to the Holosuite and have her run around a baseball field until she’s tired?”, Patricia suggests. Kassidy nods. “Sounds like a plan to me! What do you think, Ben?” Sisko considers this. “If it helps her to take a nap, I’m all for it!” A Security Guard steps up. “I would suggest we escort you there so no one bothers you.”

Patricia gestures toward the corridor. “I think Grilka’s crew might still be around. We need to let them know that Rebecca’s all right.” The Security Guard replies. “One of us can escort you to the Holosuite and the others can direct the Klingons there if they wish to join you.” “And/or have them communicate with me.”, Patricia adds. The Security Guard nods. “Yes, ma’am.” One of the security guards heads out the door of the Shrine. The remaining security guards escort the Sisko family and Dr. Pat McCoy as they head out onto the Promenade and walk toward Quark’s and the Holosuites.

As the group enters Quark’s establishment, Quark timidly approaches Dr. Pat McCoy, giving her the Ferengi greeting with hands held together at the wrists. “I am so relieved that Captain Sisko’s daughter has been found safe!” Patricia gives Quark an evil grin. “And your lobes are safe … for now! Maybe you’ll be able to get Ooh-Mox later!” Quark starts to say something, then Patricia interrupts him. “And don’t even THINK about ME giving YOU Ooh-Mox!” Quark nods silently and walks away looking dejected. Patricia turns to Captain Sisko. “Do you have the baseball program with you?” Sisko gestures toward the upstairs. “I had Quark save it in the system so that either Jake, Kass, or I could call it up at any time.” Patricia nods. “Sounds like a plan!”

They head upstairs and enter one of the Holosuites. Sisko calls out, “Computer! Run Sisko Baseball program!” A baseball field materializes within the Holosuite. Kassidy puts Rebecca down and lets her run around the adults in circles. Patricia calls out to the toddler, “Hey! Rebecca! Want to run with me around the bases!?” She starts to trot toward home plate and Rebecca toddles after her. Captain Sisko puts his arm around Kassidy as they watch. Sisko turns to Kassidy. “How much you want to bet that Pat will be ready for a nap long before Rebecca finishes running around the bases?” Kassidy laughs.

Back at the home quarters of the Sisko family, Rebecca is finally able to take a nap. While she is napping, Dr. Pat McCoy, Captain Sisko, and Kassidy Yates-Sisko are sitting in the living room area, resting and recuperating from playing with an energetic toddler. They hear the door chime. Sisko calls out, “Come!” The door slides open and Grilka enters the room. “My men have informed me that Rebecca has been found!” Sisko nods. “Yes. Thanks for helping to search for her. On a station like this, there were so many places she could have decided to play ‘Hide and Seek’, which is one of her favorite games!” Grilka is puzzled at that. “Hide and Seek? I’m not certain I understand. What sort of game is that?” Patricia chuckles. “It is a VERY ANCIENT children’s game that doesn’t require any toys … only imagination. Not only have I seen it played on Earth, I’ve seen it played on other worlds as well, including here on Bajor, when the children had no toys to play with and their parents were busy rebuilding after the Cardassians left.”

Grilka looks intrigued. “What do the children do?” “Well”, Patricia responds, “when a group of children decide to play Hide and Seek, one child is chosen to be ‘IT’. That child closes her or his eyes and begins to count to 100. While the IT-child is counting, the other children run and search for creative places to hide. When the IT-child finishes the count to 100, the child shouts: ‘Ready or not, here I come!’ and proceeds to hunt for the other children. If the IT-child finds the Hider, then the IT-child chants: ‘1-2-3 on…’ and names the Hider that was found. Those who succeed in staying hidden, by the end of the game, wins.” “What do they win?”, Grilka asks, “Weapons? Food? Spoils?” Patricia shakes her head. “Nope! No weapons! Nothing material, per se … only bragging rights!” Grilka is bemused. “Bragging rights?” Patricia grins. “Similar to what we sing about after we win a glorious battle! Some children might sing about their bragging rights … others would just brag for awhile until the next time they play Hide and Seek.” She pauses. “I just remembered that you and I, along with your crew DID play a version of this game not too long ago during a training session! Remember the old-fashioned paint-balls that we used?”

Grilka grins. “Yes! And YOU bragged for the longest time after you tagged Martok!” Patricia gives a belly-laugh. “THAT was FUN!” Grilka adds, “And then Worf got YOU!” Patricia chuckles. “Until YOU got WORF! He didn’t see you sneak up from behind and hit that tempting target! He couldn’t sit comfortably for a week!” Everyone laughs. Grilka nods, smiling. “I am glad that Rebecca is safe and at home with her family. I will return to my ship. I will see you in the morning. Rest well! You have earned it!” Sisko gets up to walk her to the door. “Thank you, again, Grilka, and thank your crew for me.” Grilka smiles back. “You are welcome, Captain. I will.” Patricia calls out from where she is sitting. “Good night, Grilka. See you in the morning.” Grilka leaves Sisko’s quarters. Patricia turns to Sisko and Kassidy with a mischievous gleam in her eye. “That gives me an idea! I can replicate my paintball equipment and then Grilka and I could play Hide and Seek with Quark!”

Sisko laughs and shakes his head. “Pat, please don’t torture him any more! He’s had enough roughing up already from you!” Patricia holds up her hands. “Okay! Okay! Besides, I’m sure he’s enjoying himself while Grilka is visiting!” “And we both know how Grilka and Quark feel about each other.”, Sisko agrees. Patricia nods. “Exactly! Which is why I’ll stay out of the middle of their relationship. There’s only a short time left until my shore leave is over with and I’ll need to return to duty. Part of me is tempted to design more training exercises for the Klingons while they’re here.” Sisko gives her a mock-stern look. “And I am ordering you to enjoy your vacation by PLAYING and NOT working!”

Patricia looks wistful. “Left to my own devices, I don’t know how to play. That’s why I usually end up working because I don’t know how to do anything else.” Sisko looks thoughtful. “Do you like to fish?” She sits up, looking eager. “I LOVE to go fishing!” Kassidy smiles. “That would be perfect!” Patricia gives her a puzzled look. “What is?” Kassidy responds, “Ben has been wanting to go fishing for a long time but doesn’t want to go alone. Ever since Jake left home, he has not had a fishing buddy for a long time. Rebecca is too young and I have some other projects that I would like to do while Ben is fishing.” Patricia turns to Sisko. “Have you ever gone crabbing?” Sisko shakes his head. “No, can’t say that I have.” She grins at him. “Then I can teach you. We’ll need to replicate fishing nets, some string, chicken necks …”

Kassidy does a double-take. “Chicken necks?!” Patricia nods. “Uh-huh. The chicken necks would be bait for the crabs.” Sisko likes that idea. “Sounds intriguing!” Patricia starts ticking off a list on her fingers. “We can have a combination of fishing equipment, tackle, bait, and so forth to catch either crabs or fish. When we tire of one, we can switch to the other.” “Sounds like a plan to me!”, Kassidy chimes in. Patricia turns to Kassidy. “And what do you plan to do while we go fishing and/or catching crabs?” Kassidy winks at her husband. “You’ll find out when you get back!” Patricia misses the clue between the spouses. “Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying your own vacation while Ben and I are having fun fishing?” Kassidy gives her an incredulous look. “And what makes you think I’ll be working while you two are playing?” Patricia suddenly realizes what she meant. “Touche’!” Kassidy shoos them both toward the door. “Now you two run along! I’ll see you when you get back!” Sisko walks over to his wife, kisses her passionately, then hugs her tightly. Patricia looks away to give them privacy. Sisko walks back over to Patricia and gestures toward the door. “Let’s go! We have some seafood to catch!”

Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat walk out of his quarters and head over to Quark’s and the Holosuites. “Ben, do you have the fishing holo-program with you or does Quark have it saved for you?”, Patricia asks. Sisko replies. “It’s easier to store it at the holo-suite. I have a back-up in my quarters, if it’s ever needed. Ready to catch the biggest fish?” Patricia grins. “Heh! I guess I tend to perserverate too much. What kind of fish does the program include? Bluefish? Salmon? Rainbow trout?” “We could fish from a wharf, from a rowboat, or deep sea fishing if you’d like.”, he replies. Patricia is enthusiastic about these possibilities. “Oooh! So many ways to fish, so little time!” Sisko chuckles at this. “We can fish for any type of fish you’d like.” Patricia thinks about this. “I think I prefer to fish in calm waters for now. I’ve had more than enough turbulence ‘on land’ for today!” Sisko chuckles again. “You and me, both!”

They re-enter Quark’s establishment and head upstairs to one of the Holosuites. Upon entering, Sisko calls out to the computer, designing a wharf, a rowboat tied to the dock, fishing rods, fishing tackle, tackle box, fishing nets, heavy twine, bait, and any other fishing or crabbing equipment that the two of them can brainstorm that they think they will need. They settle down on the dock, prepare their fishing rods and cast their lines into the water. Patricia settles back, relaxes, and closes her eyes. “Ahh! I’ve forgotten how relaxing fishing can be! This is Paradise!” Sisko has also settled back. “I’ve forgotten too! What was that quotation I’ve often heard you say about plans and life?” “John Lennon was the one who originally said it.”, Patricia responds, “Life happens while you are busy making other plans. Gramps, Uncle Spock, and I often planned to go fishing here or there but something always got in the way and the fishing trip always ended up on the back burner, which we never got around to. Personally, I think fishing is the best prescription for stress! I should have prescribed this for myself, long ago, but I didn’t want to go fishing alone. It’s no fun that way.”

Sisko nods. “I have to agree. I loved to go fishing with Jake when he was just a boy. Now that he’s grown, he’s so busy that we rarely see each other and my job doesn’t make it any easier.” Patricia grins. “And to think, that in a few more years, Rebecca will be old enough to take fishing with you. I’d love to see the expression on her face the first time she sees a worm!” Sisko chuckles. “It’s too early to tell if she will be a girly-girl, like my mother, or a tom-boy like her mother!” Patricia nods. “From my perspective, let her enjoy just being a kid and follow her bliss. As long as she’s happy, that’s all that matters!” Sisko nods back. “True. For someone with such instincts, I’m surprised you’ve never adopted a child of your own.” Patricia sighs with a sad expression on her face. “I’ve had several people tell me that. It’s complicated, Ben. Only the Prophets and the God of my understanding know my reasons. For now, I’m content with just being the Favorite Aunt.”

Sisko looks thoughtful. “I can’t say I completely understand. At the same time, I respect your decisions. Just as I have learned … not everyone is destined to walk the same path.” Patricia gives him a sad smile. “Thanks, Ben. Not everyone has been willing to accept my decisions and they have even attempted to violate my boundaries where deeply personal stuff is concerned. You are one of the few people that I have permitted into my ‘Inner Circle’ because you respect my boundaries.” Sisko nods with understanding. “I know how I would feel if someone violated my boundaries where my family is concerned so I can relate with what you said. Changing the subject, what are your plans when your vacation ends?”

Patricia sighs. “I’m sure I’ll have a stack of work waiting for me back at my post, plus touch base with Gramps and Uncle Spock to make sure they are both doing okay. Neither of them are getting any younger and that worries me. I also expect I’ll be sent out on another training mission with the Martok and his crew, especially now that I’ve introduced the water training recently. The work never ends.” Sisko considers this. “What was it that I’ve often heard you say … one day at a time?” Patricia nods. “You’re right, Ben! Just for today, I need to focus on relaxing and enjoying sitting here and fishing!” Sisko nods and they enjoy a companionable silence while fishing. Suddenly, Patricia’s line starts to bob and weave. She begins to slowly reel in the line and pulls up a small perch. She carefully unhooks it and places it back in the water.

After a blissfully long, quiet time, Sisko’s communicator chirps. “Ops to Captain Sisko!” Sisko taps his comm-badge. “Sisko here. Go ahead.” “Just doing a routine check, as per your orders, sir.”, the officer at Ops responds. “Acknowledged. Sisko out.” He taps his comm-badge off. Patricia sighs. “I guess it’s time to head back to the real world, eh, Ben?” Sisko nods. “Yes. It’s time. You can stay longer if you like.” Patricia shakes her head as she gets to her feet. “No, thanks. It’s no fun if I can’t eat what I catch and I don’t like doing that alone.” Sisko nods again as he stands up. “I understand.” He calls out to the holosuite computer. “Computer, end program!” The scenery disappears and the holosuite reappears. Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat exit through the doors.

Quark acknowledges their presence as they walk down the spiral staircase and into the bar area. “Would you two like anything?” Sisko shakes his head. “No, thank you, Quark.” Patricia hesitates. “Got any grilled salmon to go?” Quark gives her a funny look and Patricia sighs. “Never mind, Quark. I’ll get something back at home quarters.” The two of them leave Quark’s Establishment and start walking down the Promenade. Sisko looks over at Patricia, who is looking glum. “Come on, Pat. Out with it!” Patricia looks back. “I guess I just wanted to replicate the taste of freshly-caught salmon grilled over an open flame and then realized that I can’t do that here. A touch of home-sickness, I guess.” Sisko nods. “There’s nothing like freshly cooked food, like I learned in New Orleans, that can compare to replicated MRE’s.” Patricia makes a face. “Don’t remind me of Made-Ready-to-Eat and canned rations! ICK!”

“Yes! I know!”, Sisko replies with a smile, “I’ve experienced the taste of fresh-caught, freshly-cooked salmon at my father’s restaurant! It was out of this world DELICIOUS!” Patricia starts to reminisce, “Then add in the crab boil, shrimp boil, craw-fish, gumbo, jambalaya, seafood pulled fresh from the water! Replicators just can’t do that!” Sisko sighs. “I get homesick for that too, sometimes. Now that Dad’s gone, it’s just me that can teach those traditions.” Patricia looks at Sisko. “Has Jake learned?” Sisko chuckles. “Well, yes and no. He can do well enough to feed himself in a pinch … but as for entertaining friends and family … or even running SISKO’S Creole Kitchen ….” Patricia nods in understanding. “I know from my experience THAT takes a LOT of WORK!” Sisko gives her a puzzled look. “I didn’t know you cooked for parties.” “My specialty is Barbecue Grilling.”, Patricia replies, “Hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, salmon, chicken, steaks … if I can toss it on a grill over HOT charcoals, it cooks! Have you invented a dish in memory of your Dad … the Joseph Sisko Special … yet?”

Sisko shakes his head. “Not yet. But you got me thinking! Thanks! By the way, I get the impression that you have cooked for a party not too long ago.” Patricia chuckles. “Yep! While I was on a mission with the Klingons. To give you a bit of a back-story … I learned, the hard way, long ago, that my digestive system just cannot handle some of the Klingon cuisine and I became very dehydrated during my first mission with them, and you know my opinion regarding MRE’s. I discovered that when I was able to cook what I could over an open fire, I was able to digest it more easily. I won’t bore you with a lecture on the chemical changes that take place during cooking as I’m sure you are aware of that. During the last mission I had with them, some of the young’uns attempted to give me a hard time about cooking, saying that a REAL warrior eats the meat RAW, and I dared them to come near me and the open flames to prove their bravery. Talk about trading insults! It did get FUNNY! Eventually, I found myself cooking for EVERYONE and they kept begging for more!”

Sisko laughs. “I can imagine! Martok and Worf tell me that your cooking is legendary … the stuff of songs!” Patricia howls with laughter. “Now THAT is FUNNY!” Sisko looks at her quizzically, “Are you going to be doing any grilling in the near future?” She considers this possibility. “If we can go planet-side on Bajor, we could probably set up a grill there. Speaking of which, when you had your home built on Bajor, did you build a barbeque grill or an outdoor kitchen out back?” Sisko looks thoughtful. “I need to add that. Between my being in the Celestial Temple, and Kass being pregnant with Rebecca, some things had to be … postponed.” Patricia grins, “Pardon the obvious pun, you put the building of the backyard grill on the back burner.” Sisko groans. “You just had to go there, didn’t you, Pat?” Patricia gives him an evil grin. “Couldn’t resist!” “Any idea when you want to grill for the troops again?”, Sisko asks.

Patricia scratches her head as she thinks. “It’s going to take some planning. I need to scout for what’s available in the way of equipment and food. She thinks for a few more minutes. “We COULD build it behind your house and it would be a permanent fixture for you. What do you think?” Sisko looks dubious. “Have you considered how my Bajoran neighbors might react? Their culture is different from ours and the Klingons. They might not be comfortable with my having a backyard barbecue.” Patricia gives herself a face-palm. “I should have thought about that! It might trigger unpleasant memories of the Occupation. Dumb me!” Sisko shakes his head. “No, not dumb. I appreciate the idea. I can talk with my Bajoran neighbors, see how they feel about it. There’s always the possibility of hosting a neighborhood party from time to time, celebrating holidays, birthdays, weddings, and what have you. I might have to order you to be the hostess. After all, you ARE the expert with the grill!” Patricia grins at him. “And you ARE the expert at Cajun cooking!”

Sisko laughs and holds out his hand. “Okay! We’ll team up and combine our cooking skills whenever the opportunity arises! Deal?” Patricia shakes his hand. “Deal!” They arrive back at Sisko’s quarters and Kassidy greets them. “How was your fishing trip?” Patricia smiles. “Didn’t catch much, and yet, it was good to be able to have some quiet time without any catastrophes and disasters hitting from all sides!” Kassidy smiles back. “Good! You both needed that!” Patricia gives her a quizzical look. “And what did you do while we were fishing?” Kassidy gives a sly grin to her husband. “That’s for Ben to find out later!” She winks at him and he grins in response. Patricia holds up her hands. “Okay! I’ll quit before I step into something I shouldn’t step into!” Sisko grins at that then turns to his wife. “Honey, Pat and I were batting around some ideas. What do you think of having a barbecue grill, or an outdoor kitchen, in our backyard, on Bajor, if our neighbors agree to it?”

Kassidy looks surprised. “You mean actually cooking REAL food, over an open fire, instead of replicating it?” Patricia grins at that. “Grilling real food is fun!” Kassidy looks dubious. “Wouldn’t that be messy?” Patricia shakes her head at that. “It’s not too bad, once you get used to it. Imagine going camping with the Klingons on their missions! Now THAT is MESSY!” Sisko smiles at both his wife and at Patricia. “Compared to camping and roughing it, backyard grilling is easier to prepare, easier to control, and easier to clean-up. You’ve seen me cook indoors. Cooking outdoors sounds like fun!” Kassidy scowls at her husband. “And I’ve seen the mess you’ve created while cooking. Thank goodness for the reclamators to help clean THAT up!” Ben grins at his wife. “I remember the one time you attempted to cook and made an even BIGGER mess!” Kass holds her hands up in surrender. “Okay! Okay! How are you going to clean up after grilling outdoors when the reclamators might not be able to handle it all?”

Patricia rolls up the sleeve of her civilian garb, flexing her arm. “I’ve learned the old techniques that my ancient ancestors used … soap, water, a wire scrub brush, muscle power that used to be called ‘elbow grease’. Whenever one of the Warriors messed up during a drill, that Warrior learned what K.P. meant when they had to prepare the meals, according to my specs, and clean up according to my specs!” Kassidy looks confused. “K.P. What does that mean?” Patricia grins. “Kitchen Patrol! The Warriors learned how to peel a LOT of potatoes whenever something didn’t come up to scratch!” Kassidy is amazed at that. “You managed to get that many potatoes among your supplies?” Sisko interjects. “Honey, before we get any further into the discussion about the Klingons, kitchen patrol, and so forth, are you amenable to the idea of having a backyard barbecue or an outdoor kitchen?” Kassidy thinks this over. “If you take responsibility of keeping it clean, in between uses, I won’t object. However, if you leave it messy, you KNOW what I will do with it! I can be a good shot with a phaser!” Patricia gives Sisko an anxious look. “Ben?”

Sisko holds up his hands. “Honey, I promise to take care of it!” Kassidy nods. “In that case, I’ll agree to it.” “Let me get on the communicator and discuss this idea with my neighbors.”, Sisko continues, “I have to make sure that I won’t accidentally create any unintentional bureaucratic headaches with the local authorities.” “And if it’s all right with you,”, Patricia interjects, “I’ll go and put my feet up while doing some meditating. I want to hold on to this calm as long as I can!” Kassidy laughs. “Don’t let me stand in your way! Rebecca’s taking a nap so that’s fine!” Patricia grins. “Thanks, Kass!” She heads to her room and shuts the door. Later, as she is lying down on her bed, with her eyes closed, she hears a gentle tapping at the door. She gets up and goes to the door. Sisko is standing there.

“What’s up, Ben?”, Patricia asks as she rubs the sleep out of her eyes. “Thought you might like to know that our idea was approved.”, Sisko replies. “The neighbors have even volunteered to provide the materials and help build it. I just need to choose a design.” She grins. “Sounds good!” She pauses. “I just thought of something based on our earlier discussion where I thought I might have triggered unpleasant memories for the Bajorans.”

Sisko leans against the doorway. “Go on, Pat. What’s on your mind?” “Well …”, she continues slowly, “Part of my spiritual practice is observing Passover, in remembrance of the Hebrews obtaining freedom from slavery in Egypt … and remembering how our ancestors, yours and mine, were freed from slavery back on Earth during the 1800’s. I was thinking, why not have this outdoor party as part of an observance of the day Bajor became free of the Cardassians? The Bajorans already celebrate the arrival of the Emissary, which you prefer to avoid. I understand your preference. Is there any way to change that to Bajoran Freedom Day?” Sisko pauses. “I have a feeling you have more to your idea.” Patricia nods. “Uh … yeah. Instead of avoiding Emissary Day, wouldn’t it be better for you to be there, helping to change the focus off of you and celebrate the day Bajor became free? Otherwise, the Bajorans are going to continue to focus on you, much to your discomfort and very much to the displeasure of Star Fleet.” Sisko considers this suggestion. “Sounds like you are proposing a Win-Win solution to Star Fleet’s problem that they have been pressuring me, for years, to resolve.”

Patricia continues to look thoughtful. “I’m hoping it will be a Win-Win for everyone concerned. Not sure how the Cardassians would perceive it, now that Gul Dukat is gone. How do you feel about it?” Sisko mulls it over. “It feels good. I can run it by the top brass at Star Fleet and see what they say. In fact, let me contact the Admiral now.” He heads over to the comm-link nearby. Patricia continues to rub her eyes as she follows Captain Sisko over to the comm-link, as he contacts Admiral Akaar at Star Fleet Command, and gives an outline of Dr. Pat’s idea. The Admiral is serious in his reaction. “We would prefer that you not be involved in any way, Ben, but we have come to understand that the Bajorans are going to do what they are going to do anyway.” He looks at Patricia. “You’ve come up with a good idea, Captain. I commend you for that!” Patricia bows her head in response. “Thank you, sir.” The Admiral turns back to Captain Sisko. “Go ahead and implement this idea. I only hope it won’t end up proving the saying of: ‘No good deed goes unpunished! Admiral Akaar out!'”. He signs off.

Sisko turns Patricia. “Looks like I need to get busy, choose a design for this backyard barbecue, coordinate with my neighbors, and talk with the Bajoran Council of Ministers about Bajoran Freedom Day.” Patricia gestures. “And I’ll study Bajoran cuisine to see what could be adapted for a barbecue and draw up a proposed menu. I think, given that we are celebrating Bajoran Freedom Day, I should honor the Bajorans with their own cuisine, don’t you think?” Sisko nods. “Sounds like a plan to me!” Patricia continues, “And you could add in some of your special touches, from New Orleans, to a few of the dishes. Have a mix of traditional Bajoran foods plus Cajun cooking! That could acknowledge the origins of the Emissary. It will be like having our own version of Passach.” Sisko smiles. “I like the way you think!”

Both Captain Sisko and Dr. Pat get busy with their respective tasks. Patricia has another thought and approaches Captain Sisko. “Ben, how can we include the Cardassians? Based on our own Earth history, America and Great Britain became close friends and allies after the War of 1812. In fact, my ancestral namesake wrote about an encounter that she had with a British citizen while celebrating the War’s Bicentennial in the Port of Baltimore in 2012. She was on one recreational ship and the British citizen was on another private ship in Baltimore’s harbor. They were able to joke and laugh with each other about both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. How can we promote that kind of healing between the Cardassians and the Bajorans?” Sisko contemplates this. “Good question. I know just the person I can ask about that … Garak.”

Patricia looks dubious. “Ben, can he be trusted? He was part of the Obsidian Order …” “All the more reason to talk to him.”, Sisko replies, “The healing has to start somewhere.” Patricia nods. “True that! May I be permitted to speak to Garak?” Sisko gives her a quizzical look. “Can you tell me why?” Patricia responds, “As you just said, Ben, the healing has to start somewhere. I still have a lot of healing to work on and I’m sure he does too.”

Sisko indicates his comm-system. “All right. Go ahead.” Dr. Pat sits down in front of the comm-link and punches in the code to contact Garak on Cardassia. His image appears on the view-screen. “Hello, Garak. How are you?” Garak glares hard at her. “Why are YOU contacting ME?!” “First of all”, Patricia responds, “To admit that I was wrong, I should have promptly admitted that, to you, long ago. My human pride got in the way. I’m sorry.” Garak still looks angry. “I’ll have to think long and hard before accepting your apology, McCoy.” Patricia nods. “That’s fair. What I did to you was stupid, which is an understatement. I don’t blame you for hating me.” Garak’s expression softens. “Hate is a strong word that has done too much damage to Cardassia. I think the operative word here is that I am still angry with you. I don’t hate you.” Patricia pauses as she takes this in. “That is also fair. I deserve your anger. I’m old enough to know better than to do something as impulsive as what I did. I don’t know how to make amends that would be acceptable to you.” Garak gives a hint of a smile. “We are communicating. You have admitted to what you did wrong. In your culture, on your world, isn’t that the beginning of making amends?” Patricia nods in agreement. “Yes, sir.”

Garak smiles at that. “Don’t call me ‘sir’. ‘Elim’ will do.” Patricia smiles back. “Yes … Elim.” Garak’s smile widens. “Just don’t assume that I will ‘forgive and forget’. You know that is not the Cardassian way!” Patricia’s expression becomes serious. “I understand. Which brings me to a question that I have been discussing with Captain Sisko. How can we bring about healing among everyone that had been hurt in the past? There had been the war involving Cardassia with members of the Federation, the Occupation of Bajor by Cardassia, your subsequent exile on Deep Space Nine, the War with the Dominion that led to mass destruction on Cardassia, my stupid actions … all of that had to hurt. Can the healing begin with a single step?” Garak looks thoughtful. “I believe celebrating the Defeat of the Dominion helps in that regard.” Patricia nods. “That is a good beginning. I’m wondering … if I may be permitted to ask … how do you feel about the idea of Bajoran Freedom Day, which would be celebrated the same day the Bajorans celebrate the arrival of the Emissary to the Prophets?” “Meaning the day the Bajorans celebrate the arrival of Captain Benjamin Sisko?”, Garak asks, “I must admit, I have mixed feelings about that … reminding me of my exile … which began the day Gul Dukat and the others left that planet, among other things that occurred between the Bajorans and the Cardassians.”

Patricia nods at that. “And when Captain Sisko arrived, it started a chain of events that eventually allowed you to return home to a position of authority on Cardassia.” Garak considers this. “Looking at it that way, I can see your logic. How would you celebrate such a day?” Patricia leans toward the view-screen. “I was thinking about having an inaugural cookout in Captain Sisko’s backyard and having it like a neighborhood-wide party.” Garak looks confused. “A cook-out? What is a ‘cook-out’? Patricia thinks for a moment. “Garak, have you had the opportunity to experience some of Captain Sisko’s cooking?” Garak shakes his head. “Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever being invited. Doctor Bashir described several of the dinners he attended.” Patricia considers this information while rubbing her chin thoughtfully. “Given the circumstances in the past, it might have proven awkward on all sides, if you had been invited. Especially given the fact that Gul Dukat was part of the equation causing a lot of grief for everyone. We both know how quickly the political winds changed back and forth, on Cardassia, before and during the conflict with the Dominion. Dukat could have used that social situation to make you look worse and we both know what he was capable of when he got the chance! He could have used that as an excuse to find a way to get you killed … just for the heck of it!”

Garak gives a grim nod. “That is so true, my friend. Gul Dukat was quite an unpleasant fellow! Go on with your explanation of this ‘cook-out’. I find it intriguing!” Patricia continues. “Well, to try to explain it simply … instead of getting food out of a replicator, there would be an outdoor cooking area where Captain Sisko and I would be cooking food over an open fire.” Garak is incredulous. “Over an open fire?! Not replicated? That sounds so … messy … barbaric!” Patricia grins. “Cooking outdoors is actually fun for me. It also reminds me of how my ancestors survived before there were replicators or even the kind of energy that is used now to power everything. Have you ever thought how your ancestors survived in the distant past before any of the current comforts were invented?” Garak thinks for a few moments. “No, can’t say that I have. I never really thought of that before. What are you planning to cook?”

“I’m studying Bajoran cuisine to see what can be adapted for outdoor grilling, along with other cuisines.”, Patricia replies, “Captain Sisko will be adding in his specialties as well. I’m not well versed in Cardassian cuisine, Quark’s replicator notwithstanding.” “Keep in mind that Quark’s replicator is Cardassian in origin.”, Garak responds matter-of-factly. Patricia shakes her head at the mention of Quark. “And Quark tends to put his own mark on things, if you know what I mean.” “That is true.”, Garak replies. She continues. “I’m willing to look at Cardassian recipes, see what can be adapted to outdoor cooking, then see what is logistically possible for one person to do as I expect Captain Sisko to be quite busy with cooking his specialties.” Garak gives her a half-smile. “Not to be too obvious, Pat, but am I invited or not?” Patricia smiles. “Okay, I am inviting you, Elim.” Garak’s expression turns serious. “Do you think the Bajorans will be offended by my presence?” Patricia looks back at him, puzzled. “And how long did you reside on Deep Space Nine with Bajoran shopkeepers as your neighbors? Were they offended?”

Garak gestures. “I wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.” “Well, now that you are in a position of authority on Cardassia”, Patricia replies, “I have to ask the question … can you play the part of a diplomat?” Garak thinks about this. “That will be a bit of a challenge …” She gives him a sly grin. “And since when have I known Elim Garak to shy away from a challenge?” Garak looks astonished at this cheekiness. “Are YOU issuing a challenge to ME!?” Patricia bobs her head. “Well … yes and no. I am inviting you to the Bajoran Freedom Day cookout at Captain Sisko’s home. It’s up to you how to address the past issues with the Bajorans as the diplomatic representative from Cardassia.” Garak considers her words. “That IS a challenge … but not an unexpected one. You are correct that there is a lot of healing left to be done, my friend.” She nods in agreement. “And the journey begins with a single step.” Garak nods. “In that case, I accept your challenge. When is the big day?” Patricia glances over her shoulder toward Sisko’s direction. “I’ll have to confer with Captain Sisko. He’s more used to the Bajoran calendar than I am. I’m still working from Federation and Star Fleet star dates.” Garak nods. “Fair enough. Keep me posted and give Captain Sisko my regards. Garak out.” His image vanishes from the view screen.

Patricia gets up from the comm-link. “Well, that was relatively painless.”, she comments to Sisko, “But it remains to be seen how well things turn out in person!” She walks over to Sisko, who is perusing several different plans for the backyard barbecue. “Have you found something to your liking?” Sisko gestures toward the plans on the table. “The more I research, the more I’m leaning toward an outdoor kitchen instead of just a grill. What do you think, Pat?” She leans over the table, looks at the plans and nods. “More room to maneuver … baking … grilling … all kinds of ways to indulge in different cooking techniques … I LIKE IT!” Kassidy overhears Patricia’s comment and enters the room. “Now what kind of mischief are you two plotting NOW?!” Sisko pulls up the plan for an outdoor kitchen. “Hon, what do you think of this design in the backyard? It blends perfectly with the design of the house!” Kassidy looks over the plans. “That is BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE that!” Sisko grins. “How soon can we get it done?”, Patricia asks. “Between replicating the necessary materials and the neighbors assisting in its construction, it shouldn’t take too long.”, Sisko replies, “It should be ready in time for Bajoran Freedom Day!” Patricia nods in response. “Then we need to get busy building and organizing this event … especially if we are going to have diplomatic representatives taking time out from their busy schedules to come here!” Captain Sisko and Kassidy nod in agreement. Each proceed with their respective tasks … Dr. Pat with the proposed menu, Captain Sisko with building the outdoor kitchen in his backyard on Bajor with the assistance of his neighbors, and Kassidy Yates-Sisko conferring with both her husband and Dr. Pat on the guest list and sending out the invitations. Everything is completed by the deadline. Sisko wipes his brow. “A lot of hard work but it’s done! It’s finally finished!” Kassidy hugs her husband. “It’s GORGEOUS! It turned out more beautiful than I could possibly have imagined!” Patricia is nodding as she walks around the outdoor kitchen, inspecting each detail. “Wow! This just takes my breath away!” Sisko hugs his wife back. “I’m really looking forward to this celebration!”, he says with a delighted grin.

Bajoran Freedom Day finally arrives. All the invited guests are gathered in Sisko’s backyard. Dr. Pat and Captain Sisko are both busy grilling and cooking the various cuisines on the menu. Kassidy Yates-Sisko is greeting guests as they arrive. Baby Rebecca is in a playpen, where she can watch her Daddy in the kitchen without being underfoot or in any jeopardy. Both Sisko and Dr. Pat take turns talking to Baby Rebecca and making her laugh. Cardassians, Bajorans, Ferengi, Humans, Vulcans, and all other members of the Federation are mingling at the party. While the two Star Fleet Captains are coordinating their culinary efforts, a familiar figure walks up to the outdoor kitchen.

Sisko looks up from the stove and grins with surprised delight! “Jake!” Patricia looks up from the grill and also grins. “Well, I’ll be …!” Jake comes around to his father and they hug. Jake looks around. “This is some PARTY!” Sisko points to his cooking partner. “She deserves the credit for giving me the idea. Are you hungry?” Jake looks longingly at the food. “I can’t stay too long but the aromas from the grill and the stove are calling to my stomach! I’ve missed your cooking, Dad!” Jake looks at both Dr. Pat and his father. “By the way, what IS on the menu?” “Well”, Patricia responds, “I have old-fashioned hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, and salmon on the grill at the moment. The Klingons, Cardassians, Bajorans, Ferengi, and others are bringing their cuisines to add to the ‘Pot Luck’ and your Dad is handling what is on the stove.” Sisko gestures around the outdoor kitchen. “I have both a Crab Boil and a Craw-fish Boil bubbling on the stove here and we have some meat in the smoker over there.”

Kassidy points to another area nearby. “And we have coolers with beverages over there.” Another familiar voice speaks out. “Any chilled snail juice with shells?” Jake turns toward the voice. “NOG!” Kassidy smiles. “Coming right up!” Jake and Nog hug each other. Dr. Pat notices Quark mingling among the guests, attempting to sell souvenirs. She comments to Sisko. “I’m not surprised that Quark is STILL attempting to make a profit everywhere he goes!” Sisko chuckles. “The 18th Rule of Acquisition – ‘A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.'” Patricia chuckles back. “Yep! You’re right! And Quark is making every effort he knows how to be the Ferengi’s Ferengi! Especially given that his Lady Love is nearby!” Sisko gives her a quizzical look. “Quark’s Lady Love?” She nods toward a group of Klingons standing nearby, conversing with members of Star Fleet and the Federation. “Grilka!” Sisko is bemused. “I thought they were divorced.” Patricia shrugs good-naturedly. “They are divorced and still have the HOTS for each other! Go figure.”

Sisko chuckles and shakes his head. Jake walks over to his Dad, with Nog not far behind. “Dad, anything on the menu for Nog?” Patricia points to a large cooler nearby. “How about some chilled tube grubs, Nog?” “And I’ve prepared some other Ferengi dishes as well.”, Sisko adds. Nog smiles with delight. “Thank you, sir! Memories of your cooking always make my mouth water!” Jake looks around. “You have a Universe-worth of a menu here! Bajoran, Klingon, Cardassian, Ferengi, and Terran cuisine!” He whistles. “Both of you have been BUSY at the stove!” Patricia waves her grill tongs with a grin. “AND at the grill!” Jake salutes Dr. Pat and grins back. “Yes, Ma’am!” Patricia gives Jake a mischievous grin. “Jake-O! I’ve heard a rumor that you have a girlfriend … and that you are ENGAGED! Where is she?” Jake blushes and grins shyly. “Well …” Sisko grins at his son. “Jake … where is my future daughter-in-law?” Jake blushes more. “I was waiting for a good time to introduce her given our busy schedules and all.” Nog nudges his friend. “And how long are you going to make us all wait, Jake?” A beautiful Bajoran woman walks up beside Jake and places her arm around his waist. Jake places his arm around her and kisses her.

Jake looks around at everyone. “Dad, everyone, this is Karenna … my fiancee’.” Patricia grins with delight. “Both of you have done well!” Karenna smiles shyly. Sisko hastily puts down his cooking utensils, cleans his hands, comes around to where Jake and Karenna are standing and hugs his future daughter-in-law. “I am SO glad to finally meet you!” Patricia gestures with her grill tongs. “Now the REAL party can begin! Ben, can I do the honors and make the announcement to everyone and make it official?” Sisko laughs. “I can see you champing at the bit! Go ahead!” Patricia puts down her grilling equipment, grabs two metal cooking pots, hurries to in front of the outdoor kitchen and begins banging the two pots together as loudly as she can. The crowd quiets down and looks expectantly in the direction of the noise. “Greetings to all sentient beings who are gathered here today to celebrate Bajoran Freedom Day. We have a joyful announcement to make! Captain Benjamin Sisko has the pleasure and pride to announce that his son, Jake Sisko is ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED! His beautiful fiancee’, Karenna, is here! Let’s wish the happy couple all the best!”

The crowd cheers and shouts, “Congratulations!”, as Jake and Karenna smile shyly at all the attention. Kassidy arrives with a tray of drinks for everyone who has not had one already. Friends and neighbors who have been assisting hurry to refill others’ glasses with their beverage of choice. Kassidy joins her husband and gives him a glass of his favorite beverage and hands a glass of root beer to Dr. Pat. “On behalf of my husband, I would like to propose a toast to the happy couple. May they find happiness and joy that exceeds all expectations!” Patricia raises her glass of Root Beer. “Hear! Hear! And, quoting my favorite uncle … ‘Live Long and Prosper!’ Congratulations to the both of you!” Everyone applauds as Jake and Karenna blush and acknowledge everyone’s good wishes. Quark sidles up to the happy couple. “I can host your wedding and give you a discount!” Dr. Pat and Captain Sisko get annoyed. “”Quark!” Nog shakes his head. “Uncle Quark …” Jake holds up his hand. “Thanks, Quark, I appreciate your offer. Karenna and I have already arranged where our wedding will be … at my grandfather’s restaurant on Earth. You’re welcome to come!” Quark is trying hard not to look too disappointed. “I’ll … think about it …” Patricia whispers an aside to Sisko and Kassidy. “He was probably hoping to charge admission to all the guests!”

Quark responds irritably, “I heard that!” Jake turns to his father and step-mother. “Dad, if you and Kass don’t mind, Karenna and I are going to circulate among the other guests then come back to eat.” Sisko smiles at his son. “I have no problem with that.” Sisko glares at Quark. Quark gives Sisko an innocent look. “What?!” At that moment, Garak walks up to Sisko. “Ah! Captain Sisko! May I be the first to congratulate you?” Sisko indicates his son and future daughter-in-law, who are circulating among the guests. “If anyone deserves congratulations, it’s my son and his fiancee’. They make a beautiful couple!” “Hello, Garak.”, Patricia interjects, “Have you had a chance to get anything to eat or drink yet? We have some Kanar for you, if you’d like and we have several dishes available for you to sample.” Garak eyes Dr. Pat suspiciously. “I have to think about it …” Sisko looks over at Garak. “What can be said to put you at ease, Garak?” Patricia gestures toward a group of Star Fleet officers. “If you’d like, I could have Doctor Bashir scan everything to check for poisons.”

Garak smiles at that. “Thinking like a spy! There IS hope for you yet, McCoy! Where is dear Julian?” Patricia turns and points to a specific group of Star Fleet science officers. “He’s right over there. He’s changed a bit since you’ve last seen him.” Garak looks about for his friend. “I don’t see him.” Patricia gestures toward her face. “He’s added some facial hair so he would look less boyish. His new look has been quite a hit with the ladies! If only I were younger, I could go for that!” Garak grins at that remark. “What is that old Earth saying …?”

Patricia grins back. “Just because there may be snow on the mountain doesn’t mean the fire is out! I still can admire the male physique from time to time!” Garak gives her a curious look. “Only human physiques?” Patricia gets a glint in her eye. “Ever visit Risa … or the Hoobishian Baths on Trill? A LOT of eye-candy to look at!” Garak is confused by the idiom. “I don’t understand what you mean by the phrase: ‘eye-candy’. Please explain!” She pauses to think. “The term, ‘eye-candy’, is an ancient human phrase. Tell me, Garak, when you were a young man in search of a mate, did you ever see someone that was VERY physically attractive and you enjoyed looking at that person?” Garak gives her a serious look. “I didn’t have time for that kind of activity. I was busy training with Enabrin Tain.” She tries again. “Well, have you ever met anyone, during your travels, that you were attracted to?” Garak hesitates, then sadly replies. “Yes … but she is dead now.” Patricia looks down. “I’m sorry. I guess I put my foot in it again.” Garak shakes his head. “On the contrary, my friend, I asked you a question and you were attempting to provide an answer with examples. Now I understand the concept of ‘eye-candy’ … someone who is so beautiful that one cannot take their eyes off that person.” She nods. “And I hope that you will be able to meet someone, someday, who is just as attractive to you as you are attractive to that person. It has to be lonely at the top.”

Garak gives her a thin smile. “You are too kind. Just don’t try to play matchmaker again!” Patricia holds up her hands. “That was a VERY DUMB thing for me to attempt to do! I’ve learned my lesson!” Garak nods at her. “Apology accepted. I know you meant well, my dear. Unfortunately, you don’t understand Cardassian society.” Patricia shakes her head. “No, I do not. How about we enjoy the party? Would you like to sample any of the cuisine that Captain Sisko and I have prepared?” Garak looks at the food that is being served. “I think I will live dangerously for the moment and taste Captain Sisko’s Cajun Cuisine.” Patricia grins. “You won’t regret it! His cooking is the BEST!” Garak gives her a curious look. “Better than yours?” “Undoubtedly!”, she replies, “And not because he’s my commanding officer, in the kitchen, while I’m here even though we are of equal Star Fleet rank!” Garak nods at that. “In that case, I’ll taste one of your hamburgers as well! If I die from your cooking, then I’ll die a happy man!” Dr. Pat grins and gives him a hamburger on a bun. “Here ya go! Well done on whole wheat! Do you want any condiments with that?” The Cardassian nods amiably. “I’ll be a daredevil and ask for what you usually put on such a meal!”

Dr. Pat places ketchup and relish on the hamburger. Garak takes a bite and chews thoughtfully while she waits expectantly for his verdict on his first genuine grilled hamburger. After chewing for several minutes, Garak exclaims. “This is delightful! Is this the only way humans consume hamburgers?” Patricia shakes her head, grinning. “Oh no! There are several different ways that hamburgers can be prepared and consumed. In addition to the traditional ketchup and relish that you have just tasted, others prefer mustard, onions, steak sauce, teriyaki sauce, Thousand Island dressing, mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, cheese, pineapple … just to list a few variations. For sentient beings who do not eat meat, such as the Vulcans, we have veggie burgers and Portobello mushrooms. The Universe is the limit on hamburger variations!”

Garak indicates the food. “I would like another hamburger, please, well-done, with Yamok Sauce!” Patricia nods as she wields her spatula. “Coming right up!” She plates another hamburger on a bun and tops it with a little Yamok Sauce. “I don’t know how strong a flavor Yamok Sauce is for your taste buds so I don’t want to overpower the flavor of the hamburger.”, she comments, “I want to balance the taste of both so that you will enjoy it.” Garak takes the second plate of hamburger.” Let’s see.” He takes a bite, chews it thoughtfully, and smiles with delight. “This is even BETTER than the first hamburger! Doctor McCoy, you have more than one talent that I can see!” Patricia smiles at the compliment. “I’m not planning on quitting my day job to open a catering business and I doubt that Captain Sisko will do the same! We just enjoy cooking for our friends and today is a good excuse to do so!” “And I forgive you for your previous blunder.”, Garak replies, “Excuse me while I go socialize with people I haven’t seen for awhile.” He heads over to where Doctor Bashir is standing. Patricia calls after him. “Enjoy!”

A voice speaks from behind Dr. Pat. “May I try one of your hamburgers with Yamok Sauce?” She turns around and is startled to find herself staring into a face eerily reminiscent of Gul Dukat! She is unable to hide her startled expression. “I’m sorry! Let me introduce myself. I am Gul Muldred. The late Gul Dukat was my cousin. We have an unfortunate family resemblance.” Patricia stammers. “I-I-I apologize for reacting so rudely.” Gul Muldred nods solemnly. “Quite understandable. It is widely known that my cousin is deceased so it would be startling to turn around and see his face staring back at you!” Patricia gulps nervously. “Quite right! It must be difficult for you when people react as if you are Gul Dukat and you have done nothing wrong.”

Now it is Gul Muldred’s turn to be startled. “That is the first time a human has said that to me! I do deeply regret what my cousin and my compatriots did to Bajor as well as the atrocities that were committed during the earlier war. I am hoping that we could all move beyond that.” “I think today would be a good beginning.”, Patricia replies, “Now let me get you that hamburger that you requested!” She plates up a hamburger and pauses with the Yamok Sauce. “How much Yamok Sauce would you like on your hamburger?” Gul Muldred takes the container of Yamok Sauce. “Since we just met and you are not familiar with my tastes, let me do the seasoning with it.” He pours Yamok Sauce on his hamburger and hands the container back to Patricia. “Now for my first taste!” He takes a bite but he isn’t sure he likes it.

Patricia observes his reaction. “Based on your facial expression, it appears that you don’t like hamburgers very well.” Gul Muldred shakes his head. “Do not worry about it. I have never tasted hamburger before and it will take time to get used to it. As I have often heard it said … it is an acquired taste. Do you happen to have any Kanar?” “As a matter of fact, we do!”, she replies, “Captain Sisko’s wife, Kassidy, is assisting with the libations over by the house.”, as she points in Kassidy’s direction. Gul Muldred bows his head in Patricia’s direction. “Thank you. I will return to sample Captain Sisko’s cooking.” He walks toward where the beverages are being dispensed. Patricia mutters to herself, “That went diplomatically well!” Sisko chuckles. “Don’t worry about it, Pat. He is one of the most laid-back Cardassians I have met. I think he keeps a low profile given the reputation of his late cousin.” Patricia nods thoughtfully. “I guess I can relate about having a dysfunctional family member.”

“And that what helps you to be diplomatic.”, Sisko responds. Patricia shakes her head. “I will never be a diplomat like Uncle Spock. I’m often too honest at the wrong times!” “Just for today”, Sisko reminds her gently, “Let our cooking conduct our diplomacy!” Patricia looks about. “The guests sure seem to be enjoying themselves!” Sisko grins with satisfaction. “I think we achieved our objective.” She gives him a quizzical look. “Are you up to making this an annual event?” Sisko sighs. “If it helps to maintain peace, I think we can find a way.” Patricia gestures emphatically. “We don’t have to do it alone! There are friends, colleagues … look around you. These people are here because they WANT to be here! They believe in the common goal because they have experienced the pain of the alternative. They know something better is there if they really want it! I look around and I see Bajorans mingling with Cardassians, including Gul Muldred and Garak, along with Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans … and the Great Bird of the Galaxy is covering them all with its wings! I would say that this is the dream of the Federation come to fruition!” Sisko follows her gaze. “You’re right, Pat! Given what you said and the way you said it, why not become a diplomat along with being a doctor?”

Patricia sadly shakes her head. “Because my Asperger’s will always get in the way, Ben, and you know it!” Sisko looks over at her. “Whether you realize it or not, Pat, you are being a diplomat now … with your cooking. This party was your idea and see what it has achieved!” Patricia gestures toward the stove. “Your cooking is part of the diplomacy too! I couldn’t do it all alone!” Sisko pauses. “You don’t have to answer this as I’m asking as a friend instead of as a Star Fleet officer. Why wasn’t your Asperger’s addressed when you were a child?”

Patricia hesitates, then quietly says in a low voice that only Sisko can hear. “I’ve never really discussed my childhood with anyone outside of Gramps, Uncle Spock, Captain Uhura, and my AA home group that I helped establish at Star Fleet Headquarters with another Friend of Bill W. and Doctor Bob. To make a long story short, between the ages of 2 until I was 6, I was in the quote, ‘foster care system’, unquote after I was abandoned on a non-Federation planet … and I use the term ‘foster care system’ loosely. When dealing with the public, whenever we have been interviewed for whatever reason, Gramps and I refer to it with the euphemism, ‘foster care’. It was much worse than that! To be blunt, Ben, it was a criminal organization involved with the child slave trade.” Sisko is shocked but remains silent. Patricia continues. “My father had suddenly died, under circumstances that I don’t fully understand, and … I was unwanted by she who gave birth to me. The slavers didn’t care about my disabilities as long as they could ‘sell my services’, if you know what I mean.” She can see the horror on Sisko’s face as he glances at his baby daughter, playing in her playpen. Patricia follows his gaze and realizes that Rebecca is now the age that she had been when she was sold into slavery. They both involuntarily shudder at the same thought.

She resumes her narrative. “After Gramps and Uncle Spock rescued me, Gramps was unable to find any professional who was willing to give me a neurological assessment. The more I think about it, even if I had been officially diagnosed when I was a child, I couldn’t really be treated … at least, not LEGALLY. Remember why Doctor Bashir’s father was prosecuted? Do you remember the group that Doctor Bashir tried to help … Jack, Patrick, Lauren, and Sarina, who were institutionalized because the ‘experiments’ on them ‘failed’? I could have easily ended up institutionalized, like them, instead of being functional, like Doctor Bashir! Thank God I wasn’t dumped into an institution. When Gramps took me in, I was dealing with a whole boatload of other issues as a result of being abused as a child slave. The Asperger’s wasn’t finally diagnosed until long after I was an adult. Not much could be done by then.”

Sisko is thoughtful. “I see …” “From my point of view”, Patricia continues, “Asperger’s isn’t a curse. Several historical people, in the past, are suspected of having Asperger’s … Albert Einstein for one. Where would we be without his unique genius?” Sisko is surprised at this fact. “You have a point!” Patricia smiles. “Besides, I have a family of choice now! That makes things easier when the emotions start crowding in on me.” He looks at her, confused. “Crowding in? What do you mean, Pat?” Patricia sighs. “From time to time, Ben, I struggle with PTSD … Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, stemming from the childhood abuse. That’s why I practice the Vulcan meditation that Uncle Spock taught me. When I’m away from home, and the nightmare flashbacks start up, the Vulcan techniques are helpful. When I’m around family and friends who know and understand, I can talk about it. Right now is neither a good time nor place to go into any further detail. For the moment, it is sufficient that I am considered Rebecca’s favorite aunt and that I can be treated as a sister by you and Kass.” Sisko nods with empathy. “I understand about PTSD. I watched Nog struggle with it when he lost his leg. Once he got through it, it made him a better officer. I have faith in you too and, yes, I count you as family. You can discuss anything with me or Kass anytime you need to whenever you’re here.”

Patricia grins at that. “Thanks, Bro!” The party eventually winds down and the clean-up begins. When the clean-up is completed, Dr. Pat finds a seat and puts her feet up. “I am EXHAUSTED! But WHAT A PARTY!” Captain Sisko also finds a seat and Kassidy sits in his lap. “I will have to say that the party was a success!”, Kassidy comments, “Everyone enjoyed themselves!” Sisko grins at his wife and at his friend, Patricia. “I agree! It was hard work and, at the same time, I enjoyed cooking! Gave me a feeling that Dad was with us in spirit. I’m sure he would have LOVED it if he could have been here!” “And now you have to start gearing up for your son’s wedding on Earth!”, Patricia adds, “Are you up to that task?” Sisko is awestruck. “It seems as if it was only yesterday he was just a baby, then just a kid! Now he’s a grown man! Where have all the years gone!?” Patricia shakes her head in astonishment. “The years fly by too quickly, if you ask me!”

“That is so true!”, Kassidy chimes in, “It feels like it was only yesterday that Rebecca was a newborn! Now look at her! Before we know it, it will be her turn to announce she’s engaged!” Sisko looks at her wide-eyed. “Please, Kass, don’t rush THAT! I’m having a hard enough time wrapping my head around the fact that my eldest child is getting married!” “Just for today”, Patricia says, “We have to sit back and wait for Jake and Karenna to ask us for what they need us to do. The majority of the planning needs to be done by the two of them as it will be their day. I’ve seen some of my friends driven absolutely CRAZY when they were planning their weddings and various relatives attempted to interfere, overrule and CONTROL everything! At one point, I had to threaten to throw the relatives in the Brig if they didn’t back off! I know I don’t have the authority to make such a threat to civilians … but it worked! It gave my friends the breathing room they needed!”

Captain Sisko and Kassidy laugh. “I’ll make it a point of remaining a patient father and future-father-in-law. When it comes to having grandchildren, I don’t know how I will be able to patiently WAIT!” Patricia laughs at that. “Ben, give them time to settle down and get used to being married first! I’ve lost count as to how many times I had to toss obnoxious relatives out of the maternity ward while I was attending to a mother in labor! Their being overbearing made Lwaxana Troi look meek and timid!” Sisko and Kassidy wince in unison, “Ouch!” “Now THAT is BAD!”, Sisko comments.

Kassidy looks at both her husband and at Patricia. “How bad was Lwaxana Troi?” “AMBASSADOR Lwaxana Troi”, Sisko replies, “And it is a L-O-N-G story!” Patricia slowly gets up. “Well, I’m going to turn in for the night as I have to start packing up in the morning! My shore leave is up and it’s time to start getting ready to return to duty!” Sisko and Kassidy call out together, “Good night!” “And thanks for helping, Pat!”, Sisko adds. Patricia waves back as she walks. “You’re welcome and glad to do it! Good night!” She heads off to bed and immediately falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

In the morning, Patricia is up and packing. Rebecca toddles in to see what is going on. “Bear!”, the toddler laughs. She pauses in her packing to pick up Rebecca and give her a hug. “Good morning, Sweetie!” She gives Rebecca a kiss on the cheek and sets her back down the floor, then resumes packing. Kassidy comes in after Rebecca. “What would you like for breakfast this morning?” Patricia looks up from her packing. “After all that cooking and eating yesterday, I think I’ll have oatmeal this morning.” Kassidy smiles. “Coming right up!” She turns to her daughter. “Come on, Rebecca, and help Mommy make breakfast!” Rebecca toddles out of the room holding her mother’s hand. Dr. Pat completes packing the rest of her belongings then sits down, feeling sad. Captain Sisko comes in.

“Why the sad face, Pat?”, he asks. Patricia gestures. “I always feel sad when I have to leave someplace … or leave family behind. It’s hard to explain, Ben.” “Maybe because it feels like a home here …”, Sisko suggests. Patricia nods. “That’s it exactly! I felt the same way when I had to leave Gramps and Uncle Spock. It felt like HOME there too, wherever they were!” Sisko looks at her empathetically. “It will get better, Pat, once you get busy again. I felt the same way when I left Earth to come back here after Jadzia died. This will always be one of your homes. If a spot ever opens up in the Infirmary on the station, I will ask that you fill it!” Patricia smiles. “Thanks, Ben! I should go ahead and have breakfast before I ship out.” She gets up and both of them head to the dining area for breakfast.

The Sisko’s and Dr. Pat sit around the breakfast table having one last meal together, chatting about sundry or other when the door chime sounds. Sisko calls out, “Come!” The doors slide open and Grilka comes in. “I just wanted to say good-bye before my ship heads out.” Martok and Worf walk up behind her. “As do we!” “I enjoyed seeing you all on the station again!”, Sisko replies. Martok grins. “And we enjoyed ourselves as well! Your party yesterday was one of the best that we experienced! WHERE did you find that Blood Wine?” Sisko grins back. “I have my sources!” “I’ll be shipping out shortly too!”, Patricia adds, “I have to head back and check my posting before my next assigned mission.” Worf nods. “We will probably see each other on our next mission!” “Yes, Worf!”, she responds, “And I’m looking forward to that! The crew seemed to enjoy the water drills once they got used to them! Now it’s time to devise a new strategy to keep the young un’s on their toes!” Martok, Worf, and Grilka grin mischievously. “Q’Pla, McCoy, my adopted daughter!”, Martok declares, “Until we meet again!” Patricia gives him the Klingon salute. “Q’ Pla!”

Martok, Grilka, and Worf leave and the doors slide shut behind them. Patricia puts down her napkin. “I hate to say it but it’s time for me to get going or Star Fleet Headquarters will send out a search party for me or charge me with going AWOL!” Kassidy picks up Rebecca out of her highchair. “Let me get Rebecca cleaned up and we’ll go with you to the airlock.” Sisko places the dirty dishes in the reclamator. He presses a button and the dirty dishes disappear. “Let me get this cleared away and I’ll walk with you on the way to my office.” “Thanks, Ben!”, Patricia responds, “I’ll go and get my stuff.” She heads to where she left her luggage. The Sisko Family and Dr. Pat walk toward the airlock where her ship is waiting. Quark walks up to them.

“You’re leaving without even saying ‘good-bye’ to me?”, the Ferengi asks. Patricia looks back at him with a smile. “I didn’t want to intrude on your private time with Grilka given that she is heading out too.” Quark shrugs. “Nothing wrong with being with two beautiful women at the same time!” Patricia shakes her head. “And you are still a shameless flirt!” Quark laughs. “It’s a gift!” She gives him a wistful look. “Maybe someday you and Grilka can settle down. The two of you get along so well!” Quark nods. “Maybe so. It would be a bit awkward being a member of the House of Grilka.” Patricia gives him a sly grin. “You can profit in other pleasurable ways that I can’t mention in front of the baby!” She nods toward Rebecca who stares at them sucking her thumb. Quark returns the sly grin. “You’re right! It would be more fun if you’d join us!”

Patricia shakes her head. “In your dreams, Quark! In your dreams!” She gently touches his ear. “Bye, Quark!” Quark places his hand over hers. “I’m going to miss your acerbic wit!” He steps back so she can continue toward the airlock, turns and heads back to his bar. She turns to look at the Sisko family and shakes her head. “I just don’t know what to make of him!” Sisko shrugs. “Like I told Worf a long time ago, Quark is a shade of gray. A UNIQUE shade of gray!” The group stops at the airlock leading to Dr. Pat’s ship. “Well, this is where I head out. I’m going to miss ALL of you!” She starts to well up and choke but fights to keep the tears under control. As the airlock rolls open, Rebecca suddenly understands that her favorite aunt is leaving and starts to cry, holding her arms out to Dr. Pat. She picks her up, gives her a hug and a kiss. “Be a good girl and mind your Mommy and Daddy! Okay! I’ll be back, Sweetie! Auntie Bear has got to go to work now!” She kisses her again and hands her back to Kassidy. Rebecca continues to cry. “I better go now before I start crying!”, Patricia chokes out. She walks through the airlock while Captain Sisko and Kassidy wave good-bye. “See you the next time you stop by, Pat!”, Sisko calls out. Kassidy adds, “Stay safe!” She waves Rebecca’s hand. “Rebecca, say ‘Bye-bye’!” Rebecca cries louder instead.

The airlock doors roll shut and Dr. Pat disappears out of sight. The Sisko Family leaves the area, with Captain Sisko heading to Ops and Kassidy taking Rebecca back to their quarters. Rebecca continues to cry: “Bear!” as they walk down the corridor. Dr. Pat looks out the window as the ship pulls away from Deep Space Nine. She mutters quietly to herself. “Don’t worry, kiddo. I’ll be back. Can’t stay away from my favorite god-child for too long.” She settles in for the long flight to her post, pulls out her PADD and begins reviewing her orders for her next assigned mission. On Grilka’s ship, she looks at an unseen object cradled in her hand, sighs, then puts it away before anyone else notices. On Martok’s ship, Worf is also reviewing his orders for their next mission. Martok is sitting in the captain’s chair looking about the bridge as each crew member focuses on her or his task. In a secluded hide-away, a happily engaged couple is busy planning their wedding to be held in New Orleans at SISKO’S Creole Kitchen. Back at Deep Space Nine, Quark stares lovingly at a small holo-portrait of Grilka, Captain Sisko places a new holo-portrait of Jake and Karenna on his desk alongside holo-portraits of Kassidy and Rebecca, and Kassidy remains busy being a mother to energetic toddler Rebecca.

[To be continued … ]

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