DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the debut of Deep Space Nine, I'll be publishing a few stand-alone stories taking place during the series run. This series is tentatively titled "Deep Space Nine: Phase 1A" after the unaired second Star Trek series known retrospectively as "Star Trek: Phase 2".
Doctor Bashir asks Commander Sisko to intermediate with an alien family who, because of their religious beliefs, refuse to allow a routine treatment that would save their dying child.
Major Kira embarks on a rescue mission to one of Bajor’s outer colonies, where channeling her inner-terrorist may prove costly.
Other notes: The A and B-plots of this story are loosely based on the Babylon 5 episode "Believers". Of course, when asked if that particular episode was at all based on a DS9 novel, creator Joe Straczynski answered that the author, "likely got his notion of the sick kid and the religious parents from the same basic source we did: the headlines."
Similarly, the premise of this story also draws on the overall medical ethics issue of respecting a patient's religious beliefs, as well as a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy.
Takes place in 2369, DS9's first season, four months after "Emissary" and some time after "Battle Lines", as the runabout Orinoco, the Yangtzee Kiang's replacement, is featured here.
Girani Semna was first referenced in the seventh season DS9 episode "Chrysalis", with numerous appearances in DS9 relaunch novels.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
The boy remained surprisingly calm as he lay down on a biobed.
That greatly impressed the doctor as he scanned the young patient with a medical tricorder. He still couldn’t help worrying for the parents, even as they remained composed as ever, wanting to be strong for their child. The doctor then took a look at some readouts on the scanner draped over the body of the patient, maintaining a professional demeanor throughout the examination, careful not to elicit worry before he could make an accurate prognosis.
“Am I going to die?” the boy asked with a slightly worrisome tone.
The doctor was again impressed with his patient’s courage. Because the child and his parents were Bajoran, the doctor surmised, they most likely believed in an afterlife in the Celestial Temple. Being human, on the other hand, and having been trained in scientific thought, the doctor was uncertain of the existence of an afterlife. It was hardly his place to decide either way since it was a source of comfort for the Bajoran family in his exam room.
“The doctor will do everything he can make sure that doesn’t happen,” the mother assured her son.
“And the sooner I can treat you, the better,” the doctor added. “Then you will grow up to be big and strong.”
“Let us hope that is so,” the mother told the boy. “Doctor, my husband and I would like to speak with you candidly.”
“Of course,” the doctor said. He and another doctor, a Bajoran woman, slowly sauntered out of the exam room and the boy’s parents followed.
Doctor Julian Bashir walked into his office with a sympathetic stare at the mother and father. No child should ever face the specter of death this day and age, he thought. At least young Talas Aron’s illness was easily treatable. Too bad that was not often the case for Bajorans during the Cardassian Occupation. On many occasions, Bajorans of all ages died from debilitating illnesses that could easily have been prevented or treated. Now Bashir was providing some glimmer of hope to this couple who known nothing but misery in recent years.
Aron’s father Crag looked back at the exam room. He was a trim and tall youthful looking dark haired man. He and his wife Katalia, a petite blonde woman, both had the traditional Bajoran earrings on their right ears while dressed in rather antiquated looking ceremonial robes.
“The doctors on our world say there is no treatment for his anemic blood,” Crag remarked as he watched two nurses moving around various pieces of equipment near his son’s bed.
“Thankfully, you came to the right place,” Bashir offered. “Your son appears to suffering from an inadequate blood flow to his vital organs. It’s a serious, but easily treatable condition. It’s usually the result of a genetic anomaly.”
“Most of the time,” Girani Semna, the Bajoran doctor, added, “various drugs can stimulate the production of red and white cells.”
“But in Aron’s case,” Bashir finished, “exposure to various compounds can cause a crystallization of the corpuscles and conventional medicines aren’t nearly as effective.”
“We were both exposed to toxic amounts of neporazine working in the mines,” Katalia said ruefully. “There are rampant cases of neporazine poisoning being treated all over Bajor—one of the legacies left behind by our oppressors. We were told that our chances of having children were very slim. Our son is a blessing from the Prophets. Now, it seems we have passed on the effects to our child.”
“He must be very special to you,” Bashir replied with an understanding smile. Then back to the business at hand, he continued to address the prognosis and treatment. “Now, we can perform a series of blood transfusions.”
“Blood transfusions?” Crag dumfoundedly asked.
Bashir was a bit thrown by his inquiry. This family belonged to a sect of the Bajoran faith that very often denounced the use of advanced technology. On the other hand, Crag and Katalia were not violating any religious prohibitions by coming to Bashir for answers. That was the case as far as Bashir could tell, but surely they were familiar with the concept of blood transfusions. “Blood donated from others,” he attempted to explain. “And recent medical advances have allowed for the use of synthetic blood that can pass for a natural blood supply without the need for a donor. This will give Aron a fresh blood supply that will, over time, correct the malformations in...”
By this time, however, both parents had tuned him out. “Then there is no help for him here,” Crag proclaimed.
Crag and Katalia were on their way back to the exam room, but Bashir stepped in front of them hoping to address any skepticism they had. “I understand your uneasiness given his rare blood type,” he assured the parents. “But because of very many genetic similarities in humanoid species, especially those with iron-based blood, we needn’t limit ourselves to Bajoran donors.”
“Our covenant is very clear,” Katalia calmly, but forcefully, insisted. “We believe that life is a gift from the Prophets. We do not contaminate ourselves with foreign bodily fluids.”
“Without this treatment,” Girani implored, “his organs will fail one by one. And he will die slowly and painfully.”
“That is immaterial,” Crag responded. “You cannot provide him foreign sources of life.”
“The Prophets have already decided his fate,” Katalia added with subdued sadness.
That last statement disgusted Bashir, though he kept it to himself. How could anyone be so resigned to the fact that entities within the Bajoran Wormhole would so callously take their child away from them?
Commander Benjamin Sisko stepped out of his office upon receiving an urgent summons to station operations from Major Kira Nerys. “Yes, Major?” he eagerly asked as he walked down the stairs and towards central console.
“We’ve received a distress call from the Free Haven colony transport,” answered Kira. “They just dropped off a group of colonists and were on route for a layover here when a plasma fire ignited on three decks. They managed to contain the problem, but their navigation system is shot.”
“What’s their position now?”
Kira entered a set of commands on her panel. “At coordinates four hundred by twenty-nine by fourteen, bearing three-two-six mark three-eight.”
Sisko took a few small paces away from the Ops console and back towards his first officer. He quietly repeated those numbers, as if the location of the ship was familiar to him. “Breen raiders have been spotted in that area,” he recalled. “Dispatch two runabouts to provide escort. Is Chief O’Brien available?”
“Yes, sir,” Kira replied dutifully, but also a bit reluctant.
“Something else, Major?” Sisko asked, sensing that Kira wanted to make a request he probably wouldn’t grant.
“No,” Kira said half-heartedly. “It’s a very slow day,” she added, pacing nervously. “Maybe I’ll walk back and forth from my console. And then maybe I’ll walk forth and back to mix things up.” She took a quick glance at Sisko and indicated the viewscreen up ahead. “And there’s a good view, not as stimulating as if I were outside…”
Sisko rolled his eyes. He had gotten used to Kira being very direct in expressing her dissatisfaction with his decisions during his brief four-month tenure on Deep Space Nine. Now, she was employing a new tactic—hoping to guilt him into letting her lead this rescue mission. “Would you care to lead the escort?” he asked begrudgingly.
“The chief’s just as experienced,” Kira said, trying to keep up her façade. “On the other hand, you never know when something around here is going to malfunction.”
“Request granted, Major,” Sisko relented.
“Thank you, sir,” Kira said with an enthusiastic grin as she sauntered off towards the turbolift.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Woohoo, I remember some of that ep of B5! (No I won't spoil).
I like the premise and I'm looking forward to where you take this story.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
^ Well, let's just say I hated that ending.
Bashir and Girani had hoped to further their case for their young patient. Hopefully, by explaining how quick and painless the procedure of providing Aron with a healthy supply of blood, they could persuade the boy’s parents. Bashir had a strong sense that it was a futile gesture since Crag and Katalia had embraced a simple and agrarian lifestyle and rigidly adhered to a set of antiquated religious beliefs. But that they were here on this station, seeking help from a Starfleet doctor, he was hopeful that they were open to anything that would save their child’s life.
“By providing him healthy red and white cells,” Girani explained while indicating a graphic of the humanoid cardiovascular system, “that will compensate for the crystallization effect on his own blood. And this healthy blood supply will sufficiently oxygenate the rest of his organs and allow proper functioning of his immune system.”
“This will be the first of periodic transfusions that will have to be performed on a monthly basis,” Bashir added. “Over time, a healthy blood supply will eventually cleanse his bloodstream of neporazine.”
“He’ll need a day or two of rest after this transfusion,” Girani assured the still skeptical parents. “But he is young and strong. It’s a simple procedure.”
“We completely understand the procedure,” Crag scoffed. “And that is why we will not allow it.”
“We would be cheating the will of the Prophets,” Katalia reiterated, “by forsaking their gift of life. It cannot be permitted.”
Then why bother coming here? Bashir wanted to ask them. While they balked that the idea of using advanced technology, they sought those who had it at their disposal, and for what? Just to get a second opinion in order to confirm that there was no help for Aron that did not violate their backward beliefs. At least you didn’t use that word “backward” out loud, Julian. Any first year med student knows about respect for alien belief systems no matter absurd or antiquated they sounded by Earth or Federation standards.
“So you’re just going to let him die?” Girani asked with astonishment. “What kind of gods do you worship?”
Bashir gave a quick chastising stare in Girani’s direction, but his attention was soon diverted by Crag’s look of subdued annoyance. “There is no further point in discussing this,” the Bajoran man said with a restrained grunt.
“Hold on,” Bashir blurted out, raising a hand. Both Crag and Katalia were headed towards the exam room when the doctor attempted to offer them an alternative solution. “We may have an alternative solution,” he continued with a slight hesitation in his voice. “We can provide a series of platelet and plasma injections. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, they can begin to restructure Aron’s red and white cells that can provide a partially adequate blood flow to the internal organs, along with doubling the dosage of drugs already being used to counter the effects of neporazine. It will take longer and has less of a guarantee of success.
Katalia and Crag looked at each other, and then back at the two doctors. “We need to discuss it alone,” said Katalia.
“Of course,” Bashir said with an approving nod. He slowly made a beeline for the Infirmary’s main entrance, with Girani right behind.
They stepped out onto the Promenade, and the second the doors closed, Girani stepped in front of Bashir. “What the hell are you doing?” she demanded in a very confrontational tone. “You and I both know this ‘alternative solution’ will only prolong the boy’s suffering.”
Bashir momentarily had an idea of what Commander Sisko had to deal with from Major Kira on a daily basis. Bajorans had a stereotypical tendency to say what was on their mind with a bluntness that most humans found off-putting. That was certainly the case when Girani lashed out at the parents the way she did, and now with her being confrontational towards a superior. “I’d ask the same thing,” Bashir fired back with restrained exasperation. “You should never insult a patient’s beliefs. I wanted you on this case because I thought you would sympathize with their beliefs.”
“I believe in the Prophets as they do, Doctor,” Girani tersely explained. “I simply find their…interpretations…of that belief rather strange given the times we live in now.”
Bashir gave a rueful nod at having been too quick to stereotype Bajorans and their religious beliefs, which he had tried his best not to do in the presence of the Talas family. “There are certain groups of humans who still follow ancient tribal practices as well,” he replied, “a lot of whom reside on Earth. We respect their right to live as they choose, which is one of the Federation’s most sacred principles.”
“That’s very commendable,” Girani agreed, “but also rather hollow when a child’s life is at stake. What you’re proposing will, at best, prolong his life by a few weeks.”
“Of course it will,” Bashir confirmed. “But hopefully, this will buy some extra time and convince the parents to let me do what should be done. Sometimes, you have to heal the family before you can heal the patient.”
Girani nodded in agreement just as the doors to the Infirmary separated. Crag and Katalia slowly emerged from the medical ward and gave attentive stares at both doctors. “We will consent to this alternative solution,” Crag declared.
“We’ll get started right away,” Bashir said with a wide and boyish smile.
“Runabouts Ganges and Orinoco ready for departure,” came the voice of Lieutenant Jadzia Dax.
“Confirmed,” Kira replied while seated at the primary piloting station of the Ganges.
The outer door of the landing bay glided open. The runabout’s landing pad then rose upwards until the ship was perched on top of the station’s habitat ring. The runabout’s thrusters elevated the ship just above the station’s hull and veered away. The Orinoco followed from the stern of the Ganges. The two ships moved briskly away from the station and then streaked into warp.
“We’re bound to encounter a few Breen interceptors,” Kira informed the other runabout’s pilot. “Suggest minimal chatter until we reach the transport. We don’t want to attract any attention. Just get in and get out quickly.”
“Understood,” replied the masculine voice of the Orinoco’s pilot.
Bashir sat at the Ops table during a staff briefing, patiently waiting for a chance to discuss his dilemma with Commander Sisko. Over the last few minutes, he had tuned out Chief of Operations Miles O’Brien and Security Chief Odo discussing a problem with one of the surveillance networks. It was another one of those problems resulting from efforts to mix Federation and Cardassian technology. These failures in the station’s security network had become commonplace ever since Starfleet had taken control of the Cardassian mining station. It had proved most inconvenient this week because of a round of thefts in two cargo holds and security was stretched rather thin due to other priorities.
The discussion then shifted to Lieutenant Dax’s next scientific expedition in the Gamma Quadrant. Bashir knew these issues were important to the station as a whole and one of Starfleet’s ongoing missions in the Bajoran sector. Holding these staff meetings, though, seemed like an inefficient use of everyone’s time when each of the department heads was busy with their own individual projects.
“I suppose that’s all for today,” Sisko said after those discussions had ended. He looked over at Bashir and was quickly reminded of what had recently occupied his time. “Doctor, how’s your young patient doing?”
“A simple blood transfusion will save his life,” Bashir glumly answered, “but the parents won’t allow it.”
“I understand Mister and Missus Talas,” Odo chimed in, “belong to a particular sect of the Bajoran faith believes in leading a relatively primitive lifestyle and has strict prohibitions against certain medical procedures. They even refused to fight the Cardassians during the Occupation out of a belief that all life is sacred.”
Bashir scoffed at hearing the constable’s brief synopsis of his clients’ beliefs. “But they’re not showing a lot of respect for the life of their own son” he remarked.
“I’m sure you did your best in helping them to consider all possible options, Julian,” Dax offered with a light grin.
Bashir smirked back, being reminded of his recent failures to court Jadzia ever they first set foot on the station. “Well, that’s just it. For a people who lead a primitive lifestyle, they still came to this technologically advanced space station for help. They most likely had a good idea of what recommendations I’d be making going in, yet they have seemingly rejected those recommendations out of hand.”
“Never hurts to get a second opinion,” Sisko opined. “I know from my own experiences that a parent’s instinct to protect their children often overrides everything else.”
“Still,” Bashir said with a frustrated sigh, “to be in a position to save a child’s life, yet be prevented from acting, it just isn’t right. You could intervene, sir, by signing an order authorizing me to perform the procedure.”
“I could,” agreed Sisko. “But it would be setting a dangerous precedent. I would be saying Federation rules supersede the beliefs of any Bajoran. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to find another way to resolve this situation.”
“If only I knew what that was,” Bashir lamented.
Sisko offered Bashir a sympathetic grin. “I know none of your medical ethics classes could have prepared you for a situation like this, but this is the sort of dilemma we all would have to face at one time or another. I will meet with the parents myself before rendering a final decision on this matter. Is that satisfactory?”
“Of course, sir,” Bashir begrudgingly replied. “Thank you, sir. I should be getting back to my patient now.”
He headed back towards the port turbolift considering the applicable medical ethics of this whole situation. By all rights, he was ethically obligated to honor the wishes of his patients and their families, even if that meant refusing a life-saving medical procedure. With a child’s life hanging in the balance, that basic truism was of little comfort to him. His mind kept going back to the Smith and Jones scenarios presented in his introductory medical ethics course. Those hypothetical scenarios were meant to indicate that whether one chose to terminate the life of another or allowed the death of another individual through inaction, that person was making a conscious choice to cause another person’s death. That was how he viewed his situation. Maybe a Cardassian labor camp overseer could be that apathetic, but not Julian Bashir.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Bashir knew since his Starfleet Academy premed courses that being a doctor involved more than just diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses. As chief medical officer, he especially had the responsibility of making sure patients didn’t get too bored while spending all their time in the medical ward. More importantly, children more often required some form of mental stimulation. It was something with which Bashir could easily relate after the genetic enhancements he had received when he was only seven. He had gone from falling behind in school to never having enough intellectual stimulation.
“The station’s library computer offers a wide variety of entertaining and educational reading material,” he informed Aron and his parents, “as well as audio and video programming. Now all you have to do is access the contents through the main computer terminal here in the exam room.
Aron stared at his parents with curious enthusiasm at what the station’s database had to offer. “Mother and Father, is that all right?” he asked.
“We’ve seen some of the material you are describing,” Katalia calmly interjected. “We do not feel it is appropriate for Aron.”
Bashir gave a reluctant nod of agreement. “I completely understand,” he said. His own parents had often reminded him that not everyone saw the universe as modern-day humans did, but never tried to fully shield him from alien ideas, as Crag and Katalia seemed to be doing with Aron now. Knowing of how other cultures saw the universe only reinforced Bashir’s belief in his own personal and medical ethics. But even if he did not fully approve of how these parents raised their son, it was not his place to judge.
“We brought along several of the Ancient Texts,” said Crag. “Many of the stories are enough to keep one’s mind active. One of my favorites is Perrell seven-twenty-two when Perrell makes his final vow of commitment for his family’s honor.”
“That’s entirely your decision,” Bashir reminded them. Julian slowly paced towards a nearby diagnostic console and took a portable stasis pod that Doctor Girani handed him. He then stepped back towards Aron’s bedside. He slowly opened the lid, revealing a large egg. “If you still don’t find that sufficiently stimulating, there’s always this,” Bashir suggested.
Aron sat up and gave an inquisitive stare at the egg. “What is it?” he asked eagerly.
“An unhatched egg,” Bashir explained, “of an ornothoid species on the planet…” Girani looked at Bashir, mouthing a three-syllable word. “Hadrosaur. The nest was abandoned during a recent deforestation. We have many of the surviving eggs in stasis pods. But the eggs still benefit from…an organic touch. But remember to hold it very, very gently.” Bashir placed both his palms on the egg gently and placed it Aron’s right hand, eliciting a bright smile from the boy. “Like this.”
In reality, it was the unfertilized egg of a long extinct species from Earth that was on loan from the Starfleet Paleontological Archive. Still, it had Aron beaming with pride that he held a small and unborn life in his hands. Bashir was just as pleased that he had successfully drawn on the universal fascination humanoid children had with non-sentient animal species and extinct prehistoric creatures from their home planet.
“Can I? Mother? Father?” Aron asked, hopeful that his parents would approve.
“I don’t see why not,” Crag said with a wide smile.
Some hours later, Bashir stared at a set of readings on the display screen. He shook his head in frustration as he saw little improvement in Aron’s condition, even knowing this alternative remedy was only a stopgap measure. Hopefully, now, the Talases would be swayed in allowing a blood transfusion. Even as the boy’s lack of improvement was more evident, Bashir still couldn’t fight a nagging feeling that his optimism about the parents having a change of heart was unfounded.
“This remedy is not working,” Crag huffed. “And because we trusted you, our son will die.
Bashir sighed, thinking Crag had a lot of nerve chiding him. Of course, he knew from the beginning that this remedy of providing basic elements of blood would not be enough to save Aron’s life. It was only meant to persuade Crag and Katalia of what else could be done for their son--of what needed to be done. “He’ll die because you won’t trust me to do what is guaranteed to save Aron’s life,” Bashir firmly shot back. “Now, please, let me perform a transfusion.”
“We have made our position on this very clear,” Katalia insisted. “The answer is still no.”
Bashir took a quick breath to maintain a calm demeanor to keep the discussion from becoming too heated. “I understand your willingness to adhere to your religious covenants,” he assured the parents with a sympathetic stare, which they probably saw as insincere. “But is that really worth your own child’s life?”
“As you have told us,” Katalia replied, “this remedy will save Aron’s life. But then he wouldn’t be our son.”
“If necessary,” Bashir attempted, “I can suspend your parental authority in this matter under Starfleet Emergency Condition 3, Section 12.”
“An emergency condition that only applies to Federation citizens,” Crag resolutely responded. “Your people are sworn not to meddle in such private affairs. You probably think of us as a ‘backward’ people, but we are very well informed. Your Starfleet’s Prime Directive will not permit you to act so harshly.”
Bashir silently chastised himself for invoking a decision made during a recent Federation colonial disaster. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t make such a threat, but he couldn’t help himself during a tense moment such as this one.
“You understand that this is not the first time our beliefs have been marginalized,” Katalia offered. “Our struggle to achieve recognition is far more significant to us than the willingness of the false worshippers to trivialize life in the name of saving our world. They may have removed the ruthless alien interlopers, but at the expense of many of our race’s most sacred values.”
“‘Trivialize life’?” Bashir repeated with restrained revulsion. “Aren’t the two of you doing the same by refusing such a simple life-saving…”
“You see it as saving a life,” Crag reiterated. “We see it as contaminating the boy’s life force. We cannot permit that.”
“And that’s your final answer?”
“That’s our only answer, Doctor Bashir,” Crag declared. Both he and Katalia then vacated the Infirmary, leaving Bashir with a strong feeling of powerlessness.
Ensign Jeffrey Lang occupied the copilot seat to Kira’s right on the Ganges. He kept a firm hand on the helm while occasionally glancing at the sensor display for signs of the wayward transport vessel. “We’re approaching the transport’s last known position,” he reported when he saw a flashing red indicator.
“Slow us to full impulse and begin full sensor scans,” Kira ordered. “Continue homing in on the locational transponder while following the transport’s last extrapolated course. And maintain radio silence. We’ll be less likely to attract attention that way.”
The two runabouts continued following the transport’s possible course from their last known location for the next hour. They probably would not gotten very far with their main navigational array offline, hence, they would not risk using warp drive and drifting even further off course. As a resistance fighter during the Occupation, Kira had occasion to take such a risk piloting fighters on the run from Cardassian patrols. Those were usually risks worth taking, while this colony transport had minimal defenses and would run a greater chance of encountering the Breen by using the warp drive.
Little information was available on the Breen in Starfleet databases other than they were often contracted for mercenary jobs. Kira knew they were not to be taken lightly, as they were a hostile race that even the Cardassians feared.
An alarm chirped, catching the attention of both Kira and Ensign Lang. “We’re coming up on the transport,” the ensign reported.
“Plot an intercept course,” Kira replied, trying her best to hold in her annoyance at Starfleet officers’ tendencies to state the obvious, “and open a hailing frequency.”
Without another word, Lang quickly complied with both orders, as if he could sense Kira’s annoyance. “This is Major Kira Nerys of Deep Space Nine,” she said once the communication channel was open. “We received your distress call and are prepared to escort you back to the station.”
“Understood, Major,” the transport’s male captain replied. “Thanks for the save. I’d hate to think we might run into Breen raiders without armed escort.”
“No problem,” Kira replied. “Orinoco, lay in a reciprocal course for the station at warp two.”
Bashir was sitting at the bar in Quark’s near closing time, downing his second helping of Saurian brandy when Jadzia Dax entered. Though she continued to spurn his romantic advances, Julian still found her to be one of the brightest lights in his life. He was pleased to call her a friend and adviser even if he did hope to have something more with her.
“How many is that?” she asked with a teasing smile.
And she could be quite a tease. “Just the second,” he said unflinchingly. “What brings you here at this late hour?”
“Quark’s weekly Tongo game.”
“You play Tongo?” Bashir asked with baffled amusement, as she didn’t strike her as the kind of woman who would associate with Ferengi.
“Curzon enjoyed it,” she said, seating herself on the empty chair next to Julian. “I still don’t quite have his knack for making those risky moves that won him a few big tournaments. I trust you’ve made no progress persuading the parents of your young patient.”
“You’re usual, Lieutenant?” Quark asked as he sauntered towards the two Starfleet officers.
Dax gave a quick nod and turned her attention back to Bashir.
“No,” Julian ruefully answered. “They were willing to come here after doctors on Bajor pronounced saving Aron a lost cause despite rejection of modern amenities. You’d think they’d be open to anything that would save their child’s life.”
“If you ask me,” Quark chimed in, setting down a glass in front of Jadzia, “this family chose a life of minimalism.” He then poured a beverage from a bottle into the glass. “And if that means they don’t want their boy to be treated for an easily treatable illness, then there shouldn’t be anything more to discuss.”
“If only it were as simple as that where a child’s life is concerned,” Bashir retorted while rolling his eyes.
“You hew-mons have an overly complex moral code,” the Ferengi barkeep scoffed. “In a free market society like ours, the most celebrated individuals devote their lives to the acquisition of material wealth. And that also means respecting people’s right not to choose such a lifestyle, even if that means greater financial hardships. If the government chose to intervene, that would only create more problems than it would purport to solve.”
“So you’d just respect their decision and move on?” Dax asked with a smirk.
“Absolutely,” Quark proclaimed, and then sauntered away.
“But you’re not that kind of person, Julian,” Dax continued with a pensive expression. She still couldn’t hold back a teasing smirk when she remarked, “You’re not the type to take no for an answer so easily. All you can do now is hope for Sisko’s blessing on this. But what would happen if you did perform the transfusion against the parents’ wishes?”
Bashir began racking his brain as if he knew the answer to that question, but his mind was drawing a blank. “I’m not sure,” he conceded. “Doctor Girani’s been looking into it, but there’s not much in the computer files. Based on my dealings with the parents, this particular sect doesn’t take such matters lightly.”
“You’ve dealt with this whole situation with as much diplomatic tact as any veteran officer would. But sometimes, you need to step back, put aside any lingering guilt, and do what you feel is right.”
Bashir gave an amused scoff. “And to hell with the consequences?”
“Something like that,” Dax wryly answered. And she took a small sip from her beverage glass.
Bashir just nodded silently. He finished off what was left of his brandy and quickly exited the establishment. He slowly trudged towards a nearby turbolift and to his quarters in the habitat ring, hoping to get some sleep before Sisko officially ruled on the issue. Of course, he thought he would be awake all night contemplating the old doctors’ adage, “Hope for best, but prepare for the worst.”
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Commander Sisko met with the parents with the parents of Talas Aron the following morning. Crag and Katalia were both very adamant in their beliefs in accepting how their gods gave them life and that a blood transfusion for their son would mean contaminating him with an outside life force. Sisko was careful to reserve passing judgment on their somewhat antiquated belief system. While he didn’t entirely agree with those beliefs, he understood that believing in such mysticism sometimes did have some basis science—a fact he learned firsthand while in communion with the entities in the Celestial Temple.
“Thank you for presenting your case in this matter,” Sisko told them once the Bajoran couple had made their arguments. “As a parent myself, I can understand how difficult this dilemma must be for both of you.”
“We would expect that you would have some sympathy with us,” Crag deadpanned. “But you’ll forgive us if that’s not enough reason for optimism. For a long time, our sect of The Faith has been mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted. Despite recent legal remedies, prejudices against us is still commonplace.”
“A common theme among many worlds,” Sisko said, being reminded of Earth history. “I can promise, though, I will try to be as impartial as I can in settling this issue.”
“Such promises are often hollow, Commander,” Katalia brusquely replied. “While your Federation may value tolerance of diverse cultures, some of your people have often been skeptical about certain practices.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Sisko offered. “But I hope you understand that someone in my position has to consider both sides of this issue. I will make my decision in ten hours.”
“If only we could be certain you will rule in our favor,” Crag replied.
Sisko gave a sympathetic nod as they both slowly left the office. He had given the Talases assurances that his decision would be a fair one, but he still wasn’t certain what that decision would be.
Benjamin Sisko was later sitting at a table in the Replimat for a late morning meal. He was in the process of cutting a tightly rolled up sandwich into smaller pieces when Dax slowly approached the other side of the table. He put one hand out to invite his friend to sit down while taking a small bite. His lack of smile in reaction to the presence of someone who was once his longtime mentor was enough of a clue to Jadzia the kind of day he was having so far. “Rough day?” she guessed.
“You could say that,” Sisko aversely confessed.
“The sick Bajoran boy, I take it.”
Sisko sighed and carefully set down his eating utensils, having lost his appetite. “Doctor Bashir wants me to intervene. The parents are demanding the Bajoran government do something, but they’re too wrapped in their own agendas. All they’ve said is that their people are free to practice any interpretation of their religion not deemed heretical by the Vedek Assembly. Even the Starfleet Diplomatic Corps has passed this matter back to me.”
“You spoke to Admiral Nechayev?” Jadzia surmised.
Benjamin grinned, thankful his friend understood how much a chore reasoning with Nechayev was. “Just looking for some legal precedents in this matter,” he explained. “She’s not willing to even advise. She said I accepted this level of responsibility in order to foster amiable relations with Bajor when I started this assignment.”
“It may be your responsibility, but hardly your fault, Ben. This is a very difficult situation for everyone. I may not agree with their beliefs, but I can certainly relate considering how many times I’ve been a parent.”
Sisko had hoped being a parent himself would help him to easily relate to this predicament, but he had found it more of a source of frustration after having met with the Talases. “Is that supposed to make me feel better, Old Man?” he grumbled.
“Nothing should when a child’s life is at stake. It’s still not worth being endlessly obsessed with this issue.”
“If only I could be absolutely sure.”
Dax stood up and smiled, something Benjamin remembered Curzon would do when he was about to dispense some important life wisdom. “Just remember some advice Curzon once gave you. That sure is people who have absolutely nothing to lose. You and I just make a decision and get on with life.”
“I think I understand.”
Dax nodded and walked away, leaving Benjamin alone with his thoughts. He still hadn’t come to a decision, but he wasn’t feeling as much guilt about what how he would rule.
Sisko later decided to pay Aron a visit in the Infirmary. Hearing his old mentor’s advice once again inspired him to try to get to know the boy before having to make a decision that would determine whether he lived or died. Maybe that would make his decision harder, especially if it favored the parents, but it was least he could not to treat him as just another patient or case number before making one of the toughest decisions in his short time as Starfleet’s ranking diplomat assigned to Bajor.
“Hello, Aron. I’m Commander Sisko. How do you like my station?”
“I haven’t seen much of it outside of the Infirmary,” Aron lamented.
“That’s too bad,” Sisko empathetically replied as he took a seat next to Aron’s bedside. “Maybe before you leave, you could get a good view of the Wormhole opening from upper pylon two.”
“You mean the Celestial Temple that you found earlier this year?”
Sisko quickly recalled his recent contact with the entities known to the Bajorans as the Prophets, as well as Kai Opaka’s claim that he was their Emissary. It suddenly occurred to him that neither Crag nor Katalia used that appellation when he met with them. “Yes, you could say that,” he affirmed. “Speaking of which, I understand your parents are refusing a life-saving blood transfusion. Do you really think that someone else’s blood would contaminate you with an outside life force and that you would no longer be the person I’m speaking to now?”
“That’s what Mother and Father say,” Aron blithely replied. “I’m not exactly sure myself. What do you think?”
Sisko considered the answer even if it was a simple one. “It’s not my place for me to suggest that what you’re mother and father teach you is right or wrong.” He then noticed an egg in the boy’s right hand in the corner of his eye. “Where’d did you get that egg?”
“Doctor Bashir is letting me hold it for a few minutes each day,” Aron explained. “He says it’s an unhatched egg from an abandoned nest. But please don’t tell him I know it’s a dinosaur egg. Bajor once had similar creatures, but they all died out long ago.”
“You’re secret’s safe with me,” Sisko said with a conspiratorial wink. He slowly stood up with a beaming smile. “I really hope you do get better so you can see more of the station,” he added before he left the patient ward.
“I hope so, too.”
Sisko gave the boy a gentle nudge on the shoulder and slowly paced out of the room. He didn’t enjoy making hollow promises, but he knew from his own experiences that children often needed assurances that the grown-ups had the ability to make problems go away easily. Aron reminded Benjamin of Jake at that age, and how he seemed smarter than most eight year olds. Would I be willing to sacrifice Jake’s just as easily as I might be sacrificing this boy’s life?
“Smart kid,” Sisko commented to himself as he entered his office. He caught a glimpse of Bashir, whom he had summoned, while circling around the desk. “Which only makes this decision harder,” he grudgingly told the doctor.
“So what have you decided?” Bashir eagerly inquired.
Sisko tightly clutched the baseball perched on the desk and held it close to his right cheekbone. “You believe you’re doing the right thing. But so do the parents. Who should I believe? You, because of our Starfleet training? We have our own set of beliefs, but so do they. Is this the only way to save the boy?”
“Yes,” Bashir said with complete conviction.
Sisko put the baseball back on its perch. “Then that makes the decision a lot harder. I’m afraid I must refuse your request.”
Bashir stood speechless for several long moments. “Sir, how can you expect to deny my medical oath,” he asked with astounded shock, “to preserve life?”
“If it was Jake or me, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign the order. If we overrule one set of beliefs in conflict with our own, though, it sets a dangerous precedent.”
“So you’re just going to let him die.
Sisko ascended from his chair and looked straight at Bashir. “You think I want to be doing this? It’s hardly that simple in my position. I still have to honor the beliefs of the parents. Otherwise setting aside Bajoran beliefs when they become inconvenient would severely compromise our ability to establish a trusting relationship with them.”
“So you have your priorities, and I have mine. Is that it?”
“I’m sorry, Doctor. I have to advocate for the parents because no one else will.”
Before Bashir could continue to try to implore Sisko to change his mind, a communications chime sounded.
“Infirmary to Doctor Bashir,” called Girani. “Aron’s lifesigns are in decline.”
Almost immediately, Bashir bolted out of the office and headed back for the Infirmary.
“He’s on his way, Doctor Girani,” Sisko said with a frustrated sigh.
A very well written, enjoyable and thought-provoking piece of work. :)
It captures early-Deep Space Nine very well and it's a pleasure to revisit 1993/2369 in your company!
Well done! :)
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Why thank you...
Bashir approached the exam room where he saw Crag and Katalia at Aron’s bedside. He stood just outside the doorway and stared intently in their direction as they said their tearful goodbyes to their son. That their child’s impending demise did provoke this kind of emotional response in the parents was somewhat reassuring to Bashir. Making the decision to sit idly by and watch their only offspring deteriorate was certainly a difficult one for them. What Bashir found most frustrating was that this outcome could have easily avoided. Aron was special to them, Julian knew when he first met the Talas family, when their chances of having children seemed remote. Yet they did not hesitate to refuse routine life-saving procedure. All the arm-wrestling in the hope they would show some flexibility when their offspring’s life was at stake would soon be for nothing. From Bashir’s point of view, Crag and Katalia were placing acceptance within their religion over saving the life of their one and only child.
Bashir was almost moved to tears himself as he watched the parents say a brief prayer in an ancient Bajoran dialect. To maintain his professionalism, he quickly cleared his throat as Girani slowly approached from his right and the Talases strode up to him from in front of them.
“I am pleased you did not get your way,” said Crag.
“I’m sure you are,” Bashir said flatly, so as to remain tactful. “That doesn’t change my belief that you are paying a heavy price for your own beliefs.”
“You may think us heartless, Doctor Bashir,” Katalia replied. “We consider all life to be sacred. But what is life without a pure spirit?”
“Will a priest be here to perform Last Rites?” Girani inquired.
“One has just arrived on the station, we’re told,” Crag answered. “We’re headed to the shrine to meet with him.”
Girani gave a sympathetic smile while Bashir across the exam room. He had a look of helplessness in his eyes. But as he looked in the direction of the human female nurse, that feeling gave way to a determination—a very strong determination not to make the same decision as the hypothetical Jones, who had chosen not to act.
“Prepare the surgical equipment,” he instructed the nurse.
“You’re going to perform the transfusion anyway?” Girani asked. “Sisko will have you thrown off the station.”
“Maybe so,” Bashir mused while still looking away from Girani. “Crag and Katalia have their own beliefs. But I cannot, in good conscience, sit idly by and let a child’s life slip away.”
“You’ll need help,” the older Bajoran woman offered.
Bashir smiled and looked straight at Girani. “Know of anyone qualified?” he rhetorically asked.
“Picking up vessels on the edge of sensor range, possibly Breen. And they’ve put up a scattering field, one-hundred thousand kilometer radius.”
Kira quickly opened a communications channel to acknowledge the hail from the Orinoco. “Then calling for help is out of the question,” she said with a frustrated sigh. “We’ll do whatever we can to keep the transport out of harm’s way.” She took a brief glance at Lang to indicate she was issuing her copilot this order as well. “Increase speed to warp three.”
“Aye, sir,” both men replied in near unison.
Three vessels the size of Starfleet shuttlepods closed in on the two runabouts as it was flanking the transport. Both runabouts moved further ahead of the transport and fired swarms of micro-torpedoes in the direction of the enemy fighters. The port and starboard fighters were an engulfed in a searing explosion, while the center fighter veered away.
“He’s trying to get out of the range of his own scattering field,” Kira surmised. “Stay with the transport. I’m heading after it.”
“Sir, the commander’s orders were not to engage their main fleet,” the Orinoco pilot reminded her.
“To hell with orders,” Kira fired back. “If it brings back reinforcements, we’re all dead.”
“We’ll lend a hand then.”
“Negative, Orinoco. Keep that transport out of the line of fire. Do not leave it unprotected. Is that clear?”
The Ganges arched to port away from her flanking position and quickly overtook the Breen fighter. Three phaser blasts, and the enemy vessel was destroyed. But as the explosion subsided, four larger fighters and two light cruisers entered sensor range.
“Oh no…” Kira gasped as the representative blips appeared on her monitor. This sort of situation was nothing to her. She had once disabled a Cardassian patrol vessel by maneuvering a small sub-impulse interceptor through the sensory blind spots. Surely, she would find a way out of this quandary.
If only she could figure a way out before it was too late since the fighters started pounding the runabout disruptor and torpedo salvos. The cockpit lurched back and forth while sparks gushed from the ceiling and the aft auxiliary stations. Both Kira and Lang kept firm grips on their consoles.
“Prepare to jettison the escape pods,” Kira instructed.
“We’re not abandoning ship, are we?” Lang asked with a panicked look on his face.
“Of course not. Place antimatter containment modules on both pods. Then I’ll be depending on your piloting credentials, Ensign.”
“Yes, ma’am...” the young ensign stuttered, “…sir.”
He then keyed an emergency command sequence on his console. “Transporters locked on the modules,” he calmly reported. “Escape pods launching…now.”
“Lay in an escape course and fire phasers on those pods.
The runabout’s phasers and Breen plasma torpedoes fired from both directions at the escape pods. The runabout swung around and streaked into warp as an explosion plowed through the attacking ships, disabling them and allowing the Ganges an ample window of escape.
“So, Aron, do you feel any different?”
Aron woke up completely rejuvenated, a far cry from the boy who was at death’s door just a few hours earlier. To Bashir, he was still the same eager and curious eight-year old boy before the transfusions, despite the parents’ warnings. Bashir’s only regret was that he didn’t perform the procedure earlier and long before Aron was on the cusp of dying.
“I don’t feel any different,” Aron answered plainly. “When can I see Mother and Father?”
Bashir was not sure how to answer. Aron’s parents were supposed to return with a Bajoran priest to perform Last Rites when Bashir had summoned them back to the Infirmary prematurely. What he was now dreading was how the boy’s parents would react, as well as Commander Sisko. No matter. I did a good thing, so I will take full responsibility for the consequences, positive or negative.
“They should be here any minute,” Bashir said with slight hesitation.
Right on cue, Crag and Katalia entered the exam room appearing pleasantly surprised that their son’s condition improved considerably in the hours since they had been resigned to losing their only child. “Mother, Father,” the boy eagerly called to them. “I’m better now, and I don’t feel any differently.”
“You did the transfusion anyway,” Crag instantly realized. “Away, demon!”
“Away, demon!” Katalia repeated with a dismissive wave at Aron. They both began reciting an Ancient Bajoran incantation.
“No!” cried Aron, reaching his hands out towards his parents.
Both parents then stormed out of the exam room while Bashir held Aron in his arms as the boy was sobbing inconsolably. He had assumed something like this was bound to happen based on what little information Doctor Girani had obtained on the subject. Despite knowing that shunning was a possibility, but he didn’t want to believe that two parents would resort to casting aside their only child when he was at such a young age.
“Who asked you to play god?!” Sisko bellowed at Bashir, sometime later in the commander’s office.
Bashir gave a stern look at Sisko. “Everyone who comes to me for help wants me to play god,” he uncompromisingly proclaimed, “when their own faith is not enough.”
Sisko’s own anger had barely waned. “I could have your commission for this,” he said just as firmly.
“Then I’ll certainly offer my resignation,” the doctor fired back. Then in a calmer tone, he added, “I still did a good deed. I saved a child’s life, and no one can take that away from me.”
Sisko sighed and looked away from Bashir. After a few silent moments, he had also calmed himself. “I know you did what you thought was right,” he said. “But I hope you understand there could still be serious consequences.”
“And I will accept full responsibility for those consequences,” Bashir assured the commander.
“Doctor Bashir, you’re needed in the Infirmary,” Doctor Girani called over the comm. “There’s a bit of a problem.”
Without another word, Bashir bolted from the office, worried for what else could happen to Aron besides ritual ostracism.
“He’s on his way, Doctor Girani,” Sisko replied with a similarly worried sigh.
Bashir exited the turbolift almost the second the doors opened, sprinted across the Promenade walkway and entered the Infirmary. Upon entering the medical ward, he saw Girani in mid-discussion with Crag and Katalia. “We can certainly make arrangements to have Aron placed in one of the government-sponsored orphanages,” the Bajoran doctor informed them.
Bashir’s face was becoming red with festering anger. “Would someone care to fill me in?” he snapped, already not liking what he was hearing.
“To put it simply, Doctor,” Crag answered with calmness Bashir was finding disturbing. “Aron is no longer our son.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Bashir irritably shot back. “I saved your son’s life. And now you’re just going to toss him aside? What kind of gratitude is that?!”
“We know you did it out of compassion and out of your moral obligations,” Katalia demurely replied. “We must honor ours now. His spirit is now impure. He can never truly be one of us.”
Bashir sighed, trying to conceal how taken aback he was by this latest turn of events. “At least he’s alive and can live a full and normal life. Doesn’t that count for something?”
“Of course,” Katalia assured him. “Don’t think us completely indifferent, Doctor. We are grateful for that.”
“However, our rules are clear on this matter,” Crag added. “They permit no exception.”
“So that’s it, then?” Bashir huffed. “Honoring these rules is more important to you than giving your son the love and attention all children need.”
“We live in a very different world than you do,” Crag reminded Bashir. He and his wife then stepped into the main exam room as two nurses were escorting Aron. Rather than a blue surgical smock, the boy was dressed in the same drab and gray ceremonial robe as his parents.
“It’s as I warned you earlier,” Girani said to Bashir in a hushed tone.
“I know,” Bashir said with a grim stare at no one in particular. “It doesn’t make this moment any easier.”
Aron looked straight at Bashir and put up his right hand, as if waving to him. “Goodbye, Doctor Bashir,” he said gleefully.
“Goodbye, Aron,” Bashir said with feigned happiness. Once the family was gone, he sighed in disgust and took a seat in his office chair. Though he proudly stated to Commander Sisko that he did a good thing, he wasn’t exactly sure now. He fulfilled his oath to save lives, but in doing so, he may have broken up a happy family and condemned a boy who was eternally curious about the universe around him to a life of untold turmoil. As he had promised, Bashir had hoped to accept responsibility for any of the consequences. Nothing about those consequences he just witnessed, however, seemed in any way right to him.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Odo was on the Promenade, overseeing the disembarkation of passengers from the recently arrived transport. Bajoran men and women of all ages enjoyed happy reunions with other Bajoran adults and children.
The security chief was only concerned with orderly traffic across the Promenade. While he found most humanoid behavior rather irrational, he understood, to some degree, emotional attachments based on familial relationships. Odo could sense elation and relief from the families of those passengers on the wayward transport as he watched a husband and wife embrace their two children. At times like these, Odo wondered if he had a family and how much they missed him.
Through all the crowds of people, one familiar face caught Odo’s attention. “Welcome back, Major,” he said to Kira, who was striding towards him with a beaming smile. “I understand you broke orders to take on a whole squad of Breen fighters.”
Kira gave a contrite nod. “It was a calculated risk,” she proudly explained though.
“One that could have turned out far more disastrously.”
Kira looked in the direction of a family reunion taking place near the airlock, one that she made possible. “At least this one paid off,” she remarked.
Odo was also distracted by a happy parent-child reunion a few feet away. “Not all of them do, I’m afraid,” he commented.
“What do you mean?” Kira inquired.
Odo nodded, in realization of what led him to that train of thought--recent events on the station. “A lot happened while you were away.”
“Not quite a happy ending I take it?”
“You could say that. Are you familiar with…?”
On the upper level of the Promenade, Bashir stared out of a viewport and watched the Wormhole open and close. He had hoped to be touched by the Prophets in the same way that many Bajorans claimed to have been enraptured by the phenomenon. His Starfleet training told him that the beings inside the Bajoran Wormhole were merely non-corporeal entities far superior to most sentient life. After recent events, he was seeking--for lack of a better term-- divine inspiration, some indication that he made the right choice to save Aron’s life.
“Wouldn’t it all be simpler if there was no god?” he asked when he saw Sisko in the corner of his eye.
“Maybe so,” Sisko replied, not exactly sure how to answer that question. He then seated himself next to Bashir on the bench. “I won’t be asking for your resignation this time. You thought you were doing the right thing. And if you hadn’t come to me, you wouldn’t have had to disobey my order.”
“Yet, in the process, I broke up a family,” Bashir deadpanned, continuing to stare out at the stars. “How am I any different from a Cardassian overseer?”
“A Cardassian overseer wouldn’t have given a second thought to the families he destroyed,” Sisko answered. “Would the boy have survived if you had done nothing”
“And that’s what makes us human: that we care.” Benjamin then patted Julian on the shoulder, stood up and walked away.
Julian took a look at the Hadrosaur egg he had let Aron hold, that was now perched on his lap. It was a consoling reminder of the life he had saved. Through the viewport, he saw the Wormhole open again and he felt divinely inspired--that everything would be all right despite the consequences of his actions.
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Are you planning on turning any more Babylon Five episodes into Deep Space Nine fanfics?
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
Just those then!
Re: DS9 Phase 1A: "Calculated Risks"
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