By the time he reached the turbolift, Ba'el was almost shaking with suppressed anger. That bitch!
he thought over and over again. Benjamani had purposefully manipulated that situation to create tension between the other captains and him, to remind everybody of who he was and what he had done. She had probably been behind the Highland
’s posting to this task force. Bitch!
On his way up to the bridge, Ba'el could not shake the image of Captain Rhodes' face as she said that her husband and child had been on Bajor. He closed his eyes, not caring what the security officer behind him might think, his mind casting inexorably back to that day.
had limped back to the wormhole after carrying out their attack on the Founder homeworld, bruised and battered, pursued by the remnants of the Dominion's fleet, baying for their blood.
Though their mission had been a success, the war had not been miraculously ended by the destruction of the Founder's. Alliance fleets throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants had confirmed over subspace that the Dominion were still fighting. Long range scanners had picked up a massive fleet following Enterprise
towards the wormhole. Apparently, the Vorta had managed to maintain their grip on the Jem'hadar. And they were coming for the Alliance with every weapon they possessed.
There was no way Ba'el was going to allow that to happen. Too many people had been sacrificed. There was only one thing left to do.
The Laurentii had provided Ba'el with one last weapon - a chroniton-based mine that they could use to destroy the wormhole, cutting the Dominion off from easy access to the Alpha Quadrant once and for all. No one in the Council had been informed about the weapon. Ba'el had made the decision alone, along with a handful of fellow officers, that this was the only way. If anyone had to suffer the backlash of using it, it would be him. He accepted that. He had already made his decision to leave the Alliance behind the moment the war was over.
So as Enterprise
had left the wormhole, into the Bajoran system, Ba'el deployed and activated the mine.
And the wormhole had burned.
The sound of the turbolift doors swooshing open returned Ba'el to the present. Opening his eyes, he stepped out, eyes scanning the open space. He waved a vague hand when Lieutenant Gray, the duty officer, stood up to announce captain on the bridge, and marched over to his ready room.
Lieutenant-Commander Dax was waiting for him inside. When Ba'el saw him, he gaped.
"What happened to you?"
The young officer looked as though he had spent three days in a Jem'hadar training circle, fighting for his life against an angry Klingon. His face was a mass of bruises and when he rose to his feet to greet Ba'el his whole face drained of blood from the pain.
"I had an accident," he replied, wincing slightly.
"You look as though you've been beaten up."
"Sir, that isn't the reason I wanted to talk to you. This was an accident, nothing more."
Ba'el wanted to push for more information, but he nodded curtly instead. Beginning to move around his desk, he motioned for Dax to sit down. "This had better be good, Lieutenant. I was in the middle of dinner with the captains of the other ships when you contacted me."
He sat down and looked up, only to realise that the younger man was still stood at attention. "Sir, permission to speak freely."
Ba'el growled under his breath, but nodded. "Go ahead."
Dax relaxed slightly, his head dropping. "I... I have lied to you, sir."
Ba'el felt himself tense up. "Lied? Lied how?"
"I... What do you know about the Trill, sir?"
"No more than can be found in the Federation database.”
"I know that you are a joined race, that you have a symbiont inside of you that shares memories and experiences with you."
"Yes. That is... a good summary, though it doesn't really touch upon the true bond between the host and the symbiont. I was lucky sir - most of my people never know what it is like to be joined. Few of the symbionts survived the Dominion - they looked upon us as a risk to peace and good order. It wasn't good to have a group of people who could clearly remember life before the occupation."
Ba'el sighed. "I hope you have a point and that you're getting to it quickly, mister Dax."
"Yes sir. I... I am joined to one of the oldest symbionts still alive, the Dax symbiont. Dax has had many hosts, reaching all the way back to before Trill joined the Federation. In so many lifetimes, there are always... anomalies. Hosts who should never have been joined." Dax finally met Ba'el's eyes. When Ba'el saw the haunted light deep within those eyes, he repressed a shudder. "The Dax symbiont has twice been joined to murderers, men who have taken lives not for the good of their people or in a war, but for their own pleasure. The man who had the Dax symbiont before me... He was such a man."
Ba'el digested that, frowning slightly. "I... I'm not sure I understand what you're telling me, Lieutenant."
"Haebron Dax was a spy and an assassin. He worked for the Alliance for a long time, carrying out killings of Dominion leaders and tracking down traitors to the cause. Then, when he was in his thirties, he was captured while trying to destroy the ketracel white facility on Lozen IV. He was... tortured." Dax closed his eyes, the pain of those memories evident on his face. "For years, they put him through every type of physical and mental torture they could imagine. They put him in holodecks and forced him to live things that no man could hope to survive. They broke him, sir."
Dax opened his eyes again, his gaze piercing Ba'el's. "And then they let him go."
"The memories after that are unclear," the Trill went on. "Even to me. I have glimpses of what he did, but it is as if everything was seen through broken glass. All I know is that he became a killer. He began to track people down, people who had no link to the Dominion. And he murdered them, in the most brutal way he could. Until one day, one of his victims fought back. A little girl managed to injure him enough for the Alliance to capture him. He was handed over to the Trill in the years just before the end of the occupation. The symbiont was removed. And given to me."
Ba'el nodded. "This is all very interesting, Lieutenant-Commander. I still don't understand why you felt the need to call me out of an important dinner for this."
"Because, captain, two years ago I began to hear voices."
Oh you must be kidding me
. He quirked an eyebrow. "Voices."
"I know how it sounds, captain. But in the past few years it has become a recognised clinical condition amongst Trills. Haebron talks to me, sir. In my head. I can hear him screaming."
Another shiver rushed over Ba'el and this time he didn't bother to repress it. "And are you following some kind of treatment?"
"Of course. I take a drug known as jalapamine which allows me to control the voice. However over the past few months, things have gotten worse. To such a point that I have begun..." Dax seemed to hesitate for a moment, then pressed on, "I have begun to lose control of my own body."
Ba'el sat back in his chair, stunned. "What do you mean, lose control?"
"I will black-out and when I wake up I'm somewhere else. Once in the armory, once in... someone else's quarters."
Ba'el closed his eyes. I don't need this right now
, he thought. His mind cast back to the dinner he had left, to the triumphant look on Benjamani's face. If she finds out... He opened his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was low and dripping with ice. "And you didn't feel the need to tell me about this?"
"I thought I could control it, I thought..."
"You thought? You are in charge of operations on this ship, Lieutenant-Commander. You can - at any time - take control of any part of this ship and do with it what you wish. And you are telling me that you could have blacked out and an insane former host of the symbiont in your belly could have seized control? Could have used this ship to destroy... to destroy anything?"
Dax nodded. Ba'el glared at him. "Does anyone else in Starfleet know about this?"
"The doctor onboard my former posting, the Reliant
. He provided me with the jalapamine."
"And no one else?"
Dax shook his head. "You didn't think to mention this on your entry request?"
"Sir, at the time, this had not begun."
"I don't believe this. You... You have crossed a line here, Mister Dax. Lying about a medical condition is bad enough. But you have consciously placed this entire ship in danger, on numerous occasions."
Though he knew he was probably too angry to make a proper decision, Ba'el made it anyway. Slapping his comm badge, he barked, "Sarine to security. Please come to my ready room."
The two security officers stood outside the ready room doors came rushing in, hands on phasers. When they saw only Ba'el and Dax in the room, they stopped, puzzled.
"Gentlemen, you are to escort Lieutenant-Commander Dax to his quarters and lock him inside. One of you is to remain outside his doors at all times and make sure he does not leave. Is that understood?"
Dax looked at Ba'el. "Captain, I'm..."
"Don't," Ba'el said. "Consider yourself lucky I'm not throwing you in the brig. It would be all you deserve. You are hereby removed from duty and placed under house arrest until I decide what to do with you."
Dax just nodded. The two security officers stepped up on either side of him, looking as if they were not sure whether they should handcuff him or seize him by his arms. They settled for resting one hand each on his shoulders.
"If you would come with us, sir,” one of them said gently.
Ba'el watched them lead the young Trill officer out of his ready room. Then he sank back into his seat, rubbing a hand over his face. How had this happened? How hadn't he seen?
He sighed. There was only one thing to do. He struck his comm badge again.
"Sarine to Ly'et. Prin, I need to see you. Now."