Captain Kira Nerys sat behind the desk sipping a raktajino
. She could not get used to the absence of the baseball. For seven years, Sisko had a baseball perched on the desk during his tenure as Deep Space Nine’s commanding officer. Whenever he was off the station for extended periods, the baseball indicated that he would eventually return. While Kira had come to fully embrace her role as CO in the last two years, not seeing the baseball on the desk made her wonder if Sisko would ever return to Starfleet.
Kira turned her attention back to reports of her senior officers on the desk monitor when the comm chimed. “Ops to Captain Kira,” Dax called. “Incoming message from Starfleet Command on a Code 47 frequency.”
“I’ll take it in here,” Kira replied.
The United Federation of Planets logo appeared on the monitor screen. “This is a Code 47 transmission,”
the computer stated. “It is not to be discussed with fellow officers unless deemed absolutely necessary. There will be no record of said transmission.”
“Understood. On the monitor.”
Vice-Admiral William Ross appeared on the screen with his usual calm, but stern demeanor. “Captain, how long before Chancellor Martok and Ambassador Worf arrive?”
“Twelve hours, sir,” Kira replied.
“What about Captain Sisko?”
“No word from him. You mind my asking why he’s being called back into service after two years?”
“The chancellor and the ambassador specifically requested to meet with him regarding a very sensitive issue that’s on a need-to-know basis with your senior staff. As far as they’re concerned, those two are at the station to exchange diplomats with Bajor.”
Kira took another sip of coffee before setting the mug far aside. “I’m listening,” she said to Ross.
“Three weeks ago,”
Ross replied, “the IKS Gorkon and the USS Excalibur encountered destabilizations of the Omega molecule in two different regions near the Romulan border. Warp travel is now impossible in those star systems. Both our intelligence agencies believe these instances are a harbinger to a greater Omega detonation.”
“But if the Romulans are hoping to wage war using Omega, wouldn’t that hurt them as much as it would hurt us?”
“That’s why Martok believes some rogue organization is largely involved. He has a lead, which he believes Sisko is the best candidate to follow up on.”
“Then I’ll try again to get in touch with the captain.”
“Good luck with that. Starfleet out.”
Once Ross’s face was replaced by the UFP seal, Kira then prepared another transmission. “Computer, open a priority one communiqué to Benjamin Sisko on Bajor.”
Kasidy Yates Sisko arrived at her family’s residence after a week of running freight throughout the sector. She got that urge to lie down on the sofa and go to sleep for several hours. Her maternal instincts kicked in when she heard little footsteps stomping on the floor.
“Ma-ma!!!” Rebecca called out, running towards the door.
Kasidy whisked her daughter off the floor. “Hi, sweetie,” she replied. “Mommy’s home.”
Benjamin and Jake were close behind the excited little girl. Benjamin offered to take his wife’s duffel bag off her left shoulder. “Don’t worry about getting this child off me,” Kasidy quipped. To Rebecca, she said, “You’re sure getting heavy.”
“I’ve got a surprise for dinner,” Ben told her after they shared a kiss.
“That can wait,” Kasidy shot back, handing off their daughter. “I can’t think about food right now.”
Kasidy trudged into the study, as she was too tired to walk all the way up the stairs. She sat down on the sofa when she quickly saw the desk monitor blinking. In big red letters, the words, “Incoming message from Deep Space 9 for Benjamin Sisko” flashed
on the screen.
“Ben, have you seen this message yet?” she asked.
Benjamin walked into the study to see the same thing his wife saw. “Can’t blame Kira for her persistence,” he mused “But I should let her know I’m finished with Starfleet.”
Those words caught Jake by surprise, so he joined the rest of the family in the study. “Dad, you’re on extended leave of absence,” he said. “You didn’t resign.”
Benjamin sighed. He sat down next to Kasidy with Rebecca in tow. “I knew this day would come eventually,” he said. “I never realized that part of my life was behind me until they were summoning me back.”
“But why, Ben?” Kasidy demanded. “Whenever you left on a mission, I would worry that I was seeing you alive for the last time. But that was your career and your life. What’s happened in the last two years?”
“The Dominion War happened,” Benjamin replied. “And I constantly had to choose between my role as a Starfleet officer and that of the Emissary.
“When I was with the Prophets, I saw how much of a role I had to play in Bajor’s destiny. And maybe Admiral Ross was right that I couldn’t be both. Jadzia died because I ignored the Prophets’ warning not to walk a different path.”
“That’s not fair Dad,” Jake interjected. “You could’ve been on the station and it still would have happened.”
Like everyone serving in Starfleet at the time of the war, he lost many friends. Jadzia’s death still haunted Benjamin. He had returned the Prophets to Bajor, and the Dax symbiont lived on in Ezri, yet he still felt that one death could have been averted.
He welcomed Ezri’s presence, as he did Jadzia’s, as they were reincarnations of his friend and mentor Curzon. He had even gotten used to his old mentor being a young woman rather than an old man when the symbiont went from Curzon to Jadzia. Even so, he found he had trouble taking advice from someone who was relatively child-like. While Jake had just made a cogent argument, Benjamin knew not to take the Prophets’ warnings lightly. He ignored their warning not to accompany the mission to invade Chin’toka, and Jadzia’s death may have been a tragic consequence.
“You’ve made a difference to Bajor in both roles, Ben,” Kasidy contended. “If you hadn’t convinced the Prophets to stop the Dominion reinforcements, things would be a lot different.”
“And didn’t Gul Dukat say the Pah-Wraiths would overrun the whole Alpha Quadrant?” Jake added. “Not just Bajor.”
“Whatever is being asked of you,” said Kasidy, “You can make difference again.”
“All right,” Benjamin relented. “You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
This was not the first time Benjamin Sisko was at this kind of crossroads in his life. He had considered resigning after his first wife, Jake’s mother, lost her life in the destructive Battle of Wolf 359 against the Borg. The beings inside the Bajoran wormhole gave him a new sense of purpose. Perhaps they had done so again since his last visit to their realm. Despite those considerations, he still got a lingering sense that this time was different. This time, maybe he truly was finished with Starfleet.
Some hours after Quark’s had closed, the proprietor had a special guest in the establishment to conduct a black market transaction. An Yridian trader provided Quark with a case full of Angosian liquid crystals. The crystals were suspended in rectangular glass containers, to which the Ferengi barkeep had applied a hand scanner.
“Looks like the merchandise is completely authentic,” Quark declared.
“Glad you approve,” his Yridian business partner replied. “And in exchange for your services, four hundred bars of gold-pressed latinum have been forwarded to your account.”
“Better put it on my account in the Bank of Bolius. You promised me a cut of the merchandise, but I still have to ask. Why did you need me to help you circumvent station security?”
“These crystals are illegal in the Federation. Smuggling has become increasingly difficult now that Bajor is a Federation member.”
“Of course. You came to the right place. This establishment is now sovereign Ferengi territory. But Angosian liquid crystals aren’t as lucrative as they used to be.”
“We have a deal, Quark. We would exchange our services, very few questions asked.”
“Right you are.”
The Yridian nodded gracefully and quietly left the establishment. Outside, on the Promenade, a male Trill crewperson was staring at the Yridian form the second level as if he was waiting for him.
Somewhere in the central core, the Trill man stepped into a dark storage bay. He slowly increased the light level, so not to alarm the room’s other occupant, Quark’s Yridian business partner.
“Are the explosives on board?” the Trill asked.
“Yes,” the Yridian answered. “The Ferengi was able to help get them in without raising any alarms. You’ll find them in Cargo Bay Twelve.”
“They’d better do the job, or my employer will see that you have an unfortunate accident.”
“You will not be disappointed.”