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.