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.”
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.
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.”