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,”
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.”
. Keep that transport out of the line of fire. Do not
leave it unprotected. Is that clear?”
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.