Acting Station Commander’s Log, Stardate 51471.3. Things on
Deep Space Nine have settled back into a semblance of normality after the dramatic events of the past few months. While Captain Sisko remains in a comatose state, Doctor Laurence claims that his life signs remain strong. His brainwaves seem to match those found when he received a vision from the Prophets a year ago, though this time they do not seem to be putting his life at risk. I hope that if the Emissary is receiving a vision from the Prophets, they are giving him guidance through these dark times.
In his continued absence, Starfleet have assigned us a new commanding officer who should be arriving aboard the
Crazy Horse in the next few hours. I am not looking forward to greeting her. Receiving a new commander seems too much like a betrayal of Captain Sisko.
The latest reports from the front seem to show a slight lull in the fighting, despite the fall of Suliban two days ago. Federation space remains split in two, with the only communication between the two coming from the MIDAS Array. I wonder how long this can last before the Dominion cut off even that route…
Major Kira Nerys stood to attention as the door cycled open.
The starship Crazy Horse
had arrived right on schedule, entering Bajoran space fifteen minutes before. As acting station commander, she had had no choice but to come up and greet the new commanding officer personally, despite the fact that it was the last thing she wanted to do. Worf had offered to accompany her, but she had refused, preferring to handle the introductions personally.
The door finished opening, revealing a tall Bajoran woman in a purple, black and grey Starfleet uniform. Her long black hair wrapped around her neck and tumbled down over her shoulder in one tight ponytail. Although she didn’t want to, Kira couldn’t help but notice the lack of an earring on her right ear. Keeping her eyes fixed forward, she stepped forward, forcing a smile.
“Captain Naral. Welcome to Deep Space Nine. I’m - -“
“Yes, I know who you are Major Kira,” Naral said coldly, stepping down from the airlock.
Kira was taken aback but she forced the smile to remain on her face as Naral looked her over. Finally, the Bajoran captain spoke.
Frowning, Kira shook her head. “Well, what? Sir?”
“Aren’t you going to ask about the earring?”
Kira was shocked. Every Bajoran’s earring was a personal item, as individualised as their genetic code, or their fingerprint. A symbol of their faith in the Prophets. Kira would never dare ask another Bajoran about the presence or absence of their earring �“ it would be like asking a Klingon whether they believed in Kahless.
Kira didn’t know what to say. So she just stood there and waited. Finally, Naral nodded.
“Good. Now. Take me to Ops.”
The woman stepped past her, took a few steps down the corridor, then turned back, one eyebrow raised questioningly. Kira snapped into motion, reducing the space between them in a few short strides, then took the lead. As she led Captain Naral down the corridor to the nearest turbolift, Kira wondered what Starfleet had saddled them with now. And more importantly, why the woman seemed to hate her.
The bar formerly known as Quark’s now bore the name Tristan’s Entertainment Palace. Little inside had changed - a few extra pieces of décor, a human casino table for poker and blackjack instead of one of the dabo tables, and of course a mostly human and Orion work staff instead of Ferengi. Despite everything that changed, most things stayed the same.
For the most part.
Doctor Julian Bashir downed the glass of Saurian brandy, then slammed the glass down on the bar.
The attractive human woman behind the bar winced. Bashir wondered whether she needed medical attention. He studied her, then leered. He’d give her a check-up. A very rigorous one. As he thought that, a flicker of memory tickled the back of his mind. Actually, maybe he already had.
He focused on her again long enough to realise she was shaking her head. It took him a moment to make sense of the gesture. He frowned.
“Another!” he repeated. She winced again.
"I'm sorry doctor. I'm not allowed. Mister Tristan's orders."
Again, Bashir took a moment to make sense of what the girl was saying. When he did, though, he roared.
"What? What do you mean you're not allowed? I'm a paying customer, aren't I? Of course I am. You know that, I know that, we all know that. So get me a drink, fine woman, fine woman, get me a drink before I go mad."
He giggled. He'd heard that before, though he couldn't remember where. Funny how that worked.
A hand fell on his shoulder. He turned round and squinted up at another beautiful woman. He smiled.
“Jadzia! How are you?”
“What are you doing, Julian?”
He frowned. He didn’t like her tone of voice. He was about to tell her so when she sat down and spun his chair to face her.
“You were supposed to be in Ops this morning. The new commander arrived. She asked after you. I explained that you were busy with some research, but you are going to have to meet with her eventually. If you do so in this state...”
Through the fog that hung in his mind, he vaguely remembered what she was talking about. Somehow, though, he couldn’t quite bring himself to care.
“I was busy,” he said. He didn’t feel much like laughing anymore. He tried to turn the chair back around and get another drink, but Jadzia kept a firm hold.
“What is wrong with you, Julian? This isn’t like you. At least it didn’t used to be.”
“Leave me alone,” he said, waving her away. His hand hit the glass, sending it crashing to the floor. “Oops.”
He laughed again, then stopped as a firm hand settled on his shoulder. He looked up to see a huge Orion, his chest visible beneath a leather waistcoat, glaring down at him.
“I hope you’re going to pay for that, doctor.”
Jadzia stood up and walked over. “He will, Tristan. Don’t worry. I’ll just take him home.”
“I don’t want to go home,” Julian said. “I want another drink.”
“You’ve had your lot, doctor. Why don’t you let the nice lady take you back to your quarters?”
There was just enough menace in Tristan’s voice to get through to Julian. The doctor hesitated for a moment, then he stood up. “Fine. See if I care.”
Turning, he flounced off towards the door, Jadzia hurrying to keep up.
Captain Lin Naral followed Commander Worf through the doors and into her quarters. She took a quick look around and set down her carry bag.
"This will be fine. Thank you, Commander."
"You are welcome, Captain."
The gruff Klingon nodded and then headed back to the door. It hissed open, revealing the drab corridor outside. Drab like everything onboard this station. Why couldn't the Cardassians have just burned it before they left like they did everything-
She realised that the Commander was still stood in the doorway. She cleared her throat.
"Is there anything the matter, Commander?"
Worf seemed to hesitate and then he turned back around to face her. "I could not help but notice a... tension between you and Major Kira during the briefing earlier, Captain. I wondered if perhaps there had been some kind of misunderstanding."
"No misunderstanding, Commander. I prefer to keep my distance from the natives while I am here on station."
Worf's eyes widened. "The... natives, Captain?"
Naral sighed. "I know that my personnel file may say Bajoran under nationality, Commander, but my parents fled Bajor the moment the Cardassians started to turn their eyes in our direction. I was brought up on Alpha Centauri. I do not consider myself Bajoran, and I certainly do not subscribe to their superstitions."
"Captain, I assure you-"
Naral waved her hand, cutting the commander off. "I do not want to hear it, Commander. I know that Captain Sisko ran things slightly differently and I know that he not only subscribed to the general psychosis the Bajorans seem to have regarding the Prophets but that he actually engaged with it. I have no intention of doing the same thing. I am here as a Starfleet officer, to run this station in the way that Starfleet would want me to under the rules and regulations of the service. I will of course work with Major Kira, or any other representative the Bajoran government sees fit to appoint, but that does not mean I have any intention of having some kind of homecoming. I am here to do a job, end of story."
Naral realised that she had said a little more than she had intended to, but it was important that her officers understand why she was here. She had been shocked when she read the duty reports of the last few years - kidnapped officers, aiding and abetting the presence of a hostile amongst the security staff, and the debacle with the augments were just at the top of a long list of cock-ups she had seen. As far as she was concerned, though, all of that stopped the moment she set foot on the station.
Worf seemed taken aback, but she knew from his file that he was a good officer. As she had expected, after a while he nodded.
"Very well, captain. I hope the quarters will meet your standards."
With that, he turned and left.
Naral waited a few minutes until she was sure he was gone before turning back to the quarters that had been assigned to her. Captain Sisko's son still lived in the main cabin that had been set aside for the station commander and she had no intention of demanding he vacate them. Yet.
Leaving her bag where it was, Naral walked over to the nearest comm unit. Bringing up the menu, she keyed in a long code she had memorised before leaving Earth. Minutes later, the screen went blank, activating an old Cardassian program that Starfleet Intelligence had located when the Federation first took control of DS9. Once she was in, it took only a moment to key in the correct transponder code.
The screen flashed white once, twice, and then cleared to reveal a thin faced man with sallow cheeks and short graying hair. He did not smile when he saw Naral, but there was a flash of recognition and acknowledgment in his blue eyes.
"I assume you are on station?"
Naral nodded. "Yes."
"Have you seen him?"
"Not yet. He failed to show for the introductory briefing."
"To be expected." Director Luther Sloan allowed himself a rare smile. "From everything we have heard, the good doctor may need some prepping before he is ready to join us."