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Old February 20 2012, 12:02 AM   #181
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 6, part 3

Slowly Ezri came around, and she suddenly became aware of stinging sensations all over her body. She gradually got up, and with a shaking hand removed the protective glove off her right hand. What she saw were numerous burns along her hand, they were white and puffy in nature, and she realised that these were radiation burns. For some reason this entire room had been exposed to a very high dose of radiation.

The only reason why Ezri was still standing here was because of the nanites. They had repaired most of the cellular damage before it became irreversible. Looking around she saw Jake and Nog slumped against a console unconscious, and just next to Nog lay a thin cylindrical looking device. She realised it was Holo’s emitter, and walking over she pocketed it in her backpack.

She heard movement from behind and turning around she saw it was Max getting onto his feet. Looking past Max she saw Coplin’s downed exoskeleton machine. Suddenly out of thin air six people materialized, and she recognised those transporter beams; they were Starfleet.

“Kira!” burst out Ezri, the moment she saw her. “Am I glad to see you! Take Jake, Nog and Holo back to the Defiant immediately.”

As Kira walked to her, Ezri took out Holo’s emitter and handed it to Kira.

“What it is?” asked Kira, looking at the slightly burnt device with a frown.

“It’s Holo’s holographic emitter,” explained Ezri.

Realising what it was, Kira then promptly took the emitter, and walked over to where Jake and Nog were.

When Kira reached them, Jake feebly stirred. “Here take this,” she said offering to Jake both the emitter and the spare comm badge she was carrying.

Jake took both devices in his hand, and with his other grabbed onto Nog.

“Kira to the Defiant.”

Felpes here,” came Megan’s voice from Kira’s comm badge.

“Briefly drop shields and transport Jake, Nog and Holo, lock onto the comm badge they're holding.”

Ezri watched as Jake, Nog and Holo were beamed away. She felt a little relief but not much when there was still the matter of disabling the trilithium bombs.

“Is that Coplin?” asked Kira, when she walked back to Ezri.

“It is,” said Ezri with a nod. “That burst of radiation must have disabled his exoskeleton machine.”

“The Defiant sent a brief pulse of gamma radiation,” explained Kira, “the trilithium explosives are no more.”

Ezri’s brief moment of jubilation was interrupted by rather weak but unpleasant laughter coming from the exoskeleton machine.

“You're still too late,” cackled Coplin, and he tapped a command on one of the machine’s consoles.

In the space between the computer consoles and the outer wall of the fusion reactors, did part of the floor open up, and a platform containing what looked like a vault rose to fill the space. When the platform became level with the floor did the vault open, revealing some sort of explosive device.

“The golden rule in making a bomb is always to make two,” explained Coplin in a weak voice. He looked at the timer, placed on the trilithium bomb, which had suddenly activated and the countdown started from five minutes. “Five minutes that's all, and then... we'll all be sub-atomic particles...”

Ezri felt totally shocked, but she forced her brain to try to come up with some sort of solution. “What to do we now?” she said desperately. “There isn't time for another gamma ray burst...”

“We need to move this arena away from the Sun,” explained Kira, who then tapped her comm badge. “Kira to the Defiant. Megan listen carefully, there's another trilithium bomb, I need you to get the Defiant and the ships surrounding this station to place tractor beams on the station and move it away from the Sun.”

Understood,” came Megan’s reply. “The tractor beams are being applied...

“No!” shouted Coplin, and he seemed to struggle against the exoskeleton machine trying to move it.

Ezri raised her rifle ready to fire, as she wondered what Coplin was doing, but then suddenly there was a deafening bang, a bright light, followed by rapid darkness…

///

Max woke for the second time in ten minutes, and his body felt broken, too damaged to do anything. If it were not for the nanites he would have been dead from the radiation. The last thing he remembered was seeing an explosion, it must have been an explosion because his hearing had gone all tinny.

He got to his feet, and he suddenly saw a plasma fire rage from some conduits on the ceiling close to the fusion reactors. Looking around he saw his colleagues lying on the floor, and he was not sure whether they were dead or not. So he walked over and checked each of their pulses; they were all alive.

Kira respond?” said Megan’s voice. “What just happened? There was an EM surge from the arena it broke up the tractor beam.

Max glanced around and realised the source of Megan’s voice was coming from Kira’s comm badge. He walked over to Kira, and then bent down and tapped her comm badge. “Max to the Defiant, Megan we need more ships to tractor this arena away from the Sun as there is another trilithium bomb which-”

However he cut short when he heard some movement behind him, and he then tapped the comm badge to end the communication with the Defiant. Turning around he saw it was Coplin extricating himself from the exoskeleton machine.

“It's just you and me brother,” he said, and he looked truly mad. “We'll die together.”

At once Max picked up Kira’s phaser and trained it on Coplin. The only light came from the plasma fire and the glow from the fusion reactors, indeed the light seemed to exaggerate the expression on his brother’s face. “Give me a reason why I shouldn't kill you right now!” he demanded.

“Kill me then!” said Coplin, daring Max on. “But for all your hatred of me I doubt you can kill in cold-blood.”

Max thrust out his arm, and his trigger finger became itchy, as he aimed the phaser right at Coplin’s chest. “You don't know that!” he shouted.

Coplin though simply smiled as if there was no danger to his life. “If you wanted to kill me, you would have done so already, but we're still talking...”

This shut Max up, as he realised that Coplin was right. If he had really wanted to kill his brother he would have done so by now. So instead Max simply approached Coplin, keeping his phaser steady, he would guard over Coplin and wait for the time when the Defiant would beam him, his brother, Ezri, Kira and the other away team members to safety.

As the seconds passed by, Max simply stared at Coplin. The moment was so close now, and glancing around he saw there were only two minutes left before the trilithium bomb detonated. Whatever the Defiant and the other ships were doing, they better tractor beam the arena away from the sun at once…


***



“Commander,” shouted Blank above the sound of bulkheads being pounded, “that last hit damaged the transporter pad, I cannot beam the rest of the away team from the arena!”

“Could you use the portable transporter beam amplifiers instead?” asked Megan, while she reviewed the tactical display on the console to her right.

“I could but where would I place them?” said Blank, who seemed quite confused by Megan’s idea.

“Somewhere relatively spacious,” replied Megan, while she sent a few commands to other nearby fighters to maintain their course. “You can use the back of this bridge, no one is using any of the consoles there.”

“Aye sir!” said Blank.

“I want to be able to beam our colleagues to safety as quickly as possible!” added Megan.

She then diverted her whole attention back to the tactical display, and noted that the sixty ships were getting into position and would soon be ready to tractor beam the arena away from the sun.


***


The whole room suddenly lurched, and the motion was so sudden that it made Max drop his phaser.

“What the... ?” exclaimed Coplin, but then a look of horror came upon his face as he appeared to realise that the shuddering was caused by tractor beams pulling the arena away from the sun. At once his hand went flying to a disruptor attached to a belt upon his waist.

Max realised that Coplin was going to fire that disruptor at the trilithium bomb. “Noooo!” he roared, and he lurched forward slamming Coplin away.

Coplin fired but his shot went amiss.

Max though punched and kicked every bit of Coplin he could reach, and suddenly his brother was punching back. He felt the blows to his face and chest but he ignored them as he sent his hands to Coplin’s neck and squeezed with considerable force. He would do anything to stop Coplin firing that disruptor and it seemed to be working, because Coplin was using both his hands trying to knock Max’s arms away.

But Max continued to throttle Coplin with all the force he could muster, he did not even notice the blue shimmering lights descend upon him, his brother and the rest of his colleagues.

///

“Megan the arena!” exclaimed Max, the moment he materialized on the Defiant's bridge, while he restrained a still raging Coplin.

“The Starfleet ships have pulled it to a safe distance away from the Sun,” explained Megan. “The trilithium bomb is going to go off any second now.”

Two guards came over to Coplin, and one of them fired a phaser stunning Coplin, before turning their attention to the viewscreen.

Everyone was looking at the viewscreen, at the aft view from the Defiant. There was the arena, with over fifty separate tractor beams towing it away from the sun.

Suddenly the arena exploded, with two massive fireballs breaching the top of the structure, and the arena began disintegrating. Duranium beams and plating were being blasted outwards until suddenly there was a blinding white light which were the fusion reactors overloading. All the debris disintegrated into even smaller pieces, and as the seconds past, the fireballs died down revealing a utterly vaporised arena.

It was all over, the trilithium bombs had harmlessly detonated, and the danger to the Sol system was gone. Sighs of relieve and a few cheers could be heard from some of the bridge crew, many of them looked deeply cheered by the turn of events.

“We did it!” said Megan faintly, as she collapsed onto the commander’s chair. She looked just as stunned as everyone else, but she soon calmed down and glanced around from behind her chair. “Guards take Coplin to the brig!” she ordered.

Megan then moved over to where Max, Ezri and Kira were. “Are you alright?” she asked Max.

“Never mind me!” exclaimed Max. “Are Jake, Nog and Holo alright?”

“They're fine, Holo's offline at the moment, his holographic emitter took some serious damage.”

A little relief appeared on Max’s face, before being replaced with worry and concern.

At that moment Kira stirred, and in a groggy and disorientated manner, she sat herself on the bridge floor. “What happened?” she asked sounding dazed, looking from Max to Megan.

“The arena was pulled away from the Sun,” explained Max, “the trilithium bomb detonated harmlessly and most of the Jem'Hadar ships are destroyed.”

A smile burst onto Kira’s face, clearly cheered by the good news. But when she stood up and looked down at the still unconscious Ezri her smile faded. “What about Ezri?”

“I'll take her to sickbay,” offered Megan.

Another officer came to help Megan carry Ezri, and some moments later the officer and Megan had left the bridge.

///

Kira sat down on the commander’s chair, and got her head back into order. She felt giddy with relief that the trilithium bombs had detonated harmlessly. Still now was not the time to relax or lose focus of what was happening around her. “Ms Dawson go to Megan's console. How many Jem'Hadar ships are remaining?”

“About a hundred,” said Tanya, the moment she arrived at Megan’s console. “They're split up into small groups, they've taken heavy damage, I'd say in a matter of minutes all the Jem'Hadar ships will be destroyed, but if they surrender...”

“Jem'Hader don't surrender, they fight to the death,” said Kira grimly.

“There's a message coming from Earth,” informed Tanya.

“On screen!” said Kira, and she detected some of the tiredness creeping into her voice.

On the viewscreen was admiral Nechayev who looked positively jubilant, and behind were other Starfleet officers, Federation politicians and higher ups who were talking animatedly. There were sounds of celebration and it seemed like everyone in the room was letting off steam.

“On behalf of the Federation I want to personally thank you colonel,” said Nechayev glowingly. “Thanks to you you saved Earth, the entire Sol system and the lives of nine billion people.”

“That's much appreciated admiral,” said Kira with a little bow of her head. “I also have Coplin Weatherby, the head of Apocalypse, and an Apocalypse agent in custody, you can beam them off this ship at any time.”

“The Gregory will rendezvous with the Defiant in less than an hours time, you can beam Coplin and this agent over to the starship Gregory.”

“There is one more thing admiral...” said Kira. “Once the two have been transferred to the Gregory, may I request that this ship and its crew return to Deep Space Nine? The Jem'Hadar are almost destroyed and the Defiant has ran out of firepower, there isn't much more I can do staying here.”

“Of course colonel,” replied Nechayev, nodding her approval. “Two starships will escort you back to Deep Space Nine, after Coplin and the agent have beamed off your ship. Nechayev out.”

The view screen reverted back to the front view of the Defiant. Kira though sank into the commander’s chair and ran her fingers through her hair. She felt really tired and the lack of sleep, or more precisely low levels of it, were starting to catch up on her. “It's over,” she breathed.

“You need some rest colonel,” said Max, who was standing to the right of Kira.

“I'll be fine,” said Kira brushing off Max’s suggestion. She then looked at Max and realised the horrible burns which were all over his face. “And you need medical treatment, report to sickbay immediately.”

“I feel fine,” said Max a little testily.

“Well frankly you look awful,” replied Kira a little jovially, amused by the fact that Max seemed unaware of his injuries. “You've got burns all over your face!”

“Oh,” said Max, he placed his hands to his face, and withdrew them looking a little surprised.

“And Weatherby?” she added, when Max was about to leave the bridge. “It's good to have you back.”

She gave him a little smile, though Max only acknowledged this smile with a tiny nod to his head.

“Erm colonel,” said Tanya a little quietly, who had turned around to face Kira. “If you don't mind I would like to accompany Weatherby to the sickbay.”

“Very well,” said Kira. “You can er... attend to the wounded, but I want you back on the bridge in thirty minutes time.”

As Tanya left, with a smile to her face, Kira was not at all surprised by Tanya's true intentions. No doubt Tanya wanted to talk to Max as soon as possible, and Kira was not in the mood for denying Tanya that time together with Max. Kira knew what Tanya was going through, because she had spent an even longer time waiting for Odo all those years ago.

In a way Kira wished she was still in a relationship, and she thought Tanya was a very lucky women to have something so precious and rewarding. Though Kira was still married to Odo it had been over five months since he had left, and at times when she did not feel so angry towards him, she really missed her husband.

Still not everything in life worked out. For now Kira was just glad that the Sol system had been saved and what seemed like an impossible goal had finally been achieved…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 20 2012, 10:54 PM   #182
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7

Sights and sounds… Nothing coherent… Voices talking… A spot of white light, growing… Growing, until it covered her entire vision-

With a gasp, Ezri woke up lying down, and she instantly bolted upright, her heart was pounding rapidly in panic. What was this place? Where were her weapons? Who were these people? She glanced to her left and saw a face, a face that was smiling at her and showing her genuine warmth and affection.

“Julian?” she managed to utter.

At the sight of his face, things were beginning to make more sense to Ezri. She was in the Defiant’s sickbay, but still how? “What... what...” she stuttered as the question she was desperate to ask continued to elude her. And then it all came flooding back at light speed, and all the fear, worry and alertness came rushing back to her. “The trilithium bomb has it gone off?”

“Easy now,” soothed Bashir, while he placed a hand on Ezri’s shoulder and tried to push her back down on the biobed.

Ezri though wouldn’t budge. “What happened?” she demanded, desperate to know the answer.

“The arena was pulled away to a safe distance and exploded harmlessly. It's all over, there are no more trilithium bombs, and the last remnants of the Jem'Hadar ships are about to be destroyed! The Sol system is no longer in anymore danger, and Earth has been saved!”

A huge overwhelming wave of relief erupted in Ezri's heart, she breathed out deeply, as all her tension, fear and adrenaline poured out of her. “Thank you Julian,” she said rather softly, as she squeezed his hand. “That's already taken a little of my mind...”

Still there were things troubling her, and looking around she could see Max, Jake and Nog, but where was Holo? “What about Max, Nog, Jake and Holo?”

“Max is over there talking to Ms Dawson,” replied Bashir, briefly moving his hand in the general direction of where Max was located. “Jake and Nog are stable but will need surgery, as for Holo...”

Bashir’s hesitation made Ezri instantly suspect the worst, surely Holo had not died… “What about him?”

“Our chief of operations, Dieter Blank, is checking his mobile holographic emitter as we speak. Hopefully the damage can be fixed.”

A second wave of relief soothed Ezri’s frazzled and jangled nerves. “The team managed to make it one piece...” she murmured.

“I'm sorry?” inquired Bashir politely.

“I didn't think it would be like this,” replied Ezri, for some reason she felt upset and fragile. “I thought the team, you know Team UFP, was going to die in that last arena battle.”

“Listen don't worry, everything will be alright,” reassured Bashir, and he gave Ezri’s shoulder a little pat with his hand. “Though right now you need some rest, your body has completely overexerted itself and I need to repair the chemical balances in your system.”

“I'll rest then,” said Ezri automatically agreeing with Bashir.

Bashir was right, she had overexerted herself, and the aches and pains were now becoming more noticeable. She laid down on the biobed, and realised she was still wearing the same clothes during the match. “Erm Julian, when I wake up, can you please give me a new uniform or a clean pair of clothes? I’ve worn these clothes for over a week and they stink to high heaven!”

“That will be the first thing on my to do list,” said Bashir humorously.

“One more thing Julian... It's really nice to see your face again, I'd almost forgotten what you looked like.”

Bashir smiled at the compliment and he placed a hypospray to Ezri's neck. In a matter of a few seconds, Ezri felt drowsy, the biobed was warm and inviting, and then her eyes were closed...

///

Meanwhile on the other side of the sickbay, Max waited for one of the nurses to provide treatment. As he waited he saw Tanya linger some metres away from him. For some minutes now she had simply stood there, almost rooted to the spot.

Max wondered if Tanya was feeling nervous and a little put-off, because she wanted to meet him in somewhere far more private, like her quarters. Likewise Max wished they could have reunited in Tanya’s quarters, but he then mentally kicked himself as he realised he should just be grateful that both he and Tanya were still alive.

So he moved himself off the biobed, walked over to Tanya, and hugged her. Max heard her give a little gasp of surprise, before she wrapped her arms around Max’s back. In that hug Max hoped he had conveyed a lot of unsaid things to Tanya.

“I've missed you,” she said quietly, and as she spoke those words Max could feel her tremble a little.

He recognised how emotionally difficult this was for Tanya, and he inwardly marvelled at her grace and dignity by maintaining such a calm appearance.

“Same here,” said Max, “I never thought I'd hold you in my arms again.”

The two broke off their hug, and Tanya looked into his face, clearly staring at the burns. “You look awful.”

Max grinned slightly, as he detected the little joke which Tanya had made. “I have seen far worse in Apocalypse, and don't worry about my face, the nurses will have it patched up in no time.” He paused for a moment. “Listen there are some things to say and do, but right now this isn't the place for that.”

“When do you think you'll be out of sickbay?” asked Tanya.

“Oh I'll be out of here in no time, all of this-” And Max pointed to the burns on his face. “-is simply superficial. Bashir will have it patched up in no time...”

“I'll be in my quarters, at the end of my shift.”

“I'll be there,” said Max, “though I’m going to ask colonel Kira if you and me can share quarters, I’m sure she will agree.”

“Good thinking,” said Tanya, nodding slightly in approval. “I er… have a little present for you when I arrive back in my quarters.”

Max knew what that meant, and he looked forward to his ‘present’.

Tanya left the Sickbay, after giving Max one last smile.

Indeed Max could not but help smile himself, as the thought of kissing Tanya was both a happy and stimulating one. He had not kissed Tanya in three months, and it had been so long he had almost forgotten what that felt like…


***


Kira arrived in Bolt’s quarters and caught him impatiently pacing back and forth.

“Well by the looks of things I take it that the Sol system has been saved?” asked Bolt.

“Yes it has...” said Kira.

“So am I free to go?” he said, sounding hopeful.

“Unfortunately no you're going to be transferred to the Gregory.”

“We had an agreement!” shouted Bolt, and after some fuming he calmed down. “Well... I thought it would come to this.”

Kira smiled a little to herself, it felt good teasing Bolt. “Who said anything about transferring you over to the Gregory?”

“I don't understand...” said Bolt, and he now looked confused.

Kira sighed, she did not want to do this but she had made a deal, and all the conditions had been met. “You're free.”

“Just like that?” replied Bolt sceptically.

“Just like that...” she repeated, and she chucked to Bolt his site-to-site transporter. “Now get out of here before I change my mind!”

Bolt examined the device, before attaching it to the belt around his trousers. He then slowly approached Kira, until there was less than a few feet between them.

“Go!” said Kira forcibly, and she wondered why Bolt delayed.

“Before I do so there are two things I have to do...”

“Which are?” she asked.

Suddenly Bolt slapped her hard on the face. “That's for torturing me,” he snarled.

Feeling a little stunned, Kira became even more so when Bolt kissed her in the mouth, and embraced her full on. She felt his arms wrap around her shoulders, but she had enough resistance to keep her mouth closed.

After some seconds Bolt let go of her. “And that's for letting me escape.”

For somebody who seemed so unpleasant, Bolt was pretty good at kissing a women’s lips, Kira thought. It was a surprise, and she felt somewhat flustered.

Bolt then activated his transporter device and dematerialized from view.

Kira pulled herself together, and returned to the door, where she opened it.

A security guard peered around, and then did a double take when he saw only Kira in the room. “Where's Bolt?”

“He beamed off this ship,” answered Kira truthfully.

The guard looked deeply surprised to hear this. “How?”

Kira had to put on a right little display if she was going to fool this guard and she tried to sound a little shocked when she spoke. “He literally swallowed out a site-to-site transporter device, I tried to stop him but it was to late and he activated it.”

“But that's impossible!” exclaimed the guard. “We checked Bolt for any items he was carrying.”

“Well maybe this device was somehow impervious to your scans of Mr Bolt?” suggested Kira. “Listen I've never seen a saboteur with so many gadgets and devices at his disposal. I'm surprised he did not escape sooner.”

Finally the guard appeared to believe Kira. “Well this is just great!” he moaned. “The Gregory was about to arrive...” He sighed, and looked a little embarrassed. “When the word gets out of Bolt’s escape, we’ll all have egg on our faces!”

“I know...” replied Kira. “Well you don’t need to be stationed here anymore, return to your original post.”

While the guard left, Megan walked into the scene. She briefly glanced behind her neck, to check that the guard was gone, and she then followed Kira back into the quarters.

“Has Bolt escaped?” she asked, the moment the door had closed behind her.

“He has...” said Kira, but she stopped short of saying anything more as it would be recorded.

“You can speak freely you know because I've turned off the room's audio monitors,” said Megan.

“Yeah he escaped,” said Kira, but she again paused.

“And?” asked Megan.

“Well he first slapped me,” said Kira, but she could not say anymore, it was too embarrassing.

Megan seemed to deduce what had happened, because she was giving Kira a rather mischievous smile. “And what did he do afterwards?”

“He erm... he kissed me!”

A small ‘o’ formed on Megan’s mouth. “Did you kiss back?” she inquired.

“Of course I didn't!” replied Kira indignantly.

Megan though was continuing to give Kira a rather questioning and shrewd stare. “But he kissed you rather well?”

Kira sighed out aloud, and was starting to grow really weary of this conversation. “Honestly it was just a kiss, and it was completely unexpected.”

Deciding to end this embarrassing conversation as quickly as possible, Kira walked out of Bolt’s quarters, the place where that damned kiss happened…

“Must have been quite a kiss...” commented Megan as she walked out of the doorway.


***


As Bashir approached the quarters where Coplin was being held, he had never felt this uncomfortable and unwilling to perform a vital medical scan on a person. It was hard for Bashir to get that professional detachment when he thought about the terrible nature of Coplin’s deeds.

Still he was duty-bound to medically examine Coplin and with the greatest reluctance he arrived at Coplin’s quarters. “How is he?” he said to the security guard.

“At first he simply shouted and raged, and then he started to calm down. Now he's become deathly quiet, even when the engineers came inside to decontaminate the room of nanites he remained quiet.”

The slightly daunted look in the guard’s eyes made Bashir wonder just what the guard had put up with from Coplin. “Would it be all right if I could medically examine him?”

“You could try,” said the guard, “but be careful.”

Having the guard’s approval, Bashir opened the door and walked in, while the guard (and a second guard) also entered the room to protect him. Bashir saw Coplin lying down sideways against the floor, what was most surprising was the expression on Coplin’s face. Coplin looked completely still, stunned, almost petrified.

Crouching down, Bashir took out a tricorder and a medical scanner, and began the scans. “In a few minutes time you will be beamed off this ship and sent to the Gregory,” he explained while working. “But I need to run a quick medical scan on you, to assess your health.”

There was no reaction from Coplin, until half a minute later Bashir saw, to his immense surprise, tears well in Coplin’s eyes. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

“My head...” moaned Coplin in a very weak voice. “It feels awful.”

“Perhaps it is the regret you're feeling for trying to kill billions of people,” said Bashir rather coldly.

“No it's not that,” said Coplin, shaking his head. “I need my medication!”

“What medication?” asked Bashir suspiciously.

“It's a combination of anti-depressants, steroids and nanites,” explained Coplin, “I need to take it otherwise I'll go insane!”

“I'm afraid you're going to have to make do without them,” replied Bashir, trying to keep his voice as calm and as detached as possible.

Coplin suddenly sat up, and rested his back against the wall. “Please! I need them!”

“You're not receiving anything of the sort,” replied Bashir, and he felt a little satisfaction in denying to Coplin what he so desperately needed. “I'm afraid your entire body has become dependent upon this medication you've been taking. You have to go cold turkey and break this addiction.”

“No!” screamed Coplin as he suddenly stood up. “I need the medication now!”

The security guard came over, with his phaser readied.

Bashir though walked away, as Coplin continued to shout and scream. “My scans are complete,” he said addressing the guards. “You take him to the transporter room now.”

He paused before adding. “And by the way, shut him up.”

At once a security guard fired his phaser, on stun setting, at Coplin who then crumpled to the floor unconscious.

As Bashir walked away from Coplin, he felt deeply relieved that he did not have to come into contact with Coplin again. The brief encounter he had with Coplin had been somewhat disturbing and Bashir genuinely pitied the doctors who would have to take care of Coplin when he was in prison.


***


Kira sat on the commander’s chair, expectantly waiting for a call to be coming from a very annoyed admiral, possibly Nechayev. No doubt the Gregory’s crew had discovered that only Coplin had been beamed over, and someone was undoubtedly relaying this to Starfleet.

“We're getting a hail from Earth colonel!” reported Tanya. “It's admiral Nechayev!” she added glancing at Kira with a little surprise.

“As I expected,” said Kira a little mock-seriously, she then composed herself to look as relaxed and as professional as possible. “Put it on screen!”

Sure enough on the screen appeared a very irate and infuriated looking admiral Nechayev. “Colonel I thought you said you were going to transfer a second person in your custody, this suspected Apocalypse agent Joraz Bolt, to the Gregory! May I ask why you are keeping him?”

Kira smiled slightly in an apologetic manner. “I'm afraid admiral that Mr Bolt escaped.”

“Escaped?” said Nechayev shrilly. “How?”

“He must have had a hidden site-to-site transporter device on him because he beamed off this ship in the place where he was being held in custody.”

Pure disbelieve shone in Nechayev’s eyes, whether from surprise or disgust Kira was not sure. “How could you have failed to spot his site-to-site transporter device?” demanded Nechayev.

“Well you see admiral it was hidden-”

“Don't you be condescending with me colonel,” warned Nechayev, her mouth becoming dangerously thin. “It seems clear that your security arrangements on board the Defiant seem woefully lax.”

That was one assumption too far for Kira, and she dropped her calm manner as she strove to defend herself. “With all due respect admiral,” she replied a little heatedly, “my crew managed to keep Coplin in custody without incident, I personally think that Mr Bolt is a very cunning individual who is very good at evading arrest.”

“Perhaps...” said Nechayev, who gave Kira a rather penetrating stare. “But I want you to write up a full report detailing every security measure you took to keep Mr Bolt under detainment, how he escaped and how you can find measures to improve security on the Defiant. You have until 2100 hours tomorrow to complete this report, do I make myself clear?”

“Yes admiral.”

The comm channel closed, and Kira sat back feeling she had managed to get off lightly with Bolt’s ‘escape’.

“It seems a bit harsh coming from admiral Nechayev,” said Tanya, who had turned around in her chair to face Kira. “I mean how were you supposed to know that Bolt had a hidden site-to-site transporter device?”

“Sometimes Ms Dawson truth can be stranger than fiction...”
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 22 2012, 11:41 PM   #183
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8, part 1

With a heavy heart Max walked to main engineering. Holo’s life was in grave danger as his holographic emitter had sustained serious damage from the gamma radiation. In effect Holo was dying, and after so many arena matches in Apocalypse, Max could not believe that fate had been so cruel to Holo.

When he walked inside main engineering, he spotted Blank and Nog in one corner of the room. As he came closer he saw Holo’s emitter carefully propped up on top of a work desk, and numerous fibre optic cables were attached to the ends of the emitter.

“Any progress in stabilising Holo's memory banks?” he asked to both Blank and Nog.

Nog turned around, and his gloomy stare suggested otherwise. “We've halted the cascade failure but that's about all we can do.”

“What?” said Max disbelievingly. “Are you telling me Holo's memory banks continue to degrade when his program starts running again, even when it's working at a hibernation level?”

“I'm afraid so...” replied Nog sadly.

“And there's nothing to halt the cascade failure?”

“Nothing,” said Nog, emphasising with a shake of his head. “Blank and I have tried everything these last eight hours.”

“Holo's programming is in a state of limbo,” explained Blank, “but the codes and algorithms will eventually degrade after a few weeks because of the damage incurred to his holographic emitter. We need to repair it, but do that means running his program at a minimum level and that means triggering the memory cascade failure. The bottom line is whether in a matter of hours or a matter of weeks, we're going to lose Holo... I'm sorry.”

“No!” said Max, though this was more to himself, and he gazed at the holographic emitter where Holo’s consciousness was stored. “You may have given up on him but I haven't, there must be a way to stop the memory cascade failure!

“We've tried everything Max!” exclaimed Nog, who looked exhausted from hours of hard work. “Ring-fencing his data, patching up code eddies, and even isolating his memory banks. But nothing works, his code and algorithms are in a chaotic state induced by the surge in energy due to his exposure to a huge dose of gamma radiation.”

Though Max knew that Nog had given his best, he still felt there had to be other unexplored possibilities. So he stood there thinking about it, until an idea came to him. “What about copying his memories and storing them on this ship's computer?”

“Hear me out!” he added, when he saw Blank and Nog look at each other sceptically about his idea. “Everyday we make copy of computer files all the time, so why should Holo's memories be any different? They're simply more complicated files... Once we have all of the memories copied and stored on this ship's computer, then we have all of Holo's personality, and so we can repair his holographic emitter and not worry about the memory cascade failure because we have a copy of Holo's memories!”

“It's not possible,” said Blank flatly, “these aren't just simply memories, there are connections between them and such…”

Nog nodded slightly in agreement. “Max that is a very good idea in theory, but in practice it could be very tricky.” He then continued on just as Max was about to argue back. “Before you say to me that a person is a sum of their memories, well that is not exactly true. Even in humanoid brains the memories are in an order, short-term, long-term and so forth, and there is a categorised structure of storage. The structure is important because it determines where the memories are placed and how they interact together. The same applies with Holo's memories as the structure is vital...”

Max thought about this for a moments, as his brain worked overtime to resolve this complication. “On DS9 don't we have a computer file that has an overlay of Holo's entire memory structure?”

“Even then I still wouldn't want to attempt your idea,” said Nog, who looked even more weary. “Even if we repair the holographic emitter and successfully reintegrate Holo's copied memories back into his programming, there is still no guarantee that the Holo we know will return. We are in fact making a double of Holo, and letting him, his original memories, die.”

That was something Max had not considered, but he still thought his idea was the only way forward. “Listen I know we're delving into a whole plethora of moral and ethical issues here, not least sacrificing the Holo we know, in the hope that his copy will be just like him. But if we do nothing we will lose Holo forever, and I'm not prepared to accept that.”

The look on Nog’s face told Max that Nog felt the same way as well, and Max felt certain that he had clinched the argument.

“I don't want to lose him either,” said Nog, “but if it is the only way...” He gazed at Holo’s emitter as if to come to a decision. “We'll do it,” he said at last.

“Thank you,” said Max.

“Blank link Holo’s database to this ship’s computer, and commence a copying of his memories,” said Nog.

While Blank went to work, preparing the duplication programs, Max walked over to the emitter and placed his hands on it. “I know you can’t hear me,” he said quietly, “but I’m trying to save you and give you a second chance to live…”


***


Max waited for Tanya to arrive, as he sat down on the lower bunk of the bed. He had cleared it up with Kira that he and Tanya could share quarters. For some hours now he had simply sat on the bed, trying to contemplate all that had happened to him. There was relieve, anger, worry, pain and regret, and he cycled through all these emotions at a disturbing pace.

More than anything Max was anxious to see Tanya again, their reunion in Sickbay did not even qualify as a reunion in Max’s opinion. But in their quarters, and when Tanya had finished her shift, would be the opportunity to reunite after three months of separation.

He wondered what would happen to their relationship, had the three months separation changed it? Had Tanya’s feelings for him changed? Max hoped not, because he loved Tanya with all his heart, indeed that love had given him strength and the courage to keep living and struggling on during his time in Apocalypse.

When the door to the quarters opened, Max instantly looked leftwards and saw Tanya standing by the doorway.

She slowly walked in and looked, if anything, nervous almost scarred and far different from the woman Max once remembered.

“Computer lock door, authorization Dawson sigma beta five four one,” she said when the door had closed.

“Hi,” she added, in a very weak and worried voice.

“Hi,” replied Max, keeping his reply equally short and wondering if Tanya was going to say anymore.

But she did not and Max realised that Tanya was not sure of what to expect from him, and Max knew that he had to provide some indication to Tanya of what he was feeling. So he walked over to Tanya and kissed her full on in the mouth.

At first Tanya’s lips were closed, but they rapidly opened up, and it felt unbelievably good to Max to kiss Tanya again. He placed one hand around her hair, to untie the bun holding in Tanya’s long hair. While the hair fell down Tanya’s back, Max placed both his hands around Tanya’s back, and as he did so he felt all his troubles simply fade away.

After a while the two stopped kissing, and Max gently rested his forehead upon Tanya’s, while his hands were upon her cheeks. “You don't know how long I've wanted to hold you like this again,” he whispered.

“I thought I had lost you forever...” breathed Tanya.

“We're together now,” said Max somewhat heavily. He lowered his hands to gently grab onto Tanya’s hands and gave them a squeeze. To have a moment like this with Tanya felt so amazing that it overwhelmed him. His eyes started to burn, as the pain and sorrow of the last three months caught up with him.

Before he knew it he was crying and falling to pieces, he felt Tanya bring him in closer and he sobbed onto her chest. “I'm sorry,” he moaned, while sniffing a lot. “But I've seen so much death and destruction, and I've seen my colleagues suffer horribly for far to long.”

“But you weren't a gladiator...” said Tanya gently, as she caressed Max’s hair.

“For the most part no,” said Max, and he decided to tell Tanya the thing that was bothering him the most. “But I was Team UFP's mission controller, I had to give them advice and watch over them. You try to be detached and ignore how your friends get blasted, stabbed, slashed and burnt. You try to ignore the fact that death could come at any time, but it gets to you.”

He gulped as the most distressing memory of all came to prominence. “And I was once tortured as a punishment, and it was the most terrible thing I've felt in my entire life.”

“I can't imagine what you must have gone in that place,” replied Tanya softly.

“Jake, Nog, Holo and Ezri had it far worse,” said Max, and he felt a little lighter as he talked to Tanya about some of his woes.

He lifted his head off her chest, and he then held Tanya out at arms length by her shoulders. “Listen cheer up,” he said trying to sound encouraging and warm. “I know I've had it horrible but it would nice to see you smile again.”

“I haven't smiled in three months...” replied Tanya rather grimly.

“Then try, we're together again, I think that's reason enough to smile.”

Finally Tanya managed a small but weak smile. “This may sound weak and wimpish, but in private while in my quarters, there were times when I cried my eyes out. It's stupid, and I know-”

“It's not stupid,” said Max cutting through Tanya’s explanation. “You were upset, and what's wrong with falling to pieces in the privacy of your quarters?”

At this Tanya smiled a little more, and with the mood brightening a little, the two again hugged.

“It's good to have you back...” said Tanya in a quiet but passionate voice.

“But?” added Max, sensing Tanya was not being exactly forthright with him. “Come on I haven't gone that long not to notice you trying to give me a hidden suggestion.”

Tanya broke off the hug and looked at Max with a little fear, as if Max would not like what she was about to say next. “I think we should go back to Earth,” she said anxiously. “Somewhere safer because…”

She gulped nervously, and placed her hands to her mouth. “Because I don't want to lose you again and I don't want to worry for you constantly.”

“Tanya Earth nearly got destroyed!” said Max loudly, though he lowered his voice when he saw Tanya flinch a little. “It was a one-off event but it just goes to show that nowhere is really safe when the worst happens. I like being a Starfleet officer, and it has been such an amazing job, even after all that has happened during these last three months.”

“But what if you die in the line of duty?” asked Tanya, her voice a little muffled due to her hands.

“That may happen,” admitted Max, “it could happen to you. I can't say to you that everything will be perfectly safe, that's life, nothing is perfectly safe. But I won't let fear of losing you stop me from doing my favourite job. I have a duty to Starfleet and-”
He took Tanya’s hands from her mouth and held onto them. “-a duty to you. If you want to resign your Starfleet commission then that is your choice and I won't stop you, but you'll never persuade me to give up my job!”

“I know,” said Tanya in a trembly voice, “it's a stupid idea...”

Max gave Tanya a quick kiss on the lips to cheer her up. “Don't be so hard on yourself, I don't want to pull rank on you and order you to be happy!”

Tanya laughed out aloud, before giving Max a quick kiss to his mouth. “Aye sir,” she replied sounding mock-serious. “I will follow your orders in their entirety!”

A hearty laugh came from Max’s mouth as he took amusement from Tanya’s reaction. Now the tension and awkwardness which he felt sprung up between himself and Tanya had gone. He felt happier, Tanya now looked more upbeat, and in a spur-of-the-moment-sought-of-thing they both started kissing again.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 22 2012, 11:41 PM   #184
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 8, part 2

Ezri woke up to a familiar sight of seeing Bashir smiling down at her. But it was a pleasant sight, and something that still felt refreshing and amazing after her Apocalypse ordeal.

“Welcome back,” said Bashir. “Did you have pleasant dreams?”

Ezri thought about her answer for a moment as she tried to remember the dreams. “Well they weren’t so much pleasant as more weird…”

Something else came to mind, and her alertness sharpened considerably, and she sat up and swung her legs over the biobed. “What's happened to the nanites?” she asked, while she rubbed sleepy dust from her eyes.

“Oh they are breaking down harmlessly in your system,” replied Bashir.

“What about contamination?”

“A work crew came in here to brush up all the loose nanites, they're all contained.”

“Good...” said Ezri, that was one less minor thing to worry about. “What about the hormonal imbalances?”

“They'll balance out over the next few days but you may have mood swings, as the testosterone levels decrease.”

Silence fell between the two, and Ezri used this silence to build up her courage to tell Bashir about what she considered to be a very personal and disturbing problem. “Julian there is something you need to know,” she said, and she paused again as she tried to get her wording right. “Over the last few weeks I've been having mild hallucinations.”

All the happiness had drained from Bashir’s face, and he was looking at Ezri with some concern. “What sort of hallucinations?” he politely inquired.

“At first it was just hearing voices, but then about a week ago I began seeing... dead bodies lying on the floor or hanging from the ceiling.”

Bashir’s slightly raised eyebrows seemed to be the extent of his reaction to such shocking statements. “How stressed have you been over these last three months?”

“I've been stressed out alright!” replied Ezri, huffing and puffing at such a pointless question. “But I think it's something more deeper than stress.”

She paused again, and a lump came to her throat, she did not want to say this but she had to. Looking around a little to her left, she saw a dead Jem’Hadar lying on a biobed. She flinched a little as she saw this latest hallucination. Even now when she was safe and sound she continued to hallucinate, and finally it became too much.

“Ezri what’s wrong?” asked Bashir gently.

Ezri blinked back salty tears in her eyes, she felt so weak and low. “Every time I hallucinate, a huge amount of fear builds up inside of me, and I just don't understand where the fear is coming from!”

“Are you hallucinating right now?”

“Yes,” she breathed, and her voice wavered in despair, she glanced to her left. “On the biobed to your right there is a dead Jem'Hadar laid out on top.”

Bashir glanced to his right, but Ezri knew that all he would see was an empty biobed.

“Take this,” said Bashir, pulling out a hypospray from nowhere. “It's coteffenal a compound to relax a person and reduce the neural output in their brain.”

He walked over to the foot of the biobed to examine the console readings of Ezri’s life signs. “Because looking at your readings there is twice the usual amount of cortical activity in your brain.”

“Which one?” asked Ezri. “Dax's brain or Ezri's brain?”

Bashir looked up from the console. “Your brain Ezri,” he said a little grimly.

Walking around he came to Ezri’s right side. “Here take the coteffenal it should cause this Jem'Hadar hallucination to disappear.”

Ezri felt the hypospray against her neck, and the diffusion of its contents into the blood vessels in her neck.

“Is the Jem'Hadar fading away?” asked Bashir, who stood back and gave Ezri a rather examining look.

Turning her head leftwards, Ezri stared at the dead Jem’Hadar with some intensity. At first nothing happened, but then the Jem’Hadar’s body became a little transparent. “He is...” she answered, and she continued to look as the Jem’Hadar literally faded away.

“He's gone!” she exclaimed a few moments later, this gave her a huge amount of relief and hope. “Listen Julian if you can control the hallucinations and keep them at bay, does that mean I can eventually return to my duty?”

Bashir gave that classic doctor’s frown as he mulled over Ezri’s question. “If all you need is three doses of coteffenal everyday, then I would declare you medically fit enough to return to duty. But if you need a higher dosage, or the hallucinations come back between dosages, then I will have no choice but to declare you medically unfit for duty.”

“Fair enough,” said Ezri, and she felt another jolt of happiness when she realised she was going to return to her occupation as a Starfleet captain and commander of DS9.


***


Day 16, 1000 hours

When she entered Ops, Ezri looked around the place feeling a little dazed. It had been three months since she had last stepped foot in Ops, yet that time period seemed more like a lifetime ago. Some of the officers looked up from their stations and gave her smiles or nods. She returned them with a halfhearted nod, Ezri realised it was probably her wearing her Starfleet uniform that seemed to draw these officers attention.

Ezri glanced back at Kira, who gave her a small encouraging nod, and Ezri slowly walked to the stairs leading to the commander’s office. As she walked she sensed the gazes of many of the officers in the room boring into the back of her head. When she finally arrived in her office, she felt glad to escape being the centre of attention.

Taking some steps to the left, Ezri looked around the office that was now hers. “It seems smaller this office…” she commented, and she paced a little more until she came to the desk.

At once the baseball on the stand caught her attention, and her left hand moved over to clutch it. “How long has this been on the station?” she asked, while she turned the ball around in her hand.

“At least 25 years,” answered Kira, looking at the ball with some fondness.

Ezri simply nodded to this, and returned the ball back to its stand. She then walked around her desk, and came to the chair, briefly her right hand stroked the top, before she moved on and over to the right side of the office. For some reason being in this office made her feel so much older, physically so, though perhaps it was her tiredness, fatigue and aching muscles.

She came to the sofa and sat down, to rest her tired legs. “It's strange but I never expected to return to this station...”

Kira who had been watching Ezri, sat down on the sofa as well; it was a gesture of friendship. “How bad was it on Apocalypse Station?” asked Kira gently, while she gazed at Ezri with understanding eyes.

Ezri declined to answer for some moments, and she stared at the floor while she tried to find her voice. When she did find her voice it sounded quiet and miserable. “For the first two months it was hell, me and the others were constantly training. And then came the arena matches... It's funny because conditions improved once we began winning those matches...” The corners of her mouth briefly twitched in an ironic smile. “The spectators loved team UFP.”

“Team UFP?” inquired Kira.

Ezri moved her gaze off the floor, and rested her head against the wall, inches from the sofa. “Yeah that's what we were collectively called. Over the next month Team UFP became... famous. But I was never fooled, the arena matches were deadly and there was no escape off Apocalypse Station. The number of people I killed, Jem'Hadar and all sorts of warriors, was... immense.”

Now her eyes were starting to burn, as it depressed her immensely to think about the horrific deeds she carried out.

“You don't have the stomach for killing people do you?” said Kira.

“In Starfleet it's different,” mused Ezri, as she tried to rationalise it all, “people are killed, some by accident and others for the defence of the Federation. I'm not so troubled by that, but in Apocalypse, when you kill people... it's personal. You're doing it for your own survival, there's nothing noble to it. That's what disturbs me.”

“Dax there's nothing to be ashamed about,” said Kira, whose voice became unusually gentle and tender. “You had no choice but to defend yourself. But that doesn't make you a cold-blooded killer.”

“I did kill in cold blood,” said Ezri through gritted teeth. “I was in something called an exterminator match, two famous gladiators or teams, pitted against each other. It was Team UFP vs Heamatitus, this veteran gladiator who used an exoskeleton machine.

“Cutting a long story short, my team managed to overpower the exoskeleton machine Heamatitus was using, and I walked on top of the stricken machine and saw Heamatitus, injured and burnt. He was halfway out of the machine, but he stopped when I stood over him. I had to kill him to end the match, but to kill someone who was unarmed?”

“You don't know that for certain,” said Kira, “he could have had a weapon on him.”

“Maybe,” replied Ezri, though in her mind Heamatitus seemed pretty helpless in his final moments. “But he could barely move his limbs let alone wield a knife or phaser rifle! The crowd were chanting 'kill kill kill', but for a moment I couldn't do it. I couldn't raise my rifle, and fire a round at Heamatitus' head.”

A rather sombre expression fixed itself on Kira’s face, and her eyes looked almost dead as she continued to stare at Ezri. “What made you pull the trigger?”

“Courage and that instinct to take another life... Some dark and animal-like instinct to kill.”

The corner of Kira’s mouth seemed to twitch a little, and now she to was resting against the sofa, with eyes staring out at everything in front the sofa. It seemed Kira was wrestling with some personal demons of her own.

“Your right about one thing,” she said quietly, “it does take courage to kill in cold blood for the first time. But the second time it gets far more easier, and the third time you don't even think about it, but by then your very soul is dead.”

“I just can't rationalise it,” said Ezri miserably, while she ran her fingers through her hair. “The excuses of survival or necessity are so unbelievably wanting to describe the acts of killing I carried out.”

Kira gave Ezri a rather dour and gloomy look of understanding. “One day you will accept what happened, it could take weeks, or months more than likely years, but the guilt never really goes...” She then shook her head. “I'm sorry, I should be cheering you up not depressing you!” she exclaimed.

“No you're being honest, and it's what I need,” said Ezri, she tilted her head to the side to give her friend a grateful smile. “Some cold hard forthrightness and honesty, and not some attempt to hide or shy away from what I did. That's why I consider you such a treasured friend, you never try to hide the truth away from me; you are open and forthright...”

For some reason this seemed to bother Kira, and Ezri noticed the subtle changes on Kira’s face, and she deduced that Kira was doing some soul searching of her own. “You look troubled…”

Kira’s gaze sharpened up, and her whole mouth was lined in a grim frown. “I did some things that I’m not proud of, and I’m not talking about the Bajoran resistance…”

With a little sigh, Kira bowed her head slightly in apparent shame. “I tortured a man to get information from him…”

Ezri was not sure how to respond to this, though she felt a little shocked, she felt certain there had to be a reason for Kira's action. “Why?” was all Ezri could say.

“He was this rogue Section 31 agent, the one who sabotaged DS9, and who also sabotaged the Defiant’s communication array on the way to the Pushui system. After the Starfleet/Klingon armada barely escaped the supernova from the Pushui star, caused by trilithium mines detonated by Apocalypse, I was really, really angry.

“So angry, that when this agent refused to answer my questions about what Apocalypse intended to do in the Sol system, I ordered Bashir to inject the agent with a neural compound to induce severe pain.”

Blinking back her surprise, Ezri was astounded that Bashir would do such a thing. “Does Starfleet know about this?”

Kira shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. “Of course it doesn’t, but I had to take desperate measures to try to save the Sol system!”

Ezri put her hand against her mouth, as she thought about Kira’s motives. The only thing she felt certain about was that she to would take equally desperate measures if it meant saving the Sol system. Living with those actions was a different matter, and Ezri would let Kira sort this out in private.

She lowered her hand, and looked at Kira’s somewhat tortured face, she then realised that Kira was not looking for forgiveness. Ezri deduced that Kira had said all this simply for the sake of it, and to not keep something so secret.

“I think,” said Ezri cautiously, “that Starfleet would more than likely turn a blind eye to this, as what you did was conducive with saving the Sol system. I’m not saying what you did was right, but in a situation like that you’re bound to get your hands a little dirty… We both got our hands dirty.”

“I know,” murmured Kira.

Ezri gave Kira a quick pat on the shoulder, before she got to her feet and proceeded to her desk. When she arrived there, she turned around and saw Kira had followed her. “Listen we did what we had to do, and in the greater scheme of things, everything more or less fixed itself. The Sol system has been saved, Apocalypse has been damaged, and myself, Holo, Jake, Max and Nog are back on this station. So I guess it’s not all doom and gloom.”

“I suppose not,” said Kira, who then composed herself into her usual professional manner. “If there’s anything else you need captain, just ask.”

“Thank you,” said Ezri with a gracious nod. “But right now I just want to get down to some work. It’s hard to believe but I actually miss completing reports!”

Kira gave a little toothy smile at this, before leaving the office.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 25 2012, 11:19 PM   #185
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 9, part 1

Day 17, 1300 hours

Blackness, constant blackness, he lay dormant as each passing second felt like an age of the universe. He was no form and yet he existed… And then it happened; an orange streak of light lit up the cyberspace oblivion. He felt the first stirrings of self, of form, of realisation.

More orange streaks filled the darkness, and he was beginning to understand what was happening, and who he was. The orange lights grew brighter, until they filled the entire darkness and grew in luminosity. The bloom grew so intense that he realised he was going back…

He opened his eyes and saw two faces, and a room surrounding them all.

“Holo do you understand what I'm saying?” said a voice, coming from one of the faces.

It took a few more milliseconds of adjustment before Holo realised who had just spoken to him. “Of course I do!” he replied, and he felt all his algorithms and programming fully emerge from their slumber.

Now he was beginning to collect the sensory information of the last few seconds, and what it told him gave more questions than answers. “But...” He paused as he attempted to formulate the precise question. “How come I'm on DS9, in Ops?”

“We saved the Sol system,” replied Max, “the threat of the Jem'Hadar and the trilithium bombs are no more. And myself, Ezri, Jake and Nog are back on this station, we survived against the odds, though you were very lucky to survive, for a moment we almost lost you.”

Pure relief calmed all of Holo’s worries, the nightmarish situation he was previously in had lifted, and the danger to his life was now gone. “Well whatever you've done, my programming hasn't felt this good in years...” He again paused and frowned, as he felt his programming was different. “And you managed to remove the Apocalypse programs.”

“Yes we did,” said Nog, though a worried look appeared on his face. “But...”

“But what?” asked Holo, feeling that he was missing something big here.

“You explain it to him Weatherby,” said Nog, looking at Max in a way to abscond from a really difficult task.

“Explain what?” demanded Holo, and a small amount of anger crept into his voice.

Max was looking at Holo as if he had died. “Your program was suffering from a memory cascade failure and there was nothing we could do to stop it. So we copied all of your predecessor's memories and this is what you are, a copy of your predecessor.”

This came as a considerable shock to Holo, what shocked him was how his sense of identity had been irrevocably changed. “But I feel exactly the same,” he said, “I know this place, I remember what I've done and who I am. I still feel the same close friendship I have with you Max.”

He shook his head, denial creeping in, no he had to be himself. “I don't get it, how am I different?”

“Holo your predecessor's memories were lost,” explained Nog, “and for all intents and purposes a person is the sum of their memories. The Holo we've known for the last year died when all of his memories were destroyed, and you being his copy, his clone if you like, are his successor, his continuation.”

More anger built up inside Holo. “Listen you're talking to me as if I'm a different person.”

“Well technically aren't you a different person?” asked Max with complete conviction.

“No I'm not,” said Holo firmly, “and I'm not going to drive myself crazy wondering if I'm the original Holo or not. I'm Holo and I'm still alive, and that is what matters to me. So please refrain from speaking to me as if I'm a different person.”

Both Max and Nog looked taken back to hear this, and a silence sprung up between the three. All Holo knew was that he was still alive, and he felt exactly like the same person before his holographic emitter sustained damage. His thinking became disrupted when he saw Martok, and two Klingons carrying a barrel of blood wine, walk past him.

Holo noticed Martok briefly talk to Kira, and she then followed Martok into the commander’s office. Whatever was going on, Holo felt glad he was not going inside that office, one look at Martok’s face told him that Martok felt triumphant and wanted to celebrate some sort of important victory. No doubt saving the Sol system and defeating the Jem’Hadar fleet was that victory. It could only mean one thing; a Klingon party, and it seemed Kira had just been invited.


***


Ezri was deep in conversation with admiral Ross, when Kira and Martok entered her office. Upon their arrival she broke off the conversation at once.

“There she is,” said Martok proudly, “the woman who saved the Sol system, Ezri Dax!”

A little embarrassment crept into Ezri. “I wasn't the only one to do so you know!”

“True,” said Martok, though he still continued to look at Ezri with pride. “But it came to my attention of your deeds, and since you are part of my house, your honour and valour will be celebrated in true Klingon style! Dorath, Breva, bring the barrel of blood wine!”

Two Klingons soldiers entered the office, carrying a barrel of blood wine.

“I made a promise that a barrel of blood wine would be drunk between the victors,” said Martok, and he slapped an arm around Ross' shoulder, and Ross look quite surprised. “Come! We will all celebrate on my ship.”

“Agreed,” said Ezri, who felt a Klingon celebration was a welcome distraction. “And may we drink until the last man standing!” she added in Klingon.

Martok laughed out aloud, and he signalled to his men to follow him, as he walked out of the office.

Ezri followed him, while Kira and Ross walked closely behind her.

“What did you say to him?” asked Kira.

“Trust me when we arrive on Martok's vessel, and the celebrations begin, you'll understand.”

“What do you mean?” asked Kira, lightly grabbing Ezri’s arm to bring her to a stop.

“We're going to be partying hard, Klingon style, and we'll need some Torexoval, an alcoholic inhibitor. So Kira quickly visit the Infirmary and grab some, otherwise we'll end up completely drunk.”

“Are you sure there's no way of backing out of this?” whispered Ross.

“That would be highly disrespectful admiral,” said Ezri. “No I'm afraid you're going to have to put up with a lot of noise, drinking, brawling, sweating and blood-letting.”

“Dear God!” exclaimed Ross, who looked absolutely mortified.


***


After drinking so many cups of blood wine, Kira was beginning to find the stuff rather tasty. She did not know what disturbed her more, acquiring a taste for blood wine, or putting up with a hundred Klingons celebrating in a wardroom not coped to holding so many people.

The roars of laughter, the sounds of Klingons butting heads together, made Kira’s ears seize up in pain. Still she was glad to see Ezri enjoying herself, who was telling stories to any nearby Klingon and many a time Kira saw Ezri join in with the occasional outburst of singing. She forget that Ezri could very easily relate to Klingons because of the Dax symbiont.

Whereas it seems admiral Ross could not, he had covertly slipped out of the party. Though everyone, except Kira, did not seem to notice. Leaving seemed like the sensible thing to do, but at times she managed to get in a little conversation with Ezri. The most annoying thing was this tall male Klingon who seemed to keep bumping into her.

So far she managed to fend him off with words, but she reckoned that before the night was over, he would probably make far more forceful advances. If that was the case, then Kira was more than up to breaking a few of his ribs, and some bones on his face, to make her intentions clear. Indeed if she did that, she would probably gain the attention, and possible respect, of some of the Klingons in the room. Not that she wanted such a thing.

She could feel the effects of the blood wine start to nullify her senses, so she reached for her third vial of Torexoval and slotted it into the hypospray she was carrying. This would keep the alcohol levels in her blood down, and she placed the hypospray to her neck and injected the contents.

At first there was no effect, and while that happened she got through two more cups of blood wine. But then to her horror, she began to feel more sluggish and uncoordinated. The third injection must have been tainted somehow, and a wall of worry sprung up inside her. Over the last few hours she had downed more than two dozen cups of blood wine, and she had no more Torexoval vials left.

It was probably best to leave the wardroom now, before the alcohol impaired her coordination, and more importantly, her judgement any further. What she needed was Bashir to detoxify her, so with her mind made up, she proceeded to make her way through all the Klingons.

Everything was becoming louder and yet more distant, and she struggled just to keep moving one foot in front of the other. Then she bumped into something hard, and looking up she realised it was the Klingon male who had been harassing her.

“Trying to leave,” he said, leering down at her.

“Out of my way,” she snarled, though her speech sounded a little slurred.

“Or what?” demanded the Klingon.

Kira finally snapped, and she sent a somewhat uncoordinated, but powerful, punch straight to the Klingon’s chest. She heard a faint crack, and when she heard the Klingon give a grunt of pain, she knew that she had broken at least one rib.

The Klingon sent a punch back which Kira barely avoided, and she darted around him to give a strong punch right at the centre of his huge back.

As the fight continued, a dozen of the Klingons who were watching, roared their excitement, while the male Klingon and Kira slugged it out. Then the Klingon literally grabbed her around the shoulders, and dragged her out of the room. Though she thrashed around, kicking and elbowing every bit of the Klingon she could find, it was no good.

When they were outside in a corridor, the Klingon slammed her against a bulkhead, and through blurry vision, Kira saw a lustful quality in the Klingon’s eyes. What part of her brain which could still think began panicking. This Klingon did not just want to fight her, and she realised far to late that brawling with him had only made him more aroused.

But at this point, Kira felt so drunk she did not really care. When the Klingon suddenly bit her on the left cheek, she dully felt a surge of anger course through her, and she lunged out, throwing uncoordinated punches, until her teeth felt the edge of his chin and bit into it. For some perverse reason this felt good, and she did not even realise that they were not fighting anymore…


***


'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw
And the blood was ankle deep
'ej Doq SoDtaH ghoSpa' Sqral bIQtIq
And the River Skral ran crimson red
'e' pa' jaj law' mo' jaj puS
On the day above all days
jaj qeylIS molar mIgh HoHchu'qu'
When Kahless slew evil Molor dead

Ezri, and several Klingons who had the strength left, continued to sing this same chorus of an old Klingon drinking song. The tone grew steadily more somber as the singing continued. Finally Ezri realised she was the last one singing it, and she promptly stopped once she finished the chorus.

Looking around she saw a few dozen Klingons slumped on the floor, or against the room’s long table. Others were staggering out of the room, in fact the only one who did not seem totally inebriated was Martok.

He walked over to Ezri, a satisfied smile lingering on his face. “I haven’t celebrated like that since the ending of the Dominion war!”

“It was good,” said Ezri, while she dumped her cup on the table.

“Even if you cheated,” commented Martok, though it was more in a mildly disapproving way.

“What good is celebrating if you can’t hold your drink?” she replied.

Martok laughed heartily, and when he settled down, there was a certain amount of respect emanating from his eyes. “You brought honour to our house as you fought against Apocalypse. You fought even when victory seemed unlikely and when your heart was wavering…”

Ezri’s gaze suddenly sharpened considerably on Martok, she was intrigued by what he had said. “What do you mean?”

“I can tell from your eyes that many a time you were plagued with doubts. A Klingon can always tell the heart of another Klingon.”

Such sincerity and admiration really touched Ezri, but she thought it was misplaced. “I’m honoured that you think that I have the heart of a Klingon, but in all honesty I don’t. Klingons don’t cry for the people they killed, or feel guilt and remorse for taking another life, even if it was an enemy. I could never be like you, and I don’t mean that in an insulting way.”

Martok looked a little nonplussed by such sentimental talk. “Even so you overcame the battle from within, and set aside your doubts and regrets, to fight one last time. What matters is that you have honestly, and more importantly honour, which a true Klingon warrior possesses. If more Klingons abided by these concepts as tenaciously as you do then the Klingon Empire would be a better place.”

“I guess so,” said Ezri.

While she thought about this, a more pressing matter came to her attention. “Martok, I don’t suppose you saw what happened to Kira? I heard some commotion, seemed like a brawl, and after that Kira had left.”

A little amusement twitched the corners of Martok’s mouth. “I saw her fighting with one of my soldiers, and then he carried her out of this room. Your colonel was putting up quite a struggle.”

Dread made Ezri’s insides squirm uncomfortably, that was not normal of a Klingon to end a fight, it could only be something else… And then a horrible thought came to her mind. “Martok I’ve got to go, I need to find Kira!”
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old February 25 2012, 11:24 PM   #186
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 9, part 2

Kira woke up and the first thing she felt was the pounding of her head. She realised that she had sobered up a little, but as she became more aware of her senses, she felt herself resting against a hard metal surface. Then she felt aches and pains all over her body, and the left side of her chest seemed to have seized up.

This was not right and casting her eyes downwards she saw that she was completely naked, covered with cuts, bumps and bruises. It got worse when she saw to her right a naked Klingon male lying next to her fast asleep. She gave out a little gasp of horror, when she realised what had happened. She had just mated with a Klingon and she could not remember what had happened in this room.

Mind you Kira did not want to know, and when she saw that the Klingon was fast asleep, no doubt from all the blood wine he consumed, she felt it was safe to make a hasty exit from the room. It was a rather Spartan room, and what possessions there were had been smashed, while her clothes were strewn around the base of the metal bed.

So she got up, and had to bite her lip to stop herself from crying out in pain. The left side of her chest seized up in agony, and that could only be due to broken ribs. Still she would be damned if a few broken ribs would stop her from getting dressed, and from someone finding her in this degrading state. What little dignity she had left would be gone if someone walked into the room right now.

This encouraged her to fight the pain, and to remove herself off the bed and get all her clothes on. Finally when she did this, she limped out of the room, each footfall made her chest burn in agony. She had no idea where she was on this ship, and how to get back to the wardroom. Worse still it was no good asking the computer where she was, because the comm badge pinned to her chest had been broken.

No doubt this had happened when she and that Klingon were thrashing around violently in the room. As she momentarily thought about this, some memories of what happened came flooding to her, and they felt very… intense. She felt so stupid limping around corridors trying to find her way around. Any Klingons who walked by either ignored her, or moved on after her attempts to try to communicate with them failed miserably.

It was some relief when Kira found Ezri on the same deck she was roaming around. Though it seemed Ezri was having problems of her own as she attempted to fend off a drunk Klingon male. After some moments Ezri managed to do this verbally, and when the Klingon left, she turned and saw Kira.

It came as no surprise to Kira to see the expression of shock on Ezri’s face, and she wondered how she was going to explain this to Ezri.

“Nerys what's happened to your face?” asked Ezri, who looked very worried. “And you seem to be limping?”

Kira put on a tortured smile, trying to gloss the whole matter over. “I had a little scuffle with one of the Klingon males.”

Ezri though did not seem to accept this at face value, and she walked over to Kira, her eyes darting around each cut and bruise on Kira’s face. “Are those bite marks around your neck?”

“So?” answered Kira defiantly.

Her worst fears came true when she saw Ezri suppress a chuckle, and Kira’s shame and embarrassment reached such levels that she wished she could cloak herself from the universe.

“Please don't tell me you had par'Mach with that Klingon?” asked Ezri, her voice quavering with suppressed laughter.

“Par'Mach?” said Kira uncomprehendingly.

“It’s Klingon for love,” said Ezri, who continued to look amused.

“I don't know what I was thinking!” exclaimed Kira in anguish. “I felt so drunk, it must have been one of the Torexoval injections had been tainted and was only working at half-strength.”

“Well that explains you limping,” replied Ezri. “Did you...” She paused, and Kira knew what question her friend was about to ask. “Did you both leap on each other like rodents?”

“Something like that,” said Kira, and she forced herself to look into Ezri’s eyes. “Let's just say I got a practical lesson in a male Klingon's anatomy.”

Ezri whistled out loud and looked at Kira both admiringly and also if she were mad. “You do know that Julian will have to treat your injuries?”

“Listen please don't tell anyone what happened!” pleaded Kira, if word got round DS9 that the first officer made out with a Klingon, then she would become the laughing stock of the station. “I was drunk,” she added, “I didn't intend for this to happen! I don’t want anyone to know, not least of all my children!”

“I won't tell a soul,” promised Ezri, “and I'm certain Julian won't either. Mind you I'm surprised that Klingon took a shine to you.”

“I know I don't get it either,” said Kira, she still felt confused by the night’s events. “We had a fight, and though I was drunk, I managed to break a couple of his ribs with one sturdy punch. I thought that would put him off, but no he seemed to become more interested, until...” She fell silent as she remembered what happened next.

“You-know-what happened,” finished Ezri.

“Yeah,” said Kira.

Ezri looked at her in a sympathetic way, and Kira felt glad that Ezri had accepted her version of events. When Ezri walked over to give Kira some support while walking, with an arm around both shoulders, the two headed back to the ship’s transporter room.

Despite Ezri being very understanding, Kira still felt bad about herself. She did not place all the blame on the Klingon, because one part of her had allowed it to happen, plus it was hard to make judgements in a situation like that when she had been so drunk. She cursed the tainted Torexoval injection, and made a mental note to give Bashir a right mouthful about the supposed quality of the Torexoval he gave to her.


***


Day 18, 1240 hours

Slowly Holo walked by Max’s side along the top level of the Promenade. “I still can't believe I'm on this station,” he told Max, “walking around the Promenade, returning to my old quarters. All of this seems like an amazing luxury after everything we went through!”

“I know the feeling,” said Max vaguely, while nodding in agreement. “And you want to know another amazing thing?”

The two stopped walking to face each other. “What?” replied Holo.

“You being here to enjoy this freedom. For some time I thought there was nothing I could do for you, and that your holographic emitter was irreparably damaged.”

“Thanks for repairing me,” said Holo gratefully.

“You mean saving me,” corrected Max.

“I'm a machine Max, to heal me is to repair me!”

“Just think about it okay...” said Max, who gave Holo a quick wink of his eye.

Holo made a small ‘huh’ sound, it was so typical of Max to be a little cheeky, not that he minded it though. “I've noticed you've spent a lot of time with Tanya in the holosuites.”

“Oh...” said Max, and he scratched the back of his head with his hand, while looking a little guilty. “Sorry about that, I do want to go the holosuite with you but I'm afraid Tanya takes top priority.”

“It doesn't matter,” said Holo, “you two have fun, you both deserve it.”

“Yeah I suppose we do,” replied Max thoughtfully, “she's been really supportive of me these last few days, especially when I spent many hours with Nog trying to repair your holographic emitter. Even if that meant not seeing much of her.”

Holo was rather touched by the sacrifice Max made on his part. “You really wanted to help me didn't you?”

“You’re my best friend Holo, and it's been a long time since I had a friend like you, I did not want to lose you.” Max then paused, and bit on his lip slightly. “Tell you what, this Monday, three days from now, at 1900 hours, do you want to go to the holosuite to run our favourite skateboard program?”

“Yeah that would be good!” said Holo, cheering up considerably.

“Same here,” said Max with a smile. “Well anyway I've got to go back to my quarters, Tanya's waiting for me. I might catch you around tomorrow.”

“See you then,” said Holo, and he watched Max’s retreating back. It was nice having something to look forward to, and he had really missed his and Max’s adventures in the holosuite.


***


Day 19, 1600 hours

Ezri sat around a table in Quark’s bar with her former team mates. She raised her glass to toast. “To freedom and staying alive,” she said.

The five raised their glasses and toasted, before sipping their drinks.

Holo was the first to lower his glass. “May I add that I've never, in all my life, felt so close to someone,” he said with surprising warmth and passion. “You were like comrades in arms, we looked out for each other, and we hung on to dear life like fanatics. I'll always remember that...”

A small murmur of agreement arose from the group, and Ezri nodded her head a little. What Holo had said was so true and she felt the exact same way herself.

“Erm Max,” said Jake, striking up a conversation. “What will happen to your brother?”

Max looked a little glum but at the mention of his brother he became downright dour. “He's in a maximum security facility in some undisclosed location,” he explained quietly. “He's considered an extremely high-risk prisoner. He's been charged with numerous crimes, and if convicted, faces a lifetime in prison...”

“For someone like that they should be executed!” said Nog angrily. “They don't deserve life.”

Ezri thought that was a pretty insensitive thing to say right next to Max, but to her surprise Max seemed if anything more thoughtful then annoyed.

“Isn't that a little harsh?” asked Holo sounding disapproving.

Nog bared his teeth a little in a pained what-a-stupid-thing-to-say manner, and he looked at Max somewhat nervously. “I didn't mean to insult you-” he began.

Max though sighed and looked moodily at his glass. “Say what you like because as far as I'm concerned I have no brother, he died the moment he abandoned my parent's home.”

“As I was saying,” said Nog, continuing on but a little cautiously, “for someone like Coplin I don't see how he can be rehabilitated. He's a monster, someone who tried to kill billions of people! And not only that he has killed tens of thousands of people as the chief executive of Apocalypse and when he launched the attack on the Sol system.”

Some of Nog’s points Ezri agreed with, but she still felt that executing Coplin was the wrong thing to do, despite his crimes. Still her darker side definitely agreed with Nog, executing Coplin would provide some closure to all the people and families who had lost loved ones during Apocalypse’s attack on the Sol system. “The number of dead still continues to rise,” she said, “I think the figure is around 384000 something. A lot of them were Starfleet officers...”

“I hear that it was the worst weekly loss of Starfleet vessels ever in the Federation's history!” added Jake. “What was it? Over 3000 ships lost in a week?”

“3471 to be precise,” said Holo, and he looked almost as glum as Max. “The Enterprise E was destroyed in McKinley Station, which was also destroyed. The Enterprise's captain William T Riker was among the dead, along with his wife Deanna Riker and their two teenage children. But they haven't managed to find his or any of his family's bodies, they're more than likely vaporised...”

“It's just such a shocking loss of life...” said Jake sadly, while he shook his head.

It was indeed a shocking waste of life, but despite that Ezri knew things would eventually return to normal. Despite the ghastly events that happened in the Sol system, and how shocking they were, people would return to their normal lives. They had to and Ezri looked around from Jake, to Nog, to Max and to Holo.

All five of them had to return to their lives and somehow return to some semblance of normality. But how could things be the same after all that they had seen and suffered from? It would never be the same, painful memories would linger, but at this moment Ezri wanted to live her life and not get bogged down by sorrows, bad memories and bitter experiences.

“It is a shocking loss of life,” she added, breaking the silence that had descended upon the group. “But it could have been much worse. However we helped to prevent the worst from happening, and for that I couldn't be prouder of all of you. What you did was truly extraordinary under such horrendous circumstances, and I'll never forget the three months spent together. For better or worse, they defined us, and as Holo correctly said bonded us together.”

She looked around at her friends and at their faces. “Let's never forget that,” she added and raised her glass to once more toast. “To friendship,” she said.

“Friendship,” they all said, and clinked their glasses together, for a moment they were all linked together bound by the glasses.

But it was a brief moment, as all five then sipped from their glasses and contemplated in silence…

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Well that is the end of Running the Gauntlet, and the end of the Apocalypse story arc. I hoped you enjoyed it!

Here are links to the rest of my stories (which are listed in chronological order in terms of my series plot):

Season 1:

Secrets and Lies

Shallow Rights


Vacation

Bad Blood

Outlier

Devolution

Gold Rush

Medical Pariah

Commitment

Ménage à Trois

Tip of the Iceberg


Season 2:

Survival

High Stakes

Running the Gauntlet

The Price of Sanity

Cloak and Dagger, part 1

Cloak and Dagger, part 2

To be Over

Knowing Oneself

Reunion


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Order of Things


Qualms
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 4 2012, 01:32 AM   #187
Ln X
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Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: DS9: A continuation

With the Apocalypse story arc over, we move onto the next batch of stories in this season.


Here is the next story: The Price of Sanity


Summary: Special thanks to Enterprise1981 for writing a few scenes, and checking over the story.

Odo returns to the station (after staying in the Great Link for six months), but he is not readily welcomed back by his family. He hast to do much soul-searching, apologising and grovelling to get back in his family's good books.

Ezri's hallucinations worsen, as the equilibrium between herself and Dax breaks down. While Bashir tries to find a cure to her mental problems, Ezri struggles to regain her equilibrium but to no success.

Warning: the occasional violent scene, minor sexual references, and somewhat disturbing mental themes.


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A small foreword: This story is twice as big thanks to jespah's reviews of Running the Gauntlet on Ad Astra, indeed in one review she said: 'Large, shocking losses of life should affect us as people. What I am interested in is seeing how, truly, your characters are affected, not only by the large loss of life but also by what they have had to do. Killing in cold blood, etc. is bound to affect someone for a considerable length of time. Post-traumatic stress disorder is very, very real - who will it affect?'

So thanks jespah for that! You got me thinking! Also I want to thank Enterprise1981 for checking over this story, and adding the technical details that I find difficult to write or imagine. He also wrote a few scenes, so thanks a lot Enterprise1981!


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The Price of Sanity, chapter 1, part 1

Stardate: 71614.8

Day 1, 1000 hours

As the group of passengers waited for the docking bay doors to open, Odo stood amongst them impatiently waiting. He had not been on Deep Space Nine for nearly six months and he wondered why he had left it in the first place. It had not been pleasant when he rejoined the Great Link, and he had overestimated his influence amongst his people. If anything during his stay, his people’s views on the solids seemed to have hardened and become more xenophobic.

He was not sure he wanted to return back to his home, no this place, this station, felt more like home to Odo than the Great Link. But could he still call this place home? He knew that Kira was going to go ballistic when she saw him again. She probably had every right to be angry for what even he thought, when looking back, was a stupid decision.

All he wanted to do was find Kira and his children, and to express his deepest apologies for leaving them… Finally the docking bay doors opened, and at once he moved forwards. Once he arrived at the corridor, he headed immediately to his family’s quarters.

He expected to find his children in their quarters, but when he arrived there, and chimed the door there was no response. The door was locked, so Odo inputted the access code. Except the access code did not work, and frowning to himself, he realised that Kira must have deleted his access code to unlock the door to their quarters.

So he changed from his humanoid shape and transformed into his natural liquid state. Compressing himself, he squeezed under the door, and through the other side. Once all of his form was through the door, he reformed back into his usual humanoid form.

“Deru, Mia?” he called out, while looking around the living room.

There was no response. “Kira?”

Nothing. He checked Deru, Mia and Kira’s bedrooms but there was nobody inside them. When he had checked Kira’s bedroom, he came to a stop by the doorway, thinking about who to talk to first. His children or his wife? It has hast to be Nerys, I owe it to her to explain myself.

“Computer, locate Kira Nerys.”

Kira Nerys is on the Promenade, Quark's bar.

In an impromptu manner, Odo left the quarters, oozing under the door, and headed to the Promenade. He walked briskly when on the Promenade, though slowed down considerably when Quark’s bar came into sight. Just how was he going to show himself to Kira without sparks flying between the two?

He was so busy wondering what to say to Kira, that when he caught her walking out of Quark’s bar he did not realise the significance of what he had seen... And then it struck him. Kira was walking again, not only that but it seemed she had made a full recovery. Only when Kira was out of sight, did it force Odo to pursue her, this was his best opportunity to talk to Kira and he was not going to let it slip, no matter what happened afterwards.

Half a minute later, and he was a dozen feet behind his wife. “Kira!” he called out.

Kira stopped and turned around, and briefly she looked stunned. “Odo!?!” she said in a tiny voice.

Though quickly she tensed up, and a mask of anger then hid the surprise on her face. “What are you doing here?” she added, when Odo finally caught up with her.

“I left the Great Link,” said Odo simply, he continued on when he realised that there would be no quick fix to the abyss that had sprung up between him and his wife. “Let's just say I didn't part on the best of terms with my people.”

“So how long are staying for?” asked Kira in icy tones. “Or are you returning to the Great Link?”

“I'm staying here for at least a year, possibly longer.” He paused as he struggled to find the words to form his apology to Kira. “Listen I know you’re mad at me-”

“Mad?” hissed Kira, while her eyes raged with anger. “You have no idea.” All of a sudden she grabbed Odo’s arm, and forcibly moved him to the nearest turbo lift.

Odo let Kira guide him, and when they were in the turbo lift, did Odo feel his wife’s vice-like grip on his arm disappear.

“Computer level five,” said Kira angrily.

She was staring fixedly at the turbo lift’s door, her fists were clenched and she looked like a volcano ready to go off.

Seeing such raw anger made Odo incredibly nervous, and he forced himself to look at Kira, or rather the side of her head. “I'm sorry for hurting you,” he said softly, “I should have told you when I was going to leave.”

“Computer halt turbo lift!” ordered Kira, she then turned around and advanced upon Odo, somehow looking even angrier than before. “You betrayed my trust and more! Without warning you left me without specifying for how long, and now you just turn up again without warning.” She didn’t exactly shout; it was more like a pained and raging voice. “I can't stand this anymore, and it doesn't do our marriage any good.”

Now the pain manifested itself in her eyes, and it made Odo burn in shame. “I'm sorry but I did what I must.”

The expression on Kira’s face hardened, the anger being replaced with cold disappointment. “I would have divorced you for what you did, but there was no means of contacting you. Not once did you send me or the children a letter or a transmission, you've hurt them as well, they've missed you terribly, especially Mia.”

In a gentle and affectionate move Odo grabbed both of Kira’s hands, and raised them close to his chest. “I promise I will make it up you-”

Anger flared up once more on Kira’s face, and with a tug she wrenched her hands out of Odo’s grasp. “I'm not interested, just leave me alone!” she said loudly. “Computer resume turbo lift.”

The turbo lift resumed its journey, and Odo was back to square one, looking at his angry wife who was resolutely looking at everything but him.

“Nerys...” he said weakly, when the turbo lift doors opened and Kira stepped out. “Can I talk to our children?”

Kira stopped walking, and her shoulders hunched up considerably. “You can talk to Mia and Deru, but don't be surprised if they're mad at you, like I am.”

With that she walked out of the turbo lift, and as she did so Odo managed to catch one brief glimpse of her face. He saw tears welling in her eyes, made all the more obvious when she quickly raised her hand to brush away the tears. The turbo lift doors closed and Odo knew that through all the anger was a woman who felt deeply hurt by what he had done.

It was what he expected from Kira, passionate anger to try to hide her true feelings, and her pain and hurt. Her defences were raised, and Odo knew that he would never get through to her if she was displaying such visible anger. Just how was he going to make it up to Kira? How was he going to apologise and win her over?


***


As Ezri came closer to the Infirmary, she slowed down as a battle raged in her mind over what to do. Her hallucinations, and those voices she was hearing, were definitely getting worse. Though it was still manageable and she felt she could still function with her job, what she needed was stronger medication. Only Bashir could prescribe to her something stronger, but if he did that, Ezri feared that he would also consider declaring her unfit for duty.

It was a fine balance, but Ezri thought she had found a way to circumvent being declared medically unfit for duty. All she had to do was tell Bashir that her hallucinations had intensified but only in periods when she was not taking her medication. She hoped Bashir would fall for that because she did not want to leave her job, it was the only thing keeping her going and making her feel normal.

With her mind made up, she entered the Infirmary.

Bashir who was sitting by a console, presumably doing medical research, turned around when Ezri walked inside. “Captain what can I do for you?”

Ezri breathed out deeply trying to calm herself, there was no walking out of this situation now. “There's something I need to tell you...”

“Of course.”

“In private,” she added.

Bashir vacated his chair, and Ezri followed him into the empty patient’s ward. When Bashir stopped and turned around to look at Ezri, a very slight frown lined his face, and Ezri wondered just how much his genetically enhanced mind was deducing from the expression and features on her face.

“What's wrong?” asked Bashir, breaking the silence that had built up between the two.

“You know three weeks ago back on the Defiant when I told you about these voices I've been hearing and the hallucinations?”

“Are they still occurring despite the medication I've given to you?”

“The medication is working fine,” said Ezri, and she kept her face as neutral as possible so that Bashir would not detect her lack of honesty. “It's just on periods when I don't take it the voices have become louder, and my hallucinations become more horrific.”

Bashir picked up a tricorder from a biobed and began scanning Ezri, and Ezri’s gut clenched painfully so from nervousness. Would the tricorder tell Bashir something else, contradicting her story? She hoped not, as she could kiss her being commander of DS9 goodbye.

“Your serotonin and epinephrine levels are high,” commented Bashir, his eyes were fixed on the tricorder readings. “Can you still hear these voices?”

“Only slightly,” replied Ezri, which was true of course. “It's the coteffenal that is suppressing them.”

“Can you distinguish what they're saying?” he asked, while closing the tricorder’s lid.

“No it's like a constant noise, there are so many voices.”

Ezri wished she could hear what the voices were saying; maybe they were trying to tell her something. Now that she had successfully mislead Bashir, there was one more thing she had to ask of him. “Please keep this private, I don't want you telling anyone else about my... mental problems.”

Bashir smiled in a reassuring way. “Don't worry about that, this is still a case that warrants the doctor-patient confidentiality. I'm giving you a dose of improvaline, it's a bit stronger than coteffenal, but that should keep the neurotransmitter levels stable and should subdue the cortical activity in the temporal lobe.”

“Thanks Julian.”

Once more Bashir was scrutinising Ezri’s appearance, and Ezri kept herself as mask-like as possible. “You still appear to be fit for duty,” said Bashir, who was no longer giving Ezri such a penetrating stare. “But if the hallucinations get worse or the voices grow louder come to me immediately.”

“I will,” said Ezri, nodding once.

When Bashir walked out of the room to get the improvaline, Ezri was left standing there feeling somewhat jubilant, but mainly guilty for lying to Bashir. She was stumping really low as now she was lying about her health, all of this just so she could still be the commander of DS9. Bashir had warned her some weeks ago how potentially serious her mental issues could become, but she ignored the warning hoping her condition did not deteriorate any further.

But it had, and she entertained the possibility that for a short-term gain, she was probably doing irreparable damage to her mental health. Ezri thought about taking a leave of medical absence, but almost immediately she dismissed that idea. When she was not working, her mind continually remembered the horrors she saw as an Apocalypse gladiator.

The blood, the gore, the dead, the destruction, all of it shook her to the core, and Ezri wished she could forget about it…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 4 2012, 01:33 AM   #188
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 1, part 2

For some moments Odo was standing outside the door to his family’s quarters, wondering what sort of reaction he would get when he saw his children again. He had asked the station’s computer where his children were, and when the computer told him that they were in their quarters and Kira wasn’t, Odo decided to visit them.

To visit when Kira was with them would have been too much for Odo. Still he felt nervous enough about meeting his children again without Kira in his presence. Finally he found the courage to press the door panel to chime the door. Once he had done that, he braced himself for what would be a very awkward and possibly painful situation.

The door opened and Odo saw his beloved daughter Mia, she had grown a bit since he had last saw her, and her face had matured a little. It was such a shock to see her again.

Mia though looked more shocked than Odo felt. “Dad?” she stuttered looking at Odo as if he were not real.

“Can I come in?” said Odo hopefully.

For a few seconds Mia did not respond, and her mouth was hanging loosely open. Finally she nodded in a numb manner.

As Odo walked in, he noticed that the living room looked more or less the same since he had last been here.

“Who is it Mia?” said a voice from behind a sofa.

Standing up, it was Deru, and when he saw his father he looked just as shocked as Mia did. But then a wide smile burst onto his face. “Dad!” he yelled, and he then rushed over and hugged Odo’s midriff. “I knew you would come back!” he said excitedly while clinging onto Odo.

Odo bent over a little and wrapped his arms around Deru’s shoulders, to simply hug his son felt so moving for him. “It's good to be back here again.”

Deru then broke off the hug and looked up to Odo. “How was it in the Great Link?”

“It was a...” Odo paused as he quickly thought about a phrase to sum up his whole experience. “Interesting time.”

“You mean to say your people weren't pleased to see you,” said Mia a little harshly.

Now that his daughter had found her voice, Odo was a little alarmed to hear such bitterness from Mia. “Some of them weren't, and sadly I left the link on a sour note.”

“What did you do to upset your people?” asked Deru. “I mean you’re a shapeshifter, you’re one of them, why shouldn't they like you?”

“They wanted me to become a Founder, and oversee the running of the Dominion.” Odo smiled as he saw the surprise on Deru’s face. “But I refused because I wouldn't be able to see you and your mother.”

Mia though laughed out loud in a nasty way, and she looked at Odo with something akin to disgust. “I bet that was not the only reason for doing so.”

Odo closed his eyes, and he felt glad his back was turned so that Mia could not see his reaction. Like Kira, Mia seemed to have a hard time forgiving him. He turned around to confront his daughter. “Mia, if you're not happy to see me, then just say so.”

“No I'm not,” said Mia automatically, “I'm not happy to see you.”

“Don't be stupid Mia!” burst out Deru. “You told me that you did want to see dad!”

“I never said that!” replied Mia angrily.

“Would you two stop bickering!” said Odo in raised voice.

At once Deru and Mia fell silent, and Odo took a little satisfaction in knowing that his children still followed his orders. “Deru, Mia has every right to be angry with me, and Mia, stop winding up your brother.” He then looked at Mia full in the face, and clearly saw the anger in Mia’s eyes. “Listen if you want to say how much of a bad father I've been then say it. If you want to tell me what's troubling you, then do so, but not in front of Deru.”

“Fine!” said Mia testily. “We'll talk in my bedroom!”

Mia lead the way, while Odo followed from behind.

When he was inside Mia’s bedroom, one of the things he noticed was a small golden altar, similar to the one Kira had, mounted on a stand. “Do you pray to the Prophets?” he asked while pointing to the golden alter.

“As a matter of fact I do,” replied Mia while she closed the door. “I've found my pagh.” She paused and gave Odo a rather twisted smile. “It's because of you that I found faith, faith in the Prophets... Does mother know that you've arrived?”

“She does, I spoke to her first, but she was very angry at me.”

“I'm not surprised,” said Mia seethingly, “you broke her heart by walking out on her. I had to care for her when you left, and though I don't resent it, what I do resent was trying to defend you in front of her. I tried to make excuses and to convince myself that you had to return to the Great Link. But when mum told me that she would have let you go to the link, I then realised you left her because she might have said no. You must have been really obsessed with the link, so obsessed that you thought your obligation to this family could be wavered!”

“That's not true!” protested Odo, and his daughter’s accusations tore against his heart in a painful manner. “Well, I-”

“Don't lie to me!” shouted Mia, and she advanced towards Odo, her whole body was alive with rage. “You thought we were a burden on you, you wanted to be free in that blasted link!”

“I was scared!” said Odo in anguish. “I admit it! I was so desperate to return to the Great Link that I didn't have the courage to tell your mother how badly I wanted to return. I was so scared that I thought she was going so say no to me returning to the link, and I didn't want to hear that. So I left on my own...”

“Well that makes you a coward then!” snarled Mia, she then momentarily looked up at the ceiling, slightly shaking her head in disbelieve. “To think that I thought you were the bravest dad in the galaxy...”

“I'm sorry for letting you down,” said Odo quietly, and he looked down at his feet as his shame consumed him. “I know I can't undo what's happened, but I'm here now and I want to make it up to you.”

Mia remained silent as she considered this, and Odo looked up, believing that Mia appeared convinced by his explanation.

But that moment came and went, and Mia’s face hardened with anger and disappointment. “No, that's just words,” she said harshly. “Deru may have quickly forgiven you but I won't.”

“Listen Mia-”

“Please leave my bedroom,” said Mia, with eyes which were closed tightly shut.

Now Odo knew that Mia felt just as hurt as she was angry, and seeing his daughter stand in such a rigid manner told him that she was bottling up her emotions and that she desperately wanted some privacy.

Slowly, and reluctantly, Odo left the bedroom, gently closing the bedroom door behind him. His shame grew all the more stronger because of all the pain he had made Mia to suffer from, and he thought Mia had been right about one thing; he was a bad father.

“Is Mia less mad with you?” asked Deru, the moment Odo entered the living room.

“No,” said Odo, forcing himself to look composed despite how rotten he was feeling. “I tried to talk to her but she's pretty adamant; she hasn't forgiven me.”

“Where are you going to stay? In our quarters?”

“I'm afraid not,” said Odo, shaking his head a little. “Your mother wouldn't allow it, so I'll find some temporary accommodation instead.”

But Deru looked worried at hearing this, so instinctively Odo walked over to his son, bent down and brought his son's hands together. “Listen, don't worry about me or the family, I will sort things out between me and your sister, and I'll talk to Kira again. Your mother may be angry at me, but she does eventually forgive.” He then gently kissed Deru’s hands, and looked up at Deru’s troubled face. “I promise to you that we'll be together again as a family.”

Deru simply nodded, looking a little happier to hear this, but not by much.

Odo got back to his feet, and with a little nod to Deru, he then left the quarters. When Odo was outside in the corridor, he let his contained emotions flow, and he felt a horrible guilty shame. If he were human he would have cried because of what he had done to his family. Because of him, and his stupid decision, he had given them so much grief and pain.

He always knew it would be painful reuniting with his wife and children. But he had never imagined it would be this painful. He should have felt happy that Deru had readily accepted him back, but Odo did not as he felt he deserved Mia’s and Kira’s anger. For some reason he felt even worse because Deru had simply forgiven him, when really he did not deserve any forgiveness.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 5 2012, 12:43 AM   #189
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 2

Day 2, 0600 hours

Feeling wide awake, Max laid down on the bed staring up at the ceiling. By his left was Tanya, she looked so content as she slumbered, breathing in and out very gently. Max only wished he could get a decent night’s sleep like Tanya did. It was in the night when the memories of Apocalypse haunted him, he would spend whole hours recalling the time spent as a mission controller and watching Team UFP complete the unbelievably deadly courses and matches they faced daily.

Looking back, it did not seem real to Max, how could anybody survive that? However, as always, his mind inevitably strayed to his memories of being tortured. Try as he might he could not get the horrific experience out of his head. The whole thing sapped his self-confidence and his dignity. He simply could not forget lying on that cold bed, strapped to it, completely naked while an Apocalypse doctor applied the thin electroshock pads to Max’s body.

How he had survived through that torture session he had no idea, and yet he was back on DS9, back in his old quarters, sleeping with Tanya. For some reason it did not seem real. Was all of this simply a dream?

But if it was a dream then why did it feel so real? He turned his neck leftwards to look at his sleeping partner, who was resting on her left side. One part of him wanted to gently stroke her face but he held back as he did not want to awake Tanya. He was content with Tanya simply resting an arm across his chest…

Still there were some things with Tanya that did make him uncomfortable. If this had been four months ago he and Tanya would have been sleeping naked together, but ever since being tortured, Max felt deeply uncomfortable with doing this. So instead they both slept in bed clothes. In fact he recoiled from being naked even when he was on his own.

It was not just that, he did not derive comfort kissing Tanya or being intimate. The only time they had had sex was three weeks ago back on the Defiant, hours after Max had been rescued from the Apocalypse arena. What really bothered him was the ebbing of his physical attraction to Tanya. On some days he did not find Tanya’s appearance even remotely appealing. Yes she looked pretty, well put together, and yet this did not seem relevant…

“Mmm...” muttered Tanya, and she made some more soft sleepy sounds, before her eyes flicked open. “You still awake?”

“I couldn't really sleep,” replied Max, and he looked away from Tanya, wishing she were still sleeping.

Tanya raised her head, resting it against her hand, while her elbow dug into the soft mattress. “More bad memories?”

“Something like that.”

Max did not want to elaborate, he felt in his own little world far removed from Tanya, but he let out a little gasp when he felt Tanya’s other hand rest against his left cheek. The sensation of her flesh against his felt almost alien to him, even more so when Tanya began gently stroking his cheek.

“You feel cold, clammy,” she observed, looking at Max with concerned eyes.

It became too much for Max, and he grasped Tanya’s wrist and pulled her hand away from him. “Don't do that...” he warned.

“I'm sorry.”

Now Max felt a little stupid, why he had to distance himself from her he was not sure. But he looked again at her face and realised there was more strain and anxiousness than it belied. “No, it's my fault,” he said after a while, “you were just trying to comfort me.”

Tanya raised a questioning eyebrow to this. “Does my touch bother you?”

“I guess it does... I don't why but it reminds me of when I was stripped of my clothes and tortured... It-” Max paused when he saw the clear discomfort in Tanya’s eyes. “I shouldn't be talking about this.”

“No... continue on, don't stop on my account, if you feel like talking about it then do so.”

Max slumped his head against the mattress and resumed his staring of the ceiling. “Well that's it, with you I feel like I can't talk about it...”

He had not meant to say that, but it just came bursting out of his mouth. Sure enough the effect was almost instantaneous; though Tanya seemed to look warm and understanding, her posture was anything but. Max became very conscious of the tense mood between himself and Tanya, no longer did he want to be in Tanya’s presence with all this bad feeling between them.

So he moved the duvet off his body, and got out of bed. He went to the wardrobe to fetch a clean change of uniform, and after that headed out of the bedroom. Before being abducted he would have changed in front of Tanya, but he felt deeply uncomfortable exposing himself to her.

“Where are you going?” asked Tanya.

“Getting changed,” replied Max, “then I’m having breakfast and then starting my shift early.”

“That's three hours away!” exclaimed Tanya, looking at Max as if he had gone mad. She then quickly changed her tack. “Why not come back to bed and try to sleep?” she suggested rather warmly.

Max knew exactly what Tanya was implying, but his mood was lacklustre at best. Even with Tanya lying down and looking so enticing in the short white nightdress, and the way she held herself up, Max resisted with all his heart. He had changed, and whereas his former self would have literally leapt onto the bed, he could not budge a muscle. He even felt angered by what Tanya was trying to do. “You know I wish you were more forthright with me. If you want to kiss me, if you want to be intimate, then just say it.”

Tanya’s warm quickly faded. “I only want to make you happy.”

“It's going to be a long time before I'm happy,” replied Max, and he walked out of the room and proceeded to the bathroom where he would change into his uniform.

The moment he closed the door, he rested against the corridor’s wall. What on Earth was he doing? Was he really that angry and brooding that he would pass up sex with Tanya? He wanted to go back inside to apologise to her, to make up and make out, but he was afraid. Afraid to open up and show his pain and vulnerabilities to her. As he walked to the bathroom, Max realised his mind was already made up; he would not be returning back to the bedroom.


***


Ezri briefly closed her eyes, it was a brief respite from the hallucinations. Still it did nothing to block the whispering voices, all of it was getting ridiculous and now it started happening between her medications. Finally Ezri had put up with enough, she could not work like this as she was going steadily mad. She had to tell Bashir what was happening and admit defeat; the hallucinations had got the better of her.

Just as she had made up her mind, her office door opened and Nog walked in. In all her distress and distraction from the hallucinations she had forgotten about her brief meeting with Nog. She opened her eyes and for one brief moment was glad to see the hallucinations disappear. “You wanted to see me chief?”

Nog gave Ezri a slightly bemused stare due to her stating the obvious, still he held out to Ezri a padd which contained an approval form. “Well I need your permission to carry out a major overhaul of computer systems on this station.”

Ezri was in half a mind to simply press her thumb against the permission box shown by the padd, however she needed to think this through. It could mean at times significant disruption to certain station functions with what Nog was proposing to do. She rubbed her fingers against her nose trying to ease some of the inner stress tearing away inside of her. The voices had grown louder, and she forced herself to ignore all of that. “How long will this take?”

“At least six months.”

“Six months?” she repeated, her brain had simply frozen as she could not think out what this would mean for the station. To make matters worse the Jem’Hadar bodies were coming back, and she quickly closed her eyes to make them go away, but it did not work. “What kind of disruptions will there be?”

“This station's key operations won't be affected,” said Nog quickly, he seemed desperate to get Ezri’s authorization. “Are you sure your alright captain? You look tired.”

Ezri though looked at Nog uncomprehendingly, she had seen his mouth open yet she had not heard the words. Everything seemed distant, and she felt so afraid, she could not work out where this fear was coming from. She felt so bad that her stomach was churning horribly, all she wanted to do was sit down and rest, and try to come to her senses.

The more she stared at Nog the more she did not recognise him, was he a person or part of her hallucinations? He could only be a hallucination, just like the dead Jem’Hadar; Nog could not be real. Suddenly fear overwhelmed Ezri and Nog’s uniform morphed into that of an Apocalypse station trooper. She backed away from Nog, fearful that he was going to harm her.

“Are you sure you’re well captain?” said Nog.

“Stay away from me!” warned Ezri.

Ezri felt the edge of the table against her legs, she had ran out of room to move away from Nog. Her hands gripped onto the table edge, so intense was her fear that she did not even notice how painfully her hands clenched the table.

Another person walked in and this was Kira donning station trooper attire. “I'm taking her to the Infirmary.” Kira came a few steps closer to Ezri. “Ezri, come with me...”

Kira offered a hand but Ezri simply stared back at the Bajoran women in terror. “You can't help me,” she said hoarsely, and she started moving away from her desk and backing steadily away deeper into her office. “You’re not real.”

“I'm not going to hurt you,” said Kira, and she slowly followed Ezri, her hand still extended.

“Nog to sickbay.”

Bashir here.

“Julian get up to Ops immediately, it's the captain she's acting strangely.”

I'm on my way.

Ezri heard all this but it bore no relevance to her. When she backed up against a bulkhead, did she resort to a more desperate measure; trying to talk to the hallucinations. “Can't you see the bodies of the Jem'Hadar? I've killed them...”

Kira eyes darted around the office, before coming to rest upon Ezri. “Ezri there are no dead bodies,” she said, looking totally bewildered. “You are hallucinating!”

“Liar!” shouted Ezri.

“I won't kill for you anymore!” she moaned, at that point she could not keep her feelings bottled up anymore. So she slumped herself against the bulkhead, with her back gradually sliding down, until her bottom made contact with the floor. Like a child she huddled up, tucking her knees close to her chest and started crying. Wrapping her arms tightly around her legs, she buried her head in them, and shook from her despair.

She wanted this to end, the fear, the hallucinations. No longer did she want to live like this and for the first time she wanted to die. This was no life, anything but this…

All of a sudden somebody’s hands were pulling Ezri’s arms apart, and Ezri simply let them open as she had no strength to resist. Looking up she saw Kira, and confusion consumed Ezri. If Kira was a hallucination then how had she moved Ezri’s arms? Ezri felt like she had no answers, yet there was something familiar about seeing that face…

“You haven't killed anyone,” whispered Kira, “trust me...”

Looking closely into Kira’s eyes, Ezri saw a tender affection in them, if this really was Kira… “Kira?” The more she stared, the more she recognised just who she was talking to. “Is that you?”

Kira slowly nodded.

“Please help me!” said Ezri in a tiny voice, she had now realised it was Kira, and she took great solace that her friend was here to comfort her and not some stranger doing it.

“Julian's coming,” replied Kira, trying to sound reassuring but failing. “And it's going to be all right.”

After her moment of madness, Ezri became fully aware of where she was and what was happening. How could she have broken down like this? This had been made all the more embarrassing with Kira and Nog seeing her in this state. There was no dignity to it, and she had wanted only Bashir to know just how crazy things were inside of her head. No doubt Ops, had seen and heard her weeping, and pretty soon the entire station would know about her moment of madness.


***


Two hours after the scene with Ezri, Kira walked inside the Infirmary, desperate to know what was wrong with Ezri. Seeing her friend, her commanding officer, fall to pieces like that was more than disconcerting, it was shocking. Kira came to the patient ward where she found Bashir, standing close to a biobed, and looking at some sort of medical readings from a console.

To Bashir’s left rested Ezri who appeared to be sleeping, or perhaps she was sedated by Bashir. For one moment Ezri's unconsciousness relieved Kira greatly. Never did she want to see Ezri in such a crazed and distressed state, the very experience had made Kira sick with sorry.

“What's wrong with her?” she asked Bashir when she stopped by the biobed.

Bashir suddenly turned around apparently surprised by Kira’s appearance, it seemed all his attention had been on that medical console. “Basically the mental balance between Ezri and the Dax symbiont has destabilised. I think Ezri is suffering from suppressed emotions, primarily guilt and suppressed memories and they're being released and directed primarily into the sensory part of Ezri's brain. This explains why she is hearing voices and having hallucinations.”

Kira took one sad glance at Ezri, what had Ezri done to deserve this? “Is there any treatment for her?” she asked in a quiet voice, fearful lest she disturb Ezri.

“It's hard to tell,” said Bashir, looking at Kira with weary eyes. “You don’t have to whisper by the way, I’ve sedated her.”

He paused and briefly rubbed his hand against his forehead in a fatigued manner. “What seems apparent is that one of the two personalities has been deeply affected by Ezri's experiences as an Apocalypse gladiator, and this personality is coming to terms with the guilt and other suppressed emotions. Unfortunately this deluge of new neural connections between the amygdala of the brain and the sensory neurons is causing those sensory neurons to hyper-stimulate, and that has caused permanent neural damage. It's seems like some sort of feedback loop, and each time the sensory part further stimulates it disrupts the neural connections inside of Ezri's brain. This could explain why she initially couldn't recognise you Kira.”

“Can Ezri herself cure this problem?” asked Kira. “It sounds to me like a clash of two personalities.”

With a little understanding smile Bashir shook his head. “This has gone beyond a personality imbalance; this is a systemic neurological problem, and if it isn't fixed Ezri could ultimately suffer from terminal brain damage both to herself and Dax.”

Suddenly Kira sharpened her gaze on Bashir, a cold chill went down her spine as she knew exactly what Bashir was suggesting. “But wouldn't Dax have to be removed from Ezri if she became totally psychotic?”

“I'm afraid so,” said Bashir miserably. “If Ezri's mental health further deteriorates then I may have no other choice but to remove the Dax symbiont.”

“But that would kill Ezri!”

Strangely Bashir had a look of serene professional detachment, though his eyes betrayed some of that calmness. “If nothing is done both Ezri and Dax will die.”

Kira could not stop herself as she took one step back from the doctor. The thought of Ezri dying made her feel so numb, she had seen Jadzia die on this very station and that had been painful. With some effort, Kira looked once more at Ezri, who seemed so calm as she slept. What in the name of the Prophets was going on inside of Ezri’s head?
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 9 2012, 11:27 PM   #190
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 1

Day 1630 hours

Since Odo knew that resolving issues between himself and Kira was going to be hard, he decided to talk to his daughter again, and hopefully try to straighten some things out. He had asked the computer where Mia was and it told him that Mia was in the astronomy lab. He remembered that Mia usually left the astronomy lab at 1630 hours, and hopefully, six months later, her leaving time had not changed. Sure enough Odo's observation was spot on, when he saw Mia leave the astronomy lab.

Mia's whole concentration was on the padd she held with both hands, but she looked up when she seemed to sense Odo’s presence. For a brief moment she appeared surprised to see her father, but a cold hard anger quickly etched itself onto her face.

“Hi there,” said Odo nervously. “How was your day?”

“I thought you weren’t going to talk me at this time,” she said coldly. “Just what do you want?”

“I just want to tell you why I left the family.”

“You can do that,” said Mia simply shrugging. “But not out here, you can do that in the family's quarters instead.”

Glad that Mia was prepared to listen to him, Odo followed her back to their quarters. When he was inside his quarters, Odo expected to see Deru again.

“Erm… where is Deru?” he asked Mia, while looking around the living room.

“He’s in one of his friend’s quarters, he’ll be back before 1700 hours.”

Mia came to a stop, turned around, with her arms folded tightly, resting against her chest, as she gave Odo a very stony-faced stare. “I’m waiting…”

Odo quickly gathered his thoughts together at Mia’s sudden prompt. “I'm sorry for leaving the family, but I had to do so.”

This cut no ice with Mia, who looked even more cold and distant. “You do know what you did really hurt mum, she told Deru and me that you were with your people, in the Great Link.”

“My people needed help, morale help after the Jem’Hadar rebellion. They had backtracked on the reforms I pushed through eighteen years ago. I managed to stop that; I stopped the Dominion returning into a militaristic state.”

“You were trying to protect lives?” asked Mia, sounding more surprised and interested then her demeanour let on.

“Precisely,” said Odo, glad that his daughter was quickly catching on. “Without my intervention the Dominion could have rearmed and become more aggressive, potentially threatening the Alpha Quadrant.”

Mia though rolled her eyes, her interest in her father's activities in the Great Link had all but faded. “Well that is all very noble, but why didn't you tell mum about this? If you had done so, she would have let you go to the Great Link.”

“She more or less knew my reasons for returning to the Great Link, but while she was deciding on whether to agree or to not concerning my departure, I... That was the problem you see.”

Odo gulped a little as he remembered his fears around the time when he left DS9, he averted his gaze from Mia because he felt so ashamed. “I was afraid she would say no, and I would have no choice but to stay in this home out of sheer obligation, when really my heart was set on returning to the Great Link. It would be an awful situation, and I just knew I would go crazy if that were to happen.”

“But even if she said no, couldn't you have persuaded her to change her mind?” asked Mia, making it sound all so obvious.

Odo was taken aback, he had not really thought about that. “I-”

He paused as he instantly saw things that cast a shadow on Mia’s idea. “Well, let me tell you one thing Mia, both myself and your mother can be rather headstrong, and I feared there would be some awful arguments between the two of us.”

“Still it's no excuse for leaving mother like that,” said Mia coldly.

It felt so horrible for Odo seeing his daughter’s anger, though he knew that she was bottling up her emotions and he had to get her to express them. “Never mind your mum, what do you think of my decision?”

The cold and angry expression on Mia’s face slipped a bit, it seemed she had not been expecting that. She cast her eyes downwards a little, looking very unsure of herself. Finally she locked her gaze with her father's. “Well, at first I tried to understand it, I thought you must have had good reasons to leave. But then I saw how upset mother was, and the emotions she was bottling up. I was caring for her at that time, and I could see that she was more distressed than she appeared.

“It made me really angry to see her in such pain, and I blamed you, I couldn't excuse what you had done. I hated you for it, and then I discovered the Prophets and my pagh, and what I felt then was just a terrible sadness mingled with the anger.” Her eyes were becoming watery while her anger was reaching a crescendo. “I'm angry at you because you turn up and seem to expect us to simply forget that the last six months never happened. I just feel like hitting you or something stupid like that!”

Odo’s heart sank to hear the terrible things Mia told him, and it powerfully remained him of how badly he had messed up as a father. “I don't expect you to forgive me just like that. You're absolutely right to be angry with me because for the first time as your father I let you down horribly, and there is no excusing that or glossing it over.”

Upon hearing this Mia burst into tears, and Odo thought he had surprised her by his honesty. Still he did not want to see his daughter so upset, so he moved closer and gently hugged her. He expected Mia to push him away, but she did not, and instead she wrapped her arms around his back, and sobbed her heart out.

“Why did you have to leave me like that?” she moaned, while her head was buried in Odo’s chest, making her voice a little muffled. “It just made your departure even more painful, I mean why?”

Odo looked at some point in front of him not really seeing. If he were actually a humanoid he would be crying because he felt so sad, guilty and distraught. “Because at the time I was a desperate man, who placed more consideration to his people than to you and to his family. But I won't make that same mistake again; this family will always come first from now on.”

When Odo had said that, Mia broke off the hug and looked at Odo with very watery eyes. Whatever anger she formerly had was now gone. “I can understand why you left us, but you should have told me where you were going.” A few more tears leaked from her eyes. “I've really missed you,” she lamented, and she briefly hugged Odo again. “It's good to have you back, and you're welcome to visit the home anytime.”

“Thank you,” breathed Odo, glad to hear the warmth in his daughter’s voice. “Though I'll have to be careful when I come here, because if you mother finds me here she may just go ballistic.”

Mia used her fingers to brush away the tears in her eyes, but through the tears she did look far happier. “Do you think mum will forgive you?”

“I wish it were that easy... You may or may not understand this, but things can get complicated between adults.”

“I'll talk to her,” offered Mia, “maybe that could help.”

“That's really nice of you do that, but be prepared for a real mouthful.”

“I'm not scared of her,” replied Mia boldly.

“Well you should,” warned Odo, “as she is one of the bravest and most toughest woman I've ever seen.”

For a moment, he and Mia didn’t say anything and simply looked at each other. Then Mia laughed out loud, and Odo laughed a little, before he hugged her once more. “It’s so good to be back, and I love you so much.”

He let go of Mia, before kissing the top of her head lightly.

“Dad…” protested Mia, who was looking embarrassed.

Odo remembered kissing the top of Mia’s head when she was just a newborn baby. How time had gone by so quickly he did not know, he was just glad that his daughter had forgiven him, because he dreaded to think what it would have been like if he were estranged to Mia. He was fortunate to have such a considerate daughter, but Odo did not take this for granted. That kind of trust had been earned over the years, and one day’s stupid decision had nearly destroyed all of that trust.


***


Nog walked into The Prophet’s Cuisine just before its closing time, he nearly always came at this hour because Jake was not so busy and it offered an opportunity to talk to his best friend.

Jake was standing behind the counter next to the bar, he looked a little bored, since nobody was ordering any more wines or alcoholic beverages (or meals). Though when he saw Nog his face brightened up. “Hey Nog!” he called over. “You here for the usual?”

“Not today...” replied Nog, though he felt grateful that Jake was prepared to serve after closing time.

Jake walked around the counter, and gestured to Nog to sit down on one of the tables inside the dining area of the restaurant.

When Nog sat down on one of restaurant’s comfortable chairs, he felt himself relax immediately. This restaurant had always felt warm and inviting, no doubt thanks to Jake. Nog looked around and saw only a couple of patrons inside, he sincerely hoped it had not been like this throughout the day. “How was business today?” he asked.

Jake made an undecided face before answering. “Decent... Well decent enough to pay the bills and taxes. How was your day, you fixed the secondary power relays in docking bay two?”

“Yeah, I got that fixed,” said Nog, while he fiddled distractedly with one of the forks on the clothed table. “Though for some reason I find it harder to get the repair jobs done on time.”

“Wouldn't happen to be stress related would it?” asked Jake, giving Nog a shrewd look.

“Probably is...” acknowledged Nog, he stopped playing with the fork, looking Jake straight in the face. “I don't know why but I just can't stop thinking about all those battles and arena matches... It's the killing that bothered me, or more like killing all those Jem'Hadar.”

“But Nog they're only-”

“I know that!” replied Nog a little loudly, before quickly lowering his voice when the other people in the restaurant stared at him briefly. “I know they show no mercy and were trying to kill us, but still they're sentient beings. I have-we have-killed so many of them and it just feels... wrong.”

Jake leaned in over the table, to keep their conversation a bit more private. “I don't like killing any more than you do,” he whispered, “but we had to survive.” He jabbed his finger on the table to emphasise his point. “And without it we wouldn't be here talking to each other in this restaurant! I have no regrets about what we had to do to survive.”

“I'm surprised to hear that,” said Nog, though he doubted whether Jake really meant what he said. “Of all the people I would have thought you would be the one who was the most affected.”

“What's done is done,” said Jake, who shrugged. “When I came back to this station, I told myself to put the events of Apocalypse behind me, and focus on returning to my old life. I haven't looked back since...”

The casual nature in Jake’s voice shocked and angered Nog. “How could you so easily forget what happened in Apocalypse?” he hissed.

“Of course I haven't forgotten what happened!” replied Jack, giving Nog a venomous look. “How could I? I'll probably remember each match we fought in. All I'm trying to say is to dwell on such things just isn't healthy and I think we did the right things to survive.”

The slightly bullish and cavalier look bothered Nog some more, but he knew what Jake was getting at. “I know that, but that isn't going to help me overcome my guilt.”

Jake looked worriedly at Nog, as if he sensed that Nog was not letting on to what was really bothering him. “Listen Nog are you sure you don't want a bite to eat?”

“No I'm certain,” said Nog, and he got to his feet. “I'm going to call it a night.”

“Sure...” replied Jake who was also now standing. He gave Nog a brief hug, patting Nog’s shoulders a few times before letting go. “See you tomorrow.”

Nog then left the restaurant feeling a little worse than when he came in.
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Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 9 2012, 11:27 PM   #191
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 3, part 2

Max walked into his quarters and for a moment he thought Tanya was not inside. Usually she was there in the living room to welcome him back, but not this evening. He could not be bothered to look for her in their quarters, and he did not really care where she had gone to.

He was about to walk to the kitchen when he heard a faint noise coming from the bedroom. Frowning, Max listened more carefully, it sounded like someone crying. So he stealthily approached the bedroom, making little sound, and as he got closer the sobbing got steadily louder. When he stopped right next to the bedroom door he realised that it was Tanya who was sobbing.

Max's heart instantly sank like a stone, for all this time he presumed that Tanya had simply put up with his rotten mood. But now she had reached her limit and she was thoroughly miserable due to his behaviour. A horrible guilt made Max almost sick, he felt like a completely selfish and insensitive brat. Tanya deserved so much better...

Though Max wanted to comfort her, something stopped him. It was fear which had rooted him to the spot, fear of apologising profusely to her and explaining himself. He did not want to have to recall all those bad memories when he spent so much effort trying to forget about what happened in Apocalypse.

Miserably he walked back into the living room and went over to the replicator to get something to eat. He had virtually zero appetite but he did so to simply pass the time. His thoughts were so black and brooding that he failed to notice Tanya slowly walking across the living room to meet him.

“Did you have a good day?” she asked in a small and weak voice.

Max looked up from his plate and saw his girlfriend’s blotched face and red-rimmed eyes. She was dressed in her civilian clothes, though she seemed to have picked some rather dull clothing, possibly to reflect her mood.

“It was-” Max stopped as he refrained himself from saying something negative. “I had a good day…” He paused again. “Erm have you been crying?”

“I have a bit,” said Tanya, sitting down next to Max on the sofa. “It’s just hard you know…”

Max knew exactly what Tanya was getting at, he rested his plate, containing his half-finished meal, on the table, and placed one arm around Tanya’s shoulders. They felt so unbelievably tense, but Max felt them relax as Tanya snuggled up to him, resting her upper body and head against his chest.

There was silence, for Max had no words to say, and he suspected Tanya had nothing to say either. For once he was not trying to distance himself from Tanya, and she seemed to be silently thanking him for that.


***


Day 3, 1100 hours

When the door to the commander’s office chimed, Kira looked up from the padd she was reading. She laid it out on the desk when she noticed Odo standing behind the doors. “Come in.”

The doors swished back and Odo slowly walked inside, with his head bowed down slightly. He had the air of a man who wanted something very badly, but was weary of asking for it.

Trying to push her personal issues to one side, Kira sat smartly on the chair as she waited for Odo to explain his reason for entering the office.

Finally after a moment Odo came to the desk, he breathed out a little and cocked his head a little upwards. “I wanted to ask you about reinstating me as chief of security.”

For one split second Kira had to admire the audacity of her husband’s request. Odo was, as always, so forthright and direct, but it was not going to woo her over. She simply returned Odo’s somewhat hopeful stare with a cold one. “So after suddenly abandoning your job, you expect to get it back, no questions asked?”

The lines on Odo’s face hardened as he stood his ground. “I'm the best person for chief of security and you know it.”

Kira managed to smile as she sought to turn down Odo’s request without starting a marital row. “That may be true but I'm looking for someone who is reliable, and doesn't abandon their post just when they feel like it. Request denied.”

“You don't have the authority,” replied Odo in gruff tones, “Dax is the one who has the final say on who should be chief of security.”

“In case you haven't noticed, Dax is on medical leave,” said Kira, putting in as much sarcasm as possible into her voice. “I'm temporarily running this station, and so I have the final say on the issue of who is to be chief of security. You may go now.”

She half expected Odo to argue some more, but with one last angry look, Odo walked quickly out of the room. When the doors closed Kira expected to feel some satisfaction for getting one over Odo, but she took no pleasure from what she did. For some reason she felt this sinking feel in her stomach as she realised that she had passed up a good opportunity to try to bridge the gulf that sprung up between them.

Now all she had done was to widen it, and she cursed herself for doing so. Kira did not want to continually argue with Odo, and yet one part of her refused to shrug off the feelings of anger, of betrayal. She rested herself against the table with her elbows dug in, and cradled the sides of her head with both of her hands. Feeling miserable she simply stared at the desk, and at the light it reflected from the room.

Suddenly she jerked herself upright when she realised that the officers in Ops would be able to see her in such a weak posture. Berating herself for being so distracted with Odo, she resumed the reading of the report displayed on the padd.


***


“May I join you?” said a voice

Megan looked up from her tray, and saw Max carrying a tray of his own. “You're always welcome,” she said warmly.

While Max got stuck into his lunch, Megan looked around the Replimat, expecting to see Tanya. “Erm... where's Tanya, she usually comes here for lunch?”

Despite Max continuing to focus on his lunch, Megan could tell that he seemed a bit sheepish.

“I don't know where she is,” replied Max briskly, he looked up and swallowed a mouthful. “We... er... don't talk much.”

“Oh.” That was about all Megan could say, but at least she knew why Max acted so downcast.

“How has your shift been?” asked Max, moving away from a sticky subject.

“Hmm... decent,” said Megan, while she continued with her lunch. “Analysing these reports from the Delta Quadrant, and all sorts of interesting phenomena discovered there, makes me wish I were out there exploring.”

“Why don't you?” asked Max, while he stabbed at the salad with his fork. “I mean what holds you back?”

“I guess I just like this station too damn much. All my friends are here; you, Kira and Mia. For the first time in so many years I feel I've planted my roots down, and to move again to a different ship... It wouldn't feel right.”

“I know exactly what you're saying,” said Max, looking deeply understanding. “Something about this station is rather appealing when you get over it's quirks... I just wish I could feel more happier staying here.”

Megan almost choked on the replicated Bajoran derax* meat she was having when she heard that, and she flicked her eyes upwards to glance at Max. “You're not thinking of leaving are you?” she asked in a sharp manner.

“Not really...” said Max slowly, though he seemed deeply unsure about that. “No of course not,” he added with more decisiveness, “I couldn't leave Tanya!”

“She could move with you...”

“And give up her job?” said Max sounding slightly annoyed. “She would never do that, no, it's better she and I stay here.”

By now Megan had finished her lunch, and she was carefully thinking about how she could persuade Max to stay. “As your friend, I'd like you to stay here.”

For the first time since sitting with her on the table, Max smiled, it was a big hearty smile. “Then I'm staying here, my feelings be damned!”

Megan smiled back, glad that Max would be staying. He was her best friend, the first real friend she had in years… Even so, something was not quite right with Max, and Megan detected this after his smile had faded. Somehow he looked lost, lost in what she could not tell, but she felt certain that Max’s relationship with Tanya was not the only thing on his mind.

One small part of her, the part that still loved Max, wanted Max’s relationship to end. But that was simply some sort of crazy fantasy in her mind, Max’s happiness came above what she really, and secretly, desired from him.


***


Ezri rested on the biobed trying to recall what happened yesterday, though all she could remember were painful feelings. She felt much better but the voices were still there, and the hallucinations had now been reduced to moving shadows and her eyes playing tricks on her. Her condition lingered on in a repressed form, and she felt sick of herself for being so weak.

She was a captain for God’s sake, or whatever deity her people once worshiped, and it felt awful that she suffered a full blown meltdown in front of the whole staff in Ops. New lows had definitely been reached and she saw no end in sight to the mental problems that had been bugging her for over a month now.

Looking downwards, she saw that she was still wearing her uniform. Ezri then heard someone approaching, so she immediately sat upright, and dangled her legs off the biobed. She wanted to look strong and herself again.

Some moments later that someone approaching was Bashir, his gloomy look became quickly dispelled when he noticed Ezri sitting upright on the biobed. “How are the hallucinations?”

“They've subsided...” she replied, while wondering how to enunciate about her state. “They don't feel so... harrowing.”

“Well that's good,” said Bashir, sounding deeply relieved, “there seems to be a correlation between your isoboramine levels and your hallucinations. Right now you're isoboramine levels are close to the average Trill host reading of 95%, if I could only increase them further then your hallucinations would probably disappear.”

“I feel a lot better now,” said Ezri, before falling silent as she considered testing the waters a little. “I wonder if it were to be possible to return to duty?”

At once Bashir shook his head. “I'm afraid not. I need to run some more tests on you, and carry out a two week observation period to monitor your isoboramine levels. Though I will discharge you from the Infirmary as you seem to be in no immediate danger.”

The disappointment irked Ezri so much she felt like hitting something, instead she satisfied herself with pressing Bashir a little about his decision to relieve her of duty. “In your professional opinion, what medical criteria do I have to meet to be reinstated back to duty?”

Bashir goggled at Ezri for a little bit, seemingly surprised by the careful wording of her question. “Well for starters your isoboramine levels would have to return to normal. Secondly you would need at least a period of two weeks where you suffered from no hallucinations.”

“Two weeks?” exclaimed Ezri, and she struggled to contain her anger and frustration.

“These hallucinations have to stop, and-”

Ezri got to her feet as she was not having any of this. “But Julian I can cope at this level, the hallucinations aren't so bad, so surely there is some sort of minimal threshold?”

“There isn't,” said Bashir tensely. “Not anymore.”

Another silence ensued as Bashir had just demolished Ezri’s attempt to overturn the obligatory medical leave of absence. “I made a mistake letting you return to duty when you were mildly hallucinating and required medication. I won't make the same mistake twice. Only when I'm absolutely certain, or as certain as one can be, will I return you to duty. I'm sorry.”

“It doesn't matter,” said Ezri sadly, and she rubbed her eyes in a weary manner in a way of accepting defeat. “I guess I want to return to duty because it distracts me from the hallucinations and bad memories.”

“I've been meaning to ask you about that,” said Bashir, frowning as he did so. “Have you tried to determine the cause of your fear when your hallucinations intensify?”

Ezri shifted her eyes away from Bashir, as she considered just how much she was prepared to tell him. “I've done some considerable soul-searching about what is bothering me, and every time I come to the same conclusion.”

She then forced herself to look into Bashir’s eyes, giving him a steely expression, while resentful of his question. “Yes things were bad in Apocalypse, I saw some horrific things, things which I do occasionally cry about in private. But it does not explain the intense fear I feel when my visions become stronger in their intensity. What are you suggesting anyway?”

“Well I personally think there is some sort of emotional or mental imbalance between Dax and yourself. One of the two personalities is not accepting these traumatic events with such readiness. I mean have you ever considered that?”

“That's ridiculous!” said Ezri automatically. “I would feel fine, well not as bad as I do now, if my hallucinations were to go away!”

“But have you tried what I suggested?”

Ezri stayed silent as she thought about Bashir’s question, of course she had done what he suggested, she had been performing that particular Trill rite for many weeks without success. But how much could she reveal to Bashir? “There is the Trill Rite of Communion,” she said slowly.

For a man who knew so much, Bashir gave Ezri an uncomprehending look. “I’ve never heard of that one before. What is it?”

“I’m not surprised you haven’t heard about it, only Trill hosts, and a select few in the symbiosis commission know about it.” Ezri paused again, as she carefully thought out her explanation of this rite. “Basically, and I won’t divulge too much as some details are sworn to secrecy. Basically the host directly communes with the symbiont, it’s a bit like the Trill Rite of Emergence, except the host’s personality separates from the symbiont for a brief period of time.”

Bashir’s eyebrows frowned considerably upon hearing this. “Is that safe? I mean-”

“Julian I told you I’m not going to go into details about this rite,” replied Ezri angrily, and once most of the protest and consternation had disappeared from Bashir’s face did she continue. “Suffice to say it is safe for both host and symbiont.”

“So you’ve been trying to talk to Dax?”

“Well that’s all I’ve been doing, trying to commune with Dax. But I can’t and it doesn’t make any sense.”

“Perhaps the hallucinations are preventing you performing the Rite of Communion?”

“I hope not…” said Ezri ominously.

There was some more silence, as Ezri's mind became absorbed with her failed attempts to perform the rite. She had not told Bashir the significance of not being able to perform the rite, since it meant there was a serious, and potentially dangerous, imbalance between host and symbiont.

“Well there's nothing more I can do for you,” said Bashir some moments later. “You’re free to return to your quarters.” He then stared at Ezri very sternly. “But under no circumstances are you to return to duty. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes doctor,” said Ezri sarcastically.

“Also if you have any problems tell me about it okay?”

“I will,” replied Ezri wearily, she was not that stupid. “And Julian? Thanks for looking after me, any anger I vent at you is simply my frustration at these stupid mental health problems!”

“I understand,” said Bashir, who looked a little mollified, however his gaze sharpened up again. “Though next time you come to me about a health problem, a little honestly would help.”

“Then why did you-”

“Not press you further?” asked Bashir. “Because I knew you were hiding something, but what it was I could not tell. I’m your friend and I want to help you, but I’m not going to force the truth from you.” He paused as a little wounded look came on his face. “I just thought with our friendship that we could be open and honest…”

“I’m sorry I mislead you, but I didn’t want you removing me of duty.”

There was a rather cold silence on Bashir’s part, and feeling quite awkward, Ezri left the Infirmary. So Bashir did know that she had lied to him, what he had told her brought back some painful memories of their separation. Still what Bashir thought of her was the least of Ezri's problems, these hallucinations and voices were making her become very self-centred. So self-centred that she was beginning to take her friendships for granted.


*A derax is a kind of sheep, with brown wool, somewhat longer and sturdier legs, tan coloured skin and green/blue/yellow coloured eyes.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 11 2012, 10:02 AM   #192
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 1

The scene in the commander’s office a day ago felt so deeply embarrassing for Odo. He had gone in there, said all the wrong things, and he felt so stupid because of it. So early in the morning, the first thing that came to mind was apologising to Kira. Right now his job did not matter, regaining Kira’s affections was the most important thing.

He decided the lunch period would be the best time to see Kira. It would be easy to find her because she nearly always went to the Replimat for lunch. So after midday he went to the Promenade and waited just outside the Replimat, careful to stay out of Kira’s sight but to still be able to keep an eye on her.

Only when Kira had finished lunch and exited the Replimat did Odo pursue her. She was walking along the Promenade at her own leisure as Odo steadily approached her. However for some reason her shoulders were hunching ever so slightly, something which only Odo could see. To his horror she came to a stop and turned around to face him. Already things were not going to plan, from the somewhat surly expression, Kira must have thought that he was stalking her or something ridiculous like that.

“Odo I'm not in the mood for talking.”

“I just want to apologise to you,” he said somberly, “because yesterday in the commander's office I was very... arrogant and selfish. I was wrong to expect to be reinstated as this station's chief of security.”

Kira did not appear rather moved by this, her face became absolutely mask-like although her eyes remained very cold and distant. “If you're trying to get forgiveness, then don't waste your breathe because it isn't going to work.”

“I don't expect you to forgive me-”

“Then just what do you want Odo?” demanded Kira, annoyance was starting to creep into her eyes.

“To be able to discuss our differences and problems, please give me a chance to explain myself.”

“You never gave me an opportunity to tell you what I thought of you returning to the Great Link.”

A horrible tense feeling built up inside Odo because he knew how right Kira was. She was so implacable and he did not know what to do to convince her of his intentions. “But this is different, our marriage is on the line here!”

“This isn't different,” said Kira flatly, “and what your saying isn't fair. So you get to talk about the important issues and I don't?”

“I never said that!” retorted Odo, his anger grew because Kira was now just trying to wind him up.

“Just forget about it,” said Kira dismissively. “You seemed convinced you were right about leaving us, so stop pretending to be remorseful and sorry.”

“That is not true, I do regret what I-”

“Goodbye Odo...” said Kira in a strong voice, and she walked away much to Odo’s anguish.

But she then turned around, for some reason she looked really irate. “And one more thing; stop pestering me, because if you continue I'll call station security.”

This was absolutely devastating for Odo to hear, not only had his attempts to resolve his marital problems miserably fail, they only seemed to have backfired. He felt utterly dejected and yet at the same time he felt like he thoroughly deserved everything he was suffering from. Kira had made him feel so small and lowly, and she was breaking his heart.

Odo was afraid to talk to Kira again, but then maybe this was Kira’s way of testing his commitment to trying to come back to her good graces. A new resolve nestled in his mind, he would talk to Kira again because he loved her and he had the courage to face her disappointment and wrath.


***


When a dead Jem'Hadar hung from the bathroom doorway, Ezri stopped in her tracks. Her hallucinations were returning with a vengeance, and she closed her eyes telling herself that it was not real. With her eyes still closed, she walked past the doorway. She had been so spooked by the apparition of that Jem'Hadar that she failed to initially realise the gradual return of the voices. Shouts, cries of help, of pain, of rage, and the roar of a crowd overwhelmed her.

There was no meaning to this, how could she be hearing things that were inside her head? She made her way back to her bed, and crashed down upon it. The voices were not exactly loud but they scared her horribly. Maybe Bashir was right, all of this was coming from the Dax symbiont. So Ezri tried to block out the voices, and proceeded to clear her thoughts. But she pretty quickly gave up, try as she might she could not isolate one of Dax's personalities from her.

What she wanted to do was perform the Trill Rite of Communion, conversing with the symbiont and talking to it as Ezri, her own individual personality. For weeks she had been trying to do so, but one part of her, either Dax or herself, was resisting the communion. She felt so sick of herself as her old securities of being host to the Dax symbiont returned to her.

Maybe all along she was not suitable as a Trill host. Her former hosts had seen some horrible and traumatic events, and they had come out alright, so why was she falling to pieces and going in essence crazy? Despite all her fear and despite the hallucinations and voices, Ezri started to cry from pure shame. The way things were going she was going to be the first host where the Dax symbiont would have to be pulled out because the host and the symbiont had lost their equilibrium.

That was probably the worst humiliation any Trill host faced, of course their misery was short lived. After the removal of the symbiont, the host only had a few days to live. Ezri's thoughts blackened some more, would she really die in such a disgraceful way?
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 11 2012, 10:03 AM   #193
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 4, part 2

Breathing out deeply, Nog tried to calm himself as he took a brief respite from repairing one of the ODN conduits inside the crawl space. He was familiar with how cramped the crawl spaces in DS9 were, but after his stint as an Apocalypse gladiator, they seemed even more smaller.

He was about to get an ODN decoupler from his toolbox, when-

He was running as if his life depended upon it, he had to get to that duranium block, he had to get to cover. The gladiator suit felt so heavy and to his temporarily relief he made it to the block. Crouching down, he noticed Ezri to his left, she seemed so calm it did not seem possible. Phaser rounds flew over his head and Nog knew that the combat droids were coming.

When Ezri peered over the block, she quickly lowered herself and gave a sombre look to Nog. There was nothing for it, Nog knew the moment had come. With Ezri’s nod, he stood up and started firing at the droids. The sound of exploding metal and flying shrapnel was thoroughly drowned out by the roar of the crowd in the arena. Nog’s heart was racing as he-


With a clunk the ODN decoupler hit the metal floor, Nog’s hand had gone limp from the shock of recalling so clearly the initial minutes of his first arena match as an Apocalypse gladiator. The room simply closed in upon him and he was oblivious to how profusely he sweated. He felt trapped, just like back then all those months ago.

Crawling along the artificially made ground, Nog was deeply thankful of the little trench. The rounds from the twenty millimetre plasma turret were digging into the ground less than a metre away from him. But he was safe, all he focused on was staying as low as possible, as death literally hung over him waiting to strike should he bring himself out of cover.

All the sounds of the crowd and of the plasma turret were simply background noise. He felt so aware of his own body, his rapidly beating heart, the numbness in his mind. Everything had been reduced to simple basics, and Nog could not see any way to destroy that plasma turret without being killed.


His mind came back to the present, and his heart pounded away, his mind had gone numb from the shock of recalling such horrific memories. He had to get out of the crawl space, and he got to his hands and knees and scuttled away from the ODN relay, fearful that the-

He could not believe the turn of events, he was sneaking around and steadily approaching the plasma turret, while its back was turned to him. Carefully he approached, but he could see Ezri dashing from one duranium block to the other, luring the turret away from him. It looked so insane, and one part of his mind hoped she could avoid the plasma rounds long enough for him to plant the explosive charge on the turret.

But the other part of him felt glad that Ezri was facing death and not him. However guilty he felt about it, he hoped that turret would never turn around to face him. Just as he had reached the turret, he caught a glimpse of Ezri, she had come to a dead end while the turret aimed for her.

This spurred Nog into action and he planted the charge, his fingers fumbling with the timer, in the distance came a horrible cry of pain from Ezri. The plasma rounds hit her body, and Nog saw the blood fly out of Ezri as the rounds penetrated straight through her. He had never seen such blood and gore in his life, it did not seem possible that the nanites could save Ezri from such horrific injuries.

The turret, he had to arm the charge now! So he-


With a big clump, Nog fell headfirst out of the crawl space hatch and out onto the carpeted floor of the corridor. Once he got to his feet, did he feel his head start to clear. Now that he could stand he did not feel trapped anymore, and taking deep breathes he managed to calm himself.

Back there in the crawl space, a powerful and disturbing sense of déjà vu had struck him, and he felt very odd afterwards because of it. After an experience like that, he thought of only one thing. Go see Julian about this right away.

Without even looking back, Nog headed to the nearest turbolift, and went to the Promenade. Something was wrong with him and he would not return to work until he found the cause of this memory flashback.

Arriving in the Infirmary, Nog saw Bashir working away by his favourite medical console. The very moment Nog set foot in the Infirmary, did Bashir swivel around in his chair to see who had arrived.

“Nog!” said Bashir warmly, his face brightening up. “Fancy seeing you here, you need anything?”

Nog gave a quick perfunctory smile, before his mind became lost in what had happened in that crawl space. “I'm not sure how to say this so I'll just say it. Ever since I've returned to my job, I've been feeling stressed.”

“Stressed?” said Bashir, while he got off from his chair and approached Nog. “In what way?”

“Well I complete my shifts, and being the chief of operations I've got all these deadlines to meet, and it reminds me of what happened in Apocalypse, with the arena matches and other events.”

Bashir mulled it over with that doctor’s face of deadpan attention, and it made Nog feel a little uneasy.

“Aside from stress,” said Bashir, “have you had any sort of flashback memories, or recurring distressing dreams, or any other negative feeling to your job or any part of your life?”

“It's my job,” said Nog as the answer came suddenly to his lips. “That's giving me the negative feelings...” He paused as he built up the courage to tell Bashir about what happened in that crawl space. “I came to see you because twenty minutes ago I had this awful sensation when I was working in one of the station's crawl spaces. It was all in my head and I could just recall the first arena match I participated in.

“It was all so shockingly clear, I could hear the crowd's roars and the commentator's voices and my breathing. For a time I thought all the sounds were coming from around me, and in that tight crawl space, everything seemed to amplify and I panicked and left it at top speed. I mean what is wrong with me?”

“What you've got is a classic case of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,” explained Bashir. “It's been a known condition for centuries by human doctors, but PTSD isn't mutually exclusive to humans and it manifests itself in different ways for different races. For Vulcans it's a breakdown of logic, for Klingons it's succumbing to cowardice, and even Cardassians when really pushed to the brink can exhibit paranoia, extreme fear or distress. Unfortunately it is very hard to treat, I can alleviate some of the symptoms, your fear and anxiety for instance, but that's about all I can do.”

This was not what Nog wanted to hear, he thought Bashir could have pulled a rabbit out of his medical hat of tricks, but it was not so. “Does this mean I have to take time off from my post?”

“I'm not sure,” said Bashir slowly, frowning a little in puzzlement. “First thing we need to do is to isolate the causes of this flashback memory. You were in a crawl space when it happened, but before then did you feel uncomfortable being so cramped, possibly a little scared?”

“Come to think of I was feeling on edge,” said Nog musingly, as he thought back to all those shifts, “and I admit somewhat frightened. Don't tell me that I'm developing claustrophobia?”

“That's a strong possibility,” said Bashir a little grimly. “However have you felt anxious, tense or frightful when you were in tight spaces say after you returned to DS9?”

“I suppose so,” said Nog, though he could be not sure if any of those three emotions applied. “If I've got to work in crawl spaces or any other tight space, I usually wind up more stressed during the day. That probably explains why I've been trying to avoid going into tight spaces whenever possible.”

“It seems to me you have a mild form of claustrophobia, triggered by PTSD.” Bashir then walked over to cupboard, and he removed from it three hyposprays. “We'll try you on coteffenal first, just one dose from the hypospray everyday that's all. That should reduce your anxiety and stress levels, however it won't do anything if you have more flashback experiences.”

“Do I have to change how I work?” asked Nog.

Bashir stroked the tip of his chin for a bit before responding. “Medically speaking I see no reason to change, of course if these flashback memories persist and the response you get from them becomes more extreme, then we would have to discuss how feasible it is to still remain as chief of operations. But I do think that if you can reduce your workload then do so. Even so PTSD can't be cast away overnight, it can take months or years to recover fully, that's if you do recover. The good news is your condition is manageable, but-”

“It's always in the background and is a constant nuisance...” finished Nog and he fumed a little. “Great...”

He was annoyed because he thought that once he had been rescued, he would never have to worry about Apocalypse again. But he hadn’t reckoned on the emotional scars. Still now he knew what condition he was suffering from, he felt he could carry out some damage control. Manage the symptoms, compromise on some tasks and parts of his job. It was just annoying that he had to do those things so he felt as normal as could be possible.

“Is there something you could prescribe?” Nog wondered aloud.

“I could prescribe the standard anti-anxiety treatments” said Bashir, looking at Nog in a grim manner. “But that won’t resolve the underlying psychological issue, to help you past the traumas on Apocalypse station. You did what you had to in order to survive and you can’t keep punishing yourself for what happened there.”

“Now you sound like Dax when she was counsellor. Speaking of Dax, how is she?”

“She’s resting in her quarters,” Bashir said with a glance at the brain scan on one of his monitors. “I’m still trying to work out how to restore equilibrium between host and symbiont... But as for you, I would suggest maybe seeing a counsellor regarding your feelings for Apocalypse.”

Nog nodded to consider the doctor’s suggestion. “I’ll keep that in mind, Julian,” he said a little cautiously.

Feeling a little better, Nog then walked out of the Infirmary. Bashir's words had given Nog some perspective, perhaps things were not so bad after all... Still the memories would not go away, and no matter how terrible they were, Nog was slowly coming round to accepting them. Through the pain he remembered the friendship shared between his captain, Jake, Holo and Max. Even in such a dire situation there was still a little good to be made of it...
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 12 2012, 10:49 PM   #194
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 5

There was silence between Kira, Mia and Deru, as they ate around the wooden dining table. Kira was slowly eating her derax stew* but with no real conviction. Though she would not admit it to her children, one part of her wished Odo was dining with them. But the small spark of forgiveness which blossomed in her heart became rapidly doused out by her anger and bitterness towards her husband.

She did not feel like forgiving because she felt the moment she had done so, then she had let Odo get away with leaving her. It was a stupid thought, and her mind reverted back to its despairing state. Anger, longing and despair, Kira was sick of cycling through these emotions. Deep down all she wanted was a resolution to the whole sad affair between herself and Odo, but the rest of her had yet to come around to that idea.

“I talked to dad today,” said Mia rather blandly, “and-” Mia hesitated a little and Kira could hear the confidence in her daughter’s voice waver. “And we discussed some things and we reconciled our differences.”

“That's good to hear,” said Kira with zero conviction, she focused on her plate as she did not want to look at her daughter’s face.

Mia had now stopped eating and was giving Kira a rather challenging look. “You know if I can forgive dad why can't you?”

Deru, who was holding a piece of mapa bread, chewing it very slowly, had his whole attention upon Kira rather than the tasty bread.

Kira herself stopped eating, and she slowly lowered her knife and fork. Both of her children’s eyes were on her, she felt deeply tense and uncomfortable, as if her children were carrying out some inquisition. “Because I can't forgive him,” she said at last. “Now I don't want to talk about your father anymore.”

“You may be estranged from him, but Deru and I aren't. Our father should be living in these quarters and not-”

“That is enough about your father!” said Kira, and a little anger crept into her voice.

“So you don't want us to talk to him?” asked Deru.

“I wouldn't go that far...”

“So he can come to these quarters and visit us?” asked Mia.

Of all the questions Mia could have asked it had to be that one. Kira felt genuinely stumped as how to answer it without saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. So she tried evading the question instead. “We'll see,” she said vaguely.

Mia though now looked triumphant. “So is that yes or no?” she said pressing Kira on the matter.

At that moment Kira cursed her daughter’s intelligence, she felt like her children had ganged up on her. “Yes he can visit this home,” she answered through gritted teeth. “At any time.”

The words were wrenched from her will. “I'm not going to stop you seeing your father, that's your right, but don't expect me to be friendly with him. As far as I'm concerned I haven't forgiven him...”

“You will eventually...” said Mia slyly.

To have Mia rub it in felt infuriating to Kira, she mustered up her most dangerous look and smote Mia with it. To Kira’s satisfaction the result was instant; Mia’s cocky smile soon turned into a somewhat frightful look.

Kira resumed eating the remainder of her derax stew, she had no appetite as she felt a little shaken by the confrontation with her children. She had to hand it to Odo, rather cleverly he had managed to convince both her children how sorry he was for his actions. Now she looked like the one dragging everyone down by refusing to forgive Odo, the spotlight was now on her.

If Odo wanted to talk then she was willing to do so. Deep down Kira wanted to resolve their differences although Odo’s actions had given her very sour feelings to their marriage, and Odo was going to have to really convince her that their relationship was not irreparably damaged.


***


Day 5, 1440 hours

It was about time for Bashir’s second daily checkup of Ezri, and he hoped her condition had remained stable. He felt a little optimistic since Ezri’s hallucinations seemed to trouble her less. Still he knew that this was simply the tip of the iceberg, Ezri’s past behaviour had been alarmingly erratic over the week.

He came to a stop outside Ezri’s quarters and pressed the door chime. There was no response, fearing the worst, he overrode the door lock and entered the quarters. In a split second he realised that something was horribly wrong with Ezri. She looked so scarred and was hunched up on a chair.

Bashir wondered just what Ezri was seeing to so frighten her, it further alarmed him that Ezri did not seem aware of his presence. “I’m just checking up on you.”

For one moment Ezri appeared to look through Bashir as if he were not there, and then there was some understanding, and relief, in her eyes. “The hallucinations... they're getting worse…” She looked at Bashir in a desperate manner, her eyes were virtually pleading with him. “Please Julian I can't go on like this, I've gone stark raving mad!”

“I don't see what I can do, without seriously damaging your brain,” said Bashir while he scanned Ezri with the tricorder.

“Please...” said Ezri, she started grabbing with both hands onto Bashir’s uniform tunic, gently tugging at it. “Anything but this, you don't know what it's like, please…”

Her chest heaved in a very profound manner, her condition was such that Bashir seriously considered taking her back to the Infirmary. “There is a means of treatment but it's very risky, and I don't want to hurt you…”

“You’re hurting me now by not helping me!” Ezri looked at some point to Bashir’s left, and her eyes widened with fear. “Go away!” she screamed.

“They're not real,” muttered Bashir, it was becoming really difficult for him to concentrate when faced with Ezri’s craziness. “Please just calm down.”

Ezri’s hands flew to the sides of her head, and she started turning her head from side to side in a crazed convulsed manner. “I can't get them out of my head!” she sobbed. “Please let me-” One of her hands clutched her chest, while her breathing started to become ragged and constrained. “My chest...” she gasped. “Can't breathe.”

Against Ezri’s gasping, Bashir checked his tricorder only to be horrified by its readings; Ezri was having a heart attack. “My God!” he exclaimed.

When Ezri began to shudder and rock against the chair, Bashir quickly opened up his medkit and fumbled around the contents to find a hypospray that had a sedative. He found such a hypospray and at once he pressed it against Ezri’s neck. The result was very quick; Ezri’s eyes closed and her convulsions stopped.

Not wasting any time, Bashir tapped his comm badge, before placing it on Ezri’s chest. “Bashir to the Infirmary, medical emergency, lock onto my comm badge, plus myself, and energise to the Infirmary!”


***


The operation to stabilise Ezri’s heart was a success. The heart attack came as a considerable shock to Bashir, though medically the condition was very easy to treat. Repairing Ezri’s heart was one thing, trying to heal her mental state was another. Bashir did not dare wake Ezri fearful that her hallucinations would return, lest they frighten her so much it would induce upon her further cardiac arrest.

However he could not sedate Ezri forever, the only hope she had was the operation which Bashir constantly agonised over...

“How is she?” asked Nog, who had just walked into the Infirmary.

Bashir looked up from the console displaying Ezri’s medical readings. “I've stabilised her heart, she had a massive panic attack and it triggered a cardio-vascular restriction inside her heart. If I hadn't arrived she could have been dead within the hour.”

“And what about her mental health?” said Nog, while he stood next to the biobed Ezri was lying on, and momentarily glanced at Ezri’s still face.

“The neural imbalance between Ezri and the symbiont has become worse.”

Nog turned away from Ezri. “Isn't there anything you can do to help her?”

“There is but it's very risky...” replied Bashir, and as he said that he simply stared at Ezri’s face while misery compounded his mind.

“Well?” demanded Nog. “What are you proposing?”

Bashir tore his gaze from Ezri and addressed Nog. “The main cause of this mental imbalance between the host and the symbiont is that Ezri's brain, the amygdala part, is in constant hyper stimulation, it is far more than the symbiont can handle. The strange thing is the symbiont is causing this stimulation, and so this is one vicious feedback loop.

“The solution to this problem would to be to regulate the neuro-chemical activity in Ezri's brain, effectively dampening the effects of intense stimuli on the brain, such as sight and sound. It would also mean that the symbiont would find it difficult to stimulate the amygdala.”

He walked over to the console where Ezri’s bio-readings were displayed, and he picked up a small container from on top.

Opening it up, he removed from it a tiny computer-like chip, and showed it to Nog. “This device is a cortical regulator, properly modulated it can regulate any neuro-chemical activity in the brain. With some fine-tuning it could regulate the neuro-chemical response to audio/visual stimuli, and how the amygdala responds to them. It's the best solution I have.”

Confusion was paramount in Nog’s eyes, he looked from the cortical regulator to Bashir. “So what's stopping you?”

“Firstly it must be attached to the centre of her brain for the best functionality. Such an operation is very risky, one wrong move and permanent and serious brain damage could happen suddenly. Secondly the cortical regulator would change the neural chemistry in Ezri's brain.”

“In plain English?” inquired Nog.

Bashir sighed, and he had being doing a lot of that recently. “Ezri's brain would function differently, new neural connections could be formed, and old ones disused... It my may even affect her memory. In short the cortical regulator poses the risk of permanently change Ezri's personality.”

“That's the problem?” said Nog disbelievingly. “You’re worried about changing Ezri's personality?”

“Nog the brain still is a complex and somewhat mysterious organ. If I go through with this procedure Ezri may come out of it an entirely different person, she may not remember her friends, she may discover that she has no interest in being a Starfleet captain, she could have new talents and lose old ones. In short after the operation the Ezri you and I know could be gone, and an entirely different personality exists. She may look like Ezri but she won't be Ezri, and that is a risk I'm unwilling to take.”

“Maybe so, but Ezri can't go on like this,” said Nog in impassioned tones. “For the rest of her life she could be psychotic, or the Dax symbiont will be removed from her and she dies prematurely. What you’re proposing to do will give her back her sanity and her dignity. She may become an entirely different person, but she could still carry the Dax symbiont and continue on with her life.

“Right now Ezri has no life as she’s facing permanent residence in Starfleet's long-term care unit on Earth, and that is no life. It will definitely be one lifetime that the Dax symbiont would gladly forget. Besides you told me she pleaded with you to help her, how could you possibly deny her request?”

These words only made Bashir agonise even more about what he had to do. “I know you’re right,” he admitted. “But I don't want to lose her. She and I have become friends again after seventeen years of hostilities and separation, and to start the process all over again…” He paused as he contemplated such a difficult prospect. “There are risks-”

“To hell with the risks!” interrupted Nog while he cast an angry stare at Bashir. “And don't listen to the doctor inside you, what does your gut instinct tell you?”

Bashir briefly thought about this and the answer came to his lips immediately. “I have to help her and end her suffering even if she becomes a different person and the friendship I have is lost.”

“Then I think it's obvious what you should do,” said Nog lightly, and he then left the room.

Finally Bashir had now accepted that whatever the outcome, he had to go through with this operation. His love for Ezri was the basis for his reservations, if her personality changed then she may not love him anymore or her feelings would somehow change. The love Ezri secretly had for him-and Bashir knew deep down she loved him-mattered because deep down inside he yearned for those times when they were happily together in a relationship.

But conversely he loved Ezri to such an extent that he would do anything help her, even if it meant destroying what hopes he had for starting up their relationship again.
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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Old March 18 2012, 01:43 AM   #195
Ln X
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Re: DS9: A continuation

Chapter 7

Please note that this particular scene was written by Enterprise1981.

Day 5, 1730 hours

In Jake's quarters, Jake, Nog, Holo and Max were all gathered around a three-dimensional chess-set. It was a form of chess designed for four players. Each of the players exchanged awkward stares, saying very little as they all took turns moving game pieces. They all wanted to talk about their experiences on Apocalypse station. But each time one of them wanted to broach the subject, they held back.

“Have you fixed that problem with the mooring beams in the docking bay?” Nog asked Holo, hoping to start some kind of a conversation to make the moments less boring and monotonous.

“It was fairly easy,” Holo replied dismissively as he moved one chess piece from the first level to the second. “We just had to replace a few outdated components. What about that computer overhaul?”

“I’m in the process of setting up protected archives,” said Nog while his attention was focused on the game. He moved one of pieces onto the second level while removing one of Max’s pieces. “We’re dumping and restoring the main frame one block of files at time, so not to disrupt everyday functioning. The captain… Colonel Kira rather… is looking over the specs now. How ‘bout you, Max?”

Max didn’t answer, with his attention on the game board, wondering why he did not see that move coming.

“Max,” said Holo, with a nudge of Max’s arm. “Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” Max said with a shake of his head. “I just got a lot on my mind.”

“Don’t we all?” Jake chimed in. “But what can we do?”

Nog sighed and rolled his eyes, recalling his last conversation with his friend about their captivity. “How can you be so nonchalant about it?” he wondered with an annoyed snort.

“Starfleet does what it can to keep civilians out of harm’s way,” Jake explained. “But the truth is, those of us who live on the station face danger everyday, Starfleet or civilian. After Ajilon Prime, I just learned to get used to it, with the Dominion War, the constant threat of attacks. Heck, even staying behind when the Dominion took over the station. And who can forget those overly ambitious cadets on the Valiant?”

“Of course not,” Nog said with a chuckle, having been reminded of his and Jake’s encounter with a group of cadets whose overconfidence cost them their lives and their ship. “Julian says I shouldn’t keep punishing myself for everything that happened on Apocalypse station.”

“He has a point,” Holo offered. “My matrix wasn’t designed to respond to those stresses in the same manner as organic beings. But I do have an idea of the feelings those situations elicit having been there myself. But we should still try to live our lives as best we can.”

“I suppose that’s one way to look at it,” Max said with a grin. “I’ve been a jerk to Tanya lately.”

“You’re just trying to find a way of getting back to normal,” Nog suggested. “It’ll pass. If I can get over losing a leg, you can work out your relationship difficulties. I tried to shield myself from the outside world. But that’s no life at all. Neither is Ezri’s in her current state.”

“How’s that working out?” Jake inquired.

“The heart operation was a success,” Nog replied. “And Julian has a way to resolve her psychological issues that he said carried great risk. I told him to go for it. The benefits far outweigh the risk... That’s the sixty-second Rule of Acquisition.”

“You still know the old Rules of Acquisition?” Max asked with surprised smile.

“I’m still a Ferengi and Quark’s nephew,” Nog retorted. “Those old Rules still have some valuable life lessons that apply to any situation.”

The four men then all exchanged smiles, feeling a strong measure of relief having finally discussed a very uncomfortable matter.


***


It was late in the evening, and Kira was praying before the small golden alter rested on a table. There she remained, upright and still, with her arms spread out, hands raised and the palms facing the alter. Her eyes were tightly closed as she dedicated her thoughts to the Prophets. She was now in that meditative state, that all Bajorans attempted to find when praying to the Prophets. There was a lot of peace in this state, and both her troubles and her satisfactions were pushed to the horizon of her focus.

Her eyes flicked open when she heard the sound of the front door chime go off. It was always annoying being interrupted in the midst of her praying and meditations, but on every occasion she found the courtesy to open the door and find out who was calling.

She left her bedroom and walked to the front door, she pressed a control on the doorway panel, and the door swished open revealing Odo. “What are you doing here?” she snarled.

“I just wanted to explain to you why I left,” replied Odo in a quick nervous manner.

Kira stood to one side to let Odo into her quarters. “Make it brief,” she warned him.

Odo came to a stop at the centre of the living room, and he was about to speak when Mia entered the room. “What’s going on?” asked Mia.

“Go back to your bedroom,” ordered Kira. “Now!” she warned, when she saw Mia lingering around.

With a slight huff, and a scowl, Mia left the room.

“Let’s talk in the kitchen,” said Kira, momentarily pointing to her left.

“Okay.”

She did not feel like talking to Odo, and she hated the awkwardness of it all, but she had no desire to show Odo any forgiveness or softness on her part. When they were in the kitchen, Kira rested against the cooker, and folded her arms, waiting for Odo to explain himself. “Well?” she demanded.

Odo appeared to flinch a little at Kira’s razor sharp prompt. “I just wanted to apologise to you again, but also to tell why I had to go to the Great Link.” He stopped, and seemed a little lost in thought. “When I arrived in the Great Link my people needed help, morale help. After the Jem'Hadar rebellion they backtracked on the reforms I pushed through eighteen years ago. They were scared and afraid of another attack to the Great Link. I managed to persuade them-for the most part-to stick with the laws they implemented eighteen years ago, which stopped the Dominion returning into a militaristic state.”

“And of course saving the Alpha Quadrant,” said Kira sarcastically. “But what I really want to know is why you came back here?”

The frown on Odo’s face seemed to deepen, as if he did not feel like answering that particular question. “Well to be honest I left the Great Link because I didn't make any progress changing their attitudes towards 'the solids'. Eighteen years ago when I returned to the Great Link I was the most influential voice, now my influence has greatly diminished. Not only that I wasn't on the best of terms with my people when I last left the Link.”

“So all in all your stay in the Great Link wasn't very productive...” commented Kira, all she could think of was so what? This was not about the Great Link, and she felt that Odo had skimmed over the real issue at heart; the state of their relationship. She looked away from Odo, as she did not want to gaze at those blue eyes; it simply brought back too many painful memories.

“You want to know what really angered me when you left?” she said, looking at Odo once more to see his nervous face. “You never gave me a chance to come to a decision about what you should do; I would have let you go back to your people. So I’ll ask you this; do you trust me?”

The light seemed to go out of Odo’s eyes. “I'm not sure,” he said quietly, “at the time I was so afraid that you would say no. When it comes to the issue of my people, I can't trust your judgement; your biased against them.” His gaze suddenly hardened and he became rather angry. “But you wouldn't understand…”

Odo had the look of a person who wanted out of a difficult situation. “I'm sorry but I must leave…”

“You’re leaving?” said Kira in aghast. “Just like that?”

Sure enough Odo had walked out of the kitchen, he strolled briskly along the living room heading for the front door. Kira watched Odo’s retreating back with both disbelieve and pain; how could he leave when they were starting to get to the bottom of their problems?

“Coward!” she shouted when Odo walked out of the front door.

She blinked back angry tears, what was up with Odo? There seemed to be no point talking to him if he did not have the guts to deal with the sore points in their marriage. After standing there in the kitchen, Kira managed to get out of her angry malaise and returned to her bedroom.

It felt so wrong not having Odo in her quarters, and in her bed, when he was back on the station. She lay down on the bed, staring at the ceiling, not bothering to take off her boots and uniform. Meeting Odo had gotten her into such a bad mood that she lost the desire to continue on praying to the Prophets. Though she knew she would regret it the next day…


***


With her shift over, Megan returned to her quarters, and the first thing she did was to take a shower. Her shower unit was not the sonic sort, it was the old style shower head with a water pumping system. Though sonic showers were good, she preferred the good old jet of water pouring down from above her. Of course, she had to get a technician around to reconfigure the shower system…

She was almost done, and rinsing the shampoo out of her hair, when she thought she heard the door chime. Only when she had removed all the shampoo from her hair did she hear the door chime again. “I’m coming!” she called out.

At once, and in considerable haste, she turned off the shower, slid open the glass door and reached out for her fluffy black dressing gown. When she wrapped it around her body, she hurried over to the living room. Whoever this was, she hoped it was not Kira or Ezri, her commanding officers, as she was not in a presentable state. Her hair was sopping wet, bushed up and wild, streaking down her shoulders and back.

She finally got to the door and opened it up. “Max! I wasn't expecting this.”

Max, still dressed in his uniform, blinked rapidly in surprise, it seemed he was not expecting this kind of greeting. Though Megan was covered up, Max cast his head to the side and raised a hand so as to not see Megan. “I'm sorry for intruding, but I really need to talk you.”

“Okay then,” replied Megan at once, “but first I’ll get dressed.”

While Max came inside, Megan headed back to her bedroom, when she reached the doorway, she turned around to address Max. “I’ll be five minutes.”

“Yeah there’s no rush,” said Max, shrugging his shoulders.

With that Megan hurried back to the bathroom. There she dried herself, straightened her hair, afterwards she returned to the bedroom, where she put on her lingerie, slipped into some red cotton trousers and a tan-coloured, long-sleeve, collared shirt. With that she headed back to the living room.

In there she found Max sitting down on the sofa, though he did not look to comfortable. She sat down next to Max, but kept a little distance from him. Only close up did she notice that Max’s hands were trembling a little. “Are you hands okay?” she asked, looking at Max in a concerned manner. “They seem to be trembling.”

Almost instinctively, Max slowly lowered his gaze to glance at his hands. “I'm a bit scared at the moment,” he murmured, “because I know you may not want to answer this question, but you're the only one I can talk to about it.”

Megan simply remained silent, waiting for Max to field the question.

Still, Max continued to look at his hands. “You've been in a relationship with Jack right?”

Immediately Megan tensed up, why did Max want to talk about this? Despite the horrible sinking feeling in her guts, she forced herself to answer the question. “I had been for a few years.”

Now Max looked up, and appeared a little more confident. “Well were there ever times when you felt, or Jack felt, that the relationship wasn't working? You know before what happened on Tau Primia?”

“I don't want to talk about Jack, and you know why.”

The icy tone in her voice made Max recoil a little, he seemed to realise his faux pas, and at once he got up from the sofa. “I shouldn't have asked that question in the first place, or bothered you, I'll-”

“Wait!” exclaimed Megan. “This is about Tanya right?”

For a while there was silence, and Max looked pale, and just plain awful. “It is,” he said heavily.

However uncomfortable Megan was, she felt doubly so now. How was she going to tell this to Max? She then sighed slowly, and gazed into those miserable eyes of his. “Max I'm your best friend, and we talk about many things, but I just feel very uncomfortable talking about your relationship. I mean have you discussed your problems with Tanya?”

“Well that's it I can't, I won't, I-” Max pulled a great despairing face, as his feelings came out. “I just don't know what's wrong with me!”

“Listen Max if you want my advice, and it's probably the most relevant bit of advice I can give you; be totally honest and forthright with Tanya.”

“But I don't want to tell her everything!” moaned Max, looking wretched in his omission. “Especially not the time when I was tortured, it would be distressing for both me and her.”

“Unfortunately I've found, like you have, that there are some things which you can't talk about to your best friend, or in your case Tanya.”

Slowly Max nodded, and fear crept into his eyes, he had the look of a person trying to psych himself up into something very unpleasant. “I know now what's it like to be tortured,” he whispered. “There's more to it than the pain, it's the indignity, and the stigma to it, and it doesn't go away!”

“And it never will,” answered Megan, she a vague inkling that Max would eventually bring this up to her, ever since she found out that he had been tortured. “Oh the memories will become more distant, but they'll be imprinted on your very soul for the rest of your life...”

Max looked at Megan with a child-like expression, almost as if Megan was his mother. “Even so, how do you live with yourself afterwards, what drives you to continue on living?”

“You're going to have to work out that question yourself Max,” replied Megan sadly, though when she saw the disappointment in Max’s eyes, she explained herself a bit more. “But I can tell you this; however bad I felt about Tau Primia, living this life, this life I discovered over a year ago, is a wondrous thing. Normal things become special to you, and the pleasure of simply living overcomes the despair of bad memories. I mean what do you have to live for?”

“My job, my friends, and more importantly Tanya...”

“Do you feel any better now?” she asked.

“I do,” said Max.

Max looked like he could do with a hug, though Megan restrained herself. Perhaps Max felt better, but her mood had lowered considerably, she felt so miserable and confused. The whole situation seemed comical, here she was, secretly in love with Max, and Max was asking her regarding how to sort things out with Tanya? Never had Megan felt this conflicted towards Max, as her friendship and her love for him blurred.

“Well thanks for all of that,” replied Max after a long silence.

“I’m glad I could help,” said Megan, while she rose off her chair.

“No seriously thank you,” said Max, he took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.

Though it was a friendly gesture, for Megan it was anything but as she wrestled with such stupid feelings. “I really hope things turn out well with you and Tanya.”

Max smiled at this, and he released her hand. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Bye then.”

Once Max had left, Megan slumped back onto the sofa. She was now getting sick of being in love with Max, surely she was old enough, and mature enough, to control her feelings? And yet Max simply touching her hand had generated such hormonal responses, such animal responses, that Megan was disgusted with herself.

Max was her best friend, and in a relationship with Tanya. How could she be thinking about Max when he was clearly out of her reach? The answer came to her head immediately; because one part of her still hoped, still hoped that there was a chance for a relationship…

And then the memories of Tau Primia came back to her, and confusion and lingering pain were added to her emotions. Finally Megan had enough of sitting on the sofa, she forced herself on to her feet, and walked over to the replicator to make tea. Perhaps eating, and then finishing reports afterwards, could take her mind off matters…
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Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
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