DS9: A continuation

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ln X, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 2

    Day 1, 1900 hours

    After twenty minutes of navigating through numerous corridors, Nog and Holo finally managed to reach the factory’s computer core. When Nog first entered the room it was pitch black and this did nothing to ease his fear of this place.

    Walking past dead Jem’Hadar bodies was bad enough, but with his sensitive ears every tiny little creak could be heard and it made him jumpy, though Nog did his best to hide it. He was glad that Holo looked totally at ease, as this reassured Nog and gave him the courage to venture further along the dimly lit corridors.

    Once inside the computer core, Nog placed a few portable generators on a console, and the room lit up. For a room it was surprisingly small, while square columns, containing the computer terminals, split up the room. All around him were consoles with Dominion symbols, and despite his expertise it would be a challenge trying to access the files in the factory’s database.

    While Nog repaired various circuitry and components inside a computer terminal, Holo was working from the console adjacent to the terminal. Nog let Holo do the hard work of shifting through dormant security programs and data barriers, as Holo had far quicker computational reflexes. The two worked in silence, talking only when they had to pass components or tools to each other.

    As a precaution Holo had left the door into the room open and kept it wedged with a dislodged computer console. If any security program activated, the door wouldn’t be able to fully close, allowing Nog and Holo to escape.

    The down side to this was that out of the corner of his eye Nog saw the dark corridor, and what made it really bad was that any creak that came from nearby rooms, bulkheads and wall panels could be heard.

    When Nog heard another creak, he couldn’t stop himself as he had to talk to Holo. “Don't you feel just a little spooked by this place?”

    Holo turned his head to face Nog, while simultaneously punching in commands on the console. “No,” said Holo blandly. “I don't get 'spooked' and there's no reason to be afraid. There's nobody here but just us.”

    Nog could not believe how calm Holo seemed, it was like this factory never existed. “And the dead Jem'Hadar,” he reminded to Holo.

    “There's nothing to fear from a dead body,” said Holo calmly. “That is a thing I've noticed about you humanoids, you don't like seeing dead bodies or like being in the darkness.”

    That was easy for Holo to say, Nog wondered if Holo actually had fear subroutines built into his program. “Well you are not mortal like us, dead bodies remind us humanoids that death gets to us all, and it can strike us down prematurely occasionally.”

    Holo’s eyebrows rose in apparent surprise by Nog’s remark. “Just because I have immortality of a sort, doesn't mean I'm invulnerable. I don't chance or tempt death if that is what you are saying.”

    Inwardly Nog kicked himself, of course Holo wasn’t vulnerable, there were things out there which could easily kill Holo. However Nog was glad to know that Holo was just as keen to avoid danger, injury and death just as much as he was. Nog returned to work, the faster he did this job the sooner he would be out of this wretched factory…


    Day 1, 1930 hours

    Kira and Max had spent the last hour inside the room containing the primary deuterium tank attempting to gain control of a computer terminal. This computer terminal would give them full control of the deuterium tank, but only if they could get past the terminal’s security programs.

    Try as he might Max couldn’t get this problem figured. His mood wasn’t much helped by the room he was working in, it was dimly lit and there were seven Jem’Hadar bodies stacked in one pile. Himself and Kira moved the bodies into one pile so they could have better access to the computer terminal.

    The terminal itself was an oval prism-shaped object, it was surprisingly wide and to its right hand side was a lowered portion of the floor to access the inner workings of the terminal. A ladder provided easy access from the floor to the lowered platform below.

    Currently Kira was flat on her back, the right side of her body was partially underneath the terminal, and she was busy removing small nodules and components, before reconfiguring and then attaching them back into the terminal.

    Max meanwhile was trying to stay one step ahead of the security programs that were shutting down his every attempt to break the cyber seal in the system. Hopefully Kira might be able to bypass the security programs, and he could finally break the cyber seal.

    Frustration got to Max, finally he slammed both his hands down on the console. “I don't get it,” he said angrily. “For a computer terminal that controls the deuterium tank, this has a surprising amount of security defences.”

    “Perhaps the Dominion were afraid that someone like us would one day come to salvage their equipment?” said Kira from the platform, there was some amusement in her voice

    Max could only laugh, and right now he needed to laugh to ease the tension and pressure he was feeling. “Whatever you think of the Dominion, you have to admire how security conscious they are… Try bypassing the secondary relay controls.”

    While Kira did that, Max looked up to glare at the deuterium tank. It was a menacing object, a huge cylindrical like barrel, supported on its curvature, numerous pipes protruded outwards from the ends of the tank and extended up to the ceiling. Eventually Max would gain control of this deuterium tank, and he always solved any technical problem that came before him.

    “There,” said Kira.

    Something suddenly exploded and sparks flew out from where Kira was working. “Ahh!” yelled Kira.

    Max came around looking down from the railing. “Are you all right?”

    Standing up Kira was clutching her hands together, her face was slightly contorted in pain, but other than that she didn’t seem to harmed. “It's just an electric shock,” she replied irritably.

    She stretched out her hands and examined them. “Nothing's burnt or broken...”

    With Kira apparently unharmed, Max returned to the console. He did the same routine of inputting codes to break the cyber seal. After some moments the cyber seal broke and he could now access the console controls. “It's worked,” he said excitedly. “I've got full control of the deuterium tank.”

    “Good,” said Kira, she still looked annoyed by the electric shock. “Let's get this out of the way, the sooner we leave this place the better I will feel.”

    As Max and Kira continued to work, unnoticed by them was a container five metres behind their position. This was a bland-looking cylindrical container, two metres tall and very thin. The seal had been lifted slightly by only a millimetre, and a tiny amount of pressurised air was being released…


    With full access to the deuterium tank, Max found that the deuterium was of a high grade quality. So he had contacted the Defiant asking for a dozen sealed storage containers. Crudely Max managed to connect a flexible pipe to one of the valves on the outside of the tank, and he began filling the containers with deuterium.

    This was a slow process because of the volatile nature of deuterium, it had to be gradually transferred. Out of the corner of his eye Max noticed Kira sitting down on the top of a console, she looked unusually sweaty.

    Kira was rubbing a hand over her forehead. “Is it just me or is this place quite warm?”

    Now that she mentioned it, Max suddenly realised how warm he felt. “Your right I hadn't noticed that...” he said absentmindedly.

    He returned his attention to the pressure readings of the deuterium inside the tank. “Anyway we're nearly there, if you could just unlock the clamps to the 8th-”

    The sound of Kira retching made Max stop and turn around, he saw her bent over with her hands on her knees. Tiny flecks of vomit were still coming from her mouth. “Kira? Just sit down…”

    While Kira sat down with her back against the console, Max had taken out his tricorder and was scanning her.

    “Well?” demanded Kira, however sick she felt, she still had the focus to give Max an incredibly sharp stare.

    Max frowned at the bio-readings he was getting, and he then started scanning the entire room. “It seems that when we were unlocking the primary docking clamps, we also unsealed that container over there.”

    He pointed with his thumb at the container, upon further scanning Max saw something that made his eyes widen. “Something is escaping from the container! But what it is I can't tell...”

    “We should get out of here,” said Kira urgently.

    Standing up she waited for Max to follow her. “Come on-”

    This time Kira retched more violently and it was horrible for Max seeing a brown/white watery mush spill from her mouth onto the floor. At once he walked over and placed an arm around her shoulders. “Here I’ll help.”

    Max was glad to find that Kira complied without resistance, with his free hand he tapped his comm badge. “This is Max to the away team regroup at the beam-out point immediately! Max out.”

    Tapping his comm badge again, Max started walking and he was glad that Kira was keeping up. He used his free hand to hold the tricorder to guide them back to the beam-out point. Along the way Max had to stop when Kira retched some more, at this point Max wondered how much more was left inside Kira’s stomach.

    Briefly he looked at Kira, and he wasn’t pleased to see a pallor come across her forehead, and beads of sweat drip from the roots of her hair. He was so busy helping Kira that he didn’t notice how he was becoming steadily warmer and of the queasy sensation that was slowly building up inside his stomach.

    When he and Kira arrived at the beam-out point, Max was glad to see that the other four away team members had already arrived.

    Nog approached Max, though he was looking at Kira with some concern. “What's wrong with Kira?”

    “I’m not sure,” said Max testily. “She's got a fever and she's nauseous, I'm beaming her and all of us back onto the Defiant.”

    Max removed his arm around Kira’s shoulders, at once she sat down on the floor. Her knees came to her chest, and her hands were over her bowed head as she sat there simply breathing deeply.

    Ignoring the sight of Kira, Max tapped his comm badge to contact the Defiant. “This is Max to the Defiant.”

    Defiant here,” said Ezri’s voice.

    “Request permission to transport back.”

    Granted...” said Ezri, there was the faint sound of another person talking. “Hold on a minute,” said Ezri suddenly.

    “That's odd...” said Nog ominously.

    Max though simply waited, wondering what the delay was, he just wanted to return to the Defiant and get Kira to the sick bay.

    I'm patching you through to doctor Bashir,” said Ezri after a minute’s silence.

    Max,” said Bashir, “your away team cannot beam over to the Defiant. I've checked your bio-readings you have been infected with an unknown virus.

    For a moment Max wondered if he had heard all of that correctly. “Only Kira is ill doctor,” said Max in somewhat exasperated voice. “The rest of us are fine!”

    I can't run the risk of bringing an unknown virus aboard the Defiant,” said Bashir, he sounded deeply concerned.

    Bashir was starting to really irritate Max, why was Bashir so hell bent on confining the away team to this factory? “Well screen the virus out when we're materialising in mid-transport!” said Max heatedly.

    I can't do that either, it may not work. Listen; I'm beaming down six med-packs, that's about all I can do.

    Max turned to look at Holo. “What about Holo? He can't be infected.”

    It's an air borne virus Max,” said Bashir impatiently. “The transporters will beam the air that passes through Holo! I'm sorry-

    Ezri cut in. “We'll find a way of removing you off this planet. Until then, just stay where you are.

    “Affirmative, Max out.”

    Max tapped his comm badge and looked around at the away team, the looks on their faces told it all; they were somewhat scarred and troubled. What Bashir had told them didn’t bode well.

    To Max’s surprise, he saw that Kira was standing up, despite how ill she looked, Max was impressed by the determination and grit that was locked onto her face.

    “It's time that I take command,” said Kira. “For one thing the away mission is technically over and I do outrank you all.”

    Although Max agreed to this, one look at Kira told him that she would probably collapse at any moment. “Are you sure you are fit to do this?”

    There must have been a slightly patronising tone to Max’s voice because Kira’s nostrils flared in indignation. “A little sickness won't stop me,” said Kira lightly. “Besides very soon the rest of you are going to be as ill as I am, so what difference does it make?”

    “Agreed,” said Max.

    The last thing he wanted was to fight with Kira, he didn’t want to face that fiery temper of hers that she occasionally displayed. Max sat down next to Holo, though Holo remained unusually quiet. Everyone was quiet but Max couldn’t blame them, there was nothing to talk about in this situation, all they could do was find out what was wrong with them...
  2. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 3

    Day 1, 2000 hours

    Walking inside the mess hall, Ezri whipped around the moment Bashir and Megan had entered the room. All she knew was that something was very wrong with five of her crew members, aside from that she did not have a clue what was going on, and she wanted answers fast.

    She was angry, and the only thing she could do to vent the anger, was to press her lips together hard. “So what is wrong with the away team?”

    Her eyes were on Bashir as she asked that question.

    “I did a brief check of Max’s tricorder readings,” said Bashir calmly, seemingly at ease with his captain's thirst for information. “The entire away team has been infected with a virus that was released from a container in the room housing the primary deuterium tank. It seemed Max and Kira accidently tripped some sort of defence mechanism.”

    “Well?” said Ezri somewhat tensely, her arms were folded. “Can we beam them off the planet?”

    The dead pan look on Bashir’s face said it all. “The simple answer is no.”

    Megan though looked at Bashir doubtfully, she didn't seem convinced by Bashir's blunt answer. “We could try various screening techniques,” suggested Megan. “But I don't know what to screen against.”

    Bashir turned to face Megan, his lips were locked in a frown, clearly he didn't like Megan's idea. “I wouldn't recommend screening the virus out with transporters. It has been artificially created, and as such it could elude many, if not all of our sensors.”

    “So we need to scan the virus,” said Ezri, gesticulating momentarily with her right hand. “But we can't do it when the we're orbiting the planet...”

    “What we need is the shuttle!” said Megan, her eyes were wide with what seemed to be excitement. “We can beam the away team to the shuttle, while they may be a bit cramped at least in that way we can find out exactly what we're facing.”

    Megan gazed at Ezri's thoughtful face. “The virus will be contained in only one shuttle!” she added.

    Bashir was now looking at Ezri, and at that moment Ezri realised they were both thinking the same thing.

    “I think,” said Bashir, “the most obvious thing to do is to contact the Dominion, they created this virus so surely they must have designed an antidote!”

    Although it was a sound idea, Ezri had massive reservations against it, she couldn’t help herself but she grimaced in frustration. “Unfortunately contacting the Dominion is not a good idea at the moment. The latest Starfleet intelligence reports indicate that the civil war is still ongoing inside the Dominion. Besides it seemed the renegade Jem'Hadar attacked this facility in an attempt to acquire some of the microbes and retroviruses from the factory's silos… The bottom line is we can't rely on the Dominion to help us, and even if the Dominion was not in a civil war, I doubt the Founders would help us. It's up to you doctor to find a cure.”

    Megan gazed sharply at Ezri, in situations like this nothing missed Megan’s attention. “So we're going to transfer the away team to the shuttle?”

    “Yes,” said Ezri with a nod. “The sooner we scan this virus, the easier it will be for you doctor to work out what we're dealing with here. Prepare the shuttle at once!”

    With a nod to Ezri, Megan then promptly left the room.

    There was only Ezri and Bashir in the room, though right now Ezri didn’t feel the usual embarrassment as the situation was too serious for such petty personal issues. “Let’s just say doctor that I’m counting on you to find a cure, I don’t want to lose five personal, least of all a close friend of mine.”

    Bashir stared seriously into Ezri’s eyes. “I promise I will not rest until I have found a cure, none of those away team members will die, not under my watch.”

    The intensity of Bashir’s expression took Ezri aback, before she had time to think about this, Bashir had already left the room. She wondered if Bashir was making a promise to her or to himself. One thing she knew about Julian was how he would do anything to keep the patient alive…

    Thinking back Ezri realised that Julian seemed less hostile towards her. Perhaps it was because Julian had gotten used to her on board DS9, or maybe Julian was trying in some subtle way to reach out to her and make amends. The temptation came to Ezri to simply visit Julian’s quarters, after this whole affair had blown over, and unreservedly apologise for breaking up with him.

    But would Julian listen? Something was stopping Ezri and that was the fear that she would somehow make things worse between herself and Julian. Yet she so badly wanted to make amends, something had to give, either she would talk to Julian or he would talk to her…


    Day 1, 2140 hours

    When the away team had been beamed off the factory and onto the shuttle orbiting the planet, Kira was relieved to be out of that factory. Sure things were cramped in the shuttle with six people on board, and her health had deteriorated some more, but she would rather crumble apart inside a Starfleet shuttle than in an abandoned Dominion retrovirus factory.

    The first thing Kira did was go to the cockpit to check over the shuttle’s systems, Nog assisted her. She let Max temporarily do her job of keeping morale up.

    A small red light flashed on Nog’s console. “Kira there's a message from the Defiant, it's from Julian!”

    Kira turned around to face a screen on the cockpit wall to her right. “Patch it through to my console!”

    On the screen was Bashir, the expression on his face was unreadable. “Julian we need some good news and fast!”

    “I'm afraid that's unlikely,” said Bashir looking somewhat crestfallen. “As I speak the shuttle's onboard sensors are gathering information on the virus that you are infected with. The medkits on board will relieve any pain, nausea or bleeding which you may suffer from. Unfortunately until I know exactly what this virus is, there is very little I can do to help.”

    This wasn’t what Kira wanted to hear, but she maintained a brave face. “How long will it take for you to determine what we're infected with?”

    “At least two hours, but when I get the results I will contact you as soon as possible. In the mean time I want all of you not to exert yourselves and to keep calm.”

    The look on Bashir’s face was if Kira and the away team were already dead, and this did nothing to lift Kira’s spirits. “Leave that to me,” she said briskly. “I'll keep everyone calm.”

    “Good, Bashir out.”

    The transmission ended and Kira returned to her console, she could tell from Bashir’s face that she was infected with something very dangerous and possibly fatal. She wasn’t afraid of dying, what did upset her was how her children would react to her death…

    Kira was so transfixed upon her console that she didn’t hear Max come into the cockpit.

    “Can I have a private word with you Kira?”

    Turning around in her chair, Kira was momentarily surprised by how close Max was to her, she looked up into those wide apprehensive eyes. “Are you finished here Nog?”

    Wisely, Nog nodded and left the cockpit without another word.

    Max was standing very rigidly, and if Kira didn’t know him better he looked afraid, it all showed in his eyes, a certain hopeless look in them. “What is it Max?”

    There was a small pause before Max burst into speech. “This is all my fault!” he said in an anguished voice. “I should have checked that computer terminal's security systems more carefully. If I had, we wouldn't all be infected with this virus!”

    Standing up, Kira placed her hands on Max’s shoulders, she was not going to let Max fall apart. “Listen to me,” she said sternly. “You can't blame yourself for what has happened. I didn't realise at the time that the container was rigged to activate when we tampered with the computer terminal's controls!”

    The pained expression still lingered on Max’s face. “But if we die-”

    “We are not going to die,” she said forcibly and her hands shook a little. “Have you got me?”

    Max nodded and seemed marginally more upbeat.

    Kira took this as a good sign and she removed her hands away from Max’s shoulders. “Not if Julian has anything to say about it and he's the best doctor I know. If anyone will find a cure it is Julian.”

    All the anguish and fear had subsided from Max’s face, and he returned to the other compartment. Kira though sat down on a chair, closed her eyes and breathed out deeply. She didn’t believe in anything that she had just said to Max, but it didn’t matter what she felt, the crew morale was more important than her feelings.

    Now that she was all alone Kira contemplated meditating briefly, and asking the Prophets for their assistance in helping Bashir to find a cure. Just as she was about to slip into a meditative state, she suddenly started coughing, there was something heavy inside her lungs.

    Her hand covered her mouth, and with each cough her lungs burned in pain. When the coughing was over, she lowered her hand only to notice flecks of blood on her palm. She couldn’t help it but she gasped out aloud, this virus was attacking her lungs and was spreading all over her body…

    A sore feeling lingered in her lungs, it didn’t feel as bad as the queasiness which was now gone, but she knew that the pain in her lungs would steadily build up. It was now clear that this virus was fatal, how long she had to live she wasn’t sure, and she hoped with all her heart that Bashir was speedy with the scans he was conducting of the virus.


    Day 1, 2210 hours

    In the sickbay Bashir waited for the computer to finish analysing the composition of the virus. The computer was taken an unusually long time to analyse the virus, and this was an ominous sign to Bashir. Knowing the Dominion, he reckoned this virus could be just as difficult to treat as the Quickening.

    The Quickening was bad enough, and it came close to shaking his confidence as a doctor, a healer of people. There was of course a personal element to it, in that he stayed on the world to try to treat Ekoria, a female Teplan. Though he didn’t manage to treat her, by accident he managed to find a cure that rendered her baby immune to the blight.

    That experience really tugged on Bashir’s heartstrings. Now he was in a similar situation, except this time his friends were in danger. Above all else he would do everything he could to make sure Kira and Nog didn’t die, especially Kira. She had a family and Bashir was determined to make sure Kira wasn’t another casualty of the Dominion and their weaponry.

    For sure enough this virus was a weapon, and Bashir could only wonder what other biological weapons the Dominion possessed. He shuddered to think about what would happen if the renegade Jem’Hadar managed to acquire this virus. The very fact there were recently dead Jem’Hadar in the retrovirus factory, told Bashir that the renegade Jem’Hadar desperately wanted the Dominion’s biological agents of mass destruction.

    “Scan complete,” said the computer. “The virus cannot be biologically classified.”

    Bashir stood at the console and was deeply puzzled by this. “Please clarify.”

    “The virus has a metallic shell comprised of tritanium, duranium and fourteen other unknown metal alloys. The scans were unable to penetrate the shell, hence the virus cannot be classified.”

    At first Bashir couldn’t believe this, he had never imagined a virus being protected in such an elaborate way. Next he cast aside his disbelieve and thought furiously about how to penetrate the shell. There had to be a way to penetrate it, and if he couldn’t then there would be nothing he could do for the away team. Faced with the bleak prospect of losing five people, Bashir only pushed himself to think even harder, and he used every iota of knowledge in that genetically enhanced brain of his.


    Day 2, 0200 hours

    It had taken Bashir over three hours to determine the composition of the virus. He had never seen such a formidable looking virus, this was the second Dominion virus he had encountered and unlike the quickening virus there was no obvious solution to destroying this virus.

    It all came down to the tritanium alloyed shell, nothing organic could penetrate it, and he had to use lasers the width of a nanometer just to borrow inside and retrieve a sample of the nucleus. The good news was that this virus chromosomes could be broken down, there were some vulnerable DNA strands that could be used to unravel the entire genome.

    Unfortunately trying to get the antibodies inside the viruses nucleus was to Bashir looking nigh on impossible. This was why he had called for Megan to arrive in the Sickbay.

    When Megan arrived in the Sickbay, Bashir turned around and noticed that she looked more serious than usual. Of course her best friend Max was on board that shuttle, and just like Megan, Bashir also had a best friend in serious danger.

    Megan stood quite rigidly, her hands were behind her back. “You asked for me doctor?”

    “This virus is more complicated than I thought,” he said grimly.

    Walking over he activated a wide screen on a console next to the operating table. “Here have a look,” he said, waving a hand to the screen showing an image of the virus.

    Megan walked to about two feet from the screen, she leaned forwards and positively squinted at the image. “It's a bionic virus?” she said quietly, sounding somewhat stunned.

    “Yes,” said Bashir, he tapped a few commands and the image on the screen changed to show the components of the virus, components which he had painstakingly mapped out. “It has a tritanium shell and other unknown alloys, an organic part in the centre, and various nanites resounding inside the shell. No conventional medical vaccine could destroy a virus like that.”

    For such a tricky problem Megan’s face remained rather neutral, as if she had no interest in how to destroy the virus. “Julian I'm no doctor-”

    “But you are a chemist,” said Bashir, he looked at Megan rather intently. “That's what I need, if there's a way of destroying the shell, then I can destroy the organic component that resides inside.”

    Now Megan looked interested, she made a brief gesture of rubbing the top of her nose with the tips of her fingers. “Max is the chemist, I’m not as skilled as he when it comes to developing compounds and materials…”

    “Right now Max can barely stand!” said Bashir impatiently. “Let alone have the mental effort to solve this problem, he can’t help us!”

    Megan frowned considerably, she seemed daunted by what she had to do. “Even so it will take hours, even days to find the correct chemical to neutralise this shell. How much time have I got?”

    “I'm not sure...” said Bashir heavily. “But the sooner we get started the greater the chance that Kira, Max and the others will survive…”

    There was a determined look on Megan’s face, and without a word she started working, while Bashir conducted more scans of the virus trying to work out how to break down the virus’ nucleus.

    As he worked he noticed Megan was working with something of a energetic mania, she didn’t stop to rest. Bashir realised that Megan would only stop working when they had found a cure for Max and the rest of the away team. This only spurred Bashir to work harder, he would not let death take those five crew members away from him…

    He suddenly remembered promising Kira to tell her what she was infected with when he had finished the scans of the virus. At once he stopped working, walked over to a console and contacted the shuttle...


    A moment later the screen showed Kira inside the shuttle’s cockpit. She was looking dire, and her face was dangerously pale. “What's our prognosis doctor?” she said very seriously.

    Bashir breathed out deeply, trying to compose himself. “The virus is causing the white blood cells in your immune system to attack any surrounding cells, as such there is a substantial amount of internal bleeding, and it's only going to get worse. All of you show the same symptoms, and given the rate of blood loss you have four, maybe five days left, multiple organ failure being the cause of death...”

    After Bashir had finished with his prognosis, Kira’s eyes were shut tight, and Bashir had never seen Kira look so perturbed.

    Finally Kira calmed herself and looked steadily into Bashir’s eyes. “There's no cure is there?”

    Bashir shook his head. “Not yet but Megan and I are working on that. In the meantime, I want the away team not to exert themselves and to stay calm.”

    Kira nodded slightly. “What about Holo?”

    “That brings me to another point; but I need to discuss it with Holo in private.”

    “Right,” said Kira, she got up and left the cockpit to find Holo.

    A minute later Holo arrived he took Kira’s chair, and simply stared at Bashir, waiting for Bashir to speak.

    “Holo,” said Bashir seriously. “If no cure can be found for this virus, then you are permanently confined to this shuttle.”

    “I understand,” said Holo grimly, he looked as if he was going to cry though Bashir wasn’t sure if Holo could cry or not.

    “The next few days will be... trying,” said Bashir heavily. “Kira and the others, are slowly dying, and as a physician I must do no harm to the patient. Having said that, if there is no cure, and they are close to death, and they are suffering agonising amounts of pain, then...”

    He paused as he contemplated the concept of euthanasia and how it could loosely apply to this situation. “Then Holo I need you to minimise their pain, even if it means they die prematurely...”

    Holo’s face was so still look he looked almost dead. “Right,” he said seriously.

    Bashir rubbed his eyes, he was getting older and he couldn’t exert himself like he did when he was younger. “I'm placing you in charge of the away team, you have enough medical supplies for pain relief and so forth to last for at least a week... Incidentally does your program store any files on medicine?”

    Holo sighed in what seemed to be exasperation. “There are numerous files on medicine stored in my program, I know what to do doctor,” he said rather testily.

    With a last nod, Bashir ended the transmission. The very thought of prematurely ending one of the away team’s lives was a shocking one for Bashir. But if they were at death’s door, and there was nothing he could do to either help them or to ease their pain, then there could only be one option.

    Do no harm to the patient was always Bashir’s guiding principle. However if the worst came he would be harming the patient if he tried to extend that life while the patient suffered horrendously from an ailment. Whether it was right or wrong, Kira, Nog and the others deserved to die with dignity should the worst happen, and if they only had a few agonising hours left.

    Bashir thought back to the Teplan blight and Trevean assisting patients to kill themselves, he now understood perfectly why Trevean did this. It was all about easing pain, because to let the patient suffer needlessly was doing harm to the patient...
  3. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 4, part 1

    Day 2, 1000 hours

    The Defiant had just left the wormhole with the shuttle in tow. On the bridge, Ezri sat on the command chair and all she could think about was the away team. One person she was thinking about the most was Kira…

    The door to the bridge opened, and glancing to her right, she saw a grim-faced Bashir entering.

    “Any progress doctor?” she said, hoping for the best.

    Bashir shook his head. “Nothing so far, both Megan and I are still working on how to penetrate the viruses shell, but we’re running out of ideas. Anyway I came here to ask permission to transfer the away team onto one of DS9’s runabouts. The away team will have more space, and it will be far more comfortable for them than in that cramped shuttle.”

    “Agreed,” said Ezri. “I’ll see to it.”

    While Bashir left the bridge, Ezri contacted the station. “This is captain Dax to Ops.”

    “Lieutenant Vaughn speaking,” said the officer on the view screen. “You’re cleared for docking captain.”

    “I want you to deploy the runabout Valencia in shuttlebay two, put it on auto pilot and send it to these coordinates.”

    From the command chair, she punched in the coordinates on the console to her left.

    “Understood captain,” said Vaughn while he briefly studied the coordinates being sent to him.

    “The Defiant will be docking shortly, Dax out.”

    With everything sorted for DS9, Ezri contacted the shuttle. “This is captain Dax to the shuttle, please respond.”

    “I hear you captain,” said Kira from the view screen.

    Somehow Kira still had enough good health left in her to be piloting the shuttle. Ezri was amazed by Kira’s tenacity even though she looked like she was at death’s door. “Colonel a runabout is being sent close to your position. When it arrives I want you and the rest of the away team to beam over to the runabout.”

    “Understood captain,” said Kira.

    The comm link ended, and Ezri sat back into her chair to get just a little more comfortable. When Nog had transported the away team onto the runabout, Ezri had a few more orders for the crew before the Defiant could dock. She had to dispose of the shuttle as it was a major contagion hazard.

    Ezri walked over to the science station where Megan was. “Ms Felpes is the shuttle unoccupied?”

    “Affirmative captain.”

    With a brief satisfied nod, Ezri issued her next set of orders. “Lieutenant Constance, lock phasers on the shuttle and fire.”

    When Lieutenant Constance fired the phasers, Ezri briefly looked at the view screen, and watched two phaser bursts almost completely vaporize the shuttle. There was nearly nothing left but with this virus Ezri couldn’t be to sure. “Scan the debris Ms Felpes, has the virus been destroyed?”

    “I don’t detect any organic residue, the virus is definitely destroyed.”

    “Good,” said Ezri, that was one minor problem taken care off.

    She had done her bit and when the Defiant had docked at the station, it would be up to Bashir and Megan to find a cure for the away team. At that moment she didn’t envy their task, giving the pressure they were under as each passing hour brought the away team closer to death.


    Day 2, 1015 hours

    The moment the Defiant had returned from the wormhole, Odo dashed down to docking bay four. Yesterday he had been contacted by Ezri, and she told him that Kira and all five members of an away team had contracted a Dominion retrovirus. What really alarmed Odo was that the away team had been quarantined to a shuttle, and this made him wonder just how contagious and deadly this virus really was.

    When the docking bay door opened, Odo waited impatiently for Ezri to come. She was the last one to come out, and at once Odo confronted her. “Captain what is really happening to Kira?” he said loudly and tensely. “You were somewhat vague when you said that she was infected by some sort of Dominion virus!”

    “Keep your voice down,” hissed Ezri while she glanced around to make sure the corridor was deserted. “Yes that is true but doctor Bashir is doing everything he can to help her!”

    Not for a second were Odo's anxieties lessened by Ezri’s reassuring words. “Bashir can't find a way of destroying this virus can he?”

    Ezri looked a tiny bit sorrowful and this betrayed her reassurances. “So far he hasn't, but you know Bashir he won't rest until he has found a cure.”

    “How long does my wife have to live?” demanded Odo.

    “At least three days.”

    “When can I see her?” he said urgently. “Is she on the Defiant?”

    “She is on a runabout with the rest of the away team.”

    Ezri wasn’t answering his question and this infuriated Odo. “But can I see her?” he said impatiently.

    Ezri’s eyes were full of sadness, it was clear that she felt just as worried and pained as Odo. “I'm afraid not. There is a strict quarantine in place, nobody is to board that runabout. When the away team had been transported off the shuttle, it was destroyed, we cannot let this virus spread.”

    A terrible hurting feeling wrenched something inside of Odo’s chest. He turned to look away, as he stood there with his emotions at breaking point. He could contemplate Kira dying, but to be unable to be at her side as she got steadily more ill and fell apart was unbearable to Odo.

    “I'm sorry Odo for what has happened,” said Ezri sadly. “This will be a tough time, and if there is anything you need-”

    “Don't mollycoddle me captain,” said Odo bitterly, he glared at her furiously. “I can handle this just fine!”

    In a blind rage he left Ezri, not caring what Ezri thought of his rudeness. He couldn’t think straight and without realising it he was walking to his quarters.

    When he entered his quarters, he realised a second to late that he was going to have to explain to Mia and Deru what had happened, and they wouldn’t let him go until he had given them a decent answer.

    Indeed he saw Mia and Deru standing there in front of him, both were looking at him desperately, and Mia’s eyes were boring into the back of Odo’s head.

    “What's happened to my mother?” she asked curtly. “I've heard these rumours that she and five other Starfleet members have been quarantined to a runabout because of some virus? Is this true?”

    Odo held his hands up trying to defuse the situation. “Listen-”

    “We don't want your excuses,” shouted Deru, his eyes were blazing with rage. “Or some attempt to water down what is happening to mum, we want the truth!”

    Such a commanding tone forced Odo to pull himself together and to control his emotions. “Your mother has been infected with a Dominion virus, and doctor Bashir hasn't found a cure, but so far your mother's condition hasn't worsened. She and five other away team members have been confined to a runabout to stop the virus spreading.”

    Mia’s arms were folded and she was looking at Odo in a sceptical manner, as if analysing every word he had said. “If my mother and those five people are being quarantined, then clearly this virus must be a lot worse than you are letting on?”

    At that point Odo couldn’t help inwardly marvel at Mia's intelligence, his daughter was as sharp as her mother. “Things may look bad,” he said heatedly, “but right now it doesn't seem that your mother's condition is life-threatening.”

    “And if mum gets more sick you will tell us right?” said Deru, staring intensely at Odo.

    There was a moment's hesitation on Odo’s part before he answered Deru’s question. “I will,” he said firmly.

    Both Mia and Deru seemed satisfied by Odo’s answer, and they walked into their bedrooms, leaving Odo rooted to the spot.

    In a way Odo was proud of how attentive and intelligent his children were, they weren’t going to settle for any old answer. But despite all of this they were still children, and if Kira died they would be so hurt and upset.

    It frightened Odo to think that in less than four days time there was a strong possibility that Kira would be taken from this world. How could he lose her now when there were so many years ahead of them? Kira didn’t deserve to die like this in such a horrible way, if Odo could cry he would have wept on the spot. However he knew Kira would be facing this nightmare with absolute bravery and calmness, and likewise Odo would be following her example. Kira’s strength was his own strength…


    Day 3, 0600 hours

    Bashir and Megan had been working for close to two days without rest, and it was starting to take its toll on both of them. They had gotten virtually nowhere and in all that time the away team had become steadily sicker…

    Even in DS9’s Infirmary with its far superior facilities and equipment, the task of destroying the virus wasn’t made any easier. Bashir’s only breakthrough was discovering the tiny holes in the virus’ shell. He was working out how to get anti-bodies past the membrane, but this seemed harder than destroying the shell.

    For two hours Bashir had been staring at a screen showing a cross-section of the cylindrical membrane, and he had tried combination after combination of anti-bodies and gene resequencing, hoping to find an anti-body that could penetrate the membrane without getting broken down.

    Nothing worked, and at times one part of Bashir’s mind strayed to Nog and Kira, they were dying and there was nothing he could do to stop it… He searched nearly the entire Federation medical database looking for a case of something similar, but there was nothing…

    “Any luck?” said Bashir, turning around in his chair to see Megan huddled over a small container where she was mixing various compounds.

    Wearily Megan stood up, the bags on her eyes were pronounced and she looked almost dead from tiredness. “I can break down the titanium/duranium shell, but the acid I used was so strong it would kill the patient in a matter of minutes. Have you made any progress?”

    Another setback, another dead-end for Bashir. In a frustrated gesture he ran his hands through his scruffy and untidy hair, forcing himself to think harder. “I've been through nearly all the possibilities for a treatment,” he said wearily. “Now I'm down to going through the Federation medical database looking for any similar cases...”

    A tiny spark of hope lingered in Megan’s eyes. “And?”

    “I haven't seen a case remotely like this one.”

    Bashir paused, and he thought about the Dominion and the Vorta, or Founders, who had designed this virus. It was like they were mocking him for his failure to destroy their virus… “It's so typical of the Dominion to create viruses that have no cure,” he said bitterly.

    Megan came over to Bashir, and leaned her body against a bulkhead with her arms folded. “You've seen other Dominion viruses before?”

    Bashir’s mood darkened some more, it was déjà vu for him with this virus. “Nearly 22 years ago I came across a planet where the locals suffered from something they called the 'quickening'. Everyone had these dark legions all over there body, and the quickening could happen at any point. When it happened the legions turned red and the sufferer died within two weeks.”

    Megan grimaced slightly in an appalled manner. “That's nasty.”

    She was staring at Bashir, clearly noticing the frustrated expression on his face, and she looked at him sympathetically. “I know you are angry with yourself for not finding a cure, and I know you terribly concerned for Kira, Nog and the others. But you can't punish yourself like this.”

    Bashir stood up, and all the frustration made him burn with anger. “Yes I can!” he said furiously. “It is my responsibility to care for them, to treat them, and I can't even do that!”

    A surprisingly cold expression was on Megan’s face, when she spoke her voice was laced with a cold fury. “Has it ever occurred to you doctor, that there are some things in the universe that are insurmountable, and no matter what you do the problem cannot be resolved?”

    Despite Megan’s criticism, Bashir wasn’t going to stop feeling angry and resentful. “Are you saying we should just give up on the away team?” he said heatedly.

    “No I am not,” said Megan calmly. “But I am saying there may be no cure to this virus, or there is not enough time to find a cure.”

    Bashir turned his back to Megan, he was too angry to look at her. His hands were spread wide across the console and he looked up at the screen showing the virus’ membrane. “Every virus has a cure, some sort of weak spot, and I'm not going to give up now!”
  4. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 4, part 2

    Day 3, 0900 hours

    It was early in the morning, and Kira decided she couldn’t put it off any longer. She had to contact Odo, she hoped in doing so she would feel better about the whole situation she was in.

    Alone in the cockpit, she sent a comm link over to DS9, a few moments later Odo responded. At first Kira couldn’t say anything, fearful that if she did she may lose control of her emotions, her anger and her fear.

    Finally it was Odo who attempted to start a conversation. “How do you feel?” he said rather gently.

    Kira looked at him in a glum manner. “I'm sorry Odo,” she said, it was all she could say.

    “This isn't your fault,” said Odo in a sympathetic tone.

    “It is,” lamented Kira, she felt awful and deeply guilty. “I should have been more careful, I should have realised there would be traps, hidden dangers...”

    Odo looked just as pained as Kira. “Don't blame yourself, what is done is done, now-”

    Suddenly Kira had another fit of coughing, her lungs felt like they were on fire every time she coughed. When she was done, she noticed some blood dripping out from her mouth. She pulled a disgusted face before wiping some of the blood with the back of her hand. “Sorry... Have you told Mia and Deru about what has happened?”

    Odo looked very uncomfortable and he tensed up like mad. “Only some of the facts...” he said slowly. “I haven't told them that you're probably going to die in three days time...”

    “Odo...” breathed Kira, she couldn’t keep the disapproval out of her voice. “They're old enough to know the truth...”

    Meekly Odo nodded, he looked humbled because of Kira’s reprimand. Seeing Odo look so miserable only made Kira feel more angry about the whole situation; and most of all she felt like she had let her children down. She couldn’t stop blaming herself for what happened in the biogenics factory. If only she had paid more attention to what was going on around her...

    “Damn!” said Kira loudly, as she slapped her hand against the console. “What do I say to Mia and Deru?” she told Odo, gazing at him desperately. “It's maddening; I die from some Dominion virus and I'm couped up in a runabout waiting for the inevitable, it should have been something more heroic...”

    “That's not amusing,” said Odo grimly, Kira’s dark humour only served to make Odo look even more miserable.

    Kira sighed aloud, she looked slightly downwards trying to avoid Odo’s eyes. “I know...” she said wearily.

    Another silence lingered between the two, for there was nothing more to say.

    “I'll let Mia and Deru talk to you,” said Odo after a while.

    Kira nodded slightly, and waited for Mia and Deru to arrive. She composed herself and was determined not to look sad or cry, but to act strong and brave in the face of death. She didn’t want her children to see how emotionally fragile she really was.

    When Mia and Deru sat down, Kira smiled at them, gazing into their anxious faces.

    “How do you feel mother?” said Mia.

    “I've felt better,” said Kira trying to sound cheerful but she couldn’t quite do it. “Holo is doing a good job of looking after me and the others.”

    Deru was trying to avoid looking at Kira, finally he spoke up but he barely had eye contact with her. “Does it hurt to have this virus inside you?” he asked rather timidly.

    Kira shook her head. “Thanks to the painkillers Holo is giving me I don't feel so bad-”

    She then had another round of coughing, and inwardly she was furious with herself. While she wasn’t going to hide from her children the true nature of her condition, they didn’t have to see her literally fall apart. More blood dripped out of her mouth and Kira hastily wiped it away.

    But the damage had been done, Deru looked aghast at seeing the blood, while Mia became very pale.

    “How long do you really have to live?” asked Mia, her voice sounding hoarse from pain.

    “About three days maybe less... I am so sorry for what has happened.”

    Tears spilled from Deru’s eyes, though he wasn’t sobbing. “Can't doctor Bashir find a cure to this virus?” he said desperately.

    Kira looked down momentarily as she fought against the burning in her eyes, finally she looked up and was able not to cry by clenching her jaw hard. “He hasn't found one yet, but he might do...”

    “Dad lied to me!” shouted Deru, he looked to his right presumably at Odo and glared. “He told me your condition wouldn't worsen!”

    Though Kira understood Deru’s anger, she had to protect Odo and explain for him. “He was only trying to spare your feelings...” she said gently.

    “He should have told me the truth!” said Deru.

    Deru’s anger was pushing Kira towards breaking point. “Deru I know you are angry, towards Odo, and towards me-”

    “It's not fair...” whined Deru.

    “I know it's not fair,” said Kira angrily, having finally snapped. “But there is nothing you or I can do to change things, and getting angry is not going to help things either!”

    The harsh tone of her voice took Deru aback, and Kira’s harsh words brought more tears to Deru’s eyes. “I don't want you to die...” said Deru weakly.

    At that point Odo entered the screen, he placed his hands on Deru’s shoulders trying to comfort him. “Deru,” murmured Odo softly. “If you are not comfortable with talking to your mother you don't have to, I'm sorry I didn't tell the whole truth.”

    Slowly Deru got up and allowed himself to be moved away by Odo. Now there was only Mia left, and she was trying to maintain a brave face.

    “I don't blame father,” said Mia quietly. “He only told a half-lie.”

    “You are more forgiving than I would be...” said Kira.

    For a moment Mia looked away, it seemed she was working up the courage to say something deeply personal. Finally Mia gazed at Kira with a warm stare. “I just want to let you know that I've always admired your directness and honesty, even when you were reprimanding me for being timid... It has taking me this long to realise it, but you've always been a source of strength for me.”

    Kira couldn’t help it as her eyes became wet, and the burning sensation in her eyes intensified. She forced herself to pull it together and she quickly wiped her eyes with her hand. There was something she had to say to Mia, she gulped nervously. “Mia in case I do die, then I want you to look after Deru, as you've gathered he is more upset than he is prepared to admit over my illness.”

    “I'll look after him I promise,” said Mia softly.

    The resilience and strength shown by Mia deeply impressed Kira, Mia seemed to take after her when it came to hiding ones grief and pain. “I'm so proud of you,” said Kira, her voice was a little shaky. “Over the last few months you've advanced and matured so much, and in doing so, you've taken a lot off my mind. For many years I was worried for you...”

    Mia smiled weakly at Kira’s praise. “Then I'm sorry I gave you so much grief.”

    “Don't be,” said Kira. “What matters is that you have improved yourself and fought against your weaknesses, it takes courage to do that.”

    Kira coughed again, all this talking was unsettling the fluid in her lungs.

    “I think that's enough talking for one day,” said Mia rather wisely. “You need to conserve yourself.”

    “Don't worry for me,” said Kira with some bravado. “You are more independent now... Just promise me that if I die you will move on with your life and not dwell upon me?”

    Now Mia succumbed to tears, and she nodded slowly in a miserable way. “I promise.”

    This was what Kira wanted to hear, she closed her eyes in a relaxed manner. “Thank you,” she whispered.

    When she opened her eyes, the transmission had ended. She was alone in the cockpit and she had told everyone not to disturb her. She was deeply grateful for this privacy, because she couldn’t keep her emotions bottled up forever. Talking to her family had moved her so much that Kira began to cry, she rested her chest and her forehead against the console, while her arms were pressed tightly against the sides of her head. She sobbed in a quiet way, and in her pain her hands were clutching the hair on the back of her head.

    She wished she never had this virus, there so much more to do and see: watching her children grow up and start their own families. And of course all the time she would have with Odo and growing old together. In the back of her mind she had been thinking about retiring when she was 65. After retirement she wanted to live on Bajor in the Dahkur province, and she and Odo could build their own home. It was such an appealing idea; now that would never come to fruition.
  5. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5

    Day 3, 1900 hours

    It was a full time job for Holo looking after the away team, not only did he have to provide them with painkillers and injections of plasma/blood transfusions, but he also had to keep their spirits up. Sometimes that meant fulfilling some of their requests, like downloading one of their favourite books onto a pad. Other times it was simply food or drink.

    The fact was that the away team had now become so ill, they could barely stand, and it was heart-wrenching for Holo to see these people simply die so slowly. Though he could manage to lift the away team’s spirits, there was nothing he could do to lift his own. Indeed he had dark thoughts and visions of himself being confined forever to this runabout, while he lived amongst five rotting corpses.

    However Holo had enough self-discipline not to let his doubts and concerns distract him from his duties. He noticed Max wincing with pain and at once he came over to Max, taking a med-kit with him. Crouching down Holo took out a hypospray ready to inject Max with more painkillers.

    “Another shot of triptacederine?” he asked Max.

    Max was grimacing in pain, his hands were clutching his chest, despite the pain Max nodded vigorously. “The pain in my chest,” he said weakly. “It's getting worse, I can barely breathe.”

    Holo pressed the hypospray against Max’s neck. “Is that better?”

    “Yes,” said Max.

    Now Max was more relaxed and his breathing became steadier, his hands now rested on his legs.

    “Just keep breathing slowly and deeply,” said Holo.

    Max nodded once. “Holo?” he said suddenly.

    “What is it?” said Holo, sitting down next to Max.

    A grin came onto Max’s face, and he leaned his head to the right. “You owe me five strips of latinum from our last tongo match.”

    “I'm broke...” said Holo quietly, though he couldn’t help but smile.

    “I’ve told you this for the dozenth time... You should realise never to-”

    Suddenly Kira screamed in pain, and started writhing around in agony.

    Holo leapt onto his feet and rushed over to Kira. “What's wrong?”

    Kira was breathing heavily in pain, her chest was rising and falling, and her body was convulsing. She couldn’t even look at Holo, and there were tears pouring from her eyes. “My... spine,” she moaned.

    Taking out a tricorder, Holo scanned her and was stunned by what he was reading.
    “My God! The nerves in your spine are being broken down on the cellular level!”

    Kira grabbed hold of Holo's arm, her grip was incredibly strong despite her pain, it seemed she wasn’t going to let go. “Please stop the pain,” she pleaded.

    The desperation and agony in Kira’s eyes were unbearable for Holo to see. Holo admired Kira for her determination and strength, now here she was pleading with him, and it was surreal to watch. “If I give you any more painkillers you'll be dead in less than a day's time!”

    “Just give me the painkillers!” screamed Kira, her eyes looked totally mad.

    Her hand let go of Holo’s arm, and Kira continued to convulse in agony. “To-much-pain...”

    Unable to take any more, Holo took out a hypospray loaded it with anesthizine and placed it to her neck. After a few seconds Kira stopped writhing around, her breathing stabilised and she then slumped sideways onto the floor.

    “This virus is absolutely killing her!” said Holo to himself, as he conducted more tricorder readings of Kira’s life signs.

    “Holo,” said Max out aloud. “If my condition worsens, I don't want to die in excruciating agony. I want to die with dignity; so if the pain gets too bad I need you to... ease my suffering so to speak.”

    Holo moved over to Max, crouched down and looked into Max’s desperate eyes. “I'm not going to kill you.”

    “Please,” said Max, looking at Holo seriously. “This is a personal request, promise me you won't let me suffer needlessly?”

    Holo swallowed his imaginary throat. “I promise,” he said in a hollow voice.

    This was all becoming to much for Holo, and he left the compartment and entered the cockpit. He was feeling grief and pain, and he could not understand it. These feelings were something he had never experienced before, and they were so strong and raw that his programming was making him cry.

    Although he knew that his programming was so advanced that he could experience and show the full range of human emotions and reactions, he had never cried before. Holographic tears poured from his face, and he breathed deeply trying to control his emotions.

    Slowly the emotional pain subsided, enough to make Holo stop crying. He felt weak and pathetic for crying, he was supposed to be a Starfleet officer, how could he buckle under the pressure and responsibility now? Finally he composed himself and rationality and logic asserted itself, the first thing Holo decided upon was to contact Bashir, and inform him of the disturbing new symptoms that Kira had manifested…


    Day 3, 1915 hours

    In the Infirmary, Bashir was still slaving away trying to find a way to penetrate the cylindrical membrane. Time was running out, and he was becoming more and more desperate with each passing hour. His friends were dying and he hadn’t found anything to cure them! He tried berating himself and getting angry, trying to force his genetically enhanced brain to come up with a solution, but all he found were dead ends.

    On a console next to him, there was a flashing light. Upon analysing it, Bashir realised that it was a transmission from the runabout.

    Activating the comm link, there on the screen was Holo’s desperate looking face. “Bashir the situation is getting worse!” he said loudly. “I've had to sedate Max in the last few minutes, like Kira he felt excruciating pain in his spine. Whatever your working on you need to implement it now!”

    “I haven't got a cure so far,” said Bashir through gritted teeth. “And I'm out of options...”

    “Well you better find a new option!” said Holo heatedly.

    The transmission ended and this took out all the determination that Bashir had to find a cure. He had considered all the methods, conventional and unconventional, and short of breaking the law, there were no methods that worked.

    All Bashir could do was lament the fate of the away team, they were going to die in a horrible manner and he had failed them. He could fully understand why Holo was getting emotionally attached to the away team; seeing people you know and care about die would do that to anyone. The worst part was that without a cure, Holo would be condemned to spending the rest of his life on that runabout, simply to quarantine the virus.

    What really tormented Bashir was that he did have a potential cure, but he couldn’t use it because it was illegal. And such laws were there to protect the patient from harm, even if there was a chance that such illegal practises could make the patient better. He was torn between following the law and doing his medical duty to save five people.

    Megan was staring at him, but Bashir didn’t care what she was doing. He placed a hand to his forehead trying to come to terms with his failure. “I can't think of anything... Anything to destroy this virus!” he said furiously. “All the possible avenues I've tried; the end result is nothing!”

    He glared at the console, unwilling to move or to do anything else except just brood and sulk.

    Still Megan was continuing to look at Bashir, her mouth slightly open as if she couldn’t believe what he was doing. “You said you have looked at all legal methods?” she said after a lengthy silence.

    Bashir noted the heavy emphasis Megan placed on the word ‘legal’. “What are you getting at Megan?” he said irately.

    Megan walked over, her arms were folded. “Have you considered any illegal methods?”

    Having stopped brooding, Bashir turned around in his chair to face Megan. “No; though I know what you are getting at. But the law is the law; I cannot use those methods on the away team.”

    “But have you checked these methods?” said Megan impatiently.

    Bashir looked shiftily at Megan. “Briefly...”

    “And?” said Megan.

    “I found a method that could work...” said Bashir quietly. “It was the first thing I thought of when you said you were going to 'neutralise' the shell. I thought of nanites, but Federation law is absolutely clear; nanites are not to be ever used on people.”

    Now Megan looked shifty, for both she and Bashir were treading on very shaky legal grounds. “I was going to suggest that to you...” said Megan slowly. “Only as an option of last resort of course... Though as you said it is illegal, and it will be hard hiding the fact that we used nanites...”

    Finally Bashir had come to a decision, and to hell with the consequences of it. “Can you construct the nanites?” he asked, dismissing Megan’s comment.

    “Easily,” said Megan confidently. “It will take about twelve hours or so, however if I were to do so, then I would be breaking the law.”

    “I will take the blame,” said Bashir grimly. “After all I gave you the order to construct the nanites...”

    “But...” said Megan sounding puzzled, she then caught on to Bashir's narrative. “Very well commander,” she said silkily. “I'll construct the nanites, but you should know that I will be filing a complaint to Starfleet, in what I consider to be a blatant disregard of the law.”

    “I'll bear that in mind,” said Bashir. “But you have your orders and you will follow them!”

    Pretending to look disapproving, Megan rigidly nodded and Bashir was satisfied with their little charade.

    “Dismissed commander.”

    When Megan had left the Infirmary, Bashir finally felt at ease with himself. Of course there was no guarantee that the nanites would work, but at least he was doing something to help the away team get better. He knew that himself and Megan would be caught red-handed using nanites, but only he would be taking the blame, while Megan would only get a reprimand at most. Bashir didn’t want Megan to be punished for helping to cure five very ill people, and that woman had seen more than her fair share of setbacks and punishments...


    Day 4, 0815 hours

    Twelve hours later and Bashir was watching Megan scanning five small vials, full of the nanites she constructed. The vials were full of a very fine metallic like paste and it seemed almost liquid like. Even though he was breaking the law, Bashir still wanted to be absolutely certain that no nanites would go rouge.

    “Are you absolutely certain that you have correctly programmed these nanites?” asked Bashir for what must have been the seventh time.

    “I’m positive,” said Megan sounding tired by Bashir asking the same question. “The only thing they're allowed to destroy is the virus. Any nanite that destroys anything else will automatically shut down.”

    Bashir tried to convince himself that Megan was right, but he was worried, there was a reason why nanites were illegal to use on patients. Even if everything worked out, Bashir was still going to get into trouble. The moment the nanites were beamed over, a trace amount would escape. This was because nanites responded to transporter energy, and as such the transport confinement beam had to be of a very narrow bandwidth. Still that wasn’t quite enough to prevent a few thousand nanites escaping.

    “There; they're ready,” said Megan, as she stood back from the vials

    Bashir was waiting at a console, which he had reconfigured to transport objects. “Beaming them over… now!” he said, while tapping in many commands.

    He looked behind to see the contents of the vials dematerialise, a few seconds later and the vials were empty. “Now we wait and see what happens...”

    The two came over to another console. On a screen above was a reading of Max, Kira, Nog, Tilvin and Girk’s life signs. One piece of information that both Bashir and Megan were watching was the virus count inside each patient.

    They waited for a few minutes, and the tension gradually built up as they both wondered if the nanites were working. Megan was closest to the monitor and she was waiting for the preliminary results of the nanite treatment. “Any moment now...” she said tensely.

    Suddenly a deluge of data and results appeared on the screen, and the list increased rapidly.

    Megan was busy collating the data. “The level of the nanites has remained constant; the amount of virus per million blood cells has decreased from 30000 parts per million to... 20000! The rate of change is increasing to!”

    Bashir breathed out a sigh of relief. “It's working!” he said excitedly. “At the present rate this virus will be completely annihilated in about thirty minutes!”

    He couldn’t help it, but he hugged Megan because he was so happy. This took Megan by surprise and her arms were opened wide from Bashir's unexpected hug. When Bashir let go he noticed Megan’s face had gone red from embarrassment.

    “Sorry,” said Bashir cheerfully. “But I’m just so glad the virus is being destroyed!”

    Megan though still looked awkward and Bashir turned away. Now he felt embarrassed because he remembered he still had feelings for Megan. Bashir’s jubilation steadily faded however as he realised that destroying the virus was only one step, the next far more critical step was stabilising Kira and Max. They were the only two in a very serious condition, and only hours away from death…

    At once Bashir contacted his department’s surgeons, and ordered them to prepare two surgical beds and equipment. He had won the battle against the virus, now came the battle to save Kira and Max’s lives.
  6. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Authors note: I'm not the most skilled writer when it comes to all that Trekkie medical jargon and technobabble, and I ain't no doctor either. It took me two hours to find the right technical terms, and to conduct a little research on Wikipedia (God bless that site, for it teaches the common man about anything and everything he ever wanted to know) on electricity, defibrillators, brains, arteries, lungs and well you get the idea. It was a struggle writing up one really technical scene, like three hours worth of struggle...

    Chapter 6, part 1

    Day 4, 0815 hours

    Odo was working in his office and he had just finished his regeneration cycle. The first thing he had done afterwards was to arrive in his office and finish off various security reports. Though this wasn’t strictly necessary, Odo had to do this to keep his mind off Kira, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to cope with the grief and pain he was feeling at the moment.

    Last evening Bashir had come to Odo’s quarters and explained to Odo the critical condition that Kira was in. Odo simply accepted the news with an almost surreal lack of emotion. He would only grief and stop ignoring his anguish when Kira had died. In the brief time Bashir was in his quarters, Odo sensed that Bashir seemed almost angry with himself for not finding a cure to the virus.

    However Odo did not blame Bashir, the doctor along with Megan had worked tirelessly trying to help his wife, and for that the two had Odo's gratitude.

    While Odo was writing up reports, a source of low-level beeping started in his room. Rotating around in his chair, the beeping came from one of the consoles linked to all the station’s sensors.

    Standing over the console, he tapped in some commands, and discovered that the station sensors had detected hundreds of nanites around a part of the station's core. “That's odd...” he said to himself, as he analysed the readings.


    Day 4, 0830 hours

    When the nanites suddenly appeared inside the runabout, Holo was very worried. But his worries soon subsided, when, as he observed from his tricorder, the nanites began attacking the virus. Holo couldn’t believe it when the virus count steadily decreased until it came to zero. But the nanites didn’t just stop there, they went into the air and destroyed what remained of the virus.

    With the virus having been completely destroyed in the runabout, Holo realised that Kira, Max and the others could be beamed onto DS9 and finally receive treatment. More importantly it meant that he wasn’t going to be permanently confined to the runabout. Despite his joy at the eradication of the virus, not once did he let that joy distract him from his duties.

    He was giving Kira plasma infusions every ten minutes, and he had to ration what remained of the plasma vials. Max was little better, and Holo knew that he only had another hour left before he completely ran out of plasma. He was so busy that he didn’t have the time to clean up Kira, as blood slowly oozed from her mouth every time she breathed out.

    When he had just finished giving Max an injection of plasma, the runabout’s computer informed him, out aloud, of an incoming message from DS9.

    Quickly Holo went over to a console and patched the message through to the runabout’s comm system.

    On a small screen, it showed Bashir who was standing in the Infirmary. “Holo you can beam over the five away team members, the virus has been completely annihilated.”

    “Thank God,” said Holo sounding immensely relieved. “By the way, was it you who beamed over the nanites which destroyed the virus?”

    “It was,” said Bashir with a small nod. “But I don't have time to explain, Kira and Max are in a critical condition, and they need immediate surgery.”

    “Understood,” said Holo.

    “I'm beaming the away team members into the Infirmary right now.”

    Holo watched as transporter beams enveloped the ill away team members, seconds later and they had vanished, leaving Holo alone on the runabout.

    The moment the five away team members had been beamed away, Bashir addressed Holo again. “You are cleared to return the runabout to shuttlebay two, Bashir out.”

    Holo would have whooped for joy, but he quickly remembered that while things had gone for the better with him, for Kira and Max it was a different matter. They were fighting for their lives, and there was a good chance that they would die, despite Bashir’s best efforts. Above all else, Holo really hoped that Max would make it. Max was the first friend that Holo had onboard DS9, and it would be horrible for Max to die in the prime of his life.

    It amazed Holo just how fragile humanoids could be, they were not as robust as holograms, and they could get injured so easily. Sometimes it made Holo wonder how humanoids managed to survive at all, giving how there were so many things that could hurt or kill them. Whereas Holo only had to worry about one component and that was is holographic matrix. At most he could think of a few dozen ways for the matrix to be irreparably damaged. Unlike humanoids where there were hundreds of thousands of dangers, ailments and conditions that could kill them…


    Day 4, 0840 hours

    When the five ill away team members arrived in the Infirmary, Bashir had everything organised and ready. Kira and Max were placed into intensive care immediately, while Nog, Tilvin and Girk were on three separate biobeds. Bashir had delegated half of his medical staff to treating Nog, Tilvin and Girk, while himself and the remainder of the staff treated Kira and Max.

    Having studied the injuries that Kira and Max had sustained, Bashir worked out that Kira would need six operations to stem the internal bleeding, while Max would need three. It was hard for Bashir to work out who was in the greatest danger: Kira or Max. Finally Bashir decided that Max was in the greatest danger due to the haemorrhaging around his brain stem. So he would carry out the first operation on Max, and with any luck Kira's condition would remain stable for another hour.

    Over the next eight hours, Bashir was facing five operations, five very difficult and complicated operations. For he would be switching from Max to Kira and back again, and each operation was iterative, building upon the last one. The possibility for complications was immense and at any stage Max or Kira's condition could suddenly deteriorate.

    When the away team members arrived, Kira looked the worst of them all, with blood splattered all over her mouth. At once six of Bashir's staff carried Kira over to a biobed and proceeded to remove the blood from Kira's mouth and trachea, before it asphyxiated her. Bashir though was concentrating on Max and he was glad to see that there was less blood around Max's mouth.

    He commenced the first operation on Max at 0900 hours, and it was a painstaking process blocking some of the vertebral arteries as he tried to stem the bleeding, while he repaired the lumen of these arteries. His staff worked seemingly in tandem with him, the whole point of this first operation was to buy Max some time. The better this operation went then the easier the following two operations would be. Many a time Bashir held his breathe as he removed the blocks to one of Max's vertebral arteries, hoping that the bleeding would cease.

    Bashir had assigned himself one hour because that was all the time Kira had before her condition became impossible to treat. After an hour, Bashir was moderately pleased with the results and he had managed to get Max an extra three hours of survival. Walking over to the operating table where Kira was, he was glad to see that his staff had cleaned up the blood.

    Bashir's second operation took nearly two hours as he meticulously repaired as many of the pulmonary and intercostal arteries as possible, while also regenerating the alveoli in Kira's lungs. Most of her internal bleeding had come from her lungs. Of course Bashir was simply patching up Kira's lungs, he doubted that the arteries would hold together for any decent period of time, but they would hold for at least a couple of hours. Long enough so that when Bashir finished his third operation on Kira, he would have implanted a pair of prosthetic lungs inside her.

    The hours slipped by as Bashir worked with an incredible intensity and concentration. Max it seemed was by far the easier patient to treat, for Bashir only had to really concern himself with the internal bleeding around Max’s brain stem, and that was being brought rapidly under control. While he was in Kira’s first operation, the medical staff had successfully stopped all the bleeding in Max’s lungs.

    With Max’s second operation successful, Bashir realised he didn't need to conduct a third operation as the bleeding had finally ceased. Though the bleeding had stopped, Bashir could only imagine what kind of damage had been inflicted on Max's brain, due to oxygen deprivation in certain areas.

    Now he could focus entirely upon Kira, though she was giving him the most amount of grieve. The medical staff were barely keeping up with the regular infusions of plasma that Kira needed to stay alive. Kira’s condition had deteriorated substantially, to the point where Kira was being injected with a litre of blood every five minutes.

    It was a constant fight for Bashir as he was cycling around three recurring problems: the degradation of the nerves in Kira’s spine, the bleeding in her lungs and the bleeding in her stomach and small intestines. Kira’s body was undergoing severe trauma, yet somehow Kira was hanging in there, she was still fighting.

    When Bashir had managed to implant two prosthetic lungs to replace Kira’s irreparably damaged ones, he thought he was on top of things. Suddenly Kira’s heart literally stopped beating, Bashir’s own heart was in his mouth as he realised that Kira’s cardiovascular system had taken too much trauma and had now seized up.

    “Ten cc’s of cortolin!” he told the nurse.

    At once the nurse placed the hypospray to Kira’s neck, and injected the drug.

    Nothing happened and the dreadful sustained beeping sound, coming from the panel showing Kira's life signs, continued. Still Bashir wasn’t out of options. “Nurse cardiostimulator, 100 milli-amps!” he ordered.

    The nurse placed the tiny cardiostimulator device on Kira’s chest, pressed it and Kira’s body convulsed upwards. The beeping sound momentarily ceased before continuing again.

    All the tension and fear was building up inside Bashir, one by one his options were running out. “Fifteen cc’s of cortolin!”

    “Still no change,” said the nurse, looking transfixed at the bio readings on the screen nearby the biobed.

    “Cardiostimulator, 150 milli-amps,” said Bashir.

    Once more Kira’s body jerked upwards, and once more the beeping momentarily ceased before coming back with a vengeance.

    “No change,” said the nurse.

    “200 milli-amps!” said Bashir, now he was starting to clutch at straws.

    “That would damage Kira’s heart!” the nurse protested.

    “Do it,” said Bashir firmly, his gaze was constantly on Kira’s face, and he stared at her so intensely he thought that he could almost force her to breathe…

    There was no change. By now after a minute since Kira’s heart had stopped, Bashir knew that the blood in Kira’s arteries would have come to a complete stop. In another minute her brain would have extracted all the oxygen it could have from the stagnant blood. Then in less than fifteen seconds Kira’s brain cells would rapidly die. After then Kira would be brain dead, and even if Bashir could revive her, she would be a soulless automaton on constant life support.

    “Another fifteen cc’s of cortolin!” ordered Bashir.

    The nurse though was looking at Bashir as if he was mad. “Her blood pressure would become dangerously high if her heart-”

    “I know that,” said Bashir impatiently. “Apply the cortolin!”

    Obediently the nurse placed the hypospray once again to Kira’s neck, it diffused and Bashir could only hope it worked…

    “Nothing,” said the nurse miserably, she looked at Bashir in a sorrowful manner. “Doctor she’s gone…”

    Bashir’s frustration reached a fever pitch, Kira could not die, he could not fail her. “Damn it Kira!” he shouted. “Don’t you give up me! 250 milli-amps!”

    There was indecision on the nurse’s face, but Bashir didn’t have time for that. “Now!” he said commandingly.

    The nurse applied the stimulator and Kira convulsed. For a split second Bashir thought it hadn’t worked, and he was just considering admitting defeat when Kira’s heart started beating again. The consecutive ‘beep, beep’ coming from the medical console was music to Bashir’s ears, and for the time being he knew that Kira was going to make it. But he was going to have to re-double his efforts to stop the bleeding. He wasn’t sure he could revive Kira a second time if her heart suddenly stopped again.

    “Doctor,” said the nurse urgently, “the bleeding in her stomach has increased, it is the high blood pleasure induced by the cortolin!”

    “Keep trying to stem the bleeding,” said Bashir wearily, and he had to start thinking about his plan B.

    He then talked to a second nurse. “How long before the prosthetic stomach is ready?”

    “Another two hours at least,” said the second nurse.

    “Damn!” said Bashir sounding frustrated. “Hang in there Kira…”

    He didn’t care if he had to stay up for two consecutive days without sleep, or if he had to replace every organ in Kira’s body. Whatever it took, barring replacing Kira’s brain with prosthetic implants, he would do it. The bleeding had to be stopped and the longer it continued the more cardiovascular trauma was accumulated. Suddenly three further operations on Kira looked optimistic, it would probably come to six operations if the internal bleeding continued…

    But he would gladly do them, if this were any other patient Bashir wouldn’t have gone to such extreme lengths. However Kira was his friend, they had known each other for close to 25 years, and he wasn’t going to let her die, not without a fight first…
  7. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 6, part 2

    Day 4, 1500 hours

    Inside the entrance to the Infirmary, Megan, Odo and his children waited, sitting in chairs they had borrowed from Quark’s bar. They were sat in a place where the people passing by in the Promenade couldn’t see them.

    Megan waited patiently for the moment when Bashir came out from the patient's ward, and told her that he had finished his operations on Max and that she could see Max. While Max was going through three major operations, Kira had to go through at least six operations.

    While Megan was worried for Max, she couldn’t imagine what Odo and his children were going through. Deru had pulled his chair close to Mia, and he was leaning against her side. While Odo had for the most part simply sat on his chair rigidly, and Megan was certain judging from the look on Odo's eyes, that he would have been crying if only he had tear ducts.

    Now Odo was pacing around, unable to hide his impatience. “It's been more than eight hours!” he exclaimed. “Something has gone wrong!”

    Odo’s pacing around was starting to annoy Megan. “Kira is going through at least six separate operations,” she said dryly. “It's going to take time... At least she doesn't need neural surgery... As for Max, if there is to much damage to his brain and if it can't be fixed...”

    Megan paused as she contemplated what would happen to Max. “Well he'll be in a vegetative state...”

    This frightened her immensely, Max would be alive but his personality would be gone forever. Max was one of the few people she really cared for, and to lose him now would be a terrible thing for her.

    The minutes passed by and Megan waited…

    Finally she noticed Bashir coming out of the the patient's ward. He came to a stop outside the entrance to the ward, and his expression was unreadable. This was the moment that Megan had been dreading.

    “Ms Felpes! Max's operations are complete... but...”

    Megan stared at Bashir in a fearful manner. “But?” she said reading the concerned expression on Bashir’s face.

    “I've stopped the bleeding inside his brain, however various portions of his brain have been damaged and taking together I'm not sure what it will do to Max. I'll revive him, and you can come along and ask Max questions to assess his mental state...”

    “Very well,” said Megan shakily. “I have to know what happened to him... ”

    She bracing herself for the worst as she followed Bashir into the ward.

    In the ward, Bashir and Megan came to the bed which Max was laying upon. Bashir picked up a hypospray and stood close to Max’s head, he looked just apprehensive as Megan was. “Are you ready?” he said grimly.

    “Yes,” said Megan in a hushed voice.

    Placing the hypospray to Max’s neck, Bashir revived Max.

    After some seconds Max’s eyes fluttered open, he turned his head slightly to the left and then to the right to take in Bashir and Megan's faces. He looked considerably disorientated after being unconscious for a whole day, finally his gaze rested upon Megan's face. “Am I dead?” he said quietly.

    “No,” said Bashir seriously. “You are very much alive Max.”

    “But I left my body!” exclaimed Max, looking strange. “I drifted off...”

    Bashir and Megan exchange glances, had Max gone crazy?

    “I saw my body,” explained Max. “I saw you doctor operating on it.”

    Again Bashir glanced at Megan before staring at Max. “Max, do you know where you are?” said Bashir slowly and carefully, he said it as if Max was a young child trying to understand such basic concepts.

    Max looked confused by such an obvious question. “I'm onboard DS9, inside the Infirmary, laying down on this bed. Is that good enough?” he said sarcastically.

    As Max spoke, Megan was relieved to know that he sounded like Max, but how much of Max’s personality was intact? The weak nature of his voice, concerned Megan but she presumed it was because Max’s vocal chords were damaged. “Do you know who I am?” she said urgently.

    These questions seemed to bemuse Max. “Yes!” he said irately. “Why are you asking me these questions? I'm not brain damaged you know!”

    Bashir looked grimly at Max, it was as if Max had already died. “Unfortunately you did suffer brain damage, you had a minor stroke and you lost five percent of your brain cells. Further more the virus managed to destroy another ten percent of your brain cells, inflicting substantial damage around your brain stem. As such the synaptic patterns in your brain have changed. We need to ask these questions to determine what damage has been done, and what capabilities you've lost.”

    “I can remember my friends, my job, and Starfleet Academy...” said Max frowning. “But going further back there seems to be... gaps in my memory...”

    Now Max looked suddenly surprised. “I don't remember what I did as a young teenager for instance!”

    Max tried to make a sitting up motion, but he barely moved his chest upwards before giving up and laying down again on his back. “Julian you haven't properly fixed me!” said Max angrily. “I can't move my legs or arms!”

    Bashir looked even grimmer as he gave Max the dire news. “I'm afraid a substantial number of neural connections inside your brain have been damaged, it will take time for them to rejoin again. The virus proceeded directly to your brain and began attacking the brain cells. Your motor control will be impaired for at least a few weeks, however with some additional neurological surgery I could speed up the connection process.”

    “Damn...” said Max quietly.

    “Over the next few weeks I'll need to conduct various psychiatric tests, to assess the level of your brain damage. In the mean time; you'll be needing a wheelchair. I will also be contacting Starfleet medical to issue an anti-grav chair...”

    “What about Kira and the others?” asked Max, he looked genuinely worried for their well-being.

    “Nog, Tilvin and Girk are recovering,” said Bashir sounding upbeat. “The virus didn't get to the stage where it attacked their spines and central nervous systems. However Kira has suffered more damage to her nervous system then you have, and had more extensive internal bleeding. I still haven't managed to stop all the bleeding and she needs a further five operations.”

    “But will she live?” said Max urgently.

    Bashir nodded. “She more than likely will, but these next two operations are critical. Now I really must be going back to the operating room to start the fourth operation on Kira.”

    When Bashir had left the room, Megan leaned over Max’s bedside and held onto one of Max's hands. She felt Max weakly squeeze back, and this simple gesture relieved Megan immensely, it seemed Max still remembered their friendship. “I'm glad you are still alive and in one piece,” she said giving him a warm smile.

    “How did you find a cure for the virus?” said Max weakly.

    Megan looked shiftily at her friend. “Bashir ordered me to... er construct the nanites.”

    A smile came onto Max’s face, he seemed amused by Megan’s shiftiness. “Isn't that illegal?”

    “It is,” said Megan with a slight nod of her head. “Though Bashir is taking full responsibility for the use of nanites.”

    “But don't tell anyone that,” she added hastily.

    “I won't,” promised Max. “Though I would have probably forgotten what you told me giving my brain damage.”

    Megan laughed, she liked Max’s naff sense of humour, and she was so glad that Max still retained it despite his brain damage. She leaned a bit closer to Max, for some reason she just wanted to get closer to Max… There was something that she wanted to ask of Max, something she would like to do to help him. “For a time being you won't be able to look after yourself, so I was just wondering if I could care for you?”

    Somehow Max managed to squeeze Megan’s hand a little harder. “That is a most generous offer,” he said kindly. “You really do care for me don't you?”

    He looked affectionately into Megan’s eyes, though Megan knew it was friendly affection not that of a lover… “You are my best friend and a friend in need...” she whispered. “How could I not help you?”

    Standing up Megan looked down into Max’s handsome face. “I'll see you again after my shift and we'll discuss arrangements for your care.”

    Walking out of the ward, Megan felt immensely relieved. Although Max was brain damaged, it didn’t seem to affect his personality or his attitude towards Megan. She could have almost whooped for joy, but she stopped herself when she saw Odo and his children waiting in the entrance. They looked thoroughly forlorn and miserable.

    Once on the Promenade, Megan realised that something had changed inside her regarding how she felt for Max. For the past few months she had subconsciously had romantic feelings for him. Only now did she realise that she was slowly falling in love. She didn’t expect this to happen and Max was her best friend, how could she fall in love with her best friend?

    But somehow she had, maybe it was Max’s personality that charmed her, or perhaps his humour. Or possibly Max was the first friendly face she saw when she had been rescued from Bordak. She could still remember the moment when Max held her in his arms as if it were yesterday. Bleeding and dying, Megan had looked up into the eye’s of her saviour.

    Perhaps in that moment there was a connection that formed between herself and Max, though she was certain that Max had no intimate feelings for her. Of course whether she loved Max or not, she wouldn’t let those intimate feelings get in the way of caring for Max. Otherwise she would be taking advantage of Max and in doing so, possibly ruin their friendship…
  8. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 7

    Day 5, 1600 hours

    It had been a nerve wracking 26 hours for Odo as he lamented over Kira’s condition. Yesterday he had waited for most of the day in the Infirmary, the hardest thing for Odo was having to wait with his children. It hurt him so much to see their pain as they worried and dreaded over what would happen to their mother.

    Despite everything that had happened to Kira, Mia and Deru were putting on a brave face about it and Odo felt so proud of them. His children waited ever so patiently yesterday for over ten hours. Eventually though they all returned to their quarters, Odo doubted very much that Mia and Deru slept that night.

    Always in the back of Odo’s mind was the thought of Kira dying, to lose Kira now would be unthinkable to him, more than that Odo was worried for his children. Though Mia had matured remarkably in the last four months, Odo feared that if Kira died it could really hurt Mia and for that matter Mia had suffered from to much emotional pain in her life.

    Odo worried even more for Deru, though his son didn’t admit it, Deru was more closer to his mother than even he realised. If Kira died there was a high chance that Deru would take his mother’s death very hard. These were all parental worries of Odo’s, but one part of him was convinced that his children could have the strength to get over losing their mother. Already Mia and Deru had shown remarkable calmness and grit ever since hearing that their mother was dying from a deadly virus.

    Finally the wait was over for Odo when Bashir called for him to come to the Infirmary. The operations were over, though Odo still had no idea what Kira’s condition was.

    Odo and his children entered the Infirmary's patient ward, in there was Bashir standing next to a biobed, upon which Kira lay.

    Having heard Odo arrive, Bashir walked over, there were bags under his eyes and he looked totally shattered. “I've finished the operations, Kira's condition has been stabilised and I’ve stopped all of the internal bleeding. She’s going to live… I have had to replace both her lungs and stomach with prosthetic ones, but she will function fine with them and it shouldn't affect her in anyway whatsoever. Unfortunately she has been paralysed from the waist down, she has lost most of her mobility in her arms and hands, as well as her lower torso. I should warn you that this will be quite disconcerting for Kira, and it will be a major change for her. Now that I’ve warned you, you know what to expect.”

    Odo and his children walked over to Kira's bedside. He stood on the left side of the bed, while Mia and Deru were at the right side.

    “I’m sorry I kept you waiting,” said Bashir. “However she needed at least ten hours of sleep; I had to closely monitor her condition. I'll revive her.”

    Bashir placed a hypospray to Kira's neck, a slight hissing sound could be heard, Bashir stood back slightly and all of them waited for Kira to wake up.

    Kira’s eyelids opened, her eyes darted around all the faces surrounding her, before finally her gaze settled upon Odo’s face.

    “Kira?” asked Odo cautiously.

    A small smile curved Kira’s lips, and she looked lovingly at Odo. “What happened?” she said in a quiet and constricted voice. “I-”

    She paused and Odo knew she must be sensing the fact that she had lost nearly all sensation in her legs, lower torso and arms.

    A horrified expression came upon Kira’s face, like she was trapped in a nightmare. “I can't feel my legs!”

    “Both your legs are paralysed,” explained Bashir. “As are your lower torso and arms, while your left hand has some limited function. I’m afraid it doesn't look too good; the nerves along your spine have been severed and torn in numerous places, plus there is substantial nerve damage in your arms and hands.”

    Kira looked at Bashir imploringly. “But how will I do my job?” she said desperately.

    Bashir looked sadly into Kira’s eyes. “Nerys,” he said gently, “you cannot perform your duties; not in this condition, I am sorry. Though I can regenerate your nerves, it will take months perhaps even a year or more for them to fully connect.”

    “One year?” said Kira her voice sounded hollow from shock.

    The look of disbelief on Kira’s face nearly broke Odo’s heart, he knew that Kira's job meant everything to her. Odo also knew that Kira was not the sort of person to sit around and do nothing, she had do to something to contribute to society; to Bajor. Now Kira would have to be cared for by others, and such dependence would drive his wife crazy. Somehow he had to broker all of this to Kira.

    “Kira,” he began gently. “You may not have your job but at least you have your family.”

    Kira though shook her head, she seemed to be in denial. “There's more to life than just family!” she said dismissing Odo’s comment.

    She was growing more and more angry and Odo had no idea how to calm her.

    “I want the children to leave now!” she hissed angrily, as she was unable to shout.

    “Kira,” said Odo imploringly, “you are overreacting-”

    Kira though stared angrily at the ceiling, her eyes were bulging with rage. “I don't want the children to see me like this!” she hissed. “Tell them to leave!”

    Odo looked at his children; Deru was crying silently, clearly upset by his mother’s condition, and her anger.

    Mia was holding onto Deru’s hand, and though she hid her emotions, Odo could tell that Mia was stunned by her mother’s reaction.

    “Come on, let's go,” said Mia miserably.

    Anger built up inside Odo as he watched his children leave, that was no way for Kira to treat their children. She had hurt their feelings just because of her apparent denial.

    Odo rounded on Kira, he had never felt this angry with her for a long time. “You can't hide your condition from the children Kira!” he said angrily.

    A few tears trickled down Kira’s face, she was now looking utterly humiliated. “I am disabled!” she said in anguish. “I can't walk, I can't use my hands or arms! I can't do anything except be a burden to my family!”

    Bashir who had been watching this from the sidelines, corrected Kira’s observation. “You are forgetting that over the next few months you will regain some of your motor neuron functions, with nerve regeneration therapy.”

    Kira shot an angry glance at Bashir. “How much function?” she impatiently demanded.

    “It could be a tiny improvement or a substantial one, I just don't know. There is a significant chance that parts of your body could be permanently paralysed.”

    “Unacceptable,” said Kira harshly.

    “That's to bad,” said Bashir lightly, he looked somewhat insulted by Kira’s behaviour. “Because that's the best prognosis I can offer. However, I may be wrong, I'll know for certain in a few days time what your chances are of regaining partial or full motor neuron function.”

    While Bashir left the room to check on Max and the others, Odo stood their wondering how he could comfort Kira and tell her that things didn’t look so bad. “I know this is hard for you-”

    “I don't need your sympathy!” retorted Kira, and more angry tears welled in her eyes. “I'm disabled it's... it's so hard to take in. I've had close shaves with death and injury before, but nothing like this!”

    She turned her head to look at Odo. “Odo, I haven't got anything to do!” she said desperately. “Without my job...”

    “Don't forget about your children...” Odo reminded her.

    Now tears were pouring from Kira’s eyes, though it seemed these were tears of anguish rather than anger. “They'll have to care for me… but I won't let them!” She looked at Odo rather seriously. “They have school and such, they need to get on with their lives, I'm not placing a burden on them! Better to be dead than do that!”

    “You won't have to do that Kira,” said Odo and he smiled at her. “I'll look after you.”

    Kira looked stunned and deeply touched by Odo’s offer, her mouth was wide open with shock. “But what about-”

    “Someone else can do that, mind you Quark will have free reign over the station...”
    Odo shook his head, it was just Quark… “That doesn't matter, what matters is us,” he said passionately. “And the family, because I will always be there for you Kira...”

    Kira blinked back tears, she seemed very struck by Odo’s devotion to her. “Thank you...” she said softly.

    She let Odo pick up her left hand, and Odo felt a feeble clench come from her hand. In that moment a wave of pain crashed over Odo, though he smiled back at Kira, he could not ignore this pain.

    Here was a women strong, resourceful and hard-working, now she had been brought down to nothing: weak, vulnerable and as Kira said a burden to others. It reminded Odo, painfully so, of the fragility of solids, and how they could break so easily.


    Day 5, 1800 hours

    Bashir, followed by Megan, entered Ezri’s office. Inwardly Bashir couldn’t give a damn what Ezri thought about his actions. All that mattered was that he had saved the away team's lives… He came to a stop, looking at Ezri in an almost defiant manner.

    Ezri was standing behind her desk, though her face remained curiously blank. When the doors had closed, and both Bashir and Megan were standing next to the desk, did Ezri finally speak. “Yesterday I received a rather peculiar report from Odo...,” she said, the danger was slowly building in her voice. “It seems one of the sensors that detects nanites recorded over a thousand sightings of nanites; what seemed unusual was that all the nanites seemed to originate from the Infirmary... Now do you two have any explanation for this?”

    “No,” said Bashir flatly, he took an almost perverse pleasure in lying to Ezri, just to see her become more angry.

    “No explanation?” said Ezri musingly, she seemed beside herself with rage. “Despite such a dangerous level of nanites? There are only two places on this station where nanites can be created: the chemistry lab and the infirmary. Yet the nanites were only detected in the infirmary-”

    “I created the nanites captain-” said Megan.

    Bashir could not believe this, he was going to protect Megan, now she had just confessed her crime to Ezri. “Megan-”

    Megan though ignored Bashir, she looked somewhat ashamed by breaking orders, but she seemed compelled to speak on. “Some of them must have escaped, the rest I used upon the away team to destroy the virus that was ravaging their bodies...”

    “You broke the law,” said Ezri in a hollow and dangerous voice. “And used an illegal medical procedure on the away team! That... is a gross violation of the Prime Directive-”

    “The responsibility lies with me!” said Bashir angrily, he wasn’t go to let Ezri punish Megan because right now this was between only himself and Ezri. “I ordered Megan to build the nanites; she objected to my order but I forced her to carry it out; I'm to take the blame, not her.”

    Ezri rounded on Megan. “Is this true?” she asked.

    Reluctantly Megan looked straight into the captain’s eyes. “Yes,” she said with some conviction.

    However Ezri was still regarding Megan with some suspicion. “You're dismissed commander,” she said icily. “But the next time you object to a superior officer's orders, take up your concerns with me. Do I make myself clear?”

    “Yes captain,” said Megan with a nod to her head.

    “Dismissed,” said Ezri stiffly.

    Such leniency surprised Bashir, in effect Ezri had looked the other way. When Megan had left the office, Bashir waited for the angry and impassioned words to explode from Ezri’s mouth. Here was Ezri’s chance to ruin him, though he didn’t care what she did because he was certain that Ezri wanted to punish him.

    Ezri gazed at Bashir with a mad stare, her eyes were wide with rage. “As for you...” she said in a furious voice. “You lied to me!” she shouted. “You carried out orders without my express permission and worse without my knowing before hand!”

    Such remarks simply glanced off Bashir, at this point he didn’t care. “I had to save the away team's lives,” he said calmly. “I had no other options, so I considered nanites; I knew you wouldn't approve, but I disregarded that.”

    At that moment he was staring past Ezri, he could not look into those angry eyes. “Punish me as you see fit.”

    Sheer vanity forced Bashir to look into Ezri’s face, though he was deeply surprised to see the anger draining from her face and it was replaced with a terrible sadness.

    “I thought I could trust you to carry out your duties, tell me why I should trust you again?”

    Despite the somewhat sorrowful tone to Ezri’s voice, Bashir deliberately raised his defences, that women was not going to sweet-talk with him. “You lost trust in me eighteen years ago,” he said nastily. “If you didn't trust me then you won't trust me now.”

    Something seemed to snap in Ezri’s face, she looked taken aback and there was a hurting expression filling her eyes. “Why do you fight against every attempt I make to reach out to you?” she said desperately. “Why do you have to humiliate me in public? Why do you have to hate me so much?”

    Though outwardly Bashir looked distant and angry, inwardly his heart was melting. For the first time in eighteen years Ezri was really reaching out to him, and in all this time he finally realised that Ezri still cared for him.

    Desperate to hide his face, Bashir turned around from Ezri and walked over a few metres, stopping close to the sofa. After all that had happened, he still loved Ezri, and Ezri must have also loved him for she was trying to reach out to him and attempting to make amends.

    Suddenly Bashir couldn’t act angrily and be insubordinate to Ezri, for nearly eight months he had acted like a complete jerk to her and for what? To simply hurt her feelings? He now realised that to hurt Ezri’s feelings was to hurt his own. Still he wasn’t sure whether to berate Ezri some more or make amends with her.

    He turned around and saw Ezri standing close to him, there was an almost imploring look on her face. It made her look like the young and unsure woman she once was nineteen years ago. The woman that Bashir once fell in love with…

    “Julian?” she asked nervously.

    Bashir walked towards Ezri and hugged her tightly, he heard a small gasp of surprise, and Bashir wrapped his arms even more tightly around Ezri’s back, the side of her head came to his lower neck. “I've missed you Ezri,” he said sadly. “Why did you end our relationship on a such a bitter note?”

    “I wasn't sure of myself,” said Ezri weakly. “Of course it didn’t help with me getting accidently pregnant.”

    Inwardly Bashir closed his eyes, two months after he had split up with Ezri, she had contacted him about her pregnancy. They both knew it was an accident, and so Bashir over the next six months visited Ezri infrequently on Trill as he tried to resolve things in their relationship. But the relationship only further deteriorated and they had both decided to orphan their new-born child simply because their relationship was utterly dysfunctional.

    “I’m to blame,” said Bashir miserably. “I should have been happy for having a child, but instead I was more concerned for my career and the research projects I was carrying out at the time. For all the enthusiasm I displayed, my heart was never in it because it all seemed so sudden you getting pregnant. Because of my lack of commitment, you hated me for it.”

    “No it was my fault,” said Ezri miserably. “It didn’t help with my depression, I didn't make it easy for you. I just don’t think we were ready to be parents at the time, at least Sorin was brought up with a good family.”

    “It was both our fault,” said Bashir, and he felt a lump in his throat. “We were too immature, and that whirlwind romance we had… it wasn’t going to last forever…”

    The two let go and Bashir closely observed Ezri’s face. They had finally come to an understanding and had decided to put the past behind them.

    “What about Sorin?” whispered Ezri, her eyes were wide with guilt.

    “What’s done is done,” said Bashir sadly. “At the time we couldn’t have raised him, you were mentally ill, and I was in denial about everything, we weren’t ready to take on the responsibility of raising a child. As I said before, we let the Bomeez couple raise Sorin, and that was what Sorin needed; a stable family, and two reliable parental figures.”

    There was a lengthy silence between the two, as they both thought about what had transpired. Slowly though the look of a captain returned to Ezri’s face. “I'll have to place a reprimand on your service record; but I don’t think there is a chance of you facing a trial.”

    “I understand,” said Bashir with a sigh.

    Strangely it now felt weird as Ezri was the captain. In all this time he had never appreciated the fact that Ezri was a captain, clearly things had changed considerably in her life over the last seventeen years…

    Moving forwards, Ezri grabbed onto one of Bashir’s hands. He looked momentarily downwards surprised by such an intimate gesture, though he was seemingly happy to feel her warm hand against his own.

    Ezri didn’t look serious anymore, she looked more spry and cheery. “Before I dismiss you, would you like to have dinner with me at Quark’s tomorrow, 1900 hours?”

    Such a simple thing as dinner had never given Bashir so much pleasure. “That would be great,” he said very eagerly.

    The two smiled at each other, and with nothing more to say, Bashir left the office. As he walked he had a spring in his step, he felt younger, cheerful and spritely. All the doubts, woes and anger he felt over his breakup had eased considerably. It was like they were shackling him and confining him to misery. Now that he had seen the light and made amends with Ezri, he felt so much more better.

    Of course there was still the issue of Sorin, but that would always remain in the background between himself and Ezri. Maybe one day it would be resolved, how Bashir wasn't sure, but for the foreseeable future the issue wouldn't crop up anytime soon.

    He was so looking forward to talking with Ezri while over dinner, the two had so much to discuss. One part of Bashir was feeling hopeful that maybe even romance would once more blossom between himself and Ezri. However Bashir was just happy to be able to talk to Ezri normally, romance would come later…
  9. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 8, part 1

    Day 6, 0900 hours

    With his analysis of Kira's and Max’s condition complete, he was ready to talk to the two of them separately regarding their prognosis. He would start with Max first as he had less bad news to tell Max. He went to the patient ward and in there he saw both Max and Kira in wheelchairs, the two were talking, while Odo and Megan were in one corner of the room having their own private discussion.

    When Bashir arrived, Odo and Megan broke off their conversation and walked over to Kira and Max.

    Bashir looked at Kira and Max, already he could tell that Max was dealing with this disability far more better than Kira was. Max just looked more upbeat, and in the back of Bashir’s mind he made a mental note to keep a close eye on Kira’s emotional state. “I’ll talk to you first Max about your condition, and in somewhere more private.”

    Megan pushed Max’s wheelchair, following Bashir into the surgery room.

    Bashir came to a stop next to the operating table, and thought carefully about what he was going to say next.

    Max however was not in the mood for waiting. “What is the prognosis Julian?”

    “You will regain most of your motor control in about five weeks, by that point you should be able to walk, have nearly full control of your arms, and perform complex motions with your fingers.”

    Max looked marginally cheerful from hearing this news. “I think I can manage five weeks in a wheelchair,” he said in a somewhat sarcastic tone.

    Despite Max’s seeming ease at his condition, Bashir thought Max didn’t quite grasp the nature of his disability. “Even so,” said Bashir in a cautious tone. “For the first few weeks you will need to be assisted to do everyday things, this is were you come in Megan.”

    “Don't worry,” said Megan confidently. “Holo and I have made a schedule, Holo will look after Max in the night and early morning, he will also help Max to clean himself. While I will care for Max in the morning and afternoon, I know what I have to do. Feed him, move him around, keep him entertained and mentally stimulated, while at the same time giving him physiotherapy to keep his muscles working.”

    Nodding briefly, Bashir was pleased that Max’s care arrangements had already been dealt with. “I see you've read my report on the assistance that Max needs…”

    He paused and added a word of warning to Megan. “Even so you should remember that this is a serious commitment on your part, you will be doing two jobs...”

    This didn’t appear to dampen Megan’s eagerness to care for Max. “I've talked this through with Ezri and she has agreed to give me a reduced workload for the next thirty days.”

    There was a rather exasperated on Megan’s face due to Julian’s warnings. “Trust me Julian I can manage.”

    Briefly Bashir determined Megan’s suitability to care for Max, and he was convinced that Megan was the best choice. He gave Megan a small nod to let her know that he approved of her decision. “Come back tomorrow at 1100 hours, and I’ll start the first batch of motor neuron treatment. Oh yes on the way out tell Kira and Odo that they can come in.”

    Megan nodded and pushed Max’s wheelchair out of the room.

    As Bashir waited for Kira and Odo to come, he was bracing himself for Kira’s temper. For sure enough when she find out about her prognosis, there would be a lot of anger and frustration, a good chunk of it would be vented at him. He hoped he was just being paranoid, but Kira still possessed that fiery temper from when she was younger.

    Odo arrived pushing Kira on the wheelchair. To Bashir’s surprise Kira seemed unusually downbeat and it was apparent that she had finally accepted her condition.

    The moment the wheelchair came to a stop, Kira instantly asked Bashir about her condition. “How long will I be paralysed for?”

    It wasn’t so much a question and more like a demand. “For at least three months,” said Bashir. “The nervous system damage was not as bad or as permanent as I feared. The nerve damage is greatest around your lower spine, and because of this it will take your legs a minimum of four months to regain say ninety percent of their functionality.

    “The functionality of your hands will return almost fully in about a month's time, while it take a further month for your arms to regain about ninety percent of their movement. Of course there is a chance that you may never fully regain all of your mobility, though you would be fit enough to return to your post. But you wouldn’t be able to physically exert yourself like you used to… There is one more thing by the way…”

    Bashir paused for he was wondering how to say the next bit, the part he had been saving for last, and which would really anger and possibly humiliate Kira. “I'm afraid you don't have any bowel control, and unfortunately because of this you will need to wear diapers for at least six weeks, before you regain control.”

    There was pure horror on Kira’s face. “I have to wear diapers?” she said indignantly.

    Bashir though stood his ground, for Kira had to accept this fact. “Unless you want to soil your clothes you will have to wear diapers until you regain control of your bowels, which as I said before will take at least six weeks.”

    Kira’s whole face was contorted in disgust and anger. “But Julian surely there’s another-”

    “There is no other way,” said Bashir firmly, he then eased back on his strong words. “Look I know how humiliating this must be to you, but we’re talking about your quality of life here. If you don’t wear diapers it will get messy and it will mean more work for Odo.”

    “Don't worry I won't tell anyone,” said Odo in a reassuring tone.

    Still this didn’t placate Kira’s mood, she gazed at Bashir and there was a cold fury on her face. “I warn you Bashir,” she said menacingly. “If you even breathe a word that I’m wearing diapers, there will be consequences…”

    Bashir held his hands up in surrender, knowing full well that Kira meant every word. “I swear to you I won’t tell a soul.”

    With the diapers out of the way Bashir changed the topic. “Odo you have read the report I sent to you explaining about all the care Kira will need to receive?”

    “I have,” said Odo simply.

    Though Odo was a resilient person, Bashir knew that these next months were going to be tough for Odo. “You do know what you are getting yourself into by becoming Kira's full time carer?”

    Odo gazed steadily into Bashir’s eyes, there was a strong determination on Odo’s face. “I do,” he said steadfastly, “and I want to care for Kira… ”

    There was an almost misty eyed glaze as Odo looked down at Kira, and he placed a hand upon her shoulder. “She’s my wife and I love her.”

    Such emotive language from Odo managed to reduce the anger and frustration on Kira’s face. Kira tried to look up at Odo, but her neck would only turn halfway.

    “I don't question your will,” said Bashir carefully. “But it is a very onerous and demanding job, and it may sap your energy.”

    “I'll go easy on Odo...” said Kira with a smile.

    It was the first time Bashir had seen Kira smile after the operation, and this was good because it meant that Kira was coming to terms with her paralysis. Bashir suddenly remembered that there one more minor thing that Kira had to be aware of. “There is one more thing you need to know Nerys. Your womb took some serious damage because of the virus, and though I managed to repair the largest blood vessels, I wasn't able to mend the smaller ones...”

    The smile vanished from Kira's face, now she looked concerned again. “So is there still bleeding in my womb?”

    “No there isn't, however the cell lining of the blood vessels may have thinned due to the previous damage. If that has happened there is a chance that the bleeding may start again from the smaller and interconnected blood vessels.”

    Odo looked at Bashir sharply in the eye. “Would you be able to stop the bleeding?”

    “I could take Yitrish,” said Kira quietly.

    “Yitrish?” said Odo sounding puzzled.

    “It's a Bajoran herb,” explained Bashir. “One that older Bajoran women take to maintain the thickness of the cell lining of the blood vessels in the womb. It usually works in most occasions...”

    He noticed that Odo still looked worried. “But I doubt that Kira will need to take it, it will be a stop-gap measure in case there is any more bleeding.”

    “Don't worry Odo,” said Kira. “Yitrish works in the vast majority of cases...”

    After his wife's assurance, Odo didn't look so concerned. Of course Bashir knew it would remain a niggling worry for Kira and Odo, and a possible complication to Kira's recovery...

    With all the health issues out of the way, Bashir was glad to get onto some more positive matters.“Tomorrow Nerys you will be receiving your first session of motor neuron treatment. Be here at 1000 hours, and we’ll see just how mobility you really have. And of course don’t forget to carry out the physiotherapy periods, during this time you will need to keep your muscles working otherwise they will severely weaken, and your paralysis may persist for longer!”

    “Don’t worry about that,” said Kira. “Odo is very methodical and punctual when it comes to routines.”

    She moved her head to the side again to address Odo. “Aren’t you?”

    Somehow Kira’s comment seemed to embarrass Odo, and out of Kira’s sight he gave an exasperated glance at Bashir before shaking his head.

    When Kira and Odo had left the room, Bashir sat down on a chair next to a medical console. He couldn’t imagine what Kira must be going through, and he knew that sooner or later the paralysis would start to really get to Kira and she was going to have to deal with it.

    He was immensely glad that he wasn’t Odo, for Odo would have to contend with Kira’s anger, frustration and impatience. Of course Kira wouldn’t be able to shout at Odo, not yet anyway. Though Bashir knew in two weeks time, Kira would be able to shout, making a potentially difficult situation for Odo even worse...
  10. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 8, part 2

    Day 6, 1910 hours

    Ezri waited at the table in Quark’s bar, Bashir was already ten minutes late and she wondered what he was doing. Bashir’s lateness only served to increase her anxiety about having the first proper conversation with Bashir in over seventeen years.

    She had disregarded Quark’s request of service, and spent the time looking down at the table, or occasionally glancing up to see if Bashir had arrived.

    Some minutes later she looked up and saw Bashir approaching the table.

    “Your late,” said Ezri when Bashir took out a chair from the table.

    “I'm sorry,” said Bashir slightly nervously, he seemed deeply awkward by his bad timing. “I was conducting some more tests to see if I could regenerate Kira's nerve cells more quickly.”

    “Isn't she facing at least three months of general immobility?” asked Ezri.

    Bashir sighed and stared in a glazed manner. “I'm afraid so,” he said somewhat heavily. “She won't be returning to her post as second in command anytime soon.”

    “I feel so sorry for her,” said Ezri sadly. “She has always been a hard worker and now to be practically confined to her quarters must be maddening to Kira!”

    “I don't know who has it harder: Kira or Odo...”

    “They'll pull through,” said Ezri confidently. “They're both very strong-minded...”

    “And they really love each other,” said Bashir softly. “You should have been there when Odo returned to DS9 after his year-long stay in the Great Link. Kira was so unbelievably happy to see him again...”

    There was a reminiscent look on Bashir’s face, though Ezri doubted that Bashir was thinking about Kira or Odo. Something else was on Bashir’s mind and Ezri knew they had to talk about their failed relationship and get it out of the way, because it was starting to become a sore issue threatening to end this conversation.

    Ezri looked down from Bashir and she wished she had something to fidget with. “Maybe if things had turned out differently we would have still been together...”

    “It wasn't to be,” said Bashir with a slight shake of his head, he looked just as thoughtful as Ezri. “We both made major mistakes, but I'm just glad those mistakes haven't stopped us from becoming friends again.”

    Ezri saw Bashir’s hand move across the table, whether it was a gesture of friendly affection or something more intimate she wasn’t sure. But she took Bashir’s hand nonetheless and gave it a squeeze, as she did so she smiled at Bashir, and he smiled back somewhat nervously.

    “And let's keep it that way...” said Ezri after she had withdrawn her hand.

    A somewhat brooding look came upon Bashir’s face. “Are you sure about that?” he said sounding just a little disappointed. “Because despite everything that has happened between us, I still love you Ezri.”

    “And I love you to,” she said in a quiet but passionate voice. “But the relationship-

    With a flick of her hand she gestured to Quark, who had just arrived to serve her, to go away. “Not now Quark,” she said impatiently.

    Quark left looking just as disappointed as Bashir.

    Once Quark was out of earshot Ezri resumed her conversation. “The relationship we once had nearly separated us permanently! While it lasted it was good, but the next seventeen years were full of regrets and pain…”

    Her voice faltered slightly as the memories came back to her in all their intensity. “I just fear that if we become intimate again and we then split-up, it may jeopardise the friendship we have just regained.”

    Bashir nodded slowly, the disappointed look had faded. “If that is what you want, just friendship, then I'm happy to keep it at that.”

    “I really mean it!” he said responding to the somewhat questioning look on Ezri’s face. “I also don't want to jeopardise our friendship.”

    This deeply relieved Ezri, as she wasn’t ready for intimacy with Bashir. The truth was she was scared at what might happen, and the commitment… she didn’t want that commitment. “Good it's for the best you know,” she said trying to put a positive spin on it.

    The look on Bashir’s face told Ezri that he didn’t want this matter to crop up again and become a problem.

    “On a different note,” said Bashir sounding more upbeat. “How exactly did you rise up to the rank of captain?”

    Ezri gave Bashir a smug little smile. “You can thank Dax for that.”

    “Ah,” said Bashir with an understanding nod. “So you managed to fully integrate Dax's memories and experiences with Ezri's memories and experiences?”

    “I managed to do it six months after giving birth to Sorin.”

    She paused, as thinking about Sorin was still painful, but she decided to continue on as she didn’t want the past to constantly bog her down. “I was living with my mother at the time and slowly recovering from a bout of depression. Over those months I somehow just came to terms with who I was, and when Dax and Ezri merged-in a manner of speaking- in harmony, everything became so much clearer.

    “It was an amazing process and suddenly I realised where my calling in life was; it was with Starfleet. Some months later when I returned to duty I switched from counselling to engineering. The starship I served on was the Proxima, and it was deployed to the border between the Breen Confederacy and the Federation.

    “I got a promotion to lieutenant for taking command of engineering while the Breen were attacking the ship. The chief engineer was severely injured, and the situation was bad. Shields were down, as were engines and communications, the engineering crew had to keep things held together, and no one was really in charge in engineering so I took charge.

    “Somehow me and my fellow engineers kept the Proxima in one piece, long enough for Starfleet reinforcements to arrive. Afterwards when Captain Daxter found out about what I did, and after the chief of engineering's death, I was promoted to lieutenant and became the chief of engineering.”

    As Ezri spoke an admiring look slowly formed on Bashir’s face, he seemed genuinely interested in Ezri’s life story. “I never realised you fought in the Corneria war...” he said sounding surprised.

    “I wish I hadn't...” said Ezri sadly, more bad memories came flooding back to her.

    “I remember the Corneria war,” said Bashir as he stared into his clasped hands. “When it started in 2378, initially it seemed DS9 was at threat, but the Federation lines held at the Breen border. Did the Proxima stay in the conflict zone or was it redeployed?”

    “It remained on the frontline for the entire duration of the war…” Ezri couldn’t keep the sadness from her face, as she thought about those times. “Those were three hard years,” she said grimly.

    “There were many casualties on the Proxima?” asked Bashir cautiously.

    “It was a few dozen every year,” said Ezri wearily. “By the time the war was over about one third of the original crew were dead. During that time I was promoted again to lieutenant commander, again for outstanding and valorous deeds. But the thing I shall remember the most was the crew, we were like comrades in arms...”

    Bashir looked understanding, since he knew exactly what Ezri meant during the Dominion war. “Was it hard for you to leave them when you were assigned to another ship?”

    “It was hard,” admitted Ezri, “and I wanted to stay but Starfleet had other ideas because I was this talented, young and promising officer. So they moved me to starbase 204, even offered me a promotion to commander which I took. Even after the war I was still career driven, and my new assignment of commanding starbase 204 did genuinely interest me. It was right next to the Breen border and as such it was one of the stations where the ceasefire talks were held between the Breen and the Federation. I was involved in some of the ceasefire talks...”

    “You certainly had an eventful career,” said Bashir lightly, he looked deeply impressed by what Ezri had accomplished.

    “I'll say,” said Ezri in agreement. “Dealing with the Breen was indeed eventful. The Breen are just as ruthless as the Dominion but also as cunning as the Ferengi; the Breen know how to drive a hard bargain...”

    “And you stayed on starbase 204 for nearly twelve years?” asked Bashir.

    “I did,” replied Ezri with a slight nod. “And in that time I learnt a lot about command and diplomacy. It was one thing to understand them because of Dax's knowledge, but it was far harder to implement that knowledge effectively.”

    Bashir shuffled in his chair to get into a more comfortable position. “So what made you decide to return back to DS9?”

    “It was another promotion offer,” said Ezri sighing, she was looking more through Bashir as she remembered her time onboard starbase 204. “Starfleet was so impressed with my command of starbase 204 they promoted me to captain. At the time Starfleet wanted me to command the new Xavier class of ships, and I would be commanding the first prototype. However I had other plans, I had come along so far with my career but deep down I wasn't really happy with my life.

    “I eventually realised that the happiest times of my life were on DS9, my friendship with Kira and the others... The holosuites you and I used so many times, and of course the good times we had in Quark's bar. All of it reminded me of better times and I thought that if I returned to DS9 it might help me to deal with some of my personal demons. So when I found out that DS9 needed a new commander I jumped at the opportunity and Starfleet gave me this post.”

    “You returned to DS9 even though I was still here on this station?” asked Bashir sounding astonished.

    “I missed you Julian,” said Ezri looking sadly into Bashir’s eyes. “And I wanted to make amends, it may have seemed foolish at the time but I still don't regret that decision.”

    “Neither do I,” said Bashir firmly. “If we hadn't made up I think I would have still been brooding about the break-up, and still felt bitter and resentful…”

    He looked at Ezri in a more upbeat and confident manner. “Now I just feel rejuvenated, it was like I was shackling myself with all the bitterness and misery.”

    “I'm just glad I'm back on this station,” said Ezri smiling. “Though I still am amazed by how I managed to get this post, I was very surprised to discover that Kira wasn't in command.”

    “Well Kira was in command two years after you left,” explained Bashir. “But then she became pregnant with Mia and she cut down on her workload to spend time raising Mia. ”

    “I know,” said Ezri slightly impatiently. “Kira told me this months ago.”

    Bashir rolled his eyes, half irritated half amused by Ezri’s sharpness. “Well getting to the point, Kira reduced her workload by a third for about six years, she was still second in command but I think Shakaar managed to pull a few strings to allow Kira to continue with the arrangement. Starfleet though took a dim view on this.

    “Kira returned to full duties, and when the Starfleet commander at the time was reassigned, she requested to Starfleet for her to be first in command. Unfortunately Starfleet refused her offer stating they wanted one of their own officers in command, I was surprised by Starfleet's decision, of course Kira wasn't to happy about that.”

    “It's funny,” said Ezri frowning. “But since the Dominion and the Corneria war, the Federation and Starfleet has made more insensitive decisions like that... Especially in worlds that have recently joined the Federation, it seems like Starfleet can only really trust their own personnel and commanders… Though I do hope that Kira is not resentful of me being in command instead of her.”

    “Trust me she isn't,” said Bashir confidently. “She told me herself that you were the best commander to come to this station since Sisko, she doesn't resent you for it.”

    “Well that's good to know,” said Ezri, she paused when she realised they had both been talking non-stop about herself. “Anyway enough about me, what about you? I trust you've made numerous discoveries and advances in medicine?”

    Bashir laughed out loud before proceeding to explain in depth about his achievements. Ezri though didn’t say much, she simply sat there listening raptly to Bashir. It was such a pleasure just to hear him prattle on and just talking together was doing wonders to ease Ezri’s major regrets in life.

    For it was so simple to talk to Bashir, and there was so much to discuss. One thing was certain she would prefer to talk to Bashir as a friend rather than as a lover. She felt so much more comfortable with this arrangement, though she was glad that Bashir had accepted her decision.

    She probably wasn’t going to tell Bashir this, but she equated restarting their relationship with the misery and pain of eighteen years ago. Bashir had that expression that it was better to pursue love and for it to break your heart, than to do nothing and watch an opportunity to be with the one you love slip by. Ezri though wholeheartedly disagreed with this, the breakup with Bashir had been too painful…

    If there was going to be any romance or intimacy then Ezri wanted to do it on her terms. She wanted to feel safe and right now she believed that having a relationship with Bashir would jeopardise that emotional safety. Still they had plenty of time to work all of this out, and Ezri cast all these thoughts from her mind as she let herself get steadily more engaged with her conversation with Bashir.


    Well that is the end of Medical Pariah. Feel free to comment, review, criticise (constructively) this story, and the other stories of my series.

    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


    Bad Blood



    Gold Rush

    Medical Pariah


    Ménage à Trois

    Tip of the Iceberg

    Season 2:


    High Stakes

    Running the Gauntlet

    The Price of Sanity

    Cloak and Dagger, part 1
  11. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Here is the next story Commitment

    Summary: For the past three weeks Odo has been caring for Kira, though he gladly cares for Kira, the stress and strain have been slowly creeping up on him. However when Odo is contacted by the shapeshifter leader, Odo realizes that he can no longer put off returning to the Great Link. Now he is faced with a terrible choice, and whichever option he picks he will regret it...

    Commitment, chapter 1

    Stardate: 71165.4

    Day 1, 0745 hours

    After spending six hours in his gelatinous state, Odo changed into his solid state. He lay on the bed in the form of a naked humanoid body. When he tilted his head to the left, he saw Kira sleeping soundly. At this point Odo could almost convince himself that there was nothing wrong with Kira, though he soon quashed that thought out of his mind.

    He got out of bed and came to a mirror next to Kira's wardrobe. Being a shapeshifter, Odo could create any clothes he wanted to wear. Everyday he always wore something different, and for the last three weeks he had been 'wearing' only civilian clothes.

    When he was done deciding upon what to wear, he heard the sound of Kira stirring. He walked over to the bed, sat down next to Kira and gazed into her face. Right now Odo could tell she was half asleep and by the relaxed look on her face, she was having a very pleasant dream.

    When Kira opened her eyes she gave Odo a smile. “I dreamed I was walking again and with the family down on Bajor, we were on holiday…”

    Kira made some small upwards movement with her left arm, and Odo realized she was trying to hold his hand. Quickly he took her hand, and then slowly lifted it to around the level of his chest.

    “Do you remember that holiday Odo?” asked Kira, staring dreamily into Odo’s eyes.

    “How could I forget,” said Odo fondly. “It was one of the happiest moments as a family.”

    The dreamy look faded from Kira’s face and was replaced with a very steadfast stare.

    Odo recognized that expression, it was the look that Kira always had when they were sharing an intimate moment. Slowly Odo moved forwards towards Kira, he placed a hand behind her head to draw her in closer. Placing his lips to hers, he kissed her and for a few moments the two were locked.

    Afterwards Odo let go, and he himself felt dreamy and relaxed. It had been a few days since he had kissed Kira, though because of Kira’s paralysis, sex was out of the question. Slowly Odo pulled himself together and focused on the essentials, he checked his chronometer and it was 0800. It was time for Kira’s bath. “It’s 0800-”

    Kira didn’t look aroused any more, and now she seemed almost gloomy. “I know, bath time.”

    Carefully Odo slipped his right hand beneath Kira’s back, and his left hand beneath her thighs. Slowly he lifted Kira upwards, and bent his forearms inwards to contain Kira. Many humanoids would have found it difficult and strenuous to carry a full-grown women like this, but Odo was far stronger than he looked. He moved over to the wheelchair and placed Kira onto it. With Kira safely seated on the wheelchair, Odo moved Kira over to the bathroom.

    Inside the bathroom, Odo first locked the door, next he went over to the bath tub and turned on the hot water tap. A straight sturdy-looking plate was propped against one side of the bath, this was for Kira so that she could rest comfortably in the bath. There was silence between the two, as Odo crouched down waiting for the water to reach a certain height, while also checking the temperature. When he was satisfied, he turned the tap off and came back to Kira, as always she was looking quite sullen.

    He rolled up his shirt sleeves in preparation for what to do. Lifting Kira onto to her feet, Odo had one hand around her back, to keep her upright. With his other hand he moved the straps of Kira’s red night dress off her shoulders. The dress fell all the way down to Kira’s feet. The only thing Kira was still wearing was her diaper. Odo removed that as well, and was glad to see it wasn’t soiled, it seemed that Kira was slowly regaining her bowel control.

    Placing Kira in the wheelchair once more, Odo disposed off the diaper, placing it in the waste disposal unit. With that out of the way, Odo carried her again and placed her gently into the bath tub.

    He carefully lowered Kira until she was stationary, the water came to the level of her upper neck. Odo removed his arms which were supporting Kira’s weight, afterwards he was pleased to see that Kira was still motionless.

    Next he got a flannel and some soup, and began to scrub down every part of Kira’s body. He worked in silence, as there was very little to talk about. The silence bothered him and he knew it was because of Kira’s isolation. Sure her friends visited the home, but Odo knew that she had to get outside of her quarters more often.

    Another thing that bothered Odo was the strangeness of the situation. He still was not quite used to caring for Kira, though not once did he show this slight discomfort in front of her. What made it weird for Odo was what before Kira’s paralysis, the only times he was in the bathroom with Kira, while she bathed, were always quite intimate moments…

    When he had finished cleaning Kira, he pulled the plug and when most of the water had gone, he carried Kira and lay her down upon a wide towel spread out across the floor. Drying Kira was a intricate process for Odo, as he had to place her in three positions: lying down, sitting up and standing. He still felt slightly uncomfortable toweling down every part of Kira’s body, and though he had seen it all before, that didn’t make his current task any less unpleasant.

    One of the things that really helped Odo was his organization. Not only did this save time, but it kept any discomfort on Kira’s part to a minimum. Kira’s clothes for today were laid in a neat pile next to the washing basket. First of all he had to place a fresh diaper on Kira, and then he could clothe her.

    Kira of course chose the clothes she wanted to wear. Though Kira was never to fussy with day-to-day clothes, like Odo she wasn’t one to indulge herself unnecessarily. Today Kira was wearing beige trousers and a dull green tunic, it was simple and dull attire…

    With Kira fully sorted out, Odo took her to the dining room. It was about thirty minutes before Mia and Deru woke up, and so far today Odo was keeping good time. Whatever his discomforts, he never resented caring for Kira. He took his duties with pride, because he loved Kira and would do anything to help her...


    Day 1, 0900 hours

    There was silence as Odo and his family ate at the dining table. Odo was spoon feeding to Kira the Aubergine stew, which was a human dish his family were quite fond of. Mia seemed at ease with herself, simultaneously reading a padd while absentmindedly putting spoonfuls of the stew into her mouth. Deru though was eating at top speed, he seemed to want to leave the table as quickly as possible. There were also two plates of vegetables, freshly prepared of course, lying on the table.

    Odo liked to cook, as there was a certain methodical element about it, just like criminal investigations. Though he could never match Jake Sisko's finesse as a cook, he still gave to his family quality food every breakfast and teatime.

    Usually at breakfast the family talked, but ever since Kira’s paralysis, silences such as this became more frequent. What Odo didn’t like about this silence was how awkward it felt, and he couldn’t tell who was lowering the mood more; Kira or Deru.

    “I've got a lot of work to do today,” said Mia trying to start up a conversation. “Three reports to complete for Megan.”

    “Right,” said Kira sounding distant, her eyes were focused upon the spoon going to her mouth.

    However forced Mia’s attempt at conversation was, Odo was determined to keep the conversation going. “What sort of reports are they?” he said, while still spoon feeding Kira.

    “Two survey reports,” said Mia sounding enthusiastic. “And a analysis of the latest test results from the sub-space observatory in the Motapae sector.”

    “Does Megan continue to check over your reports?” asked Odo, stealing a glance at Mia.

    “She does,” said Mia sounding just a little embarrassed. “But at least I'm making fewer mistakes, she tells me if I keep progressing I could be replacing her!”

    Odo was so astonished to hear this, that he forget about spoon feeding Kira. “I’m not surprised to hear that, especially with the impressive work you have been doing. You're contributing to this station and I'm proud of you…”

    From the corner of his eye he noticed Kira's sullen expression, and with a jolt he realized he wasn’t feeding Kira. “We're all proud of you,” said Odo hinting to Kira to respond.

    Kira managed a forced smile. “Of course we are,” she said in a passable understanding voice.

    The delayed compliment only served to irritate Mia, and there was a slightly hurt look on her face. “It would be nice if you were to show a little more enthusiasm,” she said sarcastically.

    The mood in the room seemed to drop lower, and inwardly Odo felt very awkward. He didn’t want to tell Kira to cheer up, but neither could he let her lower the tone in this room.

    Kira though seemed to realize that she had gone to far, as she gazed guiltily at Mia. “I'm sorry,” she said sadly. “I just have things on my mind and I'm feeling really frustrated at the moment.”

    At once Deru got up, his face was unusually neutral. “I'm going to school now, see you three at tea time.”

    Deru’s reaction had taken Kira aback, she looked at Deru in a bewildered manner. “But school doesn't start for another thirty minutes!”

    “One of my friends needs some last minute help with their homework...”

    As Deru spoke he was looking just above Kira’s head. “I'll see you all later.”

    He walked over to Kira, gave her a brief hug around her shoulders, and then left the room, carrying with him a padd.

    Odo resumed feeding to Kira her breakfast, but she seemed so distracted by Deru’s sudden departure, that she was acting as if Odo wasn’t there.

    “Is it just me or is Deru avoiding me?” said Kira sounding slightly suspicious.

    “I think he is...” said Odo slowly. “He's been arriving early to school for the last two weeks now, and he arrives late at teatime...”

    “He's not avoiding you mother,” said Mia quickly. “Deru just wants to be with his friends, it's just a phase that's all.”

    Both Odo and Kira remained silent as they digested this bit of information.

    However it was clear that Mia sensed her parent’s doubts about her explanation, because she rapidly changed the topic. “Thank you dad for the stew and freshly prepared vegetables...”

    She checked her chronometer. “It's about time I left for the astronomy lab.”

    Mia gave Odo a hug, and then she hugged Kira for longer, before giving a brief kiss to Kira’s cheek.

    “She works so hard, and she is so intelligent...” said Kira after Mia was gone.

    “Like her mother...” said Odo proudly, and he sent another spoonful of soup to Kira’s mouth.

    “That's enough soup,” said Kira sharply.

    Odo looked at Kira's bowl and it was only half empty. “Are you sure?”

    “I've got a figure to maintain,” said Kira testily. “I'll be damned if I put on weight.”

    Here was some more stubbornness that Odo had to put up with. “But Julian told me that your blood-sugar levels become to low in the mid-morning and afternoon because you don't eat your usual portions!”

    Kira looked fixedly at Odo, in a stare that told him that he was pestering her. “And I don't do any exercise,” said Kira heatedly, “or actually use my body, even on my job I still burnt a few calories. I can't eat like I used to, and I don't want to look overweight...”

    Odo held his hands up in surrender. “Fine no more soup. When I've cleared up the table, we'll do the usual one hour long period of physiotherapy.”

    There was a reluctant nod from Kira, and relieved that Kira had agreed to that, Odo cleaned up the table. As he worked he thought about dealing, on a daily basis, with Kira’s temper. He had dealt with all sorts of angry, cranky and moody humanoids, but seeing all of that come from his wife made it far more difficult to bare.

    Perhaps Bashir was right, maybe the stress was getting to him. There was at least another two months of this, but Odo was determined to see it through. Like Kira he could be equally stubborn, and he would stay strong and calm for Kira’s sake.
  12. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 2

    Day 1, 0900 hours

    It was 0900 hours and Megan entered Max’s quarters. For the next eight hours she would be caring for Max, taking over from Holo. Inside the living room, Megan noticed Holo leaving with some haste. He looked slightly harried and Megan wondered what had happened to him. “How is Max?” she asked.

    “He took a small tumble an hour ago,” replied Holo looking somewhat awkward. “And his ego is a little bruised.”

    “But he didn't hurt anything?” said Megan.

    “No,” said Holo with a shake of his head. “It was just a small graze to his knee, he'll be fine.”

    “What happened?”

    “Max will tell you,” said Holo, he was in rather a rush. “I need to get going otherwise I'll be late for my shift.”

    After Holo had left the room, Megan slowly walked toward the bedroom, she was a little apprehensive about what to expect. A couple of days ago the mood between Max and herself became rather tense and miserable. But this was only because Max was at the time feeling immensely frustrated, Megan hoped this wasn’t one of those days.

    She came to a stop at the doorway, and noticed Max sitting, as usual, in his wheelchair. “Hi there,” she said gently. “I heard from Holo you took a small fall.”

    “It was stupid,” said Max angrily. “I was working on a padd and I then realised I needed my tricorder. Holo was in the living room, and instead of asking him to get the tricorder I thought I could walk over and retrieve it from my draw. Well I managed a few steps, before I lost my balance and collapsed onto the floor.”

    Realising that Max wasn’t too angry, Megan sat down on the bed, directly facing Max. “At least you didn't sprain or break anything.”

    “I dented my ego,” said Max somewhat miserably. “It was so stupid.”

    “Get over it,” replied Megan in an upbeat tone. “You were only trying to push yourself. In less than three weeks you will be walking around unassisted, so I don't see what is so bad about one little fall.”

    “Your right,” said Max, nodding. “I've got to be patient, and the next time I'm that impulsive, I'll ask you or Holo to help me...”

    “Changing the topic,” said Megan brightly, “didn't you say you wanted to play a game of chess sometime tomorrow?”

    “We could have the game after lunch,” suggested Max. “Say 1300 hours in here?”

    “That would be great,” said Megan cheerfully, she was glad that Max wasn’t feeling to bad with himself about the fall.

    Max pushed clumsily on the wheelchair, and Megan realised that Max was heading to the living room for today's first period of physiotherapy.

    “Right,” said Max while on the move, “let's get this over with, you know what to do.”

    Once inside the living room, Max managed to drag himself out of the wheelchair and sat down on the floor. Megan crouched down and started moving Max’s arms. In her opinion she thought the physiotherapy was a little bit intimate, and it made her feel somewhat uncomfortable giving she had feelings for Max.

    Still she was convinced that Max wasn’t aware of her love whatsoever, and for that Megan was grateful. Perhaps when Max had fully recovered, she would tell Max about her feelings and maybe, just maybe, there was a possibility of a relationship. However caring for Max, only reaffirmed to Megan that she was falling in love with him.

    Despite these odd and sometimes arousing thoughts, Megan didn’t let her mind wonder too far as she had to be very careful when she gave Max physiotherapy. One wrong move and she might accidently pull or even tear a couple of Max’s muscles. However one thing she never did was to give Max a massage, it was Holo who did the massages.

    Megan knew how to give a massage but she felt that would be pushing the boundaries between physiotherapy and intimate contact. On the occasion when Max did ask for a massage, she had had to lie to get out of a situation which would have been rather awkward.


    Day 1, 1130 hours

    In the Infirmary, Odo stood directly behind Kira, ready to catch her should she fall. She was walking on a slightly raised up platform made of a rubbery material, directly next to her were two parallel bars. Her hands were gripping tightly onto the bars, while her feet slowly moved forwards. The motor neuron stimulators placed around her back, arms and legs boosted the neural signals giving her additional mobility. Not only was this important exercise for Kira, but Odo also knew that this test was to provide additional information to Bashir about Kira’s recovery.

    So far she was about halfway along the three metre long platform. Odo was hopeful she would make it all the way without collapsing. It was typical of Kira to do it the hard way, she refused to be assisted even though it would make her journey far more easier. Odo could not help but admire Kira’s pride and determination to do things for herself.

    Suddenly Kira’s legs gave way and Odo caught her, his hands braced around Kira’s armpits.

    “This is ridiculous!” said Kira angrily, half-shouting.

    “You made some progress,” said Odo sounding encouraging and positive. “You walked across halfway without collapsing.”

    “Progress,” snarled Kira. “Four minutes of shuffling my feet millimetre by millimetre!”

    Bashir walked over, there was a deeply etched frown on his face. “It would be far more easier if you let Odo support you, as I've said before-”

    “I will walk unassisted or not at all, have you got that?” said Kira fiercely.

    Kira’s anger seemed to be only matched with Bashir’s. “With all due respect,” he said resentfully, “aren't you letting your pride get in the way of your recovery?”

    “That's easy for you to say!” said Kira shrilly, her eyes were like daggers on Bashir. “You will never understand unless you are disabled like me!”

    The anger Kira was emanating stretched Odo’s nerves to breaking point. “Nerys listen to him,” he said urgently. “He is only trying to help you!”

    For a moment Odo was so distracted by Kira, that he forget to hold her. In a matter of seconds Kira again collapsed, Odo barely caught her in time, and her face came within inches of hitting the floor.

    There was Kira laid on her front, her arms splayed in front of her, and one side of her head resting on the platform. Even from this angle, Odo could see just how ridiculous Kira looked. Inwardly he was kicking himself for his slip-up, he could almost see Kira shaking from anger, and he could only imagine the rage and humiliation she must be feeling at this moment.

    “I'm tired of being helped all the time,” said Kira in a quite but deadly voice. “And I've ran out of patience.”

    Odo who was just about to lift Kira up, froze. His hands were inches from her shoulders, Odo realised that Kira was really angry and he had to deal with it fast before she exploded.

    “Julian,” said Odo firmly, “I need you to leave.”

    There was protest all over Bashir’s face. “But what about-”

    “Leave this room now!” said Odo loudly, and he sounded just as angry as Kira.

    Bashir left the room, and looked just a little apprehensive about what would happen next.

    Odo carried Kira and placed her back on the wheelchair, all the while he was fuming. Part of him was deeply angry by his moment of carelessness, other part was sick to death with Kira’s bad temper.

    Turning around, Odo shot a furious look at Kira. “You want to know something really ridiculous?” he said heatedly. “You refusing Julian's help!”

    The anger exploded onto Kira’s face, and she absolutely hollered at Odo. “I am not going to be assisted by you or Julian, you've helped me enough and now it's about time I actually helped myself!”

    “Your practically paralysed from the neck down,” shouted Odo, at this moment he resented every bit of Kira. “Are you so deluded that you believe you can somehow look after yourself?”

    “I'm only trying to preserve what shred of dignity I have left!” shouted Kira, she sounded almost shrill and rage was lighting up her eyes.

    The anger ebbed from Odo, never at this moment did he appreciate how badly Kira was suffering. “And nobody thinks any less of you because of the paralysis!” he said in a strained voice.

    Angry tears formed in Kira’s eyes. “But I'm such a burden to you,” she said angrily. “Because of me you don't have a job!”

    What Kira had implied was weigh off the mark for Odo, and he resented it deeply. “If you think,” he said fiercely, “that I'm resentful in anyway, then you really don't know me half as well as you should! I don't see it as a burden caring for you, even if you were paralysed for life I would still do this task gladly.”

    The anger was all but gone from Kira, now she just looked sorrowful. “I'm sorry I doubted your commitment, but it's just...”

    “Just what?” said Odo cautiously.

    “Never mind...” said Kira with a mild shake of her head. “You can call Julian back in again.”

    Odo let the matter drop, as he didn’t want to continue fighting with his wife. For all his anger, he could never stay angry with Kira for too long. It was different with Kira, she would only back down if he either apologised or convinced her that she was wrong. Despite Kira possessing a fearsome temper, she had the humility to back down. The truth was Odo became somewhat afraid of Kira when she was really angry. That fear stemmed from another fear; that of losing Kira.

    Walking over to another room in the Infirmary, Odo spotted Bashir standing over a medical console. Upon hearing Odo, Bashir glanced up from his work. “Has Kira always been this moody?”

    “Not since the paralysis,” said Odo heavily. “Why do you ask?”

    Bashir’s mouth crumpled into a frown, and it seemed he was treading carefully with Odo. “I want to conduct some neurological scans of Kira after her exercises, with her permission of course and only if her moodiness persists.”

    “You don't think she has depression do you?” said Odo sounding concerned.

    “It's more than likely,” said Bashir glumly. “And I'm not surprised that this has happened. For Kira this is such a major change in her life, and she's bound to have bitter feelings for what has happened.”

    Talk about telling something that Odo already knew, but he was still worried about this depression of Kira’s. “Should she be receiving anti-depressants then?”

    “Not yet,” said Bashir cautiously. “Nothing that a bit of talking and consultation can't solve. Of course if her temper worsens or her mood becomes more erratic, do contact me.”

    Just as Odo was about to walk off, Bashir had some more things to say.

    “There is one more thing,” said Bashir slowly, there was a challenging look in his eyes. “Are you giving Kira the three periods of physiotherapy constantly each day?”

    How Bashir knew that Odo wasn’t exactly abiding to this was unclear. Perhaps it was a good guess, unfortunately Odo couldn’t lie to Bashir, and he cocked his head from one side to another feeling deeply awkward. “Not always,” he said in a constrained voice. “I'm lucky to get three periods in, and that is when Kira is in a good mood. Usually it's about two periods and on days like this, only one.”

    Bashir looked aghast to hear this. “Odo,” he said warningly, “you have to give her three periods of physiotherapy everyday! Otherwise her muscles will seize up and the injuries to her nerves will take longer to heal. The more signals the brain sends to her spine, the more her nerves are used and the higher the chances that torn or dormant nerve cells will carry some of the signal!”

    “I know,” said Odo in a tortured voice. “But you don't know what it is like to endure her bad mood!”

    This excuse did nothing to placate Bashir, it only seemed to embolden him. “Disabled or not, Kira is a very strong-willed person and at times maddeningly hotheaded. It seems to me that you are giving in to her temper, and if you do it will take many more months for Kira to recover. The longer this goes on the higher chances of permanent paralysis.”

    Odo stopped brooding and gazed intensely at Bashir. “That will not happen!” he said firmly. “Kira will receive everyday all three periods of physiotherapy.”

    Despite Odo’s promise, Bashir continued to look suspiciously at Odo. “See that you do,” he said with a hint of menace in his voice. “Otherwise I will order Kira down to the sickbay and have a surgeon perform the physiotherapy.”

    With a small nod to Bashir, to show he clearly understood all of this, Odo walked back to the room where Kira was.

    “What took you so long? Where’s Bashir?” demanded Kira.

    Odo pushed the wheelchair as he answered Kira’s questions. “We were just discussing some minor changes to the way I care for you. When Bashir was satisfied, he left to continue on with his work.”

    “Okay,” said Kira.

    It seemed Kira didn’t suspect Odo of holding something back, and Odo was glad that his bending of the truth had gone undetected. He would talk to Kira tomorrow about sticking to the physiotherapy regime, but not today. One major argument with Kira was bad enough, and Odo couldn’t face up to a second one…

    Even so Odo was worried, he had to do something to remedy the situation. He didn’t want Bashir to intervene, because it would reflect poorly on his part. He was the one caring for Kira, and he would not let others care for Kira just because he wasn’t doing his tasks properly.
  13. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 3

    Day 1, 1730 hours

    After the bitter exchange of words in the Infirmary, throughout the rest of the day Odo had felt considerably uncomfortable caring for Kira. What he needed was someone to talk to about his problems, he didn’t want a counsellor, just someone who would understand. Odo realised that Megan was the perfect person, as she had been caring for Max, and she knew the responsibilities and burdens of caring for somebody.

    Odo decided to visit Megan in the evening, when she had some free time between caring for Max and doing her night shift. He left Kira with the children in their quarters, he would only be gone for at most fifteen minutes, and his children could look after Kira should any issue arise.

    Standing outside the door to Megan’s quarters, Odo pressed the door chime.

    “Come in!” said Megan.

    Odo entered and spotted Megan hastily leaving her meal on a table. Almost immediately Odo felt embarrassed by his intrusion. “I’m sorry,” he said and turned to leave. “I should have come at a better time.”

    “It’s no problem Odo,” said Megan, she then gestured briefly at the table with her thumb. “If we’re going to talk let’s do so on the table.”

    Walking slowly to the table, Odo glanced around. “Is Max in here?”

    “He's in Holo's quarters,” said Megan.

    When she had sat down, she was about to resume her dinner, but paused when she looked up at Odo’s face. “Is something wrong Odo?”

    Feeling awkward, Odo sat down, and rested his elbows against the table, while he gripped his hands together. He was very weary and cautious about asking Megan something which was quite personal. “I wanted to ask you how Max is coping with his paralysis.”

    Megan didn’t seem bothered at all by the question. “He's coming to terms with it, but he's made far more progress than Kira. Max is only facing two or three more weeks of limited mobility, whereas Kira is facing at least three months if not longer, so it must be so much harder for Kira to cope with.”

    “It hasn't been easy,” said Odo heavily. “The thing that really concerns me is her frustration...”

    Megan was holding a spoon to her mouth absentmindedly when she talked. “Sometimes Max was frustrated, but it came down to a lack of stimulation.”

    “And that's the problem!” exclaimed Odo. “Kira doesn't get out of her quarters enough, I just wish she would!”

    “What's stopping her?” said Megan in-between mouthfuls.

    Odo tried to avoid Megan’s rather inquisitive stare. “Don't tell anyone,” he said sharply, “but it's her pride, she doesn't want to go outside because she feels humiliated and embarrassed by her condition.”

    “From her perspective I can see why,” said Megan, sounding sympathetic.

    “You are not disabled,” Odo pointed out, wondering how Megan could make that comparison.

    “No,” Megan admitted. “But I know what Kira is feeling because I felt like that during the first few weeks on this station. Outside of work shifts, I didn't want to talk to anybody, because I was afraid to socialise.”

    Coming from Megan, Odo realised just how much she had recovered from her ordeal if she could talk to other people about her own problems. “What made you overcome your fear?” he asked somewhat cautiously.

    Megan disregarded her dinner, as she looked at Odo rather seriously. “I realised life must go on, and if I shut myself away in my quarters during off-duty time I would be letting Bordak win. Suffice to say Bordak wanted to break me and he nearly succeeded, but I overcame my fear of socialising and once I had Max as a friend suddenly things didn't seem so bad.”

    “So are you saying that Kira must get over her humiliation?”

    “I don't see what choice she has,” said Megan sadly. “Unless of course she wants to remain in her quarters skulking away, but that is up to her.”

    There was a silence as Odo thought about the things Megan had said. Indeed some of it was helpful to Odo and it gave him a fresh perspective to his problems with caring for Kira. Feeling that he had worn out his welcome, Odo got up from the chair. “Thank you for telling me this,” he said graciously.

    “I would be happy to discuss any further problems you have with caring for Kira.”

    “I’ll consider that,” said Odo slowly.

    He then left Megan’s quarters, feeling marginally more cheerful and hopeful about the immediate future.


    Day 2, 1500 hours

    Kira was laying down on her front against a bio-bed, as Bashir was running minor electrical pulses on a few points on her back. It was a pleasant tingling sensation for Kira, as the electrical pulses danced around the nerves inside her back. She could have sworn that with the electrical pulses it momentarily gave her more feeling around the centre of her body.

    Around her was a cream-coloured opaque screen to shield her from view, she wanted privacy because as part of the operation she had to take off her shirt, so that Bashir could carry out the operation. Thirty minutes everyday at 1500 hours, she lay here, letting Bashir stimulate the nerves around her spine.

    One sign of her recovery was that she could feel her arms, as she rested her chin against them. This meant that her nerves were slowly regenerating and would be able to carry more electro-chemical signals.

    “This is good,” said Bashir studying the results on a screen. “There's more electro-chemical activity around the fifth and sixth lower vertebrae around your spine.”

    “Meaning?” said Kira, tilting her head to the right.

    “Meaning,” said Bashir cheerfully, “the nerve tissue is recovering sufficiently enough that it can carry electrical signals from the brain and to the nerves below it. Giving the rate of nerve regeneration, in a month you'll regain some function in your legs.”

    Finally for the first time in a week, there was some good news for Kira. “But how long will it take to regain full function in my legs?”

    “At least two months,” said Bashir cautiously, “possibly longer. Add to it muscle wastage through lack of usage and it becomes more like three months.”

    Bashir crouched down until his face was a few inches from Kira, there was a rather cunning and shrewd look on his face. “Of course if Odo actually gave you all three periods of physiotherapy you would recover quicker.”

    “What do you mean?” said Kira nervously.

    “Hasn't Odo told you about what I said to him?” asked Bashir sounding surprised.

    Kira merely returned Bashir’s surprise with a bemused expression. “What did you say to Odo then?”

    The shrewdness had disappeared from Bashir’s face, now he looked quite weary, and he was keeping a respective distance from Kira. “Nerys,” he said sounding disappointed, “every day Odo needs to perform at least three hours of physiotherapy to keep your muscles from completely wasting away, and to speed up the nerve growth from my treatments.

    “I have made it clear to both you and Odo that without the physiotherapy it will take far longer for you to regain mobility, and I'm talking about another twelve months before you fully recover, possibly longer. Further more continue on with this and you will be risking permanent paralysis from the waist down. Now do you really want that to happen?”

    “Of course not!” said Kira loudly. “But the physiotherapy can be so boring.”

    “Look at it this way,” said Bashir trying to sound optimistic. “For each hour of physiotherapy you complete, you are one step closer to regaining nearly full mobility and returning to your job. The physiotherapy is mundane but necessary... Now I don't want to have this conversation again, as this is your health that you are gambling with.”

    “Three hours everyday, got it,” said Kira, in a tone that suggested this was an order she was following. “And I'll stick with the routine even when I'm feeling cranky and agitated.”

    At that moment Kira noticed Odo’s silhouette behind the curtains. She felt a bit let down that Odo hadn’t told her this, but maybe Odo didn’t want to tell her such unpleasant information, for fear she might bite his head off. A trickle of guilt poured from Kira’s heart, and she vowed to herself to calm her emotions and not to make Odo's life any more difficult.

    So she decided to let Odo off the hook, though she would remind him about the physiotherapy sessions. While Odo put her shirt on, she thought about the sacrifice he was making on her part. She realised she couldn’t ask for a better husband, one who loved her and was deeply devoted to their relationship. Of course she had thanked Odo before, but this was simply to spare his feelings.

    She could not exactly be sure of what Odo was feeling since her paralysis, but she presumed that Odo was hurting in his own way. Odo didn’t show this, which was one of the many things Kira found wonderful about Odo. He controlled his feelings, and sometimes his calm even stoic-like manner, eased her mood when it was rotten.

    When she had recovered, she was determined to celebrate her recovery by giving Odo a thoroughly non-verbal thank-you…


    Day 2, 1530 hours

    It was 1530 hours, and around this time Deru left school. Mia hoped she would find Deru somewhere on the Promenade, because she had to talk to her brother about their mother.

    On the lower level she spotted Deru, carrying a duffel bag mounted over his shoulder. When she was two metres behind Deru she called out to him. “There are you Deru…”

    Deru simply kept walking on, and when Mia was next to him, she caught a glimpse of his face. “Is something bothering you?”

    “Funny,” said Deru with irony, “it always used to be you who look bothered and upset.”

    Mia had to walk a bit quicker, because Deru had quickened his pace, it seemed Deru wasn’t in the mood for talking. “Where are you going to?” demanded Mia in a somewhat bossy tone.

    “To one of my friend's quarters,” said Deru sounding slightly annoyed.

    Something snapped inside of Mia, she had finally had it with Deru avoiding their mother. She grabbed Deru's shoulder and he came to a halt, glaring at her.

    “You can't do that,” said Mia angrily. “Not with Kira, she always likes seeing you!”

    “No she doesn't!” said Deru angrily, he managed to shake off Mia’s strong grip. “She just glares and then sounds agitated, and she always looks so tense. She doesn't care about me or you!”

    “That's not true!” said Mia heatedly. “She's just really frustrated by her paralysis, she does care about us being there.”

    There was a pause and Deru was continuing to glare at Mia, though Mia could tell that Deru was really hurt. She waited for her brother to tell her the truth, and she knew he would, because the two never kept secrets from one and another.

    “The truth is,” said Deru eventually, “I don't like staying in our quarters anymore, dad seems almost distant towards me and it seems he has a lot on his mind, and as for mum... Well I've already told you…”

    Deru’s fists were curled up and he was shaking with anger. “I don't like living with my parents!” he spat out.

    Though Mia suspected that this was the reason why Deru was so angry and upset, to actually hear him say it still shocked Mia. It hurt her to hear Deru say that, but her hurt was quickly replaced by anger. “Have you told them this?” she said coldly.

    “No,” said Deru looking standoffish.

    “Well maybe you should,” said Mia angrily. “It saves you having to deceive them all the time, and me for that matter.”

    She didn’t care how angry Deru looked, because she walked away from him as she was too angry to talk anymore with her brother. Instinctively her legs were guiding her to the astronomy lab, but Mia wasn’t really aware of where she was walking to. She could tolerate Kira’s dour mood, because Kira was her mother and she respected her mother. But she was really disappointed with Deru, for two weeks he had been acting like a total jerk towards her mother, and Mia resented it.
  14. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 4

    Day 2, 1740 hours

    At teatime Odo and his family were gathered around the table, though Deru’s absence was very conspicuous. Mia had claimed that Deru was late because he was helping one of his friends with homework. Though Odo thought Mia was covering up for Deru’s absence, however today he wasn’t looking for any more arguments or confrontations so he let the matter rest.

    Today Odo had made the family ham shank, with black pepper and Bajoran versions of onions and peas. The only time he ate himself was at tea, and in-between mouthfuls he fed Kira. Thanks to his time in the Great Link, Odo could fully emulate every part of any humanoid body, this included eating, with a ‘proper’ mouth, teeth, digestive tract and even guts.

    As usual there was silence around the table, and when Kira had finished her meal, she remained silent. She seemed to be thinking about something, this Odo could tell because of the little crease in her eyebrows.

    “Where is Deru by the way?” asked Kira, her eyes fixed on Mia. “Because he is very late for his tea.”

    “I'm not sure...” said Mia slowly, all the while not looking at Kira.

    Mia’s posture and the tone of her voice made Odo convinced that she was lying. “Don't lie to us Mia,” he said warningly. “Tell your mother the truth.”

    Looking up, Mia stared almost defiantly at Odo. “I am telling the truth...”

    “And I am waiting for an answer...” said Kira musingly.

    Angrily Mia dropped the fork she was holding with a clatter onto the table. “You want an answer?” she said sounding bitter. “Well here's one; Deru is so angry at your bad mood that he is avoiding you at all costs! Are you happy now?”

    “Avoiding me?” said Kira ominously.

    Mia seemed to shrink a little from her mother’s barely contained anger, now she had the look of someone who wanted to escape at all costs. “I think I've got a report to write up, excuse me...”

    Kira let Mia leave the dining table without further question, all the while Kira was silently fuming. “It's pathetic!” she burst out when Mia was out of earshot. “My son can't stand to see the sight of me just because I'm disabled!”

    Odo couldn’t look at Kira because he felt so fed up with her, so instead he looked moodily at his plate. “I think it is more than that...” he said quietly, keeping the emotion away from his voice.

    “Which is?” demanded Kira.

    Despite his resentment towards Kira, Odo remained cautious about angering her. “You have been a bit dour lately,” he said rather timidly. “And I guess Deru is more sensitive to your moods than Mia is. I think you've upset Deru because of your mood.”

    “So I've upset him just because I'm now disabled?” said Kira bitterly.

    “I didn't say that,” replied Odo tensely. “I just think you need to lighten up and try to be more cheerful.”

    His words only seemed to rile Kira further. “It's hard to be cheerful,” she said with the words tumbling out of her mouth, “when you are constantly reminded of how useless you are!”

    “I know this is tough,” said Odo trying to placate her, “but-”

    If Kira never had the paralysis, she would have smacked the table hard with the palm of her hand. Odo had never seen Kira look so angry but at this point he didn’t really care.

    “Do you even know how hard this is for me?” said Kira furiously. “Everyday I can look forward to being spoon-fed, carried around like some sick animal, and of course getting cleaned up whenever I make a mess! It is so unbelievably humiliating Odo! I was once a colonel in the Bajoran militia. I was responsible for managing this station and I contributed in my own small way to Bajor! This is all I want to do, to be a productive member of Bajoran society and not some useless cripple!”

    Odo shouted back, managing to sound just as angry as Kira. “I am starting to get really sick of your self-loathing attitude! Just for once in your life look at the big picture! In three months time you won't need to be cared for, in six months time you will be back as a colonel and second in command of this station. Now considering what you went through, I'd say the Prophets were very generous to you!”

    The mention of the Prophets managed to quell some of Kira’s anger, she then averted her gaze from Odo and spoke quite softly. “At first I did accept the Prophet's will, I was just glad to be alive. But as the days past by I went through one humiliation after another, and it drove me crazy!”

    Now she looked at Odo, with wide eyes that seemed to beg him to understand. “You don't know how maddening it is not working, I'm amazed I've lasted this long.”

    Odo moved around the table, he turned Kira around in the wheelchair to face her, and in a gentle gesture he held onto one of her hands. “Then maybe,” said Odo gently, “you should ask the Prophets to give you some patience. Just hang in there okay, I mean are you going to let this disability get the better of you?”

    There was a resolute look on Kira’s face; the word surrender was not on Kira’s dictionary. “I'll be damned if I let that happen!” she said fiercely.

    “Then be patient,” said Odo in a soothing voice. “You will recover, as I said before you may not have your job but you still have your family. We're here to help you, and to keep you stimulated, if there is anything you want just ask and we will do it.”

    Kira looked almost stunned to hear this. “Do you really mean that?” she said tenderly. “Even after me getting on your nerves for the last couple of weeks?”

    “I just want you to be happy,” said Odo, while gripping her hand more firmly to emphasise his commitment. “And it hurts me to see you this frustrated and angry… Right now is there anything you really want to do?”

    There was a moment’s hesitation on Kira’s part as she thought about it. “I suppose it would be nice to go to Jake's restaurant...”

    “Then it's settled,” said Odo happily. “We'll go to the Prophet's Cuisine on the Saturday evening.”

    Somehow Kira didn’t look all that happy to do this. “That would be... great,” she said trying to sound more enthusiastic than she really was.

    “Listen,” said Odo, “don't worry about other people, you need to get out of these quarters more often and... not shy away from your condition.”

    For the second time Kira looked taken back, it was as if clarity had hit her. “Do you want to know something Odo? You are absolutely right, I have been hiding away in here, afraid to go outside...”

    To hear Kira admit to something that Odo had suspected for all these days, was very encouraging to him. He suddenly felt optimistic that Kira’s mood would pick up, and the brief fight they had rapidly faded from Odo’s mind…


    Day 2, 1800 hours

    Bashir had just sat down next to Quark’s bar, when he felt the familiar pat on his back. Almost like clockwork Nog had arrived, and Nog’s punctuality was always matched by his upbeat spirits.

    “Two pints Quark,” said Nog, gesturing with his hand before then sitting down. “Busy day Julian?”

    “Kind of,” said Bashir half-heartedly. “I'm halfway through finishing a report about an avian virus on Bajor, there was a small epidemic, and a few hundred cases.”

    “I remember hearing about that virus,” said Nog gazing at some fixed point on a shelf in front of him. “Didn’t you found an antigen that stopped the virus from spreading further?”

    “I did,” said Bashir sounding slightly smug. “It's still the case that Federation medicine is many years ahead of Bajoran medicine.”

    He dropped his voice. “Make sure you don’t tell Nerys about this, she wouldn’t be too happy to hear that.”

    Quark placed on the table two mugs, Bashir and Nog each took their respective mugs. Nog coughed up the latinum to pay for it all. “Thanks uncle,” said Nog graciously as he placed a few slips of latinum onto Quark’s outstretched palm.

    Bashir was looking at some of the other alcoholic beverages on offer, and he liked the look of the fizzy green one. “Can I also have that fizzy green drink as well?” he asked Quark.

    “Coming right up,” said Quark with a small grin, clearly this drink was going to cost Bashir quite a bit of latinum and then some.

    “That's adventurous of you,” said Nog, with a smirk.

    “I just want to try something new,” said Bashir happily. “Besides a feel more... energetic.”

    Nog looked up from his pint. “I told you that hating Ezri for all this time was emotionally draining you,” he said wisely.

    “You were right all along,” said Bashir and he raised his mug to Nog.

    The two toasted, and Bashir continued talking. “Now that Ezri and I are friends... well it has taking a lot of my mind that's for sure.”

    “Talking about friends,” said Nog. “How are Max and Kira?”

    This was one topic that frequently came up, Nog asked the same question virtually everyday, though this was due to Kira being Nog’s friend.

    “Max is recovering,” said Bashir. “Kira though is more of a worry.”

    “How so?” asked Nog cautiously.

    Bashir starred into his mug, and found it hard to keep his worries hidden. “She's very frustrated with her condition, and she's been cutting short her physiotherapy time.”

    He looked up, as he felt so incensed by Kira’s brazen attitude to her health. “It's crazy,” he said sounding frustrated, “because she is slowing down her recovery if she does this!”

    “Couldn't you use nanites to regrow the nerves?” asked Nog.

    Bashir though shook his head rapidly, while he took a sip from the mug. “It's illegal to use nanites in humanoid bodies, I've broken the law once, and I don't think Ezri will let me off the hook a second time.”

    “I don't see where this fear of nanites comes from,” said Nog, in a manner that suggested the whole universe had gone crazy. “I've used them, and they're incredibly reliable pieces of machinery.”

    “But you used them in sterile and sealed environments,” Bashir pointed out. “From a medical point of view it is very unclear how nanites would react with organic material, and there's been very few studies on the interactions, if any, between nanites and organisms...”

    There was a lengthy silence after Bashir’s explanation, and Bashir simply savoured his drink, while thinking about some of the recent happy times he had had with Ezri. The two had played darts, gone to various holosuite programs, indeed it seemed both himself and Ezri were catching up on all the lost years of friendship. All of it felt wonderful to Bashir, it totally refreshed him and made him feel young…

    “You want to play a game of darts?” asked Nog, when he had finished his pint.

    “Yeah all right,” agreed Bashir.


    Day 2, 2345 hours

    It was close to midnight, Kira and the children were soundly asleep, but Odo was still up reviewing station security reports from the new chief of security Larry Paulson. Paulson was a Betazoid, and from his service record reportedly very good at conducting criminal investigations. Everyday Odo had on average at least one hour of free time in this period of the day to study Paulson's reports.

    “<i>Incoming transmission, source unknown,</i>” said the voice of the computer.

    His attention on the security reports diverted, Odo went over to the desk and turned on the laptop. “Computer reroute transmission to this laptop.”

    On the screen appeared the shapeshifter leader, behind him was a grey wall, and apart from that Odo couldn’t be sure what the wall belonged to. The sight of seeing the shapeshifter again was an uncomfortable one for Odo, and the last meeting had been unpleasant. “What do you want?” he said wearily. “Last time we met we left on a very sour note.”

    The shapeshifter looked almost apologetic. “For the things I said I am sorry, but conditions in the Great Link have... deteriorated.”

    “How so?” asked Odo, he felt part curious part nervous.

    “There is disunity amongst the Great Link over how we should reform the Dominion. Some amongst the link want a return of the old ways, as such we the Founders are finding it difficult to govern the Dominion. What we need is unity and a clear direction to proceed forward.”

    “Let me guess,” said Odo sounding disparaging. “You want me to return to the Great Link to provide that 'direction'?”

    “Many in the link see you as a visionary, a guide to the future evolution of our people. No one understands the solids as well as you do Odo. We need that guidance once more.”

    The shapeshifter had said the same things on the last visit. Two months had gone by and Odo doubted things had changed that much. “If you really have changed your ways when I left the link, why did you try to exterminate the Jem'Hadar?”

    “It was for our protection,” said the shapeshifter simply.

    The lack of remorse in his voice frightened Odo, strangely it made the desire to return to the Great Link stronger. “As I said before,” said Odo coldly, “I cannot help if you don't help yourself, and if you don’t follow the guiding principles I laid down nineteen years ago.”

    Odo’s rejection of the shapeshifter’s request, had made the shapeshifter desperate. There was an imploring look, or the closest approximation to an imploring look a shapeshifter could muster. “Please help us Odo,” he begged. “The Dominion is on the brink of collapsing, if it does collapse then the Great Link will be terribly vulnerable to... outside threats. If that happens the Great Link may have to be disbanded, and our people will be forced to roam the galaxy in small scattered groups.”

    Suddenly the desire to return to the Great Link overwhelmed Odo, somehow he managed to stop himself telling the shapeshifter he would be returning at once. Some modicum of rationality allowed Odo to think of a way to buy some time. “I will think very carefully about your request, I'll contact you in three days about my decision.”

    Odo had managed to successfully keep the emotion and any hidden intentions out of his voice. But despite his delays, the shapeshifter leader looked relieved as if Odo had said yes. Perhaps the shapeshifter knew that Odo was coming back…
  15. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 5

    Day 3, 1400 hours

    Odo entered the living room, where Kira was sitting down at the desk using the laptop. He slowly approached her, fearful of the conversation he was about to have. But he wasn’t going to back away from it, no matter how bad the conversation would turn out Kira deserved to know about the transmission.

    “Kira I need to talk to you,” he said nervously.

    Kira disregarded the laptop, looking very frustrated, one handedly she managed to turn the wheelchair around to face Odo. “Go on,” she said heatedly.

    Odo had one moment’s hesitation, as another jolt of nervousness struck his stomach because Kira was already in a bad mood. “I received a transmission from the shapeshifter leader, he wanted me to return to the Great Link, to help my people. He explained to me that there is disunity in the Great Link and it is threatening to break up the Dominion and even my people.”

    With each word Odo had said Kira looked progressively more concerned, she also looked very worried as well. “I don't trust your people,” she said wearily. “What if this is some sort of ruse on their part to lure to the Great Link? And besides even it wasn’t how long would you be in the Great Link?”

    “I'm not sure,” said Odo, at this point he could barely speak. “A month maybe a year.”

    “So you're just going to leave this family, just like that?” said Kira disbelievingly.

    Somehow Odo managed to find the strength to explain himself to Kira. “I have a responsibility to help my people, anyway I can.”

    “And what about your family responsibilities? If you leave who would care for me? Mia and Deru need you, and at the very least they've got to understand why you will be leaving them.”

    Odo though ignored Kira’s objections, he was now more concerned about the greater good. His family would survive without him, his people though may not. “I have the power to change my people for the better, and that is a greater responsibility than this family.”

    He upped the ante, because he was not going to waste time hearing Kira protest about his decision. “And I need to know in less than three days whether you want me to return to my people or not.”

    The commanding tone of Odo’s voice, surprised Kira and all the fight was being drained from her. “But...” she said, before faltering under Odo’s intense stare.

    “All right,” she said relenting to Odo. “Give me some time to think about it, though there is one thing I’d like to know. If it weren't for me and the children, would you have left this station already?”

    Odo nodded grimly. “That's correct,” he said.

    With nothing more to say to Kira, Odo headed back to the bedroom to give her the privacy needed to think about his request. One small part of Odo thought that Kira would approve of his decision, because like him, she to made personal sacrifices if it benefited others.

    However his fear overrode that part of his mind, and he couldn’t bear waiting for Kira to make a judgement on his decision. What if she said no? Perhaps before the paralysis she would have said yes, albeit with some reservations. But now Kira wasn’t herself and this made Odo convinced that Kira was going to say no.

    If she said no then Odo would be placed in an impossible conundrum. However an idea came to Odo, it was a harsh, if cruel option, but it was the only way he could proceed. He would leave DS9 tonight, no warnings, just a stealthy exit from the station. Kira and his family would only realise he was gone in the following morning.

    Odo didn’t want to do this, but it was the only way. No doubt Kira would never forgive him for leaving without warning, it would probably end their marriage, but that was the price Odo was willing to pay to help his people…


    Day 3, 1500 hours

    In the Infirmary, Megan watched as Max slowly walked across the platform, clutching with each hand the two support bars.

    Megan was behind Max ready to catch him should he fall. So far though Max looked steady, and this was very encouraging to Megan. In the last week Max had been attempting to cross the platform unassisted, and he had managed to make it two thirds of the way before losing his balance.

    The neuron stimulators were doing wonders for Max’s recovery, every day Megan could have sworn that Max was gaining just a bit more of his mobility.

    “Come on Max,” she said in a encouraging voice. “You're half way there, keep going!”

    “I'm trying,” said Max through clenched teeth. “But it feels like I'm walking on ice!”

    “If you need assistance...” said Megan, noticing how much Max was concentrating.

    “No,” breathed Max. “I think I can make it.”

    The seconds passed by, and Max made centimetre after centimetre steps forward. Megan was watching with baited breathe, and she could tell Bashir was just as hopeful and excited as she was at the thought of Max walking across the platform unassisted.

    There was only another ten centimetres to go, Max seemed to sway a little, and instinctively Megan held her hands so that they were centimetres from Max’s armpits. She thought Max was going to tumble, yet somehow he kept his balance finally coming to a stop when he reached the end of the platform.

    “You did it,” said Megan, breathless from excitement.

    “It's about time...” said Max sarcastically. “Er… Megan if you don't mind I think my legs are going to give in.”

    “I've got you,” said Megan, placing her hands around Max’s armpits.

    Bashir walked over pushing Max’s wheelchair along. “Very good Max,” said Bashir with a smile. “You are recovering more quickly than I anticipated!”

    Max though looked too unsteady on his feet to speak, when he was safely sitting in his wheelchair did he look more talkative. “It comes down to the physiotherapy,” he said.

    Glancing briefly at a padd, Bashir looked far more optimistic than he had in days. “At this rate of progress, you could be walking to the Infirmary unassisted in a week's time. Come back tomorrow at the usual time, and we’ll see if you can walk across the platform unassisted again.”

    Bashir left the room, leaving Megan standing there against the rails, she still felt jubilant following Max’s success. “I'm proud of you,” said Megan warmly. “It has taken you a lot of effort just to get to this stage.”

    “You've put in the effort as well caring for me,” acknowledged Max. “It is a considerable sacrifice on your part.”

    Megan smiled slightly and gazed downwards as she thought about her friendship with Max. “You helped me to recover,” she pointed out, “and it's the least I can do to repay the kindness and patience you've shown to me.”

    “I'm still going to slaughter you in our afternoon game of chess,” said Max with a grin.

    Megan laughed, that much was true, and she then proceeded to remove the neuron stimulators off Max’s body. When she was done, she took Max to the Replimat, and there they talked animatedly. Megan hadn’t seen Max look so happy for weeks, and his happiness was infectious to her…


    Day 3, 1500 hours

    Kira sat on the wheelchair absentmindedly reading about agriculture. Ever since she reached the age of fifty she started to think about what to do when she retired from the Bajoran militia. She knew for certain that she wanted to return to Bajor, and live in her home province of Dahkur. She and Odo would build their own home, assuming of course Odo wanted to retire.

    Although DS9 felt like her home, there was nothing like being home on Bajor. There was the matter of how she was going to keep herself preoccupied during her retirement. She had no intention of sitting back and taking it easy, and she thought of farming around the home she was one day going to build.

    There was so much she hadn’t done in her life, like art for instance. Though she had no talent for art, she had to come to appreciate the finer things in life. When she retired she knew that she had at least another forty years left in her, Bajorans always tended to be long-lived. It was common for many Bajorans to reach their 100th birthday.

    With the rest of her life ahead of her, Kira had been given it far more thought since her paralysis.

    When the door chimed Kira was brought back to her senses with a bump. “Come in,” she said.

    Turning around her wheelchair to face the door, Kira saw Ezri enter. Usually Kira would have been glad to see her best friend walk in, but not today. Sometimes Kira went through daily mood swings, and today she was feeling cranky. “Go away,” she said grumpily.

    There was slightly hurtful look on Ezri’s face due to her friend’s rejection. “Kira, you may be frustrated-”

    “You have no idea,” said Kira angrily, “what it's like to be disabled, the limitations, the humiliation...”

    “Maybe not,” said Ezri calmly, “but I'm your friend, and you can't vent all of your anger towards your friends.”

    “I'm sorry,” said Kira quietly, and she felt a little bit ashamed of her rude behaviour towards Ezri.

    Ezri sat down and made herself at home, dropping entirely her captain’s persona. “Ops still isn't the same without you Nerys, a lot of officers miss you being there.”

    “I'm sure they do...” said Kira sarcastically.

    Leaning forwards in the sofa, Ezri looked at Kira in a rather sympathetic way. “Are you gaining more mobility in your legs and arms?”

    “I'm gradually gaining more mobility,” replied Kira. “But it's a slow process, it has been over three weeks now since the virus was destroyed. Bashir reckons it'll take another month before I regain most of my motor neuron control with my hands, and at least two months for my legs to have sufficient mobility.”

    “You're lucky,” said Ezri somewhat grimly, “it could have been so much worse, and you may have had no choice but to resign.”

    “Resign?” said Kira in an indignant tone. “The only thing that keeps me going is the prospect of returning to my career.”

    Kira paused, as she thought about confiding something to Ezri. “You want to know something Ezri? I'm bored out of my mind, I'm tired of reading books all the time, and then there's the matter of Odo. I can tell he is bored to, he won't say it, and my children are so busy I only see them at breakfast and occasionally teatime. I spend so much time just meditating, and when I'm not meditating I just feel constantly restless, I'm stuck in my quarters, I barely sleep because I'm so restless.”

    “Why don't you use an anti-grav chair?” suggested Ezri, looking at Kira in a bemused way. “It will give you the mobility to move around this station.”

    Kira bit her lip, as she considered telling Ezri something quite personal. “It's just... people will see me, and it will be so embarrassing.”

    “So you are letting your pride inconvenience you?” said Ezri lightly.

    “I still haven't gotten over the humiliation of being cared for by Odo. I'm only a burden to others and completely useless.”

    “That maybe true,” admitted Ezri, “but people don't think any less of you because of your disabilities. Think about the anti-grav chair, if you want to get out of your quarters you should seriously consider it.”

    It was friendly advice, but Kira detected a subtle warning on Ezri’s part.

    After a moment’s silence Ezri got up from the chair. “Anyway I must be going now, Bashir has this new holosuite program, it's set in 13th century Earth and from what he said it has something to do with Mongols and conquest...”

    “Mongols?” said Kira blankly, wondering if she heard that correctly.

    Ezri though simply shrugged her shoulders. “I didn't have time to brush up on ancient Earth history, I'll talk to you tomorrow, say hello for me to Odo.”

    “I will,” said Kira as Ezri walked out of the quarters.

    With Ezri gone, Kira was left thinking about what her friend had said. Odo had said the same thing, and Kira knew that getting out of her quarters was for her own good. She realised that her greatest strength as a character, to not show weakness to others, was now at this moment her greatest weakness.

    Of course getting out with Odo would be out of the question. Against her better judgement she decided that Odo should rejoin the Great Link, she was being selfish keeping him on the station. Even so she still wanted to give her decision a little more thought, but in two days time she was certain that she would be giving Odo her approval to return to the Great Link.

    It would be tough seeing Odo walk out of her life, how long he would be gone for was unclear to Kira. But she wasn’t going to stop Odo, and her main concern about how her children were going react to Odo's departure was not such a concern any more. Mia and Deru were old enough to understand why their father had to leave.

    Though when Odo did leave, Kira would need to find someone else to care for her. One of Bashir’s staff members would probably care for her, so her care needs would be met. She was going to miss Odo, and she hoped that Odo would return soon.
  16. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 6

    Day 3, 1630 hours

    Ezri was in the holosuite and this time she was kitted up as a Mongol, complete with a helmet, sword, loose chain mail armour, dagger and early 13th century Mongol clothing. It was all part of Bashir’s new holosuite program concerning an ancient Earth battle called the Battle of Beijing. This battle was set in 1215 AD, and Ezri and Bashir were Mongol soldiers storming the walls of the city. There were three Mongol armies, and they were in part of the army lead by Genghis Kahn.

    For the last thirty minutes, Ezri had fought her way to the walls, proceeded up the ladders, and now was fighting on the embattlements. She was almost back-to-back with Bashir, fighting off the hordes of Beijing’s soldiers. The holosuite safeties were on, and this was fortunate because twice an enemy's sword passed through her chest like it was thin air.

    If that was for real she would have been incapacitated. She had some experience with the sword, because of Jadzia’s memories of using the bat’leth. Even so it was still hard work wielding the sword.

    “Is this your idea of fun?” said Ezri loudly over the din of battle. “Hacking people to bits?”

    “You've just got to get into the role,” said Bashir, while he was engaged with an enemy soldier. “Don't worry we won't be butchering the local population!”

    “I must say you do have an unusual taste for battles and fantasy violence!” Ezri commented, as she avoided the thrust of a sword coming to her chest.

    “What are you getting at?”

    “It's just a little odd...” replied Ezri sounding concerned.

    “If you don't like this program we can always try something different.”

    “Are you joking?” said Ezri incredulously. “I've never had this much fun in years, for all this time I was obsessed with my career, and I thought diversions like this were simply a distraction.”

    “And now?” said Bashir, panting as he fought off another Beijing soldier.

    “I've earned a little R 'n' R,” said Ezri in a self-gratified manner, “after spending seventeen years climbing up the promotion ladder, and spending my first year as captain, dealing with Bajoran politics, keeping renegade Jem'Hadar at bay and saving an entire planet from ecological disaster!”

    “Benjamin would have been proud of your accomplishments!”

    “I couldn't replace Benjamin Sisko,” said Ezri humbly. “Nobody could, in a way he inspired me to become a captain.”

    “Are you saying that as Jadzia or Ezri?”

    “Ezri of course, Jadzia was the scientist, though she was good in command she always wanted to be a scientist discovering new phenomena.”

    “Talking about command, how are things running in Ops without Kira?”

    “Oh we're muddling through,” said Ezri jokingly. “Not really of course, but the longer serving staff members of this station miss her.”

    “They could be missing her for a lot longer,” said Bashir in a quieter voice.

    Bashir’s voice was so quiet, Ezri thought that she had misheard him. “What do you mean?”

    “Kira's not spending enough time having physiotherapy with Odo.”

    “Really?” said Ezri, this totally surprised her. “Why would Kira do something silly like that? I know Kira, she wouldn't be that self-destructive.”

    “Maybe you haven't noticed but Kira is a shell of her former self, it's almost like talking to a different person. She's more angry, irate, impatient and occasionally unpleasant.”

    Ezri thought that Bashir was exaggerating things, because she knew Kira, surely it was not that bad. “I'll admit Kira is frustrated, I would be in her position, but she has had it tough. These last three weeks must have been very painful for Kira, to a certain degree she's always been self-sufficient and she is very independently minded. Now she's confined to a wheelchair and being cared for by her husband, from Kira's perspective it must be quite degrading.”

    “I realise that,” admitted Bashir. “But that is no reason to gamble with her longer term health. By missing certain periods of physiotherapy she is prolonging her disability, and she is risking permanent paralysis!”

    “Haven't you told her all of this?”

    “Of course I have,” said Bashir impatiently. “But I'm not sure I got through to her.”

    Ezri felt a spike of frustration run through her, she was somewhat annoyed by Kira’s attitude, and Ezri let out that frustration by being all the more vicious with her sword.

    “I'll talk to her...” she said somewhat angrily. “Sometimes people of all types and calibres, when faced with a disability, do stupid things because they're angry and frustrated. I should know because I've seen too many injured Starfleet officers in the Dominion and Corneria wars.”

    There was some silence after that remark, and Ezri continued fighting. In a strange way, all of the fighting and violence was a good form of stress relief. She was really enjoying going out with Bashir and trying his holosuite programs. It strengthened the bond she had for Bashir, and more precisely, it strengthened the friendship.

    Right now Ezri considered Bashir to be one of her closest friends, along with Kira. She was glad to have those two, and above all else she was finally getting some closure. She had made amends with Bashir, and was making her life for herself on this station. Since she was the commander of DS9 and doing a very good job, it was unlikely that she would be recalled to somewhere else.

    That was the way Ezri wanted it, because DS9 was something of a second home to her. And by far it was the best home she had ever had, even including the break-up with Bashir, the years beforehand had changed both her life and Jadzia’s ultimately for the better.


    Day 4, 0030 hours

    He had made his final preparations, and with everything ready, Odo was having one last look at his children. Individually he went to first Deru’s and then Mia’s bedroom. It felt surreal to him to watch his children sleep so soundly. Sometimes he still couldn’t believe his fortune in having children of his own, and this was one of those occasions.

    What he was going to do would give Deru and Mia a great deal of grief, but such was the appeal of the Great Link and his powerful sense of obligation to his own people. He had no idea how long he would be gone from his family, though he knew that they would get along without him.

    Odo couldn’t help but smile to himself as he saw Mia hugging her favourite teddy. She was fifteen and she still slept with her teddy, mind you Bashir still slept with his teddy Kukalaka.

    He left Mia’s bedroom and finally went to his own, walking across the living room as he did so. Inside Odo's bedroom, there Kira was sleeping but by the looks of it she was having some bad dreams as her face was contorted slightly in pain. More than anything Odo wished to simply touch Kira for one last time, but in doing so he would wake her and he couldn’t do that.

    In more ways than one Kira had changed his life, ever since their first kiss on the Promenade she had brought to Odo a happiness he could never have imagined. Now he was more than likely going to lose Kira's love and trust, for leaving her. Standing there only made things worse for Odo, and he knew he couldn’t dawdle for any longer.

    He was already thirty minutes past his regeneration cycle, and though he could forcibly hold his shape for much longer he didn't want to over exert himself. With one last look at Kira’s face, Odo turned his back on her and left the bedroom. Even if he did return to DS9, he doubted that he would share Kira’s bed again. The worse thing about this was Odo simply knew Kira would hate him for it, and she would probably wonder if everything they had was just an illusion.

    If only Kira could know how much he really loved her, except that he had been pushed to the limit. He had delayed returning to the Great Link for far to long, and the feeling that he couldn’t really broach this subject with Kira just made it worse. He felt like a coward sneaking out of the station like this, but he didn’t want to argue with Kira, as he never liked being angry with her. With one last look around the living room, Odo left his quarters and headed to the docked transport ship. In a strange way he missed his family already but that didn't detract him from returning to his people.


    Day 4, 0800 hours

    Kira woke up from a string of horrible nightmares. She could only remember bits of them, but that didn’t do anything to get rid of the horrible feeling inside of her. For some reason Kira didn’t feel right, and she then realised that Odo wasn’t in bed with her. Perhaps he had finished his regeneration cycle, and he would be coming back shortly.

    Then something caught her eye and Kira noticed a padd lying close to her. Clumsily she shuffled over onto to her side and her left hand managed to clutch the padd. Rolling onto her back again, she rested the padd against her hand and read the message.

    To Kira, by the time you have read this I have already left DS9. I'm returning to the Great Link and this is something that I have put off for too long. I have to help my people, now more than ever. I regret that I must leave you and the children, how long I'll be away for I'm not sure. You will probably hate me for leaving you without warning, I took this decision knowing full well that you wouldn't forgive me. My only explanation is that I have an obligation to help my people and to hopefully transform the Dominion. I'll always remember you and the children. Love Odo.

    Kira felt completely stunned not by Odo leaving, but because he had never given her the chance to say yes to his decision. A horrible cold shiver went down her spine when she realised that Odo didn’t trust her judgement. He was afraid that she would object to his decision...

    Tears built up in Kira’s eyes as slowly the numbness wore off. How could Odo leave her like this? She would have let him go to the Great Link, and yet Odo thought that she would be unreasonable and selfish and do the opposite. Kira felt horribly betrayed by Odo’s lack of trust in her. When it really mattered was all that trust and mutual understanding she and Odo had just a shadow of what she perceived it to be?

    It was a terrible thought and it only served to make her eyes burn even harder. She just lay there not thinking or comprehending, but just coming to terms with this turn of events.

    How long she lay there she wasn’t sure, because in what felt like no time at all Mia had entered the bedroom.

    “Where's dad?” said Mia, she then saw the the misery emanating from Kira, and Mia looked quickly concerned. “What's wrong mum?”

    “Its Odo,” said Kira numbly. “He's gone... he left us a message...”

    At once Mia grabbed the padd and read the message. The frown on her face deepened with every line she read, after a while she lowered the padd. “But he may come back...”

    “He's not coming back,” said Kira in a constrained voice. This simple realisation suddenly uncorked all of the built up sorrow Kira was feeling. A few tears spilled from her eyes as the pain hit her hard.

    Suddenly Kira felt hands go around her back and she realised that Mia was hugging her. There were tears in Mia’s eyes, and Kira felt doubly worse seeing her daughter’s tears.


    Day 5, 1000 hours

    It had been a day after Odo had left, and Kira had done grieving. Now she was angry and her anger helped to subdue what sorrow was still inside her. It was in the morning and Kira was sat up in the bed, talking to Mia. “Do you see all of Odo's possessions?” she asked.

    “Yes,” said Mia.

    “Dispose of them,” said Kira uncaringly. “Dump them in the replicator and disintegrate them, I would do it myself but I can't walk.”

    “Mum,” said Mia gently, “I know your mad at Dad, but throwing out all of his possessions? Isn't that just a little extreme?”

    “It's what he deserves,” said Kira coldly. “And I don't want to think about Odo at this moment.”

    There was a deep frown on Mia’s face, as she considered Kira’s words. “I know it's very inconsiderate on his part leaving like this, but... you can't just deliberately remove him from your life.”

    “And why can't I?,” said Kira angrily, though her anger didn’t last very long as a fresh bout of sorrow came over her. “I would have let him return to the Great Link,” she said in a pained voice. “But he never gave me the time to give my approval of his decision. That's why I'm mad at him, he just left this family, without properly consulting us. He didn't even tell you about returning to the Great Link. And for that he has betrayed my trust.”

    “You’re not just angry at Odo,” said Mia perceptively. “You’re angry with yourself because one part of you believes that Odo couldn't stand caring for you.”

    “That's not true!” said Kira heatedly. “I never doubted his sincerity for caring for me, it was just at times things sometimes got a little tense and fractious between myself and your father.”

    Mia picked up a photo of a much younger Kira, with Odo, on their wedding day. “I still think it's a mistake to throw out all of Odo's possessions. I'd say keep them to remind you of the good times you had with your father.”

    “I suppose,” said Kira miserably, Mia's words caused memory after memory to flash before her mind. “But it's just...”

    “Just what?” said Mia cautiously, she seemed weary of another angry outburst from Kira.

    “I'm depressed Mia,” said Kira in a neutral voice. “Doing the physiotherapy, being spoon fed three times a day, having my every orifice cleaned by Odo, all of it reminded to me how useless I am. And you want to know the worst part? I've become everything I've despised.”

    Her eyes started to burn as her self-loathing reached new levels.

    “That's not true,” said Mia sounding protective. “You have kept a brave face over the last three weeks, sure you were a bit dour on occasions but you struggled on, it's what you've always done!”

    “But the enemy is myself!” lamented Kira. “I'm the one who's become lazy, uncaring and self-destructive.”

    “I wouldn't go that far,” said Mia cautiously. “Frustrated maybe...”

    “Don't gloss things over,” said Kira disgustedly. “I haven't exactly made things easy for Odo.”

    “Haven't you prayed to the Prophets about your problems?” asked Mia, she was looking at Kira in a puzzled manner. “Isn't that what you always do?”

    “Prayer can give you understanding of one's personal problems,” said Kira slowly. “But what is the point of understanding if you refuse to accept it? It is time I recognised that I'm completely dependent on others, and I just have to get over it.”

    There was a lengthy pause as both Kira and Mia were deep in thought. Finally after a while Mia spoke up. “With Odo gone,” she said slowly, “I'm willing to fill in for him and to care for you.”

    “Absolutely not!” said Kira loudly. “You have your whole life ahead of you, and I don't want you to waste your time caring for me!”

    Mia though didn’t seem put off by her mother’s stern objection. “At most I will be spending four months caring for you, don't worry about me. I still continue on with my studies, all I want to do is to help you. Dad has told me how independent you are, but just for a change why not willingly accept help from people, your not being selfish in doing so.”

    Kira considered this, though she didn’t doubt Mia’s enthusiasm she was worried that Mia had not thought this through properly. “I just don't want to see you regret this, because caring for me is a major responsibility...”

    “You have always wanted me to take on more responsibility,” said Mia solemnly. “And this is one of those occasions. I'm not going to back out, besides you are my mother, and I want to help you!”

    “You’re a good girl,” said Kira in a caring voice, “and you've come so far...”

    At that moment Mia walked over, got onto the bed and hugged Kira. It was a very tight hug and Mia was resting her head against Kira’s chest. This deeply touched Kira and she realised just how much Mia loved her. Had she been able to use her arms, she would have hugged Mia back. But that didn’t matter, not now.
  17. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 7

    Day 5, 1530 hours

    Odo’s sudden departure had deeply shaken Mia, though she was more hurt than she was prepared to admit. At night she sometimes cried about it but she also knew that life had to move on, this was her mother's example and it was one that Mia intended to follow.

    However Mia knew that she would feel better if Deru stopped avoiding her and their mother. This was why Mia waited outside the school in the Promenade, she wanted to talk to Deru and sort things out.

    “Hey Deru,” said Mia loudly, noticing Deru amongst the crowd of pupils. “Wait up!”

    Deru though was walking away at top speed, and Mia almost had to ran to catch up with him.

    “I don't want to talk to you!” said Deru angrily.

    “Listen I'm sorry about our last conversation...”

    This made Deru stop in his tracks, and he spun looking even more angry. “Are you going to lecture me on why I should forgive dad?”

    “Of course not!” said Mia angrily. “I still can't believe what he did, it's not like him to be that devious.”

    “At least we agree on one thing,” said Deru grimly.

    Now that Deru seemed more talkative, Mia felt she could get her message over to her brother. “Listen, mum is really hurting at the moment, she keeps a brave face but I can tell.”

    Deru looked stony faced, and he seemed immovable on the matter. “I'm not going back if mum is still acting like a jerk!”

    “She's not as angry now,” explained Mia, “but it would mean so much to her if you didn't have to avoid dinner.”

    There was a brief pause as Deru mulled this over. “All right,” he said relenting, “I'll do it, but only because mum is feeling sad.”

    “Thanks bro,” said Mia gratefully. “I'm still sorry for the things I said.”

    “It's all right, just forget about it, I said a few bad things as well.”

    Mia simply looked at her brother, and before she realised it they were hugging each other. It was rare for them to be at such loggerheads, and the hug did a lot to mend the hard feelings she had had for her brother.


    Day 5, 1545 hours

    “I came by to see you,” said a quiet voice, “Mia told me you were feeling really down.”

    Kira turned her wheelchair around, and was surprised to see Deru standing at the doorway to her bedroom. “That's kind of you...”

    She paused because she suspected that Deru had only come to see her at Mia’s suggestion. Deru was expecting some sort of apology from her, and Kira felt that he totally deserved one. “Listen Deru I'm sorry I've been so forlorn and miserable over these last few weeks. I didn't realise it was hurting you.”

    Her words seemed to have gained Deru’s trust, and slowly he walked over, finally resting on her bed.

    “It was hurting me,” said Deru sadly, “and it got so bad I couldn't stand to be in your presence.”

    Kira looked into her son’s sad eyes, no doubt Deru was lamenting over Odo’s departure. “I'm really sorry for what I did, but I promise to be more happier and upbeat, and not depress you.”

    “Even with dad leaving us?” asked Deru, looking incredulous.

    “Forget about your father,” said Kira sharply, “he's gone and he's not coming back.”

    The sharpness of Kira’s voice made Deru look even more miserable, and his eyes had gone watery. “It's not fair,” he moaned, “why did my dad have to leave me?”

    “He was going to leave anyway, and he would have told you. But instead he chose the cowardly option of leaving without due notice, that's why I'm so mad at him.”

    “But if dad does return you will forgive him?” asked Deru, and he was looking nervously at Kira. “I don't like it when you two are mad at each other.”

    Kira forced herself to smile, that was one promise she might not be able to keep. “We'll see, but there are some things that I don't forgive.”

    “Mia told me you were really upset by dad's departure, I know you're only angry at him because you're upset.”

    “Maybe I am,” admitted Kira, “but I don't want to think about Odo, right now I want to focus on my recovery. Some time in the foreseeable future I'm going to be out of this wheelchair, and that is what keeps me going.”

    She looked at the misery on Deru’s face, it was starting to depress her. “Come here, you need a hug to cheer you up...”

    Kira managed to open her arms out halfway, but it was good enough. Eventually Deru obliged and he sat on top of Kira, his arms wrapped tightly around her back, and with the side of his head resting against her chest. All Kira could do was clumsily fold her arms around Deru’s back, but what really mattered to her was the sentiment.

    “Do you feel better?” she asked gently.

    “A bit,” said Deru softly, “but I still miss dad.”

    “I miss your father to, but something tells me he will come back...”

    Deru looked up, and there was some hope on his face. “Do you really mean that?”

    Kira nodded before explaining to Deru why she believed this was true. “Your father returned from the Great Link once, and that was nearly eighteen years ago. Whatever he is doing in the Great Link I'm sure he will succeed like last time, and once he does he will come back I'm sure of it.”

    One part of Kira wished that she really did believe this to be the case. The truth was Kira had no idea how long Odo would be gone for and she wasn’t even certain that he would be returning. She could only wait like last time where she had waited for close to a year, though even back then in her heart of hearts she didn’t really expect Odo to return at all. Perhaps her doubts and fears were correct. Whatever she felt, and despite all the uncertainties, she knew that her wait would be all the more harder because now she had two children waiting for their dad to come back…


    Day 6, 0900 hours

    It was after lunch and Kira was reading from a padd translations of various Bajoran prophecies. Giving how much free time she had, she had begun reading copious amounts of Bajoran literature. This was something she had wanted to do for a long time, but previously her family and work responsibilities had kept her to busy.

    While Kira sat down on the wheelchair, reading intently, Mia was working away at a small table studying advanced quantum mechanics. The sound of the front door chime made Kira momentarily try to sit up.

    “I’ll get it,” said Mia, and she hurried out of the room.

    Kira listened intently to what was happening in the living room.

    The front door opened and Kira heard Mia’s surprised voice. “Captain I didn’t-”

    “Please spare me the formality,” said Ezri cheerfully. “You’re not in Starfleet, so you can call me by Dax or Ezri, take your pick.”

    “What are you doing here?” asked Mia nervously.

    “I just want a quick chat with your mother if that’s okay with you?”

    Kira straightened up in her wheelchair, and one-handedly turned it around so that she was facing the open bedroom door. When Ezri came into view, Kira saw that Ezri didn’t look half as cheery as she had sounded when talking to Mia.

    “I’ll just wait outside,” said Mia, when Ezri had entered the bedroom.

    Ezri closed the bedroom door, and she pulled up a chair and sat down close to Kira.

    “I wondered when you visit,” said Kira dryly.

    “I was just seeing how you are holding up,” said Ezri gently.

    “I'll be fine,” said Kira, putting in as much bravado as she could. “It's what I do best; struggle on to the bitter end.”

    Such bold words startled Ezri, and she was looking at Kira with some concern. “You don't really think that Odo has left you forever more?”

    “Right now I don't give a damn about Odo!” said Kira nastily. “And it's a good thing because it made me realise just how much in denial I was about my paralysis.”

    Ezri though looked somberly at Kira, clearly she was not falling for Kira’s pretending-to-be-uncaring attitude. “I don't see anything good about a loved one suddenly abandoning you,” replied Ezri rather sadly.

    “Right now that is irrelevant,” said Kira harshly. “All that matters to me is restoring my mobility and fitness.”

    “How?” replied Ezri disbelievingly. “By getting angry and mad at your condition? That's just as worse as being in denial!”

    Kira pulled a small indignant face at Ezri. “What makes you think I'm going to get angry? I'm going to be patient, that was what the Prophets were telling me all along!”

    “Casting aside the Prophet's wisdom for one moment, who will be caring for you?”

    “Mia will,” said Kira proudly. “It's a bit of a sacrifice on her part, but she's willing to do so.”

    Ezri looked satisfied by Kira’s care arrangements. “If there is anything you need, just ask me.”

    “I'll be fine...” said Kira, trying to sound confident, though right now she was feeling a few pangs of guilt because of how dour she had been previously towards Ezri.

    “Listen Ezri, I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit cranky and miserable over these last couple of weeks. I know it hasn’t exactly been comfortable for you…”

    “Maybe you were somewhat miserable,” admitted Ezri, “but I know you would be even more miserable if I stopped visiting you.”

    Kira smiled guiltily at Ezri, she couldn’t ask for a better friend.

    “I’ll visit you tomorrow, sometime after lunch,” said Ezri.

    “That would be nice,” said Kira appreciatively.

    Now Ezri smiled at Kira, she moved herself off the chair and came closer to Kira. “I hope you get fit soon,” she said while gently patting Kira’s clasped hands.

    After that Ezri left the bedroom, and Kira felt just a little better. Despite the disability and Odo’s sudden departure, things didn’t seem so bad for Kira. She never took it for granted how nice it felt to have people who actually cared for her, this was a far cry from the Bajoran resistance, where survival and self-efficiency were everything.

    Looking back she didn’t know how she kept struggling on in those times, when all she had was hatred for the Cardassians. She had come on such a long way, though she still prayed to the Prophets that Bajor would never see such dark times ever again...


    Day 6, 1400 hours

    In what was the first time in a month, Kira entered Quark's bar, she was on a wheelchair with Mia pushing her. One thing that did irk Kira was the occasional stare from certain people on the Promenade. Though it wasn't as bad as she had expected, besides she was the second in command of DS9, so people were bound to notice her in a wheelchair.

    Kira waited patiently for Quark who was busy pouring drinks for various customers. When Quark was done he noticed Kira, and walked around the bar at a brisk pace. He looked surprised but happy to see Kira. “Colonel this is a surprise, I thought you would be on your feet in two months time.”

    “Not quite Quark,” said Kira, smiling at how blind he was.

    Looking downwards Quark spotted Kira’s wheelchair, and his face dropped slightly in a gormless manner. “Oh...”

    However Quark soon regained his upbeat composure. “So what can I do for you for colonel?”

    “It's about the holosuite program my daughter uses...”

    Quark suddenly looked very nervous. “Listen I swear to you it is completely clean, I haven't done anything to tamper with it.”

    “Relax Quark,” said Mia, sounding amused, “my mother isn't go to kill you, she just wants to use my program.”

    A brief burst of laughter spilt from Quark’s mouth. “What that chess program you always run? That program is so bland, I think your mother wants something a little more exciting.”

    However Quark faltered under Kira's dangerous look, and he quickly changed tack. “But your mother does have good taste... Yes... here is the program.”

    While Mia took the rod containing the program, Kira had one final request of Quark. “One more question Quark, how do I get up these stairs?”

    “I suppose I could carry you,” said Quark slyly.

    “You will do no such thing,” answered Kira in a very icy tone.

    Quark though laughed off Kira’s warning. “If you insist… To the right there's a disguised door that leads to a lift that takes you up to the second floor. Honestly the number of accidents which happened to the drunk customers who came out of my holosuites was astounding. So a hidden lift was put in.”

    Leaning over to Kira, Quark stage whispered into her ear. “It cuts down on the insurance claims, damage to property, health and so forth. Anyway go up the lift then proceed to the holosuite on the immediate third right.”

    “Thanks,” said Kira.

    Mia pushed Kira over to the disguised door. Once out of Quark’s earshot-which was hard given that Quark was a Ferengi-did Mia start talking. “Is it just me or does Quark fancy you?”

    “Quark is a Ferengi,” explained Kira, “and they like any humanoid female with long legs and attractive looks.”

    “I still can't understand how you respect him.”

    “He saved my life during the Dominion war, and in way he is very ethical because he always sticks to the Ferengi belief system, however immoral that is to us.”

    “Still doesn't mean you have to like him, if he had his way all females would be naked, raise children and stay in their homes!”

    There was no real way of explaining this away, and Kira had no choice but to agree with Mia, up to a point. “That is a rather repugnant belief of his, but if you just ignore that he's a nice guy of sorts...”

    Kira though had soon forgotten about Quark and was more interested in the chess matches she would be playing in Mia’s program. Over the years Kira had occasionally dabbled in this human game, while both her children were really into it. Mia was the best in the family at chess, and over the last two days she had been teaching Kira how to play chess.

    Unfortunately Mia was several leagues ahead of Kira when it came to playing chess. This was why Kira wanted to use Mia’s chess program, so she could play against a computer opponent with a skill level more closer to her own. She had suddenly gotten into chess because it was both time consuming and mentally challenging. This sorted out the two biggest problems she faced with her day: too much spare time and too small an amount of mental stimulation.


    Day 7, 1140 hours

    Kira moved at a snail's pace across the platform, she could barely feel her legs and hands, yet she kept pushing herself. She was going to complete this course unassisted, she was going to do this the hard way because it was the only way she learned. She was totally focused and concentrated solely on the platform.

    “Shouldn't mum be assisted?” whispered Deru.

    “Let's respect her wishes,” said Bashir. “She doesn't want help, so let us not force it upon her.”

    Try as she might, Kira couldn’t maintain her grip, she suddenly felt a falling sensation but it was suddenly reduced. She realised Mia was supporting her by the armpits, and staggering Kira’s fall. Such strength Kira could only attribute to Mia’s shapeshifting abilities.

    Kira was on her back again, staring up at the ceiling. Strangely she didn’t feel angry, she just felt clarity, and an understanding of what had to be done. Mia’s face came into view, and Kira didn’t like the nervous look on Mia’s face. It was as if the poor girl expected her to explode with anger. But Kira couldn’t be angry, as she finally accepted the inevitable; it was time she accepted other people’s help willingly.

    “Listen Mia,” said Kira warmly, “the next time when I walk across the platform, could you support me?”

    “Sure,” said Mia, looking deeply surprised by Kira’s request.

    Bashir nodded approvingly, and he smiled in a self-satisfied way, seemingly pleased with Kira’s decision.

    Once more Mia, with Bashir’s help, guided Kira back to the starting point of the platform. Bashir did some quick fiddling of the motor neuron stimulators, he gave a nod to Kira to tell her she was good to go.

    “That's better,” said Kira, as she felt Mia supporting her.

    “Are you certain you need my help?” said Mia nervously.

    Kira nodded a few times. “It's time I stopped feeling so bad about being cared for by other people. We're a family, and we support each other, we take the journey together, complete with the bounties and the pitfalls...”

    This time Kira felt steadier with Mia supporting her by the hips. Slowly Kira moved forwards, shuffling one foot in front of the other, millimetre by millimetre. She inwardly marvelled at how much more balance she had, and suddenly the task of crossing the platform didn’t seem so monumental.

    Slowly but surely the distance decreased, until suddenly Kira saw that her feet had no more platform to walk across. She had done it, and she couldn’t believe it.

    Deru came rushing over, and he looked ecstatic at what Kira had done. “You did it!” he said, sounding amazed.

    “I can’t believe it,” said Kira, and all she could do was smile sheepishly. “All of this time I was making it so hard for myself.”

    “I was telling you that all along,” said Bashir, trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

    “Do you want to try the course again?” said Mia, sounding eager.

    “I do,” said Kira, nodding enthusiastically. “Though this time I’ll see if I can walk around to it…”

    It was another challenge, walking without handrails for support, but with Mia supporting her Kira felt curiously free. She felt like she could do anything, never had she felt so positive about herself. Looking back she realised she had been a complete self-centred fool, and she had allowed her pride to impede her recovery.

    For the first time she had come completely to terms with her condition. She didn’t feel embarrassed or angry, and she could now see the light at the end of the tunnel. She could see the day coming when she wouldn’t need any assistance or care, a day where she would return to her post as a colonel. All of it seemed so simple and so tangible…


    Well that is the end of Commitment. Feel free to comment, review, criticise (constructively) this story, and the other stories of my series.

    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


    Bad Blood



    Gold Rush

    Medical Pariah


    Ménage à Trois

    Tip of the Iceberg

    Season 2:


    High Stakes

    Running the Gauntlet

    The Price of Sanity

    Cloak and Dagger, part 1

    Cloak and Dagger, part 2
  18. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Here is the next story: Ménage à Trois

    Summary: Working with Max on a research project, Megan finds it harder to ignore her feelings for Max. Complicating matters is when Max's former girlfriend Tanya Dawson arrives. Megan realizes that if she doesn't make her move soon she may never have a relationship with Max.

    Ménage à Trois, Chapter 1

    Stardate: 71207.6

    Day 1, 1900 hours

    Ezri dashed to and fro around the racquetball court, trying to match the consistently difficult shots made by Bashir. She was definitely out of practice, gasping for every iota of breath and sweating profusely into her sports wear, but today she felt mad. Every time she struck the ball. she whacked it with an intense fury, and each whack let her vent her anger out.

    “You're really going for it,” observed Bashir while he nimbly dodged around Ezri, striking the bouncing ball.

    “I'm just trying to take my mind off matters,” said Ezri, now she felt even more angry because Bashir was showing off. Talking and playing, he made it look so easy and he was thirteen years her senior.

    “Are you talking about the Romulan skirmish close to the Federation/Romulan border?” Bashir asked.

    “Yeah,” gasped Ezri, “nearly fifteen years of peace and then a Romulan warbird blasts to pieces a Federation trade convoy, because the commander had and I quote 'security concerns'.”

    Just then Bashir pulled off a virtually impossible shot and the ball glanced around the walls, it bounced twice on the ground and on each occasion Ezri missed her serve. That was another game to Bashir, and she used this opportunity to catch her breathe.

    “It seems to me,” said Bashir, talking as if nothing had happened, “that the Romulan government has lost control of the Tal Shiar.”

    “Precisely,” said Ezri bitterly. “I noticed the Romulan government didn't condone the behaviour, but they didn't exactly condemn it either.”

    She picked up the ball, and started bouncing the ball against the ground in a moody manner. “Worf was right about one thing; the Romulans are without honour, sneaking around and posturing...”

    Ezri tossed the ball into the air and struck the ball hard, the serve was successful and she played defensively keeping a close eye on Bashir’s trick shots.

    “Your angry,” observed Bashir, “because the Romulans destroyed the Excelcius, killing everyone onboard. Did you know anyone from that ship?”

    “The chief medical officer,” said Ezri sadly, “Fernanda García, we served together on the Proxima during the Breen war.”

    “Were you close friends?”

    “We were,” replied Ezri. “When I left the Proxima, we stayed in touch. She got married, had two children...”

    “I'm sorry for your loss,” said Bashir sounding sympathetic.

    “It's ironic,” noted Ezri, “because Fernanda hated the Breen war, she never wanted a repeat of the violence she saw. Now her life ended with violence, if that isn't unfair I don't know what is.”

    At that moment Ezri’s surge in anger coincided with the ball bounding towards her. With all the strength she could muster she whacked the ball furiously, and the ball gained so much velocity it became a blur. Ezri was certain not even Bashir with his fast reflexes would get a purchase to the ball.

    However Ezri had underestimated Bashir, when in a seemingly effortless move he struck the ball with his racquet, sending it against the back wall, bouncing off right next to Ezri’s feet.

    In a stupid looking motion, Ezri hopped around trying to locate the ball, but it was too late as she heard the ball bouncing on the floor a second time.

    “That's another round to me,” said Bashir brightly.

    “What was the score?” said Ezri, as she struggled to remember. “Twenty to three to you?”

    “21 for me,” corrected Bashir, “and three for you.”

    “I lost count...” replied Ezri sourly.

    This is Weatherby to Dax,” said the voice through the room’s inbuilt comm system.

    Ezri walked over to a wall panel, to activate the comm link. “Dax here.”

    Captain you have an incoming transmission from admiral Ross.

    “Patch it through to my office, tell the admiral I'll be there shortly, Dax out.”

    She turned around and looked at Bashir in a slightly apologetic manner. “Looks like I have to cut short our racquetball game.”

    Bashir smiled in a amused way. “You are getting better at it,” he said encouragingly. “Shall we come back tomorrow at the same time?”

    “Agreed,” said Ezri.

    She took her towel which was lying by the door way, and scooped it up. As she walked to her office, she was constantly mopping her sweaty face and arms with the towel. She was burning up, and fresh beads of sweat trickled from every part of her skin.

    Playing racquetball with Bashir was probably Ezri’s newest and most favourite activity. For it was a competition, a battle between the two, and Ezri liked the somewhat adversarial nature to the game. Of course both she and Bashir weren’t sore losers if one of them lost a game, but it was so much fun, win or lose. Today though Ezri was in a bad mood, angry over the loss of the Excelcius, and upset by the death of one her close friends. She only hoped admiral Ross had some good news for her…


    Day 1, 1915 hours

    Inside her office, when Ezri activated her laptop to receive the transmission, she thought admiral Ross looked a little surprised to see her in her sports clothes. Her grey t-shirt was covered in sweat and it really highlighted her sweat patches, her jogging trousers were so sweaty they clung to her, while her hair was unkempt and damp from sweat. This was an appearance not fit of a Starfleet officer, but she was off-duty, so that excused her rather sweaty looking appearance.

    “Admiral Ross,” she said when she had sat down at her desk. “Please tell me you have some good news?”

    “I do of sorts,” said Ross a little enigmatically. “Starfleet is very concerned about the Romulan skirmish, but what worries us even more were the disruptors used on the attacking Romulan ship. Though we have a peace treaty with the Romulans, in terms of intelligence Starfleet still is in the dark over the latest Romulan advances to their weaponry. For we all know the Romulans maybe installing this disruptor on all their ships, and suffice to say they would have a considerable tactical advantage over us.”

    Ezri’s mood lowered some more, was the attack on the Excelcius just the beginning? “Surely the Romulans wouldn't go to war with us? There has been fourteen years of peace between the Federation and the Romulan Empire ever since the Devron peace treaty, why would the Romulans risk a war they couldn't win?”

    “The Romulan government is not as stable as most people imagine, there are ugly rumblings from the Tal Shiar and the Romulan military. They may want a war or a return to a more aggressive stance with the Federation, and this disruptor of their's maybe the key to all that. However Starfleet already has its top scientists working on the problem of better shielding and hull plating. The reason why I'm contacting you is that DS9's science department is one of those selected to develop a stronger armour for Starfleet vessels.”

    “How long will this project last?” asked Ezri.

    Ross looked at Ezri in a bullish way. “As long as it takes until a breakthrough is made. Your chief of science has already been informed of this, and he has been given permission to use whatever resources your station has at its disposal. I'm told from Starfleet Research and Development that over the next month their may be several minor breakthroughs made. Perhaps Mr Weatherby's department will make one of those of breakthroughs. Taken together Starfleet R and D may find the new technologies required to find a countermeasure against the new Romulan disruptor.”

    Ezri was glad that Starfleet had not taken this Romulan attack lying still. “And if Starfleet has a countermeasure then the Romulans will think twice before they consider attacking the Federation?”

    “That's the idea,” replied Ross. “Ross out.”

    When the transmission had ended, Ezri put a hand to her chin. Her mind was whirring way thinking about the Romulans, if the Romulans were returning to their aggressive posturing then the peace treaty signed between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire would be in ashes. It could possibly mean another war. While she contemplated, Ezri absentmindedly picked up Sisko’s baseball from the stand, and with one finger rolled it around in circles on the table.

    She liked Sisko’s ball, and she considered it a good luck charm of sorts. The fact that it had remained in this office for all these years, said something to Ezri.


    Day 2, 1429 hours

    When Max entered the chemistry lab he noticed the entire staff gathered around the display screen. He checked his chronometer and realised it was 1429 hours, by some miracle he had managed to arrive just in time for the staff meeting he had originally planned for in the morning. However he had spent the last two hours arguing with Ezri about the finer details of this armour project. What he had initially disliked about the project was how it would mess up his science department’s schedule for the next week and possibly longer.

    It would be a massive administrative mess once the project was complete, but somehow Max would sort things out. When he got to the centre of the gathering, he briefly consulted a padd to skim through the outlines of what he would discuss for this brief meeting. He liked giving out orders, but he also liked running the science department in an efficient and smart way.

    Once he had finished with the padd, he addressed his staff. “Starfleet, in its love for handing out difficult technical problems, has given this science department and numerous others in the Federation, the task of finding a stronger armour to eventually replace the ablative armour many Starfleet ships use. As you all probably know, the recent Romulan skirmish highlighted a new type of disruptor the Romulans were using. Not only did the disruptor pierce through the shielding, it also cut through the ablative armour like a knife through butter.

    “The only good news is that Starfleet received the Excelcius final sensor readings, and this gives us some idea of a: what type of damage the ablative armour sustained, and b: the energy modulation of the Romulan disruptor. Most of the staff working in this department will be formulating new compounds to try to produce a stronger armour. I've brought along commander Felpes and Nog, because Felpes is the best physicist in the sector, and Nog has had numerous experience with ablative armour.

    “Today I want to focus on developing new materials and compounds, if you have any ideas test them and see what you come up with. When Felpes and Nog have finished their research, then maybe, just maybe, the task of developing a new armour will become a little easier. Let's get to work!”

    While the staff went to their respective stations, Max walked over to Nog and Megan, he had asked Ezri for those two. “I trust you two have read the sensor readings from the Excelcius?”

    “Briefly yes,” said Nog.

    “I have,” said Megan.

    Max nodded his approval. “Nog you could use some of the spare ablative armour my staff use in tests, see if you can emulate the damage done by the Romulan disruptors.”

    “You could help with me that Megan,” said Nog.

    “Sure, I'll set up the laser frequency generator and we'll get started.”

    “How long will that take?” asked Max.

    “At least three days,” said Megan sounding slightly apologetic, “since Nog and I have to generate the precise frequency and modulation. I don't suppose your going to lay down a deadline?”

    “I'm afraid so,” said Max a little grimly, “I'll give you five days maximum, there's nothing like a bit of time pressure to get you focused on the problem.”

    Megan scowled at Max, no doubt she didn’t like the time pressure because she as the head of the astronomy department set her own deadlines to complete work. Nevertheless Max knew full well that smartly thought-out deadlines focused minds and improved efficiency.

    While Megan and Nog went over to the laser frequency generator, Max went over to his work space. It was more like his own personal chemistry set, complete with stands, bottles, jars, vials, and all sorts of materials and equipment. However the only bit of equipment he would be using was his padd, as he rearranged chemical formulae. He was trying to find through trial and error a compound that would be the solution to the armour problem he was dealing with.
  19. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 2, part 1

    Day 2, 1500 hours

    After six hours of work in the chemistry lab, Megan managed to find the time to catch up on paper work. She worked inside the astronomy lab, as it was her favourite place to work. Of course thanks to Mia’s assistance she had managed to cut her workload down by five hours per week.

    When the door to the astronomy lab opened, Megan casually glanced around and spotted Mia. As always Mia was very punctual and precise, arriving at 1500 hours to collect various padds. Megan presumed Mia got her punctuality from her father.

    “This week's batch of results is far more larger than usual,” commented Megan. “But I'm sure you will manage. I want the results analysed and written up by Friday.”

    “Sure I'll do that,” said Mia, she sounded unusually rushed.

    This struck Megan as odd and she paused from her work, and turned around to get a better look at Mia. “Is something bothering you?” she asked. “Because you don't sound all that enthusiastic.”

    Mia was just about to collect the padds when she froze. “It's a personal matter,” she said tensely.

    “Don't tell me,” said Megan, “caring for your mother has taken its toll on you?”

    “It's not that...” said Mia frowning, she looked almost frustrated. “I can't explain it.”

    Megan left her station and walked over to Mia, something was very wrong with that girl. “Are you sure everything is fine between you and your mother?”

    “Everything is fine,” said Mia cantankerously, she seemed annoyed by Megan’s concern.

    There was a small silence, and Mia was clearly thinking about something, yet she was holding back from something. “I want to ask you something and this may sound a little stupid so don't laugh.”

    Megan didn’t respond, and on Megan's silent prompt, Mia elaborated on her question. “Do you ever get that feeling that your life has no meaning? That you're simply going through the motions, and what you see and hear feels like a dream?”

    “No not really,” said Megan slowly, she was surprised by how doubtful Mia looked. “You are a Bajoran, well half-Bajoran, so don't you meditate on matters such as those?”

    “I don't meditate,” said Mia in a strangely harsh tone of voice.

    “Why not?” asked Megan.

    Mia scowled her displeasure at the question. “Because every Bajoran asks the Prophets for guidance, when they meditate. They seem to think the Prophets are 'gods', but I was nine when I realised what the Prophets really were; a bunch of non-corporeal aliens who have an odd affinity for Bajor…”

    An amused almost defiant expression came upon Mia’s face. “I mean what is so special about the Prophets?”

    Megan hesitated a little bit as she considered her answer. “Though I consider the Prophets to be wormhole aliens, I think it's wrong to so easily dismiss Bajoran beliefs like you have. What it comes down to is faith, a belief in something more powerful than you, guiding you and watching over you. It must be quite comforting, in any case I do know that without meditation Bajorans feel out of alignment with their paghs.”

    “But I'm only half Bajoran!” exclaimed Mia. “Why should I concern myself with my supposed pagh?”

    “Because that is what every other Bajoran does, and maybe meditation will give you the clarity you need.”

    “I'll think about it...” said Mia cautiously, while looking even more sour.

    Collecting the padds, Mia left the room, leaving Megan to wonder how Mia was going to solve this latest road block to her life. Megan didn’t have the answers for Mia, and it seemed Mia was going through what could very well be a spiritual crisis of faith. It came down to heritage, and Megan strongly believed that one could not ignore culture and tradition. For those two things influenced a person deeply and affected his very sense of identity.


    Day 2, 1600 hours

    Megan was tidying up her work desk of various padds and tools, for a second day she had little to almost no luck trying to configure the laser frequency generator to emulate the Romulan disruptor energy.

    “Some day,” said Max sarcastically as he walked over to Megan. “We made zero progress, and I'm dreading to think what will happen tomorrow.”

    “And to think I was the pessimistic one,” said Megan sardonically. “It's not the end of the world you know, we'll make some small breakthrough.”

    “I hope so,” said Max wearily, “because I've stuck my head in the meat-grinder for way to long.”

    Megan though wasn’t really listening, she was toying around with a crazy idea, and she decided to take a risk and implement the idea. “I have an idea that could help. Why don't we review our work over dinner, say in Jake Sisko's restaurant?”

    “Dinner?” said Max, his eyebrows rising up and nearly disappearing around his hairline. “Isn't that a little romantic?”

    “It's simply a friendly invitation,” said Megan innocently, “and admit it, it would be nice.”

    Max gave a brief burst of laughter, he was looking at Megan in a seemingly new light. “You're not secretly in love with me are you?” he asked sounding jovial.

    With those words, Megan’s insides melted and she fought the madness as she considered professing her love for Max. All she could manage was a passable hearty laugh. “With you?” she said. “You must be joking, I don't want to even think about romance.”

    There was an understanding look on Max’s face. “Because of Bordak and Jack,” he replied rather softly.

    “Precisely...” said Megan nodding. “Anyway do you want to have dinner with me or not?”

    “All right then,” said Max sounding a little defensive. “1800 hours tonight, you have yourself a date.”

    He winked cheekily before then walking off and leaving the lab.

    Megan watched him go and she couldn’t help it but she eyed him up from behind. He was so trim, yet he had those broad shoulders, and of course Max was so handsome it almost took her breathe away. When Max had left, Megan breathed out deeply, that had been too close and she realised Max had come close to discovering her true feelings for him.

    She couldn’t understand her reluctance and constant pretence. In that conversation she could have told Max that she loved him, and she figured it was highly likely that Max would reciprocate her feelings. They would probably have kissed, and Megan’s dreams would have come true. Perhaps after dinner she would make her move, but her consistently faltering courage paralysed her into virtual inaction.

    At least she had taken the first step, but it was up to her to show Max that she wanted more than friendship. It seemed Max was totally unaware of her true feelings, and that he was content with having just a friendship. With a pang Megan realised that Max may actually have feelings for her, but he was holding back probably because he didn’t think it was appropriate. There was no other option for Megan; she had to tell Max that she loved him…


    Day 2, 1630 hours

    Mia gently messaged Kira’s arms and carefully extended them as she performed her second period of physiotherapy for Kira. Over the last two weeks Mia had noticed considerable improvements in Kira’s condition. For one thing Kira didn’t need diapers anymore, for another Kira now had limited function in her arms, and finally Kira had nearly full function in her hands and neck.

    There was a powerful determination that Mia could feel coming from Kira, and it truly inspired Mia how her mother was recovering. Caring for her mother now wasn’t nearly as onerous as two weeks ago, and with each passing day Kira gained a little more independence.

    Mia was also starting to really bond with her mother, there was a bond before she cared for Kira, but now it had grown into something stronger. Strong enough that Mia felt she could discuss to Kira something that had always irked her…

    “You were right you know...” said Mia as she stretched Kira's arms out.

    “Right about what?” said Kira.

    “About the Prophets and meditating,” said Mia quietly. “I don't know why but my life doesn't feel right.”

    Kira looked understandingly at Mia. “So are you thinking about meditating?”

    “Maybe,” admitted Mia. “But as you've told me so many times before, when Bajorans meditate, they ask the Prophets for guidance. But I don't consider the Prophets as gods.”

    “I'm afraid,” said Kira sadly, “that I can't help you that much in these matters. I won't preach to you about the Bajoran faith in the Prophets, you have to make up your own mind, and work out what you want to believe in.”

    Though Mia appreciated Kira’s restraint, right now she wanted Kira to talk about the Prophets. “Why do you believe in the Prophets?” asked Mia slowly.

    “It comes down to faith,” said Kira simply, and she gazed at her daughter with a fervent and pious look. “I believe that the Prophets have watched over Bajor and that they have set down a plan for us Bajorans to follow. It doesn't matter what the Prophets ask of us, or whether things will turn out for the better or worst, because if we follow the Prophets they will they will reward us in the next life.”

    “That's a lot to place your faith in,” said Mia, trying hard to keep the doubt and disbelieve from her voice.

    “That is what keeps me going every day,” said Kira fondly. “In some ways I was like you when I was younger. I wasn't sure about the Prophets, and despite my meditations I always had lingering doubts.”

    Now this did surprise Mia, for she had always assumed Kira had been a life-long believer in the Prophets. “What made you to place your faith in the Prophets?”

    “One reason was the Emissary,” said Kira, while she gazed reminiscently at Mia. “He physically represented the Prophet's will, and it made me realise the power the Prophets had over all our lives. The second reason is more complicated. After the occupation I did some much needed soul-searching, as I came to terms with my anger, despair and pain…”

    Now Kira looked considerably thoughtful as she spoke. “So I prayed to the Prophets, but the more I prayed the more I felt that I was wasting my time. My anger and sorrow were not vanishing away and occasionally I thought the Prophets weren't helping me at all…”

    Kira paused, and it seemed she was still contemplating the past. “But then one day I realised I had been ignoring their guidance all along. It wasn't about wishing my bad feelings away, it was about confronting them and knowing my own self, and when I did that something subtly changed inside of me.

    “It was a gradual process, but the pain and anger didn't feel as raw, since I had to come to terms with it, and I realised that there was nothing I could do to change it. All I could do was live my life and do good, and not to repeat the mistakes of the past. It was a resolution and for twenty years and more I have always prayed for the Prophets to give me the strength to follow that resolution.”

    The look on Kira’s face was one of absolute certainty and conviction. “The Prophets guide you in a personal way, and once you find what they want from you, then you realise why they are gods. For how can some mysterious identity, change your very soul without even physically meeting you? This is why I believe in the Prophets, because they help you with the most important thing you possess; your soul.”

    “You know,” said Mia slightly resentfully, “why didn't you tell me all of this when I was younger?”

    Kira grimaced slightly and looked a little regretful. “I didn't think you would understand, but now you know.”

    “What I need,” said Mia firmly, “is an orb experience.”

    Despite Mia’s impassioned demand, Kira shook her head and smiled sadly. “That alone isn't enough to give you faith,” she warned, “for faith hast to come from within.”

    “Perhaps,” murmured Mia. “But what I need is guidance.”

    “One hour of intense self-reflection can reveal more to you than fifty orb-visions,” observed Kira rather wisely.

    “But what do I reflect about?” asked Mia, now she sounded desperate because she so badly wanted spiritual clarity. “Where do I start my search for the truth? That's why I think consulting an orb will help me, it will tell me things about myself that I'm not aware of, or have ignored. Maybe afterwards I'll have a better understanding of what I need to do.”

    There was a long pause, and Mia was so caught up in the conversation that she had stopped messaging Kira’s arms.

    Kira was looking steadfastly into Mia’s eyes, and was weighing up Mia’s impassioned request for spiritual enlightenment. Finally with the tiniest of nods, Kira had reached a verdict. “All right,” she said, “I’ll see what I can do…”

    Mia stretched over and hugged her mother. “Thanks mum, that’s much appreciated…”

    Smiling back, Kira weakly returned the hug. “I’m proud of you,” she said softly into Mia’s ear. “It takes great courage to ask the Prophets to help you see things that you are not prepared to face…”

    After some moments Mia let go and she resumed the physiotherapy she was giving to Kira. Already Mia felt a little better, and she took this as a sign that this spiritual quest of hers was the correct thing to do to resolve one of her most deepest and profound personal problems.
  20. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Chapter 2, part 2

    Day 2, 1800 hours

    As she was having dinner with Max, Megan decided to wear something more informal. However this wasn't a romantic date so Megan decided to wear her usual civilian clothes; in this case a tan coloured long-sleeve shirt, and her favourite mid length, trendy, white skirt. She also removed the broach from her pony-tail, and let her hair fall down around her back.

    With everything done she thought she looked rather nice, she then took a purse full of gold-pressed latinum strips from the chest of drawers in her bedroom, collected some padds, and then left her quarters heading for the Promenade.

    Just outside the Prophet's Cuisine she saw Max walking towards the restaurant. He looked rather striking in a dark wooden brown jacket, dark turquoise blue shirt and navy blue trousers. There was a very casual aura about Max and Megan really liked that.

    Max spotted her and he came over.

    “You look nice,” said Max, his eyes in particular looking at Megan’s skirt.

    “Same here,” replied Megan. “Let’s go in shall we?”

    They arrived at the entrance, opening the wooden front doors. Once inside they stood behind a ‘wait here to be served’ sign, placed on top of a red carpet.

    Megan had never actually been inside Prophet’s Cuisine but it looked unbelievably cosy. The bottom half of the walls were lined with wooden panels, while the top half had elaborately patterned wall paper that was pleasant to the sight. Numerous paintings lined these walls, and the paint was further highlighted by the pale golden lighting illuminating the whole room.

    The restaurant stretched back considerably, while the side facing the Promenade was about half that length. All sorts of smells bombarded Megan’s nose, and most of the smells came from the kitchen. Megan knew the dimensions of this place, and she figured that the kitchen would be nearly as long as the entire length of the restaurant.

    A waiter came over.

    “Table for two please,” said Max confidently.

    “This way please,” said the waiter.

    Megan and Max followed the waiter past rows of tables, and vine-covered bulkheads. They also passed the drink’s bar, where there was an eye-numbing number of different beverages on offer. Just to the left of the drink’s bar was the pair of doors leading to the kitchen, it momentarily opened revealing Jake carrying a trayful of dishes. He nodded to Megan and Max as they passed by.

    Arriving at a table against the wall, Megan sat down upon the cushy chairs, there was a good half metre around her in space. Looking around she was surprised by how roomy this restaurant was, though it was busy it didn’t feel cramped. Many of the people were couples, some of them were holding hands, and one or two were even kissing.

    This made the hairs on the back of Megan’s neck stand up, the whole mood felt too romantic for her liking. Though she decided to keep her eyes averted by reading the menu, finally when she had found a starter and main dish of her liking, she kept her eyes upon Max. “Don't you feel a little uncomfortable sitting in here?” she asked Max.

    “Not really,” said Max with a shrug. “I couldn't really care if people considered the Prophet's Cuisine as the most romantic restaurant on DS9. All I care about is the food, and from what I hear Jake Sisko is the best chef in the sector.”

    Jake came over, as always looking upbeat and positive. “Are you two ready to take your orders now?”

    Megan nodded.

    “We are,” said Max. He then started looking at the menu. “I'll have for starters six vegetable samosas, one small Mapa bread. For the main course it will be a Tandoori based chicken tikka, with a medium-sized bowl of pilau race… And for drinks I’ll have jumja tea.”

    When Max was done, it was Megan’s turn. “For starters I’ll have the salmon dish with salad, and the Prophet’s soup. For the main course I’ll have sheekh kebab, with a portion of salad, and Chinese pork. Could I also have kava juice as well?

    “Anything else?” asked Jake.

    “No,” said Megan.

    “I do have one question,” said Max. “What’s with all the variety of human foods?”

    Jake it seemed was in a hurry because he briefly checked his chronometer before answering Max’s question. “It’s more like a selection of Earth dishes, from nearly all cultures. Many of my customers are non-human, so I figured a wide selection would give them a taste of Earth’s food and beverages. Anyway I need to get back to the kitchen before the Andorian pork burns up.”

    “What a courteous chef,” said Megan admiringly.

    “He gets it after his grandfather,” replied Max. “I was fortunate enough to have a meal in Joseph Sisko's restaurant.”

    “Fortunate?” repeated Megan, there was something a little ominous in what Max had said.

    “It was a special dinner to commemorate the second year of my relationship to a cadet I was dating with at the time. Can you believe we got there on the last day before Joseph retired as a chef?”

    “Who was she?” asked Megan, “The women you were dating?”

    “Tanya Dawson,” said Max with a smile, and he nearly went misty-eyed. “The nicest cadet in class, intelligent and very pretty. She had the most amazing petite figure, silky brown hair, ice-blue coloured eyes, and a really cute looking up-turned nose.”

    “Are you still in contact with her?”

    The misty-eyed look disappeared from Max’s face. “No,” he sadly replied. “We broke up after we graduated from Starfleet Academy. We decided it was best to pursue our careers, so we ended the relationship.”

    “I'm sorry to hear that,” said Megan, though she wasn’t really sure how she felt about this former relationship.

    “Don't be,” said Max, with a wave of his hand. “It was for the best, being that young, ambition and love don't mix.”

    The 'for the best' mantra seemed a little untrue to Megan, and she decided to gently press Max to clarify on that issue. “But do you at least slightly regret ending the relationship with Tanya?”

    Max’s mouth crumpled in sadness and concern. “I do regret it of sorts, but what's done is done and I can't change that. Besides it's not all bad, including Tanya and you, you are my two favourite women in the universe, in a friendly way of course.”

    “Of course...” said Megan, keen to keep that matter straight. “I'm quite touched by that, you do know how to make a woman feel special.”

    “You are special to me,” said Max sincerely. “I've never had such a good friend in years.”

    Such affection from Max surprised Megan, she had underestimated how far her friendship with Max had developed. But she still didn’t get any hint from Max of wanting more than friendship. Perhaps during this dinner she could tell Max she loved him, it would be the perfect setting…

    She continued to talk with Max while they waited for their meal, and the conversation was so engaging that Megan immediately put her plan of telling Max her feelings on the back burner.

    Author’s note: One part of this scene was horrible to write and that was Megan and Max selecting dishes from the menu. I had to improvise, horribly (thank you Tandoori Nights, Inshangai and the food and beverages section of Star Trek Memory Alpha…).