Epsilon Three was a verdant garden of all sorts of plant life. Keiko spent much time taking samples and cataloging them, while Dax took the time to relax and to analyze some data she had brought with her from Deep Space Nine.“This is a gorgeous spot,” Dax said as she and Keiko spread a picnic lunch out.
does one come often to the Gamma Quadrant? Thanks to the Dominion, the
Gamma Quadrant doesn’t exactly lend itself to being the place to vacation.”
the contrary, I hear that it is the place to come. I guess Epsilon Three
is a hot spot for young Bajorans and Jenna is seeing a Bajoran. His name is
Dev Taya, I believe, and they are madly in love. I can’t think of a more beautiful
or secluded getaway, can you?”
is a gorgeous spot, though I’m not sure if I would want to risk encountering
the Jem’Hadar on an `often’ basis. The holosuite will do just fine, thank you.
What did you say the young man’s name was again?”
“Doesn’t sound familiar,” Dax said, biting into a sandwich. “Mmm. This is good.
What is it?”
and cream-cheese. It’s a favorite of Miles.”
these. Strawberry jam and cream cheese.”
will. I will try them next.”
took a look around, reveling in the abundance of nature.
“You’re right though,” she said thoughtfully. “It seems odd for people to willingly come into the Gamma Quadrant for fun. But I suppose, when you’re young and in love, you do reckless things.”“Sisko thinks what we’re doing here is pretty reckless.”
“Perhaps,” Keiko finished off a sandwich and reached for a drink. “But you never know what good might come out of plant life. For instance, new medicines.”
don’t think you’re crazy. I’m here, right? You don’t have to convince me.”
lunch, the two women explored a little bit of the area.
said the weather here is pretty constant all the time. Nice and balmy, not too
much sun and just the barest hint of a breeze,” Keiko said conversationally.
“It is gorgeous. Look, over there,” Dax pointed at a long, narrow wooden structure. It was a plain building, with two square windows cut in the front on either side of a door. The roof was black, tiled in typical Bajoran fashion.Dax pushed open the door and entered the building, Keiko right behind her.
“A lab maybe?” Keiko asked, noting the long tables lining the inside walls. There were many wires hanging out of the walls, and by the shadows left behind, Dax deduced that there must have been computers here once. There were a few test tubes and beakers left behind. One of them was filled with a greenish liquid.
“I wonder why there would be a lab here,” Dax mused. She paced the length of the building, noting the row of bunk beds along one wall. There were accommodations here for six people, Dax noted, but what those people were doing here was uncertain.
Keiko cried out. “Something bit me!”
hurried to her friend’s side. Keiko hopped on one foot and leaned against the
“Let me look at that,” Dax said, noting the swelling around Keiko’s ankle. “We should get back to the runabout. It might be an allergic reaction to something.”
that moment, Keiko’s hand slipped and one of the beakers fell over, splashing
her with the foul-smelling liquid.
Dax cried, backing away slowly from the miasma that was filling the room. Keiko
shook her hand of the liquid, watching the green droplets fall to the floor.
Dax ripped a strip of material from the sleeve of her gray shirt. “Let me help
stood still while Dax wiped her hand and some of her clothes clean.
get back to the runabout,” Dax said. “I’m worried about your foot.”
nodded. In a few seconds, the two women beamed back aboard the Shenandoah.
didn’t even see what bit me,” Keiko said, as Dax hauled out the medkit.
just hope it wasn’t poisonous,” Dax replied. “Here, this should help with the
swelling, but I think we should head back to the station.”
agreed. There were still some samples she wanted to gather, but they could always
return at a later date.
going to go lie down in the back,” Keiko said as Dax set the course for the
wormhole. “I don’t feel so well.”
ahead. I think I can handle things fine without you.”
Kira walked into Ops, trying to hide her disappointment from Sisko. However, after eight years of serving together, there was little Kira could do to conceal anything from her commanding officer.
my office, Major,” Sisko said simply as Kira stepped off the turbo lift. Kira
shook her head and followed the captain into his office.
he asked without preamble.
was barred from the Vedek Assembly.”
sighed, unable to sit still, so she paced the length of the room.
“It’s just that Kai Winn makes me so angry sometimes,” Kira said. “Sometimes, I can’t help but think that she has a larger plan for Bajor, one that doesn’t necessarily include the Federation.”
is nothing wrong with that.”
it’s Winn, Captain. I can’t trust her and I know you certainly
have had my doubts about the Kai in the past.”
“She barred me from addressing the Assembly. I was marched out of the building like a common criminal. At this rate, if the Federation does agree to go through with the application, no one is even going to turn out for the referendum.”
Sisko said pensively. Kira eyed him curiously.
have a plan? Do you mean that you plan to address the Vedek Assembly?”
“You know I can’t do that,” Sisko said thoughtfully. “I might be the Emissary, but I certainly can’t interfere in Bajor’s politics, especially with the Federation having so much to gain from Bajor’s inclusion. No, I’m going to have to think of something else.”
you, sir. Whatever you can do.”
know I’ll do my best.”
know that, sir. Thank you,” Kira turned to leave the office.
nodded and left the room.
Neither woman expected her husband to be waiting for them as they disembarked from the runabout. O’Brien was in Ops on duty while Worf had taken the Defiant out on a routine training session. In a way, Mrs. O’Brien was grateful that Miles was not present to greet her. Keiko looked pale and weary, her face and hands tinged red. Her foot was still swollen from the creature that had bit her earlier.“I’ll beam us directly to the infirmary,” Dax told Keiko. “The sooner Bashir looks at that, the better.”
Years of working on the station had taught Bashir not to be startled whenever someone beamed directly into his infirmary. He was taken slightly aback though when he saw Dax and Keiko.
“You two weren’t supposed to be back for another two days,” Bashir said as he helped Keiko to a biobed.
happened to you?”
explained about the animal bite.
this?” Bashir lifted her red and swollen hand.
that,” Keiko said. “I had almost forgotten.”
described the wooden hut and the beaker of greenish liquid which Keiko had spilled.
you bring a sample?” Bashir asked.
“No, at the time we thought it was relatively harmless,” Dax answered. “It just smelled noxious. And if it was dangerous, would anyone have left it just laying around?”Bashir didn’t answer as he examined Keiko’s foot.
“Well, that’s a nasty bite you have there, but I believe it’s just an allergic reaction,” Bashir concluded after a few moments. He pressed a hypospray against the affected hand and foot and immediately the swelling began to decrease. “Come by later if you have any more problems.”“Thanks,” Keiko said.
The two women left the infirmary and parted ways. Dax to head to the daycare and Keiko back to her quarters for a nap.In the daycare, Dax headed straight for Daria.
“Commander,” the woman in charge of the facility looked surprised to see Dax. “You weren’t supposed to be back for another couple days.”
know,” Dax smiled as she lifted Daria up from the crib. “But there was a change
in plans. I’m going to take Daria home now.”
was ecstatic to see her mother and pulled playfully at Dax’s hair.
“Hey, little one, stop that,” Dax scolded, but Daria merely giggled, knowing her mother wasn’t serious. “Your father doesn’t know I’m home yet, so I think we will surprise him.”Once in their quarters, Dax played with Daria for a little bit before setting the baby down on the floor.
“What do you think for dinner, huh, little one?” Dax asked the child seriously. Daria looked at her mother, her big brown eyes wide and questioning. Dax laughed. “I suppose something simple, maybe, because I’ve had a long day.”
Dax checked out some recipes in the replicator and then decided to go with a simple Terran recipe for jambalya that Sisko had programmed into the replicator. Jambalya was one of the few Terran foods Worf enjoyed and frankly, Dax was getting a little tired of dinner that moved around on her plate.
“And it’s going to be squished peas for you, Daru,” Dax told her daughter, sweeping the infant up in her arms. “Sound good, huh? I thought so. Just wait until you get teeth and then we will have all kinds of fun with food.”
After fixing dinner, Dax took Daria and went into the bedroom to change her clothes. Starfleet uniforms were generally comfortable, but wearing them day after day started to get a little boring. Dax decided to wear a dress tonight.
like, Daru?” she asked the baby, who had somehow found Dax’s shoes and was chewing
on the laces. “You stop that. My goodness, you’re into everything.”
was sitting on the bed, reading softly to Daria, when Worf finally came home.
Worf called as he entered their quarters.
Daddy’s home,” Dax said, swinging the baby up into her arms. “How did you know
I was here?”
went to the daycare center and Daria was gone.”
Just surprised. Any reason?”
“I missed you,” Dax answered. Dax hooked one arm around her husband’s neck, holding firm to Daria with the other arm. “And of course, I missed the squealer.”
frowned, “I do not understand why you keep calling her the squealer.”
it’s a term of endearment.”
Worf did not answer; instead he went into the bedroom to change his clothes. By this time, Daria had fallen asleep so Dax put the baby down to bed. For a moment, she just gazed at her daughter lovingly, fingering the little ridges which were just now beginning to harden. There were times when Jadzia felt overwhelmed and it seemed odd, considering she had had nine children before as both mother and father. And then she would remember that it was Jadzia’s first time as a mother and that made it all more exciting and fresh.
love you, pumpkin,” Dax said, kissing her fingers and then pressing them to
her daughter’s forehead. She could hear Worf moving around and so she left the
bedroom, leaving a small light on, just in case Daria woke up during the night.
get you all to myself,” Dax said when Worf emerged from the bedroom. “At least
until the next feeding.”
I hope you don’t mind.”
They talked about the Defiant and some problems
that Worf had encountered in the port nacelle.
After a few moments though, Worf kept staring at Jadzia, and she began to feel a little self-conscious.
“What is the matter?” she asked.
“Swollen!” Dax stood up and ran into the bedroom to check
the mirror. Indeed, her face was all red and puffy. Alarmed, she glanced at
her hands and realized that red splotches were appearing on her hands.
“How do you feel?” Worf asked.
“Fine,” Dax said. “If you hadn’t said anything, I wouldn’t have noticed at all. It’s probably just I’m so tired.”“Maybe you should get some rest. Don’t worry about cleaning up tonight. And I will wake up with Daria tonight so you don’t have to.”
“It’s probably just some rash or something. There were all sorts of strange animals and plants on Epsilon Three, so I’m not surprised.”“Tell me about your trip then.”
Keiko O’Brien could not keep her eyes open. She was listening to Miles but his words were slipping away from her. Somehow, she made it through dinner without falling over. She dozed off for a moment and then suddenly she was awake again and she noticed Miles was staring at her oddly.“Are you sure Julian said you were all right?” the Chief asked anxiously.
Dax stirred, feeling the sleep leave her limbs. She opened first one eye and then the other. The quarters were suspiciously quiet and that worried Dax. She got out of bed and pulled a robe over her nightgown.“Computer, what is the time?” she mumbled as she headed straight for the replicator.
“It is 0500 hours,” the computer answered. A mug of steaming raktijino materialized and Dax cupped her hands around the steaming beverage gratefully; she was never quite awake until she had first cup of raktijino.She sat down at the table, sipping the drink slowly as not to burn her tongue, and then she realized why she was awake.
“Worf?” she called. She left the mug on the table and peeked into the baby’s room to see if Worf was there; he was not. Dax leaned over the crib and saw that the baby was gone too.
Dax immediately went into the bedroom and changed into her uniform. She combed her hair back into the silver clip she wore everyday, trying to ignore the bags beneath her eyes and the puffiness of her face. After splashing water on her face, Dax felt ready to greet the rest of the world.
She made her way to the Promenade, knowing she would find Worf there. Her husband had commandeered a secluded area of the Promenade, selecting a window which was fairly quiet.“Good morning,” Dax said, wrapping her arms around him from the back.
“Daria was crying,” Worf explained. “And I know you needed your rest after yesterday. So I came here.”“That was very thoughtful of you. You didn’t have to do that.”
“Me?” Dax reached over to lift her little girl out of her husband’s arms. Daria was seven months old now, just the right age for her still developing personality to emerge. The baby slept through the transition, secure in the arms which held her tight.
“You did not look well yesterday. And then later, when we were in bed, you fell asleep,” Worf said.
“I did?” Dax asked, frowning. She remembered going into the bedroom with Worf, of kissing him and then falling backwards onto the bed. She remembered running her hands through his hair and feeling his kisses on her neck and face... and then nothing. “Worf, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”“Don’t worry,” he told her. “You must have been more tired than you thought.”
Chief Miles O’Brien tripped over a ball and landed squarely on his bottom. He could hear subdued giggles as nine year-old Molly’s head popped up over the edge of the sofa and three year-old Yoshi poked his head around the sofa’s armrest.“How many times do I have to tell you kids to pick up your toys?” O’Brien asked in frustration.
“Sorry, Daddy,” Molly said sweetly and O’Brien felt his anger melting away. It wasn’t their fault, he supposed, that he was so uptight lately. It was just the he had so much to do - as usual. The station, even after eight years of constant maintenance, was still falling apart. One thing was certain: Cardassian architecture was not built to last.And of course, there was Keiko.
Ever since Keiko had gone on that trip into the Gamma Quadrant with Dax, there had been something strange about his wife. Not strange, O’Brien thought, as he replaced the ball in the toy chest. It was just that she wasn’t herself. In fact, it wasn’t like Keiko to still be sleeping now while the children were awake.“I’m going to see to your mother,” O’Brien told his children. He went into the bedroom and found Keiko still asleep. Miles sat on the bed next to her.
“Oh, I’m late,” Keiko tried to sit up but then she fell back against the pillows. “The kids, daycare. Molly has that riding lesson. I’ve got to take her.”“I don’t think you’re going anywhere today,” O’Brien said. “Except to see Bashir.”
O’Brien could immediately tell his wife was definitely not herself since she did not argue; rather she just closed her eyes and went back to sleep.Rest, O’Brien decided as he got up from the bed. That’s all Keiko needed.
Go to Part 3
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