“We’re getting closer,” Sisko told Kira. “The Federation is more serious than ever about approving Bajor’s application for membership. I think finally now the Federation is starting to realize Bajor’s importance, not only strategically but in terms of what Bajor can offer the Federation in terms of resource and technology.”
“It’s good to hear,” Kira answered. She reached for the baseball Sisko kept on his desk at all times and tossed it from palm to palm. Sisko eyed the Bajoran’s reaction to his statement with anxiety.“You don’t sound that pleased.”
“I am pleased, Captain, believe me. It’s just we’ve been close for so long now and we’ve finally gotten Kai Winn to see our way of thinking... I’m just trying not to be too optimistic.”
case it doesn’t work out?”
you don’t expect anything, you can’t be disappointed.”
suppose that’s one way of putting it.”
the doors behind Kira, Sisko could see O’Brien step off the turbolift.
Chief looks tired,” Sisko observed.
“I’m not surprised,” Kira said. “Every major system has been down in the last month. I’m sure O’Brien has personally repaired or replaced every circuit on this station in the last six months. And that hull breach we had last month hasn’t made things easier for him.”
smiled at Kira and she bowed her head, almost in embarrassment.
right,” she told him. “I’ve got to find something good to concentrate on.”
I say that?”
didn’t have to,” Kira sighed. “It’s just there are so many things that are going
wrong, that will go wrong, that can go wrong.”
Now Sisko could see Dax and Worf arriving for work, together as usual. Today, however, he noticed Dax was leaning against Worf, not something she usually did in public.
Sisko said brightly. “Things can’t get much worse, so they should get better.
hope so, sir. I hope you’re right.”
Keiko swung her legs over the side of the bed, trying to ignore the pounding in her brain. She could see herself in the mirror and she was aghast when she saw the red splotches rising on her face. She pressed her hands to her cheeks.“Miles?” she called out, trying to ignore the fire running through her body. So hot, so very hot. She tried to stand. “Molly? Yoshi?”
But of course the children weren’t there; Miles would have taken them to daycare. Keiko hobbled to the wall. Some soup, maybe. Chicken soup did wonders for a fever, she thought.She never made it to the replicators.
“So tell me about your trip to the Gamma Quadrant,” Kira said. She had taken a seat on the steps next to Dax’s usual station. After her meeting with Sisko, Kira was officially off duty, but since she hadn’t seen her friend since her return, Kira was anxious to find out how the trip into the Gamma Quadrant had gone. She made no comment, however, on her friend’s swollen face or the redness extending from beneath Dax’s eyes down to her neck.
“It was good. Epsilon Three is a very pretty planet, very quiet and nice,” Dax answered. “Keiko found some really nice flora samples and of course, we ran into some interesting fauna.”“My favorite part of any exploratory mission,” Kira laughed.
“You would have loved some of these animals,” Dax smiled at the memory. “There were some very cute tribble-like creatures. Adorable. I’m sure if the O’Brien children were with us, we would have had to bring one of them home.”
no,” Kira shook her head. “As it is, we can’t keep up with the voles we already
have on this station.”
Dax nodded, pausing for a moment to close her eyes.
you all right?” Kira asked.
just tired. You know how it is. The baby wears me out,” Dax answered. “I didn’t
recall parenthood being this hard before.”
“I think the memory fades with time,” Kira answered. “Which is probably the only reason why people keep having children. They don’t remember the endless crying, the long nights...” Kira broke off as she realized Dax had fallen asleep.Immediately Worf was at Dax’s side.
“Jadzia?” he whispered into her ear, but Dax did not stir. Worf turned to Kira. “Beam us directly to the infirmary.”“Understood,” Kira said, hastening to comply with the order. Worf and Dax immediately disappeared.
Bashir examined Dax who was leaning against Worf wearily.
far as I can tell, you were just sleeping,” Bashir said.
it?” Dax asked.
all. You fell asleep and now you’re awake. Simple. You’re cured.”
about this rash?” Worf asked anxiously.
took a look at his friend closely, noticing that her face was rapidly turning
colors, especially around the lips where it was a faint yellow.
I didn’t know better, I would think someone had punched you in the face,” Bashir
said frowning. “But here, you have a rash, consistent in texture with poison
ivy?” Dax asked.
terran plant. Causes a hideous itch all over the body. Highly contagious.”
turned to Worf in fear, “Daria.”
don’t know if you’re contagious, Jadzia, but I do advise you to stay away from
the baby until we do know for certain.”
worry, I’ll do that,” Dax answered grimly. She slid off the biobed. “Can I go
back to work now?”
But at the slightest sign of anything going wrong, you’ll come back?”
a Ruritanian minute.”
“Keiko?” O’Brien entered their quarters, fully expecting to see his wife sitting at the table, going over the data she had collected from Epsilon Three. She was not there. “Keiko?”Perhaps she had gone out. O’Brien stopped at the replicator.
“Jamaican blend, double sweet, double strong,” he ordered. Within seconds, the desired brew appeared and O’Brien took it. He savored the aroma for a moment and then walked into the bedroom.
knelt next to his wife, almost paralyzed with fright.
to Ops. Two to beam directly to the infirmary.”
Bashir frowned as he ran the tricorder over Keiko O’Brien’s prone body.
“I just found her lying on the floor,” Miles said, distraught. “I don’t know how long she had been lying there or if she tried to call for help. I know she hadn't been feeling well. I should have checked in earlier.”
is odd,” Bashir muttered.
Dax was in here earlier. Apparently she simply fell asleep at her station and
Worf brought her here. And now Keiko? Miles, Keiko is sleeping, that’s all.”
you wake her up?”
the problem. I can’t,” Bashir said. “I had the same problem with Dax, but she
woke up on her own within minutes.”
do you mean you can’t wake her up?”
“Watch,” Bashir injected a hearty dose of a stimulant into Keiko’s neck. No reaction. “I don’t dare to put much more in or it could cause her heart to stop.”
is bloody insane,” O’Brien said, pacing the length of the infirmary.
has the same rash as Jadzia,” Bashir said. “Except that Jadzia’s rash was much
it have something to do with Epsilon Three?” O’Brien queried. “They both went
suppose it’s possible. I treated Keiko yesterday for an animal bite but Jadzia
looked fine then.”
Jadzia bitten also?”
Bashir shook his head. “But there was something else... something that spilled
on Keiko. I’ll have to ask Dax about it.”
O’Brien took a long look at his wife. “I can’t believe she’s just sleeping.”
smiled at his friend sadly, “You know I will do all that I can.”
didn’t doubt it.”
“Is this contagious?” Sisko asked the minute Bashir appraised him of the situation.
“I have no idea,” Bashir admitted. “So far only Keiko and Dax have been affected and I have no idea if Dax contracted the sickness from Keiko. As far as I can tell, Keiko is far sicker than Dax is.”
soon will you know?” Kira asked anxiously.
“I suppose I will know if anyone who has come into contact with either woman gets sick,” Bashir answered
“That’s a comforting thought,” Odo said grimly.
“I suppose I should keep Worf and the Chief under close supervision,” Bashir said thoughtfully. “I have already asked that Dax confine herself to her quarters.”“What about the baby?” Kira asked.
“I am worried about Yoshi and Daria. They are young and I don’t know what effect this disease will have on them,” Bashir answered. “If you can take them?”
was about to volunteer,” Kira replied. “It will be no problem.”
this have something to do with Epsilon Three?” Sisko asked.
believe so, yes,” Bashir nodded. “I’m going to need to talk to Jadzia about
a substance she says spilled on Keiko. That could be what is causing this.”
all means,” Sisko nodded. “You’re dismissed. Major, if I could have a minute?”
is it, Captain?” Kira asked.
just got word today. The Federation has accepted Bajor’s application.”
sighed in relief, “Thank the Prophets.”
need to make sure the referendum goes through now, Major,” Sisko said. “We both
know how important that is.”
will do my best, sir.”
don’t care if you have to kidnap the Kai -”
a manner of speaking.”
understand. I will take a transport to Bajor immediately.”
the runabout. The Mekong is available,” Sisko offered. “You’ll get there
faster and with less fuss.”
you. I will contact you once I reach Bajor.”
O’Brien was on his way back to the infirmary, when he nearly collided with a young woman in a blue Starfleet uniform.
I just heard about Mrs. O’Brien. Will she be all right?” Lieutenant Jenna Rei
hope so,” O’Brien answered absent-mindedly.
there anything I can do? Anything for the children?”
everything is under control.”
let me know if there is anything I can do.”
you, Lieutenant. I appreciate the offer.”
“Tell me exactly what happened,” Bashir said.
“We were in this wood structure and I think it used to be a laboratory of some kind,” Dax said thoughtfully. She had changed out of her uniform and was wearing a blue jumpsuit of some kind. In the past few minutes since Bashir had arrived, he had noticed that her rash had gotten much worse.
“Keiko screamed out and she said she had been bitten by some animal. I never saw the animal. But as I was helping her, she knocked up against the table and this liquid spilled all over her clothes,” Dax continued.
on her hands,” Dax remembered. “But she did touch her neck, I think. I’m not
stepped away at first because it smelled foul, but then I helped her clean up.
I used a piece of my shirt to help get rid of the stuff.”
it get on you?”
suppose it must have,” Dax frowned. “But not the way it did on Keiko. I mean,
I did touch it because it was on the rag.”
didn’t happen to bring a sample?’
need to know if that substance is what’s causing this rash,” Bashir said. “Thank
are you going to do?”
think I may take a trip to Epsilon Three.”
sense,” Dax considered. “But Julian?”
Sisko had no trouble approving Bashir’s request to visit Epsilon Three. O’Brien requested to go also, but Sisko decided against it. Instead, Odo would accompany Bashir into the Gamma Quadrant.
“I got the exact coordinates from Dax,” Bashir told Odo as the runabout emerged from the wormhole. “We shouldn’t have a problem.”
you think it’s contagious?” Odo asked.
not sure. I would have to wait and see. One thing I do know is that it is not
do you mean?”
“It affected both Keiko and Dax. Yes, in varying degrees, but whatever this is, it can at least affect Trills and humans. I don’t know if it can be spread to Klingons, Bajorans or Romulans, but something that crosses species lines is certainly a virus to be afraid of.”
is the exact nature of this rash or virus, whatever you call it?” Odo asked.
sure,” Bashir said thoughtfully. “From what I’ve seen, it induces a puffy rash
of some kind, but it’s not itchy and also causes its victim to fall into a deep
it fatal?” Odo asked with concern.
itself isn’t fatal,” Bashir answered. “I suppose it’s possible that those affected
may never wake up, true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this thing is fatal.”
very interesting riddle, doctor.”
is,” Bashir admitted. “And I’m not quite sure what to make of it.”
have some ideas, don’t you, Doctor?”
Bashir nodded, “I’ve been thinking about Dax said about this structure being some kind of laboratory. It makes me wonder if this wasn’t engineered in some way.”
what I’m wondering, but I do have some ideas.”
didn’t answer and Odo knew he had spoken exactly what Bashir had been thinking.
When Jenna Rei entered the bar, heads turned. It was nothing new; because of her height and the color of her hair, Rei was used to attracting that kind of attention. But her focus was directed solely at one individual, a man named Dev Taya.
“Jenna,” Dev got off of his barstool and held his hands out to her. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon.”
“I had to come and tell you immediately. I think the plague has come to Deep Space Nine.”
know what I’m talking about. Epsilon Three?”
face lost all color, “How?”
“I mentioned the planet to Keiko O’Brien and she and Commander Dax went to check it out. I had no idea, Taya, or I would have said something. It was only after they returned that I found out that they had gone. Both the Commander and Mrs. O’Brien are ill now.”“We’ve got to do something,” Dev said quietly. “And fast.”
Rei nodded, “I have to go back to the station. I don’t have any leave. But contact me as soon as possible, because we have to stop it before it spreads anymore.”
know how fast it spreads is not up to me.”
know that, but you’ll try your best, won’t you?”
nodded, but inside he was worried.
Bashir entered the cabin, and was immediately assaulted by an obnoxious odor.“Ah!” he winced. “What’s that?”
He immediately glimpsed a stain on the floor and from its greenish tinge, he could tell that this was the remnants of what Keiko O’Brien had spilled.
at this,” Odo said, holding up a small silver fragment.
hurried to the Constable’s side.
recognize this, Doctor?” Odo asked.
“It’s part of a Bajoran earring,” Bashir answered. “The chain.”
Odo nodded. “This was obviously a Bajoran lab.”
a vacation spot.”
said something about Epsilon Three being a popular vacation getaway for young
Odo scoffed at the idea, “Surely if that were true, this building would be larger and more luxurious? And surely, those wouldn’t exist.”
Bashir looked to where Odo was pointing; the long wooden tables which lined the walls were scratched and worn. Immediately, the doctor whipped out the tricorder and began to take readings.
“I’m picking up faint traces of viral material,” Bashir said. “Odo, can you get me a sample of the green liquid? I want to take it back to DS Nine. But be careful; don’t touch it with your bare hands. I’m not sure how this would affect a shapeshifter, but let’s not take any chances.”
Odo’s hands morphed into a pair of gloves as he bent to scoop up what was left
of the green residue into a small container.
wonder why the Bajorans would want a lab here,” Bashir pondered. “And by the
looks of it, it’s been abandoned for quite a while.”
Odo handed the sealed container to Bashir. “I hope that helps.”
took one more look around the room.
anything else?” he asked.
As you said, this place was cleared out some time ago. And it looks as if whoever
was here was pretty thorough.”
for this,” Bashir pointed at the container. “I wonder if leaving it behind was
an oversight or if it was intentional.”
glanced at the Starfleet doctor, “That is a very good point.”
usual, Kai Winn disguised her real feelings about Kira Nerys behind a sugary
smile that did not fool the Major for a second.
must have heard the news,” Kira said.
is a great day for Bajor.”
don’t support the referendum?”
Prophets don’t support the referendum.”
said that before.”
child,” the Kai sighed. “How many times must we have this conversation? It really
is getting tiresome.”
leaned across the table which separated them and said, “You are standing in
the way of Bajor’s progress.”
if I told you I didn’t believe the Federation was good for Bajor?”
all the Federation and Starfleet have done for us?”
should be for Bajorans.”
sound like the Maquis,” Kira said in disgust. “I never thought you would.”
very simple, Major. I believe joining the Federation is the worst thing for
proof do you have of that?”
believe my point is self-explanatory.”
What does that mean?” Kira nearly shrieked.
child, as I said before, this is really tiresome. Please, tell your captain
I appreciate his efforts on Bajor’s part, but it’s really not necessary.”
necessary. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an important meeting to attend.”
Kira said, meeting the Kai’s glance without flinching. “Have a good day, Kai.”
Dax lay on the sofa, trying not to move too much, as the rash was becoming increasingly painful as it spread to all parts of her body. She was very sleepy but remembering Keiko O’Brien, she fought to stay awake. She blasted Klingon operas throughout the quarters in an attempt to fight off the inevitable sleep.As her eyes closed, Dax’s only thoughts were of Daria.
“Any change?” Bashir asked as he entered the infirmary. His nurse shook her head.
O’Brien is still asleep,” the nurse reported.
I’ve got the sample,” Bashir said. “Let me run some tests and see what we have.”
to monitor Mrs. O’Brien and keep me updated on her condition.”
Worf entered the quarters. He was a little later than he had intended, partly because he had stopped by Kira’s quarters to see Daria. She was little, he knew, but still old enough to be aware that she was separated from her parents. On the whole, Daria was a happy, content baby, but she had never spent much time away from either Worf or Dax.
“Jadzia?” Worf called. He knew how much Dax missed Daria, but they had both agreed it was important to keep the baby away until Bashir discovered the cause of the illness. They were not sure what would happen if Daria became sick and that was a risk Dax and Worf were not willing to take with their little girl.
“Jadzia?” Worf called again before sighting his wife asleep on the sofa. He touched her cheek gently, for a moment disregarding all of Bashir’s orders to the contrary. “Jadzia?”
did not stir, and if it weren’t for the splotches on her face, Worf would have
thought Dax had simply decided to take a nap.
has fallen asleep.”
“That’s two people down now,” Bashir informed Sisko. “I’ve examined Commander Worf and he seems unaffected.”
has a slight rash, but nothing too serious. Yet.”
them,” Sisko ordered. “I don’t want this spreading through the station.”
sir, I will do that.”
last thing we need is an epidemic. What have you found out about this thing?”
Bashir held out a PADD to the captain, “When we went to Epsilon Three, Odo and I discovered traces of viral material. That viral material is consistent in structure to what is present in both Dax and Keiko O’Brien’s blood streams.”“Is it fatal?”
“I have run a couple tests, but I’m not sure,” Bashir admitted. “From what I can tell, the virus seems to reproduce at its own rate and for a new virus, it is slow.”“Explain that, please.”
“This is a genetically engineered virus and from my calculations, it’s less than a year old. New viruses tend to be highly destructive and invariably, fatal to the victim. More highly evolved viruses tend to remain dormant for long periods of times, as their method of transmission, if you will, is much more sophisticated. This virus apparently is transferred simply by touch or by direct contact with the contagion itself, I’m not sure which.”
picked up the baseball, curling his fingers around the sphere, “But it could
could be, yes. But I need to run some more tests before I can be sure.”
it a new plague?”
“That’s the last thing we need on this station, doctor,” Sisko said in a hard voice. The young doctor nodded, understanding Sisko’s concerns. A plague could make it difficult to push the referendum through; it could also give the Dominion the perfect opportunity to attack again. And those scenarios, Bashir thought, did not even include those who might be infected with the virus.
I am looking for a cure,” Bashir assured his commanding officer.
Kira stopped in a favorite bar before departing from Bajor. She met a couple of her old friends and exchanged some gossip.
the way, have you met Dev Taya?” one of her friends asked.
eyed the young man, “No. How do you do? I’m Kira Nerys.”
to meet you,” Dev acknowledged. They shook hands - a habit picked up from the
I should be going,” Kira said after a few minutes. “I’m expected back at the
she left the bar, she kept thinking about Dev Taya and how the splotches on
his face reminded her so of Dax.
Go on to Part 4.
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