Formalities first: all the characters and places belong to Paramount. Dori
Solan, Rong, Delat Caron, Lieutenants Alvarez, Smith & Morrow are my own creations
as is the story.
~ * ~
"Where have you been, Major?" O'Brien asked.
"Talking with Delat. We watched the sun rise," Kira replied. There was a lightness in her step and O'Brien noticed it immediately.
"Something I should be aware of, Major?" he asked.
"I just learned something," she answered. "About collaborators."
O'Brien eyed her strangely.
"How much damage do you think the bandits did?" Kira asked.
"Well, it's not going to happen anymore."
"I hope you have a plan, Major."
"I do," she answered with a twinkle in her eyes.
"What is it?"
"I'm going to talk to them."
O'Brien stared at the major, "Are you insane?"
"They are people too, just trying to live."
"So you're just going to talk to them?"
Kira smiled, "Why not?"
It seemed like an eternity before Worf's eyes flew open. Dax, who had curled up in a corner of the makeshift shelter, immediately was at his side.
"I know you," he said hoarsely.
Dax laughed out-loud at the recollection of a long-ago conversation, "We have met. Worf, you remembered!"
"How do you feel? Should I get Julian?"
"Wait," Worf grabbed her hand. "How long have you been here?"
"Six days, Worf. Six days. But who's counting?"
"You've been delirious. You've been talking about all sorts of terrible things that happened during the war. And Worf, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry all of that happened to you, but it's over now. It's all over."
"Yes, I promise. I've come to take you, and your men home. And we can start again, Worf."
"That sounds good."
"Doesn't it?" Dax beamed. "I've been waiting to tell you that for six days now, Worf. And let me tell you, I've suffered dreadfully."
"Yes. The ground is hard and there are bugs everywhere and your men, they are so loud."
Worf's laugh rumbled from deep down in his chest.
"I see you're feeling better, Commander," Bashir said from the door.
"Doesn't he look well?" Dax asked.
Bashir crouched down next to Worf and pulled out his tricorder.
"Well, Commander, I hate to tell you, but you're on the road to recovery. A couple more days and you should be sufficiently strong to travel off this godforsaken planet. I know I am ready to leave."
"At your convenience, Doctor," Worf replied. "I will be more than happy to abandon this place."
"And your men," Dax reminded him. "They should come too. They are doing better now that Julian has looked at them, but they still need to come to the station."
"I can do more for them on the station," Bashir agreed.
"I will speak to them," Worf promised.
"Not now," Dax said as Bashir left. "First, there is so much I have to tell you."
Night fell over the hills of Bajor and Kira stood, waiting. Next to her, Miles
Edward O'Brien felt like the world's biggest idiot - well, second biggest, anyway.
Kira took the prize for her foolish notion of talking to the bandits. Personally,
O'Brien would rather have his weapon do the talking. He at least felt reassured
by the presence of Lt. Morrow and Lt. Smith. A crunch of gravel signaled Delat
"You think this will work?" Delat asked.
"It doesn't matter what I think," O'Brien shrugged. "It only matters what she thinks and believe me, you never argue with Nerys. It simply isn't worth the effort."
"Did you argue a lot?" Delat asked in a low voice as Kira began to move away.
"Before. I guess, when we cared enough to argue."
"Not as much. We just kind of circled each other for a long time. And then we just got used to avoiding each other and treating each other friendly like."
"Did that bother you?"
O'Brien looked at Delat in surprise, "Hell, yes."
"We're getting closer. I guess I'm kind of a coward."
"But she," O'Brien pointed. "But she's awfully brave."
O'Brien cast a sideways look at Delat, "Is there something you want to say, Delat?"
"Um, I guess, I love that she's brave."
"You love that she's brave."
"Yes. I love that."
O'Brien smiled to himself as he watched Delat watching Kira.
"You won't recognize Bajor now," Dax said. "And it's my fault."
"You cannot say such things," Worf argued.
"But it's true. When you see what has happened, you will know how I can't forgive myself."
Dax smiled to herself; Worf was back to his argumentative self, hence he was well on the road to recovery.
"What else has happened since I was gone?" Worf asked.
"Um, there's something I have to tell you, um, that I didn't before," Dax said quietly.
"About Martok and the Rotarran."
Worf's face darkened, "What happened?"
"No, no, Worf, it was nothing like that. Martok would have never left you here. You know that even better than I do. Just, um, during the Battle of Vlata, the Rotarran was destroyed. That's why he never came back for you and oh Worf, I am sorry."
Worf looked away, his face half-hidden by the shadows.
"But he did remember that you were here. He ejected a pod just before the Rotarran's destruction that gave the coordinates of this planet. That's how I found you. He would not have abandoned you."
"I did not think that."
"Yes, you did," Dax said gently. "And you had every right to be angry about that."
"I was angry at Martok," Worf admitted. "But as time passed, I realized he was an honorable man and would not have left us here. And also I was worried about you."
"Of course. I did not know what you were up to. That worried me."
Dax laughed, "I did not do anything foolish."
"That's what I was worried about."
"I do think with my head most times. It's only where you're concerned that I lead with my heart."
"I did miss you."
"You did? While you were living here in the lap of luxury?" Dax asked, a hint of amusement in her voice. "Really,
Worf. You weren't suffering enough?"
"I know, I know," she held up a hand. "But you have to admit, suffering was certainly not a premium here and your honor was satisfied. What more could you have asked for?"
"You. I missed you. When you first arrived here, I thought it was a dream."
"You were so sick. I thought I had come all this way to watch you die. And Worf, I don't think I would have been able to stand it if you had left me again. Not after coming this close."
"I would not leave you. That would not be honorable."
Dax curled up next Worf, "Let's not be separated again, okay?"
"That is a promise."
Kira could see the shadows moving closer to her. She moved cautiously, her
hands up in the air.
"I'm not armed. I just want to talk," she called out. "Can you please talk to me?"
A group of six individuals, dressed in tattered clothes, slowly came into the light. Kira took a deep breath and prayed that her courage would not fail her now.
"I am Major Kira Nerys," she said, her voice shaking a little. "I just want to talk."
"What do you want?" the leader of the group was as bedraggled as the rest, his hair flopping in his eyes.
"I am asking that you stop making raids on this village."
"You are asking?"
"Yes," Kira said. "I think everyone here has suffered enough."
"Who will stop us? You?"
"If I need to, but I would rather not."
Behind her, O'Brien flanked by Delat and the two Starfleet lieutenants stepped forward in a show of support. Kira gestured to them to stay back.
"I promise you, I mean no harm," Kira continued. "I understand it's hard to live the way you were used to, but this isn't the way."
"What do you know of how we live?"
There was a silence and then the leader stepped forward, "What do you propose?"
"That we work together. Raiding the village will not solve your problems. But if you help us rebuild Bajor, then everyone will have the chance they deserve."
There were murmurs from the group.
"I will not turn you over to the authorities," Kira said.
The murmuring grew louder.
"We will discuss your proposal," the leader said finally.
The group turned away and Kira shrugged.
"Well," she said hopefully. "They did not shoot me. I am optimistic."
It had been days since Dax had left Worf's side. They had taken long walks
around the Klingons' compound, talking about the events of the last two years.
"You have made an amazing recovery, Mr. Worf," Bashir said one evening as he, Dax, Worf and Rong sat around the camp fire.
"Thank you, Doctor," Worf said. "The credit goes to Jadzia, of course."
"Ah, it was nothing," Dax smiled, repeating a phrase she had heard Jake Sisko use often.
At that moment, Alvarez's voice came over the com line.
"You're not going to like this, Commander," Alvarez said, her voice fuzzy and distracted.
"Why don't you tell me and then I will decide whether I like it or not?" Dax asked.
"I'm picking up a Jem'Hadar ship dropping out of warp."
"Excellent," Dax said. "I was starting to miss those guys."
"What do you want me to do, Commander?"
"You're going to have to land. The runabout is no match for the Jem'Hadar. Find a place close by and transmit the coordinates to Julian and me. We will meet you there."
"Aye sir. Alvarez out."
"Do you think the Jem'Hadar are coming to reclaim this planet?" Bashir asked. "Because I have to say I have serious concerns about that."
"As do we all," Worf rumbled.
"We should prepare for battle," Rong said.
"With what?" Dax asked in frustration. "Your bat'leths are no match for the Jem'Hadar."
"Why would they come back after all this time?" Worf wondered.
"Maybe they aren't coming here at all. Dax to Alvarez."
"Can you extrapolate the Jem'Hadar's destination from their current heading?" Dax asked.
"It's either Vlata III or Vlata IV. I'm guessing Vlata III, since Vlata IV is not a Class M planet," Alvarez replied.
"All right. Keep me informed."
"So they are coming here," Worf said.
"I guess I should learn how to use a bat'leth," Bashir said feelingly. "Makes me regret the amount of time I spent playing spy. I should have been fighting honor battles with you instead, Dax."
"Come on, Julian," Dax stood up. She pulled out her tricorder. "It looks like Maria has found a place to set down and it looks like it's quite a hike from here. Let's get started."
"You can't go in the dark," Worf objected.
"Worf," Dax said. "We have to. We can't leave Maria alone. Besides, we have phasers on the runabout."
"I will come with you."
"Don't be ridiculous. You're not well enough. I didn't nurse you back to health just to make you sick hiking through this godforsaken terrain."
"You will be careful."
With a smile at her husband and a nod at Rong, Dax turned to follow Bashir through the darkness.
"I can see the potential for real trouble," Bashir said quietly. "These Klingons
are still smarting over being left here on Vlata III for the last two years.
They are itching for battle, but I'm afraid not one of them has the energy for
a serious battle."
"Not to mention the lack of weapons or medical supplies," Dax said. She stopped in a small clearing to check their heading. "I am concerned about it. The Jem'Hadar must know we're here. All they need is an excuse to declare war on the Federation again."
"I doubt they would be that stupid," Bashir leaned against a tree. "God, I'm tired."
"Just a couple more kilometers," Dax assured him.
"The Dominion still has issues with the Klingons," Bashir said, strain creeping into his voice. "I hope this isn't about that. Because our presence directly involves the Federation."
Dax looked at him, sudden realization creeping into her eyes.
"Oh no!" she said. "So if the Jem'Hadar attack the Klingons…"
"The cease-fire is automatically broken."
"This is turning into a hell of a day," Dax said. "I'd like to pretend there is an easy way out of this, that we can somehow get out of this without starting another war."
"We don't know yet that the Jem'Hadar will attack us, so all this paranoia is premature."
"Good. Now, let's get to that runabout. I could really use a strong raktajino."
"I thought you were great, Nerys," O'Brien said honestly. "Though, I thought
at one point you were done for."
"They would not have hurt me," Kira replied confidently.
"I'm glad you thought so," O'Brien answered.
The Deep Space Nine officers eyed the small ragtag group of renegades. Finally the leader turned and headed back towards Kira.
"We have agreed to do as you ask," he said. He held out his hand. "I am Dori Solan."
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Dori," Kira said quietly. "You won't regret this, I promise."
"I hope not. Some of my people suspect trickery."
"There is no trickery. I just love Bajor and I think we need to join together again to recover what has been lost to us. It's only by working together that will happen," Kira answered passionately.
"Amen," O'Brien said in obvious relief.
Dax and Bashir reached Alvarez. The lieutenant was in the midst of recalibrating
the phaser rifles.
"We only have five," Alvarez reported. "Plus three extra phasers."
"And twenty Klingon bat'leths," Dax added.
"The odds are looking better every minute," Bashir said with a slight laugh.
"Are the Jem'Hadar still heading this way?"
"Yes," Alvarez replied.
"We better hurry back to the camp," Dax decided. "Chances are, if the Jem'Hadar have less than honorable intentions, they will strike first and ask questions later. We ought to be there. Who knows what will happen once the Klingons see them."
It took less time to return to the camp. There was no conversation, as the
three officers followed the path which Dax and Bashir had initially made. There
was a tension rising up Dax's back and it made her shoulders and neck hurt.
Not for the first time, she wished O'Brien was around, so she could have one
of his famous back massages.
"Still no sign of the Jem'Hadar," Dax said.
"Maybe they changed their minds," Bashir said hopefully.
"Not likely," Alvarez said. "I still read them in orbit around the planet."
"Let's hurry," Dax urged.
They continued the rest of the journey in silence.
"We have to have a plan," Worf said.
Dax looked at him in concern. He was feeling much better, but she did not think he was up to battling the Jem'Hadar, though she would not stand in his way if he did choose to pick up his bat'leth.
"A plan would be good," she said encouragingly.
"We don't have enough weapons to go around, Commander," Alvarez pointed out.
"Yes, Lieutenant," Dax said, a trace of impatience slipping into her voice. She valued Alvarez's experience in the Gamma Quadrant, but the lieutenant's smugness was getting on her nerves.
"We do know the terrain better than they do," Worf said. "Rong, search out some strategic locations."
"Yes," Rong said and then the Klingon stalked off back towards camp. Dax put her hand on Worf's forearm.
"Don't do anything stupid, Worf," she said quietly, so that Bashir and Alvarez could not hear.
"I won't," he promised. "But I must defend myself."
She grabbed his arm and pulled him away.
"Do you remember what it felt like when I was held prisoner by the Dominion?" she asked urgently.
Worf looked at her in surprise.
"Those were hard days," he admitted. "I did not feel anything at all. It was as if day and night were the same and there was an uncertainty to every hour."
"That's how I felt when you disappeared," Dax told him. "And Worf, you may feel better, but Julian still says you're very sick and I don't want you to strain yourself anymore. So, please. I want you to rest. Let Julian, Maria, Rong and I deal with this, okay?"
"I do not like the idea of you fighting the Jem'Hadar."
"We don't even know if they want a fight yet," Dax protested. "But if they do, I want you to promise me you will stay away."
"I cannot. It would not be honorable."
"Forget your honor, Worf!" Dax was close to tears. "You're not strong enough yet! And I really want to be able to argue with you about this later, when this situation is resolved, okay? So, promise me, Worf. Promise me this one thing."
Worf looked at her long and hard.
"Please, Worf?" she pleaded.
"I promise," he said finally. "I promise."
"Good," Dax sighed, finally feeling the worry leaving her body. "Now, you're right. We do need a plan."
The tricorder beeped anxiously and Alvarez picked it up.
"Three Jem'Hadar have beamed down," she said quietly. "Not far from here."
"They know we're here?" Bashir asked.
"They are heading our direction. I think that pretty much answers your question."
Rong and Dax approached the other two Starfleet officers.
"Come on," Dax said. "Rong has found a perfect spot for us."
They followed Rong deeper into the woods and Dax again felt that gnawing anxiety. She did not want to leave Worf behind, but she also did not want him to come with her. She had left him a rifle and a phaser. Hopefully though, the Jem'Hadar just wanted to talk and there would be no need for weapons of any kind.
But then again, Julian was correct; the Dominion and Klingons were still at each other's throats and the presence of the Jem'Hadar and Klingons on the same planet could prove to be the catalyst for hostilities to break out in earnest again.
"Here," Rong said gruffly. The spot the Klingon had found was heavily sheltered by thick vegetation and also had several large rocks which were perfect to hide behind. Bashir and Alvarez took cover on one side while Rong and Dax made themselves comfortable opposite them.
It was not long before they heard the Jem'Hadar's footsteps crackling over the underbrush. Dax inhaled deeply and tightened her grip on her rifle.
"Okay," she said under her breath. "Here goes nothing."
Go to Part IV
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