Formalities first: all the characters and places belong to the powers that
be at Star Trek.
Delat Caron, Lieutenants Alvarez, Smith & Morrow, Arwin, Rong, Molig, Silvi Daria and Nokun are my own creations as is the story.
Also, I would like to thank Liz for helping me out with this part of the story!
The familiar tingle in her fingertips and then the feeling of solidness running through her veins, forcing Jadzia Dax to open her eyes. Instinctively, she pressed her hands to abdomen in a reassuring gesture, to calm the symbiont down. Dax was one of the few Trills who used transporter technology; most Trills preferred to take shuttles.
But it was the Curzon in her that made Jadzia disregard conventional wisdom and instead rely on transporters. And even though she had been transporting since she was very young, Dax still could not get used to the idea that she was literally being taken apart at the molecular level and though this mode of transportation was touted as being virtually painless, Dax knew that a malfunction could result in a death of the most painful variety.
But she banished those thoughts now, thinking this was not the time to be thinking of death. She glanced to the side, just in time to see Bashir and then O'Brien materialize next to her. Bashir shook out his hands and wiggled his fingers and Dax knew he was trying to get rid of the tingling that accompanied all transports."Ah, I see our escorts are here," Bashir said in a low voice as he indicated the Jem'Hadar soldiers who were standing there, blocking the entrance of the transporter room.
The Second stared at the trio of Starfleet officers for a moment and then turned back to the other Jem'Hadar. Dax held her breath and cursed herself for not having learned the language of the Jem'Hadar."We will check with the Vorta. You must remain here," the Second said finally. "My Third will stay with you."
O'Brien and Dax moved to a console and quickly began to upload the new logs
into Arwin's terminal.
Meanwhile, Bashir busied himself trying to cover up the slight burn marks from the phaser. He then injected a substance into the Jem'Hadar's arm and then quickly covered up those marks. He then recovered Dax's phaser and had it beamed up to the Defiant.
Dax turned away, trying to calm her heart down. When Arwin had first told her that he would release Worf, her heart had jumped into her throat, but this condition he had placed on Worf's temporary release only made her more fearful. She could not imagine what Arwin would have to gain by Worf's temporary release nor did Dax believe that Arwin had empathy enough to give the couple time alone together. There was something more here, something more sinister, but Dax could not say no to Arwin's offer."He will be back in fifteen hours," Dax promised, trying to swallow the sick, bile feeling rising up in her throat. "I promise that. Please, don't execute anymore of his men."
Kira stirred, trying desperately to shake her lethargy. Her body felt suspended in a bubble and everything she saw around her was from the perspective of one caught in that bubble. She pressed her hands up to her face, trying to push away the pounding headache which was starting to make itself known."Stop it!" she scolded herself. She literally rolled out of bed, landing softly on the floor. She noticed that Delat was still sleeping and for a moment, she felt a tremendous sense of guilt.
Surely Odo could not keep haunting her this way. Not after what he did to her. And how long was she supposed to stay faithful to him anyway? Was it fair to her?
"No," she said out-loud and with more force than she intended. She sank heavily into her chair, holding onto the mug for dear life. She gazed back at the bed, at Delat sleeping there, and found tears welling up in her eyes.
"Don't cry, Nerys," she told herself fiercely. "You wanted this. He was right. He was right about what you wanted. So don't go and spoil everything."
She stared into the murky liquid in her cup and for a moment, she could see her face reflecting back. Kira dipped her finger into the raktijino, and tried to stir the coffee up, trying to erase her image. But each time the image swirled away, it reconstructed itself a moment later. Kira gave up and drank her coffee in uneasy silence.
"You'll want to know this, Captain."
"What is it, doctor?" Sisko asked, wishing not for the first time that he had
visual communication with Bashir.
Bashir's clipped tones came over the subspace transmission as clearly as if he were in the next room. There was something in Bashir's voice that did not sound right to Sisko and immediately he leaned forward, hoping to hear something that Bashir could not directly say to him.
Dax could hardly contain her excitement, but Worf seemed curiously restrained as she led him out of the holding cell. In fact, he seemed almost distant from her and Dax hoped ferevently he wasn't going to slip into that sullen mood that he had during previous visits. Fifteen hours, fifteen precious hours and she didn't want to waste a moment of them on his silly moods.
Arwin was gone, as were the annoying Jem'Hadar soldiers. Only O'Brien was with them, but suddenly the old friend was an intrusion as well. But like O'Brien, Dax felt that something was not right and while she did not want to sully her time with Worf, she could not push the nagging doubts away. Everything had been too easy. From the moment she, O'Brien and Bashir had arrived till this moment, everything had been proceeding as planned."Worf," Dax said. "What would you like to do? We have fifteen hours to do anything you'd like."
The two men proceeded down the hall. Bashir marveled at the coldness of Dominion architecture, with its cool steely walls, devoid of any ornamentation - including windows."A view would certainly be nice," Bashir said.
"Consistency!" Bashir whirled on O'Brien. "That's it! That's what's been bothering me all this time. There's a definite lack of consistency in the Vorta's dealings. One moment he is ready to declare war on everyone from here to the Delta Quadrant and the next moment, he is releasing his trump card. Yes, he would have certainly failed Strategy at the Academy.""As you say, sir," O'Brien said. The duo had reached the transporter room and Bashir took one quick look around and noted the lack of any Jem'Hadar.
Kira appeared at the door, slightly rumpled, but alert.
"I have to talk to you," Sisko said, feeling a little uneasy at disturbing the major. She nodded.
"I will be right out, Captain."
Less then a minute later, Kira was in the corridor, clad in her usual orange uniform, signifying her status in the
"That was quick," Sisko observed as the two began to proceed down towards the bridge.
"You can't be slow in the Resistance. If you spend too much time getting dressed, you could get killed."
"Ah. Death is a humble motivater then?"
"You could put it that way, I suppose."
"I'm sorry I disturbed you."
"You didn't, honestly, Captain. I was just thinking."
"Anything in particular?" Sisko hated to pry but he got the feeling Kira wanted him to ask those questions. If there was anything that made Sisko a great leader, it was that he knew intuitively when to dig deeper and when to back away."Someone in particular."
"That, Major, is the million dollar question. Now if Quark were here, we would probably know why in a matter of hours. But since Quark isn't here, we're going to have to find out ourselves.""Where is he now?"
Worf paced the length of their quarters, seemingly distressed about something. Dax desperately wanted him to open up to her, to tell her what was wrong, but Worf was curiously tight-lipped. Nor would he allow her to get too close.This was not how she wanted to spend those fifteen hours, she thought.
If there was one thing Dax was sure about Worf, it was that he wasn't claustrophobic. But then, people are changed by their experiences, she reasoned, and surely Worf had not emerged from all his ordeals unscathed. She got up off of her bunk and moved quickly to console him. Before he could react, she had grabbed him by the arm and placed her lips to his cheek."What are you doing?" he exclaimed and then in a fury he had never shown to her, he pushed her aside.
But Sisko and Kira did not miss the anxious glances Dax threw in Worf's direction. Sisko eyed the warrior pensively, and circled around Worf. There was something different about Worf, but he didn't know what exactly and the fact that he could not put his finger on it irked him to no extent."Worf wants to go to the bridge," Dax said, trying to ease the tension, but both Sisko and Kira could hear the hurt in her voice.
Dax turned away, almost bewildered by Worf's attitude. The last time they had spoken, when they agreed that she would tamper with Arwin's logs, there had been something in Worf's voice that said clearly he loved her dearly. And now, it seemed as Worf wanted nothing to do with her. Was he trying to distance himself before his impending execution? Was it a distance created by a fatalistic nature? She didn't know. But Worf had always been one to cease the moment, to do anything for her. In fact, he had given up any chance to advance his career for her. She did not believe that Worf no longer loved her. Rather, something had happened to him; something dreadful and she was determined to find out what."What do you want to know, Worf?" Sisko asked.
Arwin apparently had been waiting because he was seated almost at attention
when Sisko and Kira arrived.
"Ah, Captain," Arwin held out his arms expansively, in a welcoming gesture. "How good of you to drop by."
"You almost got away with it, Arwin," Sisko said. "Replacing Worf with a changeling was a clever idea, but you forget that we've had a member of our crew replaced before. We know what the signs are. And at least the shape shifter who impersonated Bashir had the good sense to at least act somewhat like him."
"Oh yes, the good doctor," Arwin sighed.
"There is a saying on earth, I suppose, something about mice and men. It escapes
me now, but some of our prisoners from earth were fond of saying it."
"I supposed you wanted to know our plans," Sisko said. "And it was quite clever, considering I confide most things to Jadzia Dax and she to her husband. If your changeling had not made an error, you might very well have found out everything you wanted to know."
"That's not the point," Sisko said, pounding his fist on the table. He leaned forward, so that his nose almost touched Arwin's. "I've had enough of your deceit and your hollow words. Is it war that you want? Because if you want war, it appears that I have very little choice in avoiding it, don't I? It seems every option of mine, every solution presented, leads back to the same place. And that's what you want, isn't it? It's what the Founders want, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid you have found me out, Captain," Arwin said mournfully. "And I suppose replacing Commander Worf was probably not one of the more brilliant ideas I've had lately. But I knew the plan had a fatal flaw in it from the beginning and that was Jadzia Dax. But I did not expect it to end so soon.""I don't care what you wanted or expected," Sisko said. "I want an answer. I've had enough from you."
Kira felt herself wilting again and she cursed herself. The last thing she wanted to do was allow the Vorta to catch her in a moment of weakness. She had already made a fool of herself once in Arwin's presence and she was reluctant to do it again."You must try these men first," Kira said, finally finding her voice. "In front of us. No more of this secret tribunal stuff."
"I feel like a fool," Dax confessed. O'Brien smiled consolingly at her and
patted her hand tenderly.
"It's all right," he said. "Anyone could have been taken in. Shape shifters are good that way."
"I can't believe I didn't recognize my own husband."
"People change, Jadzia," Julian said gently. "And I think you were just overwhelmed and so grateful at the chance to see Worf again that you weren't thinking straight."
"I just hope Worf is okay," Dax said quietly. And then a thought occurred to her. "He couldn't possibly have been...?"
"No," Bashir said. "I think the changeling only impersonated Worf this one time."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive," Bashir said, even though he wasn't.
Dax sighed and stirred her drink idly. Security was still searching for the changeling and she could hear phaser blasts all over the ship as one of the only ways to find the changeling was through a phase sweep. If this went on much longer, Bashir would have to order blood tests for everyone."I hope they find it soon," Dax said. "I would love to throttle it with my own hands."
Arwin recoiled as the words flew past him on the screen.
"This can't be right!" he exclaimed.
"It is right," Sisko said. "So, as you see, you can't hold these men anymore. You initiated the battle, they were only defending themselves."
"How come you didn't bring these forward before?" Arwin demanded.
"Because they were salvaged from the Rotarran's probe. We could only just decipher it clearly in the last few days," Kira answered. "So, if you will just turn the Klingons over to us, we will be on our way."
Arwin considered for a moment, staring at the log. Neither Kira or Sisko dared to breathe, afraid that they would give something away. The last thing they needed was for Arwin to realize that the logs were faked.
"All right," Arwin said. "You win. This time."
Sisko tried to not to show his elation.
"You will transfer the remaining prisoners, including the real Commander Worf to the transporter room for immediate transport," Sisko said.
"Maybe we should have blood screenings first," Kira suggested.
"That's right," Sisko said. "Contact Bashir, Major."
The Vorta and Sisko faced each other, neither saying anything. It was perhaps one of the longest moments in Sisko's life.
"You made a worthy adversary," Arwin said finally. "And you're wrong. I do not want war anymore than you did."
"Then why did you insist so much and work against everything I suggested?"
"I did as I was told. It's that simple."
"I will tell no one about your lieutenant."
Arwin leaned forward, his voice low, "I already told you, Captain. I don't want war. I did what the Founders asked me to do and you have presented me with evidence of why I should not continue. I doubt the Founders really want war with the Federation as much as the Federation seems to think they do.""Thank you," Sisko said, his opinion of the man changing rapidly. "You have surprised me."
The new Bajoran delegation had arrived, to continue talks with the Dominion. Arwin, amazingly enough, was open to discussions of restitution for the Battle of Bajor and Silvi Daria was unwilling to pass up the chance."Good luck," Kira told the minister. "I wish you all the best."
Three days later on Deep Space Nine, Kira walked with Delat Caron on the Promenade.
"You have to visit Quark's," Kira said. "He is a deplorable personage, but the food and drink is marvelous. It's an unfortunate set of circumstances, I suppose."
"I've heard much mention of Quark," Delat said, his arm encircling Kira's waist. "I suppose we should pay him a visit."
Kira laughed and kissed his cheek lightly, "Come then. Let me introduce you. Keep in mind, Quark holds me in less than his highest esteem."
"I look forward to it," Delat said.
Entering Quark's, Kira suddenly remembered that day so long ago when the last
Dominion ship had gone through the wormhole and the crew had all gathered here
in Quark's to celebrate what was a bittersweet victory.
At least Worf had been found and she had finally found herself in another man's eyes. More importantly, she had patched up the rift with O'Brien and more than anything, she hoped that one day, Keiko and the kids would come home.
"Are you sure you're the real thing?" Dax teased as she helped Worf with his
sash. "You are not a shape shifter?"
"I'm not going to let you forget this ever," she laughed.
"I can't believe you did not know it wasn't me. I will not let you forget that." Dax laughed, circling her arms around his waist and leaning against him.
"Let's not do this again," she said. "It wasn't much fun."
She lifted her face to meet his and suddenly she could see a future in his eyes. Finally, she thought, a future together.
Note from the author: I just want to take this moment to thank all of you who have sent me feedback about this story. This story has been in the works since November '97, so I'm glad to finally be finished with it! A big thank you goes to Liz for her idea of making Worf a changeling.
Have something to say about this piece? Visit the Message Board!
Back to Seema's Fanfic Page