DS9 WIP: The Honored 3/? [PG13]

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Title: The Honored
Author: Gabrielle Lawson
Part: 3/?
Series: DS9
Rating: PG-13
Archive: Yes to Trekiverse.org, otherwise, please ask.
Contact: inhe...@gmail.com
Web: http://gabrielle.sytes.net/Trek/stories/Honored1.html
Summary: The Dominion finally puts a stop to Dr. Julian Bashir. But the
Gidari have need of him. What's death to get in their way?
Author's note: Author's note: I deliberately use italics like this *in
text** just because it makes conversion to HTML so much easier.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Honored
by Gabrielle Lawson

Chapter 3


Jaresh Kesa arrived before the new doctor, but Captain Sisko was there
to meet him at the airlock. He was a major, just like Kira when she'd
first been assigned to the station. He was short like she was and had
red hair like her. But the similarities ended there. He was smiling
when he stepped out of the airlock. He stood at attention and saluted.
Sisko appreciated formality, but didn't think a salute was necessary.
Still he saluted back, if only to end the formalities. "Welcome aboard,
Major Jaresh." He extended a hand, which the Bajoran took.

"It's a pleasure, Emissary." The man was practically floating.

"Captain-will do fine, Major," Sisko reminded him, "especially when
either one of us is on duty."

Jaresh looked stricken. "I'm sorry, Captain," he pleaded. "Please
forgive me."

Sisko sighed inwardly but didn't let it show. *Not like Kira at all**,
he thought. "Nothing to forgive," he said. "I am the Emissary. It
just makes it hard to get things done. For practical reasons, I'm Captain."

"Understood, sir."

That out of the way, Sisko continued with the introductions. The rest
of the senior staff--except the Chief Medical Officer, of course--were
there with him. "This is my Strategic Operations Officer, Lieutenant
Commander Worf."

Worf bowed his head slightly. "Major."

Jaresh swallowed as he looked up at the Klingon. "Nice to meet you,"
he offered timidly.

Sisko tried not to smile. He motioned toward Odo. "Chief of Security
Odo."

Odo also nodded his head. He made no move to take the hand that Jaresh
offered. His own were behind his back. Polite, but cold, Sisko
assessed. To be expected, I suppose, he thought. It was better than
Worf had acted when Ezri came aboard.

Ezri offered her own hand and her own introduction. "Ezri Dax, Station
Counselor." She was smiling and bubbly. Leave it to Dax. Sisko was
glad she was there. Replacements were a part of duty, but it was hard
when someone was replacing a friend, harder still when they were
replacing a lover.

O'Brien was next. "Our Chief of Operations," Sisko introduced him,
"Miles O'Brien." The Irishman was polite and took the man's hand, but
he said nothing. He hadn't said much since the *Defiant** returned
anyway. Sisko imagined it would be worse when the new doctor came
aboard. Mfura was her name. She was scheduled to arrive the day after
tomorrow. Fresh from Starfleet Medical. Sisko smiled at that. It had
worked out well once before, perhaps it would again.


Tarlingen arrived early the next morning, if the chronometer was
accurate. Bashir hadn't once felt tired or sleepy. Part and parcel for
being Honored, it seemed. Kira had yawned a few times, but Bashir knew
it was from boredom, not weariness. Despite the "event" of the previous
day and the completely alien culture they'd been transplanted to, Bashir
felt he was in his element. Medicine was not a drudgery to him, not a
chore. It challenged him, excited him, consumed him. And kept his mind
off other things.

Kira, though, was a soldier, an administrator, a leader, but no
scientist. The incremental steps and methodic pace of experimentation
was an exercise in sheer tedium. Still, she was as stuck here as he
was, and just as unneedful of sleep. So she had let Bashir assign her
to tasks that didn't require interpretation of data but the mere
collection of it. And though she had taken on those tasks without even
one complaint, she had yawned.

So while they worked, they talked. About what Kira had seen of Gidar,
about what Bashir had learned of the Leader, and as the
hours--Glif--dragged on, about their lives up to this point, and then
how they wanted to get back home to DS9.

When Tarlingen arrived, Bashir was glad for it. It wasn't that he
hadn't appreciated the conversation or enjoyed the work, but he welcomed
the change of scenery her presence foretold. Kira pushed herself away
from the table with enthusiasm and returned the bow Tarlingen greeted
them with.

"Have you a cure, Healer?" Tarlingen asked, getting right to the point.

Bashir raised his eyebrows at her question. "I'm a doctor," he told
her, "not a magician." He turned his back on her to retrieve the PADD
with his notes. "Nor am I a miracle worker despite the fact that I was
murdered yesterday and am now standing in the royal palace on the
enigmatic Gidari homeworld and privy to its many secrets."

"Then your meeting with the Leader was productive at least," Tarlingen
replied with not even the slightest hint of offense or sense of humor.
"Have you found anything?"

Bashir handed her the PADD. "I was able to isolate the viral pathogen
and compare it to the one found on Teplan III."

"It's is the same then?" she asked, turning the PADD in her hands as if
trying to decipher its secrets.

"To an untrained eye, perhaps," Bashir answered as he leaned back
against the table. "But there are significant differences. The
original virus may not have even survived the environment here. A few
days in your sun would have at least inhibited its replication rate. It
has been altered for the unique conditions of Gidar and Gidari physiology."

"If you do not find a cure," Tarlingen said, as she handed the PADD
back to the doctor, "the Leader will die."

"Yes," Bashir agreed, "and I didn't find a cure on Teplan III either. I
had months. Now I have a week. So what happens if I fail?"

"We are Gidari," Tarlingen stated, straightening even taller. "We will
go on. A new Leader will be chosen, and we will make the Enemy pay
dearly for this attack upon us."

Bashir nodded, feeling quite sure they would--and could--do just that.
And how then would the war go with the unknown might of Gidar on their
side? He really wanted to be around to see that. "I believe the Leader
will still be healthy for another few months. You will have more time
to study--"

"We have only the time that you have." She met his gaze withotu
blinking those ominous white eyes. "We cannot allow this plague to spread."

"So you'd kill her," he challenged. "Just like that? What of your
government?"

"There is always an heir," Tarlingen replied. "Our Leader herself
decreed this. No more Gidari are to die of this. She will be the last
if she must."

Bashir nodded. Having met her, he knew she would order such a thing.
As the Trill had sacrificed herself for her symbiont so long ago, so the
Leader would sacrifice herself for her people. He wondered then, if
Tarlingen knew why the Leader was different and if so, why she hadn't
asked a very important question."

"There's no way then," Kira said, finally speaking up, "that the blight
can be spread to the successor?" Bashir curved his lips in just a hint
of a smile at her sublty, and he watched their liaison for her reaction.
He was disappointed.

"Our healers were not infected until spending fourteen glif with the
Leader. And we will take precautions." Tarlingen then turned back to
Bashir. "You will see the Leader again in one glif. You can find the way?"

Bashir nodded. He mentally pictured the winding path, thankful for the
near photographic memory his enhancemesn afforded.

"Good," Tarlingen said, nodding once before turnign to face Kira. "I
would like to take you to the market. Perhaps there is something from
the valleys that is not on the mountain."

Kira brightened instantly, having been offered a diversion from her
boredom. "I'll get the basket."

"Take this with you," Bashir said, as he dropped one samell, squirming
bag into the basket. "And release it."

"It is not necessary," Tarlingen interjected. "There are many others."

"There is no reason to keep it," Bashir held. "I've got all I need
from it."

Tarlingen eyed him for a moment and then bowed. "As you wish, it shall
be done."

Bashir returned the bow but shared a look with Kira before she left
with the Gidari Liytner. Perhaps they *could** get back to DS9, Honored
as they were.


Captain Sisko stood at the podium, feeling the weight of command extra
heavilty. The war had hit home again. And in jsut a personal way.
*Well, hadn't that been with the way with Jadzia, too?** he thought.
Then he pushed that thought away. It was past Jadzia's time. This time
was for Nerys and Julian.

"When I first came here," he told the gathered crowd, "I didnt' want to
be here and that was about the only thing Kira Nerys and I agreed on.
Somehow, through these years, I've come to call this station my home and
Nerys a trusted, beloved friend. She was forthright and strong but the
Occupation had not completely killed her compassion or hardened her
heart. I changed, she changed, and the galaxy changed around us. In
the end, she was one hell of an officer, a credit to Bajor and one to
whom I trusted this station and this command should I have fallen.

"She fell instead and, though we have found someone to fill her post,
we shall find no one else truly worthy to replace her. We cannot commit
her body to the soil, but we can commit her spirit to the Prophits.
Colonel Kira Nerys was above all, a woman of honor, of loyalty, of
services, and of faith."

Vedek Varda took over then and the captain--and Emmisary--tried to pay
attention. He couldn't. His thoughts were drawn back to her just
before she had left on that mission. She'd stood in his office
determined to go with Julian.

"It's a medical problem, Colonrl," he'd reminded her. "And Julian is
not a junior officer. It's not more than a few hours there and back."

"A lot can happen in a few hours," she'd retorted. "Espcially to him.
And usually when he's alone. Besides, he's been replaced, what, three
times now? Can you afford to send anyone off alone in a runabout like
that while we're at war?"

"Why not someone from Security then?"

"Maybe because I'm concerned for him," she'd replied, sinking down into
one of the chairs. "And he's concerned, too, and just too stubborn to
admit it. He could use more than an escort, Captain. He could use a
friend."

She'd persuaded him and she was right. There had been a reason for
concern, and he'd been callous to overlook it. But now she was gone and
so was the one he had kept overlooking. The vedek was finished, and now
it was Julian's turn.

"Dr. Julian Bashir was a brilliant physician. Some may say he came by
that illegitimately but there was more to him than his genetic
enchancements made him. He had a devotion to his patients unmatched by
any doctor I've ever met. A determination to do what is right even at
his own peril. He had an idealism that no adversity could ever
quench--even if it darkened for a time.

"He was gifted, not just in intelligence or stamina but in *light.**
Light is what he brought to this station. Light is what he brought to a
Cardassian tailor no one would befriend, to Internment Camp 371, to this
crew though beseiged by war and tragedy. Light is what he brought even
to Auschwitz==where he suffered for nearly two months.

"Max Zeidl, the only one of his camp friends to survive the war, and
who didn't know that Julian was a man from the future, wrote this about
'Der Englander.' as he was called:

"'He was a strange man. I can't explain why we were friends. We could
barely communicate, and not at all without a translator. Vlada
befriended him in near silence on the train from Bialystok and couldn't
explain why either. Except that Bashir seemed to know something. I
befriended Vlada and Bashir by association then. And when Vlada was
gone, the bond between Bashir and I didn't break. And why? He was a
doctor, yes, but he more often needed care than gave it to others. And
he was singled out--for punishment and favor--by an SS officer. Why
would I association with such a dangerous man? Why do I miss him even now?

"'Maybe because Vlada was right. He knew something. And maybe because
he didn't flaunt it, didn't hold it like a prize or a badge to buy him
privilege. He didn't rage that he didn't belong. He didn't cry foul,
that he wasn't even Jewish, that he didn't desearve to be treated that
way. He didn't though. Though he suffered, in some aspects, more than
us, his companions, he cared for us, worried about us, protected us when
he could. He was a light, a piece of civilization, a true kindness
among the blackest night, the utterest hell and cruelty a man could
inflict upon another man. And not even Heiler could beat it out of him.

"'He was English but I'm still not sure where he came from. Not
really. He didn't belong there or then. He wasn't made for that time....'"

"A few years ago, Julian recorded his own story of that time, for the
archives at Yad Vashem in Israel. But Max was right. He wasn't made
for that time. He was made for our time, and I, for one, and grateful
that he chose to serve Starfleet, to serve this station, this crew. We
were privileged to have had his medical expertise and talents. We were
more gifted to count him a friend.

"Let us take one minute now, to pray or to simply remember, our
departed friends, Colonel Kira Nerys and Dr. Julian Bashir."


This time, when Bashir went to see the Leader, Nailati, he wore
disposable gloves and booties over his others gloves and boots so he
wouldn't need new boots or gloves when he left the room, as last time.
He had the disposables in the medical supplies meant for the outpost. He
might as well use them.

Nailati was reclining again. Her lesions were still black, though they
oozed a greenish mucous he hadn't see on Teplan III. "How are you
feeling today?"

"We itch," she replied. "Though we resist scratching."

"I could try to find something to help with the itching," Bashir
offered. "Do the lesions hurt at all?"

"No and no," she replied. "We have limited time. Your priority is a
cure. Secondary is a vaccine. Stopping the itch would only waste
valuable glif."

Bashir nodded. "I should take samples of your blood, your salive, your
breath, and I think the mucous from your lesions." He'd brought alone a
sample container for that purpose. It was also encased in a disposable bag.

"That would be wise," she said, sitting up straighter. "Proceed." She
held out one of her arms to him, and he drew ten cc's of her blood. He
used a swab to dab the mucous from a lesion on her forearm and another
for saliva from her mouth. Then he used a small tub to collect her breath.

"It would help," he told her, as he put the last sample into the
container, "if I knew exactly how you were infected."

"We believe it happened when the Enemy tried to smother us," she
answered, reclining again. "It came to Nardinosti on the *Vesmir**. It
was disguised as Gidari, which is easy enough, given our coverings. But
it was discovered when it tried to pass through the gates. It lingered
there, as Gidari must but the gate malfunctioned due to finding the
physiology incompatible. The being was detained.

"We are not concerned with your war," she went on. "But, of course, we
have done our research now. The being was brought to our presence just
as you and the other were. But this being did not follow our customs.
It did not drink from the fountain or bow properly. It demanded our
surrender before it ever saw us. Liytner Nardek stood in my stead. She
told it we surrendered to no one. That is when we showed ourselves. It
did not expect our grandeur."

Understandable, Bashir thought. Who would expect a giant female
Gidari? Or her voices?

"When we attempted to strike it down," she continued, "our weapon
passed through it. It panicked then and it became like--" she hesitated.

"Liquid?" Bashir suggested. "Viscous and translucent?" When she
nodded, he went on. "We call them changelings. One of them is our Chief
of Security. But the rest are the Dominion leaders. I've had run-ins
with them in the past. One of them killed me."

"Did it cover your face and enter your mouth and nose?" she asked.

Bashir realized the changeling had physically delivered the pathogen.
"No, it pushed itself into my chest," he told her, and fora moment, he
was back in that empty barracks as Whaley/Heiler had done the same,
though with less damage.

"A painful death," she said. "You have our sympathies for that. Your
next death will not be painful. You will simply lie down amongst the
trees and sleep."

While that sounded better, it wasn't exactly what he wanted. "How did
you survive," he asked, turning her back to the subject at hand.

"Nardek. She was fast and drew her finrittor from within her cloak. It
became like ash and we coughed it from our throat."

The finrittor must have been an energy weapon. "It didn't hurt you
when she fired?"

She waved a hand, dismissing it. "A finrittor will not harm Gidari, as
it harms others."

Coded to spare the species. Interesting. "Did your hearlers determine
how the virus was spread, how they got sick?"

"It is contagious," she replied. "You were wise to cover your boots.
They were no not so wise at first, when they collected samples from the
creature, and from us."

That explained the new boots and gloves. He'd suspected as much. It
was the main reason why he didn't sit in this room with her. That and
he didn't wante to be disrespectful. "How long until the lesions formed?"

"Twenty glif. Twenty more and they had lesions, too. You should have
access to all they learned."

"Thank you," Bashir told her. "You do know that I found no cure on
Teplan III."

She smiled lightly. "Yes, but you found a vaccine," she said. "That,
too, is to be lauded."

"I have less time now than I had then," he reminded her.

"But now you mustn't stop to eat or to rest. And you have equipment
that you did not have there."

"The equipment made things worse there."

Her expression didn't change. "Is that way you left your scanning
equipment behind today?"

Bashir nodded.

"We believe you only found issues with those that had quickened. We
have not."

Bashir offered her a slight smile in return. "It's not exactly the
same virus, but it makes sense that they leave that property in it. It
not only sicked the inhabitants, it took away all their technological
advances."

The smile was gone. "To rocks and stones," she agreed. "That must not
happen here."

"Is that why," he asked, "you'll die if I don't find a cure in a week?"

"That is why this body will die before you don't find a cure. I will
die before you lay down to rest."

So he had less than a week from the start. And he was down two days
already. "You have more confidence in me than I do."

"You do not give yourself enough credit," she told him. "That vaccine
will change the destiny of Teplan III. There will come a time when they
return to the sky and to the stars. Because of you."

Bashir looked away. "Because of Ekoria. Her stamina and determination
to see her baby born."

Nailati surprised him then when she took one of his gloved hands in her
enormous one. "She would not have waited through that pain if she did
not believe in you." Then she let go. "We believe in you. Do your
best. We have contingencies should you fail. But we do not wish to
die. We hope you will succeed."


Tarlingen took Kira first to the villlage, past that fountain with the
fearsome fish in it, and the writhing Maylon/Nostroff. Kira recognized
the position he was in from Bashir's telling of his time in Auschwitz.
Twice the changely had had him hung the same way. No wonder he had
looked away.

Tarlingen noticed her staring. "He will be dead by nightful," she
said. It was so matter-of-fact, as if this Harglin was nothign more
than a piece of meat.

But Kira had questions. "How did he remember Julian, and with the
cloak on?"

"We can see beneath the cloak," Tarlingen told her. "And Nin-Rhek
melds the two beings. Harglin Nostroff was beyond remembering anythign,
so Maylon's memories are dominant. The same happened with Harlin the
Elder. He has many memories of your station's Justin Tsingras. But
they are only memories. He knows he is Gidari. Harglin the Younger
knew this as well. He used Maylon's memores to try and manipulate
Bashir, to unsettle him. Please, follow me."

It definitely had unsettled him. But that did explain a lot. Kira
thought it was a good reason not to try that ritual on murderers. But
then, Tsingras hadn't been one. They shouldn't have done that either.
Still, she followed. She wasn't out here to worry about Maylon's Gidari
clone. Tarlingen turned right, away from the main thoroughfare, and Kira
saw a somewhat familiar sight. There waere three covered pavilions
lined up parallel to each other in front of them, and in each were
various stalls of produce and what Kira guessed were herbs.

"We should purchase one of each," Tarlingen said. "We may need more
than your basket." She picked up on of her own. Tarlingen didn't
bother to bargain with any of the sellers. She simply offered a price
and they bowed their heads and gave her what she asked for. But the
time they'd reached the end of the third row, both baskets were ful and
heavy. A brown-cloaked man met them there. Tarlingen gave him her
basket then took Kira's and gave that to him as well. Without a word,
the man left, and Tarlingen picked up another basket for Kira. "He will
deliver them to the Healer," she said. "I have another idea."


When Bashir had left the room, the disposable booties, gloves, and bag
were taken away. Bashir went back to the laboratory and began analyzing
the samples from Nailati. He found the pathogen in both her blood and
the mucous. It was not in her breath or saliva. That was interesting,
but also helpful. It meant she couldn't transmit the virus from
coughing or speaking. It could only be from the oozing of her lesions
or her blood. It least with her. She was, of course, not
representative of all Gidari. Her DNA was chagned during symbiosis.

Bashir checked the computer for notes from the two healers who had been
killed after contracting the virus. He barely had to search. The
computer did a good job of intuiting what he would want or need. The
results for those two were different. Their lesions had been dry. No
mucous was collected. The virus, however, was in their breath as well
as their blood. It had become airborne.

While it was possible that the healers had touched Nailati's mucous or
blood, it made more sense that they had contracted the virus directly
from the changeline. Perhaps they had breathed in some of the ash when
they rushed to help their stricken Leader. But Tarlingen had been
tehre, too. He had questions to ask when Kira returned.

For now, he ran tests, using computer simulations to what affects the
various samples Kira had collected the evening before would have on the
virus itself. Hour after hour stretched by, leading him one way only to
be disappointed, then anotehr that ultimately failed. He remembered the
trial and error on Teplan III. In the end, his accidental vaccine had
come from simple ingredients in certain porportions. It had taken
weeks, not hours, so he kept at it until the chronometer told him it was
evening, and still Kira had not come back yet. Though two baskets of
produce and leafy plants were delivered to his door.


From the market, they had stopped at what Kira would have called a pub.
It was dark inside so that Kira could barely count the patrons
indulging themselves at bar or at little round tables. Being that they
were now indoors, Kira removed her hood. No one seemed to notice at
first. The place was noisy from everyone talking at the same time.

Then one of them looked at the door. All the talking stopped as every
blue face turned to stare at her and Tarlingen. *It's either my face or
the colors of our robes,** Kira thought.

One Gidari, perhaps the owner of the establishment, rushed forward and
began to bow, but Tarlnigen waved him up. "I am here for the mid-day
meal, Glingsen, nothing more."

"Yes, of course, Liytner. Your usual choce again today?" He followed
them to an empty table with two stools.

"Yes, though bring a second utensil." Glingsen left the table and
Tarlingen addressed Kira. "I thought you might like to taste some of
our foods. I can assure you it tastes better than that nut." She even
smiled a little.

Kira's eye brows shot up. "Anything would taste better than that nut,"
she replied. "Why not."

"You have no need of sustenance," Tarlingen reminded her, "but you seem
to be enjoying the opportunity to experience my world."

"I guess the Federation's love of exploration has rubbed off on me,"
Kira admitted. "I've never seen a planet that was so similar and yet so
completely different before. We have villages like this one on Bajor.
But the colors are so different, more green and brown. Here the colors
are what we'd see in the autumn, before the leaves fall off the trees."

"There are places where leaf-falling happens," Tarlingen commented.
Glingsen brought a plate piled high with meat, produce, and what might
have been cheese. He handed Kira a utensil, something between a fork
and a knife. "But Nodgarin is in a tropical valley. It is only every
cold high in the mountains. You may cut a morsel from anything you'd
like to try." Glingsen returned with two glasses of a purple liquid.
Tarlinged held her cup up. "Wine from one of the flowers you picked
yesterday."

Kira picked up her own glass. "Wouldn't be the one that hit me, would it?"

Tarlingen laughed. "The same. Taste, you may decide it is worth the
beating."

So Kira did. It was sweet and fruity, but it also made her tongue
tingle a bit. Tarlingen moved her plate more to the center of the table
so Kira took the offer. The meat tasted like many other meats she'd had
but the spices on it were different. They gave it as smokey, somewhat
peachy taste. She tried a little of everythign while Tarlingen ate
heartily.

"So, Nardek," Kira said. "Any relation to Sanglin Nardek, the captain
of the *Gindarin*?"

Tarlingen nodded then washed down her bite of food with a gulp of wine.
"My brother. He is older by five years. Our family is quite proud of
his achievements."

"Yours, too, I would think," Kira replied, taking another sip herself.
"Being a Liytner and all. What is a Liytner, anyway?"

"Yes, they are proud. A Liytner is a close advisor and attendant to
our Leader. You have seen red cloaks as well. Those are of the
religious order. Black and red are the royal guards."

Kira nodded. "Beige is military, gray are regular workers. Brown?"

"Servants of the palace. They represent many different
responsibilities. She finished the last of her wine and stood. She put
two coins on the table. "Here in Nodgarin anyway. There is some
variation in otyher cities. Remember to cover before we go outside.

Kira nodded and followed her out the door--covered, of course.
Tarlingen took her back to the train station--for lack of a better term.
"We shall go to another city. One where many medicines are
manufactored. We shall get samples of all of them."


Captain Sisko knew he should go home for dinner, but he was having a
hard time leaving his desk. He kept seeing Kira and Julian's deaths in
his mind. Kira deserved to die in battle. Julian, well, he should have
grown old and died in peace. Neither deserved what they got. There was
a chime at his door. "Come," was all he said. He didn't even look up
to see who it was.

"How are you doing, Benjamin?"

Ezri. "I could ask you the same thing, Old Man."

"It hurts," she admitted, coming farther into the room. The door
closed behind her and she sat down on the couch. "I know it will pass.
It's a familiar hurt, but it feels like it will last forever."

Sisko left his desk to join her there. "I've lost a lot of people
since this war began, and before. Only Jennifer has hurt more."

"I'ts not just that they're gone," she added. "It's how. Especially
for Julian. Did you know Heiler had done that to him, extruded a thin
'worm" of herself into his chest, wrapped around his heart and squeezed?"

"I think this one did more than that."

Ezri went one. "Kira killed Heiler in 1943. How could they possible
know to do that now? We destroyed the rest of the changelings on their
ship when they arrived in that year. She had no contact with the Link.
How could they know?"

Sisko shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe Kira told Odo at some
point and when he linked--"

"Maybe," she said. "Either way, it was jsut cruel. They could have
just shot him like they did Kira."

"They also made Odo a solid," Sisko offered. "They have a cruel streak."

"I wish I hadn't seen it." She wiped a tear from her cheek. "But I'm
also glad I did. He couldn't know it but maybe, if somehow he could, he
might not have felt alone."

Sisko put his arm around her. She was the Old Man he'd known through
three hosts now, but she was also a young woman who never bargained on
being joined. "He wasn't. Kira wanted to go with him. To be there for
him as a friend. She did that. She was thre, right to the end."

"I miss him," she said as she started to cry for real. "I miss her,
too, but I miss him!"

"Me, too." He squeezed her shoulder. "At least Kira went quick. Still
neither one deserved that." Sisko felt his own cheek become wet. After
they had both cried ab it, Sisko stood and offered her his hand. "Jake
is making dinner tonight," he said. "Why don't you come, too?"

Ezri nodded and took his hand.


When Kira finally returned, both she and Liytner Nardek were carrying
crates. Crates of medicines, mainly antivirals used to fight other
diseases. More materials to add to the search for a cure or vaccine.

Tarlingen turned to leave but Bashir caught her arm. "Forgive me,
could you a stay a while? I have some questions about the day the enemy
attacked your leader."

"Of course," she replied as she shut the door.

"Please, sit," Bashir suggested. She did so. "You were in the room
when it happened. You killed the shapeshifter with your finrittor."

"Yes," she replied. Then she pulled a device from her cloak. "It isa
directed energy weapon, not unlike your phaser." She put it away.

"The changeling had moved up to the leader's face," he said, motioning
with his one hand. "When you killed it, the ash had come down, in the
air. What did you do then?"

"First, the liquid splattered outward, then it turned to ash that fell
and floated in the air. I was not standing near when I fired. I
stepped back more. The Leader was coughing. I called for her healers.
They came to her aid."

"Right away?" Bashir asked. "While the ash was still in the air?"

"Some," Tarlingen replied. "Most was on the floor. The Leader was
still coughing. More ash came from her."

But was she exposed? "You were covered?"

"All are covered in that room. Even the healers, though, doubtless
they uncovered when they saw her in distress and rushed her to her
living quarters."

Bashir was starting to get the fuller picture. "These were the two
healers who contracted the illness?"

"Yes," she answered. "More healers were brought in after the Leader
became ill."

"And they worked closely with the first healers?"

"Of course. They did not become ill for some glif after. All were
sequestered at that point."

"So they are in quarantine now?" Bashir asked. "Are any of the other ill?"

"No as yet. I am sure they would wish to aid you in your efforts. I
can put you in contact with them."

That surprised Bashir, and he wondered why they that hadn't been
brought up yet. "Please do."

Tarlingen stood and moved to the computer. She pressed a few controls
and an image appeared. It ws a room with just under a dozen Gidari men
and women. One moved closer to the camera. "Yes, Liytner? May we be of
service."

"Yes," she replied. She indicated him standing beside and behind her.
"Healer bashir welcomes your input. Are all of you still well?"

"One of our number was removed one glif ago."

"That is regrettable. You have data from that individual?"

Bashir decided he had to interrupt. "That can't happen."

"Excuse me?" the man said.

"Removing," Bashir replied. "I assume that means killing. It needs to
stop. They can be quarantined in a second room perhaps." He took a
deep breath. "We will need to test any possible remedy before giving
it to the leader."

"I will make that known," Tarlingen replied. She turned back to the
healer. "Notify me of any sick individuals. We will find them another
place."

"Yes, Liytner," the healer replied. "And we do have data. We can have
added this data to the data collected from the first two healers. I see
that he is Honored."

"Also regrettable," Tarlingen commented. "Thus our time is limitted.
Someone must be ready to answer his calls at any hour."

"It will be so, Liytner. We who remain stand ready to aid him in the
achievement of his Purpose."

"Good evening," Tarlingen said, and Bashir realized she was ending the
conversation.

"Good evening, Liytner," the man replied and the view of the room
winked out. Tarlingen pushed a few more controls and a shortcut of
sorts appeared on the screen so that he could call them later.

She turned back to him, still leaning against the counter. "Do you
have any more questions?"

"A few," Bashir told her. "Is this the same cloak you were wearing that
day?"

"No. That and all I was wearing were destroyed. I was unclothed apon
leavinmg the Room."

Bashir looked over what part of her skin he could see. "I see no
lesions on your face. Are there any on the rest of your body."

"No, I was tested, when the first healers became ill. But you may test
again, if you wish."

"Please." He pulled his sample container close and pulled a swab.
"Open your mouth." She complied and he took a sample of her saliva. He
had her breathe into the tube and took a quick sample of blood from her
neck. It was not the usual location but she apparently hadn't wanted to
pull back the sleeves of her cloak. He moved behind her to load the
samples into the computer for analysis. It only took a few seconds for
the computer to render its verdict: negative for the virus.

"No virus found," he told her.

"That is reassuring," she stepped away from the counter.

"I don't think the leader infected the healers," Bashir told her. "Not
directly. Only perhaps when she was coughing the ash. The virus was in
the changeling and it was in the ash of that changeling. That's how
your leader was infected. And the ash in the air and coming from her
throat is what infected the healers. However, that's when things
changed." He pulled up the results of the leader's samples on one side
of the screen and thos of the now three healers on the other.

"It's was in the healers' lungs. It is not in the leader's lungs. She
cannot transmit the virus from coughing or breathing. The healers,
however, likely infected all the other healers because it was in their
lungs. It became airborne. It is in both the blood of the leader and
the healers. It is also in the mucous leaking from the leader's
lesions. Only contact with that mucous or blood can transmit the virus
from her. The healers, though, if they'd gone home to their families...."

Tarlingen nodded but didn't say anything for a moment. "But it is in
the leader's blood. That is helpful to know." She turned to leave
again but stopped. "I am relieved I am not infected. It was a trying
day when the Enemy came here."

Isn't it always? he thought. "I'm sure it was. It is good that the
other healers are sequestered. They were not in physical contact with
anyone else?"

"No," she turned back to him. "And the Room was santized, every inch,
as you say, every weapon, from ceiling to floor."

Good to know, otherwise he and Kira might have been vectors for the
virus to spread. "How long have they been quarantined in there?"

"Two days. Have you any more questions? I would take my meal and rest."

Bashir shook his head. "No more questions. You've been very helpful.
Thank you again."

"It is my duty to aid you. No thanks are necessary." Then she turned
and left.

Kira had been sitting, watching the whole time. "Should we check your
blood, just to be safe?"

"Don't have any," he reminded her. "But I checked the other things as
well. It's specific to the Gidari. We can't catch it. But if we were
to visit those other healers in person, we could carry it away with us
nonetheless. The changeling hadn't known the leader would be differed.
But those healers, they would have been the vector by which it spread.
They take it home with them, infect their families. Their families go
about their business, infecting others. It woudl have spread
exponentially from there.

"But they haven't been to see their families. and they'd been 'removed'
up to now if they showed any infection. This virus is effectively
finished on Gidar. Unless the leader's virus mutates, she cannot infect
anyone without swapping blood or licking her mucous."

"Won't they have to swap some blood to put that symbiont into someone
else?" she asked.

Bashir sat down beside her. "Yes, but surely they'd do so in a sterile
environment under anesthesia and careful sanitazation procedures."

Kira's eyebrows raised. "You'd hope. But the Gidari don't strike me
as the do-it-in-surgery type. What they did to Tsingras wasn't sterile.
He was in his own bed."


Kira helped by opening and sorting all the medicines while he quizzed
the healers in their quarantine room. He let them sleep after an hour
or two, and Kira sat back and watched him try combination after
combination. She literally had nothing better to do.

"I might have made friends with Liytner Tarlingen today," she said to
make conversation.

"Really?" He didn't turn away from the computer.

"I found out that the captain of the *Gindarin** is her older brother.
And that Liytners are the closest advisors to the leader. She shared
her lunch with me."

He turned his head to look at her. "You ate? Did you get hungry?"

"No, I just tasted, some meat, some vegetables," she told him, "and
wine made from that flower that slaps you when you try to pick it."
Bashir eyed some of the fruits and vegetables from the market. "I
wouldn't know which could be eaten raw," she added. "Just in case
you're curious."

"Mildly," he admitted. He sat down beside her. "But I'm fairly
certain there's a tear in my esophagus. Not sure where a bite would end
up."

That wasn't where she wanted the discussion to go. But she didn't sky
away from it. If he needed to talk about what happened, she'd listen.
"You scanned yourself."

"I was curious," he replied, so softly he'd almost whispered it. "I
knew what it felt like. But I wasn't sure. Nerves are different in there."

"What's the verdict?"

"Heart's a lost cause," he told her. "Although he damaged my left lung
and plenty of smaller structures along the way: blood vessels, muscles,
my diaphram, ribs and skin. I think I'm only able to breathe precisely
because I don't need to."

That got her curious. "What about me?"

He grabbed his medical tricorder and gave her a scan. "Right lung and
descending aorta. I could fix that in thirty minutes in the Infirmary
back home."

That gave her an idea. "What about here?"

He turned to face her. "Here? You'd need a full complement of blood,
too. I could fix the damage but you'd still be dead."

She met his gaze. "Why?" She didn't wait for him to answer. "I mean,
if the damage was fixed and I got the blood. Would I still be dead
then? Hypothetically?"

"Hypothetically...." He stood and walked a few steps. He was
thinking. "No, I can't see why you would be."

She stood up, too, and stood in front of him. "Julian, we can get the
blood when we get back to Deep Space Nine." She touched his arm. "Maybe
we don't have to be dead."
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