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Time. It was a concept to some people, something abstract and ambiguous. This wasn't how she saw time, at least not now. When she was unjoined, when she was much younger, she saw time as something to be studied.

It was only upon her joining that she understood what time was: it was a distance. Something that was measured between points in one's life, a detail to be tracked but not an enemy; time wasn't there to cripple a person or weaken them, it was there to instill appreciation in someone about how far they'd come.

Time was there to show a person all the past versions of themselves and how, through experience and events, those past versions evolved into something new.

This was a lesson that took her seven lifetimes to learn. Even with that many lifetimes under her belt, she still found her own patience lacking at times.

Like now.

Mouth affixed into a scowl, Jadzia Dax was desperately trying not to treat the woman in front of her like a child. But it was really, really hard, especially when said woman was asking for a slap across the face. "Don't do this, Persis."

The augment, muscles tense and eyes hard, was coiled to strike. She was a living, breathing weapon to some. A living piece of history to others. But to Jadzia, she was simply someone struggling to fit in. Augments were engineered for many things, but most weren't engineered with superior social skills.

Except Julian, she thought wryly to herself.

Persis didn't move her eyes from Jadzia's face. "I'm going to end this before it begins."

Jadzia took a short breath, calming herself. "You think killing him will help?"

"What good is one more going to do? We can't stop this. None of us can." The finality of her words was like a punch to Jadzia's stomach. Persis took a half-step forward, brandishing a dagger from her back as she did. "I don't want to hurt you, but you're in my way." She pointed the dagger at Jadzia, her without waste. "Move. Now."

Seven lifetimes of experience told Jadzia not to move, but her own survival instinct was screaming to do the opposite. Persis was deadly serious; the augment had reached a breaking point since the loss of her partner, a loss they all felt but she more than the rest.

"It wasn't your fault."

Persis' hand tightened around the hilt of the dagger. "He betrayed us all and I let him. He made me weak, used me, and you expect me to just let it happen again?"

Jadzia took a step forward, pressing the tip of the dagger into her chest. "Then kill me and go kill him. Kill us all." Good luck with One.

They stood like that for a long moment.

And then Persis uncoiled, dropping the dagger at Jadzia's feet. "It doesn't matter. We're patches on gaping wounds. The universe is hemorrhaging out and we can do nothing." She turned and walked away.

Jadzia watched her go, words failing her. Deep down, she knew Persis was right.

She hoped, one day, she could look back on this version of herself from a distance.

A very great distance.


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