Worf was headed for the shuttle that would ferry him back to the Sword of Kahless when he spotted Ezri Dax having just disembarked from the Defiant. Three years ago, he would try to avoid her. The idea that she carried the memories of his late wife Jadzia was awkward to him. They had reached an understanding after a series of events that led to their capture by the Breen. Though Ezri could never completely replace Jadzia, he still cared about the choices she made, even feeling that she deserved better than Julian Bashir, who--in Worf’s own words--got excited “playing with toys.”
“Ezri,” he called out, as she was about to turn a corner. She stopped when she heard Worf’s voice.
“We have not had a chance to catch up since I have been back,” Worf continued.
Ezri felt a moment of awkwardness, knowing that Worf did not openly seek to make small talk. Jadzia was certainly one exception, as were a number of fellow officers on the Enterprise-D. Behind his words, he was wishing to address a more serious and urgent matter. “What is this pressing matter?” she jokingly, but tensely asked.
“It is my understanding that you and Doctor Bashir are no longer together.”
“I thought you didn’t listen to gossip,” Ezri teased. After a moment of exchanging confused stares, Ezri sighed. “If you’re going to say ‘I told you so’, just say it already.”
“That is not my intention. You have achieved a great deal in such a short time. But do not become too focused on your Starfleet career.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Julian and I, though, we wanted different things out of each other.”
“Maybe so, but speaking from experience, I would suggest not letting opportunities for happiness slip away.”
Ezri grinned during another moment of awkward silence. The experience from which Worf was speaking was his son Alexander. He had shoved his son aside as if he was an inconvenience. From that point, the relationship between father and son remained strained, especially after Alexander was adamant that he did not want to follow the Klingon warrior tradition. In Ezri’s case, she had begun realizing her full potential, transferring from counseling to command. Her change of profession put a strain on her relationship with Julian. They eventually decided to go their separate ways.
Ezri was not sure what else to say on the subject, and so decided to see him off at this moment. “So you’re headed back to Qo’Nos,” she said. “Safe trip and I hope you find whoever is responsible for the attempt on Martok’s life.”
“And good luck to you,” Worf replied before they headed in opposite directions.
Just as Worf’s shuttle was departing the station, a prison shuttle had arrived from Bajor transporting Zeyner Antis. Ro had made special arrangements in order to avoid drawing attention to the fact that a former officer who “resigned under mysterious circumstances” was back on board. A route from the airlock to the security office was off-limits to all but security personnel. Ro supervised the escort on the surveillance monitor to make sure the escort went smoothly.
Ro stared with contempt at the screen as her former lover was escorted in shackles. He had grown a full beard during his two years in prison, and his curly dark blond hair had a few noticeable gray streaks. She was lost in wondering how Antis had managed to fool her for so long, and so didn’t hear Kira enter until she set a padd on the desk.
“Federation President Zife and First Minister Asarem have signed off on a pardon,” Kira said in reference to Federation Council president and Bajor’s First Minister respectively.
Ro scoffed at the idea of setting Zeyner free after he used his position as a senior medical officer to poison a man to death. She picked up the padd on her desk, but then set it back down without reading a word. “I’ve been down this road before,” Kira remarked. “Finding out someone I cared about was a collaborator.”
“You only learned about your mother and Dukat years after her death. He was by my side in the Maquis, and I never saw it. He’s worse than a collaborator. Selling information to the highest bidder.”
“That’s why I’m having Lieutenant Escobar conduct the interrogation.”
“You can’t be serious,” Ro snapped, her jaw dropping.
“You’re too personally involved in this, Laren,” Kira shot back.
“I am chief of security, Nerys. I will be able to put my personal feelings aside.”
“Your service record suggests otherwise.”
“That is not fair,” Ro angrily insisted. She wanted to continue expressing her annoyance at hearing her service record used against her. The Bajoran Militia blocked Starfleet’s efforts to court-martial her for defecting to the Maquis. She was hired as station chief of security despite Kira’s objections. She spent two years earning back her fellow officers’ trust.
She held her tongue, instead adding, “We don’t know if that son-of-a-bitch will provide accurate information. And I’m off the investigation?”
“He’s our best lead at the moment. And no. You’re not off the investigation. You will be supervising. You know him better than most of us.”
“Great,” Ro sarcastically muttered. “I’m supposed to tell if he’s lying, which I couldn’t do for six years.”
“Do what you can,” Kira offered, though realizing Ro still felt that her assignment may as well have been relegation to the sidelines.
Dax noticed Benjamin Sisko sitting at a table at the Replimat. When she removed her meal tray from the replicator. She was not sure whether to sit across from him or go somewhere else as if she hadn’t seen him. During the trip to Torman Five, she sensed Benjamin wanted to get his mission over with and exchange as little pleasantries as possible with his old friends.
Ezri quietly passed him as he took a sip of his coffee. Ben set the mug down on the table and gently nudged it away saying, “I don’t know if I can get used to replicated raktajino again.”
“So what’s next for you?” Ezri curiously inquired, setting down her tray. She sat down grinning wondering if more awkward silences would accompany Sisko’s answer to her query.
“Heading back home to the wife and kids,” Benjamin retorted. “My transport leaves in the morning.”
“Sounds awfully mundane.”
“I can live with mundane. After I had to make so many hard choices during the war, laying low seems better for me right now.”
Sensing more awkward silences, Dax decided to get to the heart of the matter of what was on her mind about Benjamin. After the death of his first wife at Wolf 359, he spent two and a half years toiling away at the Utopia Planitia shipyards. Of course, the Dominion War incurred far more loss of life, and Sisko had the difficult decision of sending husbands and wives out into battle, and to their deaths. “The counselor in me would say you were running from something, “ Ezri remarked. “You were in the same rut after Wolf 359.”
“You were a good counselor. Why did you give that up?”
Ezri chuckled. Ben’s remark was often a therapy patient’s avoidance of an important subject. But this was not a therapy session. “It might have been when I led the mission to save Ghemor from assassination,” Ezri recalled of a mission when renegade Cardassians tried to assassinate the Castellan of the Cardassian Union. “I had to draw on Curzon’s and Jadzia’s knowledge of Klingon martial arts. I started to realize I could be so much more.”
“But you still are psychoanalyzing me.”
“We can’t always hide from the people we are. Sooner or later, you’ll end up back in the game.”
Maybe Sisko’s baseball metaphors were rubbing off on others. He sighed while considering what Ezri had just said. “This feels different though,” he said, “like that part of my life is over.”
“Whatever you decide, I’m sure it will be for the best.”
Sisko’s face was on a monitor screen at the official police headquarters of Torman Five. Or rather, it was a computer-generated image of a face resembling Sisko’s. A program made minor alterations to the facial features so that they matched the description of the man who assaulted Runold. Verad and the rest of his team did not return twenty-four hours after their departure, so Runold suspected something had gone awry. Perhaps this Russell guy was responsible.
Once the alterations were completed, Runold instantly recognized the person who had dislocated his shoulder. “Yeah, that’s him,” he confidently stated.
The head of planetary security was a native of Torman who had a tan-skinned face resembling those of most Earth fish with a ridge that extended from the forehead to the chin. He had been altering the image on the screen according to Runold’s description. “I’m cross checking this with our police records and Starfleet Security files.”
Almost instantaneously, the name Benjamin Sisko appeared in red letters on the screen. “Sisko,” Runold muttered. He recalled hearing of Verad’s previous face-to-face encounter with the commander of Deep Space Nine nearly eight years ago. And Verad was actually going along with the masquerade.
Kur’Tok took a sip of Klingon bloodwine, grimaced, and spat it onto the floor. It had not sufficiently aged for his tastes. Well-aged bloodwine, however, was hard to come by on Nimbus Three. Kur’Tok still was willing to take any kind of bloodwine, even if this particular vintage was not to his liking.
A chime on his desk monitor diverted his attention. He slammed his mug on the table, which sent some liquid spiraling in the air. He entered the requested authorization code to decrypt the data file being transmitted. After he downloaded the file to a padd, he headed for the cargo deck.
Several other Klingons stood at computer consoles throughout the heavily spacious room running tests on the boronite shipped to them three days earlier. The Klingon closest to the door looked up from his console upon Kur’Tok’s arrival.
“Is that the additional data?” Mirok inquired.
Kur’Tok handed the padd off his subordinate. “We can now synthesize a stable omega molecule.”