Wrath of the Prophets

Can Ro Laren save Bajor from a deadly plague?

DS9 #020 Cover

  • Stardate Unknown
  • Released May 1997

When a fatal disease threatens the entire planet of Bajor with extinction, Captain Sisko must accept aid from an unexpected source—Ro Laren, Starfleet officer turned Maquis renegade. But as the alien plague claims victims on Deep Space Nine itself, the secret of the virulent invader may hide deep in the shadows of Dax‘s past.

Written by Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger


Guest Cast:


Captain Benjamin Sisko sat back in his chair, considered the blank monitor screen on his desk, and sighed.

He liked a great many things about his position as commanding officer of Deep Space Nine. But there was one thing, above all, that he did not like—and that was the paperwork.

The very term suggested arcane and antiquated practices, designed to blunt the mind and deaden the soul. Of course, paperwork no longer involved the use of paper, per se. That had gone out with the invention of the computer, some four hundred years earlier.

However, the concept of the bureaucracy had managed to survive, and Starfleet was as good an example of it as any. And there wasn’t anything more bureaucratic in nature than the monthly report.

Of course, that was precisely the thing demanded of Sisko at this moment. If he waited much longer, he would receive a subspace scolding from Starfleet Command.

Sisko sighed again. He would much rather be hitting baseballs in the holodeck, squaring off against some of the greatest pitchers who ever lived.

Unfortunately, the report wasn’t going to go away. And he could hardly fault his son Jake for not doing his homework when the captain himself was given to procrastination. So, leaning forward again, he reached for his computer padd—

And heard a familiar feminine voice flood his office. “Sorry to interrupt, Benjamin,” said Jadzia Dax over the station’s intercom system, “but we’ve received a vessel from Bajor. I thought you’d want to know, considering it’s got one of your favorite people aboard.”

Judging from the sarcasm in his friend’s voice, Sisko figured it wasn’t one of his favorite people at all. And among the Bajorans, there were few people he had an active dislike for.

In fact, there was really only one. He grimaced at the thought.

“Kai Winn,” he remarked. It wasn’t a question.

“None other,” replied Dax, confirming it anyway.

“Did she give any indication as to why she’s here?” asked the captain.

“I’m afraid not,” the lieutenant told him. “But as always, there’s a good chance she’s come to see you.” There was a pause. “I can stall her if you like. You know, give you time to busy yourself in some obscure part of the station. Maybe take a runabout to the Gamma Quadrant.”

Sisko chuckled. “That won’t be necessary, Old Man.”

It still felt funny to call her that, but shewas a Trill—a combination of a humanoid host and a vermiform symbiont. It was the symbiont who carried the memories of his friend, Curzon Dax, the “old man” who’d served as its previous host.

“Part of my job,” he went on, “is dealing with the Bajoran authorities. And like it or not, Kai Winn is one of those authorities.”

“Have it your way,” the lieutenant declared. “But if you change your mind, I could arrange an emergency in one of the cargo bays.”

The captain smiled to himself. “Thanks, Old Man. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Leaning back in his chair, Sisko frowned. He’d forgotten how cloyingly sweet the Kai could be when she wanted someone’s help. Biting his lip, he considered all she’d told him.

“So this plague,” he said out loud, filling his office with his voice, “began with a bunch of replicators?”

“That’s the information I’ve just received,” Winn replied calmly. “Mind you, these replicators were not distributed by the government. They were obtained through the most illegal of channels.”

“In any case, you’re saying that the disease has spread,” the captain continued. “Apparently through the water supply, when some of the dying animals polluted it.”

She nodded. “Apparently, yes.”

“And the whole population is threatened,” he concluded.

“That’s correct,” the Kai replied. “Our immunologists tell us we could face annihilation in a matter of weeks.”

She might as well have been talking about the weather in the capital the day before. However, Sisko sensed an urgency in her that she didn’t normally display. The average Bajoran might not have noticed it, buthe did.

The captain stroked his goatee. “I’m sorry, of course, that this has happened. We’ll help in any way we can.”

Winn smiled politely. “Good. I knew the Emissary would come to our aid. Otherwise, why would the Prophets have singled you out?”

Sisko shifted in his chair. He’d never been comfortable with the religious identity bestowed on him by the Bajorans.

By all accounts, he’d been the first to communicate with the beings they called the Prophets—the creators of the sector’s first stable wormhole—and certainly he’d made an interesting first contact. But by his reckoning, he was still just a man.

“Exactly what would you like us to do?” he asked.

The Kai heaved a sigh. “There is so much that needs to be done, I hardly know where to start. Of course, our main goal is to identify the virus and devise a cure. No doubt, your Dr. Bashir has more expertise in such matters than our simple Bajoran scientists.”

“Dr. Bashir is a brilliant man,” the captain agreed. “Nonetheless, what you’re asking for is a tall order, Kai Winn—especially within the time frame you’ve described.”

Winn shrugged. “If it was easy, Emissary, we would have accomplished it ourselves.”

Sisko grunted. “Yes, I suppose you would have. Very well, I’ll get Bashir working on it. And Dax as well.”

“I am grateful,” the Kai remarked. “And I am also relieved, because I know you will not fail me.”

He looked at her. “The Prophets told you this?”

She returned the look. “Do you have any doubt of it?”

The captain didn’t answer her question. He simply said: “We’ll do our best. Can I escort you back to your vessel?”

“That won’t be necessary,” Winn told him. “I know the way.” And with that, she got up from her chair and exited his office.

As he watched her go, he felt himself shiver. It was the way he always reacted when he brushed up against something slimy.

Sisko tapped his communications badge, establishing a link with all the other badges on the station. “Major Kira, I need to see you. And bring Odo with you.”

“Is there a problem?” asked his first officer.

The captain bit his lip. “I’m afraid there is,” he told her. “I’ll fill you in when I see you.”

A pause. “We’ll be right there,” Kira replied.

Sisko shook his head. He wasn’t looking forward to telling the major that her whole race was in danger of extinction.

The Bajorans had fought so hard—and endured so much—to throw off the yoke of Cardassian rule. It would be a terrible and ironic shame if they were to succumb to a vicious little bug.

In her office, Kira Nerys studied the pictures of the replicator that Kai Winn had provided. She sifted through them, shaking her head and muttering to herself.

“Something wrong, Major?” came a voice from behind. She turned to see Chief O’Brien behind her. He had a box of tools in his hand.

“Just working on a problem, Chief.” Her eyebrows puckered into a question. “And you?”

“You complained your office was too cold last week, remember? I thought I’d check it out for you.”

“Oh, right. Fine.” She paused a moment and then extended a picture to him. “What’s your opinion of this?”

He took the picture and gave it a glance. “Not particularly good composition. It’s slightly out of focus, and pardon me for saying so, but it should be more centered . . .”

“I mean of the equipment pictured there, Chief,” Kira said patiently.

“Oh.” He paused a moment and then shrugged. “Standard replicator model twenty-one-A. Not exactly state-of-the-art, but a real workhorse. Newer models tend to break down faster. They don’t make them like this anymore.”

“No one ever makes anything like they did anymore, Chief. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed.” She took the picture back and said, “Apparently, it was acquired through the black market.”

O’Brien let out a whistle, but then said, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. You can get anything on the black market, it seems.”

“Yes,” Kira agreed, “but as near as we can tell, this caused some serious problems. It cooked up some kind of virus that’s  . . .”

Her voice trailed off as she saw O’Brien’s look. That was when she realized and remembered. “By the Prophets— your family’s down there.”

O’Brien nodded speechlessly and then found his voice. “We’ve got to get them back up here.”

“We can’t,” Kira told him regretfully. “There’s a quarantine on Bajor. No one can come out of there.” She hesitated, looking for something to say. “Chief, I wouldn’t worry—”

“You wouldn’t worry?With all due respect, Major, it’s not your wife and daughter down there!”

“No, but it’s not as if I don’t have friends or family there,” Kira said sharply, “and they’re Bajoran. So far, it seems we’re the only ones affected. To the best of our knowledge, any humans down there are perfectly safe. All right?”

She wasn’t sure if he’d even heard her. “Major,” he said quickly, “if it’s all the same to you  . . .”

Kira nodded. “You’d like to adjust my office temperature later, I know. Right now you want to get a call in to your family to make sure they’re okay.” She waved him off. “Go, go. It’s all right. Just get back here before icicles start to form on me.”

“Will do,” said O’Brien, and he quickly bolted from the room.

Kira sighed. Then she scanned the images of the pictures into the computer. “Computer,” she said, “study the images I’ve just placed into memory and search for any serial numbers or indications of previous ownership.”

The computer went to work, and Kira leaned forward, waiting for the results.

Dr. Julian Bashir peered at a series of screens to the left of his research station, where additional clinical data from Bajor was displayed as it was received. He drummed his fingers nervously on the monitor’s surface.

Each screen charted a different bio-sign for the population already exhibiting symptoms of the disease. One dealt with respiration, another with heart rate, a third with temperature, and so on. There were details regarding the illness’s effect on musculature and nervous system.

The work was remarkably exacting, considering the panic that must be spreading all over the planet’s surface. But then, he reminded himself, the Bajorans were nothing if not dedicated.

Turning to another screen, the doctor regarded the Bajoran blood sample that had been transported to the station not half an hour ago. Though the sample itself stood under strict quarantine in an electromagnetic construct in the lab next door, Bashir had the feeling it was right in front of him.

An adversary, he thought. And a horrific one at that.

The virus, like all viruses, was basically a helix of DNA. But in this case, it was dark purple and—considering it was without sentience or volition—strangely malevolent-looking, as it floated in a sea of Bajoran blood. While he watched, it invaded a stray skin cell, piercing the cell wall with ease.

The white blood cells that clustered around the entry point did so in vain. They were clearly of no use against the virus.

In a matter of just a few hours, the doctor knew, the invader would force the healthy cell to expand its energies in the creation of another helix—a twin to the first one. And as the first cell collapsed, spent, the second helix would go on to invade a second cell. The process would be repeated, then repeated again, on and on  . . .

Until the host body was so ravaged it couldn’t help but succumb. A grisly end, to be sure.

And there was nothing exactly like the virus in his files, which included the sum total of the Federation’s medical knowledge. The thing was a stranger, an anomaly.

Bashir turned to Dax, who was sitting on the other end of the infirmary, charting the spread of the disease across the face of Bajor. Though her back was to him, he could see the results of her work.

Against the greens and browns of Bajor’s topography, a number of bright orange lights dotted the map. The greatest cluster was around the Paqu village, where the first outbreak seemed to have occurred. However, as the graphic showed only too well, every continent was now infested with the telltale orange spot.

No surprise there. Bajorans preferred face-to-face contact to electronic communications, so they traveled around their globe more than people on other worlds.

“Jadzia?” he called.

Dax didn’t turn around. She just sat there with her back to him.

“Jadzia?” he called again.

Still no answer.

Getting up, the doctor traversed the infirmary and took up a position by the Trill’s shoulder. He leaned forward, to get a better look at her.

What he saw took him by surprise. Dax’s eyes were red-rimmed, almost welling with tears. And her mouth was a thin hard line.

“Jadzia?” he repeated softly.

Finally her eyes shifted toward his. There was a faraway look to them for a moment. Then they came into focus.

“Julian?” she said. She blinked a few times. “Sorry about that. I guess I wandered off for a second there.”

Eyes narrowing with concern, Bashir nodded. “Are you all right?”

The Trill managed a smile. “I’m fine. Just a little tired, maybe.” She rubbed her eyes.

“You can take a break,” he advised her.

Dax shook her head. “No,” she said emphatically. “Now where were we?”

“I was about to ask you if you’d seen any changes in the spread of the disease. Pockets of resistance, perhaps.”

Returning her attention to the map, she considered it for a moment. Then she gave her response. “No change at all— though I wish I could say otherwise.”

The doctor sighed. “I know what you mean.”

Dax looked up at him. “How’s the culturing going?”

Bashir shrugged. “We won’t know for a few hours yet.”

He was in the process of producing samples of the virus for testing—a hundred samples, to be exact. Like the original sample he’d received from Bajor, they were in the lab next door.

“Still,” he continued, “in a way, it’s a good thing that the virus grew so quickly. If it were slower to reproduce, the creation of test samples would have taken a lot longer.”

The doctor eyed his friend. “You’re sure you’re all right?” Dax dismissed him with a backhanded motion. “Go,” she told him. “I’m fine. Really.”

He went back to his work, but he could tell there was something bothering her—distracting her. He didn’t have to look far for an explanation, either.

The Trill had always been a compassionate person. And she had made a great many friends among the Bajorans since her arrival onDeep Space Nine.

All that misery on the planet had to be affecting her. Ravaging her emotions. Playing havoc with her concentration.

It disturbed him greatly that it should be so. If he was going to come up with a cure for the virus, he would need Dax operating at her best. Her scientific expertise would be invaluable in the hours and days to come.

Friday, September 4th, 2009 Books, DS9, Logs

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